Chuck 4.19 “Chuck vs the Muuurder” Recap

Did you miss last week’s Greta-riffic episode? Catch up with my recap here.

This week’s episode begins in Ellie and Devon’s apartment. Ellie is in “the zone” working on her father’s computer, not even noticing Clara sleeping next to her. She is amazed at her father’s work in neuroscience, and his attempts at getting the brain to reorganize itself. Unbeknownst to Ellie, Director Bentley is watching her through the computer in Sector 6. Bentley’s surveillance is interrupted by a text message from Chuck, who calls her into Castle proper.

General Beckman informs Team Bartowski, including Morgan and Bentley, that their new agenda is to find Intersect candidates that are close to Chuck in personality and temperament. In essence, Chuck needs to find more Chucks. Everyone else is there to support Chuck, who is in charge of the project. Though he might feel it’s warranted, Chuck shouldn’t get a big head because, as Morgan reminds him, the last time Chuck was in charge he led his Dungeons & Dragons troupe to their fiery death. Chuck tells the team that he gave parameters to the CIA of acceptable agents and the Agency sent four new Chucks. The first is Lewis, a bomb expert that spent so much time in Britain that he’s adopted a British accent. He selected a female agent, which Casey posits is because Chuck wanted someone as “feely” as he is. Next is Damian, an agent embedded with terrorists throughout the Middle East. Chuck selected him because Chuck felt trapped at the Buy More. Finally entering the store is Brody, an eerie doppelgänger of Chuck.

The team takes the recruits down into Castle. Casey is to handle the agents’ physical testing. Sarah takes them through psychological tests. Morgan tests their cultural knowledge. At the end of the evaluations, Chuck has to pick. Chuck asks Bentley for her opinion, but she has none because she’s waiting for Chuck to screw up. Brody, walking through the bowels of Castle, gets a text that he is Chuck’s choice, but his celebration is short-lived. Brody happens upon someone planting a bomb, and before he can stop the unknown figure, the assailant plunges a knife into Brody’s chest. A streak of blood on the floor is the only evidence left behind.

Big Mike approaches Morgan wearing a large “BM” costume (and here begins the “‘BM’ really means ‘bowel movement'” puns). Big Mike explains that Large Mart, the Buy More’s chief competition, has the exact same TV sale that day, so they need to bring out the big guns. When Morgan points out the ridiculousness of of the costume, Mike replies that he is proud to wear a large BM on his chest. Big Mike exits the store. A van screeches to a halt outside, and Large Mart goons jump out and kidnap Big Mike. Meanwhile, Devon calls to tell Chuck that Ellie is making progress on the computer. He can’t stop her because the work is making her feel close to her dad again. Chuck tells his brother-in-law that he needs to install a blank hard drive on the computer so she thinks it broke again, and take it to the Nerd Herd. Chuck finds Bentley and questions her as to how Ellie received the computer. Bentley at first denies her involvement, but quickly admits to her deed. Chuck, following Bentley as she walks away, berates her until he slips on Brody’s blood. Chuck and Bentley follow the trail to a storage closet and discover Brody’s body. Lewis rushes up and exclaims, in a perfect British accent, “Dear Lord! There’s been a muuurder!”

While Morgan figures out that the prank war truce between Buy More and Large Mart was broken by Jeff and Lester kidnapping Large Mart’s toy pig, Kevin Bacon, Sarah figures that the murderer must be one of the recruits or Bentley. Chuck announces that Castle is now on lockdown. He states that Casey, as someone who has saved his life so many times, and Sarah, as his fiance, are above suspicion. Everyone next looks to Damian. “Sure! Let’s blame the swarthy bearded guy!!” Damian shouts, before running from the room. Chuck chases him down, but as Damian tries to leave by opening the door, a well-paced bomb explodes. Fortunately, Damian survives. The bomb disrupted most of Castle’s systems, so they can no longer access the surveillance videos that might disclose the killer. Casey informs Chuck that, in addition, the main power grid is down. “We’re trapped!” Chuck frets. Sarah tells Chuck he needs to lead by staying calm.

