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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
"I'm not going to have a guy rubbed out just because he upsets our lunch routine!"
―Chuck

Chuck Versus the Alma Mater is the seventh episode of Season One of Chuck. It first aired on November 5, 2007.

Synopsis[]

Chuck flashes on a Stanford University ID of himself, leading to him to returning to the university that wrongfully expelled him, and finally finds out the truth about his expulsion.

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

Full Story[]

The episode begins with Professor Fleming, the professor who originally initiated Chuck's expulsion from college, who is 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 the doorway. Fleming believes the man is looking for some data he'd previously copied, and he makes a hasty call for help 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 a non-standard assistant manager polo shirt with his name monogrammed on 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 room, where a video meeting has already been set up with General Beckman and Director Graham. When they explain that they have lost contact with a CIA asset, George Fleming, Chuck immediately recognizes him. While their superiors admit they don't know what data Fleming referred to in his phone call, they warn them that anything he has information on regarding the CIA could prove devastating in the wrong hands and ask Chuck to provide any personal knowledge he has of Fleming and Stanford to the mission. Chuck, however, is still angry about his expulsion, and refuses to take part in the mission. However, they let him know that he has no choice and must help.

Chuck eventually returns home, where Captain Awesome and his fraternity brothers from the UCLA invite him to a homecoming football game at Stanford University; Chuck turns them down, still wanting to steer clear of Stanford. Brooding, Chuck returns to his room where he locates a box of college memorabilia. Pulling out a picture of himself and his college friends, he recalls the day in 2003 when he left school for the last time. Although his other college friends were sad to see him go, Bryce Larkin seemed hard, and insists that Chuck had brought this upon himself.

Eventually, Chuck decides to throw out the box, but when he picks up his school ID, which had fallen out of the box, he has a flash on himself. 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 was agreed that Fleming could provide an answer, he is currently being hunted by Magnus Einerson, an Icelandic spy who sells government secrets. He is noted for using a crossbow as his primary weapon.

Rules

Harry's Rules

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."

Later, Casey approaches Chuck with the news that they have located Fleming; he wants to use Chuck as a friendly face. Chuck, however, doesn't see this as a good idea, recalling the day Fleming had accused him 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. 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 television displays in one 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 to serve.

When Team Bartowski arrives at Fleming's safe house, Casey and Sarah tell Chuck to wait in the car while they go to retrieve him. However, Chuck spots Fleming first, and runs to intercept, startling him. Fleming, upon understanding 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 Fleming that Casey and Sarah will be bringing him in and asks about the CIA file on him. Fleming tells him he can't reveal that information then apologizes, but before he can finish, he is shot in the back by Magnus with a cross bow bolt. When Fleming 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 scientist, Fleming is taken to a hospital, and the two question Chuck on the note Fleming handed him. They believe Bryce may have been a contact of Fleming's and was never informed of Bryce'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, "I love you, sis, and I'd take a lot of bullets for you... but five hours in a car with Awesome and his bros, that is asking too much." She then points out that she found a Stanford library book Chuck had checked out, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but 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 Fleming gave him was a library filing system number. Remembering a game of Gotcha! he and Bryce had in the library, Chuck recalls that Bryce had a hiding place there, that he must have told Fleming about. He believes Fleming has hidden the CIA intel there for Bryce. The team needs to get to the hiding place before Magnus does, but Chuck can't quite remember where the hiding space was without going there in person. He has no choice but to go back to Stanford and find the cache.

Id1

The three go to Stanford on the premise 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 where he had such a good time, but also had the worst day of his life. When Sarah asks him why Bryce might have betrayed him, Chuck brushes it off and says Bryce has betrayed a lot of people - to which Casey agrees. When they enter the library, Casey reveals he reactivated Chuck's ID but was unable to wipe off his stupid grin in Photoshop and counterfeited two IDs for him and Sarah, allowing the three to enter. Unfortunately, as soon as one of the librarian's registers Chuck's ID, his overdue fees for the book Ellie gave him earlier come back to haunt him.

Back at Buy More, fed up with Harry's tyranny, the staff plan a takeover in which they steal the master remote from his locker. Anna volunteers to flirt with 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 returns and customer service.

