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Chuck: Chuck vs. the Honeymooners

The first of the post-should-have-been-season-finale episodes have started. This installment of Chuck featured a great mix of romance, action, and comedy (as usual), as well as a certain “freedom” from the overwhelming UST and angst that has been steadily increasing until its culmination in the previous episode. It was with both anticipation and a little bit of apprehension that I sat down to enjoy my favorite geek hero (and his awesome entourage) this week; I really enjoyed the last episode and thought it worked well as a season (and possibly series) finale, so I worried that the last six “bonus" episodes would mess things up again.

Would they try to stuff the romance back in the box and bring back the UST?
Would they make either of the super-spies into simpering heroines in need of constant rescue (and yes, that means Chuck as well)?
Would they mess up the team dynamics that has worked so well this far?
The answer to all of the above, fortunately, was no.

The episode runs three parallel storylines – Chuck and Sarah living the honeymoon lifestyle on a luxurious train in Europe, Ellie and Captain Awesome preparing to leave for Africa complete with going away party, and lastly Morgan and a reluctant Casey trying to retrieve the delinquent lovebirds from their little “vacation” turned permanent sabbatical.

First things first – the romance. Chuck and Sarah have always had a good chemistry and enjoyed their time together, but I've always wondered how much they really had in common. Did Sarah really enjoy hanging out with Chuck along with his family and friends? What would be her choice of conversational topics, etc. To me, the scenes from their “honeymoon” on the train were very fulfilling, and I really buy that they are a real couple now. While the “What's your favourite ”-type question is something most people settle a bit earlier in their relationship – come on, they've been friends and a fake couple for years now. Therefore, any such discussions they may have had would be tainted by Sarah's cover, making all her previous answers suspect.

Besides, it's cute. And we like cute – otherwise, we wouldn't have lasted through nearly three seasons of this show!

The spy bit really works too – Chuck made it through the entire episode without a single amateurish fumble, while still maintaining his easygoing, slightly goofy charm. While they're a long way from the competence porn of Leverage or Burn notice, they're getting pretty awesome, and I still love that Chuck is perfectly willing to lean back and let Sarah shine, admiring her skills without feeling threatened by them.

Morgan and Casey also work well together – once Casey manages to restrain himself from killing his new "buddy", that is. Morgan gets a crowning moment of awesome when he tracks down Chuck through creative use of Google-fu and personal knowledge of the target. He gets another when Excessive Tourist-syndrome helps him see through the cover story of the fake Interpol agents. You know you've done well when even Casey is impressed!

Not one of Casey's best episodes overall, what with him being shown up by Morgan, knocked down by Chuck-and-Sarah (also know as the Charles' – Charles's – Charleses?) and outgunned by terrorists. However, he does get another chance to show that he does have a heart underneath that grouchy exterior; letting our favourite lovebirds ride off into the sunset while wishing them luck.

The whole Ellie/Awesome/Jeffster-plot worked less well. While I normally love Captain Awesome, I think he's been off his game lately, a very normal and believable reaction to the revelation of Chuck's secret. But I want him to be AWESOME, not nervous and indecisive. Ellie's little drunken spectacle wasn't really all that cool either – it didn't really work for me, but still remained painful and miserable. I'm really glad they didn't do a classic “Oops, you missed her, now you'll regret it for the rest of your life” situation, but allowed her and Chuck to find a bit of closure at the end.

And what an end it was. I was seriously worried they would try to pull back from a full-blown relationship by necessitating secrecy and cover stories, but they went all the way, which includes informing General Beckman, despite her voluble protests. While her endorsement may have been slightly OOC, it was still pretty cute. And as for our policy on cute, see prior statement.

 If this sets the tone for the final episodes of what may very well be the final season of Chuck, I'll be a happy little fan indeed.



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