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Chuck 5.02 "Chuck vs. the Bearded Bandit" Review

A tv review article by: Samuel Salama Cohén, Kyle Garret

The team takes on a missing persons case and have to establish themselves as Carmichael Industries in the face of a rival security firm led by GertrudeVerbanski.

Meanwhile Morgan adjusts to being the intersect and Chuck being his handler.

Also the Buy More finds a new and unlikely spokesperson who helps to drum up business.

Chuck airs Fridays at 8:00 on NBC.

Kyle Garret: Be careful what you wish for.

It would seem, to anyone who read my review of the last episode of Chuck, that I would be thrilled with what we got in the second episode of this season.  And I am, at least in a vague sense.  The problems came in the specifics of what we got.

Sam Salama Cohén: And they came with the strange turn the show has taken. This Carmichael Industries little adventure seemed cool and all at the end of the previous season, but the "lack of money" plot is not making for good and fun stories at all. Except the Awesome moment, of course! I also feel that with this episode we have lost the fun dynamic between Chuck and Morgan, and let's be honest, this show relies not so much on a heavy plot, but on its characters' interaction. Keep that in mind during this review!

Kyle: So Morgan has turned into an ass, and a stupid one at that.  For those who didn't see this coming, it's the Intersect that's causing this transformation.  You could probably have heard the collective "thank god" from every Chuck fan in the country when this was made clear.  They are, thankfully, acknowledging that Morgan can't handle the Intersect, because very few people can.

Sam: At first it looked to me as if the writers wanted to pay homage to the first season's structure, with Chuck feeling confined to the van, always on the sidelines. But with the way Morgan is acting, one wonders why change the fourth season dynamic at all. Though if Mr. Grimes' rushed actions were caused by the effect of the Intersect, I guess I could join that collective sigh of relief, and wish for Chuck to somehow get it back (where's a crazy brain data transfer machine when you need one?).

Kyle: And I am happy that this is the way it's playing out.  I'm happy that we didn't get some insane justification for why Morgan can handle the Intersect.  This is what should happen if Morgan got the Intersect.

Sam: He wanted to be a spy so much that when given the chance to be a Super-spy and feeling that his teammates weren't using his "talents", the man started trying to prove himself, and only gets into trouble. He used the Intersect too much, too fast, and he couldn't handle it.

Kyle: Right, although I think the point, too, is that he couldn't act any other way, not because he's Morgan, but because the Intersect is taking over.  Unfortunately, it's not particularly compelling.  I like Morgan, I do, but his actions as the Intersect aren't funny or dramatic.  I got the impression that we were supposed to laugh at Morgan as the Intersect in certain scenes, and get upset about Morgan as the Intersect in other scenes, but none of them really work.

Sam: Even his tiny size restrained me from feeling his action scenes as cool or dramatic. To me, Morgan is the geeky wannabe, the fanboy who loves Spider-Man, but couldn't ever be him.

Kyle: That's a great point.  In many ways, he's become the entrance character for the audience – he is the geek who sits down every week to watch Chuck in action.  They've taken that away from us.  Part of the problem is that it felt abrupt; suddenly Morgan was a stupid jackass.  But on the other hand, if they'd dragged it out, it would have been just as bad.  Really, this all just served to underscore what a bad idea this was from the start.

Sam: Yeah, Morgan was portrayed like the new guy in the office who suddenly says he knows all that there's to know about the job, and wants to be the one calling the shots. Not good. Especially if the writers plan on keeping him as the Intersect.

Kyle: And how they showed Morgan had changed was even less subtle.  The asking who Indiana Jones is wasn't so bad, but the asking who Luke Skywalker is was so heavy handed – why did Gertrude Verbanski say that she "was wondering who the real Luke Skywalker was?"  No, really, why would she say that out of the blue?  The only answer I can come up with is that she says it simply so that Morgan can give his response and everyone can go "ohhhh."  And that's not good writing.

