Chuck – Seasons 1 and 2 Rewatch
Note: This is a retrospective of a television season in preparation for an upcoming season premiere, like one of those “previously seen on” sequences before the show starts (maybe with a bit more snark), basically a reminder to those that have already watched. I warn you: there are spoilers below. If you want to catch up naturally, now is your time to leave and pick up the recorded media of your choice and catch up. Then come back later.
With Season 3 of Chuck coming our way Sunday, January 10, I thought it would be nice to post a nice Season 1 and 2 (heavy on the 2) retrospective. Now: when you read this, know that I do this out of love. I love Chuck, with all its will-they-or-won’t-they, tough-shell-exterior-grunting, whiny-non-spy-but-kind-of-sort-of-a-spy-at-heart stuff. So I don’t make fun from a place of disdain. I make fun out of love. With that in mind, here are few things you might need to know.
Chuck is a dude that works at the Buy More (a green-colored version of Best Buy) at the Nerd Herd desk (think Geek Squad) trying to get his life in order. He’s carved out a simple life for himself with his buddy Morgan and ostensibly still lives with is “parents” Ellie and Devin “Captain Awesome” Woodcomb (his mom ran out years ago as did his father so he and his sister, Ellie, raised each other). One day, and old friend/old nemesis Bryce Larkin sends him an email with ALL THE INTELLIGENCE OF THE WORLD encoded into a video of horrific and adorable imagery (usually not horrific and adorable at the same time). They call this the Intersect (also the name of the computer that is able to crunch all this data which Bryce ‘splodes in the first ten minutes of the first episode). Chuck watches the video and is suddenly able to recall the images when seen and understand the meaning behind them (sees a terrorist at the store, suddenly “flashes” with images of the bomb the terrorist is setting up). The NSA sends their top agent (John Casey) to retrieve the Intersect. CIA does the same (Sarah Walker). They end up becoming his handlers (to protect the Intersect Person until a new Intersect Computer can be built) and Team Chuck is born. They get into all kinds of whacky situations where this “normal” guy is leaned upon to do extraordinary things (for which he occasionally has a natural aptitude). He crushes on Sarah (but it’s Yvonne Strahovski so, gay or straight, who wouldn’t?) and Sarah sends him some vibes back but they don’t do anything about it due to it being “unprofessional” (making their cover of being in a relationship that much more complicated — and horribly frustrating). All Chuck wants to do (besides whine about how his life sucks since he is no longer mediocre) is get the Intersect out of his head and run to the suburbs to have puppies with the out-of-his-league Sarah but the new Intersect needs to be completed for that to happen.
- Chuck vs the First Date: Chuck starts the new season upside down, hung out the window by Michael Clarke Duncan to be saved by Casey and Sarah (natch), Chuck acting as protector of the “cypher,” a disc-like object our hero holds and is, presumably, the reason for their mission. Team Chuck later learns the cypher is the last piece of the Intersect II and, upon its assembly, Chuck will be excused from his national intelligence priority. Music to Chuck’s ears. Particularly Huey Lewis (more on that later). When Sarah and Chuck leave Casey’s place, Beckman calls back to let Casey know he has new orders: when the Intersect II is complete, Intersect I needs to be eliminated. Casey, much as he maligns Chuck, doesn’t feel great to plug the guy. Chuck, in the meantime, is about to start the first day of the rest of his life, starting the morning with “It’s Hip to Be Square.” On the agenda for him: say thanks to his might-be assassin (although, the show’s called Chuck — so … ) for saving his life so many times and to finally ask Sarah on a proper date (she’s at first reluctant but then whole-heartedly accepts). A courier comes to get the cypher from Casey and says all the right things to him before gassing him and spiriting away with the cypher. So, as Casey struggles to survive, Chuck and Sarah are exchanging goo goo eyes on their first date, to which Sarah shows up unarmed. Sadly, for them, everyone at the place is a hired assassin and Chuck flashes just in time for MCD to arrive to tangle. All seems lost until Casey (saved by an in-foyer chemical bath and hidden epi pen) plows through the restaurant in the Crown Vic, tracking Chuck through his GPS-enabled watch. They escape but the realization sets in for Chuck: he is still the intersect and still stuck. The song to begin his return to the original future: “Power of Love,” one of several references to Back to the Future this season (the song even starts on Chuck’s radio alarm). The mundanity of Chuck’s existence spirals him into an existential crisis until he flashes on a scar Casey received from a punch to the face by MCD (and his ring). Suddenly he knows where to get the cypher and Team Chuck (minus Chuck) is mobilized. Sadly, MCD’s men outsmart him and move locations, calling the Buy More for an install. Chuck goes, doomed at first, but outwits them all and gets the cypher back. Hooray! Except the cypher is actually a trojan horse that infects the Intersect II, initiating a self-destruct sequence that blows up what are probably the government’s top agents and the head of the CIA. D’oh!
