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Chuck Rundown: Episode 7, "Chuck Vs. the Alma Mater"

Chuck Rundown: Episode 7, "Chuck Vs. the Alma Mater"

I was so looking forward to this episode of Chuck, the one where he'd have to return to his alma mater and face his expulsion, his dashed romance, and his memories of the roommate that betrayed him and then stuck him with a big ol' computer brain. And yet, this episode left me cold. I thought I wanted Chuck to have some big emotional backstory, but now I think I like it better when it's just plain silly. To read the rest of my take, just

This episode set up a couple of forces to draw Chuck back to Stanford: His former professor, a CIA scientist, had gone missing. Ellie and Awesome were road-tripping north for the Stanford-UCLA game. And while Chuck was throwing out his sad little box of Stanford memorabilia, he "flashed" on his own college ID. Why did the CIA have a file on Chuck before he became the Intersect? Only one way to find out. Palo Alto, ahoy!

The trouble was, the reason the CIA had a file on Chuck wasn't all that interesting — or maybe it was an interesting twist that just played out in a duller-than-necessary way. Turns out, there's a CIA recruiting network at Stanford (wha?) that wooed Bryce; they wanted Chuck, too, but Bryce didn't want Chuck caught up in that mess and conspired with the professor to plant the answer key in his room so he'd get kicked out. There were a couple of good clues in there — the section of the test that Chuck aced was on image encoding, so apparently the Intersect business is playing to his strengths — but I was expecting something more compelling. And I didn't think Bryce would get off the hook so easily; he still stole Chuck's girlfriend, but for the most part, he's coming off as a nice guy now. I hope that's not the last we've seen of him, because I still have one big question: If Bryce didn't want Chuck tangling with the CIA, why'd he send him the e-mail later?

I'm beginning to think Chuck can't win with me when it comes to the Buy More plots. Too little, and I'm complaining about the lack of comic relief and Harry Tang; too much, and I wonder why we're spending all this time with characters I don't care about. This time around, I thought the episode dwelled far too long on a not-stellar store plot — but it did have its nice touches, including Harry Tang selling out Lester for a personalized yellow polo shirt, Morgan starting an employee revolution, and Anna wooing Tang and thrilling the rest of the nerds with her feminine charms ("that's curable, by the way"). I think I just like Buy More better when Chuck's there, not when Morgan's left to carry the whole story.

A few other thoughts:

  • I would have liked some better Casey lines last night, but "Take a shower, hippie!" wasn't bad. I also liked his disgust with Chuck when he forgot the numbers ("you have a computer for a brain...")
  • Chuck's best line: "Oh what, slingshot's too ineffective?"
  • Also, Chuck was in a frat?
  • Did they really drive to Stanford, go to the game, and drive back to LA all in the same day? That's 12 hours of driving! They must have spent the night and just not shown it, right?

Your thoughts? Were you let down like I was, or did you enjoy the episode? Do you want to see more Bryce? And are you ready for some Bilson?

Photos courtesy of NBC

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