UPDATE: INCLUDES FULL EPISODE NOW, SEE THE BOTTOM
New York was hit with a freak storm tonight, knocking out my DirecTV for a while. I caught the first 30 minutes of the episode, then nothing until the last five, though I think it's safe to say that not too much happened in the part I missed. I was able to see right up until the Generalissimo stepped behind Casey, and then my DVR cut to the beginning of Chuck and Ellie's scene at the end. I'm going to wait and post a full thing tomorrow, but if you'd like to get started with the comments, here are a few random thoughts about what I saw so far:
I figured out what bothers me so much about Chuck this season: The show hasn't earned its awkwardness. In lieu of taking a big step forward at the beginning, be it a new Intersect or a newer Intersect, Chuck decided to keep things as they were and introduce a new monkey wrench each week. There's still conflict in the sense that characters have things weighing on their consciences, but it's totally fabricated. Thus discussions are hollow, speed bumps deflated, and awkwardness is simply annoying. (As my roommate puts it, the characters are "fumbling towards preciousness.")
Here's another way to put it: Chuck has become a relationship saboteur. When things are going well, Chuck wonders why they aren't going even better. When those unrealistic expectations aren't met, he fears the worst. (I can relate.) Sarah's plea to Chuck of "Why can't we just be" is totally justified. In the real world, Sarah would have likely dumped Chuck's needy ass by now. She fell for him because of his idiosyncrasies, but it's pretty freakin' hard to stay with someone who's as massively insecure as Chuck. I mean, you go guuuuurl, but I'm imagining it's pretty difficult.
Thus we have the beginning of tonight's episode, an immediate continuation of the "cliffhanger" from last week. Chuck gets up from being down on one knee, and correctly points out that he was not proposing to Sarah, but in fact was picking up a ring he saw on the ground. This becomes a whole thing with them, made worse by Morgan. See, the whole proposal was false, but had Chuck actually proposed, he worries that Sarah might say no, or that the whole notion of marriage disgusts her. And because he's Chuck, he doesn't try to talk to Sarah once about this massive insecurity, but instead he tries to talk to her about it a bunch, then when that doesn't work he covertly purchases a book about the path to marriage, disguising the tips and conversation topics as things couples should be doing anyways. Sarah wants to take it slow, and Chuck is fine with it as long as he's always thinking about the next step and bringing it up constantly. That's not taking it slow, buddy.
So that happens a whole lot; meanwhile, in the freakin' background, the Generalissimo of Costa Gavras offers to fly Awesome, Ellie, Chuck, and Sarah down for a vacation, where he presents Awesome with a statue in the center of the Costa Gavras palace near many Subway sandwich franchises. Chuck flashes on the fact that there are secrets hidden somewhere in the palace, and tries to hide his suspicions because he wants to discuss his "cuddling needs" with Sarah, failing to realize there might be lives and the security of the United States at stake. The Generalissimo's wife performs a coup in service of the "socialist dream," and the Bartowski clan flees the country in the man's private jet. There is one person who the Generalissimo trusts in this situation, so it's off to John Casey's house.
Things are a bit hazy after that because of the whole DVR outage. I will say that the last few episodes have had Chuck and Sarah taking center stage, with Casey and Morgan kicking things off before folding into their own little story. It's nice that the two of them can get along, even if Casey doesn't approve of Morgan and Alex hanging out (for "movie marathons XOXO"). What's missing, though, are the often caustic elements they would bring to the main story, should they be more involved. The main story tonight definitely picked up once Casey was doing more than eating soup, his whole backstory contributing some unexpectedness. More of that, please, once he heals.
I think I should sign off for now, with an update coming tomorrow once I can watch the rest of the episode.
But, in closing, I will say that if Chuck can watch Sarah change into all those bikinis and get excited about having a discussion, then clearly the show has lost its way.
Keep in touch, have a gr-8 summer,
Now that I've seen the whole thing, I can say that a little bit of Chuck and Sarah's relationship chatter paid off. Chuck wound up using what he'd learned over the course of the episode to talk the Generalissimo's wife down from a nuclear attack—some real stakes on an episode that didn't have many. And Sarah got to see Chuck put that knowledge into action. My concern isn't really about the writing anymore as much as it is about how the show has been focusing far too much on the emotional wind-up. Its audience is savvy, yet these Chuck insecurities are hammered way too hard. Maybe that's what bothers me: It's not that he has insecurities, but how those are manifested in obvious ways.
Still, things picked up certainly. I like Casey coming in to save the day with his tunnel knowledge, and his insistence on helping out even though he was just in a wheelchair. It wasn't enough of a save to bump the episode up majorly, but I'm optimistic at least that with some of this marriage chatter out of the way, the show will finally move on.