‘Chuck’ is working out some kinks
October 29th, 2011
11:04 AM ET

‘Chuck’ is working out some kinks

Team Bartowski is back in business for what NBC has promised is the final season of “Chuck.” Last night’s premiere picked up with the nearly wholesale reboot that ended season four.

Just to catch up: Chuck and Sarah are married. The team has been fired by the CIA and has decided to branch out on its own as freelance spies. Chuck’s sister knows about the intersect, but Chuck doesn’t have the intersect anymore. Morgan does.

So we’re jumping into a completely new dynamic among the characters, but I’m not so sure it works. We’ll get back to that later.

We start mid-mission, with the gang attempting to retrieve a vase that was stolen by some throwaway villain played in a pretty throwaway cameo by Mark Hamill. (Seriously, you get Luke Skywalker, and the best you can do is have him act bored and use a silly accent?)

In fairly short order, we learn that Morgan is holding his own as the intersect. Also, the gang has blown through most of its seed money, and is forced to take on any client they can find. After four seasons of fighting for their country, the idea of the team targeting random embezzlers and thieves just seems to lack gravity.

Speaking of random embezzlers, this week’s bad guy is played by Craig Kilborn. He’s running a massive Ponzi scheme, and Team Bartowski is hired to break into his computer files and return the money he’s stolen.

The mission itself doesn’t really matter so much, because the focus of this episode is on the interplay between the members of our team, especially Chuck trying to find his place in it.

He no longer has special powers as the intersect. He has no long-term spy training like Casey and Sarah, and he has to lead and finance the team, a position that’s relatively new for him. It’s enough to make any dweeb-turned-superman-turned-regular-man question his place in the universe.

The conclusion shows that Chuck is certainly capable of being a contributing member of the team, even without the intersect. But it seems like we’re in for a longer arc in which Chuck has to face his feelings of being replaced by Morgan.

I think that’s what feels off to me about this episode, and potentially about where this season is going. These characters have a long history together, and their reactions to their environment being shifted so drastically just felt off.

Sarah must know how difficult it is for Chuck to take a back seat, but in some scenes she almost brushes him off in terms of actual spy work. More to the point, given all the intersect-in, intersect-out nonsense the show has pulled in the past, Chuck has dealt with some of these same insecurities before.

Most problematic, I just don’t think Morgan works well as the intersect. The character really stepped up last season, providing an emotional foil in addition to his usual comic duties. But “action hero” isn’t a role that suits Morgan, and trying to force it for the sake of a new dynamic didn’t work for me.

I would've preferred that the episode focus on the information we get in the last scene, that CIA agent Clyde Decker is still after Chuck. I’m sure we’ll get lots more on that, but in a final season – and a shortened one, to boot – it seems time would be better spent wrapping up that story and the show’s overall mythology than turning everything on its ear.

What did you think about the premiere? Does Morgan make a great intersect? And were you shocked at Sarah’s idea of a dream home? Sound off in the comments section below!


soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Damian

    Here's something the creatore didn't think about if morgan is going to be the new intersect then why only make 13 episodes I mean why go through all that trouble for 13 episodes either they stop production or make more episodes or plan another season.

    January 22, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Damian

    Ok I read all the comments and I agree with the people that chuck should be the intersect.if the guy who writes the chuck episodes watched the final episode of season 4 then he would know that morgan told casey and alex that he is done with the whole spy life forever even if its freelance spy stuff its still spy stuff and he made a promise so they should just cancel the rest of season 5 but if they do decide to continue then they must give the intersect back to chuck

    January 22, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. KT

    My sons and I have watched Chuck from the beginning and we have always loved it. HOWEVER – I would sooner listen to Jeffster sing a Lady Gaga cover than watch Morgan on screen as a lead. He has got to go!

    October 31, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Buckin' Bill - Montana

    C'mon! We all know that the show was built around the character "Sarah" showing up in skimpy lingerie. No talent needed, just nice skin.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. LisaDavidson

    Hated the episode, too much change to the basic premise of the show, which to me has always been that Chuck is a hero, with or without the intersect. The US government is basically good and Morgan is comic relief. Now the US government is the enemy, I don't like the Decker character at all, and I miss Morgan as comic relief and I am bummed about him being the intersect. If we have an intersect, it should be Chuck. It would be more interesting seeing Sarah trying to adapt to a normal life in her dream house and Casey trying to be more involved with his daughter and lost love. there are plenty of good storylines possible, but the premiere had little of them. Also miss the General, she gave the spying needed emotional balance.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. David in Houston

    The shows called Chuck, not Morgan. No one wants to see Morgan using the intersect. This was a really bad decision, which was obviously brought on by budget cuts. The season opener was painfully unfunny and unentertaining. I actually felt sad and angry watching it. Which probably wasn't what they were going for.

