Chuck star Zachary Levi directed the show last night. The result? “Chuck vs. the Beard” was easily the best of the season. It incorporated all our favorite characters in a blend of action and comedy that will change the series as we know it. Or at least, seriously boost Morgan’s role. Let’s review.
Spy Training: Much to everyone’s concern, Chuck found himself unable to flash after last week’s Rafe Gruber incident. Kind of a big deal, especially given that Sarah, Casey, and Shaw were off on a Ring-created diversion while the bad guys captured Chuck and Morgan at Castle. Yep, Morgan. Guess who’s finally in on the secret. With Morgan by his side, Chuck proved he could have a heart and be a kick-ass spy. Finally!
The Handlers: Sarah, Casey, and Shaw were too busy being led on a wild goose chase to be of much assistance this week. I did, however, like Sarah pointing out that part of being a good spy means not killing someone who's given a couple years of his life to the U.S. government. Not cool, Agent Shaw. Not cool.
The Romance: You want romance? With Chuck’s performance anxiety, Morgan’s exciting new intel, the spies’ misguided mission, and the Buy More’s last stand (see below), there was hardly any time for smooches. We did get a brief but lovely admission from Agent Bartowski that yes, he still loves Sarah. Sweet, hopeful, and inspired by Morgan—what more could you ask for?
Ellie and Awesome: It looked as though Awesome would be involved with this week’s mission, but he was actually a decoy to get the Ring access to Castle. No worries, except for the fact that Awesome found himself majorly freaked. At first, I was concerned that Awesome’s skittishness and terrible lying skills would only be played for comic relief. But then he suggested to Ellie that they join Doctors Without Borders (and basically get the hell outta Dodge). Could this mean a prolonged absence from the series?
Morgan: Yes, Morgan gets his own grade this week. Because Morgan is also awesome. When he learned there was a CIA base under the Buy More that'd been infiltrated by Ring operatives, he chose to stay and fight. More awesomely, when he finally learned Chuck’s big secret, he greeted the news with support and enthusiasm. Sometimes I feel like Morgan Grimes is my best friend, too.
Guest Stars: The usually funny Cedric Yarbrough (Reno 911!) and Diedrich Bader (The Drew Carey Show) were solid as undercover Ring agents posing as businessmen taking over the Buy More. But where were the laughs? If you’re going to bring in moderately well-known comedians, give them something to do.
The Buy More: It was all about the Buy More this week, with the staff believing they were defending the store—and their jobs—against a corporate takeover. I enjoyed the barricade sequences, and Jeffster performing “Fortunate Son” was nearly as cool as Chuck using the Intersect to dominate at "Duck Hunt."
Overall Grade: A
Follow TV.com writer Louis Peitzman on Twitter: @LouisAtTVDotCom