Chuck Versus the Top Ten

by Alan Rapp on September 16, 2010

in Essays , Top Tens & Lists

The nerd who became a spy. I’m talking of Charles Irving Bartowski. Chuck is set to begin it’s fourth season next week (not bad for a show that’s faced possible, even probable, cancellation every year!). So today we take a look back at the ten best Chuck episodes (at least so far).

Cutting down the list to ten left of several key moments and characters off the list including love interests Kristen Kruek and Rachel Bilson, the first performance of Jeffster, John Laroquette as the perfrect spy, the tango, the not-so-perfect spy couple of Fred Willard and Swoozie Kurtz, Captain Awesome’s night as a spy, Chuck’s red test, Casey’s daughter, Ellie and Awesome’s wedding, the giant jug of cheese puffs, and Chuck and Sarah finally getting together in Paris.

Okay, that takes care of what didn’t make the list. Now let’s take a gander at what did…

One final note: As we’re discussing three seasons of the show, as you might expect, there are spoilers aplenty.

10. Chuck Versus the Alma Mater (Season One)

Chuck (Zachary Levi) returns to the scene of the worst day of his life (Stanford University) to help Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) and Casey (Adam Baldwin) find a former professor (Scott Alan Smith), who is also a CIA recruiter and the man responsible for expelling Chuck from college. While the Bartowski’s spend the weekend on the campus Morgan (Joshua Gomez) and the rest of the Buy More team rebel against the control of newly appointed assistant manager Harry Tang (C.S. Lee).
Best moment – In the closing minutes of the episode Sarah and Chuck discover why Chuck has an entry in the Intersect as well as the reason Bryce Larkin (Matthew Bomer) betrayed his best friend.

9. Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II (Season Three)

No other episode of the series begins with our heroes seemingly defeated and with so much for Team Bartowski to overcome. General Beckman (Bonita Friedericy) has been discredited, Chuck, Sarah, and Casey have been arrested, Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) has learned the truth about her brother, Orion is dead, Chuck’s mental condition continues to deteriorate, and Shaw (Brandon Routh) and the Ring are about to take control of both the NSA and CIA. Great moments abound here including Awesome and Morgan’s rescue, the flashback to Chuck’s first encounter with the Intersect, and the epilogue concerning his father’s unfinished work.
Best moment – Just as it appears that Shaw has won Chuck turns the tables, using his Nerd Herd skills and not the Intersect, to expose and capture the leaders of the Ring.

8. Chuck Versus the Fat Lady (Season Two)

The middle of the three episodes of the return of Chuck’s college girlfriend Jill (Jordana Brewster). Although each has great moments (the first involving Chuck’s disastrous attempts to show-off by pretending to be a big shot, and last involving Chuck’s final decision about Jill (and his note to “Release the Casey”), this one is probably the best. The team works with Jill to solving clues and puzzles in an attempt to get their hands on a list of Fulcrum agents hidden by Jill’s boss before his death. Jill’s jealousy over Chuck’s relationship with Sarah isn’t helped by her stripper-wear or walking in on the two of them getting out of the shower together while working on the mission in their hotel room. In one of the episoded most unexpected scenes we also discover one of Casey’s hidden talents.
Best moment – The computer breaks the encryption of the Fulcrum list and Sarah and Casey race out of Castle realizing that Chuck could be in real danger from one particular Fulcrum agent who has gotten too close to the Intersect.

7. Chuck Versus the Dream Job (Season Two)

After reconnecting with his long lost father (Scott Bakula) Chuck gets his dream job at an prestigious electronics company as part of his new mission only to have to lose it 10min later to save the world from his new boss, a Steve Jobs-style villain (Chevy Chase) who works for Fulcrum. Great episode to view a second time to watch tiny moments and actions of Chuck’s crazy dad which mean more than you might first realize.
Best moment – “Pancakes.” It’s not often Ellie gets the best scene of an episode, but her reaction to seeing her father again for the first time in years manages to be both humorous and gut-wrenching at the same time.

