Chuck 4.09 “Chuck vs Phase Three” Recap

Did you miss last week’s cliffhanger of an episode? Catch up with my recap here.

“Chuck vs Phase Three” begins with Chuck and Sarah making out in bed. Sarah stops and coos that what she really wants from Chuck, is for him to flash. Is she sure, Chuck wonders. Wouldn’t she rather continue kissing…or talk…or something? She’s sure, but when Chuck can’t flash, she rolls over with a curt, “Never mind.” A voice stirs to Chuck’s other side. It’s Lester! He tells Chuck not to worry about his presence because this whole scene is in his head. It has to be because does Chuck really think he’d be able to keep a girl like Sarah without flashing? Chuck freaks out, as the scene blurs and reforms with Chuck asleep, strapped to a chair and with brain sensors attached to his head. The Belgian and his scientist, Dr. Miller, are trying to get Chuck to flash by prodding him with visions of people important to him. Dr. Miller believes if Chuck’s anxiety level is properly raised, his brain will have to flash, and nothing makes him more anxious than Sarah.

Speaking of Miss Walker, she and Casey return to Castle having been in five countries in the last three days, without finding Chuck. General Beckman doesn’t have any additional information either. Sarah complains that bureaucracy is slowing them down, but the General insists proper protocol with their allies must be followed. When Sarah protests again, The General orders her to get some sleep. Sarah refuses. The General tries to stress to her that she knows how important it is that the secrets within the Intersect don’t fall into the hands of The Belgian, but Sarah cuts her off. “Forget secrets! This is about Chuck!” Before General Beckman can respond, Casey tells her that he’ll make sure Sarah gets some sleep. The General signs off. Sarah stops Casey before he can speak — she knows she shouldn’t have said what she did to Beckman.

Morgan enters and says that he found out from their Swiss office that one of The Belgian’s aides from Thailand is currently at the Thai embassy in Los Angeles. Sarah wants to grab the guy immediately, but Casey says the Thai embassy is sovereign land that they can’t just invade. “Come on Casey…be a spy!” Casey grunts his tacit approval. The spies, disguised as carpet layers, unroll a carpet in the aide’s office. When the aide complains that the carpet is ugly, Sarah pulls her gun and demands to know where Chuck is. The aide denies any knowledge of Chuck at all, so Sarah shoots him with a tranquilizer dart, and rolls him up in the carpet.

The carpet unrolls the aide in a cell in Castle. Sarah tries to interrogate him, but the man won’t speak. Morgan observes Sarah becoming more and more intense with her questioning, so he tells Casey that he is concerned Sarah is about to “go Kill Bill” on the guy. Casey insists that Sarah is a professional and knows her limits, but when he goes to the cell, he sees Sarah is about to punch the aide in the face. He pulls her out of the cell and tells her that he doesn’t like this version of Sarah: the unpredictable enforcer he knew before Sarah met Chuck. Morgan steps in between them to try to diffuse the tension, and convinces Sarah to go home and sleep. She agrees to two hours, and leaves. Morgan is quite proud of himself for getting Sarah to relent. Even Casey is impressed, as his smirking grunt implies (this was a great night for John Casey Grunts).

Over in Echo Park, Ellie sets off for work. Despite being pregnant, she has to work a 36 hour shift, much to Devon’s chagrin, who just wants his wife to relax and not stress. He’s all about the safety of his wife and unborn child, so he suggests she take his Toyota Siena, which has superior safety ratings (Blatant Product Placement!). She demurs, and says she will take her father’s Mustang. Ellie drops her keys, and when she bends down to pick them up, she finds the glowing black case hidden underneath the car. Ellie and Devon bring the case inside and wonder what it is, especially after it does nothing when they open it. Ellie is worried that it is “spy stuff,” so she doesn’t want Devon to call Chuck, lest he be tempted to start his spy work again. Devon promises he won’t call Chuck when Ellie leaves for work. Back where Chuck is being held, Dr. Miller whispers into Chuck’s ear the names of some of his loved ones: “Sarah, Ellie, Morgan, and this ‘Awesome’ character.” Further, he warns them that he will lose them all if he does not flash.

