A locked-door murder mystery on “Chuck”? One with a couple of Dungeons & Dragons references and, in the B-story, an abundance of poop jokes? Why yes, thanks.
“Chuck vs. the Muuurder” gave our hero a classic, Agatha Christie-style murder to solve, and while that played out more or less how all such stories play out, the show left lots of room in between plot points for a strong episode about Chuck being the leader of Project Intersect and all the very Chuck-like ways he handles that.
The murder mystery is occasioned by Beckman’s turning over the Intersect project to Chuck after Bentley’s epic fail with the two Gretas last week. Tasked to find potential new Intersect candidates, he comes up with four people — including Brody, who’s pretty much a carbon copy of Chuck himself, right down to the black Chuck Taylors. (Nice little in-joke with the character name, by the way, since Chuck can trace at least some of his DNA to a previous Josh Schwartz geek-hero, “The O.C.’s” Seth Cohen — played by one Adam Brody.)
Alas, Brody is not long for this world, as he becomes the first muuurder victim. Sorry, Brodster. The important bit, though, isn’t whodunit (Damien, the too-long-in-the-desert recruit), or even necessarily who hired him (Vivian Volkoff!). OK, maybe that’s pretty important, and we’ll get to that in a minute. But the biggest thing to come out of the episode was a reinforcement — a necessary one, after the events of the last couple episodes — of the idea that the Intersect isn’t “just the computer, or the man. The Intersect is all of us, the three of us, working together.”
When Chuck is his usual nervous self (an experience, Morgan tells us, rooted in a failed D&D adventure) at the start of the murder ordeal, Sarah and Casey are there to help him find his spine (and Sarah’s there to hold Casey back every time fake-British Intersect recruit Louis insults him). After Chuck deduces the killer’s identity, they’re there to back him up. And when Chuck gloats a little too much to Bentley about how his style is just as effective as hers (and about how his pocket protector hotwired the Intersect room’s blast-proof door), Sarah’s there to remind him to gloat later, after they’re clear of the bomb that’s about to go off.
And so, about who hired Damien: We knew Chuck would be hearing from the Volkoff family again before the season was out, but we were pleasantly surprised that it came so soon, and that Vivian has really become her father’s daughter. Whatever Volkoff was paying his lawyer, he’s getting his money’s worth.
In most other episodes, that would have been the big revelation, but tonight it’s No. 2 at best, thanks to Steven Bartowski’s computer waking up on its own, scanning Ellie while she sleeps and flashing “Agent X Files” on the screen (which is both a really cool way to end an episode and, you know, an “X-Files” wink). Ellie has essentially cracked the “what” of her dad’s work — implanting knowledge in the brain without it having to be learned — but doesn’t know the “why” yet; we don’t quite know where that’s headed (although the spy world is a safe bet), but we’re really, really curious to see.
Upstairs at the Buy More, meanwhile, Morgan’s story ran parallel to Chuck’s, albeit with far, far lower stakes and much more potty humor (my favorite: Lester saying, “They’d rather look at a little pig than a grown man with a big, green and yellow BM on his chest”). He too faces a crisis of leadership after Large Mart (when was the last time we saw or even heard of those guys?) kidnaps Big Mike. Turns out Jeff and Lester have pilfered Large Mart’s mascot, teacup pig Kevin Bacon.
Except … Morgan doesn’t really do much, other than fume at Jeff and Lester. Big Mike frees himself, and Large Mart puts a big, flaming BM at the Buy More’s doorstep. But no matter: It was an amusing diversion from the main story, and tonight that was enough.
What did you think of this week’s “Chuck”?