“Chuck” Recap: Chuck Versus the Alma Mater

Chuck would rather “get hit in the Produce section” than go back to Stanford University, again. And it has nothing to do with the $294.68 he owes in late fees for a book he’s still sitting on, from the Stanford library.

Stanford is where Chuck went from potential to peril as his best friend, Bryce, stole his girlfriend and set him up, ultimately leading to his expulsion.

After getting weekly hints at what Bryce did to Chuck, we finally find out why Chuck was kicked out of Stanford. Deception. Crossbows. And the Dewey Decimal system. Oh yes. All of the essential components for an edge-of-your seat hour of television.

The episode opens present day with Professor Fleming lecturing on imagery and subliminal memory. But the appearance of a large individual at the back of his classroom cuts the lecture short and sends Fleming into flight-mode — nothing subliminal about this — as he gathers his paperwork, phones in a distress message to the CIA, and attempts to shave while driving. Well, two out of three, at least.

When the CIA informs Team Chuck of Fleming’s involvement and current MIA status, Chuck wants nothing to do with the mission. Fleming kicked Chuck out of school prior to graduation, after Bryce turned Chuck in to Fleming for cheating.

But while cleansing his apartment of all things Stanford, he flashes on his own student I.D. and has a change of heart once he realizes the CIA had a file on him while still in school.

Sarah and Casey appear to be in the dark, and know nearly as much as Chuck. What they do know, though, is that an Icelandic spy is the one who is after Fleming and that the spy has a predilection for crossbows. But who doesn’t?

Casey, via the DMV, tracks down the missing professor in L.A. While they’re casing his joint, Chuck intercepts Fleming. Fleming assumes that Chuck is now a CIA member, and gives him some sound advice. Next time, instead of scaring a person by running up to them, if you’re in a dangerous situation, simply say, “Are you coming to the Toga party?”

No toga party for Fleming, who gets harpooned by the Icelandic spy, who then runs off with a letter/number combo that is meant for the deceased Bryce.

Chuck has a flashback to ’03, when he and Bryce were running through the library, tracking each other with play guns. Chuck, who has Bryce cornered, yells “I know you’re out of ammo. I’ve been counting.” We get a glimpse at Chuck prior to his life’s turn to turmoil, who seemingly had potential in the CIA, himself. But Bryce surprises him with hidden ammo from a book, and shoots Chuck. Game over.

And suddenly, Chuck realizes the number/letter combo that Fleming was carrying, was a call letter to a book in the library. Dewey Decimal to the rescue! My elementary school librarian, Mrs. Brown, would be so happy.

Like it or not, Chuck is forced to return to his old stomping grounds. They find the CD that Fleming has hidden at the same location Bryce and Chuck played CIA years prior. But Magnus the Icelandic spy has friends, and they’ve all found Team Chuck. Casey and Sarah cause a diversion, which allows Chuck to sneak into another classroom where he brings up the file containing the names and interviews of all of the other kids who were recruited for the CIA. He sees his name on the list.

Chuck quickly places calls to all active students on the file, and invites them to the Toga party. Student after student, the cavalry forms and save Team Chuck from the Icelandic spies.

By the end, Chuck finally gets to watch his file and we learn what we were able to deduce a while ago — that Bryce’s actions were not for malicious reasons. The CIA had wanted to recruit Chuck for the military’s “Omaha Project.” Don’t know what this is, but I’m sure we’ll find out some time after the Writer’s Strike. He scored 98% on the subliminal image portion of the exam, masquerading as a mid-term, which meant he was able to retain more than most people. Bryce pleads with Fleming not to bring Chuck aboard, saying he’s a good person with too much heart … and therefore no chance that he’d be able to survive.

Now we know why Bryce and Fleming worked together to kick Chuck out of Stanford, and why Bryce sent the intercept to Chuck.

What we don’t know, is if Chuck paid off his debt before the end of the episode … or if it’s $294.68 and counting.

This, That, and The Other Things:

  • The “B” story had Harry Tang drunk with power and the Buy More crew planning a revolt to dethrone power hungry Harry. Week after week, the secondary characters are getting better and better. I loved Harry’s confrontation with Morgan as he tells him, “I’m gonna be the one who breaks you, Grimes. You know why? Because you’re soft. Like pudding.”
  • We learn that Morgan once sang Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love” to Ellie at a karaoke bar. And that it completely ruined Karate Kid Part II for her.
  • Casey lines that made me laugh:
    “Aw, you wanna save our environment, huh? Take a shower, hippie.” — Later on, we find out that the hippie is one of the CIA students there.
    “Sorry. Couldn’t wipe the idiot grin off the face with Photoshop.” — Casey’s remark after re-activating Chuck’s student I.D.
  • Favorite Chuck line: “Nice job blending in with the crowd. Who are you rooting for — Death?” — Chuck to Casey when Casey shows up to Homecoming dressed in all shades of black.
  • And for anyone keeping count, the answer is 2. The question? How many times have we gotten a Hall & Oates song in an episode of Chuck? First it was “Private Eyes” and now it’s “Maneater.” This means it’s only a matter of time before we get “Sarah Smile” over a Chuck and Sarah scene. The countdown is on!