Episode of the Week: Chuck vs the Bearded Bandit (5.02)

NBC Synopsis: CHUCK ASSUMES THE ROLE OF MORGAN’S HANDLER, AS CARMICHAEL INDUSTRIES FACES NEW BUSINESS COMPETITION—CARRIE-ANNE MOSS (“THE MATRIX”) GUEST STARS AS ‘GERTRUDE VERBANSKI’—JEFF FAHEY AND JUSTIN HARTLEY ALSO GUEST STAR—As the team takes on a missing persons case, Chuck (Zachary Levi) and company struggle to establish themselves as Carmichael Industries in the face of a rival security firm led by the tough and efficient Gertrude Verbanski (guest star Carrie-Anne Moss). Meanwhile, Morgan (Joshua Gomez) continues to adjust to the Intersect while Chuck adjusts to being his handler. Also, the Buy More finds an unlikely spokesperson to help drum up business.

Chuck This Ranking: 81
Dave’s Ranking: slightly better

First Impressions: Chuck vs the Bearded Bandit

Full Write Ups: Chuck vs the Bearded Bandit (5.02) by Dave and Joe
Bringing Up Morgan – Chuck vs the Bearded Bandit by Thinkling


About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 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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28 Responses to Episode of the Week: Chuck vs the Bearded Bandit (5.02)

  1. Justin says:

    Seeing how the Intersect was affecting Morgan this episode makes me think of how much of a missed opportunity the show had in Season 3 when Chuck was downloaded with the Intersect 2.0. Watching Chuck slowly change due to the Intersect 2.0, becoming his own worst enemy putting Sarah and Casey in the position of trying to save him from himself.

    • authorguy says:

      That may have been what they had in mind when Beckman said they had to protect the world from Chuck. If my theory about S5 is correct, that S5 was originally intended to be the follow-up to S3, an arc like the Morgan-sect arc would have been involved in S4, only with Chuck deteriorating instead of Morgan.

      • Justin says:

        I can imagine that scenario: the glitch problems Chuck’s Intersect was going through in S3 was stabilized by the Governor but it only pave the way for the Intersect to develop a different problem that slowly affects Chuck’s personality during the first half of S4. While searching for his mother, Chuck becomes increasingly arrogant and ruthless. It dawns on Sarah, Casey, and Morgan that something is seriously wrong with him and that it has to do with the Intersect which must be removed before the changes in Chuck’s personality become permanent.

      • authorguy says:

        Actually, I’m not sure the search for Mom would have played a part in that story, which I call the Rough Draft version of S4. Assume no back 6 to S3, it ends with Other Guy. I can see Chuck, guilt-stricken over killing Daniel Shaw, leaving the CIA, starting Carmichael Industries, and trying to do good works, eventually losing control of the Intersect, and drawing the attention of Clyde Decker. Chuck has to be stopped, the Intersect project cannot be made public. Assassins are sent. A second Intersect team is created to bring him down. Sarah realizes her true loyalties and goes to the rescue when he is finally caught. Decker finally catches Chuck and de-Intersects him, forcing him to go to some extreme lengths to save Sarah, with the assistance of Gertrude Verbanski’s mercenaries.
        And so on.
        I don’t really know what the Rough Draft would have looked like, but I can see many of its most dramatic parts, like the Cliffhanger and Phase Three, getting cannibalized to become part of the S4 we eventually got. The de-intersecting of Chuck in S4 meant they had to come up with someone else to suffer the deterioration under the Intersect, so they changed the Rough Draft’s opening to use Morgan instead of Chuck. This also explains the tacked-on Quinn arc in the S5 they eventually made, since the original finale of the Rough Draft would have already been used.
        But the Pursuit of Chuck, and him and Sarah growing together (as they had grown apart in S3) would have been the central themes. I think the whole Frost/Volkoff story was improvised at the last minute, and has few if any bits taken from the Rough Draft. The Vivian arc seems to have quite a few. It’s a bit of a game for me to try to deduce what the Rough Draft would have looked like. I see it starting with the original of the Morgansect arc and ending with the original of the Cliffhanger, but the stuff in the middle…?

  2. I suppose that one thing of enduring value from this episode is the introduction of memory loss as a side effect of this tainted version of the Intersect. I’ll confess to a little memory loss myself. In retrospect, Morgan’s experience portended Sarah’s own amnesia (albeit, aided and exacerbated by Quinn) but at this time, at the end of 5.2, did anyone realize that Intersect-induced memory loss would play a major role in the conclusion of the series? I don’t recall that I had that inkling.

    One of Morgan’s endearing characteristics is his generally enthusiastic attitude. Combine that enthusiasm with power and the inevitable arrogance associated with such power, and Morgan becomes incredibly annoying. Kudos to Josh Gomez for playing Morgan at his most unlikable.

    • atcDave says:

      I don’t recall anyone guessing how big memory loss would be in the near future. No doubt this and the next episode are huge in understanding the finale. Although Sarah’s symptoms were slightly different I always see post-series Sarah as being in about the same place as post-5.03 Morgan; that is, still some missing memories but ready to reclaim her life.

      And I agree its funny how well Josh played Morgan even to his jerkiest extreme!

    • Wilf says:

      Yes, annoying though Morgan was at that stage (or even more annoying than usual), it is indeed a tribute to Mr Gomez just how well he portrayed the part.