In their apartment, Sarah lies in bed, but can’t sleep. She sees Chuck’s Nerd Herd shirt and goes over to it. She smells it, and its scent makes her miss Chuck even more. She notices there is something in the pocket behind the pocket protector, and pulls out a folded sheet of paper. Sarah returns to the bed and looks at the paper when Morgan comes in. He asks how she is doing, but they both realize they’re not doing so well. Sarah asks if he knows what the paper is. Morgan denies knowledge of it at first, but immediately caves and tells her that it is Chuck’s plans for his proposal to Sarah! It includes all of the things that are important to them, including a DeLorean, a wild stallion (or possibly this Wyld Stallyns), and a Lamborghini; or at least things important to Chuck when he first devised this plan as a teenager. Sarah asks when Chuck was going to propose, but Morgan replies that the plan has been on hold since he lost the Intersect. Sarah worries that Chuck thinks she won’t love him without the Intersect; she doesn’t care about the Intersect. “That’s great!” Morgan exclaims, especially because she told him that. Sarah’s face drops as she shakes her head in the negative.

General Beckman inquires of Casey whether he and Sarah had anything to do with the disappearance of a Thai diplomat from his embassy. Of course not, Casey tells Beckman. She tells Casey to watch Sarah because she’s clearly reaching her breaking point. Casey tells Sarah as much when she returns, early, to Castle. In response, Sarah punches Casey in the face, staggering him long enough that she can lock him in one part of Castle while she returns to the aide to interrogate him further. She empties a bag of torture tools to use against her prisoner who laughs at the fact that, as a U.S. government agent, she’d never use those tools on him. She begs to differ as she is not acting as a U.S. agent but rather a woman who wants the man she loves back. The aide taunts her, saying “It is amazing what a woman will do to find a husband.” Sarah sticks a hypodermic needle full of ammonia in to his neck, but before she pushes the plunger, she admits that she may be a crazy woman, but a crazy woman that knows how to kill him 200 different ways. Sarah returns to Casey with the information that Chuck is being held in Thailand. She will not, however, let Casey follow her. Casey warns her that Thailand is extremely dangerous. “You need me!” he bellows as he demands his release. “No,” Sarah replies, “I need Chuck.”

Devon sits alone with the case, and tries and tries to make it do…something, but to no avail. There is a knock on the door. It is Jeff and Lester. They agree to get the computer operational, but in exchange for Devon’s medical services. It seems Jeff has an abscess and Lester a case of gout that need to be treated. Devon agrees to take a look at the boys’ maladies if they promise to not tell Chuck about the computer. They agree, so Lester moves toward the computer (a Ted Roark design), while Jeff drops his pants. Meanwhile, Morgan finds Casey locked in Castle. He apologizes for Sarah’s behavior: he may have let it slip about Chuck’s plan to propose. Casey orders Morgan to open the door, but Morgan wants something in return. He wants in on the mission. Casey warns Morgan that Thailand is like the “Jungles of Hell,” but Morgan doesn’t care. Casey finally relents, but tells Morgan that he’s not getting any bullets.

In Thailand, Sarah enters a bar, and in perfect Thai, asks if anyone knows where The Belgian is. A scarred man at the bar says he can give her information, but first she needs to relax and have a drink with him. She grabs the shot on the bar and downs it in a flash. She says she doesn’t have time for anything more because she’s looking for her boyfriend. “Maybe I can be your boyfriend,” the guy responds…incorrectly. Sarah grabs him by the head, slams him into the bar, and knocks him out with a punch. Anyone else want to be her boyfriend?

Chuck is in another dream when he sees Sarah wheeling a suitcase out of their apartment. She says she doesn’t want him because he can’t flash. Observing Chuck going through this dream, The Belgian says Dr. Miller isn’t working fast enough. They need to push Chuck harder. All Dr. Miller can do next is initiate Phase three: lobotomize Chuck and erase everything in his brain except the Intersect. The Belgian orders the doctor to do so. Meanwhile, Sarah finds a local warlord who says he knows where The Belgian is, and he doesn’t mind telling Sarah because he’s not particularly fond of the guy. He will tell her The Belgian’s location, after they have a little fun. He runs a fight club and has a fighter so incredible that he hasn’t faced a challenge in a while. Sarah has become a local legend of sorts as she has cut her way through the countryside. She is known as the “giant, blond she-male,” and therefore would be a fair competitor for his fighter. If she can defeat her opponent, she will learn The Belgian’s whereabouts. Sarah agrees, and the fight is on.

Sarah enters a small, wooden ring with a facially tattooed fighter. They bow to each other and the fight opens with each combatant launching a flying kick. Each takes turn with the upper hand as fans and bettors (including a random little person) watch the action. Sarah is kicked through a wall, but she flips herself back into the ring. She starts to pummel her opponent until he throws sand into her eyes.

