Chuck season 5 episode 2 review: Chuck Versus The Bearded Bandit

Chuck begins to wonder if his greatest nemesis is now called Morgan, in episode two, The Bearded Bandit…

This review contains spoilers.

5.2 Chuck Versus the Bearded Bandit

I’ll be honest and say that, during the first episode, I began to have my doubts about Morgan having the intersect, and how far that particular joke could be taken. For most of this story I had the same reservations, but just when I was about to despair, things happened at the end that offered a small ray of hope.

Before we got to that twist, this wasn’t a great episode, and was generally hard work to watch. That’s mostly because the writers seem to have hit some immovable objects with their characters, which they seem unable or unwilling to navigate.

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Where Jeff and Lester were once the highlight of this show, they’re now relegated to a somewhat obtuse gag that’s generally not that funny. Where are Alex and Ellie, and why do they often give such lame things to Big Mike?

I’m a strong believer that what made Chuck great was the ensemble nature of the cast, and how it wasn’t all about Chuck and Sarah. That appears to have been forgotten, seemingly with the concept that throwing big movie actors on the show, like Carrie-Anne Moss as Gertrude Verbanski, will somehow fill the rather large gaps in the entertainment quota.

I’m bored of Chuck’s relentless self-doubt, and I really wanted this show to move to a higher gear, given that it’s already announced that it’s the final season, and it’s not trying to get renewed. Surely, if there is a time for the show runners to let loose it’s now, because they’ve effectively got half a season to go crazy, and the network backing to make it happen.

As a keen viewer and reviewer, if they make season five the limpest Chuck yet, I will be merciless here, irrespective of how I’ve generally enjoyed it so far.

Was there any light at the end of this short season tunnel? A couple of brighter sparks. The first was the really nice use of Awesome this week, as the new face of Buy More. That, matched off against the 70s TV promo that Mike did, while not hilarious, did make me chuckle. But the best part of the show was undoubtedly the ending, when unhappy with the way things were going, Morgan decides to become an independent operator and offer his services to Verbanski Corp.

If the intention is to make Chuck and Morgan a version of Austin Powers and Dr Evil, that could be very funny. The extra dimension is that it appears there isn’t room in Morgan’s head for the Intersect and all the other geek junk, so he’s starting to forget really important stuff, like Star Wars.

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Can this pull the show out of what appeared to be a creative power dive? I really hope so. I’ve reviewed this show from the outset, and it’s swung rather wildly from being pure comic genius to mildly amusing, and I’d rather it went out on the better side of that equation.

The next story is entitled Chuck Versus The Frosted Tips which, on current form, sounds so much more interesting than we’re likely to experience, but we must remain optimistic.

You can read our review of Chuck season five episode one here.

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