Chuck season 4 episode 16 review: Chuck Versus The Masquerade

There's a coming to the end of term feel to the latest episode of Chuck. Here's Billy's review...

Chuck Versus The Masquerade

This review may contain spoilers.

4.16 Chuck Versus The Masquerade

With the end of the fourth season in sight, the writers of Chuck seem intent on developing a few simple plot threads with which to conclude the series (maybe).

There’s a distinct end-of-term air in this story, where Morgan and Chuck finally confront the difficult choices to be made, in regard to classic Star Wars memorabilia.

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I just wish the writers of No Ordinary Family would take note here, because these are exactly the sorts of conversations that geeks have, not the dribble that they make come out of Katie’s mouth in that show.

But the other thrust of Chuck Versus The Masquerade is to introduce a new character, Vivian, a playful, yet wily British socialite, who just happens to be the daughter of Alexei Volkoff.

She’s played by Lauren Cohan, who was born in Philadelphia, but grew up in England and so has no problem being convincing as a Brit. She’s currently also playing Rose in The Vampire Diaries, and some might remember her as Bela Talbot in Supernatural.

For most shows, I’d be throwing knives at their attempts at presenting the English at play, but I know in this show that it’s mostly played for laughs. In Chuck’s first attempt to present himself as English he says he’s from Worcestershire, except, because he’s American, he pronounces it completely wrong. Later on, there’s a sequence where Vivian, Chuck and Casey are out in the English countryside, which looks curiously like southern California. I laughed at the train of UK stereotypes, especially the masquerade ball, an event which is more common in TV fiction than it ever was in reality.

But Chuck aims to please on so many levels, and most were represented in this story. The entirely crazy Valentine’s Day start made an exceptionally funny opening, and I want to congratulate the person in the production team who came up with the idea of having Sarah wearing spring-loaded angel wings. Genius.

But the best humour of the episode came from the Awesomes and their seemingly insurmountable challenge to get some sleep courtesy of baby Clara. The masterstroke in this was to have them turn up at the Buy More, where the combined efforts of Big Mike, Jeff and Lester actually, against all odds, ultimately bring resolution. Anyone who has children will know how little exaggeration there was in this part, because lack of sleep can make you pretty desperate people.

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The Buy More sequence was fleeting, so I’m hoping that, as the season closes out, they don’t sideline that aspect of the show, as it deserves more.

What we’re left with at the end is two new plot threads, one involving Vivian taking over her father’s business when she discovers that he’s left her the key to his computer system ‘Hydra’, and another where Casey is being tempted away to join another spy outfit. Will Vivian became Chuck’s new nemesis, taking over from where her father left off? And what is Zone 6?

Well, we won’t have wait very long for those answers, because only four episodes are left in the season to deliver any. Next week, Chuck engages the The First Bank Of Evil, so presumably Lehman Brothers must still have a branch somewhere.

Read our review of episode 15, Chuck Versus The Cat Squad, here.

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