Chuck – Chuck vs. the Subway and Chuck vs. the Ring Part II
At long last, I got around to watching the Chuck finale yesterday. As I’d hoped, it was full of all the things Chuck does when it’s at its best – lots of spy silliness overlaid onto more meaningful emotional revelations, lots of good protagonist development, plenty of family bonding, and a hearty side of Buy More hilarity. Shaw is much better as an out-and-out villain than he ever was as an ambiguous good guy, so his not-so-shocking return provided a strong forward-momentum for the two-hour episode. I thought the plotline with Casey’s daughter was nicely balanced between anxious emotional stakes and humor, particularly the moment when she manages to knock him silly. It’s a relief that Ellie is no longer the one odd woman out of Team Bartowski, but I can anticipate some carry-over resentment at being left in the dark for so long.
My one complaint about the finale, which I absolutely enjoyed, was that I thought there were some missed opportunities involving Team Bartowski’s newer members. I was so thrilled to hear Beckman inform Morgan that he was their only hope, and loved the set-up with Devon, Ellie and Morgan getting ready to take down the armored van. I was hoping for something a little more involved and less accidental than resolving that plotline with a wayward missile launched from Casey’s headlight, though. Now that they’re all in the know, the best way for these characters to remain relevant, functional members of the team without transforming into punch lines is for them to occasionally provide legitimately helpful contributions. This has happened several times with Morgan, and some of my favorite parts of this season have been watching him become more than a video game-loving nerd who can’t even tie his shoes. The fact that he actually broke his thumbs, for instance – even though that sequence ended abruptly in a joke, I don’t think it undermined Casey’s subsequent praise of Morgan’s actions. Maybe it was enough at this stage for Ellie, Awesome and Morgan to just roll into action, but in the light of someone who’s willing to literally break his own thumbs, the headlight missile was funny, but I would have liked to see those characters get to do a little more.
Still, there will be plenty of time for that, as we were all able to watch this season finale comforted by the knowledge that there will be a season four – such a luxury. The revelation of his father’s lair makes it look as though Chuck’s being positioned to take over another, different type of ultra-secret mission, possibly outside the knowledge of the CIA. While I’m sure there are interesting stories to tell, I do worry about the way that story will get framed for Chuck’s personal life. He’s just spent three seasons slowly coming out of undercover for all the people he cares about, and it would be so frustrating to have finally reached this point only to shove him back into secrecy. Maybe there’s something about Chuck’s character that needs some disconnect between his private and professional self, or maybe the show’s structure really requires two adjoining worlds with restricted boundaries. Whatever the case, Chuck is almost always better when he’s not acting on his own, and the last thing I’d want to see is him falling down into a superhero spiral of lonely responsibility.
I’d like to end with a plea. We don’t know what will become of the Buy More, or its now unemployed workers. But please, for the benefit of all of us. Free Jeffster!