Chuck 5.06 "Chuck vs. the Curse"

A tv review article by: Samuel Salama Cohén, Kyle Garret

Chuck and Sarah must race against time and a ruthless spy Robyn Cunnings, to destroy a dangerous computer virus. Meanwhile, Ellie and Awesome are spending their date night which takes on a dangerous turn and Morgan is sent on a special mission to recover Chuck's P.A.N.T.S.

Chuck airs Friday nights at 8:00 on NBC.

Kyle Garret: Oh, for fuck’s sake.

Last week’s episode of Chuck rejuvenated me.  That marked two weeks straight that Chuck resembled the show that I knew and loved, and all indications were that the show was back on track.

And then the disaster that is “Chuck vs. the Curse” happened.

Sam Salama Cohén: It did, and it’s such a pity, given that the material the writers were working with was pretty interesting. Casey in jail for a murder he did commit, a lethal tech virus and above all that, the constant Chuck on the run from a CIA operative who is hunting him and bent on taking him down.

But instead of a nice continuation to all those plots, we got Awesome and Ellie playing spies in a silly kind of way…but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Kyle: Yeah, this episode felt like it was thrown together with spare parts, none of which were any good.  It was heavy handed, cliché, ridiculous, and in some ways kind of insulting to its viewers.  It truly ranks up there with the worst episodes of Chuck in the show’s history.  The fact that it comes at the halfway mark of the final season makes it all the more upsetting.

Sam: And here you are killing me! Somehow I’d thought this final Season had 24 episodes. We gotta get real better real quick, writers! Let’s at least end on a high note!

Kyle: Oh, man, that makes total sense – I’ve been crying out in pain over the bad episodes of this season, but I think they’d hurt less if I thought we were getting a full order!

With only 7 episodes left, let’s hope we’ve seen the last of the asinine “curse” story.  For some reason, Chuck is under the belief that there’s a curse in his family that means he will have to abandon his family while he’s on the run from the CIA.  He believes this because that’s what his dad did.  His dad and…no one else in his family.  The evidence of this curse is one damn person.  What kind of a complete idiot would Chuck need to be to actually come up with this idea of a “curse,” let alone actually believe it?

Sam: I see this as Chuck being Chuck, that is, being paranoid in a geeky, silly kind of way. It’s true, though, that after the first couple of times that Sarah told Chuck to cool it down with the curse thing, our fearless protagonist could listen to his lovely wife…if only a bit more! Or, it could just be the writer’s excuse for having Chuck act strange and senseless during the whole episode.

Kyle: And let’s talk about Chuck and Sarah running off.  They go to Chuck’s dad’s super high tech cabin in the woods, which is sitting, vacant and available, because such a place would be of no interest to the U.S. government who have actually been there on multiple occasions.  Apparently, we’re to believe that the people behind the conspiracy to ruin Chuck are also incredibly stupid, which really brings down the threat level.

Sam: I thought of that the second I saw they were at the cabin. And another thing I thought about was how easy it’d be for the CIA to locate them when so many high-tech machines were operational from that cabin, and what’s more, hacking into the CIA’s servers. If I were the CIA I would let Chuck get to the cabin, activate the computers and then, bam! Hit him hard. But as you said, there was nothing of the kind.

Kyle: And then, of course, Chuck runs off on his own.  As my wife said, that’s something Chuck would have done three seasons ago, not now.  There was absolutely no advantage to Chuck running off on his own to try to save his sister and her husband.  After spending two episodes showing us how capable Chuck is, they undid it all.

Sam: And here I thought he was running off with some fake device…But no, that would have been too clever. Man, I hate ranting, but it’s true that this one had weak characterization coming from all sides. Even Beckman and Casey changing their minds about going with Chuck after a few words with Sarah felt out of character.

Kyle: Yes! I was hoping for a fake device, too! And on the off chance that Casey and Beckman would have changed their mind, they certainly wouldn’t have gone along with Chuck’s plan after he ran off on his own.

Speaking of Chuck running off, let’s talk about this whole “P.A.N.T.S” debacle.  I’m fine with the idea that Chuck and Morgan both have boxes filled with important items that they can easily grab in case of, say, a house fire.  But as Morgan points out when he gives his box to Alex, the boxes just need to be kept safe – they don’t have to be WITH them.  Chuck’s box would be the polar opposite of safe with him.  Why wouldn’t he just leave it with Morgan or Ellie?  It would appear the entire ridiculous concept was put together just so they could make one, bad joke.

Sam: That joke was just ok, and I loved the Detective Comics issue on Morgan’s box. I guess this whole subplot was the way for Morgan and Alex to start getting back together…and yeah, maybe nothing more, unless we get to see what’s inside Chuck’s box in future episodes, and it proves to be important. Otherwise, you’d be right and it would have been just a joke.

