Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Zoom (5.01)

NBC Synopsis: AS CHUCK BEGINS LIFE AS A SPY-FOR-HIRE, HE MUST ADJUST TO HIS NEW BUSINESS, NEW THREATS, AND A NEW INTERSECT — HIS BEST FRIEND MORGAN GRIMES – MARK HAMILL AND CRAIG KILBORN GUEST STAR—Without the Intersect in his head or the support of the CIA, the world of espionage is a much more dangerous place for Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) and his team of freelance spies. To start, Carmichael Industries takes on a slick, rich thief named Jean Claude (guest star Mark Hamill), and a conniving investor, Roger Bale (guest star Craig Kilborn), who has stolen money from some of the world’s most dangerous people. Meanwhile, Morgan (Joshua Gomez) helps Chuck with a special surprise for Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski). Back in the Buy More, Jeff (Scot Krinsky) and Lester (Vik Sahay) have taken things to another level with their latest scheme.

Chuck This Ranking: 78
Dave’s Ranking: A Little Better

First Impressions: Chuck vs The Zoom (5.01)

Full Write Ups: Chuck vs The Zoom (5.01) by Dave and Joe
A Bluff and a Promise – Chuck vs The Zoom by Thinkling

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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18 Responses to Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Zoom (5.01)

  1. Martin Traynor says:

    Upon return, was a little disappointed to see how much Carmichael Industries was struggling (especially financially), given they had nearly $1 billion to work with. But at least the angst was external with regards to our favorite couple.

    Enjoyed watching Chuck come up with the plan, somewhat take a backseat to Morgan, at least a little, save the day without the intersect – thank you very much – share a little sweet time with Sarah in front of her dream home, and the comedy worked at the gym on all fronts.

    Didn’t really buy Craig “late night host” Kilbourne as the baddie, but not a major issue for me.

    I also don’t like Sarah dancing with ANYONE other than Chuck, but again, not a big deal.

    • atcDave says:

      I’ll agree with most of that. Although I thought the Sarah/Morgan dance scene was just all funny. While Sarah/Chuck dance scenes were more often played for heat.

      I rank this precisely number three among season premiers. Pilot and First date are very strong episodes; Anniversery is way too down beat through the first half hour and of course Pink Slip is just a stinker.

      • Martin Traynor says:

        Dave, I’ll agree completely with your assessment of the premiers.

        As for the dancing, yeah, it was funny. I just see it more as a wasted opportunity for Chuck and Sarah. Every time she dances with someone else is one less time she dances with Chuck, and those are scenes/moments so very ripe with comedy/romance/heat potential.

  2. noblz says:

    Not one of my top 10(29) but an OK episode. I very much dislike how they denigrated Chuck and aggrandized Morgan (I’m on record as fed up with Morgan by this point). That said, there were some good stuff.

    Sarah’s seduction of Chuck, “cracked him like an egg”, was a hoot (as was Zach’s interview with Leno where this was the preview clip). The party and Chuck’s rescue was also very solid. I did not care for the dance portion as well, but for a completely different reason than Martin. I was not worried that this was another guy (cover after all), but when Yvonne danced with Matt or Zach the guys at least contributed something. In this scene Josh was like a pint-sized stripper pole (which I must admit the leggy Yvonne used to perfection) adding nothing to the effort. In fact Morgan was a fail for most of this episode.

    All in all for me, a good average episode that overall I enjoyed.

  3. DKD says:

    The stuff with them losing all that money was a tremendous disappointment to me. The idea of Chuck and Sarah truly becoming an updated version of Hart to Hart would have been a fun show to evolve to. I can’t help but think that this was the original intention with making them rich at the end of the previous season.

    I guess they felt they just didn’t have the budget for that kind of show. They were stuck with the Buy More as their main set.

    • garnetflint says:

      I agree that it was another “reset” that was created by the nearly billion dollar wedding gift that would have left them without a care in the world….a much nicer ending for a series in my mind, but I am still getting over their artistic vision…

      I still don’t see how they could have gone through that much money in such a short period of time, but that is just me perhaps. Jets and shrimp and comm sats can eat up a fair bit of money, but almost all of one billiondollars? That might be the hardest thing to swallow in the entire series.

      • atcDave says:

        I completely agree with all of this. There may have been some waffling over “vision” for the show, but certainly the whole easy come/easy go on the money seems flakey.
        They had ended S4 with a staggering sum of money, apart from the government seizure there’s almost no way to exhaust it in a few months.

      • Justin says:

        I think the writers wanted to make things difficult for the characters which they thought them having so much money would undercut.

