Last night’s episode will likely come as a relief to those who thought that Morgan wanting to keep the Intersect in his head was a bad route for the show to follow. After the events of “Frosted Tips,” Morgan realized that he might be better off without the burden of a supercomputer in his brain and told Awesome that he wanted it out. It was a necessary development for his character to realize just how much responsibility being the human Intersect requires. That being said, I’m not convinced that this week’s episode was a good way to bring about that development.

Chuck tries to operate on multiple levels. It wants to be a show where shit blows up, girls parade around in skimpy outfits, and people make jokes about video games, but it also wants to be a show that puts its characters through ordeals and gets to the heart of why they react the way they do. As long as Chuck works on that first level, it’ll be at least mildly entertaining. Give me enough fancy fight sequences, snappy dialogue, and exploding helicopters – like this episode did – and I’ll be pleased. But Chuck has consistently failed to work on that second, deeper level for about a season now, and that frustrates me.

The idea that Morgan’s ego would become inflated because of a virus in the Intersect, causing him to turn traitor, could have been a good one. But that would have required it playing out over 4 or 5 episodes, not 2, so that we could really see Morgan slowly losing grip with reality. The show could even have spent an episode with Morgan as a double agent for Verbanski Corporation. But as it played out, the story arc needed more breathing room to play out and for the audience to really feel its impact. With everything returning to the status quo – more or less – at the end of this installment, this episode and last week’s feel like a total waste. Let’s be clear: none of this is Josh Gomez’ fault. He played the part of Douchebag Morgan as well as anyone could have expected him to. But he also had to do it over the span of just a couple of episodes, and any nuance that he could have added to the transformation was lost.

With Morgan as the driving force of the last couple of episodes, one would think that an arc about losing himself to the Intersect would give some insight into his character. But at the end of the day, he’s not really culpable for what a virus in the program does to him. I know I’m supposed to see his “frosted tips” personality as a logical amplification of his ego, but to turn Morgan into an unrecognizable douchebag only to have him talked down from the edge by Chuck telling him a story about getting revenge on a girl who pantsed him in middle school devalues everything that happened here. If Morgan had to be humbled because he had let his ego get out of hand, then making the virus responsible for the personality change renders it unbelievable that a simple story would be enough to get him to come back down to Earth. This resolution was too neat, too easy, and too silly by a longshot.

In fact, this entire episode was just too silly. At this stage, the Gertrude/Casey romance just seems like an excuse for wacky hijinks, and it’s way too on-the-nose. Casey loves cigars? So does Gertrude! Casey loves Reagan? So does Gertrude! Casey loves guns? So does Gertrude! That Casey’s love life is being treated with such frivolity bothers me. This is, after all, the man who abandoned the woman he loved in order to serve his country. It makes sense that he would find love again with a kindred spirit, but there’s no deeper connection between him and Gertrude beyond their mutual love of a few All-American things.

And then there was the Buy More plot, which again, was a shade too silly. I liked the continuity with the Buy More ad, and I liked the idea that Awesome would finally help Jeff get his life back on track. However, Jeff’s drug-addled demeanour was played a few shades too broadly, and all the while, I was wondering why Awesome didn’t just send Jeff to the hospital. That being said, I’m intrigued by this new, more responsible version of Jeff, and I hope he sticks around to confuse Lester, Fernando, Skip, and the rest of the Buy Morians.

Unfortunately, that’s the thing I’m most intrigued about going forward. I don’t care about Casey dating Gertrude. I also don’t care that there’s a kill order out on Morgan, and the Morgan-as-douchebag arc hasn’t really changed the status quo at all. True, Casey did kick Morgan out of the apartment, and Morgan’s situation with Alex remains unclear. (It was weird to bring her in for an episode but not give her any scenes with Morgan.) But nobody was really affected by what happened. Chuck, Casey, and Sarah all understand that Morgan wasn’t acting like himself because of the Intersect virus, so they’re not truly mad at him. Maybe this will all pay off down the line with Morgan reflecting on how the Intersect changed him, but I’m not holding my breath.

At the end of the day, then, the real purpose of this story arc was to show how much Sarah has grown since the start of the series. Sarah, being less close to Morgan than Chuck or Casey, took what he did less personally, and as a result, was able to recognize that he wasn’t just being a douchebag, but that he was a human being in need of help. That was a very nice touch, and I’m glad to see that Sarah has come to be fond of Morgan in her own way. But if that’s all that I can take from this story arc, then it was a gigantic waste of time.

The show probably would have been better off doing a few episodes to establish the status quo of Chuck-as-handler and Morgan-as-Intersect, with Carmichael Industries dealing with villains of the week while the specter of Decker loomed above them, before attempting a story arc like this. A temporary shift of the status quo carries little weight if the status quo hasn’t really been established. It was way too early in the season for the show to pull off a weird, insular installment like this. Overall, “Frosted Tips” was a so-so episode. Fancy fight sequences, snappy dialogue, and exploding helicopters can go a long way. I just wish they weren’t the only things holding up Chuck at the moment.

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