Meet Bryce Larkin: former love of Sarah’s life, hero to the nation, and complete douche to Chuck. It’s not that Bryce doesn’t mean well, but the guy insists on usurping our hero’s authority over his own life, getting him kicked out of Stanford, uploading the Intersect into his noggin, and now manipulating him into ending a year-long non-affair with Miss Walker. Mind you, sometimes old Bartowski displays so little control over his emotions we can’t blame his nemesis for wanting to take the wheel.
I generally don’t like episodes in which our hero lets out his green-eyed monster, endangering countless lives because he views the object of his affection as a literal object no one is allowed to touch. In “Chuck versus the Break-Up”, he botches his surveillance of Von Hayes, who’s stolen a crucial Intersect upgrade, in order to gawk disapprovingly at Bryce and Sarah dancing a lambada that looks nothing like the lambada. Way to prioritise, buddy! Thankfully, the writers get the plot back on track immediately after, as Miss Walker breaks protocol to rescue Chuck and lands herself in the emergency ward.
I generally like Bryce episodes because he keeps things rolling. His mere presence rouses complex emotions in our leads, resulting in some of the most iconic moments in Chuck. Take, for example, our hero’s titular breakup with Sarah, the tragedy of his showering her with earnest compliments only to then kick her in the metaphorical groin with the line, “As amazing as you are, Sarah Walker, we both know that you’ll never be normal.” Does Chuck not realise how desperate his CIA handler is to settle down with him and have a normal life? That’s what’s making her ex so jealous.
As it turns out, I generally like episodes in which Bryce lets out his own green-eyed monster. Throughout season one, Chuck’s nemesis has been presented as an elusive figure of perfection, so it makes for a nice change of pace to see his more petty side come out. What’s more, “Chuck versus the Break-Up” takes the opportunity to bring us new character dynamics, such as the fantastic interaction between Captain Awesome and “Sarah’s obsessive ex”. I love that, even at his most threatening, Devon can only handle matters with care and sensitivity, appealing to his adversary’s sense of compassion.
Morgan versus the Display Room Bullies
Another heartwarming thread follows Morgan as he finally learns to stand up for himself, with some much needed help from his loving girlfriend. I don’t much care for Chuck playing up racial stereotypes like the notion that every Asian knows kung fu (yes, I actually know kung fu too, but shut up). I’m not crazy either about the whole “anime girl” fantasy with which Anna is being associated. Having mentioned that, I did laugh out loud at Casey requesting an NSA background clearance because he “may have a candidate for possible field work.”
By the same token, I’m not convinced this Buy More B-plot really links to the main adventure in “Chuck versus the Break-Up”. The writers would have us believe that each thread pertains to a different type of bullying, but it seems to me Chuck’s sense of helplessness comes from his own internal baggage, whereas Morgan’s stems from the very external threat of Mitt beating the crap out of him. Then again, I think everyone of us can relate to the notion of having “someone show up in your life and just make you feel so damn small.”