6. Chuck Versus the Beard (Season Three)

The weight of his secrets, Morgan’s disappointment over those secrets, and the fallout from his break-up with Hannah (Kristin Kreuk) and his unresolved feelings for Sarah, have left Chuck stressed-out and unable to flash. This becomes the perfect opportunity for Ring operatives, under the guise of potential buyers, to invade the Buy More and search for the entrance to Castle, after luring away Shaw and Sarah (by putting Aweome and Ellie in danger -forcing Awesome to decide to move the couple as far away from Chuck as possible). And the episode’s final scene will begin the fracture of Team Bartowski.
Best moment – Tied up and without hope Chuck finally comes clean and tells Morgan everything while inside the story the Buy More employees stage their revolution the the music of Jeffster performing “Fortunate Son.”

5. Chuck Versus Santa Claus (Season Two)

The Buy More turns into a prison when a fugitive (Jed Rees) crashes his car into the electronics store andtakes everyone hostage. A late twist on the situation leads to more complications for Chuck when he’s forced to admit he’s the Intersect in order to save the lives of his friends and family. Great stunt-casting here of Big Mike’s cousin Al (Reginald VelJohnson) playing the same character from Die Hard and Michael Rooker as the hostage negotiator.
Best moment – The episode’s climax when Chuck is horrified to witness how far Sarah will go to protect him.

4. Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover (Season One)

John Casey’s past returns to haunt him when a former lover (Ivana Milicevic) he thought long dead shows up in Burbank engaged to a Russian mobster. Oh, and she’s a spy. Chuck’s realization that Casey actually has feelings (“It’s alive!”) is quite good, as is Morgan and Ellie’s night together. There’s also a rare girl moment for Ellie and Sarah to bond over men, as well as several Casablanca references (including the episode’s final scene).
Best moment – After surviving a plunge from a high balcony while tied to Chuck, Casey rises from the hotel swimming pool (2:43 mark in the video) to interrupt his former flame’s wedding and save her life, in classic hero style.

3.Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer (Season Two)

Chuck is forced to befriend  Jeff  (Scott Krinsky) – to the horror of Ellie and Lester (Vik Sahay) – in order to discover what his involvement is in with a terrorist plot, the arcade game Missile Command, and a world record. When Jeff is unable to perform it’s up to Chuck to save the day by beating the game by rocking out to Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.” An unusual episode with several nice touches including the idea that real-life satellite controlled through codes found on the game’s kill screen.
Best moment – We have a tie between the montage of Jeff’s fans coming out of the woodwork to see their idol take a crack at Missile Command one more time and Sarah going undercover dressed as a Nerd Herder (the slow motion scene is later called back with Hannah’s first time in uniform in Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler).

2. Pilot

The show that began it all. Bryce Larkin “dies” and sends Chuck the Intersect,  forever changing the life of  the underachieving Chuck Bartowski who must know deal with ninjas trying to steal his computer, a head full of information he didn’t ask for, and having to defuse a bomb by using a nasty computer virus.
Best moment – Chuck meets Sarah when she shows up to have her phone repaired (a meeting which is done again with Lou in Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami). It’s also one of the few moments that is recreated from Sarah’s point-of-view later in the series.

1. Chuck Versus the Nemesis (Season One)

This episode has a lot going for it. Sarah and Chuck deal with the awkward fallout from the kiss, Bryce Larkin returns from the dead and Casey gets to shoot him again! Meanwhile, Ellie is dealing with Thanksgiving dinner and the jealousy of Morgan’s new girlfirend Anna. The episode ends on Black Friday with a battle in the Buy More (saved by pineapple, believe it or not), and a choice for Sarah – to remain with Chuck or leave with Bryce on his new mission hunting Fulcrum.
Best moment: Chuck’s dark, and oddly specific, toast for what he is most thankful for this year.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Brock September 29, 2010 at 11:44 pm

I can’t believe Kristen Kruek didn’t break your top ten. I love her character.


bbon October 16, 2010 at 4:48 pm

I just started watching this show this year and I love it. I have to go back and see some of these episodes.


Morgan January 1, 2011 at 8:05 pm

This is my favorite show!


Summer Schroot June 21, 2016 at 10:54 pm

Good post, thanks for the read!


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