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Orion's Belt: Chuck Evades Predators, Becomes Prey on "Chuck"

Oh, Chuck, you didn't really think that Beckman would just let you have the Intersect taken out of your head, now did you?

On this week's fantastic episode of Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Predator"), written by series co-creator Chris Fedak, Chuck continued his search for the man codenamed Orion, the original creator of the Intersect software, so he could have the images removed from his brain and return to a normal life. A life that he hopes to share with his CIA handler Sarah Walker.

It's nice to see the overarching plot take a turn for the decidedly serialized while still maintaining the sense of fun and quirky humor that we've come to know and love from Chuck over the past two seasons. This week's installment pulled off another fantastic parallel plot between Chuck's spy life and his life at the Buy More and gave Big Mike, Morgan, Emmett, Jeff, and Lester something to do between breaking into the Buy More and retaliating against the Beverly Hills branch of Buy More, where the motto is "Helping You Spend Your Parents' Money!" (Like I said: spy-based action AND whimsy.)

I am glad that Chuck is being more blatantly open about his feelings towards Sarah and his desire for a normal relationship with his smoking hot handler, if he's able to find Orion and get the Intersect removed. But Sarah is also a federal agent and following direct orders comes with the territory, so her hands are somewhat tied when General Beckman orders to stop Chuck from his search for Orion. Which explains why she's being quite so guarded when Chuck asks her in the opening scene if Beckman has told her if they've made any progress on the search for Orion. Ah, mistrust rearing its ugly head once again. (Why else would Orion show Chuck the footage of Sarah and Beckman talking about him?)

For Chuck, locating this man is the end all, be all of his life and he represents the one shot at getting his old life back. Just what that would mean for him and Sarah remains to be seen; I think he's being slightly naive to think that there would be a future for the two of them together. It's more likely that she'd be whisked off to a new assignment the second that Chuck stopped flashing. Can they get past the distrust that has invaded their once sunny friendship? It's possible but the tension between them is clearly mounting these days.

I loved the fact that Chuck, Sarah, and Casey started this episode at the tail end of a mission that involved them posing as plumbers... and then actually had to perform plumbing work. And that Chuck has been doing more to track down Orion than making a nifty flow chart on the back of his beloved Tron poster: he's been actively looking for the Intersect creator on his own, launching a rogue mission that puts him and everyone around him in jeopardy.

Orion himself is pretty kick-ass. I loved the scene in Hong Kong when he first contacted Chuck via his computer and then used his amazing wrist computer to... teleport out of the building? Turn invisible? I'm not quite sure what Orion managed to do here--in addition to sending a Predator drone mission flying towards the building, but I'm already intrigued by this guy, who in the course of one episode has managed to become one of the most pivotal characters on the series. I also loved the fact that his voice modulator equipment seemed to be failing somewhat at the end of the episode, making it pretty darn clear that Orion is played by one Scott Bakula.

There's no way that Orion died in that helicopter explosion; he's far too clever and unpredictable to die quite that easily. The explosion does however stop the CIA/NSA from continuing to find him, allowing him to lay low until things calm down a little bit. And he did manage to get that information about the Intersect under Chuck's pillow, which took more than a little planning. (Love how the surveillance doesn't manage to see that moment nor when Chuck takes out the dossier.) Just as Orion is reaching out to Chuck with information, so too are his methods rubbing off on Chuck. I don't think we would have seen Chuck in Season One manage to conceal the flow chart... or the Intersect specs within the pages of Brian K. Vaughan's awesome comic book "Ex Machina." Could it be that they are more alike that it seems like on the surface? (Ahem.)

I haven't been the biggest fan of Bonita Friedericy's Diane Beckman thus far but I have to say that this episode really won me over. Perhaps it was the fact that the characters got to interact with Beckman in the flesh for a change, rather than via a two-way video conference call, but I liked having Beckman around; she added an additional threat layer as it became clear that she has her own agenda for keeping the Intersect inside Chuck and preventing him from locating Orion (whom she has spent the better part of three years attempting to find with a crack team of analysts).

