After an emotionally heavy episode last week, this week was the exact opposite. With Scott Rosenbaum's last Chuck script (he moved onto V as showrunner) and Zac's directorial debut (congrats!), we are finally given what some people have been clamoring for this whole season: a light hearted episode with laughs. That's not to say there weren't touching moments but overall "The Beard"ÃâÃÂ can be described in one word: fun.
Before I go into detail, let me start off by saying I wasn't all over this episode's jock like some people were. It was solid but nothing was beyond amazing. Perhaps I prefer the emotional and relational aspects over the Buy More antics? Or perhaps there was just too much hype? For me there was nothing as epic as some of the scenes we saw in the final stretches of Season 2. (I mean that all-out gunfight scene in "First Kill" to "We're Not Gonna Take It" = E.P.I.C.) However, this was an all-around great episode but it doesn't knock out my previous favorites.
The main focus of the show is Chuck's secret with the most integral aspects as hiding it from those in his personal life. Throughout the series Chuck has tried to balance his two worlds. Often the success of one, usually the spy world, means disappointment in the other, such as not making dinners or trashing your BFF in front of a crowd. Since the end of Season 2 we have seen the two worlds colliding, to the happiness of some and the chagrin of others (can I get a grunt?).
In this episode the worlds mix even further when someone finds out Chuck's secret. "The Beard" gives us what many have been waiting for: someone close to Chuck finding out his secret. Now before you get in a tizzy, yes I realize Awesome knows (I do watch the show) but I argue that his discovery wasn't as big of a deal. One, it wasn't marketed as such. I mean we ALL remember the promos for "Colonel," - and who didn't watch them 3,000 times? Secondly, Devon isn't as crucial to Chuck's life as Morgan or Ellie. I mean sure he is important because he is with Ellie, but not on the same playing field as the other two.
Morgan being selected to finally be in on the secret made me very happy. Even though many of us knew it was coming (I knew for a while as Joshua Gomez hinted that this episode was his favorite for a reason), it did not take away from its greatness. The scenario happened exactly how I wanted it to and it was played perfectly by Joshua Gomez. Whereas Ellie would have possibly freaked out and felt betrayed, Morgan took the news as Charlie did when he discovered his Golden Ticket (sorry only analogy coming to me now- I think I want dessert). Morgan is the perfect guy to know Chuck's secret as he can cover for Chuck way better than Awesome could and he actually knows him. The heart-to-heart was one of best parts of the episode (especially the "You never had sex!" Yes Morgan and that'd be your fault btw) and Morgan to me is the final key to Chuck's integration of his spy self with his old self (and to getting Sarah back). One interesting point to be made is that Morgan actually knows that Chuck is the Intersect and not only a spy, the extent of Awesome's knowledge. How this comes into play I don't know but I will say this, Morgan can handle it.
Morgan rose to the occasion in this episode and as he said it was time to be a hero. I'm proud of our furry friend and amazed at his growth. Morgan is no longer the goofy, annoying friend of Chuck we knew in Season 1. His character has grown into someone we see as fiercely loyal and more of an equal in the Chuck/Morgan bromance. I'm not alone when I say that Morgan's character has been top notch this season and I couldn't be happier. Joshua Gomez also deserves major props for playing Morgan so well and so funny, especially in this episode. I mean even when in the background during Chuck and Shaw's talk you could see him doing kung fu moves and push-ups against the wall. Don't worry Morgan, I'm sure you'll have your chance.
Besides Morgan discovering Chuck's secret this episode contained another thing many have waiting a long time for: the return of Jeffster. Need I say more? Honestly? I'm fairly certain most people would be happy if they appeared every other episode but I'm fine with getting them as a treat every so often. The Buy More scenes were great and had laugh out loud lines. In general the Buy More-centric episode served to give relief from the darker storyline and the relationship drama.
Whereas the last episode was heavy with a few laughs, this episode was mostly laughs with a few emotional scenes. The beginning scene itself had an exchange between Chuck and Sarah in which she says "you can always talk to us," AKA you can talk to me Chuck (and great expressions by Yvonne here, aces as usual). It is clear that Sarah is trying to reach out to him and I think misses what she and Chuck used to have. I have to ask after this scene, what are Chuck and Sarah? Are the friends, partners, complicated? I don't know and honestly I don't think they do either. They obviously still care for each other as both showed in this episode. I might be in the minority but I liked how the "give Chuck five more minutes," played out. Yes I would have loved to see Sarah slap Shaw and do whatever needed to stop him, but this reminded me of Sarah's reaction to thinking Chuck blew up in the car in "Best Friend." Here you can imagine what her actions would be, but you don't necessarily get to see them. In this case you as the viewer have to meet the writers halfway.
In sum, this episode was a great episode. It wasn't perfect for me as I would have liked to see the consequences of "Fake Name"(I have a feeling they were just postponed), and although it was nice to have everyone in the episode, I felt that the Devon/Ellie storyline seemed a little weak. However, when you have that little to complain about you know something must be going right.
Some final thoughts:
I found I missed the quirky, bad guy character that we've seen all season long. Jethro (Diedrich Bader played him in "Beverly Hill Billies") was no Vincent aka the Mummy or even our two lovable romance-talking gangsters.
Hero of the day: Yes, Casey is a badass. He even uttered the most Casey line in this episode (you know what it is) but I have to give the prize to Jeff. Yes, Jeff. He took a guy out with his chloroform, probably right after "getting right."
This was the first episode I truly noticed Routh or Shaw's lack of acting skills, and yes I know I'm late to the party. I mean the same tone was used for "you're benched" as with "you need to think like a spy." It was painful watching Pinocchio but he and Sarah make a beautiful couple, don't they? (Sorry I couldn't help myself. We all know Zac is hotter. I mean just look at him in that Ustream screenshot!)
Lester was gifted by the music deities themselves, I mean that boy can serenade me anytime he wants. Okay, I may be a little biased because I just love Vic but honestly his singing was better than some of the stuff I've watched on "Idol"this season (yes, I watch that show, no need to judge).
Are the Awesomes heading off to Africa? The show is either setting it up for Devon and Ellie to make an explained exit for a bit or setting up for something bigger. I suppose we just have to wait and see. Ughh I hate waiting.
Who was Casey talking to at the end? Obviously it's the Ring but who from Casey's past would be associated with them? I mean the guy would rather hang out with the Buy More goons that be seen with a terrorist.
Shaw told the team that the Ring's communications were down so none of their intel was given to the Ring's leaders. However, we heard the bad guys say that the data was sent to headquarters so where does that leave us? Did Shaw just assume incorrectly or will this be something that comes into play later?
Best Line: "Bag 'em and tag 'em Sarah. Excuse me. Agent Walker." And then a wink! I love Morgan.
Close 2nd: "Chan Min Chi, dammit!" I mean the guy was quizzing himself with flashcards, and failing miserably. I laughed.
Once again I feel the slow build up with each new episode and though there have been tiny explosions along the way, you can bet each episode will get bigger than the previous one. I'm excited to have what seems to be the old Chuck back and the possibilities now that Morgan knows. Not going to lie, I'm sort of hoping for a Morgan and Sarah chat. Don't know how likely it is but I want it. Next week it looks like we also get some action again (something else I've missed) and it seems finally that Sarah is once again is bagging and tagging 'em rather than a passive bystander- a complaint I know many have had. It is safe to say we are entering the "full steam ahead" period similar to the last few episode of last season. It is also safe to say that if they are anything like those episodes we are in for a great ride.
What did you all think? Love it, hate it or in the middle?