Open to a jungle setting somewhere in 1989. A young soldier named Alex Calhoun is being told he won't make the elite ranger team and that he's being shipped back to his old unit. Before he can even make it to the car, he is greeted by a shadowy Stargate/X-Files-looking guy who recruits him into an ultra-secretive, ultra-patriotic group and changes his name to ... [spoilers galore!]
Back in the present, Morgan Grimes is using spy gear he presumably bought at the Buy More to surveil John Casey's meeting with the same guy who recruited him years ago. When Chuck stumbles across Morgan, he tries to talk him into not getting mixed up in such things, but then he flashes on the mysterious man and learns that he's been presumed dead and, therefore, must be a member of the Ring.
Within this, is there a commentary on our current intelligence-gathering machines? Because, really, it seems like the Intersect knows something about all the bad guys. So, if this info's been gathered, why isn't anyone acting on it? I'm guessing that Casey's answer would be something like, "The bureaucrats in Washington are wussy pukes" and who can argue with that?
And then, the next morning, Chuck, Sarah and Casey are called on to infiltrate a secret CIA locker and retrieve some data, presumably just to test the security of the place. Casey, however, has been tasked with using the mission to steal a secret CIA drug that will render its user emotionless. Just as he steals it, though, Chuck sees him. Then, later, thinking it's one of General Beckman's tests, Chuck turns in Casey.
It turns out that Casey is doing this because back when he was Alex Calhoun he was engaged to Hayden Fox's daughter (Clare Carey) and if he doesn't steal this pill and turn it over to the Ring the bad guys will kill her. Years ago he had given up on love in order to serve his country, but now he has to betray his country to keep the one he loves alive.
Chuck talks Sarah into helping him try to clear Casey's name, but Casey gets snatched by the Ring, first. Inexplicably out of their clutches, Casey recruits Morgan to help him on a "mission": retrieve the pill from where Casey hid it at the Buy More. As soon as Chuck sees Morgan acting suspiciously, he knows what's going on and easily finds Casey.
Casey, Chuck and Sarah bring down this cell of the Ring,learning in the process that Casey's old love has a 20 year old daughter named Alex. Casey is stripped of rank and booted into civilian life. Chuck is told he capable of going it alone as a spy. And Sarah is promoted to a new job in Washington while Awesome and Ellie decide to stay in LA and let Ellie pursue her dream job at USC. When last we see any of them, only Awesome and Ellie seem happy.
Having previously announced that this season's offering of Chuck would only be 13 episodes long, this was a good episode but obviously designed to be a springboard for the Final Four. I enjoyed the episode and it left me anxious for next week's installment, which is the ultimate compliment for a TV show. Just wish they were doing a complete, 22-ep, season.
Personally, I think the real reason Casey opted for black ops is because it seemed like a safer and more calm life than being Hayden Fox's son-in-law.