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Chuck Versus the Alma Mater

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Chuck Versus the Alma Mater
Season 01, Episode 07
107ChuckAlmaMater
Air Date November 5, 2007
Writer Anne Cofell
Director Patrick R. Norris
Previous "Chuck Versus the Sandworm"
Next "Chuck Versus the Truth"

Chuck Versus the Alma Mater is the seventh episode of season one, which first aired on November 5, 2007.

Synopsis Edit

Chuck flashes on a Stanford University ID of himself, causing him to return to the university that wrongfully kicked him out, and finds out the truth about his expulsion, which was engineered by his late college roommate, Bryce Larkin.

Meanwhile at the Buy More, the staff are being oppressed by the new assistant manager.

Full Plot Edit

The episode begins with a recap of key events in past episodes: Bryce Larkin sends his old Stanford roommate, Chuck Bartowski, an e-mail containing the intersect--a CIA/NSA computer containing all the United States government secrets in encrypted images; the latter unwittingly absorbs these secrets into his brain. During their college days, Bryce had supposedly stolen Chuck's gilfriend, Jill Roberts, and framed him of cheating, which resulted in his expulsion from Stanford.

When the main story begins, Professor Flemming, the professor who originally kicked Chuck out of college, is seen giving a lecture on the subconscious and subliminal imagery (the concept behind the Intersect). He cuts the class short when he sees a suspicious looking man standing at his lecture room entrance. Flemming believes the man is looking for some unexplained data he'd previously loaded onto disc, and he makes a hasty call before escaping though a secret passage in his office closet.

Meanwhile, at the Buy More, Morgan Grimes pleads for Chuck's help regarding the new assistant manager, Harry Tang, and his strict new break room rules. Harry soon after appears and shoos Morgan back to his work. Chuck takes notice that Harry is wearing an assistant manager polo shirt with his name monogrammed onto it and agrees with his friend that something must be done, but a subtle gesture from John Casey pulls him away from this dilemma.

Casey takes Chuck to the home theater system, where a video meeting has already been set up with General Beckman and Director Graham. When they explains that they have lost contact with a CIA asset, George Flemming, Chuck immediately recognizes him. While their superiors admits they don't know what data Flemming referred to in his phone call, they warns them that anything he has information on regarding the CIA could prove devastating in the wrong hands and asks Chuck to provide any personal experiences with Flemming and Stanford to the mission. However, still stung from his past expulsion, Chuck refuses to take part in the mission.

Chuck eventually returns home, where Captain Awesome and his fraternity brothers from the UCLA give him tickets to a homecoming football game happening at Stanford University; Chuck turns the offer down, still wanting to steer clear of Stanford. Still brooding, Chuck returns to his room where he locates a box of old college memorabilia. Pulling out a picture of himself and his college friends, he flashes back to the day in 2003 when he left his dorm for the last time. Although his other college friends were sad to see him go, Bryce insists that Chuck had brought this upon himself.

Eventually, Chuck decides to throw out his old college things. But when he picks up his school ID, which had fallen out of the box when he was tossing it into the trash bin, he has a flash of himself during his college years. When confronted with this, neither Casey nor Sarah know why there's information on Chuck in the intersect, as he's supposedly never been of government interest until he became the intersect. While it's agreed that Flemming could provide an answer, he is currently being hunted by Magnus Einerson, an Icelandic spy who sells government secrets and uses a crossbow as his primary weapon.

Back at Buy More, Chuck discovers from Morgan and Anna that Harry has posted a strict lunch schedule that doesn't allow the Buy More employees to eat together, and Anna subtly suggests having Harry rubbed out (an idea that horrifies Chuck, despite his shared disagreements with Harry's policies). While Morgan refuses to give into Harry's rule, Harry himself arrives and threatens to be the one to break him, calling Morgan, "soft, like pudding."

Soon later, Casey approaches Chuck at his desk with the news that they have located Flemming; he wants to use Chuck as a friendly face. Chuck, however, doesn't see this as a good idea, recalling the day Flemming had accused Chuck of breaking into his office, stealing the midterm answer sheet, and selling copies to other students. Chuck remembers being horrified to learn that the tip came from his roommate, Bryce. Despite his attempts to back off, Casey doesn't take no for an answer.

Whilst this is occurring, the other Buy More employees take part in a game called "Fingers of Fury," a channel surfing contest in which two employees see how many shows they can identify on the flat screen displays in a minute. Morgan is challenged by Lester, but their game is interrupted by Harry, who has a master remote to all the televisions. He chastises the employees for their slacking, despite the fact that there are no customers there to serve.

When Team Bartowski arrive at the house Flemming is staying at, Casey and Sarah tell Chuck to wait in the car while they go to retrieve him. However, Chuck spots Flemming first, startling him. Flemming, upon figuring out that Chuck works for the CIA, is surprised Chuck doesn't know any code phrases and teaches him one for dangerous situations: "are you coming to the toga party?" Chuck then tells his old college professor that Casey and Sarah will be bringing him in and asks about the CIA file on him. Flemming apologizes, but before he can explain why, he is shot in the back by Magnus's crossbow. When Flemming tries to get Chuck to deliver a paper with a code on it to Bryce, Magnus shoots the sheet out of Chuck's hands and takes it.

