Nerd At 37,000 Feet!* – Episode 3.05: Chuck Vs First Class

Written by Chris Fedak
Directed by Fred Toye

In parallel story lines Team Bartowski continues to chafe under Daniel Shaw’s leadership while Morgan has his hands full as the new Assistant Manager trying to quell a Lester lead staff revolt.
‘Sometimes he sounds like Bond. And other times its like a Jerry Lewis movie.’
The Shaw ShakeUp continues for Team Bartowski; his mandate still unclear. It seems Shaw wants to make Chuck a spy even if that training causes Chuck to be killed. A strange combination when dealing with the world’s only walking Intersect. Tough love indeed!
‘Let me out of the car!’
After a review of missions Shaw concludes the team is dysfunctional. Its a nice little beat that everyone on the screen and at home expects Shaw to say that problem is Chuck. Instead Shaw shocks everyone when Shaw’s verdict is that the problem lies not with Chuck but with Casey and Sarah.
They are too close to Chuck. Too protective. They will not let Chuck evolve. To remedy that Shaw announces Chuck is going on his first solo mission. Casey takes this proclamation of continuing proof of Shaw’s incompetence. Sarah is besides herself with worry. Chuck is chomping at the bit for such an opportunity and is, of course, ecstatic. His reaction at the first class tickets and the packing of his nunchunks endear and set the worry meter even higher for Casey and Sarah.

AirSick  Intersect?
AirSick Intersect?

Morgan: ‘You command respect.’ Casey: ‘No. I take it.’
Over at the BuyMore, Morgan is struggling with how to gain control of the BuyMore crew as a battle of wills breaks out between him and Lester. One of the big problems that the show has struggled with, especially in the Second Season; most notably in the second half, is how to keep it relevant or a viable appendage of the show. More so that Chuck has moved on from the BuyMore.
‘Insurgents? I hate insurgents.’
So the show has retooled the BuyMore storyline. Instead of being burdened with finding ways of getting Chuck out of the BuyMore, the focus is now shifted to a vehicle for getting Casey into the BuyMore world. A slick solution, for Casey’s interaction with the BuyMore has always been a source of great comedic material. With this change in focus the BuyMore beats are now moments to look forward to enjoying instead of enduring.
Episode Flashes:

  • Shaw calling Sarah and Casey on the reason for Chuck’s slow spy growth
  • Protective Sarah – a caged lioness!
  • Chuck’s reaction to his first class tickets
  • Chuck and his nunchucks
  • Russian Tranq Pen – Thank you KGB!
  • Hannah and Chuck interaction – Hannah a perfect female mirror image of Chuck – and so sweet
  • Shaw making it clear he knows all about Sarah’s past
  • Hugo Panzer’s heart rate and pulse monitor with built in shocker
  • Casey telling Chuck while he is in the coffin that there is no try, flash or die
  • Casey helping Morgan with the BuyMore insurgents
  • Sarah’s unknown ability as a pilot – a call back to Chuck Vs The Helicopter perhaps?
  • Casey’s BuyMore promotion – Lieutenant Asisstant Manager and Chuck’s bemused reaction
  • The wedding rings from Shaw’s dead wife and fellow spy

‘This is crazy.’
Sarah is besides herself this episode. Trapped between obeying orders and wanting to protect Chuck. This is her nightmare scenario. She strides around the Castle like a caged lioness unable to reach and protect her cub. Always a person of action she is angrily frustrated by her inability to come to Chuck’s aid. Her horror at finding out that the mission is on the plane instead of in Paris is palpable.
‘Who are you, Agent Shaw?’
Ah yes. The proverbial $64,000 question. Who is Shaw and what is he all about.? Sarah goes on the offensive and Shaw shows how much he and Sarah are alike when he lets it be known they both like to keep their secrets. Secrets like Sarah’s real background of which Shaw is fully aware. Shared history of having loved a spy and then lost them. Though in Sarah’s case she cleverly manages to deflect Shaw’s initial thoughts about Sarah and Chuck by turning them to Bryce. No doubt Sarah did do what she said in regards to Bryce’s ashes but the real reason of running away with Chuck stays safe.
‘You’re different. You stand out.’
On the plane Chuck is seated by the season’s second dreaded Potential Love Interest(PLI) Hannah played by Kristen Kreuk. Fans should breathe a collective sigh of relief as Hannah’s injection into the storyline is adroitly executed and Kreuk is virtually luminous in the role as a female version of Chuck. Zac and Kristen have real chemistry together and Sarah will have her work cut out for her.
The villian of the week is exWrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin, and through no fault of his own, his Hugo Panzer, while imposing in stature, does not stack up against the guest turns of Angie Harmon and Armand Assante. Basically a prop in the second fight sequence, Panzer’s best moment comes when his heart rate/pulse watch monitor shocks him awake.
The concept of remotely controlling an airplane may have seemed cool in concept but plays rather flat in execution. Though knowing Sarah has a pilot’s license in her spy repertoire was a delightful surprise. Back safely at home, Chuck gratefully acknowledges his team mates keeping him alive.
In the closing moments the mysterious weapon from 3.02 returns and turns out not to be a weapon at all. Instead it contains Ring Intel that cost Shaw his wife. Plus an envelope. An envelope which contains a ring of a different sort. A wedding ring.  Shaw has lost a loved one. Sarah is very much afraid of the same thing happening with her and Chuck. Already it can be seen that the bond between Shaw and Sarah will be based on something more than mutual professional admiration but on shared emotional experiences.
Throw in the unknown about Shaw’s true intents, the appearance of Hannah at the BuyMore, the wedding ring, and they lead to possibilities of Shaw manipulations or true events or a combination of both. A different and more complicated approach to the PLIs than seen to date. Let the 3D chess games begin!
What about that closing shot with Hannah showing up at the BuyMore? What to think? What to think indeed. Sincere or manipulation? Hear that sound? It is the clankety ratchet of the Season 3 rollercoaster being pulled up the first big hill.  Buckle up Chucksters!  The real ride is about to commence.
* – title is a homage to The Horror At 37,000 Feet.

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