Morgan sits down with Large Mart’s manager to discuss the feud. Before he can return Kevin Bacon, Morgan wants a proof of life. The Large Mart manager gives Morgan a cell phone with Big Mike on the other end. Big Mike is alive, and being treated well: he’s eating Subway’s flatbread sandwiches. They’re so good that they remind Big Mike of Morgan’s mom: muy caliente. With proof that Big Mike is alive, Morgan takes the Large Mart manager to the closet housing Kevin Bacon, but the little piggie is gone. Meanwhile, back in Echo Park, Ellie tells Devon that she has figure out what her Dad was working on. He was trying to input knowledge into the brain without the subject actually learning it. What to do with it though? Ellie wishes her dad was there to explain it.

Chuck and Sarah interrogate all of the suspects to little effect. Chuck rues that the killer was sitting in the chair but they couldn’t figure out who it is. Finding himself no closer to uncovering the killer, he slumps to the floor. He’s fortunate that he does as he finds a bomb under the suspects’ chair! Chuck and Sarah make a narrow escape before the bomb explodes. They make their way into Castle proper to find Damian with shrapnel in his back, and Lewis, the bomb maker, having escaped.

Conducting his own interrogation, Morgan quizzes Jeff and Lester on the location of Kevin Bacon. The guys play coy (well, as coy as Jeff and Lester could possibly be), frustrating Morgan. Downstairs in Castle, Damian is unconscious, but alive. Team Bartowski arms the remaining female agents and search for Lewis. Bentley says Chuck isn’t a good leader because he wants to be liked too much. “Leaders can’t afford to be liked,” she warns him. They hear someone scurrying through the air duct. Casey climbs up into the duct and trains his weapon on the approaching sound. It is not Lewis, however. It’s Kevin Bacon! Bentley decides to go to the Intersect room in Sector 6 because it’s the one place in Castle that is bomb-proof. Chuck follows her and sees Bentley’s surveillance of Ellie. When questioned, Bentley says she is trying to save the Intersect project from Chuck’s ineptitude. During their argument, the two spies notice something up above. They train their guns on the platform and lower it. It is indeed Lewis, but he is not the killer — he’s been garroted. “We can safely say Lewis is not the killer,” notes Chuck. “Brilliant deduction, Sherlock,” retorts Bentley.

When the spies reconvene in Castle proper, it becomes clear that one of the ladies must be a killer. Everyone draws their weapons and a Mexican standoff ensues. “Whatcha got ‘leader?'” Bentley taunts Chuck. Chuck reviews everything in his mind, and says he has figured out the identity of the killer. He knows it’s not the female recruit as he found a positive pregnancy stick when searching her bag. That explains away her perceived strategic emotions. Chuck then accuses Bentley, who is shocked to have suspicion on her. She is about to erupt when Chuck leans it to whisper that he is pretending to accuse Bentley because the killer is actually Damian.

Damian threatens to blow them up with his bomb-laden boom box (pun intended, I believe). Like a classic TV detective, Chuck reveals how Damian pulled off the murders. Since he knew where the first bomb was placed, he used the door to shelter himself from blast. Chuck demands to know who is he working for, but Damian’s only response is that he came there for Chuck. With Damian holding a trigger in one outstretched hand and the boom box in another, Bentley shoots him. Chuck is able to catch the boom box, but the bomb is initiated. Chuck flashes, but the bomb is too complicated to disarm in a minute. Bentley grabs the bomb and runs it into Sector 6. Chuck pleads with her that they will find another way to defuse the bomb, but Bentley smashes the door mechanism and locks herself inside Sector 6 with the bomb. As she contemplates her impending death, Chuck uses his pocket protector to hot wire the door and pull Bentley out. The bomb explodes, sending fire into the air duct and launching out Kevin Bacon into Chuck’s arms.

General Beckman thanks them all for their work and compliments Chuck on his leadership skills. He responds that he couldn’t do it without Sarah and Casey. The General informs them that the actions of the past few days inform her that Team Bartwoski should stay the way it is, and that Director Bentley should be reassigned. When Beckman signs off, Bentley apologizes to Chuck for underestimating him. She continues, saying that his sister is really smart, and that if anyone can figure out the Intersect, it’s her. “You should reconsider keeping her from her true path,” she concludes before departing Castle. Upstairs in the Buy More, Big Mike is back, sauntering through the front door with a Subway flatbread sandwich in hand. The Buy More folks are happy to have him back in one piece, but just then, Large Mart leaves a flaming BM on the store’s doorstep. Big Mike reassures Morgan that the prank is no matter, “We can make another BM.”

