If you missed last week’s Chuck, check out a recap here.
“Chuck vs. Operation Awesome” picks up right where the previous episode ended, with Captain Awesome (hereafter called by his first name, Devon) captured by The Ring. Devon is being held on the roof of the hospital by Sydney Prince (Angie Harmon), operative for The Ring: Los Angeles. Sydney believes Devon to be a world-class CIA spy, and she needs him for something. Back in Castle, Chuck is freaking out about Devon’s safety. Casey and Sarah tell him to relax and just go to work. They can’t do anything for Devon until he is contacted by Sydney again — if she thinks he is a spy and he doesn’t do what she says, she will kill him. Chuck tries to talk himself into being calm, but is unsuccessful.
Morgan, too, is unsuccessful in keeping his emotions in check. Despite Big Mike’s love of his mornings alone (it is a time for reflection and pastry after all), he has called Morgan into his office to discuss Morgan’s future with the Buy More. Big Mike has noticed Morgan getting more respect from his co-workers, so he asks Morgan if he, “Son,” would like to be Assistant Manager. Morgan, although still weirded out by his mother’s relationship with Big Mike, accepts. An agitated Chuck, meanwhile, is working the floor at the Buy More. He dismisses a Japanese customer, and when she has some choice words for him, Chuck flashes Japanese fluency and tells her off. Now further discombobulated, Jeff and Lester ask Chuck to settle an argument: who would win in a fight, Jean-Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal? To illustrate his query, Lester playfully karate chops at Chuck. Well, the Intersect doesn’t discern between a real or pretend threat, especially when Chuck is not in control of his emotions. Chuck’s kung fu skills kick in, and with one roundhouse kick to the face (“Boom Boom Pow!” yells an impressed Jeff), Chuck lays out Lester. Devon rushes in, to Chuck and Sarah’s relief, and tells them that he’s scared, “They think I’m a spy, Chuck. They think I’m you.”
Back in Castle, Casey, for one, thinks The Ring has made a completely believable mistake, “One of them looks like a spy, the other looks like Chuck.” Over Chuck’s protestations, General Beckman says that they need to use Devon to infiltrate The Ring. When Chuck and Devon arrive home, Devon tries to explain to Ellie where he has been. He runs through an utterly ridiculous story about how he was running in the park when he saw a cat in a tree, but the cat was a bear and he had to wrestle it and finally decapitate it. Ellie is incredulous. Chuck jumps in to save his brother-in-law and explains that, actually, Casey was completely drunk in the park. He was so drunk that he was arrested after exposing himself, so Devon went down to the station to talk a cop friend into dropping the charges. Ellie believes them, and when Casey walks by, is thoroughly creeped out.
Later, Chuck, Sarah and Casey are planning “Operation Awesome.” Chuck is told that he needs to be Devon’s handler for the mission. Chuck remembers what it is like to not know how to be a spy, so he is best equipped to help Devon. Devon knocks on Casey’s door and tells the team he has received a package from Sydney. When she calls, she instructs Devon to put on the earpiece and watch that are in the box. Upon doing so, the earpiece latches on to Devon’s ear. Sydney informs him that the earpiece is rigged with explosives: try to take it off or not follow her instructions, and she will detonate it. Very not awesome. Devon is to go downtown to the Crystal Towers building and await further instruction. Chuck gives Devon a second watch to be used to communicate with the team. Chuck has helpfully labelled the two watches “Good Guys” and “Bad Guys” so Devon won’t get confused. The “good guys” go down to Crystal Towers and put Devon into play. He has been told to go up to the 12th floor. Chuck decides that he has to help Devon get there safely and tells Devon to wait for him in the building’s lobby. There, Julius the security guard inquires into Devon’s purpose in being at the building so late at night. Devon explains he’s there to see his friend Chuck. Julius asks why Devon is so nervous, Devon tells him he just can’t take all the lying anymore. It’s too much pressure on him and it’s not fair to his wife. Julius is sympathetic, “If you really love this Chuck, you have to tell your wife. You can’t live a lie. Trust me. I’ve been there.” Chuck ends this embarrassing situation for Devon by shooting Julius with a tranquilizer gun and hustling Devon up to the 12th floor.
The would-be spies arrive upstairs and are met by men on either end of the floor. As the men pull their guns, Chuck flashes sharpshooting skills, pushes Devon out of the way, and masterfully takes out the men with tranq darts. Devon asks if Chuck learned how to shoot like that from the CIA. Nope, it was years playing Duck Hunt (which is great, but no Wild Gunman. Just ask Marty.) Sydney tells Devon to get into the room at the end of the hall by cutting out one of the guard’s eyes to open the retina scan lock. Devon, as a doctor, will not cut out someone’s eye, so he and Chuck decide to just prop a guard up into the scanner. They enter and find they are in a CIA office. Sydney tells Devon to find and kill the agent inside. At that moment, Chuck loses contact with Sarah and Casey, who themselves are locked down in their van. The General confirms that they are indeed on lockdown. The mission is a set-up. Chuck and Devon are on their own. They find the CIA agent: he’s special agent Daniel Shaw, or to most, Superman! Shaw had appeared briefly (and just as a hand with a lighter) at the end of “Chuck vs. the Three Words” when the General had pleaded with him to tell Chuck, Sarah and Casey of whatever plan he was hatching. That plan was now coming to fruition. Shaw knows exactly who Devon and Chuck are. He knows Sydney is coming to confirm Devon is joining The Ring so Chuck needs to kill Shaw. He takes a pill, hands Chuck a note to be read after Sydney leaves, gives Chuck a gun and points it at his shoulder. When Chuck protests that he hates guns, Shaw says he hates guns too, before shooting himself. Chuck hears Sydney’s heels click-clacking down the hallway so he hides himself and gives Devon the gun. Sydney checks Devon’s alleged handiwork, welcomes him to The Ring, and leaves. After she’s gone, Chuck reads the note which says Shaw took amiodarone (a drug used for irregular heartbeats, and which stopped Shaw’s heart), and that there is a medical kit to save him in the desk. Dr. Devon jumps into action, and reminiscent of Pulp Fiction, plunges a needle into Shaw’s chest, reviving him.
Back in Castle, the General explains that Shaw has global command over all missions involving The Ring. Shaw states that he knows everything about The Ring and Operation Bartowski, including Chuck and Sarah’s “relationship.” Devon is now a bone fida mole inside The Ring so they can’t pull him out now. If they try, and don’t eliminate Sydney first (she seems to be the only one in The Ring who knows Devon is a “spy”), she will kill Devon. When Chuck protests that he can’t keep putting his family in danger, Shaw asks if he has a better plan. Not at the moment, but the wheels are turning. Meanwhile, upstairs in the Buy More, Morgan hears something strange coming from the stock room. Previously, when Chuck tried to apologize for kicking Lester in the face, Lester said it was OK. He actually enjoyed it. He loved the rush of combat and thanked Chuck. Lester loved the rush so much he turned into his own, weird Nerd Herd version of Tyler Durden (see above). The noise coming from the stock room, Morgan discovered, was the new Buy More Fight Club. They even electrified the cage in which Jeff, bare-chested, was now dispatching co-workers. Morgan breaks up the festivities, but not before being threatened by Tyler…er…Lester, “You’ll never be able to shut us down…Ass. Man,” noting the abbreviated title on Morgan’s name tag.
During this, Chuck has indeed come up with a plan. He asks Devon for the Ring phone Sydney had given him. In the Buy More stock room (now cleared of the Fight Club), Chuck works to rebuild the phone. Successful, Chuck calls Sydney himself and tells her that Devon was just a pawn — Chuck is the spy that actually killed Agent Shaw, and that he is in charge of the mission now. He tells Sydney to meet him at the Buy More. When she arrives with her henchmen, Shaw, supervising from Castle, says no one can help Chuck. Chuck, despite his attempts to lure her to the home theater area, is caught behind the Nerd Herd desk. Sarah and Casey have seen enough and move to help Chuck. Shaw pulls guns on them to prevent their assistance. Sydney wants proof that Chuck is who he says he is, so she sics her men on him. Chuck tries to flash his kung fu, but is quickly floored by one punch. He gets up, and pulls his best Daniel-san “wax on, wax off,” distracting them long enough to run back into the stock room. Sarah tries to run upstairs, and as Shaw moves to stop her (explaining that although he hates guns, they have to let Chuck do this on his own), Casey pulls his gun on Shaw. Shaw is impressed with Casey’s speed. “I love guns,” Casey notes. Shaw lowers his weapons, and Sarah and Casey run upstairs. Casey takes out two of the henchmen, and Sarah follows Sydney into the stock room. As the other two henchmen move to grab Chuck (now in the stock room cage), Chuck connects the car battery and electrifies the fence. The electrified henchman shoots the other, leaving only Sydney. Sarah and Sydney engage in some really impressive hand-to-hand combat, but Sydney, although now disarmed, gains the upper hand and runs for the exit. Chuck grabs Sydney’s gun and chases her down. He orders her to stop, pointing the gun right at her. Pleading her to give up, Chuck tells her, “You choice. Live or die. Don’t make me shoot you.” She dares him , but Chuck is unable to pull the trigger. As Sydney pulls out a throwing knife from behind her back, and Sarah rushes in, a shot rings out. Chuck looks disbelievingly at his own weapon, but he has not fired the shot. Shaw shot her. “I hate guns, but it helps to know how to use one.”
The team is debriefed by Shaw in Castle. He explains that they successfully contained Devon’s identity. Casey says that they were lucky, but not without putting Chuck’s family in danger, Chuck notes. Chuck tells Shaw that he must understand one thing about him, “There is nothing I care about more than my friends and family.” When Shaw replies that family makes spies vulnerable, Sarah defends Chuck, “Sometimes it helps to know you’ve got something to lose.” Chuck subtly nods to Sarah his thanks. Upstairs in the Buy More, Big Mike tells Morgan he needs to get his coworkers in line. The first rule of Big Mike management is that you “can’t be afraid to pull the trigger.” Morgan orders Lester to shut down the fight club. Lester rebuffs him (no way, Ass. Man.), so Morgan fires him. Lester quickly crumbles and pleads for his job (he needs to move out of his mother’s house after all!). With an encouraging wink from Big Mike, Morgan gives Lester his job back.
That night, Morgan and Chuck have Ellie and Devon over for dinner. Chuck pulls Devon aside to let him know everything is fine and that he is safe. Chuck has also invited Sarah and Casey over for dinner. Ellie quickly pulls a bottle of wine from Casey’s hands (“What’s the matter with her?” Casey asks Chuck. “No idea.”). Chuck tells Sarah that it wouldn’t be the same without her. “I’m really glad you came.” She replies “I’m glad too.” As the six sit down to eat, we pull back to reveal Shaw watching them on a security camera. He looks a bit wistful. He pulls out a small jewelry box. The episode ends with Shaw putting on his wedding ring.
For me, this was another great episode of Chuck. It appears with new-found life thanks to the fans and Subway, the show is hitting on all cylinders. In this episode, we were treated to a great fight sequence between Sydney and Sarah, the smooth introduction of Agent Shaw, some great comic bits from the Fight Club storyline, and a nice dose of heart at the end with Sarah first defending Chuck, and then the dinner party scene. We also had some nice growth for Chuck. With his first opportunity to be the “teacher” and not just the student, it would have been easy for him to stumble, make a fool out of himself and be saved by Sarah and Casey. Instead, the writers and Zachary Levi were smart and skilled enough to let Chuck be successful. Further, when it came down to it, he was able to save the day with his brain again, and not the Intersect. So far, the show has done a wonderful job (post-hour 1 of the season), in letting the Intersect-fed skills only be a part of Chuck’s developing spy ability. We were told from the beginning of the series that Chuck Bartowski is a really smart guy to which unfortunate circumstances (and Bryce Larkin) have led him to an unfulfilled life. So, it is important that Chuck maintain his intelligence and not rely solely on the computer in his head.
The episode, and series, have introduced a bit of suspense, too. I mean, I doubted Chuck would kill Sydney, but when that gunshot rang out, I definitely believed for a split-second that he did in fact shoot her. There have also been internet rumors that Shaw will be a romantic interest for Sarah. With his putting on the wedding ring at the end of the episode, there is some real doubt that can be placed in those rumors (although, I bet she was killed because of one of his missions). Suspense is always good, and I trust that the creators of Chuck can fold it in smoothly. Lastly, is there anything funnier on television that Casey’s grunts? I don’t think so.
OK, that’s it for “Chuck vs. Operation Awesome.” Please leave any comments, thoughts, or theories below. What did you think of the episode? What are your feelings on Agent Shaw joining the team? Be sure to check out TVOvermind later in the week for some promos of next week’s episode, “Chuck vs. First Class.” Until then I’m off to learn the first rule of Fight Club.