I like that Casey and Sarah are suddenly accountable to someone standing right there in front of them rather than on East Coast: it adds a nice dimension of tension as they'll likely begin to chafe under the constant scrunity of an on-site supervisor. And, funnily enough, I am hoping that Beckman does stick around in Los Angeles for at least a little while. Given that the CIA and NSA spend a small fortune building the Castle underneath the Orange Orange, perhaps it's time that some other agents--even a boss--were installed in said secret headquarters? Plus, I also loved the fact that Chuck said what we were all thinking and made a comment about how little Beckman is, especially compared to Casey and Sarah.

And what of Beckman's intentions to make Chuck a spy? Could this be leading towards the "game-changing" season finale that creator Josh Schwartz keeps referring to? It certainly would be a major plot twist if Chuck suddenly underwent CIA training and actually became not just an analyst but an actual full-blown intelligence operative. Personally, I'd love to see him fulfill his full potential in Season Three and take his rightful place out in the field with Casey and Sarah rather than be stuck in the car every time there's a dangerous mission.

What else worked for me? The double break-in at the Buy More and the case of confused identities stemming from a mutual penchant for wearing balaclavas; the creepy Fulcrum gathering; Jeff's bathroom stall office (which is really pretty cushy); Emmett's use of pepper spray and Lester's efforts to stop tearing up; Big Mike ruffling Morgan's hair and then wiping the hair gel on Morgan's shirt; the feud between Burbank Buy More and their snooty Beverly Hills counterparts; the Fulcrum agent (guest star Arnold Vosloo) "coming back to life" and unzipping his body bag from the inside; the shout-out to The Right Stuff; Chuck leaving a clue for Sarah and Casey to find on the surveillance feed; Casey elbowing Emmett; Big Mike's "fiddle" and Emmett taking out all of the display units... accidentally; Jeff and Lester targeting their own location with a Predator missile; the Mission Impossible-style self-destructing disc.

All in all, a fantastic episode that set up what is likely to be the most dramatic and tense storyline on the series to date. I for one am completely riveted to Chuck and hope that NBC comes to their senses soon and renews this heartfelt, hilarious, and nail-biting series for another season straightaway.

Next week on Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Broken Heart"), a heartless female agent named Alex Forrest (guest star Tricia Helfer) is brought in by Beckman to evaluate Sarah's performance as Chuck's handler after he admits his complicated feelings for Sarah; Morgan, Jeff, and Lester try to weasel their way into getting invited to Awesome's bachelor party at the Buy More.

Comments

Samantha Hunter said…
I thought one of the most interesting moments was at the end, Beckman asking Casey to spy on his own, and wondering if Casey will follow orders, or if he'll find a way around them -- sorta wish Baldwin had played up a little more inner conflict there. I don't know. I hope they don't just whittle him down to being a "grunt" as his relationship with Chuck has almost, to me, been more interesting than Chuck's with Sarah.

Also wondering...and this could be a wild shot... if there is some connection between Orion and Chuck's mysteriously disappearing father. They've dropped that in from time to time, about his father taking off, and Chuck and Orion do seem to have a lot in common -- maybe an older brother? Maybe Chuck's father was a spy?

Hmmm. I didn't care for the retail subplot, and didn't Morgan move in with Anna? I must have lost something there... Still a good epi.

Sam
Jace Lacob said…
Sam, that link between Orion and Chuck's dad is EXACTLY what I was suggesting. ;)
Samantha Hunter said…
Great minds. ;)

I was trying to play out the ages... I don't think he could be his father -- but there has to be a connection... Glad I wasn't as off on a tangent as I thought, LOL.

Sam
Anonymous said…
I really like the Orion storyline and seeing Chuck take some initiative. I agree that Orion was not blown up in the helicopter and that he will reappear in Chuck's life.

And, yes, it was much more interesting to have Beckman meet up with the team in person than to see her on screen again. I hope she sticks around for a bit and look forward to her plans to make Chuck a real spy.
Anonymous said…
"Chuck" makes me actually look forward to Mondays. I, too, hope NBC wakes up to the treasure it has on its hands.

