Chuck vs The Curse (5.06)

Chuck and Sarah are on the run after being accused of terrorism with the Omen Virus.  Casey escapes jail, while Morgan tries to cover the trail.  An exciting set-up for the penultimate episode of the conspiracy arc.

After the jump, we’ll discuss this mid-Season Five episode.

Well its no secret this episode is no favorite of mine.  And ranking in at number 84 on our series poll its obvious its not a favorite for many viewers!  That makes it dead last for Season Five.  I think I agree almost exactly with that rank number.  For me, there are seven or eight episodes from the misery arc that I truly loathe; but of the remaining episodes, I rank Curse last.

But the funny thing is, it truly is only the misery arc I find completely unwatchable.  With Curse and the other episodes near the bottom of my favorites list, there are some significantly good and enjoyable moments to take some of the sting off.  But since I started this write up with the negative, let’s get that out of the way first.  I can sum up what’s wrong with this episode in one word, Chuck.  Our normally likable protagonist, our everyman nerd, is shown in a pretty intolerable light.  Starting with his obsession with a family curse; its just sooooo 19th century.  Sorry, I don’t find this remotely credible for a 21st century computer nerd; and its way too moronic for Chuck.  Then comes the PANTS thing; could have been harmless enough, but its just too much with the other failings.  Which leads to the biggie, abandoning his team (and his wife!) to run off on a half baked scheme of his own.  Even worse, its a half baked scheme his team about to buy off on anyway.  Now this last is almost redeemed by late dialogue.  I love Chuck’s boast to Robin “You don’t know who you’re dealing with…she’s going to take you and all your men down to save her husband”.  Now THAT is a great line.  It would have been even better if we’d had any reason to think beforehand that this actually was Chuck’s plan.  And Sarah’s reaction would seem to verify he was winging it, without her knowledge.  Too bad.  If we’d been given any reason to think this was an agreed upon plan it could have been a truly great moment.  Especially since earlier scenes had looked like Agent Cunnings really didn’t know who she was dealing with.  It might have been really funny if she had a “oh, $*#@, I didn’t know Mrs. Bartowski was Sarah Walker” sort of moment.  But we didn’t quite get that.  And its three strikes, you’re out Chuck.  Very bad episode for Mr. Bartowski.

Which is really a shame, because the rest of the episode has some terrific stuff.  I’ll start with Sarah since she already has been mentioned.  She is determined and ready to stand by her husband, and stand up for her family.  She, along with Casey, pulls off another awesome Sarah Walker heroic rescue mission.  It is so much fun how the two of them clean out eight (?) thugs in about 20 seconds (she’ll do better in Baby!).  And I just love Sarah’s talk to Chuck after the rescue.  Her “choices we make” speech is right on, and exactly what I’d been shouting at Chuck myself for the last 20 minutes.  And then there’s the promise that she will hunt him down if he tries that again.  It’s been argued Chuck was counting on that!  I’d like to think so, but I don’t really see any internal evidence of it.  And I do need to recommend a very brief postlude to this scene written by Quistie64 called “Chuck vs the Incident Report“.  Its very funny, and fits exactly what I felt at the end of the episode.

The other very strong part of this episode is Ellie and Devon’s date night.  This is one of those perfect integrations of normal and spy life we occasionally see. Six Pack and Hot Mama are very funny here.  I also like the consistency we see on secondary characters (better than the leads sometimes…) where Devon is just not cut out for the spy world, but Ellie should be taken seriously!  Ellie seems tougher and more resourceful than Chuck, by a wide margin here.

Morgan and Alex also share a nice story.  “You live with your girlfriend’s father?” may be the highlight; but Morgan trying so hard to impress Alex, and Alex being moved in spite of herself works well too.  The PANTS bit is obviously mostly about a cute-sweet sort of thing for Morgan and Alex.  Unfortunately, its another element that makes Chuck look pretty stupid in an episode already burdened with far too much of that.

Next week, we’ll wrap up the grand conspiracy just in time for Christmas.

~ Dave
ct_bar

All About The Trust

Zounds! Dave’s captured almost everything I wanted to point out this week and we’re pretty much in agreement. I think that means you guys are in luck. I’ll be brief today!

I’m pretty certain that Chuck vs. The Curse is no one’s favorite episode and I think I know why that is. No one likes a foolish, insecure, whiny Chuck. Well, he’s only whining a little bit, but Chuck’s insecurities get the best of him here (almost for the last time). Compared to the much more daring and trusting Chuck we saw dive through a window, trusting completely that his wife, teammates and friends were out there in the van to catch him, this is a step backwards. Compared to Chuck disarming a bomb under his wife’s foot while she expertly delays an assassin, Chuck’s lack of faith is disappointing.

But allow me to dial it back about 25%. I mean, if, on an irritation scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is Dave’s irritation level with Curse, I’m somewhere between a seven and an eight. Sarah has a very good reason to read Chuck the riot act and everyone understands that by now, he should be trusting her blindly. Almost.
Chuck has two things going in his favor as I check my irritation level.

