Saturday, 17 December 2011

CHUCK, 5.6 – "Chuck Versus the Curse"

Saturday, 17 December 2011

It was fun to see Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and Devon (Ryan McPartlin) take some of the spotlight for a change, as those characters have always felt like garnish to me. Having them mistaken as Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) by the CIA, who are under orders to take the Bartowski's into custody, made for an entertaining subplot in "Chuck Versus The Curse". Lancaster and McPartlin have good chemistry together, and it was funny seeing their dinner date "spy fantasy" turn very real, and for them to become deeply embroiled in this week's episode. Naturally, all the thrills, danger and adventure proved to be quite the turn-on, so their date night out was a big success. It's a shame this episode attempted to do other things simultaneously, because most of the other subplots weren't anywhere near as pleasurable.

The biggest problem with "... Versus The Curse" was how it resolved what appeared to be the start of a long arc last week, with the exciting prospect of the team on the run brushed under the carpet in an hour. Was it really necessary to bring so much of last week's developments to an end the very next week? We still have the situation with The Omen computer virus (which has now been released worldwide, attacking every computer), and the suggestion that someone's going after Chuck specifically who's above General Beckman's (Bonita Fiedericy) pay grade, but I would have preferred a few more weeks to let more of the storyline develop from "... Versus The Hack Off". Maybe that's the price you pay for the producers only getting a half-season order to wrap the show up.

The weakest storyline involved Morgan (Joshua Gomez), who was mostly confined to his ex-girlfriend Alex's (Mekenna Melvin) house, tasked to get Chuck's P.A.N.T.S ("Personal Artifacts Never To Share"). A mostly pointless exercise that didn't really go anywhere, but was intended to get Morgan and Alex back on speaking terms after their acrimonious break-up. (The spy game seems to be the world's best aphrodisiac a couple could ask for on Chuck, doesn't it.)

Second of Strahotness: forgiveness face
Not as bad, but still problematic, was the idea of Chuck believing his family's cursed and ultimately delivering The Omen into enemy hands because of his overused Achilles Heel (the protective feelings towards his family). There have also been a very large number of episodes since season 3 where the Chuck/Sarah relationship is put under strain by the demands of their spy life, and it's lost any impact it once had.

This week's guest-star villain Robin Cunnings (Rebecca Romijin) also failed to make an impression, as the only notable thing about the statuesque Cunnings was her love of "The Toy" (an electrical torture device, settle down). It's always a disappointment when Chuck casts a famous face, but doesn't have a good character for them to play, just a limp archetype. The dialogue was also very clichéd for Cunnings, which made Romijin give a performance that was more tedious than dramatic or imposing.

Overall, I really wish this episode had the courage of its convictions and had focused exclusively on Ellie and Devon's misadventure together. That aspect of "... Versus The Curse" worked nicely and gave two underused actors something different and fun to tackle. But the story was cluttered with less endearing subplots, and in general this episode wound up feeling like a bucket of cold water had been thrown over last week's "... Versus The Hack Off". I was really excited about where Chuck could go last week, but now I'm back to questioning the writers' masterplan. I just hope the release of the devastating Omen virus is handled with some degree of plausibility, and whoever's been released from prison as a result of the global technology meltdown is a real surprise.


  • I'm aware that the preview for next week's episode spoiled the surprise of who's been released from prison, so please don't mention it here.
  • Do we really accept that Gertrude (Carrie-Anne Moss) left the country so quickly and easily after last week? I hate it when the show has to make excuses for the unavailability of a guest-star.
  • The CIA's incompetence is truly staggering! Who puts two rogue agents in the backseat of a car with both doors unlocked? (This also appeared to be a continuity error, because we clearly saw the door being locked when Ellie and Devon got inside, yet they were able to just bail out while the car was in motion.)
  • Anyone else get uncomfortable when a show like Chuck has scenes implying the heroes tortured a villain for information?
  • Would a strip of shirt cloth insulate you from holding a metal hairpin you've jammed into an electric switchboard?
written by Alex Katsnelson / directed by Michael Schultz / 16 December 2011 / NBC