- Chuck vs the Seduction: Chuck now settled back into his life of being an essential if clumsy operative, now looks at a life infused with money by NBC. After a daydream sequence where Sarah enters the Buy More (set to “Do You Believe in Love” by, oh yes, Huey Lewis and the News, we are introduced to Sarah’s new job (the Orange Orange, a Pinkberry-like Yogurt Place) and the heavily-armored, totally-expensive bunker/base below it, nicknamed “The Castle.” It’s there when team Chuck learns of their next mission: to retrieve the actual cypher from a horribly-dangerous woman, Sasha Banachek. Their only hope is washed-up ex-spy playboy (and the last one to get close to Banacheck) Roan Montgomery (John Larroquette). The plan: get Chuck to seduce her. Hilarity ensues. Through some bumbling and some transparency issues (Chuck doesn’t really hide mistakes well), Chuck escapes with the cypher but Sarah and Casey get captured. Chuck eventually convinces Roan to help him spring his handlers. They do. And, just as every guest star on Chuck is obliged to do, Roan tells Chuck that Sarah is totally into him and gives him advice on how to snag her tonight. Chuck follows the advice (white dinner jacket, bottle of fine wine, a single rose — “the Montgomery”) and shows up to her apartment only to see that Bryce is already there — oh NOES!
- Chuck vs the Break-Up: With the return of Bryce, we relive the complications that go with that: Sarah’s history with Bryce is complicated and profound (underlined by an opening sequence featuring a past mission where their synchronization is at its height). While Chuck deals with living up to Bryce, another bad guy with another storage device containing information that could reveal their covers (they should really stop spreading that information around) crops up. Suddenly Chuck isn’t good enough to play boyf’ on this mission and he is replaced by Bryce the Real Spy. At the end of the day, when the mission is on the line, Chuck is taken hostage by the Fulcrum agent, gun to his head, the hiccup in Bryce and Sarah’s relationship is revealed (her feelings for Chuck) and she can’t take the shot (luckily, Casey always can). Bryce tells Chuck his concerns that Sarah’s gone soft and Chuck makes the decision to establish their relationship is just a cover. And while the scene is made dramatic with a beautiful use of “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver, really, when you think about it, the exchange means absolutely nothing. Bryce tricks Chuck into putting on some Cool Guy Glasses (“for a real spy”) so he can receive an Intersect update (images flash through the lenses). Chuck collapses with an “I hate Bryce Larkin.”
- Chuck vs the Cougars: So many episodes this season start off with flashbacks you might thinks it’s Psych. This one features a mangled-looking Sarah (they did everything they possibly could to make her look like an ugly duckling) in high school (circa 1998) listening to Chumbawumba before coming home and seeing her father get taken away by government officials. Fast forward to the present when Sarah sees a suspicious character (played by Nicole Richie) in the store, following her around. Eventually she finds out that (OMG!) she is Heather from high school! Go Cougars! Chuck, eternally interested in Sarah’s past plays it up, trying to find out more, before flashing on her husband (Ben Savage — Cory!) and making a mission for themselves. Sarah does not want to go into her past with Chuck (and is violently protective of it) but has flashbacks for the benefit of the audience (we just need to know he’s a con man that’s been in jail ever since). The husband is an engineer that stole plans for a plane and Richie is secretly (even to his knowledge) try to sell them to the Russian mob. Sarah and Heather do battle at their high school reunion in the locker room, with the showers running (the first real 2-shots of the show since Richie next to Strahovski looks like a tanned leprechaun). Sarah comes out victorious and, isn’t really able to pull off a one-liner like Casey can (upon her KO, Sarah comes up with “Go Cougars”).
- Chuck vs Tom Sawyer: Flashback – Jeff is the Missile Command World Champion (just don’t tell this guy) but doesn’t know what he’s going to do with his future. So now he’s the gross weirdo perv at the Buy More. This is the episode that introduces Milbarge (Tony Hale) to the show as the efficiency expert, who is constantly looking for Chuck (since everyone pretty much tell him Chuck’s in charge). Chuck, however, is too busy flashing on terrorists looking for Jeff because a secret satellite code was put in Missile Command by the creator and the only way to get it is to get to the kill screen. Chuck tries to get to its creator only to find out the terrorists got to him first, stole the code, and set a bomb in the place. The creator, before getting blown to bits while listening to listening to “Tom Sawyer,” has enough time to tell Chuck that Rush is the music of the universe. BOOM. In order to stop the terrorists, Team Chuck needs the code so Chuck convinces Jeff to put on a Missile Command exhibition. Jeff agrees at first and then cracks under the pressure. Chuck takes over, suddenly putting it together that Missile Command can be defeated if played to the rhythm of “Tom Sawyer.” Chuck saves the day, becomes the World Record holder for Missile Command, and has an actual human being moment with the previously caricature Jeff. Also in this episode: Sarah and Casey talk to Stanford about Chuck’s service with the government and gets them to issue him a real live diploma.
