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CHUCK vs. the Mask

February 8, 2010 by  

I’m so spoiled. After being on the verge of cancellation, CHUCK fights its way back on to the network. Of course I was ecstatic. Then I was told my show wasn’t coming back until March and I was ready to storm the castle. NBC brings back CHUCK early and orders additional episodes, and once again I’m over the moon. But tonight, when the promo lady told me I have to wait three more weeks before another new episode. Why I oughta….

See? Spoiled.

Tonight’s episode didn’t end with a big reveal or a crazy cliffhanger, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a solid episode packed with important plot movement and strong character development. I dare say that this episode will be the launching pad for the rest of the season. New twosomes were formed, and Chuck is about to take another step closer, or should I say deeper, into spydom. Is this when I should mention that I don’t do well with change?

To say “Chuck vs. the Mask” punched an emotional wallop would be an understatement. I’ve seen every minute of CHUCK since the very first episode, and despite the show having some seriously devastating moments, I think tonight was the first time I ever full on cried. Tears streaming down my face. There was something so beautiful and heartbreaking in how Chuck and Sarah let each other go.

Chuck: If I had to see you with someone else, it might as well be a hero, right.
Sarah: What can I say, I have a type.

Gulp. Is it dusty in here again?

Now I don’t doubt for a minute that these two will find their way back to each other sometime, but there was a certain sense of finality to their exchange. It’s almost as if they were ready to accept that it just wasn’t going to happen for them.

If you’ve read my weekly reviews and listen to our CHUCK coverage on The TV Talk Podcast then you know that I’ve always been ok with the circumstances that have kept Chuck and Sarah apart. I’ve always thought they’ve made sense on some level. Until tonight. If Sarah is willing to move forward with a relationship with Shaw, then why couldn’t she do the same with Chuck? I understood it before when he was the asset and she was his handler, but now those barriers are essentially gone. It can’t be that she doesn’t want to get involved with another spy. Not when she’s chewing on that straw for Shaw. What gives?

As for Chuck and Sarah’s new paramours, perhaps I’m just gun shy, but I’m not willing at this point in time to trust either one of them. Hannah seems sweet enough, but so did Jill. And as for Shaw, don’t tell me that the close up of him, with the daunting music swelling in the back, as he said “I’m the safest guy you know” didn’t have you wondering just how falsely his words would ring true in the future.

On paper Sarah & Shaw and Chuck & Hannah are good for each other. Both Shaw and Hannah have everything Sarah and Chuck, respectively, should want. Keyword being “should”. Easier doesn’t always mean better. Oh and in case you were wondering, I don’t buy for a minute that Sarah has feelings for Shaw. Maybe the writers want us to believe that she does, but I’m not seeing it. I think he’s a nice distraction from Chuck, and she maybe wants there to be something between them so she can move on from the man she really loves, but I just don’t feel the chemistry. It felt forced from beginning to end. Then again, I’ve always been the type of girl to go for Jimmy Olsen over Superman. Am I projecting?

I’m not sure what to make of the rushed scene at the end when Chuck was informed that he’d be moving on to the next phase of his training. Seems the CIA wants him to operate more independently – without the aid of Team Bartowski. I’m not sure why this is particularly important. Casey and Sarah work as a pair. Before him it was Sarah and Bryce. Why does Chuck need to go it alone? I suppose it’s just the next step in Chuck’s evolution as a full-fledged spy, but to be honest, I’m not interested in seeing Chuck save the world unless Sarah and Casey are right there beside him.

What I thought really worked in this episode was Chuck’s role as a member of the team. Yes he had his death-defying stunts and a few brushes with death, but he also helped the team by leveraging his skill set as a Nerd Herder. He didn’t just rely on fancy moves or skills programed into the intersect. Those have their time and place, and they certainly did tonight, but on the whole “hybrid” Chuck works well too.

Knowing that tonight was the last episode before the Olympics, part of me was expecting my jaw to to be dropped just a little.  And I thought I was going to get that moment when Ellie and Morgan peaked into the home theater room. I was convinced that they would see Chuck doing something conspicuous; something that would bring them that much closer to his secret life.  But instead they found him making out with Hannah, and their little investigation was all but derailed. I really liked the twosome of Ellie and Morgan. I thought they played well off each other, so I hope we’ll see more of them trying once again to figure out Chuck’s (other) secret.

