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Chuck Versus the Tango
Season 01, Episode 03
Air Date October 8, 2007
Writer Matt Miller
Director Jason Ensler
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"Stay? a dog?"

Chuck Versus the Tango is the third episode of Season One of Chuck. It first aired on October 8, 2007.


Chuck goes undercover for the first time, helping Sarah and Casey infiltrate a party and identify the mysterious arms dealer La Ciudad.

Meanwhile, things are even more stressful at the Buy More, as Big Mike has ordered the Nerd Herd to fix every broken computer in two days.

Full Story[]

The episode opens in Tehran, Iran; where a man is selling a painting. The buyer pulls out a pistol, shoots the seller and walks off with the painting. Two weeks later, in Barajas Airport, Madrid, the killer from the last scene is showing the same painting to another man; who shoots him and drives off with the painting. At the Miller Art Gallery in Downtown Los Angeles, the painting is again unveiled. The buyer presents the seller with a briefcase full of money, then shoots him.

Harry Tang breaking up Chuck's fun

Harry crashing the party

One month later, Chuck, at the Buy More, fixes a game controller for a kid testing a game in the store. He is approached by Harry Tang who tells him that Big Mike wants to see him in his office. Chuck apologizes to the child; then Big Mike approaches and surprises him. Before leaving, he asks the kid to pause the game while he is gone.

In to Big Mike's office, Chuck is asked what his career objectives are. Big Mike reveals that there is an opening for assistant manager at the Buy More, and the two candidates are Chuck and Tang. Big Mike tells him that if he wants the job, he has to prove himself. Entering the backroom, Chuck tells his team that they have to fix all the junk computers in the storage cage within two days, or Tang will get the position of Assistant Manager.

As they discuss the situation, Morgan enters. He tells the Nerd Herders that he wishes that he could help, but he lacks the skills and reveals that "old computers give [him] the willies". He also brings news: Sarah is looking for Chuck out front.

Sarah Chuck tryst not PDA

Sarah leading Chuck on

Sarah asks Chuck for a kiss, and they enter the Home Theater Room, Morgan assumes they are looking for privacy and tries to block Casey who follows. Casey isn't having any of that, grabs Morgan by the face and pushes him out of the way. In the Home Theater Room, Sarah begins a briefing by putting some pictures of the dead men from the beginning of the episode on the table. Chuck believes that they are sleeping until told otherwise, which he finds creepy; he doesn't flash on any of them. The door opens unexpectedly, and Jeff, surprised to see everyone, decides to come back later for his nap; but Chuck notices a newspaper under his arm, and flashes on the painting and the headline "Art Auction". The Intersect shows him the painting, some weapons, an art auction the following night, and the name La Ciudad who will probably be at the art auction.

Morgan attempts to run interference

Morgan looking to block Casey

Later, at the Bartowski residence, Ellie congratulates Chuck for being selected as a candidate for the assistant manager's position. Chuck brushes it aside, saying that he will only get $2/hour raise; and he hasn't got the job yet. Ellie asks him if his lack of interest means that he is thinking of getting a "real profession," to which Morgan takes great offense. Chuck does not get a chance to respond, as Morgan and Ellie begin to argue about Chuck's future, he picks up a magazine and lets them - apparently he's used to such behavior.

Meanwhile, at Agent Casey's place, Sarah and Casey are being briefed by General Beckman and Director Graham. They are told that La Ciudad is one of the most dangerous and elusive arms dealers in the world, and nobody has ever seen him and has lived to tell about it. Casey suggests they take him down at the auction by bringing the Intersect. Sarah does not believe this to be wise, as he has not had any training or experience in the field.