- Chuck vs the Ex: Flashback (I know, right?) – Newly-minted Buy More employee Chuck (in a green shirt) tries to get answers from Jill (Jordana Brewster) as to why they can’t be together. Her friend Shari spills that Jill’s with Bryce now (curses). Chuck is flashing back because he’s listening to a Sad Jill Mix from ’03 on his iPod while sitting at the Nerd Herd desk, establishing that he’s still not over Jill despite not mentioning her for more the better part of the series. A local biomedical conference needs tech support so Chuck goes offsite, legitimately this time, and, lo and behold, Jill is at the conference. She’s a doctor now, working on diseases and such under a guy that Chuck immediately flashes on. The mission is for Chuck to reconnect with Jill. CIA tries to make him look good (flashy car, slick suit, a restaurant where everyone knows his name) but Jeff and Lester bumble it later when they drive by and ask about Sarah and how he could afford the car (blast!). Chuck spends the rest of the episode trying to get in Jill’s good graces again, even at the expense of the mission (a common theme for sad sack Chuck in coming episodes). Assassin’s end up killing Jill’s boss (who was to give a presentation on the cure for a supervirus recently acquired by The Bad Guys). Jill was going to go in his place, Chuck refuses to let her, and a quietly-jealous Sarah says she’ll do it (which she does in her native Australian accent – ha!). Terrorists let loose with toxin at the conference. Sarah gets out just in time but Casey stays in. They have an hour to live. While Sarah chases down the guy that let the thing loose, Chuck takes charge by finally letting Jill know he’s with CIA and charging her with making the antidote. Sarah ices the guy but finds a CIA badge on him (dude’s Fulcrum!). Chuck and Jill save the day and celebrate with a kiss in Sarah’s eyeline.
- Chuck vs the Fat Lady: Hey, no flashback! Chuck and Jill try to have a private moment on the roof of the Buy More but can’t seem to get away from Casey’s surveillance. The mission this week is to get into Jill’s Boss’s room (now an FBI crime scene) and look for a list of Fulcrum agents he might have kept around. Jill, now privy to Chuck’s secret life, asks about the overnighter with his cover girlfriend, demonstrating a little bit of jealousy. Team Chuck infiltrate the room and find a Venetian puzzle box. They take it back to their personal hotel room and Chuck makes short work of it as Sarah stands beside him. The box opens and sprays a reddish powder all over them. As Casey goes to get a containment unit, Chuck and Sarah strip and shower to get the powder off (a popular scene for promo editors and YouTube uploaders alike). Jill chooses that precise moment to visit (somehow able to find their room through the bellman) and Chuck has to apologize to her. Again. In his apology, Jill realizes that she can probably help solve the puzzles of her overly-paranoid boss which leads to a scavenger hunt across the city. They finally get the encrypted list (on a Flash drive). As Sarah and Casey do the actual spy work to unencrypt the files, Chuck decides to go off-grid on a romantic getaway with Jill only for her to get kidnapped on the demand that Chuck provide the list of Fulcrum agents. Chuck steals the list from Castle and Sarah can’t take the shot to stop him. They meet up for the exchange, the kidnapper frees Jill and crushes the drive. Casey is crazy upset until Chuck reveals that he made a copy. Jill and Chuck celebrate by doin’ it. Sarah and Casey crack the files and realize, uh oh, Jill is Fulcrum. By the time Sarah and Casey make it to Chuck’s apartment, they’re already gone, again off-grid.
- Chuck vs the Gravitron: Flashback – Chuck and Jill ride a ferris wheel before they started dating and Chuck convinces the guy to stop the thing while they’re at the top so he can nervously confess his feelings (at least we know the confess-the-feelings thing is a pattern with sappy sappy Chuck). Jill likes Chuck, too, and they kiss. In the present, they do a lot more than kissing. As Sarah and Casey make a mad dash to find him, Chuck and Jill wake up from a night of naked time. Jill goes to take a shower and Chuck sees that she has a message. He flashes on it. It’s totally Fulcrum. Chuck runs but Casey and Sarah stop him and reveal her codename is Sandstorm. That he flashes on and realizes he’s in troub. The new mission from Beckman is to milk info from Jill, to which Chuck is reluctant at first but Sarah’s coldness convinces him to do it. But not long after Chuck feels like he has the upperhand by knowing her identity, Jill uses some subterfuge to lead Chuck’s handlers away from the actual “date” site where Jill recreates the ferris wheel scene, this time pulling a gun. Jill’s mission is to take Chuck to Leader but Jill is, herself, reluctant and repeatedly tells Chuck she doesn’t want to do it. From there is a romp through the carnival as Chuck tries to escape capture, all ending in Jill shooting Leader in a funhouse. Upon her capture, Jill spills where Leader is probably getting treatment. Sarah and Casey go there but leave Chuck in charge of Jill. He’s an idiot, lets her free, she takes advantage and, when Casey and Sarah return with leader, Fulcrum has the upperhand. Leader and Jill lock Team Chuck in the holding cells of Castle but (since he read the Castle manual) Chuck is able to lock the place down. The Fulcrum agents demand to be led out. Chuck complies but, after letting himself out, lets out his handlers in secret and sends them a message to “Unleash the Casey.” Fighting occurs in the Buy More and Chuck tricks Jill by saying he can save her. He puts her in one of the Nerd Herders and then switches it to “Detention Mode,” locking her in. After securing her, he delivers, “Jill, you’re under arrest. And I’m breaking up with you.”
