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'Chuck' - Versus The Masquerade

Why this episode wasn't shown on Valentine's Day is more a mystery than the actual mystery

This review may contain spoilers.

With the long, arced approach to series well in place in "Chuck," and we are starting to see the benefits of the many developments that have already taken place; we knew that even though Volkoff himself was killed, we were not done with the empire he created. There are others in the hive of scum and villainy who want to take his place.

The plot is an old one. It turns out that Volkoff had a daughter whom he had hidden from not quite everyone. She has the key, which is an actual key, to the information the one other surviving Volkoff associate needs to take Volkoff's place.

While the daughter doesn't know who her father really was or what the key is, we know immediately what it is and that ruins the mystery aspect of the story.

The metaphor of a masquerade ball for the lives of spies and their foes is also not lost on us. It's a bit too cliché.

Even so, the characters are what we most watch "Chuck" for and they are as endearing as ever.

While it may seem like harping on the subject, once again, we get the feeling that the writers are in a bit of a bind. They don't yet know if they'll be continuing the story into the next television season, so they can't put too much into the plots at this point. This is hurting the show a bit.

Points of Interest

1. We're not seeing Chuck's mother and we have to wonder what she is doing now. Grandma is supposed to be on the scene but she isn't.

2. The mystery surrounding Sarah's family seems to have been dropped and we are wondering if we're going to find out about her parents. We know about Chuck's and it's time for us to learn about Sarah's.

3. Morgan's realization that the Chewy and Han Solo action figures he and Chuck bought as kids are toys is a bit of a "get a life" reference but passing them down to another family member is a good way of saying they may be toys but they are not just junk to be tossed away. It was a good way to address Morgan's need to become an adult.

What Worked

It's always the characters and their relationships to each other that make "Chuck" work. We see some changes in how they all relate to each other and the changes are for the good. Everyone is growing in some way and that's something to which everyone can relate.

Morgan's epiphany is the most striking event and the one that seems the most important overall. It's well done and it's touching.

The mystery surrounding the new inhabitants of Castle is intriguing and we wonder what is going to happen with Casey and these new people. If "Chuck" gets another season, we will most likely find out more about the new guys.

What Didn't Work

The "key" to the mystery of why Volkoff's daughter is being sought is so easy to figure out that it makes us feel cheated when our spy team doesn't see it right away.

The masquerade metaphor kind of hits us over the head and seems a bit contrived. Chuck and Sarah have already dealt with the fake indent issue.

We've seen a few too many fancy party scenes in which Chuck and Sarah get all gussied up to fit in and find the target. Having them go to a show jumping competition might have worked better in this episode. It would have made more sense with the target being someone who is a horse lover.

Though we knew it had to happen to tie things up neatly in this episode, the "The end?" tag with Volkoff's daughter turning the key was disappointing because we don't know if we'll get to see what happens next.

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

"Chuck Versus the Masquerade was written by Rafe Judkins and Lauran LeFranc and directed by Patrick Norris.

"Chuck airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

About the Author

Ann Morris imagined visiting other worlds and dimensions in her childhood play but didn't 'officially' begin living a fannish life till the early 1970s when she was a founding member of the Stone Hill Science Fiction Association in 1979 and remains active to this day. She lives in Plant City, Fla., where she writes from her geekosphere.
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