Chuck Review: “Chuck vs. the Beard”

C: Things are getting exciting in the world of Chuck Bartowski!  Happily, tonight’s episode took a turn away from the tiresome love entanglements of the previous arc, focusing instead on the precariousness of Chuck’s secret identity (er… real identity?) at the Buy More.

M: So, I was talking to a friend and fellow Chuck enthusiast earlier today, and said that I want Chuck to get back to being awesome and funny and sunny and get over all the emo drama.  Um, mission accomplished!  So happy with the turn back in the right direction, and Chuck’s life not totally sucking in this episode.

C: Of course, things aren’t exactly peachy!  Ring operatives, led by Oswald from The Drew Carey Show (whoa, that was a blast from the past!), infiltrate the Buy More posing as potential buyers of the branch doing a thorough inspection.  Decoying Sarah, Casey and Shaw away by pretending to target Ellie and Awesome (leaving Awesome thoroughly freaked out), they break into Castle through the Buy More locker room.  And guess who sees the secret CIA base under his workplace and the bad guys running around in it looking for Chuck?  Yep, that’d be Morgan Grimes.

Poor Chuck hasn’t flashed in over a week.  We know the ability’s tied to his emotional security, so all the love drama and all the lying can’t have been helping.  With his best friend in danger, we might think Chuck would flash in the nick of time to save him.  In fact – in what may have been my favorite moment of this season – it’s Morgan that saves Chuck.  Not by the well-timed broom handle to a baddie’s head that comes later, but by giving Chuck what he’s been missing so much: his best friend back.  At the instigation of the Ring’s torturers (who are oddly willing to sit back and allow an emotional reunion to take place), Chuck confesses to being a spy in front of Morgan.  While the bad guys give them some private time (or go off to shoot Casey, whatever) Chuck tells the full story.  And Morgan… loves it.  Why not?  It explains all Chuck’s lies and absences in a way that reaffirms Chuck’s affection for him – he was just protecting his little buddy.  Plus, it means his best friend is a SUPER AWESOME SPY.  Morgan is so on board with this!

M: Yeah, that was kind of predictable, but still great.  But seriously, if you’re Morgan (suspending disbelief, I know, but try) and you just found out that Chuck is the center of a joint CIA-NSA task force and has, basically, super powers, how are you not psyched out of your mind?  Other than having it be himself, that’s basically Morgan’s greatest dream come true.  And the scene itself had some of Zach Levi’s best acting in the three years of the show.

C: The tears in Chuck’s eyes as he tells the story, afraid he’s losing a friend forever, and his sheer relief at Morgan’s psyched reaction, were both lovely.  Morgan also sympathizes with him for having to pretend to date a girl he really loves, and this is a relief to Chuck too: for a moment, to stop pretending to be over Sarah.  The scene ends with predictable but still thoroughly enjoyable flashing and ninja badassery on Chuck’s part.  Even better, though, is when Morgan and Chuck emerge from the fog-filled freezer into Orange Orange, amazing the waiting Sarah, Shaw, and Casey by snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.  A friend I was watching with and I spontaneously applauded.

M: Mrs M and the kids were in bed by the time I watched, so it was a single clap and a fist pump from me.

C: My favorite line from Casey tonight came when he stood behind the Cheese Balls barricade built across the door of the Buy More by the employees, who had rebelled under the impression that they were all being fired, and informed them that he was on their side: “The only thing I hate more than hippie neo-liberal anarchists and fascists is the hypocrite fat-cat suits they eventually grow up to become.”

M: That’s not just my favorite line from Casey tonight, it might be his best EVER.  L-O-V-E loved it.  As a whole the Buy More revolution was great.  I love when they do a good job but are not overpowering with the little side stories, and this week was great.  We had a hilarious Jeffster performance, Oswald’s “that’s the sound of freedom” line, the barricade, the recreation of the Iwo Jima photo, and the random Buy More geeks kissing like the iconic WWII photo after Shaw calls pretending to be from corporate and tells them their jobs are secure.  All in all, high comedy.

C: The end brought an unexpected revelation, probably connected to Casey being recognized by last week’s bad guys under an alternate identity: that Casey is in communication with someone from the Ring!  Will it turn out that Casey is really on the side of EVIL?  Look at me, I’m biting my nails, I’m so very in suspense.  There couldn’t possibly be another explanation.

M: Yeah, they didn’t really sell that well, did they?  Casey wasn’t previously in communication, of course, with the person on the other end of the Ringphone (which is the coolest secret phone since the batphone, for the record).  It’s definitely going to tie into the flash last week about Casey having previously been “Alex Coburn” in Honduras in 1989 (not that I rewound and slow-mo’d the flash or anything.  I love DVR!).  My guess is its someone Casey served with who will try to turn him, or kill him, but Casey will take out in the end, with Chuck’s help, of course.  Anyone want to take bets?

C: Something like that, I imagine.  Perhaps Casey has some leftover business from his Coburn days to take care of.

M: Now if we can just get rid of Superstiff… instead it looks like Ellie and Awesome will soon be leaving, at least for the rest of season.  Boo to that.

C: I know, tragic!  But if Ellie’s going to remain in the dark (poor Ellie, she’s the only one left now) they almost have to shuffle her off for a bit.  Anyway, I’m thrilled to see the show take a turn away from melodrama and back to its roots in good geeky fun.  Congrats to Zachary Levi on directing (for the first time ever) one of the season’s top episodes!

This entry was posted in Chuck.

One comment on “Chuck Review: “Chuck vs. the Beard”

  1. thepresidentrix says:

    I was still a little frustrated with this ep. (Captain Awesome is one of my favorites, and while his current characterization is totally defensible, it’s not so much fun). But I find that with it all over with, what I mostly want to talk about is how much Zachary Levi is blowing my mind these days. I feel like he has *pwned* the writing lately, and I hope that many producers and directors and such are out there taking notice. He is one very talented kid. And I say that as someone who finds him cute as hell but isn’t *attracted* to him, per se. (Can’t figure why not. Maybe – altogether truthfully – because C has a prior claim on him???)

    Of course, I feel exactly the same way about Lee Pace’s talent (and I *am* mega-attracted to him!) but his career hasn’t exactly taken off as I’d hoped…

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