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"We'll Always Have Omaha": Bryce Larkin Returns on "Chuck"

Come on, you didn't really think they'd kill off the resurrected Bryce Larkin, did you?

Last night brought us another great episode of Chuck, a series which has managed to get consistently better each week while slowly building a mythology of its own. It's a good thing then that NBC decided to order a full season of Chuck for the remainder of the 2007-08 season, huh?

In last night's installment of Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Nemesis"), written by series co-creator Chris Fedak, we finally got to see what we've all been waiting for: the return to the land of the living of Chuck's former nemesis, Bryce Larkin (Matthew Bomer), the man who destroyed his life, got him kicked out of Stanford, and, you know, got to bed the woman Chuck is currently cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs about.

To me, Chuck works most effectively when it seamlessly blends the spy action of Chuck's secret life with the over-the-top intrigues at the Buy More. This came together beautifully in last night's Black Friday-themed episode, wherein the CIA handover of Bryce matched up nicely against the chaos of the biggest shopping day of the year. Under Fedak's pen, each of the characters--including our troika of spies, Captain Awesome and Ellie, and the fantastically sparky duo of Morgan and Anna--came to life in interesting and unexpected ways. Who would have thought that a Thanksgiving dinner could be so rife with sexual tension, romantic estrangement, jealousy, and homoeroticism (courtesy of a bizarre undercurrent of recurrent inappropriateness from Devon)?

Turns out that Bryce Larkin wasn't quite the evil genius he initially appeared in the pilot episode, though I am still not sure how one of the European clinics managed to bring him back to life after receiving a gunshot wound at the hands of the trigger-happy Agent Casey. Still, last night's episode went a long way to establishing Bryce as a good guy, a glimpse of which we caught in the "Chuck Versus the Alma Mater" episode, in which Bryce "ruined" Chuck's life in attempting to save him from the clutches of the CIA. It was only fitting then that Bryce saw the results of his handiwork: a rudderless Chuck, working at the Buy More, still living with his sister. (The best laid plans, as they say.)

Still, it's clear that Bryce isn't a rogue CIA agent but one who became embroiled in a clandestine rogue faction within the intelligence agency out to destroy the Intersect... and humble the US intelligence network? That part I'm not 100% clear on but I am hoping that last night wasn't the last time we see the maliciously icy Tommy, who proved in his few on-screen minutes to be a worthy adversary for our gang of spies.

Not sure where Bryce got the tux from while at the Buy More but it made for a nice debonair visual, especially standing next to Chuck in his Nerd Herd short sleeves. I like the idea of Bryce going under deep cover to infiltrate and take down Fulcrum and hope that the secret inner organization provides a framework for the second half of the season. After all, we've only just gotten to know Bryce (and he does make a pretty nifty team with Sarah), so I am not quite ready for him to drive off into the sunset.

As for Sarah, it's clear that she still has unresolved feelings for Bryce, who has moves like James Bond (albeit with better hair). In the spy game, it's always best to leave romance at the door but imagine the predicament you'd be in if your murdered lover came back to life and tracked down the guy whose live he ruined in college but whom you've been assigned to protect with your life. So, yeah, it's safe to say she's completely confused about what to do: does she stay on assignment and lose the guy she loves, possibly all over again? Or does she go off-mission and join up with Bryce? My nerves were as jangled as those two ringing phones Sarah was faced with at the end of last night's episode watching her try to decide whose call to answer. (My guess: she answers neither.)

Is it wrong that I've come to like Morgan through his twisted relationship with the Nerd Herd's lone female employee Anna? While Chuck's doofus sidekick did irk more than a little the first few episodes, he seems to have been toned down slightly and last night's episode--particularly the Thanksgiving dinner love "triangle" scene gave him a better chance to shine, snared between his love for two very different women. And Anna is a hysterical addition to the Bartowski crew, bringing her own brand of fiery Korean spice (much like her bean casserole) to the proceedings. Let's just hope she sticks around for the long haul.

Loved the fact that Casey tried to assure Chuck that, if Sarah does follow Bryce, they'll get him a new girl. Classic John Casey. What else did I like? The fantastic payoff of Chuck and Bryce's Klingon linguistic skills during the standoff at the Buy More, Morgan's near-orgasmic intake of Ellie's marshmallow-laden sweet potatoes, the scene in the elevator between Tommy and Bryce, the casual way Chuck told Casey about Bryce and Sarah kissing, and the hilarious whitewater-rafting conversation between Casey and Devon. ("Two words: water sports.")

All in all, a fantastic installment that build on the highs of the previous weeks' episodes and made me anxious for another Chuck fix fast.

Next week on Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Crown Vic"), Chuck realizes that Sarah still has feelings for Bryce and reluctantly poses as her husband in order to foil a counterfeiter; meanwhile, their involvement in the case puts Morgan and Anna in jeopardy.

Comments

The CineManiac said…
PINAPPLE!
I loved the episode, and wished I hadn't erased it to make space for more tv, so I could watch it again.
Every week I look more and more forward to the next week.
Chuck is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows on TV (I think last night might have moved it into the top 5!)
The CineManiac said…
Apparently I don't know how to spell.
Pineapple!!!
Anonymous said…
Great episode! This show got off to a rocky start (the pilot was great but the couple of eps after weren't as strong) but it's finally hit its stride. It was fun to see Bryce in action with Sarah and poor Chuck once again on the outside. And they should definitely keep Anna in the picture as that storyline finally gives Morgan something to do other than bother Chuck and Ellie. I really liked that creepy Tommy guy too!
Unknown said…
one word: awesome
Anonymous said…
Awesome episode! I am happy that NBC is giving this show a chance and picking it up for the whole season. Pineapple!
Anonymous said…
Great ep - this show has definitly hit its stride after a decent, but underwhelming start.
Unknown said…
So glad they picked up the back nine! Chuck is surprisingly one of my favs this year--if not my top fav (until Battlestar Galactica comes back, of course).

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