Morgan and Ellie are still arguing about Chuck's future; but Chuck has long since stopped listening. Morgan believes that Chuck is a "fragile gelding" and that the real world will crush him. Ellie thinks that Chuck has had many years to "find himself" and to have proven that his future isn't at the Buy More; Chuck ignores them entirely, eating cupcakes and reading PC Gamer. Sarah and Casey argue over the dangers of bringing Chuck out into the field, until General Beckman orders them to bring him, as she wants to see what he is capable of. At the Bartowski house, Captain Awesome joins the discussion, he believes that Chuck needs to test himself, suggesting that "class 5 white-water rapids" will give him a brush with his own mortality and the near-death experience will challenge him. Chuck, has heard enough and decides to leave, citing that his wet-suit is still at the dry-cleaners. When asked his opinion, Chuck says that he will instead hit the sack; but thanks "Team Bartowski" for their concern.

Casey's little seen softer side

Casey's bonsai

As Chuck turns on the light in his room, he jumps when he notices Casey at the window. Casey congratulates Chuck because he's going to go on his first mission.

Next morning, Chuck tries to talk with Casey about his requirements for the mission. Casey assures him that everything will be fine, assuming that he knows how to tango. Morgan then approaches Chuck, informing him that Sarah is in the store. Chuck is concerned with the hard drives he has to fix though the other Nerd Herders assure him that they're nearly done. Satisfied that it's okay to leave, Chuck explains to Morgan that he's going to the art auction with Sarah.

At the Wienerlicious, Sarah tells Chuck that he needs a cover persona that's simple and doesn't give up personal info. Chuck immediately chooses the name Charles Carmichael, and reels of a history; a "millionaire semiretired software magnate" he envisioned himself become after Stanford, had not Bryce Larkin derailed his life. He also remarks wryly Bryce sent him a database full of government secrets that keep him in "a state of fear, danger and anxiety" so maybe it evened out.

Awesome - being Awesome

Awesome - is.

When Chuck returns home, he asks Ellie is she knows how to tango. Though she doesn't, Devon does, and is willing to teach Chuck. During the following montage, Chuck learns the tango from a capable, but under dressed Captain Awesome.

Back at the Buy More, Tang rounds up several more hard drives for the Nerd Herd to fix. When the absence of Chuck is noticed, Tang sarcastically comments that he's "some leader."

The team arrives at the art auction which is being hold at The Wiltshire Strand hotel. Sarah gives Chuck a watch containing a GPS system so that they can't lose him. Casey, acting as the driver, informs Chuck that La Ciudad has never let anyone live who saw him. Casey gives him the same reassurance from earlier, to which Chuck replies that he knows how to tango. But it turns out, Casey was just being funny about being able to tango.

Chuck's first tango

Chuck's first tango

The Nerd Herders attempt to leave the Buy More. Morgan attempts to convince them to return to work but they don't listen, until he reminds them that Tang will get the assistant manager's job, if Chuck's Herd fails, which compels them to return to their task.

Back at the Wiltshire Strand, Chuck spills soy sauce on his shirt. As Chuck tries cleaning it off in the restroom, he flashes on a man beside him, and assumes him to be La Ciudad. He reports to Sarah who has Chuck remain at the bar, where Casey is a bartender, while she checks out the suspect. Coincidentally, one of Chuck's old college friends, Allan Watterman, is at the auction, and recognizes him. They chat for a bit, Chuck becoming evasive on the details of his own life. Allan offers his card; Chuck then flashes on the card, learning about Allan's involvement with several illegal activities, and mutters them out loud. Allan assumes that he's with the SEC and beats a hasty retreat.

Meanwhile, Morgan tries motivating the Nerd Herders into working faster, only to lock himself inside the storage cage. Because the lock is broken and only Chuck and Tang have keys, they see no point in staying and abandon him.

Back at the auction, Sarah is led away at gunpoint by the man Chuck flashed on. Casey follows, ordering Chuck to stay where he is. He confronts her captors on the roof, where they reveal they are actually MI6 Agents. They intercepted the painting and discovered that it contained plutonium. Rather than publicly announce it, they instead removed the frame in which it was hidden, and used to painting in an attempt to flush out La Ciudad.

