Chuck 5.01 "Chuck vs. the Zoom" ReviewA tv review article by: Kyle Garret
Chuck must adjust to his new life as a business owner and being a spy without the Intersect in his head or the support of the CIA.
Carmichael Industries' first mission is a rich thief Jean Claude and a conning investor, Roger Bale, who has stolen money from some of the world's most dangerous people. In the meantime Morgan helps Chuck with a special surprise for Sarah.
Back in the Buy More, Jeff and Lester have taken things to another level with their latest scheme.
It is entirely possible that I’m going to be overly harsh on each new episode of Chuck. And to borrow a cliché, but I’m only harsh on it because I care – and I really do. Chuck is comfort food for me. It makes me happy. Had I the free time, I’d probably transfer the fan fiction in my head to a web site. In other words, I love this show.
But it’s been a while since Chuck was consistently the show that I love.
I could go into detail, but the combination of network indecisiveness and really bad story choices have diminished this show on almost every level. In a lot of ways, I watch it hoping for the greatness it once had.
I was not optimistic coming into the fifth and final season premiere. While that rating above might suggest it was as bad as I feared, that’s not the case: I expected a 1 bullet performance. So the fact that I’m giving this two and a half bullets is something of an achievement.
So why were my expectations so low going into this season?
Well, in a general sense, it was because the show had become so hit and miss, and it was more often miss than hit. There was no reason to believe they generally lackluster last two seasons wouldn’t roll into a lackluster final season.
Then there was the specific reason, which was the god awful “Morgan as the Intersect” storyline that was introduced in the very last scene of season four. Buckle up for a brief diatribe…
“Morgan as the Intersect” is horrible for so many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that this show has spent the last four years establishing that very few people can even absorb the Intersect into their brain, let alone do so without horrible side effects. I understand that they suppressed the Intersect in Chuck’s head (the key word there being “suppressed”) so they can show how he’s grown over the last few years. But there’s no reason to give it to Morgan.
So given how much I dislike one of the main storylines coming into this season, it’s kind of amazing that I would even give this episode two and a half bullets. Thankfully, the show’s creators managed to limit the amount of “Morgan as the Intersect” in this episode, which made it much more tolerable. Unfortunately, it also underscored the fact that this new storyline isn’t particularly necessary, as it didn’t add much to the show…aside from an opportunity to be heavy handed.
See, Chuck misses the Intersect and begins to feel like Morgan is replacing him. So, because apparently Chuck can’t manage to play Squash for twenty minutes without a super computer in his brain, Morgan steps in and does the job that Chuck would normally do. And, as the story plays out, Sarah has to pretend to be Morgan’s girlfriends. Look! Chuck is being replaced by Morgan! You know, in case there was anyone still unclear that that’s what they were going for.
So what is good about this episode, aside from limiting the amount of bad?
Chuck is good in this episode. They actually do a pretty good job of establishing Chuck’s best qualities as a spy. All of the things that he does to save the day, he would have done in the early seasons when he had the Intersect 1.0 in his head, the version that didn’t give him any physical abilities. In this respect, it’s entirely believable that he’d do these things as non-Intersect Chuck. They did a nice job of showing how his perspective on being a spy has changed, and how he’s gotten past being scared in such situations.
Chuck and Sarah are always great together, too, of course, although the “house” storyline was a bit much. It seems like they keep trying to come up with reasons for Chuck or Sarah to hide something from each other and it is never a good story. Just let them be married and spies together. Their chemistry is good enough to make that enough.
I am an absolute sucker for conspiracy stories, so the expansion of the Decker storyline from the end of last season worked for me. Yes, there’s a part of me that’s concerned they’re going to try to shoehorn it into the past and, in doing so, show it as completely senseless, but I’m optimistic, mostly likely because this is the type of story that this show used to do so well. The return of Chuck’s ex-girlfriend, Jill, the revelation of his father’s past, and even the stories about Chuck’s mom – they’ve all been well done, so I’m hoping the Decker storyline goes the same way.
If I had it my way, Morgan never would have gotten the Intersect. It seems, however, that show wants him to have it. So all I’m looking for right now is a compromise: it should start malfunctioning and causing him all sorts of problems, and it should start doing it soon. If they try to justify the fact that he has it, I might have to stop watching this show.
Fix the Morgan storyline, and we might be on to something here.
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.