Bring On The Shaw! Episode 3.04: Chuck Vs Operation Awesome

Written by Zev Borow
Directed by Robert Duncan McNeil

Boom. Boom. Pow! Jack Bauer eat your heart out!
Chuck Bartowski is not a man to be trifled with especially when it comes to his family. Chuck Vs Operation Awesome is a treat full of spy drama, comedy, tension, great character introductions, and some heart felt expressed sentiments from an unexpected corner.
Carrying on from the cliff hanger ending of 3.03 finds Team Bartowski frantically searching for any leads on the whereabouts of Devon while Chuck tries to keep from freaking out. In an ill advised move, Chuck returns to the BuyMore to await news but his choatic emotional state sets him flashing off uncontrollably. In short order he berates an elderly Thai women in her native tongue sending her scurrying terrified from the store and then takes Lester out with a single karate kick.
Devon comes stumbling into the BuyMore where he tells Chuck that his kidnappers think Devon is Chuck. Ring agent Sydney Prince, played with delicious evilness by Angie Harmon, has left Devon a Ring cellphone and told him to await further instructions. Bringing Devon home to Ellie leads to a hilarious illustration of Devon’s one major shortcoming. He cannot lie. A simple story quickly spins out of control and ends with a decaptitated bear. Devon, Ellie, and Chuck miming story points, are all hilarious here. It takes Chuck to rescue everything by creating an alternate tale that satisfies Ellie but ends up with Casey as an innocent bystander of her wrath.
Reluctantly Chuck agrees to use Devon to find Sydney and this allows for the opportunity for some great bits of Chuck channeling Sarah as the handler and Devon channeling Chuck as the asset as he was in Season 1. Sydney leaves Devon a package that includes an explosive ear piece and the spy action kicks off into high gear. It leads to my favorite laugh out moment in the episode.

A Trio Of Super Awesome Chuckness!
A Trio Of Super Awesome Chuckness!

‘Chuck you killed Julius!’
It shows just how spooked Devon is by the once exciting spy life. From here we get some great action scenes that show off just how adept Chuck is becoming a spy while Devon clings to him freaking out with each increasingly more violent order from Syndey. They finally make it to their objective only to find a CIA station. Just as Casey and Sarah are informed by Chuck of this, their van is shut down and locked up tight. A nice remote operation that all spies must just love. Beckman comes online and confirms Sarah’s suspicion that yes indeed this is a setup.
What follows next is the best character introduction done on the show to date; Daniel Shaw.
‘I know things. Lots of things.’
He does indeed. Including Chuck’s name and that Chuck is the Intersect. Shaw urges Chuck to kill him in order to save Devon’s life but Chuck cannot. In a sleight of hand move, Shaw shoots himself; faking his own death. After Sydney arrives and confirms Shaw’s death, she removes the earpiece from Devon, welcomes him to the Ring, and tells him to await futher instructions.
Everyone reconvenes back at the Castle where Beckman informs Team Bartowski they have a new leader in Shaw, who is a foremost expert on the Ring. Shaw tells Chuck that unless he can come up with a better plan they need to use Devon still to trap Sydney for good this time. Chuck wants Devon out of the spy world so he takes Devon’s Ring phone, modifies it, and calls Sydney telling she has the wrong guy and he is the spy she is really after.
Chuck tells Sydney to come to the BuyMore and calls Sarah asking for backup. Shaw intercedes and tells Chuck if he starts something then he has to finish it. Shaw detains a stunned Casey and Sarah telling them he is curious to see what Chuck’s plan is. When it is evident that Chuck has no plan, the team sweeps in leading to a showdown between Sydney and Chuck. Once again Chuck is faced with a pull the trigger moment. Once again he cannot do it.
There is no doubt that Chuck’s stance on killing is going to be an ongoing issue throughout the season. The resolution of this will be a major turning point for the character and the show.
Episode Flashes:

  • Sydney Prince’s tense introduction as she puts Devon in a precarious position
  • Chuck channeling Sarah in order to be Devon’s handler
  • Devon channeling Chuck from Season 1
  • Morgan being promoted to Assistant Manager and keep his business cards in a Twilight Zone card case
  • Devon and the bear decapitation showing how poor a liar he is and how good Chuck has become at it
  • original music scored by Tim Jones really amps up the spy drama and tension
  • Daniel Shaw – best character introduction on Chuck yet
  • Chuck taking out 6 guards using his Intersect skills but attributing them to Nintendo’s Duck Hunt
  • Shaw hanging up on Chuck – wants to see his plan
  • BuyMore scenes had riffs on Fight Club, The Warriors, & An Officer And A Gentleman to name a few

‘Really? This guy? I got back issues of Guns and Ammo older than he is!’
Sarah and Casey are mostly in the background in this episode but do have a few moments of goodness.
Casey’s disdain of Shaw and his youth are obvious and expected. Shaw’s suprise at Casey’s quickness on the draw is punctuated by Casey’s proclamation of gun love. This flies in the face of Shaw’s stated distaste for guns even though he will use them as needed.
‘Sometimes it helps to know that you’ve got something to lose.’
For Sarah her concern for Devon and Chuck can be seen throughout the episode and her worry about Chuck performing sets up a great comeback line for Shaw. By the episode end Shaw delivers a familar speech, one that Sarah has given Chuck many times, about family and friends making a spy vulnerable. But when Shaw asks Sarah for confirmation she does not. Sarah sides with Chuck. A big admission on her part and a far cry from the Sarah of past seasons. What is even better is the quiet acknowledgement of thanks that passes between Chuck and Sarah afterwards. It is for moments like these that new characters like Shaw are brought into the show.
The episode closes with a shot of Shaw watching the Bartowski clan together as he pulls out a wedding band and places it on his finger. A ring within a Ring? This glimpse into the personal background of Shaw is sure to play an important part in coming episodes.
My favourite episode this season in a season of a very good episodes.

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