Ellie, spying for fun.

Ellie, spying for fun.

One is that his sister is in danger. That’s not nuttin’. The other is that our favorite nerd is, after all, insecure by nature and by habit. I recall Sarah, of all people, being even more distrusting, by habit, when she didn’t want him to go off to Belgium with Agent Rye.

Chuck: Because it’s what I do. I’m a spy.
Sarah: No, Chuck! You’re not!

Trusting?

Trusting?

Everyone has their moments, good and bad, I suppose. So I’m not going to hold it against Chuck any more than Sarah does. He’s not exonerated, by any means. But I’m going to cut Chuck just a little more slack than I’ve seen in the fandom, in general. Not much, but a little.

But oh yes, there’s some good stuff here and I’d hate to forget about it. There’s been a secondary arc going on for three episodes now that should be called The Redemption of Morgan. In Curse, starting with a conversation in what is clearly a primary set for this show, Casey and Morgan have a meeting of the minds in the Buy More’s famous ventilation ducts.

Casey: Good job on the breakout. That was actually… I’m proud of you, moron.
Morgan: Did you just compliment me – and insult me???

Why, yes. Yes he did! That’s Casey’s way. And when Alex gets to meet Morgan again, her inherited charm comes through just as endearingly.

Alex: One more move and I will end you!

Like father like daughter!

I love Mekenna as Alex.

Getting into his P.A.N.T.S.

Getting into his P.A.N.T.S.

Her willingness to help Morgan despite all the unconscionable weirdness swirling around him could have been played too sweet or too naive or too just, plain dumb. But it wasn’t. Alex comes off as sharp, shrewd and forgiving at the same time. She’s not quite ready to completely forgive Morgan just yet – she shouldn’t be. But everyone can see that coming. When the secondary characters succeed in making the audience smile as often Chuck, it’s special. It’s one of the show’s attributes that always stands out for me.

Special Agent Robyn Cunnings

Special Agent Robyn Cunnings

Model and actress Rebecca Romijn may not be one of the stand-out baddies we’ve enjoyed, but she’s definitely in the mold of Katerina Law, who played Alexis White in Beefcake and Angie Harman as Sydney Prince in Operation Awesome. I can forgive that her character is relatively mundane – in the words of Michael Corleone, Our true enemy has yet to reveal himself.

Oh, wait. That was Silvio Dante (Steve Van Zandt) in The Sopranos who said that. And that’s my way of saying the trope of slowly revealing the true threat is as old as theater and Romijn is in fine company.

There’s one more thing I enjoyed from the very first, though. You know how we all love episodes featuring Sarah? I love episodes that feature Ellie nearly as much, and Ellie shines here. Have I mentioned lately that I have this thing for brunettes?

Cunnings: [shouting] How did this happen?
Chuck: I guess you’ve never met my sister.

The disappointment we felt with this episode should be short lived. By the end, Ellie and Awesome have had a pretty great date and adventure. Alex and Morgan are on the right track, Sarah has forgiven Chuck and Chuck’s learned his lesson. For them, all in all, it’s been a good day. Tomorrow may be another story.

– joe

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About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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19 Responses to Chuck vs The Curse (5.06)

  1. resaw says:

    Dave and Joe, between the two of you, I think you’ve said it all. Even in a poor episode, we can find things to appreciate. For me, the two best parts of the show were: 1. the rehabilitation of Morgan, especially in the eyes of Alex; and 2. Sarah’s righteous dressing down of Chuck for thinking a) that he is burdened by a Bartowski curse, and b) for leaving Sarah and striking out on his own. Re: the former, I really like the way that Alex responded when saw the contents of Morgan’s P.A.N.T.S. box; as for the latter, when Sarah left Chuck tied up after she and Casey rescued him and Devon, that was a priceless and memorable move on her part.

    Thank you for another great review.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with all of that Resaw. I especially like Sarah taking Chuck to task.

    • joe says:

      Thanks, Resaw. I do hope that we *haven’t* said it all, though. Our intent is always to leave some words for you guys. 😉

      One thing I didn’t mention that I also like is Casey’s reaction to Morgan. He’s a major part in Morgan’s rehabilitation, after all. That would be true without Alex, I think.

      Hum… another thing is Bonita Friedericy’s Beckman. The way Beckman signals Team B to leave Castle was well-played. And really, I always enjoy her appearances in Burbank. Ya gotta love that red-head.

      • atcDave says:

        Joe are you secretly a Duck ‘shipper? It’s been a couple years now, you can admit it. You and Ernie both were always secretly rooting for the Duck!

      • joe says:

        Naw. I’ll leave that to Ernie. Me, I will just admit to being open for lunch with Ms. Friedericy anytime. [Insert “Call Me” icon here!]