Sarah is dropped to the ground by her assailant, who then pulls out a knife to finish her off. He raises the knife, but it is shot out of his hand. From the crowd, guns drawn, Casey and Morgan emerge. “I definitely know how to use this, dirtbags!” Morgan exclaims (in what I can only hope was a Police Academy reference). Morgan rushes to Sarah’s side and gives her some water to wash out her eyes. When he sees a snake, however, he scrambles up the wall. Casey chastises Sarah for running into such a dangerous place alone, but he is undercut when one of the Thai waitresses asks, “The usual, Mr. Casey?” Casey wants to leave, but Sarah insists she finish what she’s started. As Sarah steps back into the ring, Casey notices Morgan trying to hide from the snake. “You’re not getting bullets for a long time,” he notes.

Back in Echo Park, Morgan has brought in the Buy More fat kid with glasses to try to help, but he is of no use. Big Mike then emerges with Devon from upstairs, thanking the doctor for the stool softener prescription. Devon, sensing that he’s being used, reminds Big Mike that he had a part to give Lester. In Thailand, Sarah pours the water over her face and body (in slo-motion, of course), and prepares to take on her opponent once more.

At that moment, Chuck wakes up, and finds himself alone. He takes off the brain sensors and heads for the window. While Sarah kicks the fighter’s ass, Chuck escapes through the window and out into the jungle. His phone rings; it’s Ellie. He tells her that he’s in major trouble, but Ellie doesn’t seem to be bothered by this fact. Chuck continues, telling his sister that he needs her to call Sarah and Casey. She responds, quite matter-of-factly, that if he just tried, he could flash. Hearing this, Chuck realizes that he is still in a dream. Dr. Miller enters Chuck’s dream and warns him that if he does not flash soon, he will be forced to erase all of Chuck’s memory besides the Intersect. Chuck pleads with him, but he just can’t flash!

Meanwhile, Sarah finally dispatches of her opponent by kicking through a table he was using as a weapon, and running and flipping off of the ring wall. As Casey tends to her wounds, she apologizes for her actions at Castle. Casey says it’s OK because the Moron (Morgan) told him about Chuck’s proppsal plan. In his lab, Dr. Miller initiates Phase Three; when asked, he doesn’t know how long it will take as it depends on the brain being lobotomized. The Belgian leans over his prey and says, “Goodbye Chuck.”

Chuck wakes on the floor of the Buy More, to the image of Morgan, Jeff, Lester and Big Mike standing over him. Chuck knows that this is a dream, but they all seem so real. Morgan responds that of course they are real. He continues, telling Chuck that he needs to flash. There is a rumble akin to an earthquake, and the four guys are gone. As Chuck dreams, Sarah, Casey and Morgan scope out the Belgian’s camp, which is being guarded by a number of Thai militia men. Morgan pitches that if they don’t use guns, maybe the bad guys won’t use guns. Casey thinks they need a diversion instead. Sarah agrees: it’s time for The Magnet.

The lights go off in the Buy More. Morgan appears on a TV and tells Chuck to just flash. Big Mike then appears on another TV, as do Jeff, Lester and Casey, all telling Chuck to flash. Lester laughs about Sarah leaving Chuck because he can’t flash. Casey asks if Chuck is a nerd or a spy. General Beckman appears on a screen, telling Chuck that he has become expendable because he lacks the Intersect. These voices build into a cacophony that staggers Chuck.

Cut back to Morgan, who, dressed as a tourist, stumbles into the bad guys’ camp. He says he’s looking for a hostel. With the men distracted, Sarah and Casey are able to silently take out a couple guards. Sarah then slips into a nearby pond to get the drop on more bad guys. When they see her emerge from the water, they run, yelling, “It’s the giant blond! Run away!”

Chuck then finds himself in the apartment courtyard, and sees Ellie and Devon. He wants them to help him wake up, but Ellie just asks Chuck to flash. When he can’t, the couple glide behind their apartment door, which slams shut.

Sarah bursts through the door to the hut containing The Belgian, Dr. Miller and Chuck. She knocks out The Belgian and runs to her boyfriend. Chuck is in his apartment, where the window shatters, and the pieces of glass glide in slo-motion toward him. As he walks toward the gaping window, Sarah pulls the sensors off of his head, and pleads with him to wake up. Chuck hears Sarah’s voice and goes to the bedroom. He sees Sarah sitting on their bed. She says, “I’m here,” which corresponds to her saying it in the real world. Chuck says to Sarah sitting on the bed, “No, this is a dream.”

Morgan tells Sarah to tell Chuck what she told him. “Be Sarah Walker the girlfriend, not Sarah Walker the spy.” Sarah cries, and tells Chuck that she found his proposal plan. When the dream Sarah says this to Chuck, he doesn’t believe it. She mentions that several racecars are involved, and laughs at the thought of it. She doesn’t care about the Intersect. She wants to marry him. Sarah kisses Chuck, both in the dream and in real life. Chuck wakes, and Casey gives a happy grunt.