- Chuck vs the Sensei: Oh, yes, a flashback – Casey gets beaten up several times by his sensei (Carl Lumbly) as they practice in a forest. Sensei says that Casey has a conflicted center, that he has too much anger (surprise!). In the present, the mission is to patrol the GLA (not the JLA, like I thought it was at first), a NASA off-shoot. They do and arctic ninjas attack! Casey is able to chase one down and unmasks him to reveal (surprise again!) it’s his sensei gone rogue. Casey feels betrayed and becomes obsessed with tracking him down. Bennett (the sensei) ends up kidnapping Chuck and stuffing him in a trunk. Casey ignores Chuck’s well-being and decides to play a wicked game of chicken with Bennett which, after Bennett escapes, leads Casey to be benches (and locked in Castle until Bennett is captured). But, since Chuck is kind of a doofus, he gets tricked by Casey feigning vulnerability and ends up letting Casey out into the world with the information he needs to track the sensei down. He tries to go alone at first but Sarah gets hip to the situation and joins him, as does Chuck (who, of course, gets captured instantly). Sarah and Casey, with the Intersect in danger, have no choice but to surrender. The sensei is about to shoot them but Casey convinces Bennett to engage in a deathmatch (“with honor”). Casey gets his butt kicked at first until Chuck realizes it’s because Casey is trying to find his calm center to fight and Casey does not have a calm center (it’s more of an “angry center”). Casey kicks the bajesus out of the dude just as reinforcements come. Chuck goes home and has a brother-sister bonding moment with Ellie who admits that she didn’t imagine much for her wedding but their estranged dad was always involved. Thus begins Chucks search for Dad.
- Chuck vs the DeLorean: Flashback – a young Sarah and her father grift a small town and the drivers of an armored truck out of a couple bags of cash. In the present, Chuck invites Sarah on a fake date but Sarah declines, saying she’s taking a personal day. Chuck gets nosy and follows her, flashes on the older gentleman she’s with (Gary Cole — yeah, Lumbergh. He’s a con man, loser, grifter, dirt bag and tries to tell Sarah this until she introduces Chuck to the man: her father, Jack (d’oh!). Meanwhile at the Buy More, in a Ferris Bueller moment, Morgan is introduced to a Delorean the owner is trying to off (“passenger door doesn’t work … and if the thing goes over 22 mph, it stalls”). He buys it with the money he should be spending on his and Anna’s apartment (and buys “DeMorgan” license plates). Meanwhile, Jack admits to Sarah that he stole a lot of money from an Arab sheik named Ahmad, who happens to be on a terror watch list (wait, a high-powered Arab man on a terror watch list — shocking). And so comes the mission: get Ahmad’s international account number so they can freeze his assets. Chuck, Sarah, “Cop Face” (Jack’s nickname for Casey), and Jack engage in a high-concept con that fools the Sheik but doesn’t necessarily get the account number (since Jack steals the laptop containing the information). When Jack runs off, Chuck is there to console her since they are both Kids With Absent Fathers. Chuck talks about how his dad left, was always crazy, never made much sense, was absent even when he was there. Sounds a lot like Chuck probably appears to everyone that’s not Sarah and Casey. Everyone watching probably went, “Huh. Maybe Chuck’s dad is also a spy.” Keep that in mind for later. Anyway, Ahmad realizes that he was had, kidnaps Jack, demands Sarah pay him back the money (which is in Chuck’s account). Sarah goes on her own to get her father back but is quickly followed by Chuck in the Delorean. Chuck gets Ahmad’s account number so he can transfer the money back from Chuck’s account. Casey brings up the rear which ends up in a fight. Ahmad tries to get away in the Delorean but — can’t. Jack is to be arrested on his original grift but, since General Beckman makes her hip to the situation, Sarah is able to get Jack out of harm’s way before the police arrive.
- Chuck vs Santa Claus: Holiday season in Burbank means dressing up 70 degree temperatures with stuff that looks colder and spreading Christmas cheer. Chuck takes the mantle, inviting a reluctant Sarah (Christmas meant a grifting scheme when she was growing up) to his place for the holidays, telling her to “prepare to be heartwarmed.” Moments later, a high speed car chase crashes into a not-yet-open Buy More. The driver locks it down and takes everyone inside hostage (all employees plus Ellie and Awesome, who were doing some early shopping, and minus Casey). Finicky Ned the Car Crasher tries to endear himself to Chuck (“I’m not a bad guy”) but catches Sarah and Casey using the secret passage from the Castle to extract Chuck (but only because Chuck was whining so much about his “friends and family” being trapped). A couple of sweet (sometimes a little saccharine) scenes of calling family and a nice scene where Chuck gives Sarah his mother’s charm bracelet leads to Sarah delivering the touching “I’ll never let anyone hurt you.” The hostage negotiator (Micheal Rooker — The Rook!*) and Carl Winslow, who happens to be Big Mike’s cousin, try to work out a deal with Ned but it soon comes to light (after Chuck flashes on the Rook) that they are both Fulcrum and this is an operation to find out what Casey and Sarah are protecting. In order to protect everyone else, Chuck reveals to the Rook that he’s the Intersect. After it all shakes out, Sarah learns the Rook knows Chuck’s secret and shoots him in the face. Chuck sees it and hints about it later but Sarah doesn’t cop to killing the dude in cold blood. This weighs heavy on our hero.
