In retrospect, I kind of wish I could go back and change a few of my previous Chuck grades. Because this was, by far, my favorite episode of the show to date, and all those other A's feel like A-'s in comparison. How great was this episode? Let me count the ways Chuck fired on all cylinders, as others have done before me:
The guest stars ruled.
Not only does Scott Bakula sort of look like a blood relation to Zachary Levi, he was the perfect figure to play Chuck's father in all sorts of capacities. First off, he nailed Steven Bartowski's nervous spaciness, as evidenced from scene one. See, the big cliff hanger from last week was the reveal of Chuck's dad (though those who stayed through the previews saw him immediately), so we open on the man's trailer, out in the middle of nowhere. He's happy to see Chuck and Sarah, but tells his son that there's no way he's about to head back home—all the while fidgeting with whatever he can find within arm's reach. This continues for quite some time: When he comes to the house and finally sees Ellie, who's none-too-pleased to see the man who denied her pancakes for dinner so many years back; while spouting insane theories about how billionare software mogul Ted Roark stole all his good ideas; even imparting sage advice to Chuck about his career. Of course, there's a lot more to Bakula, which I'll get to in a bit, but needless to say, he was the perfect casting choice.
Then there was Chevy Chase, playing Steve Jobs–like deity Ted Roark, head of Roark Industries. Part of Chuck's mission is to infiltrate the company (he learns that a new operating system release might contain a virus), so he applies for a job using, well, his own credentials—Stanford and all. There he meets Roark, a man who has the power to make a million computer nerds do his bidding. Naturally, he's got to have a sense of humor about himself, and Chase nails the sort of deadpan, affable cockiness necessary for such a figure. ("No sirs around here, except for her.")
The Buy More stuff wasn't distracting, and it actually aided the story.
Even though a few Buy More characters cropped up here and there, most of the scenes involving them took place outside its sacred halls. Jeff and Lester, actually, are wild about Roark, so they beg Big Mike to attend the grand OS unveiling, which aid the episode in two respects: While in line for a seat, they spy Chuck getting a handshake for his new job—and immediately alert Morgan. The ensuing family dinner, attended by Morgan, contains some amazing glances between the two best friends—first Morgan's knowing, wry grin, followed by Chuck's desperate wide-eyed plea for Morgan not to reveal the fact that he's working for his dad's arch enemy. But secondly, Jeff and Lester are present at the conference, and see Chuck make one of the grandest gestures of his short tenure with the government. See, with the push of a button on a remote, Roark will officially launch the buggy OS to the world, and since Casey and Sarah are having trouble hacking in to steal the source code, Chuck rushes onstage—and into the webcam feeds—to stop him. This moment made that much better with some familiar faces in the audience.
Chuck's stepped up in the past, but this was his finest moment.
After his little charade fails, Chuck is given the boot from Roark Industries, at the worst possible time. Because it's just come to his attention that all those Intersect documents he's been studying—the charts, the maps—have all been trying to show him one thing: There's an Intersect at Roark, and it's up to him to get to it. Only problem is that Sarah, Casey, and Beckman won't have it. So Chuck decides to go it alone. Need gear? Break in to the Orange Orange and steal a bullet-proof vest and tranq gun. Casey shows up? Pull the gun on him, and shoot him! (Funny that it takes three darts to knock a beast like Casey out.) After breaking into Roark headquarters, hear a bunch of guards coming down the hall, with his raving father in tow? Freakin step out and shoot them all down, hell yeah!!! Then?
It all comes together.
Chuck's dad then reveals the clincher: He is Orion, the original architect of the Intersect. In fact, he had to leave when Chuck and Ellie were young, to protect them, and once he learned the Intersect was in Chuck, he orchestrated the entire thing—Sarah tracking him down, Chuck learning that the diagrams were part of Roark, even having Chuck step in to rescue him—all so he and Chuck could go into the Intersect room together, and rid Chuck of his burden.
But Roark has been running a scheme of his own. He's always stolen work from Steven Bartowski, and that's not going to stop now. The Intersect actually doesn't work, so he allowed Steven to break in, so he can hold the man hostage and force him to fix it. Oh yeah, and he's working with Fulcrum, including that one badass guy who pretended to be dead a few episodes ago.
Chuck did family drama well.
In a strange way, though, Steven Bartowski was prepared. Roark wants to kill Chuck, but Steven works it so Chuck can live, and go away with Sarah and Casey (they show up, despite Steven's mistrust of their motives); meanwhile, he'll remain behind, building whatever Roark wants. Chuck finally understands the man his father truly is—a man willing to give up his two greatest creations in order to save them from any harm—and not only is it tearing him up inside, but he can't tell Ellie, who now thinks dad has simply skipped town again. But Awesome is right there for her, and in a truly awesome gesture has made pancakes, promising to never leave Ellie's side. In an episode that had big laughs, kick-ass action, and plenty of tension, ending on this tender moment—followed by a quick cut to Steven working in solidarity—was the perfect closer.
- I love how Casey and Sarah just put on weird glasses, and suddently they're meant to "blend in" with the other nerds waiting for the big announcement.
- Why is no one watching this wonderful show?