This review may contain spoilers.
These words from the Bard of Avon could apply to Chuck Bartowski and Sarah Walker just as well as they applied to the lovers in a “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
The best thing about the love story that is so much a part of “Chuck” – and is the focal point of “Chuck Versus the Balcony” – is that we are not getting the usual silly tale of things gone awry due to the characters misunderstanding each other.
Instead, we get forward momentum. While the episode doesn’t give us the proposal that “Chuck” planned, or the one Sarah and Morgan wanted to guarantee, we get closure and that’s rather rare in television romances. There are some very satisfying scenes between Chuck and Sarah.
Ah, but there is a mission to complete and true love has to take a backseat to the duty that Chuck and Sarah have to the C.I.A. and the U.S.A.
The story of the mission uses a standard trope from spy thrillers. There is a nano-chip to be retrieved and Chuck, Sarah and Casey must find it before “the other side” does. What makes this story different from most is the comedy element. “Chuck” is at its best when there is a lot of comedy interwoven with a serious storyline and we get that in this tale.
A recurring element in “Chuck” is the juxtaposition of the spy world and the Buy More world. Showing us a story involving the Buy More characters In which the course of true love is exceedingly bumpy for Lester Patel, adds impact to the story of Chuck and Sarah’s true love.
It doesn’t hurt that we get a Jeffster performance either.
Points Of Interest
1. We find out that Lester’s parents are not from India but from Saskatchewan, Canada. They are Hinjews, a group some people think of as a cult. This unusual cultural background may explain some of Lester’s odd outlook on life.
2. Casey, in a rare moment, bonds with Chuck by giving him proposal advice. This is not the usual kind of Chuck and Casey interaction and it says something about Casey’s changing attitudes about getting close to people.
3. “The peppery pinot with a stable on the label and a stork on the cork” scenes between Chuck and Morgan and Chuck and the wine snob harken back and pay homage to Danny Kaye and the “pestle in the vessel” scene in “The Court Jester.”
The way the actors make the relationships of the characters to each other work is a strong point in this episode. The acting in “Chuck” has always been good but it seems to be getting even better than in the past. Everyone gels with everyone else and that makes the love story believable and not trite.
Despite the fact that some of the “location” scenes were actually green screen work, the feeling that the faked location gives the episode works really well to give us a sense of being taken away from Burbank to a romantic Loire Valley hotel and vineyard.
What Didn’t Work
The fight scenes were muddled. They could have been better if they had not been shown in close-up. The fight choreographer and director might benefit by using some of the techniques used in Asian films. Action is shown from far enough away that you get all of what is going on and not a lot of close-ups of the actors’ faces. It was difficult at times to know who was doing what to whom in this episode.
Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
“Chuck Versus The Balcony” was written by Max Denby and directed by Jay Chandrasekhar.
“Chuck” airs Monday nights at 8 p.m ET on NBC.