- Chuck vs the Third Dimension: Pretty much a gimmick episode since it was in 3-D. Lots of things being flung at the camera. Story is that Chuck is still tortured by images of Sarah shooting the Rook and is cold to her for the whole episode. Chuck wants a day off but there is no rest for the Intersect. They have to protect stereotypical rock star Tyler Martin (Dominic Monaghan) since some dude keeps trying to bomb him. As Casey and Sarah go to investigate why the rock star is being targeted, Tyler convinces Chuck to go out for a night on the town. They have fun at first until (of course) trained female assassins try to get Tyler alone to kill him. Team Chuck eventually gets him out of danger and brings him back to Casey’s place when they realize (after Chuck flashes on his tattoo) that Tyler’s manager is using the rock star to pass secrets all over the world through his skin ink. They use Tyler as bait, finally catch the guy and all is well. Chuck finally admits what was bothering him, which shouldn’t have bothered him in the first place (it’s Sarah’s job to protect Chuck). Ends with a “to be continued” in Back to the Future font but the story doesn’t continue into the next episode. Also featured in this episode: an obvious Subway tie-in, Jerome Bettis (former Pittsburgh Steeler and NBC employee at the time), and an opportunity for Tony Hale to say “no touching.”
- Chuck vs the Suburbs: It’s Valentine’s Day when Team Chuck gets their new mission: to resume an assignment of another agent that went cuckoo that would put them in charge of identifying the members of a sleeper cell in a suburban community. Chuck and Sarah are to pretend to be married. All with the Talking Heads playing beneath the scene, Chuck walks into a house filled with Photoshopped images of his wedding, fully-decorated, and even with a Golden retriever. Over the course of the barbecue they have to get to know the neighbors, Chuck finds himself consorting with Andy Richter and some mediocre people laughing at mediocre things (except Jenny McCarthy who propositions him for extramarital doin’ it). Turns out, however, that Jenny McCarthy’s husband has a ton of super thick data cable running out of his house so, despite the fact that Sarah and Chuck seem to really be enjoying playing house, Chuck’s new mission is to take the original female host of Singled Out up on her offer. He gets in, weasels his way out of actually having sex, finds the computer, accesses it, and turns on an Intersect test (Fulcrum’s Intersect’s images are all red-tinted because red equals evil). Chuck faints (like you do when seeing Intersect images) but wakes up in time to get out of the house before getting caught. Chuck now flashes on everyone in the neighborhood with Fulcrum’s Intersect and realizes the whole shebang is a Fulcrum front. Team Chuck gets captured after being exposed and Chuck (with his very “special brain”) gets strapped in by Richter and McCarthy (odd cast, I know) to get the full-on Intersect treatment. Chuck survives (apparently better than anyone else has ever done) and, just when they’re about to subject Sarah to the same thing, Chuck, through some subterfuge and Casey secretly manning the computer, is able to turn on the display while sparing Sarah and frying the Fulcrum agents. So now Chuck has all kinds of information. In other news: Big Mike is banging Morgan’s mom.
- Chuck vs the Best Friend: Flashback – middle school maybe? Young Morgan (sporting an ALF shirt) gets pushed around by a girl and Young Chuck (still wearing Chucks) stands up for him. In the present, Morgan thinks his now ex-girlfriend Anna (yeah, I’m not sure when that happened either) is seeing someone else. Chuck, Jeff, Lester, and Morgan go on an reconnaissance mission, spying on her date with a handsome, successful guy. But Chuck flashes on him (he’s Triad). Mission: befriend Anna’s new boyfriend to get information out of him. Chuck whines A LOT about his internal conflict with being friends with his best friend’s enemy. Orders are orders, however, and he goes through with it. Chuck and Sarah go to an open house of expensive cars the guy is having when Chuck notices a bunch of baddies from Triad (one female by the name of Smooth Lau and her two henchmen). Morgan, still stalking Anna, gets pinched by the Triad guys for spying and demand information. Chuck sells him out to save him, making him feel more guilty. Chuck tries to repair the relationship throughout the episode but, when Triad finds a bug they attribute to Morgan, they kidnap the little bearded man and stuff him in the trunk of a car that brought them all here in the first place: a Rolls armed with a bomb that is supposed to kill the Chinese Ambassador. Team Chuck mobilizes in a Nerd Herder. As Sarah tangles with Smooth Lau, Chuck and Casey follow the Ambassador as he drives away in the soon-to-explode Rolls. Casey introduces the remote control that drives the car (I’m going to call that another Back to the Future reference and they finally catch up and stop the Ambassador. Chuck dumps the bomb in the Nerd Herder and the little bug goes as fast as it can away from their location. Sarah catches up and watches the thing blow up. She doesn’t scream but looks more horrified by the thought of a crispy Chuck than any scream could probably portray. Chuck, however is fine, due to the remote control thingy. Anna and Morgan reconcile. Sarah and Chuck hold hands as they listen to Jeff and Lester’s band (Jeffster) sing the sweet sounds of “Africa” (originally by Toto).
