Friday, December 28, 2007

Season 1 Episode 10
“Chuck Versus the Nemesis”
Written by Chris Fedak
Directed by Allison Liddi Brown

“It’s looking like a limb torn off,
Or altogether just taken apart.
We’re reeling through an endless fall.
We are the ever-living ghost of what once was.”
-- Band of Horses
“No One’s Gonna Love You”

Just to establish this up front, that wasn’t a clone or a look-alike we saw in the previous episode’s cliffhanger: that apparently was the real Bryce Larkin.
Which leads us into this great installment, which not only allows the Buy More subplot (involving the post-Thanksgiving consumer rush of Black Friday) to merge nearly seamlessly with the main Bryce plot, but also incorporates Thanksgiving season madness—and the Morgan-Anna thing—into the mix.

So apparently, Bryce wasn’t rogue CIA at all, but had actually been roped in by Fulcrum, an agency inside the CIA, that is working against it from within. Bryce was resuscitated by Fulcrum only so that they could get access to the Intersect, which Bryce made them believe was inside his head, so they kept him alive in that capsule. But the capsule was intercepted and now, Bryce wants to come in from the cold, but he doesn’t know who he can trust.
So he reaches out, first to Chuck, then to Sarah, and when Chuck flashes, thanx to the Intersect, it seems Bryce’s story checks out. But this, only after, a) Chuck sees Bryce and Sarah kiss, in his bedroom, and b) Casey shoots Bryce again.
Thankfully, Bryce is wearing a bullet-proof vest. (This scene, plus Bryce and Chuck’s geeky knowledge of Klingon, plus shop protocol pertaining to unforeseen disasters like earthquakes and the like, will set up events at the climactic face off at the Buy More.)

So, to help Bryce turn himself in, and to ensure that the CIA agents Bryce does turn himself in to aren’t Fulcrum, the exchange goes down in a very public place, with hordes of civilians around: at the Buy More, during Black Friday. Of course, things don’t quite go as planned, and a Pineapple Situation goes into effect, forcing a mass evacuation—and an apoplectic fit from Big Mike.
This does however, clear the store for the great showdown between Fulcrum operatives and the goodies, and in a great scene, Chuck sees the Dynamic Duo of Bryce and Sarah in high-flying, a$$-kicking action. (As an aside, this episode has some of the best action sequences since the Pilot.)
And when the NSA cleaners arrive, there’s even a cover story of a gas leak, to give them enough time to clear up the damage—and bullet holes—within.

After an off-screen debriefing, Bryce gets his new assignment: deep cover, off-the-radar stuff, as he sets off to infiltrate and take down Fulcrum. There’s some loaded goodbyes, and a cryptic “We’ll always have Omaha,” from Bryce to Sarah.
As it turns out—when Chuck asks Casey what that was all about—the Omaha thing was Bryce reaching out to Sarah, giving her a chance to join him, if she wanted. (At least according to Casey, because, tellingly, the military operation Chuck was deemed a prime candidate for, was codenamed “The Omaha Project.”)
The final scene, played out to Band of Horses’ “No One’s Gonna Love You,“ sees Sarah at her place, passport and gun on the bed, while the landline rings (it’s Bryce) even as her cell does (it’s Chuck), and she stands, staring at Chuck’s pic on her cell, indecisive, a great cliffhanger to a great episode.

There’s a bunch of fantastic stuff in this one, from Big Mike spazzing out over Black Friday to geek knowledge saving the day to how the subplot converges with the main plot—unlike some previous installments where the subplot seemed extraneous and peripheral—to how the character relationships are once more the sturdy backbone of this show.
And that aspect is ably supported by some solid performances from principals Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski, and guest star Matthew Bomer. These three convey the complicated relationships between Chuck, Bryce, and Sarah, in the limited running time of a 40+ minute TV show—one hour with commercials—all the while shooting at or getting shot at, by the baddies; none too easy, that.

And though there isn’t—as I’d hoped—an intense sit-down as Bryce and Chuck hash out what the hell happened to them, there’s a lot of emotion flying about here, from Bryce hearing how he ruined Chuck’s life (from Morgan) to Bryce telling Chuck “I’ve got one friend; you’ve got a house and a store full of them.” And of course, there’s the Bryce and Sarah thing, which clearly tears Chuck apart to glimpse.
So, even if Bryce does end up off-the-radar for the time being (which seems to be the case), there’s still a lot of unresolved issues there, and I’m hoping we get back to that, as well as more of the Stanford years, in upcoming episodes.
As soon as the strike is resolved, that is.

“But someone,
They could have warned you.
When things start splitting at the seams, and now
The whole thing’s tumbling down.
Things start splitting at the seams, and now
If things start splitting at the seams, and now,
It’s tumbling down,
-- Band of Horses
“No One’s Gonna Love You”

(Images courtesy of; Cease To Begin album sleeve art courtesy of

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