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Forget it, 'Chuck,' it's Chinatown

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Morgan_lFor just a short a second last night, I thought we were going to finally see some deeper character growth in Chuck‘s Morgan (Joshua Gomez, pictured). While on his way to dinner with our main guy and Sarah in L.A.’s Chinatown, Morgan mentioned to Chuck and Sarah that he needed his “fix.” Could Morgan be addicted to drugs? (It would certainly explain his squirrel-like tendencies) Nope. Turns out Morgan just wanted to nab some fireworks. So instead of actually digging beyond Morgan’s conventional exterior, Chuck once again forced us to live through several scenes that flaunted Gomez’s annoyingly sophomoric and underdeveloped character.

Not that the episode didn’t show some of Morgan’s redeeming qualities. I have to give it to Chuck‘s writers for proving that Morgan has a greater purpose outside of advertising his extremely irritating tendencies. After bonding over an “I-Miss-Chuck” moment, it seems that Ellie and Morgan have put aside their differences –€” or, rather, Ellie has put aside her differences with the latter –€” to develop a somewhat affectionate relationship. But as nice as it was to see a friendship developing between the two, I’m a bit worried about the direction Chuck‘s writers seem to be going with Morgan and Ellie. Correct me if you think I’m wrong, but I see a possible romance brewing between the two most important people in Chuck’s life. Sure, the duo has their moments, but replacing Captain Awesome –€” who was noticeably and tragically absent again last night –€” with Morgan? I have a feeling that it’s not as inconceivable as we might think, since I can’t fathom anyone spending $700 to save someone’s job unless they have some sort of ulterior — albeit subconscious –€” motive.

But, for the purposes of last night’s episode, Ellie’s spree at theBuy More was meant to be compensation for Morgan’s efforts to comforther after Chuck skipped their October version of Mother’s Day, which,we discover, celebrates the day Mrs. Bartowski left the family to letChuck and Ellie fend for themselves. Though I can’t quite imagine whyanyone would celebrate being deserted by a parent, Ellie introduced thedinner as Chuck’s last chance to prove he could be true to his word.But after Chuck returned home late after a mission went awry, Ellieplayed the ever-understanding sister again, acknowledging that lovemakes you do crazy things. Like miss important family gatherings, or,say, destroy a perfectly good van with fireworks. But I was almostcertain that Chuck was going to confess his double life to Ellie whenshe told him that he could confide in her. Alas, for the second timeover the course of the hour, I was wrong. But I can’t help but hopethat Chuck will soon tell his sister about Charles Carmichael and hiscomputer/brain, as I would love to see Sarah Lancaster play more thanjust the sympathizing sister. Perhaps she’d take on an alias as well.(Any suggestions, PopWatchers?) After all, Captain Awesome already hasone.

addCredit(“Chuck: Dean Hendler”)

But the message of loyalty really hit home for Chuck upon receivingthis week’s mission. During last night’s episode, Sarah and Casey tookChuck on his first stakeout, where the trio stalked a potentiallydangerous Chinese woman named Mei-Ling. It doesn’t take long, however,for us to learn that Mei-Ling’s target –€” an elderly wheelchair-boundman named Ben Lo Pan –€” is the real enemy, having kidnapped Mei-Ling’sbrother. But after an almost laughable scene — where Ben Lo Pan managedto dodge dozens of bullets while moving incredibly slowly and withoutany sort of shield –€” the bad guy got away thanks to Chuck’s inabilityto follow orders (shouldn’t Sarah and Casey have learned by now thatChuck never stays in the car?). To make up for his error in judgment,Chuck promised to help Mei-Ling procure her brother if she would defectto America (à la White Knights –€” thank you for the Baryshnikov reference, Chuck), and,€” for the firsttime in last night’s episode,€” followed through with his vow. Thanks toChuck’s computer skills, and inability to follow orders, our titlecharacter managed to save not only Mei-Ling’s brother, but Sarah andCasey as well. Though I did find it quite curious that Chuck wouldcontinue using his “spy” name (”Charles Carmichael)€” during thestakeout, but had no problem adorning himself in a jacket inscribedwith his name and his place of employment during the final battle.

I know that I had previously complained that Chuckwas focusing too much on the title character’s newfound abilities inthe show’s early episodes, but now I’m beginning to worry that the Chuck‘sformulaic pace may affecting the intrigue introduced in the series’pilot. Though there are still some lingering mysteries –€” why Jilldumped Chuck, and why Bryce would choose to send the top-secretinformation to Chuck –€” it seems Chuck is suffering from its inability to launch story arcs that continue beyond one episode. In this post-Lost and –Heroes world, Chuck needs to start pulling out all the stops in order to keep up.

What did you think of last night’s episode, PopWatchers? Are you growing tired of Chuck‘smission-of-the-week format? Did any of you find the stop-startcamerawork in the final fight scene distracting? Do you find yourselvesliking Morgan just a little bit more? What would you bring withyou on a stakeout (a sweater? Life-jacket?)? And, finally, have any ofyou ever had a spastic colon?