Chuck 5.04 "Chuck vs. the Business Trip" ReviewA tv review article by: Samuel Salama Cohén, Kyle Garret
Chuck and Sarah attend a Buy More sales convention where they also have to uncover an assassin among the employees, whose mission is to take down the new intersect. Meanwhile Morgan has to deal with the consequences of having the intersect. And at the Buy More, Jeff begins to show a different side of himself.
Chuck airs Friday nights at 8:00 on NBC.
Kyle Garret: As much as I have disliked the "Morgan as the Intersect" storyline, I will admit that it's coincidence the episode in which Morgan loses the Intersect also seemed to work better on every level than anything we've seen so far this year.
Sam Salama Cohén: And that's mainly because this is a character-driven series, and until now this fifth and last season had had a plot but characterization wasn't as spot-on as on previous seasons. On this fourth episode, however, there are lots of nice character touches, and none is standing by doing nothing. Morgan is on his road to recovery, and the rest of the team is bent on saving his sorry, little, nerdy ass. Oh, and the episode is full of that classic Chuck ambience…Who's the bad guy among all of the suspects? Paranoia ahoy!
Kyle: Yeah, I've found this show works best when they have big stories that aren't dependent upon tight plots in individual episodes. Because let's face it, this show isn't going to win awards for more realistic spy stories. It pushes suspension of disbelief to the limit, which is fine, as long the plot isn't the be all and end all of the show.
The big success of this episode comes towards the end, where for the first time in a long time we get a really nice confluence of both spy and non-spy events. Lester trying to gas Jeff is actually pretty funny and added a nice element of confusion to the final face off with the Viper. And how great was Big Mike yelling "Pineapple," as a nod to season one?
Sam: I really enjoyed how the crazy Lester situation has been playing out since Jeff's recovery. One thing I had always wondered was how come Jeffster's crazy actions never had any kind of repercussion…Well, guess what, that's a thing of the past. And the writers, once again, make a nod to the Marvel gallery of Villains, which is always an appreciated nerdy touch.
Kyle: We also get to see Chuck using his non-super computer brain again to save the day, or at least his wife. I know this is an angle that they're trying to play up, and I enjoy it, but at some point he's going to have to get the Intersect back. I mean, that's what this show is about, and it's what people want to see. Besides, as intelligent as Chuck might be, as talented as Sarah might be, and as dangerous as Casey might be, if Decker is the threat they're trying to make him out to be, they're going to need the Intersect to beat him.
Sam: I think this episode could be divided into two parts: the BuyMore getaway trip, which served to see Chuck and Sarah acting like spies without the Intersect and only Casey's technical support and their own instincts as a backup; and back in LA, the search and apprehension of the real Viper, which focused more on a more serious Morgan (thank God), a Sarah that once again feels she can't trust anybody and, as you pointed out, a Intersect-less Chuck that comes to the rescue. However, it wasn't until the final five minutes that I almost jumped on my seat. Casey's back, for real, and that was the best news of this whole episode.
Kyle: Oh, yeah, and it was set up perfectly, too. I really enjoyed the way the entire team operated in this episode. There was no hesitation when it came to Chuck going undercover as Morgan, just as there was no hesitation when Morgan called Casey for help. And, of course, it was a really nice bit when Sarah nodded to Casey, the only signal he needed to track down the Viper and her men.
Sam: Same here. This time they had a plan and they stuck to it, even if the Viper was more difficult to catch than they'd anticipated. And I believe it all had more power to it because this time they were being hunted. In the end that meant kill or be killed, and that raised the bar in a considerable way, up till the final cliffhanger.
Kyle: Right, and as tacked on as it might have seemed, that was a great moment for this season. It appears as if Sarah made this decision without talking to Chuck, probably because she knew it could involve killing people. And if anyone thought Casey was going soft, the last ten minutes of this episode should set them right. It will be interesting to see how Sarah explains this to Chuck, let alone what they could possibly do to save Casey.
Sam: I believe that turmoil awaits Chuck and Sarah's relationship, that's right, but I believe they will have to put their modus operandi's discussions aside until they get Casey back. I bet that they will contact General Beckman to try and get some inside help. However, getting back to one of your first points, it'd be the time to somehow get the Intersect back into Chuck's nerdy brain, and see him using it to give Decker's men a sound beating. Here's hoping!
Kyle: Yet again, however, we were reminded of how little significance anything the team does has these days. At one point, Sarah and Chuck were debating the merits of leading normal lives, which begged the question: why don't they? They're no longer saving the world. They're hired guns now, working for whoever can pay them, and usually doing jobs that don't amount to much in the grand scheme of things. It's not the same as working for the CIA, yet it seems like the writers want us to believe that it is. If Sarah and Chuck want to do good in the world, there's no reason they have to keep their security company up and running; there are plenty of other ways they can help.
Sam: That's a recurring plot point which it's certainly hurting this last season's significance. Because, yes, this time things were personal because one of their team was in mortal danger, but you can't be repeating that same structure over and over.
So, how is Chuck's evolving? It is doing nicely, in the sense that some failures have been corrected and we have seen plenty of character evolution in just four episodes.
However, the American TV series' market is a tough one that demands changes in the status quo almost in every episode for the viewer to keep its attention. Therefore, I believe Chuck's team of writers is well aware that they have to deliver, and that maybe some payoff is required for viewers to keep on tuning in every Friday. How this payoff will play out has yet to be seen.
Kyle: This could be the first Chuck has ever benefited from have absolutely no viewers. Since it's officially the last season – and unless ten million people just suddenly decide to start watching it, that won't change – so the writers don't really need to try to bring in new fans.
That's why I've held such high hopes for this season. They can really cut loose and embrace the show's mythology. For me, that's part of what made season two the best season. They dug into Jill, Orion, Sarah, and Fulcrum, yet never lost track of the characters. In fact, while I know that Jordana Brewster was already cast on the Dallas remake, it would be a shame if we didn't see her again. I feel like it would be a huge missed opportunity if she and Shaw don't show up at some point this season.
Sam: Yes, both his relationships with Orion and Jill, when explored, gave the show a unique blend of drama, mystery and fear of not knowing their true intentions and how that could hurt Chuck. We are missing that outside blend right now. However, about Shaw…wasn't he dead at the hands of Fulcrum? Though Orion is supposed to be dead and I firmly believe he will show up right at the end…
Kyle: The last we saw of Shaw, he had just been knocked out by Sarah after fighting Chuck. In theory, he's in a CIA prison somewhere, which would make him the perfect weapon for Decker.
I worry about them bringing Orion back, if only because he died so definitively. It concerns me that we'll get some ridiculous explanation for why he's not dead.
I think the fact that we're speculating like this is a good sign, though, as far as the show holding on to us for the rest of the season!
Sam is a passionate comic lover, who since an early age, found himself into the grasp of Marvel titles such as Conan the Barbarian, Captain America, Spider-Man, and, of course, his true love (after his girlfriend Natalia, that is), The Avengers.
As Comics Bulletin's Community Manager, right now a lot of his time is devoted to managing and improving the site's presence on social networks, and on building an active and interesting Community. Currently living in Madrid, he loves travelling around the world -- and getting comics wherever he goes. You can find him as @SamSalama on Twitter, and as Samuel Salama on Facebook.
Kyle Garret is the author of I Pray Hardest When I'm Being Shot At, available now from Hellgate Press. His short fiction has been published in the Ginosko Literary Journal, Literary Town Hall, Children, Churches, & Daddies and Falling Into Place. He writes comic book reviews here at Comic Bulletin and blogs for PopMatters. He can be found at KyleGarret.com and on Twitter as @kylegarret.