Kyle: While we’re on the subject of bad jokes, there’s perhaps the single worst moment in Chuck’s history.  I am referring to the moment when Awesome attempts to destroy the fuse box.  He’s caught in the act and we are then graced with the stupidest CIA agent in the history of popular culture in the stupidest exchange in the history of popular culture.  I actually said “that was awful” out loud when it happened, and I can’t remember the last time I did that.

Sam: Ehm, I think I was having fun with the “we are spies, so cool” plot, until they started trying to act as such. Truth is that was too dumb, even for Chuck. This episode lacked the part where we see how dangerous the spy game is, by, for example, having a CIA hit Awesome or Ellie with a gun, threaten to kill them for good…who knows, but give me some thrills! Oh, and did I mention that my girl started falling asleep around this part of the episode?

Kyle: Haha!  I’m actually kind of surprised that mine didn’t, too! And, yes, you’re exactly right: where was the threat?  There needed to be some kind of seriousness to balance out the horrible slapstick comedy.

Whereas the last few moments have been gold for the last two weeks, the same cannot be said for this episode.  First, there’s the absolutely insane resolution to the story.  How are they suddenly free of all charges?  Casey killed six people!  Why would the people who are after Chuck let him off the hook just because one of their agents was caught?  They didn’t change their plans after Decker was freaking blown up!  Casey and Beckman go into a room and they come back out and everything is a-okay.  It’s awful.

Sam: Too easy, I agree. One would think it’s because Beckman has blackmailed Mystique, I mean, Romjin-Stamos into stopping the Chuck-hunt or else she’ll reveal what Decker, she and their men were planning on doing with the virus…but of course that wasn’t explained at all. My gut tells me that the first (Decker’s) operation was sanctioned, but this one wasn’t…Anyway, sloppy writing and resolution to the story, once again.

Kyle: Well, okay, not everything is okay.  There’s still that pesky computer virus which, as has been stated numerous times over the last few weeks, will shut down every computer in the world in just a few seconds.  And it’s launched.  The entire world would be plunged into complete chaos if this happened, but not only does that seem like a story that is way, way beyond this show’s scope, it also doesn’t seem to be the case.  The preview for next week’s episode has Chuck and Sarah video conferencing, which is kind of at odds with the whole “the virus will shut down every computer in the world in five seconds” thing.

Sam: About the speed of the virus, we’ve gotten different versions/explanations, the latest being of Chuck telling Sarah that it’s as if it were hidden in the Internet, somewhere, waiting the right moment to strike…Which is interesting, kind of a controlled virus (if such a thing exists), which will be triggered by the baddies at the worst moment possible. Hey this is me trying to decipher that quick ending!

Kyle: I like that explanation, but only if the computers in Castle didn’t go all wonky – because, why would they, if the virus was online but not active yet?  I feel like they dug themselves a hole with this, like they really had no idea what they wanted the Omen to be when they started writing about it.

This episode even managed to shit on one of the things I was looking forward to the most: the return of Shaw.  Based upon the ending, Shaw manages to escape from CIA custody because the big computer shut down unlocks his cell.  In other words, it’s complete happenstance that Shaw is on the loose.  There’s a guy who hates Chuck, has an Intersect in his head, and is in CIA custody, and the people behind the conspiracy don’t enlist him in their cause?  Really?  He shows up by coincidence?  Are you kidding me with this?  This does not bode well for the rest of the conspiracy.

Sam: I don’t believe that the cell unlocking was happenstance. As I said, I believe this Omen is controlled by whoever is pulling the strings on this last season, and that same person knows Chuck’s and Sarah’s nemesis is the man named Shaw. Oh, and judging by what Chuck tells Shaw on the preview…does Chuck get the Intersect back?

Kyle: The problem I have with that is whoever is behind the conspiracy has the power to do basically whatever he or she wants.  So why acquire a computer virus that can shut down the world just to override a lock on a cell?  That seems like a really roundabout and overly complicated way of releasing Shaw.

I’m going to say that Chuck does not get the Intersect back next week, if only because teases like that usually end up being red herrings.  I kind of wonder if Chuck rigs up some way of fighting Shaw that makes him seem tougher than he is.

Then again, it is the Christmas episode, so maybe Santa brings Chuck a new Intersect!

Given that this show only has a thirteen episode order, and that these are the last episodes we’ll ever see, I find it hard to believe that this episode was just thrown together, even though it seemed like it.  It wasn’t just filler, it was bad filler that made the rest of the season worse.  Had you told me two years ago that I would be depending upon the return of Shaw to get this show back on track, I would have told you that you were a crazy person.  But these are desperate, dire times, my friends, particularly for Chuck fans.

Sam: Difficult times indeed, so let’s hope that a big old confrontation makes the writers bring their A-game!

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 and on Twitter as @kylegarret.

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