Chuck season 5 episode 1 review: Chuck Versus The Zoom

It’s the premiere of the fifth and final season of Chuck. Here’s Billy’s review of Chuck Versus The Zoom…

This review contains spoilers.

5.1 Chuck Versus the Zoom

I like Chuck, but even I might harbour a secret acceptance that the concept has run its course. While it had its moments, season four didn’t have the themed insanity of earlier outings, and the fish in this pond seem to be swimming in increasingly tighter circles. That said, when Chuck did arrive back on our screens, I was actually glad to see it, given that this isn’t a show that takes itself super-seriously.

In the season opener they decided, probably wisely, to go back to the underpinning tenet of the show; specifically, Chuck’s overwhelming lack of confidence, now given an entirely new focus since Morgan accidentally got given the intersect at the end of season four.

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The opening sequence, where Carmichael Industries takes on a private contract which goes horribly wrong, did make me laugh, not least for the entirely hammy heavy, Jean Claude, played by Mark Hamill. The number of times hw said, “Kill them, kill them all”, without anything happening was hilarious.

In fact, what the pitch was in this opener was laughs, with action being kept as a less important part of the presentation. They managed to work some nice ideas in around Morgan as the intersect, who now says “Zoomed” instead of using the Chuck “Flash” word to describe the mechanics of his enhancement.

In terms of referential stuff, there was some, but not as much as we’ve occasionally been given. A later scene where Morgan and Sarah dance at a party given by the bad guy was certainly a nod to True Lies, and they carried that on with the whole aspect of one spy being left in the van, as per Tom Arnold’s character in that movie.

So where was it weak? Some of the peripheral characters were missing, and despite the relatively minor roll they play, it showed. I especially missed Beckman, who technically hasn’t got an excuse to interact with the team since they went independent. While Jeff and Lester did appear, I thought their section was particularly lame, given what brilliance they can offer on occasion. While Ellie did appear, Captain Awesome and Big Mike were both missing in action, as was Alex.

I’d also like to note here how the character of Sarah appears to be subtly altering, making her much more docile and less spy-like than she was before she got married. I liked the old Sarah, even if this one does still have a very natty line in bedroom attire.

Overall, the season opener was entertaining if hardly revolutionary. The key to the success of this final Chuck outing is going to be how they use Morgan and the intersect, because using it to just make Chuck feel inadequate is going to get dry quickly.

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The more immediate problem here, however, is that the ratings for this episode were rock bottom, which for a season opener, is rather worrying. Either NBC didn’t promote the show’s return effectively, or the audience really has had enough of Chuck.

I’m hoping for generally better things from the second outing, in terms of both the level of creativity and the number of viewers tuning in.It’s time for this show to zoom, flash, or do whatever it needs to boost its viewing figures.

You’ll find all our season 4 Chuck reviews here.