Chuck versus Josie

“This needs to end now.”

Everything came together in "Chuck versus the Push Mix," yet another mid-season finale that was originally designed to act as series finale if needed. The writers resolved every major plot that had been percolating since the season began, or—in some cases—since the death of Papa B last season. It was touching and genuine and funny and sweet. And, for that reason, this is my last Chuck episode to watch or review until the series finale.

I’m not throwing my hands up in disgust, or storming away, or angry. I’d known for a while that I’d lost my passion for Chuck, and I wasn’t enjoying writing the reviews, either. Chuck had become a burden, a thing I dreaded squeezing in around work and other work and laundry and sleep. It stopped being fun, and I started to only see the flaws.

Why? At this point, I’m not sure. Chuck has lots its appeal for me, but not for everyone, and that makes me think that my growing discontent with the show is more of a personal reaction than a dispassionate assessment. Sure, I could talk about plot holes and problems-of-the-week, but I would likely forgive all those sins and more if my heart was still in it. Sometimes, people change. I guess I changed, although I’m still not sure how, and I grew disenchanted with this little show that could.

That’s why I was so happy that this episode was so very good. It’s a great last-until-the-finale episode for me, because it had everything that I love about Chuck, everything that I’ve felt has been missing. I’m glad that my Chuck experience is ending on a high note.

There’s been some internet chatter about what the focus of this episode was—Mama B, or Volkoff, or the baby, or the proposal? I’m a fan of the theory that it is about people coming together to protect and promote their family. We saw it with Casey’s daughter (and Casey himself), with Ellie and Mama B connecting over the new baby/grandbaby, with Chuck and Morgan risking so much to bring everyone back to Burbank where they belong.

It’s telling that Volkoff was so enraptured of The Contessa. Not a person, but a ship. (Or a boat. I always get confused about that terminology.) His ability to excel at evil depends on his inability to truly connect with others. Even his lust for Mama B is more about acquiring an object than truly forming a deep and lasting connection with another person. And his favorite “humanitarian” is Stalin. That’s a clue that he doesn’t understand humans, humanism, or humanitarianism.

Our heroes, on the other hand, are all about the connections. It’s that theme of Josh Schwartz shows that I particularly like, and it was the guiding principle of The O.C. for most of the series: people coming together and risking a lot in order to protect their loved ones. The Mama B and Ellie reunion was the one that spoke most deeply to me personally, but even Jeff and Lester tried their darndest to support their friends. Chuck even brought back Papa B for a posthumous fake cameo, so it felt like the whole family was involved in taking down Volkoff. And, of course, Chuck finally got to propose in a simple, understated, and absolutely perfect proposal scene.

Bytes:

• Ellie: “Chuck and I do anything for family.”

• Awesome: “Rusted Root is rad, right?”
Chuck: “Yeah, yeah.”

• Morgan: “Warrior Two pose…transition into Warrior Three pose.” Maybe it’s because I don’t do yoga, but I thought that was quite funny.

• Volkoff: “From my favorite poet and humanitarian, Josef Stalin.”

And Pieces:

• The spider thing reminded me of the spider things in the Doctor Who episode “The End of the World.”

• Linda Hamilton as Mama B never forgot that she knew Morgan as a child. She spoke to him like a mom.

• I really did think that Chuck and Morgan were acting alone.

Chuck was my first review for billiedoux.com, so it is with mixed emotions that I end my reviews. Dimitri may be catching up with reviews this summer (unless he gets that acrobat job he’s always wanted), but in the meantime, I’ll end with this:

Thank you, Chuck for so many great seasons. Thank you for being such a fun show for so long. I know that you’ll continue to amuse many others for—hopefully—quite a long time, and I look forward to discovering how it all turns out in the series finale.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

10 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful reviews for the past year or so, Josie. I'm so very glad you decided to contact me and offer to review Chuck because I can't imagine the site without you now. I think you're wise to drop it now, too; it's a good stopping point. I did finally drop Heroes, but I waited way too long; the joy had long gone out of it and all I saw were the flaws that I didn't want to write about.

