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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.