Episode Review: CHUCK: Chuck vs. the Beard (season 3, ep 8)

Sam White
Sam White's picture

Zachary Levi—the title star and stirring straw of “Chuck”—made his directorial debut with this episode.  How did he do?  Read more to find out (but beware of spoilers).


It started off with Morgan deciding to fire Chuck as his best friend because of all the secrets he believes Chuck is holding back from him.  Meanwhile, Chuck is being kept off of spy missions because of his inability to flash.  Meanwhile meanwhile, the team has received intelligence that leads them to believe Ellie and Awesome (who are on a vacation [sort of—they appear to only be across town]) are being targeted by the ring.  So, they take off to protect the Awesomes, leaving Chuck by himself.


At the Buy More, Big Mike gets word that corporate is shutting the store down for the day and may be going to sell it—and many of the current employees will be let go.  As the suits come in to interview everyone and find out who is worthy of staying, the loyal Buy More employees are overcome with a hilarious mixture of group loyalty and self-serving bum-kissing.


Only, these corporate raiders aren’t good ol’ capitalists, they are actually bad ol’ Ring members who believe a super CIA agent named Charles Carmichael is working undercover at the Burbank Buy More.  After their interviews, they are convinced that the agent in question is either Chuck Bartowski … or Morgan Grimes.


About the time that, Casey, Shaw and Sarah are discovering that they have been set-up.  The info leak was just a scam to get them out of Burbank.  Jeff and Lester, meanwhile (lots of stuff happens simultaneously on these shows), have tapped into the communications of the men they think are corporate raiders and get the idea that everyone at the Buy More is going to be fired except Chuck and Morgan.  So they barricade the doors and—for no readily explainable reason—have a concert from Jeffster while vowing to fight for their jobs.  What they don’t realize is that the Ring men have found the Castle (the CIA’s underground lair beneath the Buy More) and are planning to blow it and the Buy More sky high.


Morgan has managed to follow the Ring guys into theCcastle and somehow (this wasn’t explained) get back out.  He tries to convince Chuck to join him in a mission to fight real bad guys with some mace that Emmet left behind.  They manage to get captured by the bad guys and are held in the Castle workout room while Sarah, Shaw and Casey are unable to do what Morgan did (get the door open).


[Big spoiler alert]  Chuck, thinking he’s about to die, spills all the beans to Morgan.  As he apologizes for having lied to Morgan, Morgan is ecstatic to find out that his best friend is a spy.  Chuck, being thus unburdened and having his best friend back—not to mention finally admitting to still being in love with Sarah—flashes and kicks all but one of the Ring guys into submission.  That one (played by a surprisingly subdued Detrich Bader), gets clobbered over the head by Morgan.


Morgan thinks he’s a spy now.  Shaw, Sarah and Casey are uncomfortable with his new knowledge.  The Buy More employees celebrate the (Shaw induced) idea that their store isn’t going to close.  Devin, tired of running from his knowledge of Chuck’s other life, suggests that he and Ellie become part of “Doctors Without Borders” and move to Africa.


Observations: this was a good episode—and very entertaining—but in some ways it felt like a “then” episode.  An episode whose main purpose in the canon was just to set up what would come next.  I thought Zachary Levi did a fine job as a director (a show like this—with all it’s intercutting—probably owes about as much to the film editor as to the director), but I don’t think he was given much to work with story-wise.


It makes sense that Morgan knows.  And I like the idea that Chuck no longer has to lie to his best friend.  Morgan doesn’t seem like he would be the type to talk.  But, as I think back to “I Dream of Jeannie” [the second week in a row that I’ve referenced that show in one of these reviews!] and “Alf”, I wonder how many people can be in on a secret before said secret gets out.  It’s just human nature (see, also Watergate, Troopergate, etc.) that info eventually leaks.  In this episode it was intimated that the danger was contained because all of the Ring guys were locked up, but isn’t the Ring going to notice that the guys they sent to Burbanknever came back?