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August 29, 2014

'Chuck' Season 4, Episode 19 Recap

by Ryan McGee, posted Mar 22nd 2011 12:30AM
['Chuck' - 'Chuck Versus the Muuurder']

'Chuck' is never short on pop culture references, and tonight was no exception. Unfortunately, those references tend to work best when they are made either through dialogue or character choices, not plot reenactments. So while 'Clue' is one of my all-time favorite movies, I'm not sure I needed to see 'Chuck Versus the Muuurder' turn into a Castle-centric, rather violent spin on that classic film. And the Buy More aspect of the show was a flaming pile of...well, you know what.

In light of Chuck's recent apple-juice based heroics, he's in charge of the Intersect Project, and selects four potential recruits with similar characteristics to himself in order to succeed where Director Bentley's plan failed. That set-up allowed for a lot of bodies to drop without any core change to the show's overall cast. It's not a bad premise for an episode, but there were a few problems this time around.

Firstly? It's not surprising anymore when Castle gets compromised. Something goes wrong in there every single week, so to see it in rubble didn't have the impact that it probably should have. Secondly? 'Chuck' does many things quite well, but "tight, taut plotting" isn't one of them. The odd disconnect between the rather gruesome deaths (by 'Chuck' standards, at least) and jokey interrogations didn't inspire any of the required tension such a construct needs to succeed.

Moreover, the need to bring in so many new characters for the sole purpose of knocking them off emphasizes just how low the stakes are in the 'Chuck' universe. The show need not have high stakes to be entertaining, but if it's going to leave its major characters intact no matter what, then it shouldn't base an episode around the hollow threat of a major death involving a core member of Team Bartowski. As Chuck points out at the end: "The Intersect is the three of us, working together!" It was a nice sentiment to an otherwise lackluster plot, all of which was essentially a long prelude to the back half's big arc: The figure of Vivian Volkoff avenging her father's incarceration through the destruction of her new nemesis, Chuck.



While things inside Castle weren't so hot, the story line between Ellie and Awesome is ... well, kinda awesome at this point. Earlier this season, I would have probably voted them off the 'Chuck' Island, but the reintroduction of Stephen's computer has not only tied the pair back to the main story line, but also added a level of complexity and almost darkness to what previously has been a featherweight part of the show. That Ellie could even forget Clara's presence is a little terrifying, and Awesome's conflicted, duplicitous dealings with both Bartowskis has put a few bags under his eyes. I don't think we're going to genuinely sinister realms with this story line, but giving this pair their own set of secrets works at this moment.

As far as things that didn't work? This week's Horrible Plot of the Week is brought to you by the letters "B" and "M." I'm sure many of you loved the running gag throughout this story line, and sure, I chuckled at the first 15 of the approximate 300 single entendres made at the expense of those two letters. But by the time that they stood ablaze in the Buy More parking lot at the hands of their own nemesis, the LargeMart employees, I admit my taste for tasteless jokes had long run out. At this point, just have them all sit around the Nerd Herd desk while Big Mike regales them with stories of the latest Subway breakfast sandwich and call it a day. That dude can make overt product placement sound like delicious poetry at this point.

Other bullets from tonight's episode:

*** I'm not sure what was weirder to fall out of Castle's vent: the cheap engagement ring from 'Chuck Versus the Cubic Z,' or Kevin Bacon in tonight's episode.

*** Lot of missed chances with Brody, aka Chuck 2.0. A minor flirtation with Sarah wouldn't have gone amiss, with Chuck reminding her that she's already engaged to Original Recipe Intersect. Oh well.

*** Having rolled my eyes at many a friend who came back from a semester abroad sounding like Madonna after she moved to England, I appreciated everyone's disgust with Louis tonight.

*** The Kevin Bacon story line yielded one thing, and one thing only: BEST. GRUNT OFF. EVER. I want an animated GIF of Casey facing off with that pig, and I want it now.

*** "Agent X Files" sounds like a combination of Marvel Comics' "Project X" plus Fox's "The X-Files." In other words: it's a sweet combo. I'm hoping the plan isn't to make Ellie an Intersect per se, but something either complementary to it or in some fundamental way superior to it. Either way, if season 4 ends with the siblings in the dark about what the other is up to, I'll be a majorly sad panda.

'Chuck' airs Mondays at 8PM ET on NBC.

What did you think of tonight's episode? Did the muuurder mystery enthrall, or simply bore? Is Ellie finally interesting to you? And was the Buy More story line on fire or simply burned out at this point? Sound off below!

Watch the full episode here:

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emac15

This was a good episode for chuck and the gang. Love this season so far and am really hoping for a season five. The cast justs really excels at selling their charactors as real folks that care about each other and making the scenes look natural rather than just acting. Zac and Yvonne are the heart and soul of CHUCK, but the whole cast working together is what makes it so good and entertaining. long live CHUCK.

March 28 2011 at 9:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
spytv23

This was another really good Chuck episode in an extremely strong season. I don't understand why you would have trouble with guest character deaths in a spy-spoof comedy show (people died in Get Smart all the time!). The "jokey" interrogations fit with the general style of the show. There are also much more "serious" shows out there (pick just about any of the myriad cop or "investigation" procedurals) where the main characters are targeted by bad guys, and please don't tell me you feel any sense that harm will come to a lead character in one of those shows. When you criticize this on a comedy show like Chuck it makes it look like you are unfamiliar with television in general!

March 27 2011 at 1:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
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March 23 2011 at 7:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
DanGarion

I think Agent X is Chuck. Ellie is going to be more involved with Chuck's abilities. IMO.

March 22 2011 at 11:41 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
loadstar@mac.com

Wow. Spammers galore on this website. Anywyay... I loved this episode from beginning to end! I loved the endless BM jokes. I loved them turning the Subway product placement into the show's longest running joke. I loved the flying pig. :)

This episode felt a lot like a season 1 episode to me. especially when combined with the sudden revival of the Buy More/LargeMart feud. Even with all the violent deaths, it was still very joke-laden and light. About the biggest change from season 1 was Chuck changing from the clutzy "stay in the car, Chuck" to the leader of Team Bartowski (with a little help from his friends).

And, keeping with a theme, I also disagree about the Awesomes. I'm kind of tired of the recurring plot where one Bartowski investigates one of their parents and keeps it a secret from the other to keep them from worrying. We've been down this road with Chuck twice (first Orion, then Frost) and now a third time with Ellie and Orion's computer? I like the show enough to give it some rope, but that just seems a bit old hat at this point.

(Plus, I've long ago gotten really annoyed at Ellie every time I see her. She knows how good Chuck is as a spy, yet doesn't want him to do it because she worries. Now, she's gotten Awesome in as a co-conspirator, even though HE knows how good Chuck is. I personally find Ellie's character a bit of a shrew and quite unlikable, frankly.)

March 22 2011 at 8:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lou Sytsma

We are in accordance on this one Ryan.

March 22 2011 at 7:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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