    • thinkling says:

      Ditto Russ, Dave, Wilf. Looking at Morgan, knowing what’s to come, gives hope for the after-finale.

      Gomez nailed Morgan. And NO, I certainly didn’t realize how significant, prescient, and informative this arc would be.

      • authorguy says:

        Considering the tacked-on nature of the Quinn arc, they probably built it long after these episodes were filmed, and designed it to follow this arc’s plot. No prescience about it, just duplication.

      • atcDave says:

        Although there were certainly changes made along the way, we’ve heard from several sources that the finale arc was planned from the start of the season. My guess would be any changes that occurred were in the middle of the season.

      • thinkling says:

        That’s right, Dave. Fedak’s pitch of the final arc is supposedly what got them the 5th season. It didn’t feel tacked on to me at all. It was their end game all along, and the breadcrumbs are easy to see, looking back.

      • authorguy says:

        A new villain, coming out of nowhere, in a self-contained story that has no other connection to any other part of the show? How can that feel anything but tacked on? I’ll trust story logic over Hollywood commentary any day.

      • authorguy says:

        I’d be interested in reading the source of this supposed pitch for myself, if you can tell me where to find it.

      • authorguy says:

        In any event, and just as a reminder and a collective invitation, the last chapter of the last episode of Nine2five, my series finale, is going up this Wednesday, on the anniversary of the Chuck series finale. I agreed with many people here, who felt that the Baby would have been a great finale, and made it so. This last chapter combines the Christmas party from Santa Suit with the dinner party from the Baby, with enough Charah fluff to choke a moose. Happy Endings for everyone!

      • atcDave says:

        Trust what you want, but in this case you’re wrong.

      • Justin says:

        It would have been better if that had made Quinn the mastermind behind the conspiracy from the beginning, and not Shaw. Shaw should have been left behind in S3.

      • atcDave says:

        You know I agree with that Justin.

      • atcDave says:

        I can’t really reproduce everything that was revealed or discussed AG, but the resources would be our own spoiler pages; a variety of cast and crew interviews (Google “Chuck Season 5 Interviews” or something close) ; and the extra features on the disc box sets. There was a ton of material, and CF and others discussed the vision for the season several times.

  3. Martin Traynor says:

    If memory serves (and it rarely does these days), this is the episode wherein Chuck becomes Morgan’s handler. Though this episode is nowhere near s favorite of mine, I enjoyed the idea of that concept very much. In fact, I wish they had taken the opportunity to explore the notion of Chuck as someone’s handler more this final season.

    We got a bit of it in early season 3 with Devon pretending to be a spy. I thought those were enjoyable enough scenes.

    I’ll agree that Josh nailed the part, but this is really WAYYYY to much Morgan for me. And the fact that he gets Chuck to question Sarah’s motives as far as his role is concerned is just a bit unsettling, though I thought Chuck handled it well.

    To show you what a Chuck nerd I am, I’ll sometimes watch the end, where C/S are jogging, as motivation to go running myself. Dork!

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with almost all if that Martin, except the running part!
      Before the season there had been a lot of worries about Morgan having too much screen time in S5; this is the episode that most nearly bore that out. Fortunately it was not a persistent problem.
      There is a lot that’s fun here, but way too much Morgan for it to be a favorite.

    • Wilf says:

      Actually I skip to that scene sometimes, not to encourage me to exercise, but because I just particularly enjoy seeing the sweet moment between Chuck and Sarah … and I really like the associated song, Half Moon

      • atcDave says:


      • Martin Traynor says:

        Me too, Wilf! I was just using that exercise excuse to protect my manhood. But seriously, it is a great moment between the two, and I like that when Chuck tells Sarah she can’t just run off like that, you can barely hear her shout, “Yes I can…” off screen. I really love those little moments.

  4. noblz says:

    Darned job interfering with my Chuck fix.

    I would rate this a little higher, but not much. Too much Morgan. By S5 I’d just as soon see him gone, not the centerpiece of an episode.

    That said, there were some great scenes that definitely kept this one out of the dud pile.

    The reaction of Team B to Gertrude’s stunt at the conference, the confrontation between Sarah and Verbanski in Gertrude’s office, all of the interactions between Sarah and Casey (especially in the car) and the Buy More Commercial were scenes that very much kept this one alive.

    Entertaining episode once I get past Morgan about 75 on the otherDave meter.

    • atcDave says:

      I hate when work does that!

      As is usual, the two Daves are pretty close. It surprises me a little how much fun the Buy More can be on occasion.

      • noblz says:

        Yeah, usually I can live without the Buy More story in the background most of the time, but occasionally they hit a home run. This is one of those times.

  5. oldresorter says:

    I know one or two of you posters who still read and writer here know tv pretty well. I am looking forward to the 6 ep X files reboot starting sunday. How does that compare, help, hurt, etc future Chuck projects? Little? None? Quite a bit?

    I think in some ways, 6 eps on tv would almost be the right amount. and if done well, maybe do it again in a few years, sort of follow chuck, sarah and the triplets along as they grow old together by day, while saving the world by night – LOL.

    • atcDave says:

      I don’t think it makes a *big* difference. Obviously, if reboots remain generally popular it helps us get one for Chuck eventually. But X-Files specifically I don’t think matters.
      I do agree some sort of mini-series/event is better than a single movie. But I’ll take whatever we can get!

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