Romance was in the air this week on Chuck, and not in the way many fans expected—or wanted. See how well our hero and his handlers navigated new relationships and saved each other’s lives with our report card for “Chuck vs. the Mask.”
Spy Training: As it turns out, sometimes Buy More training is just as important as CIA stuff. This week’s mission—which had Chuck’s team stealing the Mask of Alexander—involved more computer work than fisticuffs. OK, there was a little of both. With Nerd Herd work at the forefront, Chuck did a whole lot on his own. It was great seeing a thoughtful, independent Chuck—one that prompted Shaw to reveal that Agent Bartowski will one day go solo.
The Handlers: Casey took a backseat role this week, with Sarah and Shaw stepping it up. (In more ways than one; see below.) While I appreciate having Chuck on the rescuing side of things, I’d still like to see more competent handlers. What did Sarah and Shaw really do, aside from accidentally gassing themselves and making goo-goo eyes at one another?
The Romance: “Chuck vs. the Mas” was really about the smooches. Chuck and Hannah finally kissed—I say “finally” as if real-life relationships ever progress this quickly—while Shaw amped up the flirting. I loved Chuck and Sarah’s teary goodbye: These two do need to move on, as long as it’s not permanent. Minor deduction for Sarah crushing on yet another spy. “I have a type” was a weak excuse.
Ellie and Morgan: Awesome was absent again this week, so we got an Ellie/Morgan team-up. No, not in the way Morgan would like. I was intrigued by their sleuthing: Would they finally uncover Chuck’s secret? But no, they instead discovered Chuck and Hannah macking at the Buy More and decided that explained everything. Really, Ellie? How could Chuck’s new squeeze be responsible for your husband’s wacky behavior?
Guest Stars: I’m sure hardcore Chuck/Sarah fans hate them already, but Kristin Kreuk and Brandon Routh continue to warm my cold critic’s heart. They’re just so charming! And look, the show is actually giving Hannah something to do. Unrelatedly, it was nice to see the very funny Jim Piddock as a stressed museum curator.
The Buy More: For an episode with so much Nerd Herd-ing, there was surprisingly little action at the Buy More. I wouldn’t have minded a break from Jeff and Lester, but what happened to their attempts to spy on Chuck? Also, has anyone seen Big Mike lately? I’m worried he may have gone the way of Emmett Milbarge.
Follow TV.com writer Louis Peitzman on Twitter: @LouisAtTVDotCom