Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Chuck: "Chuck Vs. The Mask"

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God, Kristin Kreuk is absolutely adorable.

Um, sorry.


In a lot of ways, Chuck sort of had to start over this season, now that the dynamic amongst the team members has so drastically shifted. People rely on Chuck now, and rather than against all odds having things invariably fall on his shoulders, now they invariably fall on his shoulders on purpose all the time. It gets a little tiring, and predictable.

"Chuck Vs. The Mask" (not Jim Carrey) was an example of using the new dynamic well, and having it fall short. Chuck is called in to help Shaw at the beginning, which finds him once again blowing off Hannah, who's only looking for a little piece of the Bartowski smirk-n-shrug (which consequently is the name of my lucrative Chuck-themed-but-really-Western-themed burger saloon). She tags along anyway, proves herself decent, and winds up as an integral part of a mission later on—she and Chuck are protecting the security of a mask that Shaw and Sarah are trying to steal, as they think it contains secret Ring secrets and other secret things. Turns out the guy the Ring sent to take the mask knows Shaw, he has to leave, and Chuck fills in, which leads to two inevitable conclusions: 1) Hannah sees Chuck and Sarah together, which breaks her heart after she made her move on Chuck, and 2) everyone thinks Hannah's a huge fuck-up who can't get her where'd-that-come-from computer shit together until she unplugs Chuck's computer from the Internet—always a fixin' strategy.

Chuck accidentally ruining his chances in the real world with his spy life is part of Chuck's bread and butter, but when the drama involves 1) a girl who's upset that we just met, and 2) BOTCHING THAT INSTAAAAALL, it's just not as compelling anymore. The Buy More simply isn't important—it can be a hell of a lot of fun, sure, but important?—and as much as I like Hannah (and ho boy, I do), like I said, I barely know her.

But using her as a way to create drama and tension for Chuck, a character I thoroughly know? That's some compelling stuff, and is largely the reason why I thought the episode's second half kicked significantly more ass. Chuck is now all powerful, but he's got a really weak heart, as we all know. So now he's forced to wrestle with his long-standing feelings for Sarah—now in mortal peril from the mask's toxic gas—and his newfound passion/mostly guilt for Hannah—lured back to the vault by the Ring bad guys, who give Chuck way more credit than he deserves with the ladies. And it's not that clear cut, because Sarah is now falling into the arms of Shaw (albeit clumsily and after very little convincing), and Hannah's just some civilian. It was this convoluted tug-o-war between logic and emotion, obligation and gut, loyalty big and small. This season has taken Chuck out for a spin and seen what kind of dings his skin can take before he cracks, and this was another enjoyable test of his resolve.

Of course, Chuck saves them all, and of course he and Sarah had to have their one last labored scene at the end as they go their separate ways to a variety of PG-rated activities with new loves. And we go off to an extended break so NBC can lose some money on those "Olympicked Gamers" I've heard so much about. This new season has been a fun ride, but I'm ready to kick things into high gear. It sounds like Chuck's going to be out there far more (than he was earlier this season, when we were promised roughly the same thing), and if Shaw's there too, let's hope he sets more guys' faces on fire.


Stray observations:

  • "Super man-y type of guy."
  • "Black and bitter."
  • Morgan and Ellie should work more together, if only because it brings Ellie down to Morgan's level of manic paranoia.
  • The Ring creepy subspace is back! So who's your guess for the final five cylons?