I’m feeling neutral about this week’s Chuck, maybe leaning slightly towards positive. “Last Details” was a decent episode, solid but not spectacular. In fact, it would have been a perfectly acceptable midseason episode. But as what could possibly be the series’ penultimate episode? Utterly disappointing.

What “Last Details” got right was what Chuck almost always gets right. It was fun, it featured an exciting mission (or two), it had some nice bits of humour, and it provided some nice moments of growth for a few characters (namely Morgan, Mary, and Casey). And you know what? That would be a pretty solid episode of Chuck right there, and I don’t have any major complaints.

Unfortunately, I just wasn’t feeling it tonight. Sure, objectively speaking, the missions had high stakes. But I just didn’t feel them. Team Bartowski treated the mission to rescue Mary as old hat. Comparing that to season 2’s rescue of the other Bartowski parent, Stephen, makes “Last Details” seem lackadaisical to me.

I was surprised at just how little I cared about what was going on. Part of the problem was that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at how badly the CIA has handled the entire Vivian Volkoff situation. At this point, since they know she’s a villain, why didn’t Sarah or Casey just shoot her dead in Colombia? Even if I fanwank that the CIA wanted Vivian and Riley alive for intel, I can’t deny that Vivian managing to escape from Sarah, Chuck, and Mary in Moscow was just lazy, sloppy writing.

It’s not just that “Last Details” should have better; it’s that it could have been better. Need to explain why Vivian and Riley weren’t killed in the underground jail? Easy. Just insert a line about Beckman wanting them alive for intel. Need to provide an excuse for Vivian getting away in Moscow? Simple. Have one of the characters say a throwaway line about having no time to pursue Vivian because Volkoff’s guards are closing in. There you have it: uncomplicated fixes that would have gone a long way towards eliminating some of this episode’s laziness.

But they wouldn’t have eliminated all the laziness. The last few minutes of the episode felt like fanservice to anyone who worships at the altar of Chuck and Sarah, but they didn’t do anything for me. They didn’t advance the plot, and they felt oddly full of the kind of sentiment feels fake on TV. I might care about the romantic montage of Chuck and Sarah moments if they were real people that I knew personally. But they’re characters on a TV show, and by now, I care less about their romance than about my belly button lint. (However, I did appreciate the joke that Jeff is secretly sentimental and is talented at making musical video montages, perhaps a subtle callback to season 2’s “Tom Sawyer”). The final twist was even lazier. Loved one attacked by the hero’s archnemesis after a terrifying phone call and now on the brink of death? Total cliché. I suppose that this is all supposed to set up Chuck being a badass hero next week (which doesn’t make up for Chuck being utterly useless for a lot of this season, including in this episode), but I wish that it had been brought about in a less predictable way.

Like I implied in the introduction, I don’t think I would have been disappointed in this episode if it had aired in the middle of the season. But compared to the penultimate episodes of previous seasons, namely “Colonel” and “Subway,” “Last Details” was completely underwhelming. I think I’m going to end the review here, and perhaps I’ve been too harsh. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood and I’ll look upon this episode more favourably later. But I’m pretty sure I’m still going to think that “Last Details” could have been a whole lot better.

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