        A disappointment to me was Chuck not coming out as the new owner of the Buy More, coming up with some story of how that was the case like a winning lottery ticket or inheritance from a dead relative. It would have been interesting to see how the staff would have responded to that. But, thinking about it, I think the show would have been better off getting rid of the Buy More completely, leaving it in the past while Chuck and Sarah move forward with their wealthy lifestyle and their independent spy agency. To take it even farther, the Buy More should have stayed destroyed at the end of Season 3. It was the opportunity for a new start for Chuck that the show was too afraid to take advantage of.

      • atcDave says:

        You know I agree completely the best option would have been to dump the store entirely after S3. Barring that, the Buy Morons discovering who their secret owners were in S5 would have been a total blast.

      • thinkling says:

        I found the reset disconcerting on two fronts: First, it made Chuck and Sarah look like idiots, who can’t manage anything. I don’t like it when they make our heroes look stupid (or sleazy or incompetent), not just a momentary slip-up, but a real flaw. Second, it was another inability or refusal to follow through on an interesting plot idea, copping out for more mundane trope. Really disappointing, along with the conspiracy plot.

        That said, in spite of the under-delivery, S5 is still one of my favorite seasons.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree exactly.

      • DKD says:

        I heard the writers WANTED to keep the Buy More destroyed. But, they had to keep it for budgetary reasons. WB insisted on it.

        I think if they ever wrote a “Making of Chuck” tell-all book, people would be shocked by how much the show’s every-reducing budget impacted the storylines in later seasons.

        I agree with thinkling’s point about how them blowing through that money made them look like idiots. Chuck always was portrayed as someone who was careful with money. This was not a promising start to the season.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah the store was apparently a big part of their product placement game. Definitely would have been my first choice to just be done with it.
        On balance I was usually impressed with how they handled things like world travel on a restricted shooting budget and schedule. But no doubt, sometimes budget issues were telling and I’m sure it affected story decisions at times too.

  4. duckman says:

    Bones did the give/take a fortune thing. That’s pretty much the point I gave up on that show, and I think it was more damaging to my enthusiasm for chuck than I realized. Couple that with decker- the most unimaginative and annoying character since shaw, and you’ve got a toxic combination.

    • atcDave says:

      Ultimately I don’t think the loss of the fortune bothered me much (I figure they still had a lot of money post series), but it is funny they backed off from telling THAT story!

  5. authorguy says:

    The loss of the fortune is a standard gimmick to bring them down to a realistic level for the series. They can’t have too much money, since the show couldn’t afford that degree of flash, and they took it away in a reasonably plausible way.
    Chuck saving the day without the Intersect is one of the best parts of the whole series, but the possibilities of Chuck coming out on top without the Intersect never appeared again.After that, I’m pretty much ‘meh’ on the whole season, not just this episode. It’s like the writers just gave up on the show. In terms of the tone of the stories, it’s like they stepped from Other Guy straight into Zoom. Maybe that was even the plan all along, before they had to shoehorn in the Charah stuff. I can see that as a fanfic idea, the remorse of killing Shaw leaves Chuck unable to flash, so he uses his other abilities instead. That story could have been S5 with very few changes.
    It’s a very humorless season, in which the main character is outperformed by practically everyone he meets. Strong plots (a good thing, after the slop of S4), but they usually went in the wrong directions. I would have preferred they focus all the episodes on the Decker Conspiracy and do that well, focus on the relationship, and at least try to be funny.

  6. There’s not a whole lot I liked about season 5, although I generally find that there’s almost always *something* to like in every episode. In this first episode, two things stand out for me: Chuck’s successful plan to save everyone, including himself, in their escape from Bale; and, the exchange between Sarah and Chuck in front of the house with the red door and picket fence.

    Authorguy’s preference for a focus on the Decker Conspiracy might have been better, because I still don’t really understand what’s going on with that thread. Decker’s speech at the end of this episode continues to confuse me. Maybe there is something in the various write-ups and discussion on this site that I’ve overlooked, but I just find Decker’s motivation and apparent ability to act with impunity really puzzling.

    • authorguy says:

      Well, Russ although I like the version I wrote, I think the theory I floated above is probably closer to the truth. In that view, S5 was originally intended to be S4. The scripts they’d already written for it would need to be tweaked after the new S4 was rushed into production, which would account for the disjointed plots.
      I’d have to work a bit to figure out what the real plot should have been, since that was probably one of the things they cut most of the clues to. Decker’s comments in Zoom were pretty generic. Anything more specific would have been removed. I can see Sarah’s poisoning and Decker’s removal of the Intersect from Chuck fitting in quite well in that scenario, which may explain why they had to create the whole Quinn arc, since they used the poisoning plot in S4.

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