Chuck Versus The Disappointing Second Week

Last night's Chuck taught us some important lessons about modern terrorism: That they have operate in decentralized cells and don't share information, that they have awesome phones, and that they're apparently very easy to fool. Spoilers!

Maybe I've been listening to professional Chuck hater Meredith Woerner too long, but most of last night's "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome" left me cold. I liked the basic idea of Awesome being mistaken for Chuck - As Casey put it, "One of them looks like a spy, and the other one looks like Chuck" - but, pretty much as soon as they abandoned that idea (which was pretty early, considering), it just became a generic episode we've seen plenty of times before, and not even a good one: Showdown at the Buy More with Chuck having to overcome his innate cowardice? Check! Bad guys being dismissive of Chuck's bravado but still not just killing him? Check! Buy More subplot that shows the store having a completely unbelievable subculture for the sake of comedy? Check, and seriously, Fight Club? Did I accidentally fall back a decade or something?

It didn't help that the plot was somewhat scattered, even by Chuck standards: The Ring mistake Awesome for Chuck after last week's escapades, and decide to try and convert him, which apparently consists of telling him to kill the CIA's head of anti-Ring operations... who happens to not only know about all their plans, but manages to convince the Ring's sexy (She gets a walk in to the Buy More in slow motion; that's how you know someone is sexy in Chuck) agent that he's dead by swallowing a pill and shooting himself in the shoulder. Who would actually believe that a shot to the shoulder would kill someone? Apparently this woman (I'm holding onto hope that the anti-Ring expert, Shaw, will turn out to be a double agent and this was all some crazy double bluff long con thing to get a Ring agent to infiltrate Chuck's inner circle, otherwise... Eeshh).

ANYway, once the Ring believe that Awesome is a spy, Chuck decides that he's always been against allowing his family to get involved with the spygame (Despite supporting Awesome's plan to save Casey last week, because... last week was last week?), hacks a special Ring phone, calls them up and says "Oh, hi, I'm the spy," at which case they believe him - and, for some reason, leave Devon alone from that point onwards - have a showdown in the Buy More and then everyone gets together for dinner and laughter. Wait, what? So, evil spy organizations believe random phone calls, don't keep tabs on new converts after their first mission (Seriously, no-one was watching Awesome while they went to check out Chuck?), are so eager to trust that they don't check to see whether that dead guy is walking around town soon afterwards... Well, maybe it's better if I don't think about it too much.

It wasn't all bad; despite not having much to work with, Brandon Routh's anti-Ring expert Shaw was agreeably spy-assholish, and Awesome's explanation of where he'd been to Ellie was a thing of wonder ("Yeah, I had to decapitate the bear"). But, after the strong opening of the season in last week's three episodes, this seemed like a drop in quality. Here's hoping next week's episode is better... even if Kristin Kreuk's involvement may bring Smallville flashbacks.