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 underside of the shelf above it; he finds a disc with the intel there. Before they can leave with the disc, however, Chuck is stopped by the librarian who registered his ID and wanted his cumulative four-year late fee of $294.68. Magnus is still there and moves on the team, 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.

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'd never been recruited by the CIA. Before anything else can be said, 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.

Chuck finds an empty classroom, enters the disc into a computer to read the recruit list, and calls everyone on the list he figures are on campus at the time for backup; thanks to the emergency 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 Chuck tell 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, Magnus arrives and puts a bolt through the computer.

Casey and Sarah, meanwhile, are down to their last few rounds, and the rival spies are gaining the upper hand. Fortunately, the CIA recruits 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 recruits. One last girl arrives and rescues Chuck from the Icelandic spy; Chuck had apparently left 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.

Brycechuck

First meeting

Returning from the homecoming game, 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 then takes the disc, and inserts it in his computer to look up his own name. Having come to retrieve the disc from him, Sarah decides to allow Chuck to see it first. Chuck finds a video file of Fleming preparing to interview Chuck about a CIA military project called the "Omaha Project." Instead of Chuck, Fleming got Bryce entering his office, insisting that Chuck is too good-hearted and he would not let the CIA recruit him and destroy who he is. When Fleming tells him there's no way to prevent his recruitment, Bryce concocts the idea to get the test data invalidated by framing Chuck for cheating. Chuck realizes Bryce 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 memorabilia. He takes the time to remember when he 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 Everquest - the start of their friendship.

Trivia[]

  • When Morgan and Lester are playing "Fingers of Fury," the shows they hit are The Dukes of Hazard, 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 custom 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 is likely 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 Lord of the Rings.
  • John Casey says "I hate long goodbyes." 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.
  • In a deleted scene, Morgan rather insightfully tells Chuck that the expulsion from Stanford "ruined your life, man, it started you on the whole self loathing,celibate, downward spiral thingie. I haven't even heard you mention the S word in years." Chuck replies that seal has been broken and it's time to face the demons.
  • Harry's rules and regulations are the following:
    • No swearing;
    • No expectorating
    • No fornicating
    • No drugs - including Red Bull
    • No personal calls while 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.

Chuck's Flash[]

  • Chuck's flash on himself reveals that his residence during college is 1566 Youngston Avenue, Santa Clara, CA
  • His stats show he is not an anxious or insecure person, personality traits he actually exhibits numerous times during the course of the season but eventually grows out of. The assumption can be made they were trauma induced, and faded with the return of his self-confidence.
  • While at Stanford he passed all subjects with at least a C grade. Courses included General Psych 201; Bowling; Geology; General Chem 201; Trends in Electrical Engineering; Intro to Nanotechnology; Advanced Functions; Quantum Electronics; Advanced Mechanical Engineering II; Electrical Engineering 131; and Psychology and Symbolism with Fleming.
  • Date of birth 9/18/81 (which makes Chuck a year younger than his actor)
  • Stanford Student ID 3257571045.
  • Fleming called Chuck 'Test Subject 0326.'
  • The Stanford librarian claims Chuck owes $294.68 in late fees for an over due Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. Many schools, however, cap fees at the cost of replacing the book.

Continuity[]

  • While Chuck is talking to the Librarian, the scene cuts to Magnus, then cuts back, but the Librarian has vanished.
  • Bryce offering to introduce Chuck to Jill contradicts the story Chuck tells in Chuck Versus the Intersect.

Quotes[]

Chuck: You didn't offer to kill Harry for Anna, did you?
Casey: No. Why, you want me to kill him?
Chuck: No! No, just curious.

~

Chuck [to Casey]: Nice job blending in with the crowd. Who you rooting for? Death?

~

Chuck [being shot at]: Do you think this would be a great time for me to be waiting in the car?

~

Chuck: I'd rather get hit in 'the produce section' again than go back to that place.
Ellie: Look, I know that Stanford doesn't hold a lot of good memories for you....
Chuck: Look, Ellie – Ellie, they kicked me out for something I didn't do. Okay? So that's it, me and Stanford? We're officially done.

Music[]

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