I have been asked by multiple people (i.e. “more than one” which “equals 2”) to review the final episode of “Chuck” from season 2. I hesitated initially, claiming I didn’t have the time, but as I think back I realize that wasn’t the real reason I held off on reviewing it. The real reason was:
[drum roll please]
In many ways I didn’t like the episode.
Why would that be troubling? And since when did it bother a reviewer to say he didn’t like something? I mean, Roger Ebert probably hasn’t enjoyed anything that wasn’t demeaning to the entire human race in years!
The final episode of Chuck’s second season, “Chuck vs. the Ring”, had me laughing almost all the way through. When I wasn’t laughing, I was anxious because “how can they get out of THIS?!?!” Why, then, would I say that I didn’t like this episode in many ways?
As funny and exciting as the episode was, as soon as it ended I felt like I had been cheated. Like they had substituted “funny” and “exciting” for plot and character development.
Here’s how the episode went [spoilers galore]: It’s Ellie and Awesome’s wedding day and everything is going along swimmingly (aside from the fact that Awesome’s mom is a wonderfully psycho Morgan Fairschild) until Chuck discovers that Ted Roark is alive and threatening to kill Ellie unless Chuck hands over the Intersect. Chuck calls in a favor from Casey (who thought he was free from Chuck and was back to running with Marines) and they manage to catch Roark, kill a half-dozen caterers and ninjas, all while Jeffster entertains the wedding guests with a painfully over-the-top performance of “Mr. Roboto”.
But wait! That’s not all! All the Marines under Casey’s care are murdered by a traitor. Roark is murdered by a traitor. Bryce Larkin is murdered (or so we were lead to believe, he’s been killed off before, you know) by the same traitor. And the only way Chuck can stop the guy is to download the new-and-improved Intersect into his head. Oh, and this new Intersect not only fills his head with all the old data (and more), it turns him into a kung fu expert.
The scene were Chuck kicks and punches his way through a room full of expert killers (while Sarah and Casey stand by and, inexplicably, do nothing) was funny and action-packed, but it also had the potential to ruin the series. Part of the main charm of Chuck (not just the series but the title character) has always been that he was very smart but a bit incompetent physically. In other words, he was just like all of us high school nerds who can recite the batting title winners of the last fifteen years (as well as the matter-anti-matter mix ratio on the Starship Enterprise) but couldn’t hit a Tim Wakefield fastball to save our lives. But now, Chuck is more coordinated than Casey and Sarah put together and he’s no longer one of us.
I am looking forward to the third season of “Chuck”. Maybe all of this will be resolved in a way that surprises me (the show often has), but I must admit the end of season two also leaves me looking forward to season three with just a hint of approbation.