Chuck 4.22 (spoilers)

"Now we have three episodes left, and from all appearances those three episodes are going to be packed to the gills with story.  The last three episodes sound like they're going to be urgent, something Chuck has missed for some time now."

That was from my April 17th blog entry, "Why Chuck Fell Apart," my attempt at dissecting why, exactly, Chuck had diminished in both quality and number of viewers.  My number one complaint was that the show had lost its sense of urgency, that sense that you never really knew what was going to happen next.

Certainly can't say that about this episode, now can I?

There have been many times over the course of this season that I have been willing to let Chuck fade away.  The quality had dropped and it didn't seem to be getting any better.  Ideally, I would have liked a final season to wrap everything up, but I probably would have shrugged my shoulders and went about my business if we don't get that.

Now, however, I just can't imagine the season finale being the end of the show.  Chuck has suddenly struck gold again and I think it could last for some time.

Season 2 Redux

The true beauty of season 2 was that it had focus.  It seemed like there was a deliberate line planned out from the first episode to the last episode and the show was focused on telling that story.  Every new complication seemed to stem from the main story and the show maintained the perfect pace because of it.

It felt like confidence.

It felt like the show had confidence in itself, that it was telling the stories it wanted to tell.  We've only really glimpsed that same attitude a few times since season 2, and never for very long.  In a lot of ways (and no doubt by network decree), the show seems to have tried to cater to new viewers in hopes of improving its ratings, only to watch regular viewers get bored and turn away.

But when this show gets it right, it really gets it right.

It's not the mystery that made last night's episode great.  Yes, it's what drove the episode -- who wasn't eager to find out who Agent X is?  It was what came after the revelation that made the episode perhaps the best of the season.  It was the crazy implications of what they've discovered.  It was the fact that Casey was (rightfully) the first person to piece it all together.  It was brother and sister Bartowski debating whether they could just let it go.

And it gets to the core of the show: can someone like Chuck actually be a spy?  Sure, he has the abilities, but he still doesn't carry a gun.  Chuck has a very well defined moral compass and he has finally found himself at odds with the CIA in a way that there is no grey area.

What's particularly interesting is that no one associated with the team has any idea what they've just discovered; this is big time, high level, deep dark secret stuff.  If and when the team goes rogue over this, how will Beckman react?

Also interesting is how this effects Chuck's battle with Vivian.  While he might have felt guilty about her before, he most certainly feels responsible for her now.  And if the only way to stop Vivian is to help her father, then doesn't Chuck have to do that to save his family and friends?

It's brilliant, really: a dilemma that strikes at the core of the show while being wrapped in complications and mysteries.  It's what this show should always be about.

Yes, the similar named cities joke took a turn for the ridiculous at the end, although I personally feel like the "make it snow" joke saved it.  I also really liked the new dynamic of adding Big Mike to Jeffster's misadventures.  The musical montage was just long enough to be hilarious without being tedious.

What Next?

My initial instinct after seeing the "Next On" was that Morgan will get shot, and it will be up to Ellie and Awesome to save him.  It would make some kind of sense, as the focus has been on how capable Ellie is, and it would be a natural way to involve her in Chuck's world.

But I re-watched the preview and there's no gun shot, which would seem like an odd thing to leave out if you're trying to create interest.  Vivian's dialogue also seems to imply that she already did something to someone, which I think suggests poison.  I also think that they give it away.

Go watch it again (I just added it below) and you'll see that Sarah is on the screen when Vivian makes her threat.  Sara is also absent from the reaction shot.  And given that we all know they won't get married just like that...

Second thought: It might actually be Mama Bartowski.  While the writers have just said that something bad happens, I can't imagine they would kill off anyone but Frost.  It would also be easy to see Vivian doing something to Frost before Chuck rescues her which would cause her to die later on.  And, as far as revenge goes, Frost has to be Vivian's #2 target, if she finds out about her father's obsession with her.

Of course Chuck would get really good again.  Just as I was at peace with the idea that this show would end, I find myself completely invested again, and trying to things of ways in which Chuck might actually come back.