Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Chuck v the Mask

One of the shows I intend to do an episode by episode review is Chuck. Currently well into its third season Chuck is probably my favourite TV show on at the moment. For those of you who are unaware of this show here's a quick synopsis. 

Chuck is a show about how a normal guy (Charles Bartowski or Chuck for short) gets involved in espionage courtesy of an email sent by an old college friend. The email contains government secrets that are 'downloaded' into his brain. The government sends two agents, Sarah & Casey, to protect and work with Chuck. The secrets in Chuck’s head allow him to access information & as of season three skill sets, a la The Matrix.

Anyway that's enough exposition for now, on to the episode itself. Chuck v the Mask centres on Team Bartowski's mission to 'steal' an art exhibit (the mask) as it is believed to have been used by the Ring to smuggle something into the country. In the process of completing this mission Chuck gets very close to newest member of the Nerd Herd (Hannah), while Agent Shaw is making moves on Sarah. It’s a fun episode focusing mainly on the spy world so unfortunately there's no sign of Jeffster. Some thoughts on the episode: 
  • Chuck v the Mask saw both this seasons recurring guest stars given extended screen time. Shaw was back after a single show hiatus, while Hannah was much more prominent than she was in the last episode. 

  • On to what is the most contentious issue for a lot of fans - the Chuck/Sarah storyline.  Incidentally I do hate the combining of two names to form one as in Charah for Chuck & Sarah. A special exemption is given to Jeffster, it is after all the name of their band.  Sarah & Chuck have been moving in opposite directions for sometime so it's no surprise to see them move onto other people. However I question the pace of the Sarah/Shaw relationship. It didn't feel quite right. Maybe that's because of the truly cringe worthy line that Sarah gave about liking Shaw's kissing of her neck. As a couple they seem less believable than Hannah & Chuck. Sarah went from completely blanking Shaw to cuddling up to him. Now granted this earlier indifference may well have been an act but it still seemed a little rushed. Also Shaw's behaviour is inappropriate given that he's her & Team Bartowski's boss, as well as going against what he said about the danger of spies falling in love.

    Despite this concern I don't have an issue with exploring these new relationships. In fact I think both have the potential to be serious & long lasting. There is definite chemistry between Chuck & Hannah. She would seem a more natural choice for Chuck than Sarah. And you can understand what Sarah sees in Shaw given their common background. This combined with the emotional loss they've both suffered could well draw them to one another.

  • Chuck wasn't busy just moving on from one relationship this episode but two. The Chuck/Morgan 'bromance' has been on the backburner pretty much all season but the last two episodes have really created a distance between the two. Morgan's look after finding out that Chuck had snagged Hannah was heartbreaking. Was this the episode that the 'bromance' died?

  • This episode actually had the feel of a season 2 episode. That's probably because Chuck didn't call on Intersect 2.0 or at least not the physical abilities. It meant that he was reliant on his own skills to complete the mission, which was actually good to see. And it was Chuck that was critical to the success of the mission rather than anyone else on Team Bartowski. Using his computer skills to save Shaw at the beginning, making the switch with the mask, devising the plan to get the antidote & rescuing Hannah at the end. Chuck it seems is ready to stand on his own two feet. 

  • Talking of which, the suggestion that Chuck would need less supervision from the rest of Team Bartowski will definitely alter the dynamic of the show. It has been a trend throughout this season, notably in Chuck v the First Class but it’s hard to imagine the show working without Chuck having Casey or Sarah to play off. How the writers intend to play this out will be interesting. 

  • Casey, though he was given limited things to do, still comes out with all the best lines. We learn he takes his coffee "black & bitter". He's frustrated when he can't "blow things up" & he comes up with a whole new grunt to acknowledge the Sarah & Shaw situation. Also liked his reasoning for switching off Chuck & Sarah's mikes as well as the "ready for the big boy bike Bartowski" (try saying that quickly) quote at the end. That's ended up quite a list so maybe he did have enough material. Either that or I just love everything he does. 

  • The shows budget restrictions is becoming more apparent each week. The rotation of characters can work in some episodes as it allows the show stick to a tight story line. That was definitely the case in some earlier episodes but the continued absence of certain characters does feel off.

  • Definitely felt there was more potential in the Jeffster stalking Chuck storyline but who knows maybe that gets revived later on. 

  • Great to see Ellie given something to work with. She's never struck me as someone suitable for comedy but her stuff with Morgan worked really well. 

  • Lastly damn those Olympics. In the past I've been pretty indifferent to the winter version but this three week break makes me hate all those ridiculous looking figure skaters & obscure sports (curling anyone?).
Anyway that's my take on last night’s episode. What did everyone else think?


  1. It could be that Sarah and/or Shaw are 'playing' each other. After all, they are both spies. Wasn't it Sarah/Casey who complained that Shaw was an unknown quantity; he had no official records [at least not ones they could access]?

    Chuck believes he's blown it with Sarah [for good reasons]. Why shouldn't he attempt - however badly - to move on?

    I agree with your comments about Casey. Adam is weaving a steady seam of [usually comedy] gold through every episode and I watch and listen to him particularly. Casey's the character I want to know more about. How does he cope outside his perceived comfort zone? Does he really have an angry centre? [I'm saying a firm 'no' on that; look at his lusty and romantic tenderness with Ilsa].

  2. Thanks for your comments. On the Sarah/Shaw thing you may be right in your analysis but I have tried to stick to what we saw on screen rather than a possible future path. Though it will be interesting how this relationship goes forward particularly as Brandon Routh is due to stay on the show for several more episodes.

    We will be getting a Casey centric episode later on this season so hopefully we will learn more about the Colonel.