Like our title character, Chuck fans know that when you say everything is perfect and nothing can go wrong, something – a lot of somethings, actually – will go wrong. In this case, ‘wrong’ sees Ellie turn into the wedding planner equivalent of a Bridezilla and Chuck’s mom get kidnapped by Vivian Volkoff. No big deal, right? (Obvious sarcasm is obvious.)
“Chuck Versus The Last Details” feels like a typical Chuck episode, in that it derives much of its humor from our heroes’ errors, quirks and mishaps, like Jeff and Lester having hours of footage of Sarah from the Buy More, or Chuck awkwardly pretending to hit Casey to maintain his cover as an enemy guard. The latter is a perfect example of the “fish out of water” idea that’s been around since the first season, and while we’ve seen Chuck grow in some episodes (like when he stepped up to become a leader in “Chuck Versus The Muuurder”), sometimes I feel like the clueless bit is getting old. I’m wary when I have that feeling, because I don’t ever want to get too comfortable with my characters and start finding them predictable. We’ll see how that pans out over next week and into a potential season five.
At the episode’s halfway point, with Mama Bartowski rescued, we move to the fact that Vivian Volkoff is auctioning off the Norseman device. Not unlike the plot of this season’s eighth episode, “Chuck Versus The Fear of Death,” except for that the device isn’t hiding inside any diamonds. If it’s deja vu, at least it lets Morgan do some undercover work, complete with a perfect use of the Imperial Death March from Star Wars, and in turn we develop the Morgan-Casey friendship just a little more. (Plus, hey, Breaking Bad reference!)
The idea that Vivian is being manipulated by her new associate (Ray Wise), rather than making her an outright villain, has always been an interesting one because it means that things can’t be too simplified. If you’ve been watching this long, it’s clear that this season is as much a story about the Volkoff family as it is about the Bartowski family, and it will be interesting to see that all come to a head next week. We know we’ve got a wedding, plus we’re going to have all that family drama. Take that, Brothers & Sisters! (Kidding.)
There’s also a startling if not entirely shocking cliffhanger at episode’s end. (Poor Sarah! But could it really have been anyone else?) Unfortunately, most of “Chuck Versus The Last Details” feels like it’s just filling space to get us to next week. I didn’t see too much here that I couldn’t be caught up on by watching next week’s teaser, which is the same chief complaint I had about last week’s episode. As a standalone hour, it’s not all that exciting. Perhaps the writers are just trying to stretch the plot a little too far. But at the very least, it sets the stage for what should be a solid finale not just to the season, but to the series if it comes to that (sniff). While I want to see a season five of Chuck, I couldn’t think of a better way for the show to go out than with a happily ever after.
(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved.