Chuck 1.10: Chuck versus the Nemesis

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Broadcast Date: 26 November 2007
Director: Allison Liddi
Writer: Chris Fedak
Cast: Adam Baldwin, Joshua Gomez, Sarah Lancaster, Zachary Levi, and Yvonne Strahovski


© Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures

© Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures

Chuck: “Hey, no guns at Thanksgiving!”

Meet Bryce Larkin. As the backstabbing friend who got our hero kicked out of college, the rogue spy who imposed on him the Intersect, and the man who shares Sarah’s heart, he’s come to be known in these parts as Chuck’s nemesis. However, the appellation might have fit him better if he hadn’t turned out such a great guy. Bryce is giving, patriotic, and loyal to the few loved ones the spy life affords him. This includes Chuck by the way. Of course, it does. Otherwise, things would be too easy.

Only ten episodes in, Chuck is already paying off some of its central mysteries, notably those introduced at the end of “Chuck versus the Alma Mater”, in which we learnt Bryce’s true motivation for ruining Chuck’s life: altruism. Our hero hasn’t yet forgiven his old college roommate, giving Zachary Levi a chance to convey a slew of confused emotions: jealousy, admiration, pettiness, guilt, hurt, and just a touch more confidence than three episodes ago when his character returned to Stanford. The actor deserves major props for portraying a character who subtly matures with every adventure.

There’s also the matter of Agent Walker, who spends the entire episode resisting Chuck’s attempts at post-smoochies convo while Bryce somehow expects her to resume their relationship as if nothing happened. Sarah never imagined she’d have to choose between the two. Then again, neither did Casey, but he just wants a second crack at the rogue spy and eventually takes his shot at the most inopportune moment. That bit followed by Chuck fainting had me laughing so hard. Stupendous timing.

It just occurred to me I wrote the words “paying off” and “mysteries” in the same sentence earlier, so I better list everything we learnt before angry Lost fans confuse this review with yet another explanation of the island’s properties:

  • The big bad of the season, or possibly the series, is Fulcrum, an evil spy organisation bent on, uh, doing evil spy stuff.
  • Fulcrum wants the Intersect. Bad.
  • Bryce destroyed the original Intersect to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. He then sent a copy to Chuck, the only person he could trust with this much power. Once again, Chuck’s good nature turns out the most precious asset of all.
  • Fulcrum brought Bryce back to life after he tricked them into thinking he was the new Intersect. Now he serves as a convenient decoy for the real thing, giving Chuck one more reason to feel guilty about having hated him all these years.

In fact, our hero forgiving Bryce comprises the core of “Chuck versus the Nemesis”. The message here, I think, is that having a nemesis is a childish thing, a great excuse not to buck up and fix your problems. Sure, Bryce got his best friend expelled from Stanford, but as he points out in his inadvertently brutal manner, one would have expected Chuck to bounce back and make something of himself anyway. Why is he still struggling four years later? Fortunately, that doesn’t matter anymore. As symbolised by the college roommates rekindling their friendship at last, Chuck is ready to move on.

Morgan versus Black Friday

Chuck isn’t the only one growing up this week. As the Buy More prepared for its Black Friday sale, the deadliest sale of all, Morgan displayed some solid leadership skills. His speech to get Jeff out from behind the desk was both hilarious and effective:

Morgan: “Listen to me. You’re scared. I’m scared. We’re all scared, but the store’s depending on you. If people can’t check out, people can’t leave. People can’t leave, more people will fill in. If more people fill in, Jeff–”
Jeff: “The store will explode!”

This is one of the few Buy More B-plots to merge with the main thread at the end. Using the Black Friday sale to secure Bryce’s transfer turned out incredibly dangerous, but Chuck’s plan did lead to some priceless moments, including the pineapple manoeuvre, Casey grabbing Chuck like a football, and, of course, Morgan rescuing Anna from the shopper stampede.

If I might digress for a moment about the Black Friday phenomenon, every year I learn of some poor bargain-hunting soul getting trampled to death at one of those blowout sales, and I just don’t get it. I keep wondering how that happens, how a person, nay a dozen people, can step over another human being and think, “Hey, is that a spleen I just stepped on… Fifty percent off all toasters! Oh, wow!” I understand why Morgan carried his girl out, even though she could’ve walked. In a store full of panicked Black Friday shoppers, I wouldn’t have left anything to chance either. Plus, he passed Anna’s test, whatever that means.

© Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures

© Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures


Bits and Pieces

  • The devil is in the details. When Morgan jumped to Anna’s rescue, he did a quick little Spider-Man pose. Outstanding.
  • Morgan assaulted Jeff on three separate but equally inadvertent occasions: once with a heavy box and twice with a megaphone. Tubular.
  • Ellie’s enthusiastic expression as Morgan devoured her sweet potatoes (sounds dirty) was so bizarre and divorced from reality. Superb.
  • I must admit I was disappointed with this week’s cliff-hanger. Regardless of whose phone she answers, we know Sarah isn’t going to be written out of the show. Meh.

Quotes

Chuck: “Sarah and Casey are right inside. One girlish scream from me, and they go into combat mode.”

Chuck: “I’m grateful Bryce Larkin is dead and is not currently in my bedroom making out with my new girlfriend.”
[…]
Morgan: “Wow, buddy, that was really dark.”
Devon: “And specific.”

Ellie: “Honey, no more family dinners, okay?”
Devon: “What do you think about a destination Christmas?”
Awesome is always so supportive.

Bryce: Some Klingon gibberish of some kind.

Bryce: “I got one friend in the world.”
Yeah, I got choked up a bit at that one.

Chuck: “Aah! Not pretty! Ugly!”

I always love it when Bryce pops in for a visit.

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Category: Chuck, Verdict: 4.5 | Tags:

          
Editor in Chief / Movie Critic: When he started this site, Dimitri never thought he'd be writing blurbs about himself in the third person. In his other life, he works as a writer, translator, and editor for various publications in print and online. His motto is, "Have pen, will travel."