‘Chuck’ 5.03 Recap: “It’s Like Middle School All Over Again”

Well, that’s disappointing. It was just last week when I said that ‘Chuck’ appeared to set up an interesting storyline that could be fun to watch develop over the course of the season. So much for that. Although this past Friday’s episode was reasonably entertaining on the whole, it once again demonstrates the show’s frustrating lack of structure or long-term planning.

In the previous week’s twist, Morgan’s Intersect seemed to be malfunctioning, which turned him into a cocky dickhead who’d forsaken his nerdy interests and his friendship with Chuck in a misguided quest for action and glory. He then offered his services to Carmichael Industries’ biggest competitor, Getrude Verbanski (Carrie-Anne Moss). Morgan takes things even further in ‘Chuck vs. the Frosted Tips’ when he gets a douchey new haircut, acts like a prima donna, and dumps his girlfriend Alex by text message.

General Beckman (Is she still a general? I thought she’d been ousted) hires the Carmichael team for an off-the-books mission to capture a man named Zorn, whose Wikileaks-like web site has been spilling the beans on government secrets. If successful, this promises a big payday and more contract work in the future. Unfortunately, Morgan steals the ZIP drive containing the mission details and gives it to Verbanski. When Chuck and the team discover his duplicity, they break into Verbanski headquarters. This leads to a confrontation between Chuck and Morgan, where Chuck outwits Morgan’s fancy Intersect programming with a good old-fashioned 7th grade pantsing.

Later, Chuck learns that Beckman never gave him the Intersect glasses in the first place. They were planted by Decker and programmed with a Trojan Horse virus in an attempt to mess with Chuck. Morgan just got caught up in the middle of all this. This plot twist makes basically no sense at all. Why would Decker allow Chuck to have any Intersect (even a malfunctioning one)? It’s in Decker’s interest to make sure that Chuck doesn’t have an Intersect.

Team Bartowski and Verbanski’s squad all show up at the same helipad to nab Zorn. Sarah and Gertrude catfight for the man while Chuck unlocks Morgan’s memories with stories from growing up together. Eventually, Morgan comes to his senses and apologizes for being such an asshole. The Verbanskis and the Bartowskis agree to split the bounty. Just when it looks like everything is getting back to normal, Chuck learns that Decker has issued a kill order on Morgan after he’d blabbed about his Intersect identity to anyone who’d listen.

Meanwhile, in civilian life, Awesome doesn’t take too well to being a stay-at-home dad while Ellie works. Bored out of his mind, he heads to the Buy More and winds up giving Jeff a check-up. His simple advice to stop sleeping in his van and breathing gas fumes leads to a dramatic overnight turnaround where Jeff gets totally cleaned up and no longer behaves like an idiot. Something tells me that’s not going to last.

All in all, there are some good things in this episode. Casey’s flirting with Verbanski is entertaining, and watching Morgan teach a martial arts class is very funny. (The scene even includes a goofy ‘Matrix’ reference.) However, I feel really let down that the Morgan storyline was resolved so quickly and so easily. It feels like the show’s writers, despite knowing the definitive season length in advance, are right back to throwing the episode plots together in seat-of-their-pants fashion.

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