To get through “Chuck Versus the American Hero,” I had to accept certain facts without understanding the reasoning. After that, the episode was a breeze to get through.
The most troublesome was Sarah distancing herself from Chuck and turning towards Shaw. She puts everything on Chuck’s one act, killing the mole, to justify why she thinks he’s changed. It’s not that he’s changed, but that he went as far as killing someone. After Casey tells her he killed the mole, it’s as though a weight has been lifted like Chuck’s entire character development hinged on the shooting of the mole. The problem is that she said Chuck has changed before she thought he shot the mole. From what we’ve seen, Chuck hasn’t changed much, but evidently, Sarah saw something we didn’t before the shooting, and forgot about it after the shooting.
And to top things off, many characters on the show have killed people and never did Sarah change her attitude about them. Certainly Shaw has killed people, Sarah has killed herself, and so has Casey. Is Chuck killing any worse than the other spies killing someone? In the mass of contradictions, Sarah comes out looking like a terrible person. At the very least, she’s confused to the point when she is no longer making sense.
The shortened initial 13-episode order forced the producers to quicken the pace and push the arc ahead even though all the pieces weren’t set. Shaw came in and somehow stole Sarah. How this happened is anyone’s guess. I’m not blaming Brandon Routh, but what do we know about Shaw. He talks in a mannered tone, giving the impression there is something he’s leaving out, and on occasion is nice to Sarah. He’s a good agent as well. So what? He’s not cool and suave like Bryce or Cole and he’s not funny like Chuck.
Chuck not being able to tell Sarah that Casey shot the mole was another artificial roadblock. The assumption is that if Chuck tells Sarah, she’ll have to tell Beckman. Why? Because she’s never broken rules? She’s expressed her loyalty to Casey, so wouldn’t it be reasonable that Sarah wouldn’t tell anyone to keep Casey out of prison?
The good thing was that the problems were only an issue in the first half the episode, and once I overcame my initial annoyance, the episode was very strong. Still, the episode was tethered by the inconceivabilities which are the main reason why the show doesn’t all work for me.
The plot starts of simple with Chuck looking to win Sarah back. Beckman gives Chuck a week before he has to leave for Rome with his team. Chuck wants Sarah, Casey wants a spot, Morgan wants to go, and Devon wants Chuck settled so he can go to Africa with Ellie. It’s the first time all the guys on the show have teamed up for the spy stuff, and it was a pleasure to watch. The outcome was expected, but seeing them interact was fun. Morgan leads Shaw off, pretending to be a dangerous terrorist, while Chuck swoops in to dazzle Sarah. Shaw tracks the call and sees Morgan. Before he gets back to the restaurant, he is waylaid by a Ring agent. Devon, aiming to stop Shaw from reaching Chuck, saves Shaw by crashing into him at full speed, sending both of them through the glass.
Now, Shaw knows the Ring wants him and plans to turn himself in after swallowing a tracker. He, the American hero, will gladly sacrifice himself to stop the Ring. Sarah tries to stop him, but she can’t prevent a mad man from doing what he wants. Later, she’ll learn how it feels to be on the receiving end.
Ellie confronts Chuck and tells him to start acting like a Bartowski (running off like their dad?). prompting him to go to the Castle, and lock Sarah inside so he can save Shaw himself. Earlier, Lester and Jeff were assigned by Morgan to track Shaw. They truly are the greatest stalkers, tailing the seasoned agents of the Ring without tipping their hand. Chuck calls them up and learns where Shaw has been taken.
This is where the episode gets awesome. Chuck uses his Intersect powers to go into the Ring base and takes out an agent. Of course, he isn’t a killer, and uses a tranquilizer gun. More agents show up, and Chuck takes them down. Before Chuck arrives, the Ring director (the ubiquitous Mark Sheppard) shows Shaw a damning video. First, he shows Shaw’s wife, happy as can be, and next, his wife Evelyn being shot by Sarah. Shaw’s wife was the target of the Red Test. I was genuinely surprised, mostly because I was so confused about last week’s episode I didn’t think about the implications. Also, aren’t there numerous timeline problems? This calls into question the motives of the CIA higher ups as well. Why did they have Sarah kill a fellow agent? Didn’t she die getting the package to Shaw? Probably plot holes, but they sure make for interesting questions.
Beckman’s B-2 arrives on time, bombing the warehouse in plain daylight, but not before Chuck triumphantly walks out with Shaw on his back. Back at the Castle, Chuck makes one final plea, saying over and over again that he loves Sarah. He wants to be with her and doesn’t want to be a spy, flipping their situations in Prague. Sarah is about to leave, but Shaw arrives and takes her into the desert to find the Ring director. Chuck is left at the train station and unlike last time, both are still willing to go. Unfortunately, there’s this crazy guy named Shaw who is close to the revenge he’s always wanted.
There’s one episode, what was supposed to be the season finale, so we should except a resolution–probably Shaw’s death–and a happy ending for Chuck and Sarah. Ultimately, I think the condensed schedule made for many logistical problems in how to develop the characters in such a short amount of time and make it seem real. The failure is that there never was the slow evolution, but rather short bursts which didn’t make complete sense. The producers took what NBC gave them and tried to make the best of it.
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