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TV Review: Chuck – “Chuck Versus the Bearded Bandit”

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In this week’s Chuck episode, “Chuck Versus the Bearded Bandit,” Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) suggests that Chuck (Zachary Levi) be Morgan’s (Joshua Gomez) handler. This is easier said than done, as Morgan begins to feel unfairly sidelined. Morgan’s behavior becomes more erratic when the team’s latest client, Karl Sneijder (Jeff Fahey, Lost), is revealed to be a bad guy, intent on killing his brother, Wesley (Justin Hartley, Smallville), whom he asks the team to “rescue.” With Chuck unable to control Morgan, Sarah calls a competitor, Gertrude Verbanski (Carrie-Anne Moss, The Matrix), to help.

What makes a hero? This is a question that Chuck ponders quite a bit over the years. Chuck begins the series as a geeky tech nerd, and slowly grows into a super spy. He remains a hero even after losing the Intersect computer from his head. Morgan, on the other hand, is clearly not a hero, even though he tries to act as one, just because he now has the Intersect’s physical skills. Since they can both do the same things, why is one a hero, and one is not? What sets Chuck above not only Morgan, but virtually everyone else in his world?

The difference in temperament between the two guys is the most likely avenue to explore to understand the distinction. Chuck is a genuinely good guy, more concerned with others than himself, and cool headed enough to take advice from his friends. Morgan is much more impulsive. He isn’t bad, but he is normal, in his compassion for others. He doesn’t have the same selfless qualities, nor the wisdom to use his powers in the way that he needs to best benefit everyone. In short, Morgan is a perfectly decent man, but he doesn’t have the extra “it” factor that elevates Chuck. It’s too bad that Morgan can’t see that, while Chuck’s personality does resemble those of comic book superheros, his own does not.

Of course, it is obvious that Morgan is suffering from more than just his own flaws. Throughout “Chuck Versus the Bearded Bandit,” Morgan, a self-proclaimed geek, misses references to Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and shows a lack of appreciation for Die Hard. This is very unusual for Morgan, as all of these movies are right up his alley, and he has been known to worship them in the past. Plus, he isn’t as willing to listen to Chuck as usual.  Are these signs of a larger change, or is he just suffering memory loss? Is there some damage to the Intersect? Might the design of the program be tailored to certain people, or just specifically Chuck? Any of that could potentially be very bad.

Bottom line, no matter what is causing Morgan to act like this, whether it’s his own fault or not, or more likely, somewhere in the middle, this means danger and risk for the team. When word gets out that Morgan has the Intersect, and it certainly will when he behaves so recklessly, all manner of bad guys will come after him. Even when Chuck is careful, he faces villains, and Morgan is not being nearly so cautious. To get to Morgan, they will come through his loved ones, endangering everyone around him. So the implications of his actions and what he is experiencing are great and not good.

At the end of “Chuck Versus the Bearded Bandit,” Morgan approaches Verbanski about a job opening with her security company. Can she handle him better than his friends? There will certainly be less emotion involved, allowing for more objective decision making. Also, Verbanski can afford to have a substantial team around Morgan, forcing him to behave, and reigning him in physically when necessary. Carmichael Industries just does not have those kinds of resources. Most likely, Verbanski will send Morgan out on easy assignments, making him believe he is valuable, while all the time milking his Intersect for precious information.

The ultimate determining factor on how Morgan is treated, now that his secret is out to at least one woman besides the central characters, is what type of person Verbanski is. She is a love interest for Casey (Adam Baldwin), who previously had a sexual relationship with her. Their attraction could be an opposites thing, where Casey is turned on by having sex with evil, something he shouldn’t do. Or she could be a genuinely good person, and Casey just doesn’t want commitment or to be tied down.His attempts to gather courage to ask her out imply the latter, and that he is a chicken in these matters, meaning that Morgan might be perfectly safe in her hands. Safe, but probably still used.

On a bigger scale, will Verbanski mean the end of Carmichael Industries, a larger competitor shutting out the small fry? Or could Verbanski absorb Chuck’s motley crew, offering them real employment. If she isn’t bad, what would be the harm in considering working for her, rather than trying to run their own crew? True, she would have power and decision making over Chuck, Sarah, and Casey. But again, if she isn’t up to no good, why would that matter? She also has resources, which they need.

The plan to use the Buy More to finance Carmichael Industries is not going well, at least as of “Chuck Versus the Bearded Bandit.” Business is down. Chuck asks Big Mike (Mark Christopher Lawrence) for help, since he ran the store for so long. Big Mike, in turn, goes to Captain Awesome (Ryan McPartlin). Awesome makes a great spokesperson, attracting all sorts of clientele as the new face of the store. But will this save be temporary, or will the increased business sustain for a decent period of time?

Don’t miss the final season of Chuck, Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com