And I'm glad this episode was successful, because now I'm tempted to watch the last three unwatched Chuck episodes on my DVR.

Thank you so much, Josie.

Dimitri A.C. Ly said...

Lovely thoughts as always, Josie. I'd like to add my thanks to Billie's. I've very much enjoyed reading your musings on the last two seasons.

I caught this episode thinking I might have to review it, and I enjoyed it as well. I like that it went back to basics with Chuck using his wit, not the Interesect, as well as his loving bond with others to foil the baddies. Granted, his use of one particular bond was kind of dark when you think about it, but it felt right just the same.

The Jeffster stunts never work for me, as I keep thinking of all the people they're hurting every time, but what saved this particular scene for me is that one pregnant woman who was getting really into it with them. She was hilarious.

The proposal was perfect too.

Looking forward to your series finale review whenever that might be.

Jess Lynde said...

Josie, I'm really glad that, despite your growing disenchanment with the series, you were able to enjoy this last episode. I didn't love it. I also didn't hate it. It acutally didn't make me feel much of anything at all.

It was nice to see Chuck using his brain to take down an enemy, and Timothy Dalton gave a hell of a performance as Volkoff. And I did smile and tear up a little when Awesome held his baby daughter for the first time and said "Awesome!" (Dads being believably emotional about new babies gets me every time.)

But other than these few moments, and a few that mildly irritated me with their ridiculousness (Jeffster, Morgan's yoga), I felt very disengaged from what was happening and started feeling like I didn't really care about any of the characters anymore. Bad, bad sign. How the heck did I get from hanging on in the hopes that things will improve to not caring at all? Erg. I think perhaps this should be the last episode for me until the finale, as well. I might give it one more, but I'm not sure I should.

If nothing else, at least this show brought you to the Billie Doux team!

Mark Greig said...

A great big thank you for all the terrific Chuck reviews you’ve given us, Josie. I would never have started watching the show if it hadn’t been for them. Same with The Vampire Diaries, which I’ve now promoted from ‘guilty pleasure’ to ‘unhealthy obsession’.

I think my love affair with Chuck might also be at an end. There wasn't a lot I enjoyed about this episode (it was no floating fortress of fun). Timothy Dalton was as brilliant as ever but, like Jess, I was pretty much apathetic to everything else.

michem55 said...

Josie, thank you so much for all of your reviews!! I am so glad that this ended on a high note for you. :) Chuck has been one of my favorite comedy shows ... there are not many tv shows out there that have made me laugh out loud, and Chuck always seems to do that(with this episode it was Morgan with his flippers still on walking down the deck). I am glad that they wrapped up some of this season's plot lines, I just wasn't that into them, + I am hopeful that they do something good with the last few episodes.... I have a feeling the show will not continue next year - so I hope they get creative and silly, and all good things Chuck with the last ones that they have.

Tom L said...

Great episode, even if Volkoff's storyline was never properly developed. Now, if only the writers let Jeffster go.

I'm sad that you will stop watching the show, Josie. But I understand your reasons.

Now, I have a question: will anyone at billiedoux.com keep reviewing the show? I love the way you guys review shows here, and it would be sad not to have that for Chuck.

Josie Kafka said...

Hi Tom L,

Unless life intervenes, Dimitri will likely review the rest of this season over the summer. We don't know yet what will happen next year, if there is a next year.

michem55 said...

Just curious, did anyone watch Chuck vs. the seduction impossible? I thought it was one of the better episodes this season -- just real fun :) Beckman in a blonde wig, Casey trying to seduce that lady, ahhh, just some good Chuck times!!

rowansjet said...

It is a shame that you stopped reviewing just as the show got good again, the last couple episodes have been a real return to form I thought, after the disastrous Volkov arc. Hopefully you feel the same, even if you don't start reviewing again.

ChrisB said...

This really did feel like a season, or even series, finale. I really liked it and, for once, Jeffster made me laugh out loud. The choice of song struck me as hilarious.

I've really enjoyed reading your reviews, Josie. I am going to keep watching and will catch up with you again at the series end.

Thank you.