'Chuck' Episode 3.04: 'Chuck Versus Operation Awesome' Recap

Title: "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome"

Story: No time is wasted tonight in picking up on last week's cliffhanger. Chuck's (Zachary Levi) brother-in-law Devon (Ryan McPartlin) is in Ring hands -- specifically the beautiful and deadly Sydney (Angie Harmon) -- and they've got some plans for him: recruitment. Seeing a golden opportunity to bring down a Ring cell, General Beckman orders Team Bartowski to use poor Captain Awesome as bait. Things don't go off as planned of course, and Chuck is forced to take on the handler role for his marked bro. The team also gets a new commanding officer, in the form of the mysterious Shaw (Dean Cain).

The Man Of Steel Arrives: It's been fun seeing Cap Awesome dabble in the spy game, but he's comfortably returned to his quiet married life by the time the episode ends. In his place is a new wrinkle in the form of Shaw, whose command is thrust upon the team because of his years of work spent pursuing The Ring. We also find out that Shaw has a history with Agent Walker (Yvonne Strahovski), which may or may not include an exchange of wedding vows.

And In The Darkness Bind Them: For all of the Ring-play in "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome," we still know very little about the nature of this new evil orgnanization. They operate in discrete cells, but their overarching goals and higher command structure remain a mystery. The season is still young though, and "Operation Awesome" at least furthers the developing story with the introduction of Shaw.

Buy More No More: Sad as it is to say it, the Buy More subplots are starting to feel more like a distraction from the good stuff than an integral part of the larger story. It's not surprising given Chuck's growth as an agent, but Morgan's exploits as an assistant manager just aren't funny enough to serve as a substitute for the excitement. Tonight's fight club nonsense served no other purpose than to set up an escape for Chuck later on.

Unresolved Issues: While Chuck still can't flash Intercept data on demand, it's sidelined this episode in exchange for his ongoing issues with handling guns. I don't think that making the everyman super-spy's first kill a plot point is going to happen -- Chuck's innocence is the basis for the show -- but I wonder how long it will be before we see him shoot to incapacitate.

Lone Flyer: Next week sees Chuck on his first solo mission, trapped on a plane with a Buy More newcomer played by Kristin Kreuk -- maybe we shouldn't give up on the Best Buy knockoff -- and a probable Ring agent played by Stone Cold Steve Austin.