After Casey and Sarah find the fallen CIA scientist, Flemming is taken to a hospital, and the two question Chuck on the code he tried delivering to Bryce. They believe Bryce may have been a contact of Flemmings, and that the latter has never been informed of the former's death. Back at home, Ellie renews Chuck's invitation to the homecoming game at his alma mater, but Chuck still declines despite his sister's insistence that going back to Stanford will help him get over his painful history there. She also points out that she found a Stanford library book Chuck had checked out (The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire), and Chuck doesn't seem too concerned with returning it despite it being four years overdue. ("What are they going to do? Expel me?")

It's not until Chuck reads the spine of the book that he realizes that the code Flemming gave him was a library book code. Flashing back to a shooting game of Gotcha! he and Bryce had in the library, Chuck remembers that Bryce had a hiding place there that he must've told Flemming about. He believes Flemming has hidden the CIA intel there for Bryce. The team need to get to the hiding place before Magnus does, but Chuck can't quite remember from the top of his head where the hiding space was. He has no choice but to go back to Stanford and find the hiding spot in person.

The trio go to Stanford on the guise of accepting Ellie and Devon's invitation to the game, and Chuck takes Sarah on the "Chuck Bartowski Memorial Tour." Chuck is having a hard time taking in the school he had such a good time in but had the worst day of his life at when he was kicked out. When Sarah asks him why Bryce might have betrayed him, Chuck brushes it off and says Bryce has betrayed a lot of people (which Casey agrees to). When the enter the library, Casey reveals he reactivated Chuck's ID (making a quip about failing to wipe off the stupid grin in Photoshop) and counterfeited two for him and Sarah, allowing the three to enter. Unfortunately, as soon as one of the librarians registers Chuck's ID, his overdue fees come back to haunt him.

Back at Buy More, the staff--fed up with Harry's tyranny--plan a takeover in which they steal the master remote from his locker. Anna volunteers to seduce Harry while Lester clips the keys from his pants while he's distracted. However, when Morgan moves in to retrieve the remote, he discovers he's fallen into a trap set up by Lester, whom Harry had bribed. Since he was the leader of the failed coup, Harry sentenced Morgan to work at the "hole," a less-than sought after desk job handling customer service.

Back at Stanford library, Team Bartowski discovers the book gone, but Chuck realizes that the book was just a place holder and the hiding spot was really a hidden slot on the roof of the shelf; he finds the disc with the intel on it there. Before they can leave with the disc, however, Chuck is stopped by the librarian who registered his ID and held for his four-years culminate late fee of $294.68. Magnus is still there and recognizes his name, having read Chuck's Nerd Herd ID back when he shot Flemming, and Chuck is forced to run out the back to get away from him. They are eventually spotted by the Magnus's operatives, so they head into the science building to get away.

Once the trio finally get the chance to view the contents of the disc, they discover a list of CIA agents that Flemming had recruited over the past ten years. Chuck is surprised to not only find Bryce's name under 2002--their Junior year--but his own name under 2003, despite the fact that he's never signed up to join the CIA. Before anything else can be said, a few rogue spies break into the classroom and corner the three with a rain of gunfire. Sarah sends Chuck to keep the disc safe while she and Casey cover for him.

Coming up with an idea, Chuck finds an empty classroom, enters the disc into a computer to load the recruit list, and calls everyone in the list he knows are on campus at the time for backup; they know the call is legit thanks to the code phase, "Are you coming to the toga party?" Morgan, meanwhile, is stuck in the hole, dealing with a group of angry kids. He calls Chuck while he's in the middle of bringing in backup and insists on telling him the code to Harry's master remote. Chuck tells him the code and gets back to his spy work. The moment he removes the disc, Mangus arrives and nearly skewers him.

Casey and Sarah, meanwhile, are down to their last bullets, and the rogue spies they are fighting are gaining the upper hand. Fortunately, the CIA agents Chuck had called arrive at the nick of time; their reactions to each other suggest that, though they knew each other, they had no idea which of their classmates were fellow spies. One last backup arrives and rescues Chuck from the Icelandic spy; Chuck had apparently sent her a voice mail that she'd received just in time.

Back at Buy More, Morgan uses the code given to him by Chuck to commandeer Harry's remote. At first, Harry refuses to release Morgan from the hole in exchange for control of the remote again, but when Morgan threatens to change all the TVs to a channel he could get in big trouble with Big Mike over, it's enough to change Harry's expression to wide-eyed. With great difficulty, he hands his beloved but now useless master remote over to Morgan.

Returning from the homecoming game (which went rather badly, given the after-the-fact dialogue), Ellie asks her brother if going back to Stanford was as painful as he thought it would be. To express how painful, Chuck recalls a horrible karaoke performance by Morgan, but he admits that he was glad to get the visit over with and finally say goodbye. Ellie tells Chuck she's proud of him.

