Monday's episode "Chuck Versus the Balcony", was the first new episode in more than a month, and, just laying it right out there, it felt like a letdown. While the mission was about recovering a stolen nanochip from a chateau in France, that was just window dressing for the "sub-mission" (as Morgan kept annoyingly referring to it) of Chuck proposing to Sarah.
The whole episode, with the proposals getting interrupted, Morgan geeking out on the CIA's equipment, Casey being Casey -- even the Buy More subplot with Lester's so-called arranged marriage and screwing it up with a Jeffster performance -- all just felt so predictable. For an episode centered around such an important moment in Chuck and Sarah's relationship, it seemed like it was written mad-libs style.
There were two big things about the episode that bothered me, outside from the tedium of it all. First, when General Beckman introduced this week's mission, she made a point of saying that not everything was tied to Volkoff. But then the twist at the end of the episode -- the last predictable moment, right down to Chuck's proposal getting interrupted AGAIN -- made everything about Volkoff again. You can't have it both ways. It's like when "Alias" tried to go standalone at the beginning of Season 4, then decided that didn't work and made everything about Rambaldi again. The show lost so much steam then, and I feel like "Chuck" is losing steam with this Volkoff plot hanging over everything.
That ties into my second issue. After one of the failed proposals, Chuck said something about wanting the moment to be like James Bond, and Sarah responded by saying "I didn't fall in love with James Bond; I fell in love with you." There's just one problem with that: the Chuck we see on the show these days is a lot closer to James Bond than the Chuck she fell in love with. Rather than being a normal guy thrust into spy life through an accident, he's a spy who maintains something of a normal life -- though less and less -- solely as a cover. The more we learn about Chuck's familial backstory, the more we realize it was no accident that he ended up with the intersect in the first place.
One of my favorite moments from the entire run of "Chuck" came back in Season 1. After a particularly trying day of being a spy/The Intersect, he went back to the Buy More, after hours, and spent all night repairing computers. Not because he had, or even because he liked it, but because it was something he was good at and he wanted to feel like he'd accomplished something. As a viewer, THAT was the Chuck I fell in love with, and episodes like these make it seem like that Chuck is pretty close to being gone.
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.