“Chuck vs. the Beard”
March 8th, 2010
Tonight, apparently, was a night where television appealed to the Myles demographic. After watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother that dealt with my lingering frustration over events earlier in the season, Chuck delivers an episode which confirms everything that I’ve said since the beginning of the season in terms of how the Intersect 2.0 operates, how Chuck is evolving as a character, and how that affects the world around him.
And yet, sort of like with HIMYM, I’m left somewhat underwhelmed by “Chuck vs. the Beard” even though it went down a checklist of many of the things that I like so much about this show. The problem, I think, was that it tried to do so many of them simultaneously without any really grounding the episode in any particular threat. There were too many coincidences, too many contrivances, and too many scenarios where the fun of “Viva Buy-Moria” took over from (rather than added complexity to) the fairly serious consequences of The Ring’s latest plan to take down our intrepid heroes.
The episode takes the show to places it should have gone sooner, and places that give the show a lot of great material heading into the rest of the season, and does so within the guise of what seems like an all-time classic episode of the series. And while there’s a compelling case to be made that Chuck, as a character, requires the support structure that the ensemble cast and its different spheres offers, I’m not sure that the episode itself was strengthened by that diversity.
January 30th, 2009
“Every revolution begins with one small act”
This was what Tom Zarek told Felix Gaeta when they made their uneasy alliance at the end of “A Disquiet Follows My Soul,” and the events of “The Oath” are in many ways the result of this particular theory, if not quite in the way that Zarek meant these words.
Fundamentally, yes, the act of mutiny that begins at 0630 hours was in fact one small act that would spiral into something much large, but at this point it is impossible to consider any action or any event as anything but a culmination of past tensions. The entire episode is spent taking a trip down memory lane: to Anders’ days back on Caprica surviving the Cylon attack, to the fight of the resistance on New Caprica, to the treasonous activities during the reunion of Galactica and Pegasus, they all played a role in who these people are and how they came to be there. They all took an oath, every single one of them, and although that Oath has been tested it is in this moment that they will make a decision.
The result is quite literally a showdown between the present and the past, one that each character on an individual level is forced to reconcile. Despite being the most action-packed episode perhaps of the entire season thus far, and featuring in my mind the most tense and human-driven action we’ve seen since “Pegasus,” this was much less about the action than it was about what it meant to the people involved. From grunt marines to basic civilians to the former political and military leaders of these people, humanity is indeed at a crossroads, and this is as much an inner revolution of their minds as it is an attempt to take over control of Galactica.
Every revolution may begin with a small act, but “The Oath” was anything but small, and certainly represents a return to seat of your pants, edge of your seat engagement without sacrificing the psychological investigation of characters that truly sets the show apart.