- Chuck vs the Beefcake: A guy is digging up Andy Richtor and takes off his belt, smiling. Despite the possibility of necrophilia, Team Chuck soon learns that the man is Cole Barker, a man suspected of being Fulcrum and, with a flash from Chuck, the belt buckle contains highly sensitive information. The mission: to seduce the pants off the handsome Cole and obtain the belt buckle. And, as always, Sarah gets her man. Except when heading back to the car, Sarah, Chuck, and Cole are attacked by a chopper which Cole dispatches (shooting gas storage on the roof). Turns out Cole is actually MI-6 undercover (also to against Fulcrum) and has a strong affinity for Ms Walker now. Beckman only feeds it by making Sarah his constant supervisor. They need a playback device to see what is on the disk in the belt buckle so Cole (under Sarah and Casey’s watch) tries to re-engage his contacts. Meanwhile, Chuck (against orders, of course) tries to crack the encryption on fhte disk. He does but sends out a homing signal that not only thwarts Cole’s plan but gets Cole, Sarah and, eventually, Chuck captured. They start to torture Cole and Chuck can’t take to watch it, even if he is the strongest competition for Sarah since Bryce. Chuck admits he’s the Intersect but Cole goes for the Spartacus play, saying that he, in fact is the Intersect. Eventually, Casey shows up and saves the day. Back at Castle, Cole asks Sarah to go with him. They kiss (under the watchful eye of Chuck from surveillance in the Orange Orange) and Cole leaves. On the way to the airport, Cole (who knows the identity of the Intersect now) is hijacked by Fulcrum. Sarah tells Chuck he has to be under 24 hour watch, meaning they have to move in together.
- Chuck vs the Lethal Weapon: Cole is being tortured. With the threat of Chuck’s identity being revealed, the mood at Team Chuck is a little panicked. They decide it’s time to move him underground. Just as they are about to move out, there’s a perimeter breach at Castle and, in the back door (somehow) Cole spills onto the floor, bleeding but insisting that he’s okay. The mission is to find Perseus, who they believe to be the architect of Fulcrum’s intersect. Cole and Chuck are to stay underground since they are liabilities but, when Sarah and Casey are in danger, Cole leaps into action, pulling a reluctant Chuck behind him. Sarah and Casey find Perseus, who insists he had no idea he was working with Fulcrum. With Cole’s injuries, Chuck has to do the more acrobatic save, injuring his ankle and shooting Perseus but giving Casey and Sarah what they need to escape. Sarah chases a limping Perseus but falls into the crosshairs of a Fulcrum agent, only to have Cole fly in and take the bullet. Suddenly, Chuck’s ankle doesn’t seem that awful, except to Ellie when he gets home. She insists he go to the hospital where he gets a cast and sees Perseus in the next room. They have a limping chase that leads Chuck (and the Fulcrum agents tailing them) to Persesus’s lab. Perseus catches Chuck admiring the computer equipment. Cole, Casey, and Sarah arrive just after Fulcrum. While alone, Perseus figures out Chuck is the Intersect and Chuck realizes Perseus has many of the answers he needs. Which, of course, means Perseus has to die and Fulcrum takes care of that. Just as Chuck is about to be shot, Cole takes ANOTHER bullet. Cole tells Chuck to “sweep the leg” (ha!) and he does but doesn’t secure the gun. The Fulcrum agent grabs it and is about to shoot them when Casey and Sarah come to the rescue. Cole asks Sarah to go with him again but Sarah can’t leave Chuck. Sarah wants to have a talk with Chuck later but Chuck mans up, tells her he can’t live with her because of his feelings but, when (not if, when) he gets the Intersect out of his head, he will live how he wants with the girl he loves. Sarah seems fine with that. Chuck goes inside and reveals the work he’s done for the last month: on the back of his Tron poster are all the clues to people connected to the Intersect. He writes Orion at the top. Orion? On the back of the Tron poster? Just say it’s his Dad already.
- Chuck vs the Predator: After months of searching, Chuck is finally contacted by Orion (ohmygah just say it’s his dad already). Fulcrum is hot on Orion’s tail but Orion is wily and escapes. Orion is worried about the security of his communiques with Chuck and wants to send a special secure laptop to Chuck but doesn’t bother with making sure only Chuck can sign for the package (seems like something Orion might think about) because Lester gets a hold of it, thinking it’s the brand new high-tech computer the Buy More is amping up to sell. Nerds at Buy More end up being able to call a Predator to bomb things (important later) but Chuck stops it just in time. General Beckman is none too pleased Chuck was able to get in contact with Orion since she’s been trying to do just than since Sarah was “in a training bra” (ha!). Fulcrum infiltrates the Castle (due to a weird body storage loophole) and is able to kidnap Chuck while he talks to Orion on the laptop (which, by the way, for being so high-tech, has an interface like a computer in War Games). Fulcrum uses Chuck as bait to lure Orion out, kidnaps Orion, but Orion is able call that Predator again (good thing they established he could do that early on or else it’d be really cheesy) and ‘splodes the chopper that whisks him away. Chuck returns home a little defeated by receives an information pack under his pillow from Orion containing cards with maps and Intersect informatic guidelines. Orion wants to help Chuck get the Intersect out of his head and Chuck wants him to. But, since the rest of Team Chuck plus Beckman think this whole Orion contact thing is a Fulcrum plot, he has to study the cards in secret.
