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'Chuck' fan recap: Welcome to the Ring

Season 3 | Episode 4 | “Chuck Versus Operation Awesome” | Aired Jan 18, 2010

This episode of Chuck reminded me of three things.

  1. I sometimes forget how laugh-out-loud funny this show is.
  2. The “Devon as a Russian spy” season one plotline that TPTB bailed on would have made Chuck such a different show. (But I’m glad we got to keep Captain Awesome instead.)
  3. Brandon Routh is fab.

Those things being said, let’s dive into our first real Buy More subplot of the season. The newly reinstated Big Mike promotes Morgan to assistant manager (again). His first order of business: Shut down the underground Buy More fight club.

The whole store is covered in cuts and bruises. Lester says the pain makes them feel alive, and they’ve turned the storage cage into an electrified fight ring. But the Buy Morons don’t take Morgan seriously, and they refuse to stop … that is, until Morgan fires their ringleader. Lester begs for a second chance and Morgan agrees. He has their respect now.

The Buy More Fight Club

At the end of episode three, Devon was kidnapped by Ring operatives, and he’s still missing at the top of the episode. He was taken by Sydney Prince (Angie Harmon), who thinks Devon is the spy in the family—an understandable mistake—and she wants to recruit him to the Ring.

Back at Castle, Chuck is on the edge of a full-scale meltdown, and at home, Ellie is too. Thankfully, Sydney releases Devon safely, but she gave him a Ring communication device and promised to contact him later. After debriefing, Chuck is ready to take Devon home, but Beckman says no. They have to use Devon to capture Sydney. Chuck argues, but is overruled. One more mission.

But the boys have a more serious problem: Ellie. They have to come up with a way to explain Devon’s disappearance. Devon is a self-proclaimed bad liar, and his wild story begins with him going on an after-work run, and ends with him decapitating a bear. Seriously. Ellie, understandably, has gone from worried to furious. So Chuck cooks up a better lie. He tells her that Devon was helping get charges against a drunken and publically indecent Casey dropped. Devon is off the hook, but an unknowing Casey is now the recipient of some hilariously awkward looks from Ellie.

The Bartowski look of disbelief/disapproval

Sydney finally contacts Devon and leaves a package on his front step. It includes an earpiece and a watch to communicate with her. Standard spy stuff. They allow her to track him and also potentially blow his face off. With a rigged earpiece latched onto his head, Devon has no choice but to cooperate.

Devon’s mission is to go to the penthouse of Crystal Towers. Chuck’s mission is to stay calm. But Devon needs an assist infiltrating the building, so Chuck heads inside. But Devon’s bad lying rears its unbelievable head again with Julius the security guard. Devon inadvertently implies that he and Chuck are having an affair, and Julius is very understanding. He’s been there. Devon shouldn’t live a lie. (Spinoff for Julius! Also, this episode is so hilarious, I can’t even.)

But Julius meets the wrong end of Chuck’s tranq gun, and the boys head upstairs using his keycard. Chuck takes out the rest of the guards in the penthouse, and once they’ve infiltrated it, they find a CIA facility. Sydney is on her way in the building when Casey and Sarah receive new orders from Beckman. She tells them to stand down. This whole mission is a setup. And Sydney has just ordered Devon to kill the man at the end of the hall.

The man at the end of the hall (Brandon Routh) knows who Chuck is, and he knows all about Sydney. He tells Chuck to kill him; if he doesn’t, he and Devon are dead. But gun-fearing Chuck can’t do it … then the man does it himself. He gives Chuck an envelope to open once Sydney is gone, then shoots himself in the shoulder.

Chuck and Agent Shaw (Brandon Routh) in

Chuck hides right before Sydney arrives. She checks out the body and takes back Devon’s rigged comms. She tells him to lose the body but keep the phone. He’s in. When she leaves, Chuck opens the man’s note. He took a pill to stop his heart; Devon can save him. When he wakes up, the man introduces himself as Daniel Shaw (whom Beckman spoke to in episode two).

Back at Castle, Beckman explains that Shaw has been working to take down the Ring for the last five years. He’ll be in charge of all their Ring missions going forward. Unfortunately, Shaw is on team “Let’s use Devon to catch the Ring.” But this time, Chuck doesn’t back down. If they won’t get Devon out, he’ll do it himself.

Chuck takes Devon’s phone and makes some adjustments so he can make calls too. He calls Sydney and tells her he’s the one who killed Shaw. Devon was a decoy—Chuck is in charge now. His plan in motion, Chuck calls Sarah and Co. for help, and Shaw shuts him down. Chuck started this on his own, so he has to end it. Sarah and Casey try to go against Shaw’s orders, but he pulls guns on them. But when Sydney shows up, they defy Shaw anyway. Chuck is dead without them.

Sarah and Casey take out Sydney’s men, but she takes off. Chuck goes after her, but he can’t bring himself to shoot her. Luckily, Shaw can, and he arrives just in time. Now Devon is really out of the spy game. Shaw tells Chuck later that his friends and family are a liability—but this time, Sarah sticks up for Chuck. Shaw seems anti-love, but later, alone at Castle, he pulls a wedding ring out of his pocket. There’s more to this story.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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