There was a noticeable absence of Jeffster and Captain Awesome tonight, but I can’t say the episode hurt as a result. In fact, I thought it was actually refreshing to see Ellie have something to do that didn’t involve Devon. Sarah Lancaster traditionally hasn’t received the big laughs, but tonight Ellie had a few lines and a few knocks on the door which were quite funny. See, she can do more than just whine about her brother’s future. I knew it!

If Ellie is spending all this time with Morgan, then poor Awesome is probably all alone at home by himself.  Ok, ok, stop twisting my arm. I’ll go keep him company. While I’m off comforting Devon, check out a few more memorable moments from ‘Chuck vs. the Mask’.

  • Tonight didn’t bring the amount of laughs that I like in my CHUCK, but there were a few good one liners. Since Casey isn’t being distracted by members of the opposite sex, the least he can do is bring the funny, right? Case in point: “Thanks for the coffee, just how I like it, black and bitter.”
  • You’ve got the guy who played Superman, and a girl who was into the man of steel on Smallville, yet the writers have kept their restraint with the Superman jokes.  I think it’s why this one worked so well.

    Hannah: Any idea what she’s doing here? Other than making you jealous with that ridiculously good looking date of hers.
    Chuck: Ridiculously, good look…. Him? Him? Nah. Yeah, if you’re into the strong Superman-y type of a guy.

  • Chuck and Sarah may have decided it’s time to move on, but two people that are that jealous just don’t walk away from each other easily. (I know it’s hard to take your eyes off Yvonne Strahovski in this scene, but watch as Zac/Chuck struggles to put on the harness.  It’s those little moments that I really love).

  • Can someone please give Morgan a hug. He lost his lady. He lost his dream of being a Benihana chef. He’s slowly losing his best friend. And now he finds out that the girl he’s crushing on has been secretly “stolen” from him by his buddy. I felt really, truly sad for him tonight. Cheer up, Morgan. Maybe Carina will come back to town soon.
  • Kudos to the director and editors for job well done in the scene where Hannah was trying to open the vault just as Shaw was trying to close it…all while Chuck was dangling upside down from the ceiling. (I hope Zac Levi asked for raise since he became Chuck 2.0)
  • I didn’t need to see a scene with Shaw carrying Sarah juxtaposed with a scene showing Chuck carrying Hannah.  We get it.
  • Don’t you think it’s about time that Casey get some action?  And I’m not talking about with a gun (unless he’s into that kind of thing). He’s a hot man who needs a little lovin’ of his own. Agreed?

I’m fully expecting there to be some that enjoyed this episode as much as I did, while others view of the ep might be tainted by their displeasure of the new relationships that were formed (or maybe by something else entirely).  I don’t mean to be disrespectful to those who watch the show for Chuck and Sarah – you love what you love – but for me there’s so much more to enjoy than the romantic entanglements. CHUCK has created this fun new world and characters that I really care about. It’s one of the few highlights of my TV week. It’s not always going to be perfect, but I choose to celebrate the awesomeness of it all. (Even when he’s not in an episode).

Dare I ask…what did YOU think of tonight’s episode.


21 Responses to “CHUCK vs. the Mask”

  1. OldDarth on February 8th, 2010 11:54 pm

    I too enjoy the show for many other things above the relationship. One that I hold to the highest standard is honest story telling.

    A good episode except for the last 10 minutes starting with the framing shot of Shaw and Sarah together and Chuck and Hannah.

    If the show wants to mix things up I have no problem with that. There is a story telling requirement that needs to be filled here. If a show is going to dramatize an ongoing relationship that puts 2 seasons of emotional baggage on the two romantic leads then switching them up requires a buildup to doing so. A few minutes of screen time together between Sarah and Shaw are simply not enough.

    The proof is in the last Castle scene where not just Chuck and Sarah but Casey all acting out of character. That is what happens when a change in story direction is not handled properly.

    The issue here has nothing to do with the relationship. It is about telling a story honestly. The show did not so they had to have the characters act out of character to push the new direction through.

    Sad because the rest of the episode was pretty entertaining.

    This is a low point for the series right beside the sweeping of the Mauser shooting under the rug.

  2. Give Me My Remote on February 9th, 2010 12:02 am

    Old Darth, I am with you on the forced scenes with Sarah and Shaw. Maybe that’s why they didn’t ring true to me, they didn’t have enough of a build up. Excellent point.

