As January rolls along, more and more of our favorite shows are returning from the winter hiatus. ‘Chuck’ finally came back last week with a new episode that (almost) brought with it major, life-changing events for our characters. Almost.
To be honest, the plotting in ‘Chuck vs. the Balcony’ feels very haphazard. Sarah and Chuck are assigned to ship off to a chateau in France, where another spy injected an important microchip into a rare bottle of wine before getting bumped off. After the expected shenanigans (Casey has to pose as Chuck’s manservant), they retrieve the chip and fly back to Los Angeles. Almost as soon as they arrive at Castle, Gen. Beckman sends them right back to France again, so that Sarah can play double-agent and pretend to sell the chip to one of Volkoff’s operatives. Then they return to Los Angeles again. This seems like a lot of unnecessary globe-hopping when they could have just stayed in France until the mission was complete.
More important than any of this is the “sub-mission” that Chuck arranges with Morgan’s help. Chuck is finally ready to pop the question to Sarah, but wants the proposal to be perfect. She tells a horrible story about how her own parents’ proposal went bad, and how that wound up souring the entire marriage. This puts a lot of pressure on Chuck, who decides to do the deed on the balcony of the chateau precisely at sunset. Unfortunately, his plans are foiled time and again by the mission. Eventually, Sarah overhears Chuck and Morgan talking, and decides to take matters into her own hands. Without Chuck’s knowledge, she recruits Morgan herself and covertly takes control of the sub-mission to make sure that Chuck can finally follow through.
Even this doesn’t work out. Just as Chuck is about to pull out the ring, CIA agents swarm in and arrest Sarah for treason. It turns out that this is part of Beckman’s plan to make Sarah look like a traitor, and they have to put on a good show for Volkoff. Back in L.A., Chuck decides that there’s no point in waiting for the perfect proposal. All that matters is that they have each other. He runs to Sarah’s cell to propose right then and there, but is stopped yet again by Gen. Beckman, who orders Sarah on an extended undercover operation within the Volkoff organization. Chuck never gets an opportunity to propose.
In the midst of Chuck’s relationship woes, Lester at the Buy More is having his own romantic crisis – and that means that there may actually be romance in store for him. His parents have set up an arranged marriage, which he’s resistant to at first. Lester tells Big Mike that he’s been having a lot of success at online dating. As he explains it, there’s no sense in unrealistically waiting around for a Perfect Ten when he can have three Fours right away. “Three Fours? That’s a Twelve!” Mike exclaims.
But then Lester sees the girl that his parents have fixed him up with, and of course she’s a fox. Immediately, his plans change. He decides that he must woo her. This leads him to serenade her to Whitesnake’s “Is This Love?” in the middle of the Buy More. That doesn’t go over so well, and she walks out.
‘Chuck vs. the Balcony’ is not one of the better episodes of the season. The engagement storyline feels to me like a convoluted tease. We know that Chuck will propose to Sarah eventually, but that’s being strung out unnecessarily. I understand the need to have Sarah arrested in a public place so that word can filter back to Volkoff, but I don’t understand why Sarah would then have to be locked in a cell within Castle. Isn’t the charade over as soon as they get her back to the States? I also have a hard time believing that Volkoff will fall for Sarah’s double-agent act so easily. All of this seems like sloppy writing. I hope that future episodes play this out better.