"Chuck Versus The Masquerade" S4 / E16
- C+ Community Grade
Forgive me. If this is the state of Chuck in the second half of season four, I don't think I can review it with much of an objective eye anymore. Because "Chuck Versus The Masquerarde" was just so cheesy, right? Those horseback-riding scenes? Those Chuck-centric stunts on said horseback? I felt like I was watching The Soup, and it was a clip from some cheesy Bollywood movie, where the guy leaps through the air throwing a knife and slices someone's arm off. It would be one thing if the show was a substantive drama with a few action-tinged elements, but nope. This has become a show where wheels are spun in the name of churning out generic-feeling drama and advancing the plot by indicating that, in fact, it's next week where the advancement is taking place.
I'm mostly talking about the cliffhanger, or should I say "cliffhanger" of this episode. Casey, being wooed by another government team away from his Beckman mission, is led to a secret door, opened with a full-hand scan. This opens into… did you guess it? Another hallway with a hand-scan door. Be still, my beating heart. It's like the door is a metaphor for another door, or something. Then, Volkoff's daughter, Vivian, somehow flies to Russia in a few hours and winds up in her dad's office, opens a gate using the "key" she had since she was really young (how long had Volkoff been planning this whole deadly spy thing?) and looks in awe as the door opens off-camera. If I wanted to be told that Volkoff's daughter was going to see a thing, I would have skipped this episode entirely.
I wish I had. "Chuck Versus The Masquerade" was one of the most forgettable episodes in Chuck's history, and it exemplifies everything that is wrong with this show. Remember how everyone used to hate Chuck during season two, but we loyal viewers were all like "You just don't get it, maaaaaaan" [snaps fingers whilst wearing a beret(s)]? This episode is everything they were talking about, only now the call is coming from inside the house.
So Morgan is upset that he has to move out of Chuck's apartment. It's super weird that he's been living with an engaged couple this entire time, but whatever. Morgan is a weird dude. He is borderline obsessed with Chuck. He does weird sexual energy transfer things with Alex but still holds a special place in his heart for his good buddy Chuck. Only, not so much until this season, because he and Chuck didn't live together until a year ago. Now they do, and suddenly, his departure is something to spend many minutes lamenting. However will they see each other, if it's not at work, during the many times they hang out, or when Morgan sits in the bushes next to the penis fountain while Chuck showers? However, indeed? In four seasons of Chuck, the show has not figured out a way to nuance the friendship between Chuck and Morgan to be anything other than, "Buddy, like, I'm there for you, man. I mean, really there." Didn't these guys write The OC?
And let's just call the Ellie and Awesome stuff for what it is: A spade. A boring, unnecessary spade. In this episode, Ellie and Awesome are having trouble sleeping because their baby is all like "crying", but they learn that if Jeffster cover that terrible Rusted Root song recorded into a sheep doll, then the baby sleeps through the night. So they play the song, the baby sleeps, they stop the song, the baby wakes up, and somewhere, Chuck Lorre gets a great idea for a seven-season megahit. Only, they decide to give the baby its own nursery, because the baby is THREE MONTHS OLD!
Time passes weirdly in the Chuck universe. It's the same rules that dictate the team can be in Burbank at nighttime, be summoned to a party in London that night, and make it in time. Has no one at Chuck headquarters ever looked at a map/watch/Googled the phrase "What time is it?"
Oh, but I almost forgot the rest of the plot. See, Volkoff had this enemy Boris. He's a nasty guy who's going around killing people, and the government wants to protect Vivian, Volkoff's daughter. So they corner her, switch out Sarah as her double, and a hilariously bad horseback riding scene doth ensue. Then Vivian shoots Boris point-blank with a shotgun, and the wounds make it look like the bullets come out of him.
If the show is supposed to be this bad, no one told me. And I used to really like it. Why is it that Chuck can't be self-aware about its slide into schmaltz?