The final season of ‘Chuck’ is off to a pretty solid start so far. The second episode features the return of some much-loved supporting characters, and also introduces a new storyline that should be interesting to watch the show play out this season.
At the start of ‘Chuck vs. the Bearded Bandit’, Chuck and the team try to drum up business for Carmichael Industries with a presentation at a security conference. Unfortunately, they’re totally upstaged by a flashy competitor called Verbanski Corp., whose founder Gertrude Verbanski (Carrie-Anne Moss) has a longstanding rivalry with Casey. Morgan practically begs them to advertise that Carmichael Industries has the Intersect to offer clients, but the others insist that he remain a secret.
Somehow, they manage to snag a client, but he’s a shady conflict diamond smuggler named Karl Schneider (Jeff Fahey), who we assume at this point must be the “Bearded Bandit” of the title. Karl promises that his business with them is legitimate. He wants the team to rescue his brother Wesley from kidnappers, and he’s willing to pay well for it.
Morgan is raring to go and wants to show off his Intersect skills. He doesn’t appreciate it when Sarah and Casey sideline him in the van during missions. He gets to be such a nuisance about this that Sarah asks Chuck to be Morgan’s handler and show him the ropes of being a spy. This puts a strain on their friendship. At his worst moment, Morgan spots a thug robbing a convenience store. He puts on a cheap eye mask disguise, lowers his voice to husky Christian Bale levels, and springs into action as a vigilante crimefighter calling himself the Bearded Bandit. Of course, the name causes much confusion. He’s mistaken for a thief, and brings unwanted attention to Team Bartowski.
Upon trying to rescue Wesley, the team discovers that he hasn’t been kidnapped at all. He’s been hiding from Karl, who wants to murder him. Karl was just using the team to get past Wesley’s security. Sarah and Casey manage to bring Wesley to Castle. Morgan, who’s been assigned to make a burrito run for Casey, drags Chuck along on a foolish mission to infiltrate Schneider’s headquarters and take down the baddie himself. Chuck knows that this is a bad idea, but has to help his friend. When they get captured, Casey and Sarah have no choice but to hire Verbanski Corp. to stage a rescue op. This is not an auspicious debut for Carmichael Industries.
Back at the Buy More, Big Mike has returned from his honeymoon and is eager to drum up business for the store. He pulls out a Betamax copy of a very funny commercial that he made in the ’70s. When looking for a fresh face to be the store’s new spokesperson, he gets the idea to make a new commercial featuring the studly Captain Awesome. It’s such a big hit that business picks up dramatically.
Despite his utter failure at being a spy, Morgan is still convinced that he’s getting the short-shrift. In the final scene, he shows up at the Verbanski offices, reveals that he’s the Intersect, and offers his services. This assholish behavior seems totally out of character for Morgan. However, his failure to recognize or remember nerd references (even basic ones like Luke Skywalker) suggests that the Intersect is malfunctioning and has altered his personality.
I like the idea that the Intersect is going to be an antagonist (perhaps the main antagonist) this season, and that Chuck will need to use his skill as a spy to overcome it without computer enhancement. This helps to bring things full circle for the show. I’d like to see this develop over the course of the season, and hope it’s not resolved in just an episode or two.