Chuck Mini-Cliffhanger: Foursomes Never Work

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Another solid episode of Chuck, all about swapping out ancient masks at an art museum and then all about counteracting the contraband poison that threatens to kill Sarah and Shaw. Near the end of the episode, as those two poisoned would-be lovebirds comfort one another, Chuck comes running across the museum, stopping dead in his tracks as he sees Shaw stroking Sarah’s hair. And then he sees his fallen partner – the too-good-to-be-true normal-girl Hannah – struggling to get oxygen into her lungs after being locked in a vault. Stretched out across the lobby, Chuck and Sarah embrace another, and rarely have these two super-spies felt further apart. Sure, Chuck wound up making out with the girl, but I also felt bad for the guy. If Shaw hadn’t been there, I think Chuck would have picked a different colleague to help first.

With the Olympics coming up and Chuck set to be gone for the better part of a month, Monday night’s episode marked a cliffhanger of sorts. And while I thought the plot worked perfectly well – presenting us not only with an inspired Mission Impossible sequence but a genuinely captivating race against the virological clock – with two potential lovers for Chuck and Sarah that seem like perfect matches, the whole thing left me wondering: How long can Chuck go on in this fragmented state of romance denied?

I know, I know, shows like this thrive on the romantic tension, from the tense flirting to the teary moments of acknowledgement to the missed opportunities. I was a fan of The X-Files, I get it. But as Chuck reiterates this plot line of misunderstood intentions and secret motivations, leading to a rotating crew of would-be significant others and dead-ends for both Chuck and Sarah, I’m starting to now see a point on the horizon at which this might start to grow old. (“So if I have to see you with someone else, it might as well be a hero,” Chuck said in Monday’s episode; “What can I say? I have a type,” Sarah replied)

Last night they strayed as far apart as ever, but after the Olympics, this series is going to have to make a choice: Do these drifting comets veer into different orbits, or arc back on a collision course? And I think the show’s creators realize this as well. So while tonight’s cliffhanger was more sweet in tone, I’d be prepared for a rather dramatic confrontation of these sexual tensions in three weeks’ time.

So what’s your take on the thing? Sweeping romance? Or am I misreading the whole Hannah thing – could this just be a Ring operative? I guess I like that premise a whole lot more actually, that at some point this is going to become one wicked Sarah-Hannah brawl…