Ah, yes. There’s the show we’ve been trying to save. By shifting the focus from Chuck and Sarah’s relationship drama to Casey and Morgan’s general awesomeness, “Chuck vs. the Couch Lock” was Season 4’s strongest offering yet. Here’s my report card.
Agents Bartowski and Walker: Chuck and Sarah didn’t have a whole lot to do this episode. Which is fine with me—I think we all needed a break. It was nice to see the pair working together without too much bickering or serious talks about the future. If I’m allowed one minor complaint—oh, bear with me—it’s the constant use of “I love you.” Do the writers think we need a reminder in every episode? They’re a couple. They love each other. Saying it over and over again is unnecessary and, frankly, kind of gross.
Agent Casey: Finally a return to form! Casey has been sidelined for far too long. For a while, I clamored for some character development, then suddenly the series took it too far. Casey was an awkward civilian, an overprotective dad, a buddy to Morgan—traits I wouldn’t necessarily mind, as long as he were also blowing things up. Monday night’s ep gave us Casey the father, Casey the human, and Casey the bad-ass. How many people could take a cigar burn to the wrist without even flinching? (Yeah, he was paralyzed, but he didn’t even blink!) Oh, and bonus points for the Kill Bill reference—did you catch that?
Morgan: Morgan! If there’s one thing I love more than Casey stepping up to the plate, it’s Morgan Grimes as the hero. He was brave, confident, dashing—he saved the day and got the girl. Maybe I overidentify with Chuck’s geeky sidekick, but there’s something truly satisfying about well-earned Morgan moments. He’s grown so much as a character since Season 1, and it’s wonderful to see him front and center. I also enjoyed his eulogy, though I’d like to think he’d do a much better job if Casey were actually dead. And he got the episode’s best line after trying to slap Casey into action: “It’s like slapping a car.”
The Romance: Forget Chuck and Sarah—I am all about Morgan and Alex. Now, wait, before you flame me, I’m not saying I want Chuck and Sarah broken up. I just think, as I’ve said before, that the series needs to ditch its focus on their relationship. Seeing them together is pleasant; shoehorning smooshy kisses and commitment issues into every episode is not. Besides, it’s time for Morgan to fall for someone who actually likes and appreciates him. Not to mention the fact that Alex is seriously cute—maybe even cuter than Julia Ling’s Anna. Sacrilege?
Awesome and Ellie: They’re having a girl. Ellie wants Chuck to find Mama Bartowski. That’s about it.
The Buy More: This is still the weakest link for me. Kudos to the writers for finding a reasonable way to integrate Jeff and Lester into the story, but again, it felt more like a distraction than anything else. The Buy More employees who aren’t Chuck, Morgan, and Casey should be limited to the occasional recurring role. When they’re used well—performing as Jeffster, for example—they’re great. But more often than not, their appearances feel contractually obligated and not essential to the show. I will say I’m glad we still haven’t seen a new Greta, another aspect of Chuck that should be used sparingly.
The Guest Stars: I was skeptical about this episode’s guest stars, namely C-listers Eric Roberts and Dave Bautista. (Look, they’re not bad, but when they’re your big selling point…) However, Roberts and Bautista—along with character actor Joel David Moore—did a solid job as Casey’s version of the A-Team. It was more about the characters than the actors, and that’s what I’ve wanted to see from Chuck’s guest stars for some time. On another note, Mekenna Melvin continues to charm as Alex. In case you hadn’t noticed my bias already.
Overall Grade: A