I'm beginning to think that Chuck is actually suffering from the syndrome that some people think afflicted Moonlighting or Lois and Clark: the two leads get together, and the storytelling goes a bit sproingy. Spoilers ahead...
This was the second episode in a row where I just could not bring myself to care at all about Chuck and Sarah's romantic problems — and once again, everything in the episode was designed to bring us back to them. Everytime the episode started to get interesting, the cool parts would be derailed by the need to bring the focus back to Chuck/Sarah drama. This episode had three great storylines: the Awesome/Ellie "babymoon," Morgan's dithering over dating Alex, and Generalissimo Goya's coup — and all three storylines were hauled, kicking and screaming, into tying in with the fact that Chuck and Sarah allegedly can't communicate.
I don't think it's the case that Chuck and Sarah can't communicate, actually — given how much communicating we've seen them do over the past three and a half years, I wouldn't have pegged communication as one of their big problems. Nor do I think the problem is that Chuck and Sarah shouldn't have gotten together — the "will they/won't they" thing was getting old, honestly.
I think the problem is that you can't replace "will they/won't they" with "how fast will they?" It's just not compelling. We no longer doubt that Chuck and Sarah will stay together, but we're supposed to wonder how soon they'll move in together, how quickly she'll unpack her bags, how fast they'll get married, and when they'll possibly have kids. The exact timetable of each step in Chuck and Sarah's relationship is not something that I'm filled with tension about.
It's weird, because there are so many other things the show could explore, now that Chuck and Sarah have gotten together — and the show hinted at some of them in the episode with Fred Willard and Swoosie Kurtz playing a long-term married spy couple. Going on missions together as a married couple is bound to bring up all sorts of weird conflicts of interest and potential challenges — but the show doesn't seem interested in exploring that territory, instead delving into every possible milestone a relationship could have, and the speed (or lack thereof) with which Chuck and Sarah might conquer that particular milestone.
So last night's episode, "Chuck Vs. The Coup D'Etat," made a pretty strong argument that the Chuck/Sarah timetable issue was played out, resorting to the hoary device of having a self-help book author (who randomly is doing a huge book display and a signing at the Buy-More), with a book on improving communication that seems to consist entirely of bland quizzes. (I had the feeling that the people who wrote this episode hadn't actually read any self-help books, which are indeed horrid but nothing like the way this episode portrayed them.)
Meanwhile, back in the fun part of the episode, Generalissimo Goya invites Awesome and Ellie to Costa Gravas, to thank Awesome for saving the Generalissimo's life. This is the perfect opportunity for a "babymoon," Ellie's word for a sexy-fun vacation where the Awesomes don't talk about baby stuff for a while. And it includes a giant marble statue of Awesome, which gets Ellie "caliente" — until it's beheaded. Because the Generalissimo's sexy wife decides to launch a coup d'etat, leading to the best line of the night: "I cannot believe there was a coup on my babymoon."
Oh, and Chuck kinda-sorta came clean to Ellie, who witnessed his spy-related derring-do and at least appreciated how hard it is for him to give up on spying. No, Chuck didn't admit he's still a spy, but at least he opened up about his search for mom. And Ellie delivered a much-needed reminder that their mom may turn out to be just as bad a person as they originally thought, once they discover the whole truth.
I can't be alone in wishing this episode had had 200 percent more Casey. Casey had so much amazing material in this episode that was barely even touched on. I would happily have watched a whole episode of the former Angel Of Death sharing an apartment with the Generalissimo he'd spent so much time trying to kill back in the day. (Including living in the walls.) The mixture of respect, friendship and loathing between the two former enemies was just bursting with comedy gold. And then there's Casey's homicidal protectiveness, when faced with the prospect of Morgan dating his daughter — comedy freaking gold. With a fuzzy blanket! At least the latter storyline seems like it's going to feature heavily in the weeks to come. Now I want to see Morgan and Alex go on a double date with Big Mike and Morgan's mom.
Speaking of which, I have to say that while the return of Big Mike is super welcome — especially last week's disco stick incident, which ruled — something about this latest episode rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it's just the fact that Big Mike should be in charge, and it's weird to see him being simultaneously deferential to Morgan while also giving love advice. But I think it was also the fact that Big Mike got relegated to being the guy who tells you that you'll hear soul music when you kiss the person you're meant to be with — it just felt, I don't know... cheap. But I'm betting Morgan doesn't last another five episodes as manager, and we'll see Big Mike back behind the big desk, where he belongs. Don't ever count out Big Mike!
So what did you think?