The whole Buy More staff is now in Devon’s apartment, each with some visible malady repaired. Devon tells Lester that he’s had enough and orders everyone out. Lester, however, has finally been able to get the computer to work. He fires it up, and it loads to a screen saying, “Knock, Knock,” and with a place to enter a password. Lester tells Devon that he could try to hack the password, but that could take another twelve hours. Devon tells them to leave immediately. “I guess that’s a no to the colonoscopy then,” Lester says.

In Castle, General Beckman says she’s glad both Chuck and Sarah are feeling better. She tells Chuck that even with the Intersect buried deep in his brain and currently non-functional, he is to stay with the CIA because he is an asset even in his normal capacity. After Casey and Sarah insist they had nothing to do with a Thai embassy official waking up in his bed with no memory of his disappearance, Beckman signs off. Chuck tells Sarah that his proposal plan is just a rough draft. She shouldn’t worry about not being surprised; he still has some magic up his sleeves.

“I have no magic up my sleeves!” Chuck worries to Morgan. He needs to surprise Sarah to make his proposal special. Morgan tells him that maybe it’s best that he no longer has access to the Intersect. Now Chuck knows that Sarah loves him for him.

Back in Echo Park, Ellie arrives back at home. Devon tells her that the computer is fixed, and all they need is the password. He shows her the “Knock, Knock,” but tells her that “Who’s There?” doesn’t work. Ellie smiles because she knows the answer. Whenever her father started a “Knock, Knock” joke with her, she’d mess it up by saying, “I’m here.” She types that response in and the computer whirs to life. As the screen glows on her face, all Ellie can say is, “Oh my God!”


I have to say, that was a pretty great episode of Chuck. There really wasn’t anything all that deep about the episode (Sarah fights to get Chuck back), but it was pretty damn awesome episode for Yvonne Strahovski. Seriously, she kicked some major ass, and looked great doing it. More than the physical beatdowns she delivered throughout the episode, however, Strahovski kicked some major emotional ass as well. This may have been the best display of her acting chops on the series to date, and, in my opinion, she gave an incredible performance. Longtime Chuck fans will remember the early days when it was a wide-held belief that a lack of chemistry between Zachary Levi and Strahovski was a result of the latter’s deficit of acting experience and skill. Man, has she put those critics to shame, or what? The chemistry between the two really picked up a couple seasons ago, but it is episodes like this one that show how skilled an actress Strahovski has truly become. Bravo to her for shining in the spotlight of this episode. (By the way, if there isn’t a Strahovski commentary for this episode on the DVD, I will be sorely upset.)

Additionally, put me in the corner of people that are happy Ellie didn’t receive an Intersect from the case Stephen left for her in the Mustang. Or, at least, it didn’t appear so, as she didn’t have the “eyes glazing over” look characterized by receiving the Intersect. Making a pregnant Ellie an Intersect, and therefore likely sending her out on missions, would have been too weird, so I’m glad it doesn’t appear they are going down that road.

Further, I like the idea that for a little while at least, it seems Chuck won’t have access to the Intersect. This will give Chuck the chance to use the skills and intelligence he has always possessed apart from the Intersect to assist the team on missions. I’m not exactly sure why General Beckman all of a sudden decided an Intersect-less Chuck can stay on the team (I guess to keep him protected because the Intersect is still in his head), but having a “regular” Chuck on the team can lead to some pretty funny and inspired hijinks.

Last, I’m glad the writers quickly wrapped up the “Will Sarah love Chuck without the Intersect” story quickly. Two or three episodes of Chuck wondering and the two of them fighting about whether he can be a spy without the supercomputer was just the right amount of time to stretch out this story, so ending it here is a welcome sight. We all know Sarah and Chuck will stay together (the creators have said as much), so quickly and effectively wrapping up “relationship obstacle” storylines is appreciated, especially when they are done so with pitch-perfect emotion like this episode.

So, what did you think of “Chuck vs Phase Three”? Did you enjoy watchign Yvonne Strahovski kicking tail as much as I did? How about Sarah confirming she’ll love Chuck without the Intersect? Are you anticipating Chuck’s eventual proposal now as much as I am, especially that it needs to be something bigger and more surprising than using a DeLorean and a Lamborghini? Please drop your questions, comments and theories below. For another opinion, be sure to check out Emma’s review here. I’ll be back next week with another recap. Until then, I’m off to schedule a Monday trapeeze class.


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