Chuck Versus The Ring Part II
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Having now watched Chuck Versus The Ring, Part II it encourages me to reflect on a Chuck season that, not entirely unlike the previous one, started well, had its difficulties and then came through firing on all cylinders.
But, before I do that, where did this story take us, other than to the cusp of season 4?
This might not be a popular statement to make, but I think the finale didn’t quite live up to the brilliance of the previous story, which, in a number of significant ways, altered how I think about the show. Perhaps that was to be expected, because the setting up of the dominos in this show is often more pleasing an experience than knocking them down.
Even before the first scene, we know that this is a progression to a Chuck vs Shaw showdown and, to be honest, I think that actual part of the proceedings was always going to be a slight anticlimax.
Before we get to that, Chuck must get the upper hand, aided by his band of previously normal people in what turns out to be more than a salute to Mission Impossible. In fact, the table-turning twist is completely borrowed from the first cinematic MI outing, with the exception that there aren’t any rubber masks involved. While that part was predictable, what I wasn’t anticipating was the flashback content that, at first, seemed to be reinforcing the relationship that Chuck and Ellie have, but later in the story turned out to include important information about why Bryce picked Chuck in the first place.
Bryce didn’t place the first Intersect into Chuck’s head. One was in there from when he was much younger, it turns out.
This linked neatly with his father’s last words telling him that he was “special”. Even with the debilitating effects of the Intersect in his mind, Chuck has options that Shaw can’t possibly imagine: the classic Nerd Herd reboot.
A strength of this adventure was that, instead of the Intersect being the solution to any tricky situation, it is, in fact, Chuck’s biggest liability. So, the key to taking Shaw down is to beat the Intersect first. My heart was also gladdened that Sarah Lancaster finally got some script time to really get her teeth into here, and she was great as the sweet woman that everyone has lied to for the last three years.
Where things have slightly gone odd in this franchise, however, is in the balance between the comedic elements and the drama. It seems the longer Chuck goes on, the less funny it is, and the more drama they’re introducing. This and the previous story are relatively humour light, but as it included the death of a character, that’s not exactly surprising.
I’m curious to see if this balance is restored in the fall, as I always liked the funny side of Chuck most, and I don’t want to see this become too drama dependent.
The final confrontation takes place in the BuyMore, of all places, allowing the few characters who aren’t spies to get in on the action. Big Mike and Jeffster don’t get much to do, but their appearances are always a welcome diversion.
Chuck must fight Shaw while the store is rigged with explosives and Sarah is chained to the Nerd Herd counter. There was only going to be one winner, and that was never going to be played by Brandon Routh. Could nobody have predicted that it would be accompanied by the Jeffster’s latest DVD release? No, I didn’t see that one coming either.
A glance at the running time showed at least another eight minutes of show once Daniel Shaw had been handed his ass. Time I concluded had been allocated for setting up the new season. But that also included enough time for Morgan to accidentally destroy the BuyMore, and Casey to introduce his daughter to the rest of Team Bartowski.
Chuck promised Ellie he’d give up the spy life, which he does. But more secrets from his father’s life might drag him back to it, when a video left for him reveals the location of the Bartowski secret spy lair, and the secret spy connection of Chuck’s mother! When it ended there, I wanted to see the season opener so badly it almost hurt.
However that episode plays out, season 4 is going to be very different, I feel. So much has changed in the last 19 stories, not only with those people who know Chuck’s secret identity, but also where they fit into the bigger scheme.
All shows need to evolve, and those behind season 3 made some tough choices about what they wanted to keep, and those parts they needed to let go. Chuck got his girl, Morgan became a spy, the BuyMore is matchwood, and John Casey has a heart, of sorts.
What I’d love to see is more spy cameos, featuring Jake 2.0, Steve Austin, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Alias, and any other geek crazy stuff they can wedge in here. The Jeffster world tour is also just a heartbeat away, I’m sure.
I’d like to congratulate the Chuck team. This was the best season so far, and long may this show keep reinventing itself.