    October 31, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dano

    I've always enjoyed watching Chuck all these years and sad to know that NBC decided to ax the show after this season Shame !! Last Friday's episode was ok...Chuck needs to be the intersect, not Morgan. Hope the writers save the show's demise by putting the Intersect back to Chuck !!

    October 31, 2011 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. j

    It is a bit strained. Perhaps it is a combination of things. On could be that the jobs aren't as grand because they don't work for a governmental agency and go to foreign countries. It might work better if the general decided they need them back and the government hires the firm on. It would be funny if lester got the intersect. He is always all bravado but it would be fun to see how he reacts when he learns what he can do and then Chuck and co would have to reign him in...

    October 31, 2011 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
  9. Vghdgfvv

    Come on, after five years the least we can do is watch their last season...plus what kind of a fan gives up on the show based on the first episode! Smh

    October 30, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. yes !

    It was a pooooopy show ! POOOOOPY !

    October 30, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mer

    Come on people, let's not get carried away here. Was I a 'bit' let down by the premiere? Yes. Am I hoping they get the Intersect out of Morgan and back into Chuck? Yes. But remember last season's premiere, when some people were upset that they didn't deal with Chuck retiring from the spy life at all? At the end of season 3, he promised Ellie he wasn't going to be a spy anymore, then right at the start of season 4 it's business as usual. Some critics thought it was a cop-out for them not to even deal with Chuck trying to be retired, but just pretend like that promise had never happened and carry on with business as usual. They've also been called out on several other episodes where they ironed out a wrinkle they'd made in a single episode, rather than letting the wrinkle get smoothed out over two or three episodes. I guarantee you if this episode had been all about Chuck getting the Intersect back and Morgan NOT being the Intersect, critics would be saying, "Why did they even bother having Morgan become the Intersect if they were just going to give it back to Chuck?" Give them a little time to straighten this out! This is the first time in a while that the writers have been able to focus on an arc lasting more than two or three episodes, without worrying that the rug was going to get pulled out from under them, leaving a bunch of loose strings hanging for the fans. Really, my biggest disappointment in this episode was Sarah's haircut. I enjoyed Morgan's Intersect antics, largely because you could see how incredibly cool he thought it all was while he was doing his super spy stuff. Morgan has an appreciation for this stuff that Chuck didn't, because it's all brand new to him, and obviously what he's always dreamed of having (super powers). The problems they set up at the end of season 4 could not be fixed in a single episode without having people cry, "Oh, so now Chuck is magically the Intersect again and they're back with the CIA? CHICKENS!!!"

    Please, just calm down and give this season a chance people. That goes for you, too, Mr. Bienstock.

    October 30, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. vshifflett

    i bought all 4 seasons but i dont like slap stick comedy idid not watch but 10 or 15 min. you are trying to rewrite your own rules chuck is special i love morgan bf with more guts and love for the team than sence

    October 30, 2011 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. peter chukwudubem

    am sorry about all this but why is this going to be the last season of chuck come on pls can the be anything the we can just to keep the movie going pls i already in love with the movie pls dont stop it now pls.

    October 29, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Glynne1964

    I love Chuck. I'm sad to see it go. Though like many I'm not thrilled with last night's show. :-(

    The only part I found to be part of the Chuck of season's past was when Lester & Jeff were running their scam at the Buy More. I'm really hoping that the rest of the season will improve...or I won't be needing my dvr for it (I work late on Fri).

    October 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Karen

    I have loved the TV show Chuck from the beginning, but last night was such a let down. I still love the characters, but I do not like Morgan as the intersect. Remember Chuck's dad saying he was "special"...they are also making Sarah and Casey non-important. I will still watch in hopes they correct their "BIG MISTAKE" with this episode. I hope it gets better or I won't be buying this last season on DVD.

    October 29, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Adrian

    Too much has changed, won't watch this season. With the new roles the show has changed too much. If the show was fading before, this season will confirm why. The writing has gotten worse.

    October 29, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • bonvoightski

      jeez, give the season some time to get on it's feet. The episode was different, yes. It was also funny and had heart. I think we just need to see where the writers take it and we'll get a fun ride along the way.

      October 29, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Missy

    I like Chuck. I like all the quirky characters on the show. Kind of sad that this is their last season.

    October 29, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |

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