    Again, I don’t mean to discredit ANYONE that is invested in Chuck and Sarah’s relationship. If anything, I think I might be overly blase about the whole thing because I know that Hannah and Shaw are just bumps in the road.

  3. Seat42f on February 9th, 2010 12:42 am

    I’m all in favor of team Channah 🙂

    Would think that if Shaw or Hannah are ring Chuck would have flashed. Whoever Chuck and Sarah end up with I will be 10000000% disappointed if either Shaw or Hannah are rogue undercover agents. Would be such lazy writing. it’s the Buy More and not CTU 🙂 Do think that Shaw’s fiance will somehow figure back into all of this.

    I’ve always thought Casey was gay. Would be curious if he hooked up who it would be with.

  4. Chuck808Fan on February 9th, 2010 2:42 am

    Thanks for the great review!

    I thought the Sarah/Shaw moments were purposely forced. Sarah knows that Chuck is interested in Hannah and Shaw is interested in her so Shaw is a distraction for the moment. She doesn’t seem that interested in him. The way Sarah looks at Chuck is a lot different than the way she looks at Chuck.

    The Chuck/Sarah relationship is my favorite part of the show but not the only part that I like.

  5. karen on February 9th, 2010 9:11 am

    Least fav. eip. this season 🙁

  6. Sara V on February 9th, 2010 9:14 am

    Did anyone else think that the “Ring” leader’s voice in the final scene sounded like Casey? It sounded like it to me and I got really nervous.

  7. Give Me My Remote on February 9th, 2010 9:33 am

    Karen –
    You sounded genuinely sad this morning. It was almost as if Lucky died all over again. HA!

  8. compromisedcover on February 9th, 2010 10:16 am

    Chuck is in default mode in this episode, brunettes being one of his weakness. Chuck/Hannah, I completely buy. Sarah/Shaw, not so much. I sure hope Sarah has a plan with this Shaw business.

  9. Billiam on February 9th, 2010 11:27 am

    After the events of the premiere (in which Chuck really hurt her) and last episode (in which she realized Chuck wasn’t the same guy she originally fell for) it made sense to me tha Sarah would try to move on.

  10. Elena on February 9th, 2010 11:30 am

    loved it! and i kind of like the new couples. even though i love chuck and sarah … i really like him with hannah too and sarah and shaw look great together. soo i’m definitely not complaining on that part. solid episode and great review!

  11. Beth on February 9th, 2010 11:41 am

    I’m also one of those who don’t mind these relationships because all they are and will end up being are catalysts to Chuck and Sarah getting together. They are called rebounds. Chuck decided to not be with Sarah and even though she now knows that it was for good reasons, I’m sure that sting is still there. And I truly think that the Sarah/Shaw thing is supposed to look forced- maybe she has orders from General Beckman (GB) to get close to Shaw since we know GB is scared of him, his plans…and Shaw could be doing the same thing if he is a bad guy!

    And Chuck, well Chuck doesn’t see how he can have a relationship with a spy so until he realizes that the risk is worth it (ie being with sarah is worth it all) he won’t pursue that. Hannah is a piece of normal in his life and we all know that Chuck desires to have that sense of normalcy, even if its really not possible anymore. He’s just holding on. He’ll let go soon.

  12. Nicole on February 9th, 2010 12:37 pm

    I thought that it was a little heavy-handed with the juxtaposed scenes of Chuck/Hannah and Sarah/Shaw, but other than that I don’t have a problem with either pairing. I do agree that Sarah is probably after more of a rebound and taking the new flirtation less seriously than Chuck is, but damn she and Shaw had some good chemistry at that party. When he was whipering into her neck I could totally see why she’d want to pursue the flirtation, especially if it’s going to provide a distraction from her broken heart. Plus I agree that these characters are merely bumps in the road, and as such it’s fun to watch how it all plays out. Oh, and the hero conversation b/w Chuck and Sarah was really well done – I teared up a little too.

