“Kept Man” was an entertaining episode of Chuck. It was also an episode that left me just as concerned about the show’s final stretch as I was last week. More details after the jump.

Look, Chuck is just coasting at this point. Nobody’s out to get Team Bartowski, Chuck doesn’t have the Intersect in his brain, and all the major characters are in long-term relationships of some sort (except for Jeff and Lester, but the two of them might as well just make it official at this stage). This means that there’s no sense of urgency to the show anymore. We’re basically counting down until the season finale, which will inevitably fast-forward into the future to show Chuck and Sarah playing with their cute little spy babies. (I mean, who doesn’t want to see cute little spy babies? *rolls eyes*)

But at least we’re having fun while we’re counting down, and “Kept Man” was a very fun episode of Chuck, Chuck’s obnoxious and clueless behaviour in the first half notwithstanding. For the first time, the otherwise silly Casey/Gertrude romance showed a spark of life, and I found myself interested in their crazy courtship/relationship/wacky sex-fest. It was threaded nicely through the episode’s spy plot, and provided some laughs – as well as some actual stakes when Gertrude got captured – along the way.

The Chuck/Sarah portion of the episode was a mixed bag. As I mentioned before, Chuck was acting like an obnoxious idiot until he found about his wife’s pregnancy scare, but after that, it was nice to see them take the next step and actually discuss what their family would be like in the future and how they’d reconcile that with their dangerous jobs. All along, this was a nice showcase for Yvonne Strahovski, who seems to have gotten all the meaty material as of late, because, y’know, fanservice and all…*grumble grumble grumble*

Surprisingly, the Jeff/Lester subplot worked like gangbusters. Actually, it’s not so surprising anymore, because this season, Jeff and Lester have re-emerged as one of the funniest things about this show, with Jeff’s newfound intelligence providing plenty of comic fodder. And unlike the past few weeks, I actually bought into Devon’s involvement in the spy world this time around, mostly because it didn’t involve him having a fetish for something he’s actually supposed to be terrified of.

Still, while all of this was highly entertaining, I can’t help but feel as if none of it matters. Sure, Jeff and Lester apparently found out about Castle, but we all know that won’t stick. And it was pretty obvious that Sarah wouldn’t actually turn out to be pregnant, considering how inconsequential this show has become. In fact, all along, I couldn’t help but wonder how much more interesting it might have been if Sarah had actually been pregnant. And how much more interesting it might have been if Chuck had actually shot some baddies instead of just activating the weapon’s safety feature. And how much more interesting it might have been if we were still in season 2 or 3, when there was still some danger on this show.

But comparing Chuck to its past self is an exercise in futility at this point. The show clearly has a happy ending in mind for everyone – and don’t get me wrong – that’s a good thing; a sad ending just isn’t appropriate for this kind of show. But the fact that I can see that happy ending so clearly right now is a little disappointing; there don’t seem to be any obstacles standing in our heroes’ way. My guess is that there will be some big, awesome, totally contrived bit of mythology introduced in the final 3 episodes, much like last season, to bring this adventure to a close. (And then Chuck will download the Intersect 8.0 into his brain, which will allow him to fly or something.) There has to be some bigger story, some grand finale. In any case, I’m sure that the ending will be appropriate to the story and to whatever these characters have experienced over the past five seasons. But if our heroes don’t have to work for it, will it be satisfying?

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