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October 8, 2015

Chuck: Chuck Versus the Alma Mater

by Varun Lella, posted Nov 6th 2007 12:23AM
Chuck episode 7
(S01E07) "What? Slingshots too ineffective?" - Chuck

Oh it is good to be back after a week of absence! I know you guys missed me so much, but I think that Will O'Brien did a great job with his review of last week's episode.

One note from last week's episode that Will didn't cover... Captain Awesome's name is Devon? I had to rewind the video three times just to make sure. What a lame name (no offense to any Devons out there). I was really hoping for a Hoyt or Blakely or Mortimer.

I really needed this episode of Chuck to happen. Many of you have agreed that the show has been kind of meandering without any sort of larger story arc or forward movement. It looked like Chuck would just be a series of lets-solve-the-case episodes, week after week.

However, in this episode we finally return to some of the larger questions left open by the first and second episode. Namely, why did Chuck get kicked out of Stanford and what did Bryce Larkin have to do with it? The sequence where Chuck flashed on himself was pretty cool (that sounded a little dirty). I didn't necessarily think that the end result would be that Chuck was originally meant for the C.I.A.

It may be a little cheesy (you can't escape your destiny), but it really kind of makes Chuck a little more heroic. He is not really some nerdy computer guy, who was accidentally turned into an agent. He was a soon-to-be agent, saved from the dangerous life by being turned into a nerdy computer guy. This sort of ruins the "Chuck is an average Joe" aspect of the show, but it makes the bumbling seem a little more purposeful.

The new question is what is the Omaha project? And we are still wondering why Bryce gave (and felt like he needed to give) to Chuck?

I don't know if the writers will ever answer the first question (because it doesn't necessarily seem relevant to the story), but I have a theory on the latter. Professor Flemming mentioned that Chuck had a 98 percent retention rate when it came to the subliminal images. Maybe this number is extremely significant and Bryce knew that Chuck was one of the few people that had the mental capacity to retain the Intersect information. But this still doesn't answer why Bryce had to destroy the Intersect in the first place? Traitor government spies? Corruption? Lost a Super Bowl bet?

The gain in story came at a loss to baddy quality. After Lo Pan and Laslow, which were both decent attempts at villains, this week's evil-incarnate came off as contrived and superficial. The entire episode could have been done sans mercenary if they didn't need a way to kill off maim Fleming and give Team Bartowski some sense of urgency. The writers didn't really seem to even think out these characters. Yes, Iceland + Crossbows = funny, but how did the main baddy get thugs? Did he import them from Iceland? How did he know that Fleming created a disc? What were they planning to do with the disc? Why the hell was the disc created in the first place?

However, the loss of a decent antagonist was severely mitigated by the awesome background info we learned about Chuck.

The accompanying side story proves that Morgan deserves his own half-hour sitcom spin-off to Chuck, tentatively titled Morgan... premiering this mid-season. Who cares if the writers go on strike? A show like this will practically write itself. And by the look of this strike, it may very well need to. This week's Morgan would have been named "Morgan Versus the Monster."

For some reason I held on to the hope that Harry Tang would not take over the Buy More assistant manager position. That somehow it would have all been a nasty dream and that Chuck would ride in to save the day. But alas, the conniving punk started his reign of terror this week, complete with yellow, monogrammed polo (with dictator-esque military shoulder loops).

The multiple references to Lord of the Rings were nice, if not a little heavy-handed (One remote to rule them all). The best part is seeing Morgan with a spine, being a leader. Sure he gotta a little help by a nerdy seductress, but he proved this week that he is his own man. Harry Tang proved this week that he is a great villain. I am convinced he would be perfect across from Daniel Craig in the next Bond movie. Although I don't think you can get away with calling Craig pudding. Gotta respect a man with a 12-pack of abs.

Hopefully, the show will continue to explore some consistent story arcs with the Buy More and Bryce Larkin. It has been a positive change from the plot-less stumbling of the past couple of episodes. To put it shortly, this episode was good and we could use more like these from time to time.

Oh Snap Award
There really wasn't that much fighting this episode, which I missed. If I have to hand out the award this week, it would go to Bryce for shooting Chuck directly between the eyes. The man was smooth enough to hide a disc, distract Charlie-boy with a Gynecology textbook, and deliver a death blow in a span of twelve seconds.

The only other part that was close to Oh-Snappyness was when all the other spies showed up and that one hot girl kicked the smoked salmon out of our Icelandic fiend. I wonder if the show writers will ever return to the Stanford spies. I really don't think they will, but it would be cool to give Chuck some colleagues.

