October 29th, 2011
11:04 AM ET
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!
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