Sam: Not seeing a Russian badass Masterspy talking that way, no. She certainly seemed more in character when she approached Sarah Walker.

Kyle: As with last week, though, it wasn't all bad.  In fact, the show came to crossroads of good and bad and it went with good.  When Morgan convinces Chuck they should invade Sneijder's (Jeff Fahey from Lost!) headquarters, Morgan rants about how Chuck shouldn't call Sarah and Casey because they don't think Chuck's much of a spy.  And, honestly, had Chuck gone along with Morgan, I would have been really disappointed.  But he didn't.  He called Sarah.  As far as Chuck himself is concerned, they're getting everything right.

Sam: And, though there were hints and traces of that old, almost classic, unsure Chuck, not knowing where his true allegiances were, Sarah reassured him in a nice character moment. It is fine we are past those silly "I don't believe Sarah" plots, because that shows that the couple play at a whole new different level after their compromise. What we didn't get, however, is Alex' reaction to Morgan having the Intersect. After their trust issues on the previous season, I wonder how keeping this from her might affect their relationship.

Kyle: Oh, yeah, it's strange that Alex has been MIA during all of this.  Does she know?  I feel like this story is already coming to a head, which means we'll never see how Alex fee

ls about all this.

I couldn't agree more about Sarah and Chuck.  One of the things that bothered me about the previous two seasons is they spent so much time trying to come up with roadblocks for them that it stopped making sense.  These two don't need contrived complications to be interesting; their chemistry is just that good.

It was good to see Awesome back this week.  Making him the spokesperson for Buy More was a nice touch, because not only was it a way to get him back on the show, but actually made sense.  The Buy More plays a big part in his family now, so it's easy to see why Devon would help out.

Sam: Awesome rocks! He's such a funny character, and his interactions with Jeffster and the rest of the Buy More crew are always priceless. That subplot was a nice touch, yes. Wonder if he'd be getting free diapers from now on?

Kyle: The introduction of Gertrude Verbanski was nice. Carrie-Anne Moss brings a certain gravity to every role she plays and it makes her seem like a complete bad ass without even really trying.  I'm looking forward to seeing how this story with her and Casey plays out.

Sam: Casey's old flames always mean trouble, and this was no exception. Gertrude's trophy gun was a fine touch, as well as Casey's distracted state-of-mind whenever Gertrude was mentioned. You just got to love this moody, brooding Casey, though it might be a bit difficult to imagine his romantic side, and that goes to the credit of the series' writers.

Kyle: So, yeah, be careful what you wish for.  I have high hopes for next week, though, as we're obviously going to get some kind of resolution to the Morgan storyline, but as far as I know none of them has a device to remove the Intersect.  I have visions of the team embarking on a quest to break into the CIA to get such a device, and Chuck being forced to break through the suppression in his head that's keeping the Intersect down.

Sam: Carmichael vs. CIA! That does sound like a lot of fun! And though I could see the final cliffhanger coming a mile away, it sets up an interesting stage for the next episode. Let's hope Team Bartowski steps up and gets closer to unraveling whatever conspiracy there might be against Chuck.


Sam is a passionate comic lover, who since an early age, found himself into the grasp of Marvel titles such as Conan the Barbarian, Captain America, Spider-Man, and, of course, his true love (after his girlfriend Natalia, that is), The Avengers. As Comics Bulletin's Community Manager, right now a lot of his time is devoted to managing and improving the site's presence on social networks, and on building an active and interesting Community.

Currently living in Madrid, he loves travelling around the world -- and getting comics wherever he goes. You can find him as @SamSalama on Twitter, and as Samuel Salama on Facebook.


Kyle Garret is the author of I Pray Hardest When I'm Being Shot At, available now from Hellgate Press. His short fiction has been published in the Ginosko Literary Journal, Literary Town Hall, Children, Churches, & Daddies and Falling Into Place. He writes comic book reviews here at Comic Bulletin and blogs for PopMatters. He can be found at KyleGarret.com and on Twitter as @kylegarret.

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