Chuck Versus the Sandworm
|"Chuck Versus the Sandworm"|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Robert Duncan McNeill|
|Written by||Phil Klemmer|
|Featured music||"Dice" by Finley Quaye & William Orbit
"It Takes Two" by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock
"All Right Now" by Free
"The Weight of the World" by Editors
"When Johnny Comes Marching Home (instrumental)"
|Original air date||October 29, 2007|
"Chuck Versus the Sandworm" aired on October 29, 2007, and is the sixth episode of Chuck's first season. Chuck Bartowski meets a kindred spirit in Laszlo Mahnovski, a genius who designs technology for the government, but finds himself questioning how much he trusts his handlers. Meanwhile, Morgan is challenged to grow up.
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As the episode begins, a secret bunker out in the desert explodes and a disheveled young man fights his way past an armed agent to escape. In Burbank Chuck is approached by Big Mike regarding the pending interviews for the store's Assistant Manager position, and warns him Morgan is a liability to him. Morgan is supposed to be working a double-shift, so Chuck is asked to track him down. He finds him playing video games out at an arcade built at the Santa Monica Pier, where he flashes on Morgan's opponent: the young man from the opening, who Chuck identifies as Laszlo Mahnovski. Laszlo recognizes Chuck's watch and flees.
Chuck checks in with Sarah, and she confirms they are looking into the situation and gives him a picture of them cosplaying as Han Solo and Princess Leia at Comic-Con, which Chuck laments makes them almost look like a real couple. The next morning Casey angrily confronts Chuck about not being contacted. During a briefing Beckman confirms that Laszlo is a government technology wizard who recently killed and escaped from the team handling him, and is believed to be highly dangerous. Laszlo tracks Chuck to the Buy More and claims he was framed. Laszlo's situation mirrors Chuck's own, so he begins to trust the rogue asset and takes him to get something to eat. Laszlo reveals he was recruited at the pier where Chuck first identified him, and that he was responsible for any technology the government needed, including Chuck's watch. Laszlo is so sheltered he doesn't even understand the reference Chuck makes to him being like Q. Laszlo then warns him he shouldn't even trust his own handlers.
Chuck returns home to find that, as Laszlo predicted, his home has been bugged, even the picture Sarah gave him. Chuck angrily confronts Casey, who acknowledges the bugs are there for Chuck's protection. Casey asks how he knew, and Chuck admits to having spoken with Laszlo. Chuck returns home again to find Laszlo in his room, and despite Chuck's continued protests that his handlers can help, the rogue doesn't believe him. Instead, Chuck agrees to hide Laszlo at the Buy More, where they watch A View to a Kill, as Laszlo has never seen a Bond movie. However, Laszlo interprets Max Zorin as the real hero, as he relates to his being the subject of government experimentation. He then reveals that he designed the Home Theater room and that it's capable of tapping into military computers. Laszlo upgrades a nuclear-armed B-2 bomber to active status and sends it to bomb San Francisco, in honor of Max Zorin who attempted to destroy Silicon Valley (and inadvertently, San Francisco) in "A View to a Kill", but relents when Chuck suggests he might enjoy Goldfinger.
Meanwhile, Sarah is contacted by Agent Ben Katz, Laszlo's chief handler, who warns her that Laszlo is dangerous and may be building a bomb. She leaves Chuck a voicemail warning him to get to his car and stay there. Chuck complies after checking his mail when Laszlo's instability was revealed and he ran to get a copy of Goldfinger to distract him, but Laszlo is already there and takes control of the Herder. After a short chase with Casey, Laszlo ejects Chuck from the vehicle. At home, Chuck apologizes to Sarah for not trusting them and she sees that he threw away the fake picture of them together.
The Herder's tracking device reactivates, but when Sarah and Casey track it down they discover that Laszlo had removed it and thrown in onto another vehicle. Chuck flashes on a drawing Laszlo gave him and realizes that he intends to blow up the pier. Chuck arrives in time for Laszlo to activate the Herder's amplified self-destruct device and begins to taunt Chuck on which wire to cut. When Laszlo makes a reference to Goldfinger—a film that he claimed to have never seen—Chuck realizes Laszlo had been lying to him all along, so he ignores Laszlo's suggestion to cut the red wire, and cuts the green wire instead. The bomb is disarmed, and Laszlo is taken into custody.
