Before digging into tonight's episode—which was an A all around—I want to say something about Chuck that bothers me about the show as a whole. This season has introduced a lot of revelatory plot points, and done so almost flawlessly. But the thing I can't shake is that each and every one is resolved so quickly. Chuck saw Sarah murder a Fulcrum agent in cold blood, and the image is haunting his waking life; next episode, he talks to her and gets over the issue. Then, Cole entered the equation a few episodes ago, threatening to take Chuck's place at the top of Sarah's to-do list (so to speak); again, next episode, he's gone, and Chuck is secure. Last week introduced a doozy: Chuck has been working in secret to figure out who is at the center of everything Intersect related, and has been doing so on the back of his Tron poster; now, a mere ten minutes in, he's admitting to Beckman, Casey, and Sarah all the things he hid from them. These are the sorts of secrets and tension-inducers that are meant to fester—grow more powerful and nagging with each passing week. But instead of, say, introducing Chuck's extracurricular project, letting him go off on his own for a while, then bring it up much later (and much more dramatically), it's quickly addressed.
Frankly, I can forgive this kind of thing, because this season has certainly stepped up in a big way, bringing momentum to a show that showed potential, but remained mostly stagnant in the past. And tonight's episode, once you get past the early reveal, was almost everything Chuck fans have been waiting for.
For starters, there's Beckman, always just a shiny face on a flat screen. Once she hears about Chuck's contact with Orion (the whiz hacked into the Bartowski personal computer using a Hong Kong console, plus one on his sleeve), she decides to show up in person, all 5' whatever-low-amount", and lay the smack down. She is determined to find the laptop Orion sent to Chuck, but believes him to be a secret Fulcrum agent, and therefore won't allow Chuck to make contact.
At first, Casey and Sarah are willing to follow orders, as usual. But then we get satisfying thing number two: Sarah stands up to Beckman, positing that Chuck never asked for this, isn't a spy, and deserves an out if he can take it. Of course the idea gets shut down, but Sarah finally puts it out there. It's about freakin' time. Unfortunately, Beckman seems intent on keeping a close eye on Sarah, as she now (correctly) suspects that her feelings for the asset are "more than meets the spy."
But back to that laptop for a second. See, Orion couldn't have picked a worse time to drop one of his special souped-up computers in Chuck's lap. He has it delivered to the Buy More, but as luck would have it, the Buy More employees are all eagerly awaiting a laptop of their own. A new model of something is about to drop, and Buy More Burbank is getting it exclusively, even over flagship store Buy More Beverly Hills—their arch enemies. So when the computer comes in, Lester, believing it to be that very model, sneaks off and starts to fiddle with it, hacking into government planes and almost bombing the store in the process. (It's a powerful little beast.) Chuck manages to recover it, but a war between stores has inadvertently been incited. Later that night, Lester, Jeff, Morgan, Big Mike, and Emmitt sneak into the Beverly Hills branch and try to cause ruckus, resulting in one of the most funny, unexpected Buy More cut-scenes in the show's history.
Now let's go back even further, to Fulcrum. As always, they play an active role in the story, first seen busting down Orion's door in Hong Kong. But the most striking thing about this episode is that we get more of a behind-the-scenes look at the agents who make up this generically evil agency. We see a quorum of five shadowed faces, sitting in what appears to be a planetarium and speaking in highly distorted voices, controlling everything behind-the-scenes. We see the main agent kill himself with a cyanide capsule, then ostensibly rise from the dead to take out Chuck, when he sneaks back into the Orange Orange to play with the laptop. We also witness the quickness of the organization, able to assemble a team at the seedy hotel where Orion wanted to meet Chuck, then quickly escort him to a helicopter. Josh Schwartz finally gave us a few breadcrumbs along the evil trail of Fulcrum, and it's easy to eat them up.
Unfortunately, Orion's life on the show was short. But he left behind a trail of instructions for Chuck to follow, this time in total secret—hopefully for a long while.
- Despite the cliché nature of the ol' switcheroo burglar scene between Jeff and Lester/Casey and Sarah, it was a delight. Especially Casey's grunts being misinterpreted as Jeff's responses.
- The plane Orion hacked… part-cylon?
- Buy More: Because You Can!