“The Intersect didn’t make you a hero. It just gave you the opportunity.”
—Ellie

I’m almost certain that my constant and incessant need to watch every, single sneak peek of the Chuck season five premiere practically spoiled my overall enjoyment of this episode. If you watched all the sneak peeks that were available, you could have almost guessed the plot… save for the small details, of course. So I’ll try my best to critique the premiere while disregarding the lack of newness due to my own impatience.

For the most part, “Chuck vs the Zoom” was just a setup to make Team Bartowski the underdogs yet again while establishing that the Intersect isn’t what makes Chuck great — in fact, all along it’s been Chuck that has made the Intersect great. Chuck is, and always will be, the man with a plan. And since we’ve only got twelve episodes left after the premiere, we can’t have him moping around for the rest of them. So by episode’s end, Chuck has realized this, but not too soon before The Eraser freezes Carmichael Industries’s bank account.

It’s a move that has finally made the Buy More even remotely important, something the show has struggled with since late season three, but even then Chuck couldn’t save Jeff and Lester from being non-important in their own right. The B-story, which includes the Buy Morons, have been largely uninspired since around the same time. In this episode, we got Jeff and Lester trying to scam people out of money… for absolutely no reason whatsoever (besides the obvious fact that everyone loves money). What made the Buy More great wasn’t just Jeff and Lester’s schemes and borderline grossness, it was the parallels they drew to the spy plot or at the very least how they interconnected somehow. Think back to the season two premiere, when Chuck is surrounded by bad guys and calls Morgan up on speaker who’s back at the Buy More in a cage fight and lists the supposed and seemingly backup that Chuck has. Or Chuck and Sarah playing married couple in “Chuck vs the Suburbs” while Big Mike is going through a divorce. That’s what I mean.

Jeff and Lester were kind of gross checking out women on a dating website but their motives had heart… even if it was mainly self-serving. So when Jeff and Lester are on screen for all but two minutes in this episode just to scam people for money, it made no sense. Why not a plot where Jeff actually hurts himself and the sympathy gets him more sales or more perks on the job and Lester is jealous of that (or a story line that’s actually good, whatever)?

And I know, as I stated, they were only on for about all of two minutes but truthfully that’s my biggest complaint of the episode. I wasn’t one to consider that Morgan inheriting the Intersect could be a disaster and this episode didn’t sway me in that direction, either. The show got good enough use of Morgan being the antithesis of the way Chuck, Sarah, and Casey described him in the beginning while proving he’s not all that capable just yet. Though, when he “saves the day,” it has less to do with the Intersect and more to do with Morgan’s supposed ability to talk business, which seems more of a Chuck-like ability. But I digress. Intersect-less Chuck makes for a more nostalgic Chuck, who now has to rely on his wit as he did back in seasons one and two — and I wont lie to you, I’m kind of digging the vibe here.

But I think the best part of the premiere were the two scenes in which I remembered why I fell in love with this show in the first place. Sarah Lancaster (Ellie) is so natural that you can hardly tell she’s acting, even if it’s just a short scene like the one during tonight’s episode. It was quite poignant. And the scene with Chuck and Sarah lying in bed, talking about their dream home was just so comfortable. It speaks volumes that the show can go from seductive Sarah to vulnerable Sarah, one scene to the next. The premiere most definitely verified that oh, yes, this is the reason I love this show. Because these characters are amazing. Even with its maybe bumpy story in the premiere, the chemistry with this cast is undeniable, and the easiness with these characters is so radiating that story flaws are forgivable or even forgettable.

And it all leads to a fantastic ending action sequence in which Chuck just, basically, runs for his life — but it’s all part of his meticulous plan. (Though, I can do without Chuck and Sarah calling each other “husband” and “wife” and “honey” and “sweetheart” and “[so and so]” all the time, it was starting to get unnatural.) And that’s why we watch Chuck.

So now that the exposition for the season is mostly underway (Decker “The Eraser” has yet to formally explain his plans, though I’m intrigued), it’s time to enjoy 12 final hours of Chuck. I can hardly believe we’ve got but just a halfday left with the little spy that could.

Michael loves TV. You can find him at home, where he spends all of his time watching TV with his best friends couch and cable access.