- Chuck vs the Broken Heart: An attempt to kidnap Chuck outside his apartment is thwarted by an armed Casey. The masked goons are actually Morgan, Jeff, and Lester practicing to kidnap Awesome for the bachelor party that none of them are invited to. Later that night, Beckman contact Chuck to ask him if his relationship with Agent Walker is compromising their mission, using every sweet moment Chuck and Sarah have ever had as evidence. She calls another agent, Alex Forrest, to audition as Chuck’s new handler and to evaluate Sarah’s ability to handle the job. Their mission during all this: a major terrorist’s right hand man is getting a pacemaker; they want to put a bug in it. Casey and Alex are frighteningly similar in approach, a fact that Chuck reminds everyone when telling people what Sarah would do (he should get a bracelet or something). Mission comes down to needing to get into the surgical ward, which no one can do without an access card. Awesome has an access card. Meanwhile, Alex assesses that Sarah is too involved with Chuck and that the mission is compromised. Beckman calls her back to Langley. Sarah, in her last hours, starts a search for Chuck’s dad in the system. So the bachelor party also becomes a mission to get the card off him, and, without Walker to dress up in the slutty outfits that pull me into this show, Alex uses her feminine wiles dressed as a cop-stripper but fails since Awesome is too, you know, awesome. So Alex tranqs him and steals the card. Mission accomplished. While Casey and Alex enjoy an overly-sexed-up montage, Sarah, on her way to the airport, finds the address of Chuck’s dad. She spins around to give it to Chuck, only to find that he’s been kidnapped by henchmen (he posed as Awesome when the terrorist’s personal doctors found the bug in the pacemaker and want to kidnap the attending). Alex and Casey are unaware so Sarah has to step in and help find Chuck, estimating his location to a bank vault. Chuck, charged with performing the surgery necessary to get the pacemaker out, stalls long enough for the calvary to arrive but has to fend off an angry doctor with nitrous. This, of course, leads to laughing fits from both of them. Alex wants to blast the door off (not the smoothest move with the asset swimming in highly explosive gas) but Sarah unlocks it and all is well. Casey and Chuck make the case for Sarah to come back. Alex is relieved of her evaluation duties and is called back. Sarah gives Chuck the address she found and they head out to Chuck’s dad’s place: a trailer in the middle of nowhere.
- Chuck vs the Dream Job: Chuck and Sarah sit in the isolated trailer belonging to his estranged father, a hunched and odd Scott Bakula. Their small talk devolves into Chuck demanding his father be present at Ellie’s wedding, despite Dad’s “crazy” fears that he is being watched and that it’s not safe (but, because we’re not schoolchildren, we know that the fears are perfectly legitimate). Dad agrees to go even when Ellie, upon his arrival home, has trouble dealing with his return (though there is an opportunity here for Scott Bakula to utter an “oh boy” for us). It doesn’t take long for Dad to start spouting off bad stuff about Roark Instruments and its megalomaniac leader Steve Jobs — I mean Ted Roark (played by Chevy Chase). Chuck flashes on a flyer for Roark’s next event, NextExpo, with intel that the new version of the OS is really a trojan horse that could undermine the global network. Chuck gets a job there (for the CIA but on his own merits) but keeps it for less than day when he tries to stop Roark from releasing the software at the event (which, by the way, uses music from iPod commercials). His attempt fails and he comes home defeated, studying his cards. Finally he puts it together that the cards are actually a map for where the Intersect is on Roark Instruments campus and that Roark is totally Fulcrum. Since Casey and Sarah don’t believe him, Chuck strikes out on his own to check out the Intersect. Dad shows up and FINALLY, mercifully, reveals that he is Orion. They get to the Intersect but the thing doesn’t work (needs more testing). Roark and Orion work out a deal where Chuck gets to go as long as Orion works out the kinks in the Intersect under Roark’s supervision. Casey and Sarah stop him from doing anything stupid, taking him away from there.
- Chuck vs the First Kill: No one knows where Orion is. The only hope is to make a Fulcrum agent talk and no one knows if they can trust one even if they had one. A determined Chuck decides to go to Jill in prison. He makes a fake deal with her: her freedom to help Chuck find his dad. A lo-jacked Jill suggests the only person she knows that might have the location of Orion is her Uncle Bernie, her recruiter, who is always guarded except at family functions. So they create one: Chuck and Jill are engaged. Bernie, who isn’t stupid, knows that Jill is in jail so is highly dubious of this situation. When his suspicions are proven, the more-than-rotund Bernie chases Chuck and Jill through the house with a gun. Casey and Sarah move in after them but, by the time Bernie reaches the attic, his heart gives out and he dies right there (Casey calls it Chuck’s first kill). The dead body is taken to Castle when Bernie’s phone rings. The call is triangulated to a Fulcrum training facility Jill knows intimately. Chuck and Casey go in but are eventually found out and split apart. Sarah and Jill go in to save them. Firefights go up everywhere. Jill overhears that Orion is being moved to a location called Black Rock and when, Jill tells Chuck about it, he flashes and knows its exact location. For the intel, Chuck lets Jill go free before Casey and Sarah can find her. Beckman has about had enough by this time (understandably). Tired of worrying about this mission, she charges Sarah and Casey to lure Chuck back to Castle so an extraction team can bring him to Washington where he’ll go underground. Sarah goes to lie to him but can’t and, instead, they go on the lam to find Black Rock.
