Chuck 5.03 "Chuck vs. The Frosted Tips" ReviewA tv review article by: Samuel Salama Cohén, Kyle Garret
Chuck has some fears about Morgan having the intersect and it going to his head. Elsewhere Sarah helps Casey navigate his relationship with Gertrude Verbanski. And in the meantime Devon is spending his paternity leave with baby Clara at home but quickly finds it unexciting and that leads him to the Buy More where he makes a startling revelation about Jeff and Lester.
Chuck airs Fridays at 8:00 on NBC.
Kyle Garret: Well, here we are, three episodes in to the final season of Chuck, and I feel like the show hasn’t moved forward at all.
Sam Salama Cohén: Here we are, indeed, moving slowly, though with this third episode I began to see how the Anti-Chuck conspiracy and the Intersect acting weird on Morgan were part of the same package. And what’s more important, I feel the show was more akin to the Chuck I like: action, intrigue and stupid moments rooted in the main characters’ personality.
Kyle: We get an awful lot of "Morgan behaving badly" and I have yet to find any of it either interesting, funny, or sad. It is also mind boggling to me that, as Morgan’s antics progress, Chuck never thinks that it might have something to do with the Intersect. Chuck has seen what that device can do to others. Why wouldn’t it at least cross his mind?
Sam: Yeah, I guess he still misses the Intersect and at the same time thinks Morgan is deep on an ego-trip. Don’t you think that maybe the writers were going for that "chaos" feeling? I mean, Morgan’s a traitor, his newly-launched Company doesn’t have a dime, and he feels sidelined and worried for not having the Intersect…Chuck’s life is not going well. Thank God for the "pants down" story…That’s part of that silly-fun Chuck we were missing.
Kyle: You’re right; the "pantsing" story is classic Chuck. I think I would have appreciated it more if it didn’t seem like Chuck was being willfully ignorant of the possibility that the Intersect was causing this. I don’t understand why this was never even raised as a concern.
This leads me into another diatribe. In one scene, Sarah sits down with Ellie and asks her what Chuck should have thought of by now: can the Intersect be causing the problems with Morgan? The problem with this season is that Sarah, like Chuck, has seen the problems it can cause. In Season Two, she saw an entire team of Fulcrum agents go insane because of the Intersect. In Season Three, she saw Chuck start to lose his mind because of the Intersect. And in Season Four she saw two government agents turn into emotionless, fairly mindless machines. The fact that Sarah would even ask this question is ridiculous, and as a viewer annoys the hell out of me. The writers should know this stuff.
Sam: As Stan would put it: 'Nuff Said! You nailed it, man. It was so obvious that it was the Intersect that I laughed with the flashback scenes from Morgan’s moments on the second episode. And I guess that to reinforce the idea that he was becoming emotionless and had chosen the Dark Side, the writers had poor Alex suffer through the whole episode. Bad, bad Frosty Tips!
Kyle: Even more frustrating was Ellie’s answer. She says the Intersect might be causing the problems in Morgan, but she isn’t sure, since the Intersect has been modified from her father’s original design. Seriously, people? Seriously, writers? Is it really so hard to state what you’ve been drilling into our heads for the last four years? "Only a few people can handle the Intersect." That’s the quote. That’s what either one of these intelligent women should have said. And yet…no.
Sam: Maybe they were foreshadowing something to come? You know that reveal about this version of the Intersect at the end? Maybe the writers were going that way. However, even if with somewhat sloppy writing, I am glad to see both Ellie and Devon taking an active role.
Kyle: I agree completely about Ellie and Awesome. I’ve actually said a number of times that this show rises and falls with Chuck’s relationship with his sister. It is just so great and adds an element to the show that you don’t really find anywhere else.
Sam: And who knows? Maybe Ellie’s brain has evolved as well, after all she was exposed to their father’s Intersect computer. Could it be that she now has a latent Intersect?
Kyle: The problem this week is that the Morgan storyline is the focus, not a byproduct of something else. It’s the A plot, not the B plot, and the B plot (arresting a Wikileaks type information dealer) comes across as an afterthought.
