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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Chuck: "Chuck Vs. The Beard"

Illustration for article titled iChuck/i: Chuck Vs. The Beard
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"Hey, buddy." - Chuck to his best friend/buddy.

All those annoying, cloying Morgan Grimes moments over the years were redeemed with a single scene near the end of the excellent, Zachary Levi-directed "Chuck Vs. The Beard." The Ring, under the guise of being a company interested in purchasing the Buy More, had infiltrated Castle and stolen Morgan as bait to lure Chuck (Charles Carmichael) into divulging his secrets. With his spy life compromised, Chuck spills all the beans to Morgan, feels a hell of a lot better, and flashes for the first time in weeks, taking out the entire Ring team. Casey, Sarah, and Shaw, back from the false mission that lured them away, had gathered in the Orange Orange waiting for signs of life. The doors slowly open; smoke billows from the inside. Morgan emerges, confident and cocksure. "Bag 'em and tag 'em, Sarah—or, should I say, Agent Walker," he says with a wink. As lame a character as Morgan can be, I'd never been happier he was happier in the show's entire run.


What I love about Morgan, which many people probably get frustrated by, is that he's not so much an adult, but what a child imagines an adult to be like. He hangs a Big Mouth Billy Bass in his tiny office, because clearly that gag will never get old. He wants to know everything about Chuck because they're best friends, and when it becomes clear Chuck can't say any more, he fires him as best friend—fires. And he's so thrilled by simply the idea of living out his video game fantasies come to life that he sees it as his duty to "take the fight to them", all while leaving his mouth and eyes agape to take in a secret underground base, crazy futuristic gadgets, and a best friend (who he's happy to take back) who stands at the gate of all that. His glee upon hearing Chuck was a spy melted away weeks worth of tension—not just on the show, in my life. It was infectious.

Of course, Chuck is occasionally about what happens when you get to live out your childhood dreams—being a spy, hanging with super hotties—but the result is more sobering than you'd think. That's basically Chuck's entire deal this season, and thus he's got a lot on his mind and needs to get a lot off his chest. I sure am glad he finally did, because the show doesn't do nuanced psychological torture well (though it should try?). But in true Morgan fashion, tonight was a full-on celebration of adults acting like kids, led triumphantly by the employees of the Buy More. Lester overheard the Ring guys talking about "terminating" everyone but Chuck and Morgan, so everyone thought they were getting dragged out of the store. So they had as much fun as humanly possible, holing up behind a wall of electronics with Nerf guns at the ready, Jeffster rockin' "Fortunate Son" and Jeff huffin' whatever he could get his hands on.


It helped that Zachary Levi got every regular cast member to play with: Ellie, Awesome, all the Buy More guys, and the entire team. He managed to tell a compelling story with some honest-to-God surprises—I did not see the Casey ending coming, nor did I sense the corporate takeover was anything less than real, largely due to Big Mike's enthusiasm towards them up to that point. He also added some light touches that played up just how arbitrary some of the Buy More stuff can be. The scene where Lester and Jeff scam some Buy More saps out of money had Chuck walking past the pair with an apple in hand, him sitting down, then him walking by again, this time with Jeff holding in a mouth-full of an entire apple; it's seared in my mind. He also fully utilized paranoid, jittery Awesome—by far my favorite Awesome, just because it's so different from the confidence of last season—and ended the Buy More drama with a call to a red phone. Viewers have been having some fun with this show, and it seems so has the cast.

Stray observations:

  • What's up with Shaw's eyes the last few episodes? Are we to believe he cries and cries?
  • I loved how quickly Morgan dropped his badass facade once there was a gun in his face.
  • "Hey, buddy."

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