- Chuck vs the Colonel: So Chuck and a now-rogue Sarah make it to Black Rock, an abandoned drive-in movie theatre. Nothing’s around so Chuck thinks the Intersect must be wrong. Chuck and Sarah decide to get a room at a local motel for the night where Chuck conveniently forgets to get a room with two beds. On the lam, the two wake up the next morning to another Bon Iver-infused scene (“Creature Fear”), this one a bit more upbeat than the last one. Meanwhile, Casey gets orders from Beckman to hunt the two down with a license to kill, even promoting Casey from Major to Colonel (hence the episode title). Casey does his job and hunts the kids down (although sparking the curiosity in Awesome when he finds Casey looking for clues in Chuck’s room). A Fulcrum attack makes everyone work together briefly but Casey eventually gets the better of them, taking them back to the holding cell at Castle (despite Chuck’s pleas to take them back). A security breach at Casey’s apartment (Awesome breaks in) and a power outage let Chuck and Sarah escape to save Awesome from being killed by Casey. All of this leads to Awesome learning Chuck is a spy (Chuck swears him to secrecy by demanding that he is “awesome” about this). They tie Casey to a chair, let Awesome go, and then set off to go to Black Rock. As Casey tries to escape, Beckman tells him that Black Rock is indeed real (just underground) and that a plan to carpet bomb the place is in effect. Casey escapes and joins up Chuck and Sarah to get Orion out of there and to save the Intersect (which Roark plans to use on a grand scale, projecting it onto the big screen with a large audience of Fulcrum agents). Team Chuck plus Orion get captured and sent to the projection booth to watch the Intersect. Everyone closes their eyes except Fulcrum and Orion until Orion insists Chuck watch. He does and collapses. Team Chuck find their exit plan when the F-16s start bombing the heck out of the place and they escape with Orion and Intersects both Human and Computer, Black Rock completely destroyed. Moreover, Orion tells everyone that the Intersect display was actually a deprogramming; Chuck should be cleared of the Intersect. Casey gives Sarah all the credit so she returns to Beckman’s good graces. The mission is officially over. But not everyone is dead: Roark lives another day, on his way to Burbank to “attend a wedding.”
- Chuck vs the Ring: With the mission over, Chuck and Casey quit the Buy More. Chuck is offered a job as an analyst but callously denies General Beckman, hoping to return to his mediocre life, starting with his duties as best man for his future brother-in-law. The wedding day is finally here, though Ellie insists a big wedding is never what she wanted (her small beach wedding was nixed by Awesome’s mother). Meanwhile, Sarah receives her orders to start work on the new Intersect project (on which Chuck would also have been a part had he taken the analyst job — d’oh!) with Bryce. She is to leave the next day but isn’t able to tell Chuck until he unburdens himself with his desires to start a life with her (again). Chuck, who probably thinks life can’t get any worse, finds some dead waiters under a table and is approached by Roark. Roark wants the Intersect and threatens his sister’s life. Chuck immediately calls Casey on his secret line but Casey is already flying in a milatary plane with his old unit, ready to kick-ass and chew bubble gum (and his pack of Orbit is running low). Chuck asks Morgan to stall the wedding, which he does with Jeff and Lester (and a performance by Jeffster), who bring the house down with flares and the sprinkler system, ruining everything but covering up the gunfight and, eventually, the deployment of Casey’s troops through the skylight of the reception hall. Casey’s men capture Roark and take him to a holding cell in Castle while Chuck tries to reassure Ellie that he’ll fix everything. He uses some of the money he received from the government for his services as the Intersect to give her the beach wedding she wanted on short notice (Casey and his men arrange the thing — hilarity). Sarah subtly tells Bryce that she’s not going back to Washington with him (both understanding Chuck is more important to her). Meanwhile, at Castle, one of Casey’s unit is actually Fulcrum and kills Roark (presumably to hide any secrets he might spill) and the rest of Casey’s unit, only knocking Casey unconscious. At the wedding reception, Bryce tells Orion the new Intersect does some unspeakable things before Bryce’s handler comes but Orion flashes on him (because Orion, like Sam Beckett before him, tested his experimental technology on himself first) and realizes this is also a Fulcrum plot. Team Chuck reassembles to save Bryce and the Intersect (Orion giving Chuck his powerglove). Bryce gets hip to the plot a little late, ends up getting shot but locking himself int he Intersect room. Casey and Sarah do battle with the Fulcrum agents while Chuck breaks off and finds another way into the Intersect room. Bryce gives him the device to destroy the Intersect before he dies. Chuck has a choice: to destroy the Intersect or reup on it first. He reups. Then destroys the thing. Fulcrum finally gets into the room, Sarah and Casey captured. Fulcrum realizes what’s happened and start to go after Chuck — except Chuck dispatches the attackers. Sarah and Casey are just as amazed as Chuck is by this development. The new Intersect apparently endows skillsets, too. And to further the Matrix similarity, after beating everyone up, Chuck looks at his handlers and remarks, “I know kung-fu.”
Note: I know that I left out A LOT of B- and C-Story details out, much to my regret. I love Morgan.
* Did I just reference the Mallrats DVD commentary? Yes. Yes, I did.
- January 10, 2010