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Chuck Season 5: "Chuck vs. The Frosted Tips"

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Saturday, November 12 2011 and posted in Reviews

Chuck puts in its strongest episode of the season so far as the issue of Morgan's brain problems with the Intersect are placed front and center.

In a press conference call yesterday, Chuck actor Joshua Gomez talked about how the current storyline about Morgan betraying Chuck and taking the Intersect to rival private security firm Verbanski Corp would actually not be the only one this season.  The show would in fact be dovetailing into multiple storylines in order to maximize the limited time Chuck has left on the airwaves.  "Chuck vs. The Frosted Tips" is, in that way, the beginning of the end for this show, as this is where that particular plot point is resolved while opening up a path to the rest of the story for this final season.

It's good for a show like Chuck to move things along at a brisk pace.  There is such a thing as going too fast, though.  It's oddly hard to tell exactly which category this episode belong in.  In "Frosted Tips," the team learns of Morgan's betrayal, figures out that the Intersect is affecting his brain, figures out a way to get through to him, and strike a sort of accord with Verbanski Corp.  With all of that, there's still time to give to Casey's infatuation with Gertrude Verbanski and even some goofiness with Awesome, Ellie, and the Buy More crew.  Yet, it doesn't feel like Morgan turning on Carmichael Industries was all that big of a deal, considering how easily it's overcome. Chuck tells Morgan that the latter's recent behavior of late is reminding him of an incident in the seventh grade, when a full, thick, bushy mustache caused Morgan's ego to run unchecked.  He was eventually pantsed in front of the whole school and thus humbled to the point of wanting to be Chuck's friend again.  Chuck figures that the only way to get through to Morgan is to publicly pull down his pants again (metaphorically, this time).  This leads to an infiltration of Verbanski Corp's headquarters, where Morgan has absconded to with Carmichael's mission file (that mission, coming in secret from their former boss General Beckman, entailing the arrest of a Julian Assange-type of whistleblower about to make public the identities of several undercover CIA agents).  Chuck and Casey insist that they're all about the mission, while Sarah sees through them, declaring that going to Verbanski Corp is mostly about their respective issues with Morgan and Gertrude.  There, Casey and344 Verbanski engage in some allegedly sexy grappling while Chuck confronts Morgan, who is unrepentant and as much of an id monster as ever.  After a parody of the famous "bullet-time dodge" shot from The Matrix (Carrie-Anne Moss is in this episode, after all), Chuck literally pulls down Morgan's pants so Sarah can shoot him in the ass with a tranquilizer and Carmichael Industries can get away with their flash drive.

Following this incident, Chuck and Casey are just about to wash their hands of Morgan, figuring that he's made his choices and there's nothing they can (or in Casey's case, want to) do for him.  Sarah isn't so sure, figuring Morgan's behavior is so wildly out of character that the Intersect may be to blame.  She consults with Ellie, who essentially tells Sarah to think of Morgan as an amnesiac with head trauma, and that he needs to be reminded of his past so that he can remember who he is.  After this conversation, Sarah calls Beckman to apprise her of the Morgan situation.  Beckman delivers the first major twist of the season, that the Intersect in Morgan's head is faulty, and wasn't sent to them by Beckman.  Sarah, Chuck, and Casey are able to put it all together: someone in the CIA, most likely Agent Decker, was actually targeting Chuck.  Chuck feels lousy that he couldn't see that Morgan was in so much trouble, but he gets it together enough to get through to Morgan and remind him of who he really is.  After a lame set piece involving an exploding helicopter that the audience was apparently supposed to believe was supposed to think put Morgan and Gertrude in mortal danger, but really seemed to accomplish nothing more than filling a minute or so of airtime, Morgan makes amends and expresses that he wants to get rid of the Intersect and Casey goes on a first date with Gertrude (to the gun range).

While it seemed that Chuck was going to stumble to its ending, "Frosted Tips" seems to be a step back in the right direction.  The "douchebag Morgan" status quo inherently has a limited shelf-life before it would have started to alienate what's left of the show's audience.  It could have used another episode or two to resolve the story, but hopefully, the show will be up to bigger and better things from here on out.  Decker and his shadowy cabal within the CIA seems like it will be a particularly formidable threat for the little independent spy agency that could.  They take a step forward tonight in getting back their greatest asset and dear friend, and even make some money while they're at it.  Whether Verbanski Corp sticks around this season or not, it doesn't seem like they'll be much of a problem anymore.  In terms of tone, "Frosted Tips" got a lot closer to the balance between humor and high-stakes action that the show needs to succeed creatively.  The comedy was broad, but not too broad, and the action got across the plot well enough, though there wasn't much to see that hasn't been seen on Chuck many times before.  The smartest things "Frosted Tips" did, aside from show that Morgan was under the thrall of a malfunctioning Intersect, was have Sarah call Chuck and Casey out about their personal issues with Morgan and Gertrude.  These are the two men she knows best in her life, so it stands to reason that she'd be able to see through their cover stories.  Her unwavering insistence that Chuck and Casey confront these issues, rather than cover them up, lead to a type of openness in the plot and a driving force that ultimately leads into where the rest of this season will be going. 

Written or Contributed by: Royal Nonesuch

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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch

As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well.  You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.


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