Morgan's behavior at the Buy More is becoming a serious problem. His antics include a game called the "Mystery Crisper," an employee game where someone eats spoiled leftovers from the break room fridge's vegetable crisper while the rest of the team bets on if the challenger will eat it, which Morgan always wins. When Morgan risks a sexual harassment suit by showing two teenagers a girl's "whale tail" using a camcorder hooked to the video wall, Chuck angrily warns him he needs to grow up.
A dejected Morgan talks with Awesome, who discusses the finer points of "being a man," including getting Morgan to tuck in his shirt and style his hair. However, when Morgan goes to work the next day in a pressed shirt, tie and sweater-vest with slicked hair, it is Halloween and everyone assumes he is in a costume. Morgan rebuffs Chuck when he tries to apologize for chewing him out the day before. Chuck leaves the store when he flashes on Laszlo's plans, even though he is scheduled to be interviewing for the assistant manager's position that day. Morgan decides to intervene on Chuck's behalf and interview with the HR manager for him, although the job is given to Harry Tang. That night at their Halloween party Chuck returns home from the mission and he apologizes again, and insists Morgan take the "head" of their popular Sandworm costume.
At the party, Sarah arrives dressed in a Princess Leia metal bikini costume to talk with Chuck. She wants Chuck to have something of them that's real, so she takes a picture of them both together.
"Chuck Versus the Sandworm" reveals the source of the many tools and gadgets used by Chuck and the team. In addition to their watches, the Herder and Home Theater room were all designed by Laszlo. Harry Tang's given names are revealed to be "Harold Tiberius." The episode also ended the mini-arc regarding Chuck's competition with Harry for the Assistant Manager's position, which began in "Chuck Versus the Intersect".
- Chuck flashes when he sees Laszlo for the first time
- When looking at a sketch Laszlo made on a napkin while they were talking over pancakes, Chuck flashes and realizes the design represented the destruction of the pier where Laszlo was recruited.
References to popular culture
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- When Chuck cuts the wire on the Herder's self-destruct, the timer stops at 7 seconds. This echoes the scene in Goldfinger when Bond disarms a bomb set to explode inside Fort Knox, which also stops at 7 seconds. However the Herder's timer has an extra digit, making the time read 00:07 rather than 0:07 (Double-Oh 7). The film Goldfinger was discussed on several occasions leading up to this scene.
- The end credits of A View to a Kill featured in this episode are not the real end credits to the film. Instead of footage of the Golden Gate Bridge and Duran Duran's title song playing as the credits roll, a black screen with standard rolling credits accompanied by generic spy music is featured.
- The end scene when Chuck runs back home in slow-motion while Finlay Quaye's song "Dice" plays, is a copy of the end sequence from The O.C. episode "The Countdown." The O.C. was the debut series of Chuck producer Josh Schwartz.
- After Sarah gives Chuck a photo of them together at Comic-Con, Chuck mentions that they never actually went to Comic-Con together. However Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski actually attended San Diego Comic Con International in July 2007 as part of the promotion for the show.
- When Laszlo reveals the Home Theater room can access Air Force command channels, he asks Chuck "How about a game of Thermonuclear War?" The film WarGames centered on a computer system that mistook a game for a real order to launch its missiles. The name of the "game," actually a military simulation, was Global Thermonuclear War.
- The game Morgan is playing at the pier is called Guitar Shredder, a reference to the Guitar Hero series of games.
- Chuck and Morgan's Halloween costume is a sandworm from Frank Herbert's Dune franchise, and several posters for the 1984 film adaptation of the 1965 novel Dune can be seen throughout the episode.
- Harry Tang's middle name, Tiberius, is the same as Star Trek's James T. Kirk.
- The music played in Chuck's room when Sarah gives him the picture is "The Weight of the World" by the Editors, from the album An End has a Start, not Arcade Fire as Chuck decides Sarah is "not really ready" for Arcade Fire.
- When Beckman briefs the team on Laszlo, Casey remarks, "What, is he gonna hurt me with his mind?" In the episode "Trash" of the science fiction series Firefly, River Tam tells Jayne (also played by Baldwin) "Also, I can kill you with my brain."
- When Morgan talks to the HR rep about Chuck's absence. The music playing in the background is "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", a reference to the 1964 comedy film Doctor Strangelove.