Back in Echo Park, Devon waits for Chuck in the apartment courtyard. Looking perhaps the most sullen he has ever been, Devon tells Chuck he replaced the hard drive in the laptop. “It’s for the best….Right?” Chuck asks. Devon enters his apartment to find Ellie still working on the computer. He just couldn’t do it because she seems so happy.

Chuck, Sarah and Casey relax at Casey’s apartment. Chuck, reflecting on the new Intersect program debacle, says that they can’t find any new Intersects because the Intersect is all three of them working together. “Don’t you forget it,” chimes in Casey. General Beckman appears on Casey’s screen and informs the team that after interrogating Damian they have learned that he was hired to bomb Castle, not kill the other potential Intersects. He was hired by Vivian Volkoff to kill the man who arrested her father…Chuck. “I’m someone’s nemesis?” Chuck ruefully answers.

Back over at Ellie and Devon’s apartment, Ellie sleeps on the couch. Her father’s laptop comes to life as a laser scans the room and Ellie. Once Ellie’s identity is confirmed, a download begins titled “Agent X Files.”

Commentary

I’m a huge Community fan, which makes the Final Four of the Hulu Best in Show competition particularly hard for me. That aside, however, I bring Community up because one of the great aspects of that show is the frequent use of theme episodes, such as their take on zombie movies, Goodfellas, action films, etc. What we received in this week’s Chuck was this show’s attempt to do a similar theme episode: the Sherlock Holmes murder mystery. For me, I thought expression of the theme was done quite well, but overall, I’m not sure this was a great episode of the series. Good, but not great. Now, these sentiments might appear to be at odds. How could I like how they pulled off the murder mystery, but not liked the episode so much in and of itself? Well, it was like how I felt about the Lost finale: it wasn’t the way I would have liked the plot to go, but once the plot was chosen, the execution of that plot was fantastic.

My biggest beef with the episode is that it took one of the most important pieces of the endgame of the season, Vivian Volkoff’s turning on Chuck, and made it happen off screen. So, Damian was working for Vivian, but he didn’t reveal that fact. Nor did we have Vivian show up with a broad smile and vengeful eyes. Instead, we had General Beckman pop up and deliver the news, which was yes, a minor surprise, but that reveal could have been much bigger. As the episode has been couched as a murder mystery, the reveal could have been Damian, or better yet, the female candidate (God, I never got her name down. Sorry folks!), walking into an office to be dressed down for failing the mission, only to have the boss’ chair swivel around and it be Vivian. That’s pulpy, I know, but it would have fit in with the tenor of the episode and would have given the reveal a bit more punch.

Additionally, the story with Ellie and her father’s computer is dragging on too long. It looks like we’ll finally get some more information next week, but there is only so long I can watch Sarah Lancaster look harriedly into a computer screen, and Ryan McPartlin look concerned. I was fearful, when that green laser started scanning the room, that Ellie would be turned into an Intersect. So, I am glad the show didn’t go that way (especially after all of the talk that Chuck and/or Team Bartowski is the only Intersect). All that said, though, I would like them to get to the crux of this story, and pronto.

Overall, though, I liked the murder mystery aspect of the episode. It had all the features of a classic mystery story: the power being cut, the suspicion, the accusations, Chuck revealing who-did-it, and then eventually one of the “victims” turning out to be the murderer. This was all well-played, and will hopefully give the show the confidence to produce other “theme” episodes going forward.

So, that was “Chuck vs the Muuurder.” What did you think of the episode? Would you like the Chuck team to pull off more theme episodes? Did you like the Vivian Volkoff reveal? What do you think the Agent X Files are? Please leave your questions, comments and theories below. Chuck is off next week, so I will be back in two weeks with another recap. Until then, I’m off to develop an accent after only four months.

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