  2. Christopher says:

    well, to me this was the annual I don’t trust you episode for season 5 and we have two this season and we talked before about recycled storylines a pattern throughout the series I find Chuck to be ridiculous in this episode. He clearly does not listen to his wife when she tells him she supports his idea. Sarah taking the side of her husband which is what a wife would do. Another strong episode for Sarah and another episode you scratch your head about Chuck and here is what I come up with

    Sarah believe it or not has put more into this relationship whether it was a cover or not than Chuck has. He finds a lot of excuses to distance himself from her. Whether its because he is a nerd, super computer in his head and used Bryce as an excuse to pursue a relationship with her. Sarah has gone all out for me most of the time. She has flaws but again Sarah has to bail Chuck out because of his Buffoonish behavior. The whole curse theory was really out of left field for me The final scene though makes up for it when Sarah tells Chuck you are not to go out on your own anymore.

    Something Sarah should of listen to her own advise in 2 weeks, but we will leave that for another time.

    • Definitely agree, the dressing down for me solidifies how much Sarah has grown and embraced the wife role (and it was great when she left him tied to the pole-classic wife behavior-to me it was akin to sleeping on the couch), and Chuck for all that he says he wants during this time has not really wrapped his head around what marriage means in a day to day settings.

      He actually goes against his own remarks from Chuck Vs. The First Fight when he told Sarah to trust him whole heartedly, “even when he is wrong” when they were in the bank fighting Volkoff’s men. He does not trust Sarah to actually back him up in his plan.

  3. anthropocene says:

    Or: what’s sauce for the gander will soon be sauce for the goose

  4. mr2686 says:

    Curse for me comes in at number 85. That’s the bottom of the slightly below average episodes. Very re-watchable, and some real nice parts (Devon and Ellie at the restaurant and limo, P.A.N.T.S., Casey’s “this is where we come in our darkest hours” comment, etc), but none of these is strong enough to bring up the episode’s mediocre story line. Other episodes will have a few scenes that just really bring up the episode…but this is not one of them.
    This is the corner in season 5 that we turn and start with some of the best episodes of the season, and for that matter the series. In my opinion, of the remaining 7 episodes, we have 4 excellent (2 of them top 10 on my list), 2 above average, and one mid-pack very watchable average episode. A very nice way to go out I’d say.

    • atcDave says:

      Hmmm, well, I would agree with one very good episode coming up, Baby. I think that’s the last truly great episode of the series. Bullet Train could have been if the last five minutes were deleted. Otherwise I think we go out with a pretty mixed bag. Some good moments and great scenes, but not another unambiguously awesome episode apart from Baby.

      • mr2686 says:

        Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree on that. Obviously I hold Goodbye in a special place, as well as Baby, but I think Santa Suit and Sarah are also top notch episodes, and Bullet Train and Bo both being above average. Now I know a lot of people here do not like Bo because they think Bo Derek is too old for this role and it’s kinda creepy, but I put that aside, much like I now do for the actors in Role models, and just roll with it. I also love the Jeff and Lester bits in that episode, which, after 10 or more re-watches, still make me laugh out loud.

      • atcDave says:

        Bo is definitely a funny episode, in places. Sarah is also very good, although I hate that they went so dark, so late. Bo and Bullet Train are among my all time favorite for Jeffster though!

      • mr2686 says:

        Sarah is definitely dark…maybe darker than any episode, but I love the way it was done, and of course the great acting.

  5. FSL says:

    Chuck’s insecurities seem like the only device to get him into trouble. Back in Season 2, he turned from successful Carmichael into “I’m not a spy”. In Season 3, he went from “would you not quit the spy life with me” to lying to Sarah. And now this. I wish there was some other way that he could be set back without retreading.

    But then, we got Hot Mama almost successfully saving Chuck. And Morgan’s PANTS.

  6. John G. says:

    Devon & Ellie were hilarious in this episode.
    Rebecca Romijn played such an amazing villain that I loved to hate, even more than Decker. Her character is nasty and awful and it’s satisfying to see her fall.
    But boy, Chuck is a big ol’ dum-dum in this episode and I can’t stand to watch it. I find many episodes of Season 5 difficult to watch from an emotional standpoint, but I can’t stand this one because Chuck is such a dummy.

  7. noblz says:

    This is an episode I put in the dud pile at first. On re-watch, I promoted it out of the hole. While Ellie/Awesome was good, it was Sarah that carried this episode. I also like Beckman interrogating Robin Cunnings (did I mention that I think Rebecca Romijn is hot). Not one of the 28 eps in my top ten, but definitely in the lower tier of the good eps.

    Usually, when one of the main characters is ridiculous or completely OOC it earns a place amoung the duds, but like Break-up, Sensei and Kept Man I reconsidered my initial feel for the episode. I have upgraded several, but have never demoted any of them.

  8. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs the Curse (5.06) | Chuck This

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