Chuck 5.11 "Chuck Vs the Bullet Train"

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

In the second-to-last episode before the series finale, Chuck, Sarah, and Casey fight it out with Quinn on a bullet train. Back in Burbank, Lester and Jeff demand to know what's really going on.

Chuck airs Friday nights at 8:00 on NBC.

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Kyle Garret: You just knew that there was no way this show was going to end without one more episode devoted to 80’s action movies.  Not unlike Community, Chuck is able to get away with rather ridiculous things (like Quinn’s survival) because it’s paying homage to something that came before it.  It’s the beauty of being referential, really: you can get away with almost anything if you say you’re just mimicking something else.

This doesn’t really explain why this episode works, though.  Jeff and Lester saving Morgan, Awesome, and Alex is laughably bad if you actually stop and think about it, but apparently Chuck had woven some kind of spell over me, because I was perfectly fine with it.

Sam Salama: Yeah, I got to admit that save was both ridiculous and pretty heroic. But you’re right; these are the “Chuck-style” kind of scenes where it is better not to overthink, but to let yourself roll with them. In a way, the Jeffster move is a nice conclusion to the “seeking of truth” subplot that had been running for some weeks already. It was very funny the way John Casey encouraged the poor guy to save his country; making fun of the endless times we’ve seen that cliché in movies.

But though there was the silly part, this episode’s thrilling situation had me stuck to the sofa, without almost moving a muscle. The 40-plus minutes flew like a bird, and what’s better, it set up the stage for what could very well be a fantastic series Finale. Chuck vs. Sarah? Some big drama there, folks.

Kyle: Speaking of the non-spy members of the cast, this episode did a fantastic job of showing how far each of them has come over the last five years.  Sure, Jeff and Lester are still goofballs, but I actually kind of like that they know what’s going on now, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out over the two hour finale.

Sam: Yes, I loved how everyone played a role in this episode. Everyone! Even Big Mike has a stellar apparition to “show Lester the way”, before his big heroic moment. It was also a great idea to have the brothers Bartowsky work together to help Sarah before the Intersect fried her brain. Actually, there’s lots to like on this episode, as every character has its own clear motivations to do what they do, even our latest villain, who seems to survive everything!

Kyle: It was also genius to get Ellie and Awesome involved in the quest to find a cure for the Intersect’s side effects.  I always thought they could benefit Carmichael Industries as their in-house doctors, so I’m happy to see them pitching in.  Granted, it still bothers me that they keep referring to this version of the Intersect as being defective, which is why it’s hurting those who receive it.  How hard would it be just to admit that it’s the same version Chuck had, but – as they have drilled into us for five years now – Chuck is one of the few people that can handle it?  The “bad Intersect” bit really ruins what could have been a nice bit of symmetry to the beginning of the show, when everyone was astonished that Chuck could process the Intersect.

Sam: And Morgan as a whining guinea pig? That was priceless, too, though I have one small comment here: they say Morgan used the Intersect “a couple times a day” and that’s why the degeneration process went slower than with Sarah. Come on, Morgan used it a lot than that! We even recently saw he used it to brag about his physical prowess at bars! As I said, this doesn’t affect my liking their theory, as clearly Sarah’s been using the Intersect non-stop in a small gap.

Kyle: All that said, Sarah with the Intersect has been great.   There have been a lot of moments over the last few years that you could point at as being perfect Chuck/Sarah moments, and we get another one after Chuck learns that Sarah uploaded the Intersect.  The traditional television show would have had Chuck get all mad about it, his male ego making him jealous and irrationally upset that his wife now has the cool super powers that he used to have.  But not this show, and not this couple.  Chuck’s “how cool is it?” and Sarah’s excited response were perfect, as was everything that followed.

Sam: Sarah and Chuck were spot on in this one, and their closeness to each other, how they understand what the other one’s going through, that was near perfect. Oh, and about that cool bed compartment? I want that!

Kyle: Then we get the cliffhanger.  At this point, I think it will make for an interesting story.  It’s a nice twist to have Sarah go back to where she was at when she met Chuck, more or less.  It’s also nice that it will probably take the combined abilities of the Bartowski siblings to return Sarah to normal.  For as much as the show has been about Chuck and Sarah, it started with Chuck and Ellie, the brother and sister that were abandoned by their parents and raised each other.  It’s one of my favorite aspects of the show and I’m glad it’s getting it’s time in the spotlight.

Sam: Yes, this show gets bigger and better when the plot relies on Chuck and Ellie trying to help out each other, and not just on Chuck fighting bad guys (by the way, after five years of CIA, Intersect-less Chuck has got some moves!). It’s the family dynamic what really puts a new spin on this show, and humanizing the characters is always a good move if you want the fans to feel they know what’s like to be in their shoes. You know, the heroes with feet of clay thing.

Kyle: I would hazard a guess that the memory loss will be resolved by the end of the first hour, with the second hour of the finale dealing with the hunt for Quinn or perhaps some other bad guy.  I have heard rumblings that we’ll actually see the return of Fulcrum, which I, personally, can’t wait for.  It makes me realize that, at a certain point last season, Team Bartowski was fighting the CIA, and basically acting the way Fulcrum did.

Sam: As to how and when we’ll see Sarah get back to normal, I’ll hazard another guess: It’ll take Chuck to revert her back to normal, as her feelings for him will stop her from pulling the proverbial trigger.

Kyle: All in all, Chuck is heading into its finale with a full head of steam (not unlike a bullet train! Ha!).  It makes me think that we might get the finale that this show – and its fans – deserve.

Sam: It certainly looks like it, and we just have to wait a bit to see it! Though it sure’s going to be a long wait!

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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