Chuck still has the disc on him, so he inserts it to look up what's under his own name. Having come to retrieve the disc from him, Sarah decided to allow Chuck to see what's there first. Chuck finds a video file of Flemming preparing to interview Chuck about a CIA military project called the "Omaha project." Instead of Chuck, Flemming got Bryce in his office, insisting that the project will destroy Chuck's innocence and that he refuses to let the CIA recruit him. When Flemming tells him there's no way to prevent his recruitment unless he's expelled from Stanford, Chuck realizes Bryce had framed him to protect him. He and Sarah then wonder if there was a good reason for Bryce breaking into the Intersect and sending it to Chuck as well.

After Sarah leaves with the disc, Chuck returns to the trash bin outside to retrieve the photo of him and his college friends from his discarded box of college things. He takes the time to remember his freshmen year when Chuck first met Bryce, discussed their common interest in the Infocom text-based game Zork and his plans to create his own version, and Bryce offers to introduce Chuck to a girl named Jill who likes playing Everquest. This was the start of Chuck Bartowski and Bryce Larkin's friendship.

Trivia Edit

  • When Morgan and Lester are playing "Fingers of Fury," the shows they hit are The Dukes of Hazzard, One Tree Hill, Veronica Mars, Gilmore Girls, Smallville, Cold Case, Animaniacs, The OC, Pinky and the Brain, and Kung Fu: The Movie, all of which were previous Warner Bros. Television productions.
  • The personal version of Zork that Chuck and Bryce are talking of making at the end of this episode is the same one Bryce got his code phrase from to make sure only Chuck opened the intersect-containing e-mail in "Chuck Versus the Intersect".
  • The override code on Harry Tang's master remote is essentially the Van Halen album OU812 plus a pound sign at the end.
  • In the Buy More, Harry Tang says that the master remote for all the display televisions is "The one remote that controls them all." This is a reference to the "ring" in the The Lord of the Rings."
  • Professor Fleming says that the CIA pass phrase is "Are you coming to the toga party?" This is a reference to the movie Animal House.
  • Professor Fleming's name might be a nod to Ian Fleming, the novelist who created James Bond.
  • In the Buy More, Harry Tang threatens Morgan by saying "I need fresh bodies in the hole" This is a reference to the movie Cool Hand Luke.
  • Chuck calls Morgan and calls him Katz, Morgan says "Hey Frodo is that you, I thought my code name was Samwise Gamgee?" This is a reference to the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
  • John Casey says "I hate long good byes." This is a quote from the television series Stargate.
  • Morgan threatens to turn all the display televisions to Passion Cove. This was an erotic anthology series on Cinemax.
  • When Chuck and Morgan meet in the employee break room to have lunch and Morgan brings up the staggered lunch schedule, Morgan is incorrectly listed as a Nerd Herd Team Member instead of a Buy More Team Member. Also Anna is not given a lunch time slot on the list.
  • Harry's rules and regulations are the following:
    • No swearing;
    • No expectorating;
    • No fornicating;
    • No drugs (including Red Bull);
    • No personal calls on the clock;
    • No Green Shirts fraternizing at the Nerd Desk;
    • No eating or drinking in the showroom floor;
    • No leaving food in the refrigerator overnight;
    • No swinging from rafters.

In-continuity errors Edit

  • While talking to the Librarian, the scene switches to Magnus, then the screen switches back, but the Librarian is gone.
  • Bryce offering to introduce Chuck to Jill contradicts the story Chuck tells in "Chuck Versus the Intersect".

Information on Chuck Edit

Chuck's flash on himself reveals a great many pieces of information about the character:

  • He was born in Hartford, CT on September 18, 1981;
  • His permanent home address while attending Stanford was 1897 Neish Avenue, Hartford, CT;
  • His local residence was 1566 Youngston Avenue, Santa Clara, CA;
  • While in Connecticut, his family at one point lived in Hartford, Quartz Hill and Lanewood;
  • He is prone to substance abuse, delinquent behaviour, impulsiveness and depression;
  • His stats show he is not an anxious or insecure person, personality traits he actually exhibits numerous times during the course of the series, indicating they were developed as a result of his expulsion and subsequent break up with Jill Roberts;
  • While at Stanford he passed all subjects with at least a C grade.

QuotesEdit

Anna Wu: Alright, we all know the game, we all know the rules, this is Fingers of Furry. The win goes to the contestant who can identify the most TV shows in a minute.

Anna Wu: [to Lester] Alright, who do you want next?

Lester: I challenge, the ruling champion Morgan Grimes!

Morgan: That's Mr. Morgan Grimes, if you're nasty.

Jeff: Oh the suspense.

Morgan: You don't want me punk.

Lester: Oh yes I do.

Morgan: Challenge accepted.

Music Edit

  • Hall And Oats – “Maneater”
  • Switches – “Drama Queen”
  • Oasis – “Don’t Look Back In Anger”
  • Goose – “Trendsetter”
  • The Fratellis – “Chelsea Dagger”

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