“Chuck Versus The Marlin”
January 24th, 2008
I’ve decided to actually post this after the episode airs, as a courtesy considering that it is a bit of a suspenseful ride of sorts. After “Chuck Versus The Undercover Lover” was amongst the best episodes of the series yet, it’s hard not to see this as a bit of a step backwards in terms of its comic timing in particular. The first episode was certainly funnier, and perhaps more enjoyable, but I think that “Chuck Versus The Marlin” is nonetheless an important and entertaining episode of the series.
It’s particularly strong as a cap of sorts to the first 13-episodes of Chuck’s existing 22-episode order. Both of these episodes do an admirable job of marrying the show’s three elements (Chuck’s Spy Game, Chuck’s Family, the Buy More), and here it comes together in a plot that seems meaningful at this stage of the season. I worry that things will prove largely repetitive if this formula continues, and I hope that the magical hopefully seen this season back nine addresses this, but for now it’s a solid if unfortunately early season finale for the series.
The plot is generally quite simple: Chuck discovers a CIA bug in the Buy More that, unfortunately, doesn’t belong to any of the CIA folks we know. Instead, it belongs to the super-secret organization that Bryce was working for and that wants Chuck for themselves. Of course, this raises concerns for both the CIA and the NSA, and the result is a massive heist where the Buy More is completely gutted…and everything is moved to a warehouse where our heroes can search out the bug’s receiver.
But what I like is that the other two plots integrated into rather than distracted from this one. Captain Awesome has decided to propose to Ellie, but unfortunately he places the ring in Chuck’s hands and it disappears during the robbery. Meanwhile, the Buy More staff are paranoid about their efforts to steal Big Mike’s Marlin, which then plays a key role in both of the other plots. It’s not rocket science, mind you, but the three storylines work well together and made for a nice pace for the episode.
The other thing I really enjoyed was, although it was a bit heavy-handed, the reminder that Chuck is in a volatile situation and that his family means something to him. I hate to draw the comparison to Alias, but I really like how Chuck has picked up not only the spy games but also the sense of friends and acquaintances. There needs to be some sort of human element here, and Ellie/Awesome are most certainly part of that. Once Alias abandoned Will and Francie, the show never recovered – Chuck has struck a nice balance that I am really happy with.
The episode wasn’t as laugh-out-loud funny as the one which preceded it, and they pushed the Sarah/Chuck stuff a little bit too far for my liking. However, it seems like the series has struck a far better balance between plot development and standalone episodes than many other freshmen series – these two episodes demonstrate that the show can hit both notes well enough to sustain further development.
Hopefully, against minimal competition, the two episodes can perform well and the show can have a little bit of momentum heading into its remaining episodes. There’s a lot of talent here, and I really am curious to see where the series heads from this point forward.
- I didn’t really buy Pita Girl as any sort of agent, and she honestly looked uncomfortable holding a firearm. I liked her well enough, in the end, but I do wish that they would stop picking female spies only so Sarah can get her fight on. I’d like to see Casey finally go toe-to-toe with someone, as opposed to being tied to a bed or lovelorn. Not that I don’t enjoy those things, but still.
- I missed Anna in these episodes – the Buy More is seriously lacking in a feminine quality, and the boys club just isn’t doing it for me (Sorry Jeff and Lester).
- I said it for the last episode, but I liked seeing more of Awesome – here, he was particular great in his proposal periods and it was a cute moment to see them together like that. I’m glad we’ll likely be seeing more of them in the future, as McPartlin and Lancaster are both wonderful.
- Not very subtle Call of Duty 4 advertising there, but honestly: if it pays the bills and allows the series to stay afloat, I’ll take some heavy-handed product integortion (Intergortion?).