    I’m even more amped for the “Chuck with no training wheels” tease – how will this manifest itself? Can’t wait for the Olympics to be over…

  13. Nicole on February 9th, 2010 12:41 pm

    Oh, and I wanted to mention my interpretation of the last shot of Shaw – it was so completely menacing, of course we were supposed to think he’s Ring or something equally bad. But, then we had the last scene where Fireguy (yeah, I’m co-opting Ryan Howard’s nickname) was spilling all to the Ring’s board of directors or whatever that was. I think that the danger lies in The Ring hunting down Shaw and the fact that Sarah could end up as collateral damage should they find him. Just being in his vicinity is unsafe now. Again, maybe I’m wrong and he’s a major baddie – guess we’ll have to wait to find out.

  14. Give Me My Remote on February 9th, 2010 1:13 pm

    I interpreted that last scene in the same way. I think that the director didn’t get it quite right in the execution. It was set up like Shaw was a baddie, but really it’s more about bringing the danger to Sarah. Danger that Chuck will surely save her from.

  15. Patty on February 9th, 2010 1:47 pm

    I didn’t love it or hate it. I just enjoyed it. For the most part.

    I will TOTALLY HATE it if Hannah turns out to be anything other than a hot computer nerd. I would love it if SHE is the one that ends up being collateral damage because of Shaw. I think Chuck needs to loose someone he really cares about (and not a family remember) and Hannah needs to be it – and not because I don’t like her but because I actually do. I think Hannah and Chuck are really cute. But I agree with Beth. Shaw and Hannah are rebounds. Doesn’t mean there are not feeling there. I just hope these two really help move the story along.

    I am not sure I like what is happening with Morgan and Chuck. It was heartbreaking for Morgan to see Chuck and Hannah mugging down but worse I think is Morgan feeling that he is losing Chuck as a friend. I hope they don’t drop the ball on this storyline and make it something dumb. I think Chuck/Morgan have a real friendship and there are always situations like this that everyone has to deal with. I hope the resolution is something more than a big brush off.

    PS I think Casey needs some love too. I can’t decide if he needs some super butch soldier woman or some really sweet little thing. Maybe a sweet little thing that likes guns and kicks giant ass?

  16. Patty on February 9th, 2010 1:48 pm

    Oh, and I really liked the title of this episode with “the mask” being the masks we all wear all the time and not just that ugly ass gold thing.. Bravo to whoever came up with the title.

  17. Allison on February 9th, 2010 5:40 pm

    Just saw the ratings….not good. Starting to slip quite a bit. Hopefully some advertising during the Winter Games leads to a running start. Also hopefully the babble in the ‘net will calm down as well.

  18. Karen (Kath's sis) on February 9th, 2010 5:53 pm

    First off Kath….I was genuinely sad this morning. You know I love the ENTIRE show but I also LOVE Chara and last nights epi. left me with a heavy heart 🙁
    Secondly…Lucky “dying” was NOT funny so edit your “HA”! and lastly Thank the soap Gods that John and Nat are reconnecting on One Life this week ….it takes the sting out of the 3 weeks !

  19. JasTay on February 9th, 2010 9:56 pm

    Love the show no matter what, but I felt the entire shift feels forced. Shaw and Sarah connect in the course of one episode? Just doesn’t feel genuine. I think the Ring leader looked a bit like Roan Montgomery.

  20. Em on February 10th, 2010 2:30 pm

    I thought that Yvonne’s acting was spot on – if she’s supposed to pretending to enjoy Shaw’s company. It did seem a little forced and she didn’t seem to be liking the neck kissing at the party. She looked positively disgusted, then Chuck walks up 5 seconds later and she’s beaming. I was super surprised when she told Shaw that it was nice later. Chuck and Hannah make sense, but Shaw and Sarah are too much, too fast. Plus, it bugs me that she would hook up with a spy 2/3 weeks after the episode where everyone said don’t fall in love a spy 10 times! We’ll see what happens…

  21. Mason on February 21st, 2010 9:38 am

    UGH. Love Chuck, didn’t love this episode AT ALL. The WORST framing ever with S/S, C/H holding each other. Just not at all the tone that Chuck usually strikes with C/S even when they are “apart”. They usually remain very aware of each other, especially Sarah with Chuck. I think it’s that connection and bond that we sense that keeps us cheering for them. This episode felt very disconnected from the tone that is usually present with C/S, it was not consistent with earlier eps this season in terms of Chuck declaring his love one minute and running to be with Hannah a few episodes later. He gave up pretty easy. One apology for leaving a girl at a train station in Prague does not forgiveness make. I know C/S are going to end up together, but there needs to be consistent storytelling on the way there and they need to be true to these characters.