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Review #2514: Chuck 4.23: “Chuck Vs. the Last Details”

Posted on the 11 May 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by Henry Alonso Myers and Kristin Newman
Directed by Peter Lauer

Apparently, Chuck and Sarah really love to air out their dirty laundry on missions. I didn’t think it had reached this level, though. All season long, I’ve had problems with the main couple on “Chuck” having bickering matches while everyone else on the mission rolls their eyes. It’s become a bit of a joke now just to have them fighting for the sake of fighting.

Review #2514: Chuck 4.23: “Chuck vs. the Last Details”

This one gets Chuck’s mom in the mix and keeps Chuck from seeing who the real threat is in the episode. Hence, what happens to cap off the episode with Sarah in peril. It takes Casey (once again) to get Chuck out of this rut, by telling him that he needs to choose Sarah over his mother. Everything else is immaterial, from Morgan bravely taking on Vivian Volkoff despite the fact he could have been killed to all of the silliness with Jeff, Lester, and Big Mike, and their strange involvement in the upcoming wedding festivities. The setup for what happens in the finale is well-done, though. I’ll give the writers credit for that.

At this point in the series, I’m inclined to agree with Mama Bartowski. Chuck may be a man who puts family ahead of even himself, but there’s got to be a time where he has to buckle down, be a little bit selfish, and put Sarah ahead of everything else in his life. The nation is in good hands with people like Mary Bartowski and Casey and General Beckman to protect it. I think that was what this episode tried to convey, and Chuck may end up regretting that he didn’t appreciate the good things in life.

Am I worried that Sarah is going to end up dead? No way. “Chuck” is such an inherently good-natured show that the writers wouldn’t dare kill off the hero’s bride just days before the wedding. But this episode did spend a lot of time digging into the minutiae of a conflict that denies the heroes of the show any sort of happiness. They have their screw-ups and bickering matches from time to time, but they almost always end up happy. It’s like what happened with the video montage: Lester put his spin on it, and it was suitably horrifying to watch. In the end, Jeff comes in to spare the crowd at the rehearsal dinner any chance at seeing a terrible wedding video.

I think that was what Chuck desperately tried to tell Vivian over and over again in the episode. He sees the inherent goodness in nearly everyone so there has to be good in her. Vivian isn’t a particularly strong villain (at least, compared to her father) so I did appreciate that the writers took one more stab at trying to bring her back to the good side. It just failed to work, and it looks for the moment like Sarah is taking the brunt of her anger.

Vivian brushes off the revelation that Agent X is her father, and her anger is understandable. Her father was absent much of her life and to find out that he’s involved in this complicated spy life doesn’t make up for the fact that everyone in her life has lied to her. Having her surrogate father figure in Riley killed at Sarah’s hand tipped the scales. If the show had been allowed to explore this a little more during the season instead of creating Vivian’s character out of thin air after the midseason hiatus, I think it would’ve been much more credible.

So the deck is finally set for the finale. I call it only the “finale” because it’s still up in the air whether “Chuck” will survive for another season. It’s such a tricky needle to thread with the writers because they have to figure out what needs resolution and what they could possibly add as setup for the next season. It’s assured that Chuck and Sarah will get married. What happens after that is anyone’s guess. They have to at least address the hanging thread of Casey’s story with his revelation to Alex’s mother that he is alive. That was pushed off to the side in this episode and only had Casey being annoyed with Morgan’s growing affection towards Alex. There are a lot more layers there that I think the show refuses to explore. I think some part of that was demonstrated when Casey blindly protects Morgan from the Volkoff goons with a sniper rifle. Going back to the main narrative, you have to figure that both Volkoffs will figure prominently in the plot surrounding the wedding so we’ll have to wait and see what’s in store for all of that. It’s good fun, if sometimes on the repetitive side with Chuck and Sarah’s constant arguments.

Grade: 7/10


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