Sam: That’s right. And if the Morgan plot didn’t grab you that’s bad, because everything is centered around how his brain (and his attitude) is twisting. And the ridiculous Frost Tips? May have been to give Grimes a badass attitude, I guess. It’s true that the only action related to the case was the one on the rooftop, as the rest was Morgan related.
Kyle: Almost all of the good from this episode comes from the Casey family. While Casey’s crush on Getrude Verbanski is a bit forced in its awkwardness, it still adds a nice angle to the show, mostly because Verbanski is an interesting character. Casey’s best moment was responding to his daughter being dumped by Morgan. I’ve also loved Alex and I think the scene between her and her father was great.
Sam: It’s time those two developed their relationship. I also felt John’s move was a brave one, one that he might have been afraid or reluctant to take previously.
Kyle: The Verbanski story, however, also revealed a real problem with this season: there’s a lack of gravity. The team are a private security firm, so far dealing with stolen items and kidnappings. None of it seems important. As CIA agents, they were saving the world every week or so. Nothing they can do now can have that same weight. I understand the decision to move them away, particularly with the conspiracy angle, but it’s making the individual stories suffer.
Sam: I couldn’t agree more. And I believe that’s why General Beckman was on the scene again, to help the new Team Bartowsky to move from silly stuff to playing in the Major Leagues. Something tells me that Beckman it’s going to be kind of the unofficial Carmichael liaison to the CIA. Hey, and she brought some sweet cash, which lack was another big problem in this Season’s premise.
Kyle: Yeah, it makes me wonder how the ultimate showdown with Decker is going to play out. I have to assume that at some point we’re going to see that Beckman has been manipulated by Decker, too, given how involved she’s been. Does this lead to a battle for the CIA?
Sam: Yeah, hadn’t thought about that, but if Beckman was straight with Chuck and everything was a lie, then she was manipulated as well. Big time. Maybe Chuck and his team will end up being Beckman’s Black Op team to solve the big conspiracy.
Kyle: Speaking of the conspiracy, we get a big step forward with it in the revelation that the glasses Morgan put on that gave him the Intersect weren’t sent by General Beckman. The obvious answer is that they were sent by Decker for his intended target, Chuck. It’s a nice twist, actually, and probably would have made the Morgan as the Intersect more palatable if not for a) the infuriating scene between Sarah and Ellie earlier in this episode and b) the fact that "Morgan as the Intersect" hasn’t been remotely entertaining.
Sam: Yeah, seems like "Morgan the Intersect" has been just a tool during these three episodes, a construct used by the writers to show Decker’s evil and to advance the conspiracy in an unexpected way. Ideas? Good. Execution? Not so much. Hopefully, and judging by the big cliffhanger at the end, Morgan has more important things to worry about than the Intersect.
Kyle: All this said, the preview for next week looks pretty good; it’s also incredibly telling. The preview is meant as a teaser; it shows you bits and pieces from the next episode in order to get you to tune in. I think it says a lot that Morgan getting the Intersect out of his head is explicitly shown in the preview. In fact, it’s shown as "this happens, then the rest of the episode happens." I would be shocked if this weren’t a result of the response the storyline has gotten. It’s not unlike going "hey, look, we’re fixing it! Please keep watching, we’re fixing it!"
This was perhaps the first time I’ve ever been really bored watching an episode of Chuck. I’m hoping that the Casey/Verbanski dynamic, the always great Chuck/Sarah moments, more clues as to the great conspiracy, and the removal of the Intersect from Morgan’s head will get the show back on track.
Sam: I wasn’t bored, but that’s because I was comparing it to the previous episode, which, in Nova’s words was an "Epic Fail". However I want more badass villains, more action, a nicer team dynamic and a Chuck with both money and the Intersect. Stop playing, people, and let the fireworks begin. After all, this is the big final Season. Give us the best Chuck you’ve got!
Kyle: I would like to call my shot, if you will, for how the season ends. Casey returns to the CIA, replacing Decker. Chuck and Sarah retire to run the Buy More, a decision they make because we find out Sarah is pregnant. And cue credits!
Sam: Hell yeah, I can see Casey running the show, and Chuck and Sarah settling seems right as well. What you missed is the big wedding between Morgan and Alex! Oh, and I’m pretty sure a certain Orion might reappear at some point!
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.