I think you hit all my fav moments -- but don't forget Casey's whimper when Beckman points out the '80's are over.
Oscar Gordon said…
Also loved the shout-out to "The Untouchables" at the end. "I do not approve of your methods....You're not from Burbank". Beautiful
Unknown said…
I loved last nights episode as much as I love Chuck as a series, but, you were tweeting that Dollhouse's twists were telegraphed and if you believe that, you have to admit that nothing unexpected happened last night, even though moments were presented as "twists"
Time Waster said…
If you like Chuck, check out the next two episodes of Josh Schwartz's new online series "Rockville CA" on TheWB.com to find out whether Deb's on the right track to bagging herself a bassist. Don’t miss the action when Chambers invites two girls to the club and they are less than impressed.
Samantha Hunter said…
re: telegraphing, have to agree. Dollhouse takes it to another level, LOL, and it's slightly more forgiveable when I like the show I'm watching. I want to like Dollhouse, but I don't.

The only gaffe I really minded in Chuck was Sarah's "No, wait! Chuck would have left us a clue." That was pretty awful.

Also thought the helicopter explosion was a pretty obvious ploy (and extremely neat -- more like they vaporized it).

Sam
Anonymous said…
CHUCK at least is funny so I don't mind some of the "telegraphing" when it happens there. Yeah some of it is obvious like Chuck leaving the clue for Sarah to find, the helicopter etc. but DOLLHOUSE takes itself way too seriously for its own good while CHUCK just has fun with it. I'd rather watch obvious plot twists on CHUCK than on DOLLHOUSE any day.
Anonymous said…
Mark me down for an 11 as well. The show just dialled everything up to the max and beyond.

Doubt if that was Orion that showed up at the meeting to begin with at the hotel. No way would someone who has eluded both the CIA and Fulcrum since 'Walker was in a training bra' show up at a meeting when there is so much 'spy' activity going on.

Another sign of beauty with this episode was that there was little relationship drama in the episode and it was not missed at all.

What was there lay in the scenes between Sarah and the General. Nicely handled.

If the remaining episodes are at this level or higher then we are in for a heckuva of a ride!
CL said…
I really loved Emmet in this episode. Especially how he kept trying to make "tough" faces at the Beverly Hills Buy More guys. Also: just how have Jeff and Lester survived in the world for this long without being killed or locked up somewhere?

I don't think I could hang with this show if it wasn't for the Buy More side of things. It's just mindless, unadulterated fun and the perfect counterpoint to all the serious spy stuff. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the spy stuff too! But years from now, I won't be able to tell you why General Beckman made a personal appearance in this episode. I'll remember that Jeff, Lester, and Morgan almost blew up a store filled with people while sitting in a bathroom stall "office". For spies come and go, but the Buy More remains eternal. Viva la Buy More!

@OldDarth

If Orion is Chuck's father, as it has been indicated, then I think he would have risked it all to see and help his son. You break the rules for family. Even when he was being taken away he tried to tell Chuck to run. That kind of selfless care and consideration is undeniable.
Anonymous said…
This episode was good, but I didn't connect emotionally with Chuck and his struggle to get the Intersect out of his head because I basically don't think he will ever get it out and it's pretty much futile. Or at least they don't give me any reason I should get behind him. They are usually so good at making care for the main characters, but not in this episode. It was pretty much like the first episode of season 2, we all knew Chuck wasn't going to be killed.

I know I'm in the minority here, but you can create cool mythology and all but if you can't sell it on an emotional level, it's pretty much useless to me. Put to much mythos in and you won't have the time to take care of those moment of intense emotions and it won't ring true.
Ally said…
Loved this ep. One of the best.

Casey's whimper has to be my favorite moment. I watched it several times.
Samantha Hunter said…
--I know I'm in the minority here, but you can create cool mythology and all but if you can't sell it on an emotional level, it's pretty much useless to me.--

I actually agree with this completely. And I think you're right on this epi -- however, we've had two seasons to emotionally engage with these characters, and for the most part, we have. One epi won't endanger that connection, as long as they don't make it a habit. I found the silly subplot more threat to emotional development more than anything else.

