Chuck and Sarah discover who is behind a plot to take down their company. A computer virus creates havoc as the Buy More prepares for Christmas. Ellie tries to make Christmas plans for everybody.
Chuck airs Friday nights at 8:00 on NBC.
You know, if you take the episode on its own, away from any context of the season, it’s actually even better than the three and a half bullets I’m giving it. On its own, it has just about everything you could want from an episode of Chuck: real danger, Chuck using his mind and his fists to save the day, and Stan Lee. And more General Beckman is always welcome. Sure, the way Chuck breaks in to Decker’s office is a bit on the cheesy side, but I’ll let that slide given how dark the rest of the episode was.
But the episode doesn’t stand alone, which is problematic. First of all, this is the way the Omen virus should have been shown from the start. It makes sense. The scenes with billboards crashing all over the world in previous episodes did a huge injustice to this storyline, so much so that it was almost hard to look past it when it was handled well in this episode.
The explanation behind the Omen was perfect, and addressed all my complaints about it. Shaw was behind it all from the start, so my issues with how he was released from prison were settled. It also explained why Decker laughed in the last season finale when Chuck mentioned his dad, given that Shaw killed Orion.
Unfortunately, the revelation of Shaw as the man behind everything doesn’t gel with what we were told at the aforementioned end of last season. Decker tells Chuck that nothing that has happened to him has been a coincidence, and specifically mentions Chuck getting the Intersect as being one of those things. That happened well before Shaw was ever on the show. So while Shaw as the man behind the conspiracy works in this episode, it doesn’t really work overall.
The only way to justify this explanation, then, is to assume that someone is pulling Shaw’s strings, but he just doesn’t know it. Either that, or Shaw has an accomplice. This would actually work out well, really, assuming it comes to fruition. It also means we could see Shaw again somewhere down the line.
At this point, my best (and most hopeful) guess would be Jill, Chuck’s ex-girlfriend and MIA member of the Ring. On one hand, I just really want to see her return. On the other hand, she has been involved in Chuck’s life since before he got the Intersect, so if anyone had the ability to manipulate Chuck from the start, it was her.
Back to the episode at hand, I felt like the return of Shaw was handled well. Sure, he was way more unhinged than he’d ever been before, but he’d also spent the last two years in jail, so I’ll allow it. He was a very real threat to the team. He shot Casey! Not that I expected any of them to die, but he definitely stuck it to them in a way we haven’t seen. I just hope we see some consequences. As it is, Sarah seemed to recover a bit too quickly at the end of the episode.
And speaking of Sarah and the end of the episode (you just knew I wouldn’t be able to let this one sit), let’s talk about what we’re supposedly getting next week. We get to meet Sarah’s mom. We get to meet her first handler. Oh, and there’s a baby. It’s suggested that the baby is Sarah’s, but I’m willing to bet a lot of money that the child isn’t actually hers. My guess (and hope) is that it’s a child she saved on a mission, one that she then needed to hide, so she gave the kid to her mom to take care of. Then she severed all contact with her mother so that no one would be able to find the baby. This is the story that makes the most sense, because it gives her a reason to keep all of this a secret from Chuck. She really can’t tell Chuck or he’ll want to do something about it, which would only endanger the child. It’s not like this is something Chuck would just leave alone.
The main problem is that Shaw knows about the kid. It’s implied at the end of this episode that Sarah told Shaw about him, which I find extremely questionable. The idea that she would tell Shaw anything that she wouldn’t tell Chuck is a hard pill to swallow for a number of reasons. We could guess that Shaw flashed on the information, but that would raise the question of why Chuck never did. The explanation that would make the most sense is if Shaw simply dug around and found all of this out on his own. It makes sense and doesn’t discredit any of the characters.
Do I think that’s what we’ll get? Well, if I’ve learned anything from the rollercoaster of quality that is Chuck, it’s that hope springs eternal.
Kyle Garret is the author of I Pray Hardest When I’m Being Shot At, available now from Hellgate Press. His short fiction has been published in the Ginosko Literary Journal, Literary Town Hall, Children, Churches, & Daddies and Falling Into Place. He writes comic book reviews here at Comic Bulletin and blogs for PopMatters. He can be found at KyleGarret.com and on Twitter as @kylegarret.