Other thoughts:

  • Favorite line of the night: "I hate Stanford, because they suck so hard" - Captain Awesome
  • Did they have to make Chuck a frat boy? Gamma Delta Phi? Is there some joke I am missing?
  • NBC is really pushing the environmental week thing really hard. The plant a tree bit felt a little shoved in there, but I guess it is for a good cause.
Update: Changed the title from Matter to Mater... oh typos!
Who was the best villain?
Lo Pan19 (3.6%)
Laslow36 (6.8%)
La Ciudad73 (13.9%)
Peyman Alahi11 (2.1%)
That random doctor guy from the Helicopter episode14 (2.7%)
Harry Tang373 (70.9%)

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I'm pretty late with my comment, so I guess nobody will read this... But I want to comment anyway.

I thought the Love Story of Chuck and Bryce was totally lame. I don't like to call things 'gay', but this was... Well. Not very believable, either. Bryce got Chuck kicked out because Chuck was such a sweet guy and he loved him so much? Yuk. And then years later he sends him a mail which puts him in the middle of it all anyway? The end result being that he IS a spy now, but without having had the chance to finish his education. Thanks, Bryce.

November 28 2007 at 6:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"I really needed this episode of Chuck to happen. Many of you have agreed that the show has been kind of meandering without any sort of larger story arc or forward movement. It looked like Chuck would just be a series of lets-solve-the-case episodes, week after week."

Hey, I needed that too... But if something we learned about this kind of shows is that writers/producers (even may be a directive from the suits) tend to hold the REAL stories until Nielsen numbers confirm the show as an ongoing and not a limited 5 or 6 episodes fall "casualty". I mean... C'mon... Alias took at least 13 episodes of "solve now" cases until we start to find a thread leading our interest into Milo Rambaldi's works...

November 15 2007 at 12:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

just replayed the video, it was sarah yang, not young, d'oh!

November 08 2007 at 4:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Horse N. Buggy

Jill was Chuck's girlfriend. We already knew that Bryce "stole" her. We learned this episode that Bryce introduced them initially. Based on what we learned about Bryce, I assume that Jill was part of the CIA recruitment program. If that was the case, perhaps she and Bryce made up that story to get her away from Chuck.

OR Maybe she was a foreign agent who figured out that Chuck was tagged to work on the (whatever the name was) project. Bryce didn't know anything about that when he introduced them. Since he felt responsible for setting them up, he took action to break them up. Maybe he dropped clues that he was a spy to seem like a more interesting target to her (and lure her away from Chuck). (Aww, what a guy.)

I also noticed the name Sarah Young on the disc. Hopefully, that was a red herring. But we only know that Sarah's middle name is Lisa. We don't know that Sarah is not her real first name. We assume that it isn't because it seems like one of the most basic rules of spying is to not use your real name. I won't be happy if Sarah turns out to be Sarah Young. (But that could be one of the reasons Sarah seemed concerned about Chuck looking at the info on the disc.) But no, I think Sarah and Bryce met up later and that she had no knowledge of Chuck before this assignment.

November 07 2007 at 9:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Was chuck's frat Gamma-Delta-Phi? I thought the shirts were Gamma-Delta-Iota, which is GDI or God-Damn-Independant, meaning no phrat association.

November 06 2007 at 6:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What I like is how they are juxtaposing the spy world with the Buy More world - both have their own intrigues, double crosses, good guys/bad guys, a seductress - love it. So clever that in the world of home and office products, there is lurking intricate scenarios and schemers - too adorable.

November 06 2007 at 4:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

did anyone wlse find it odd that the girl who saved chuck from the merc was shot in a lot of shadow? could it have been jill? bryce and jill hooking up would have made a great cover for the two as well as keep chuck from wanting to try and get(or keep) in touch with either of them...(another strange thing was that all the other "stanford spies" seemed green, this girl however, carried herself with a lot more confidence)

November 06 2007 at 3:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Barry Wilhelm

Previous episodes told us Jill was Chuck's girlfriend at Stanford who he's had a terrible time getting over. We learned that Bryce fixed the two of them up. Jill is not Sarah.

November 06 2007 at 1:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Okay, I get that Bryce really didn't get Chuck kicked out of college to be mean, but to protect him. But didn't he steal Chuck's girl?

And I thought Sarah said Fleming was in the hospital, I missed the part where he died.

November 06 2007 at 1:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You can't seriously expect someone whose vocabulary includes the phrase "oh snap" to actually be able to spell very well at all.

November 06 2007 at 1:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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