Sam
Anonymous said…
I agree with you Sam that it was mostly for this episode only and that they did a good job in the past. But I'm afraid that the more they will go with mythology, the more they will forget to take the time to make those dramatic scenes/reactions/moments feel true.

They already have so much stuff going on with Team B and the Buy More and sometimes Ellie and Awesome, that I'm afraid that they will forget what, for me at least, is the real strength of the show. Those little moments of drama.
Unknown said…
Fantastic ep. I, too, thought it wasn't really Orion being abducted, but he had the wrist thingie and texted Chuck, so I think it was. Still, that doesn't mean he blew up in the 'copter.

I'd like TV shows to get away from the tired plot device of an eavesdropper hearing part of a conversation and coming to the wrong conclusion. Three's Company has done that to death. It's just a matter of time before Chuck overhears: "I'm going to kill Chuck" and miss the "at chess" part because of static.

Jace, I don't agree with you that Chuck still thinks "there would be a future for the two of them together." After "Chuck vs the Suburbs,", he gave up real hope of being with Sarah. This "normal life" and relationship he keeps talking about isn't with Sarah. Well, of course, he and all the Sarah/Chuck 'shippers still have some hope, but it's not as overt as it was before.

Is it me or does Tricia Helfer seem to be everywhere these days. Not that that's a bad thing...
Anonymous said…
skst - did you see Lethal Weapon last week?

Chuck told Sarah he was in love with her. Don't know how you believe Chuck has given up hope being with Sarah.

Even Sarah believes it now.
Anonymous said…
skst - did you see Lethal Weapon last week?

Chuck told Sarah he was in love with her. Don't know how you believe Chuck has given up hope being with Sarah.

Even Sarah believes it now.
Unknown said…
OldDarth, of course I saw CvsLW last week, and yes, that's what Chuck told Sarah. However, there's a difference between having feelings for someone (which Chuck surely does for Sarah) and having hope that you'll eventually be together (which he no longer does after Chuck vs The Suburbs). Perhaps you missed that ep?
OldDarth said…
No skst I certainly saw LW quite clearly.

Not only does Chuck articulate his feelings to Sarah in LW, he is also actively pursuing the course of action he outlined Sarah.

In LW we saw the Intersect chart and in Predator we see Chuck's web search for Orion.

This is not a man hoping, this is a man with a plan.

Seems like you missed watching two episodes now.

It is no longer a hope for Chuck now but is the primary motivating force behind his quest to remove the Intersect.
Unknown said…
"Missed two episodes??" Perhaps I wasn't clear. As I said, I've seen every episode. You didn't say if you saw "Chuck vs The Suburbs" though. You can catch it on Hulu.com.

You might want to re-watch "Chuck vs The Predator," too. Chuck says to Sarah that he wants a normal life with a normal girlfriend. He did not say "with you."
OldDarth said…
I have seen every episode too. What I meant about you watching the last two episodes is that you seem to have only picked out certain pieces of them and missed others.

Chuck told Sarah at the end of Lethal Weapon he was crazy about her and when he got the Intersect out of his head, he was going to live the life he wants with the girl he loves.

Was there anyone else there with them? No. So the implication was obvious that Chuck loves Sarah. He told her in a way that required no response from Sarah and did not feel like a test. Darn clever of the Chuckster!

Cole in LW also told Chuck if you really want something never take 'No' for an answer - which Sarah heard too.

Based on your postings it seems safe to say that you do not think Chuck and Sarah will be together by the end of this season.

I am most confident in predicting they will be together because of what has transpired since the Suburbs.

We already saw Sarah's dislike of how Beckman is treating and using Chuck in Predator. Watch their bond grow in the next episode and beyond.

I look forward to comparing notes with you at the end of the season.
--Deb said…
My favorite line of the night? "Don't scream. I have a splitting headache." That just cracked me up...

Man, I love this show.
Unknown said…
I loved several lines from the show...lester commenting that they wouldn't have to buy tp for a while, jeff responding.."why start now?"

The bad guy being surprised that the fulcrum leadership asked if it was a Buy More store...and responding..."why, do you want me to pick something up for you?"

Lester being terrified that he would be caught in the store by Emmet, and that he'd be "back turning tricks in a week"...

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