Chuck painting himself into a corner

Chuck meets Malena

Meanwhile, Chuck encounters a woman named Malena Bernal examining the painting, which Chuck notices has been re-framed. They dance the tango, but Chuck discovers her was taught only the woman's part and asks her to lead. At the end of the dance, he sees a scar on her neck, and flashes, he realizes that Malena is La Ciudad. At the same time, Morgan calls the hotel, having an attendant trying to locate Chuck. He recognizes Chuck's voice, calling him by his full name. Chuck, who was trying to maintain cover, denies his name is Bartowski and tries walking away but runs into one of Marlena's henchman and is taken captive. In La Ciudad's room, she interrogates him, and he initially insists he's Charles Carmichael, only to blurt out his real name when a knife is thrown close to his groin. Ciudad then tries prodding Chuck into telling her who he works for. When he refuses, her henchmen pick up the chair he's strapped to, threatening to throw him off the balcony. He then confesses about the fake name, saying he was trying to impress a girl by going to the auction, and that he fixes computers for a living, but he noticed the painting had a new frame from the one pictured in the newspaper. She believes him but still resolves to kill him since he can identify her. Casey and Sarah, who have managed to locate Chuck, intervene, and force her to flee. She and her henchman rappel a floor down, where Allan on the phone in a full blown panic about the SCC's findings. Marlena's henchman tells her that they have to get her out of the country. La Ciudad says that they must first take out Chuck, her lead, his Buy More ID.

103 melena

The tango

Chuck returns home to find Ellie sleeping on the couch, waiting for him. She tries to prod him about his date, Chuck can only say that he thinks that Sarah is too exhausting for him. Unhappy that Chuck won't open up to her, she informs him that his 'idiot friend' Morgan has called 'about 75 times'. Chuck heads to the Buy More, where he frees Morgan, and says he'll repair the remaining machines glad to do something he's good at, which takes until morning. Big Mike is impressed and coaches Chuck on the points of being assistant manager.

As Morgan tells him coworkers about his "near-death experience", Casey congratulates Chuck for last night, they now know who La Ciudad is and they have people waiting for her in Central America. Chuck later spots La Ciudad's henchmen entering the store, looking for him, and hides behind a counter, where Tang finds him. The henchman then approaches Tang, asking for Chuck, Tang looks behind the counter, only to find Chuck gone.

Outside, Sarah passes by La Ciudad, disguised as a delivery girl, and notices her scar. Hiding behind a van, she contacts Casey, informing him of La Ciudad's presence, then follows and defeats her, before she can get into sniper position atop the Wienerlicious.

Back inside the Buy More, Chuck uses the store intercom to direct the henchmen to the storage cage. Casey attempts to mislead one of them, before fighting and knocking him out in home appliances. Chuck attempts to trap the other goon inside the storage cage, thinking that the lock is still broken, only to find out that it has been fixed. Luckily, Casey hurls a microwave at the bad guy, knocking him out before he can shoot Chuck. A stunned Chuck then goes out to take the intercom microphone away from Morgan, who tells him about the lock being fixed.

Later that night, Chuck tells Ellie that he doesn't feel that Sarah is in to him. Ellie disagrees, having seen the way Sarah looks at him. She gets Chuck to confess that he is interested in Sarah, before assuring him that she won't press him about all the details of his relationship. Chuck then opens the door to find Morgan and Sarah, whom he invites in. As they walk out the door at the end of the evening, Sarah compliments Chuck on the success of his first mission. Chuck, however, doesn't think of himself as much of a spy. She reminds him that he did survive under threat of death by torture and apprehended the most elusive arms dealers in the world. Chuck states that though he may be a hero today, he'll be a nobody tomorrow, with no one knowing about his success. Sarah says that both of them knowing is good enough.


Morgan: You don't understand. He is a fragile little gelding. You know? Still trying to find his legs. The real world will crush him.
Ellie: Do you know what a gelding is?
Morgan: [scoff] It's that weird creature from The Dark Crystal. "Smells like gelding"... that guy.


Malena: Chuck, I think your hand is supposed to be on my hip.
Chuck: Apparently, I learned the girl's part of this dance. Would you mind leading?


Chuck: This is my first foray into major undercover spy work so you can ease up on the sarcasm, that would be great. And how am I supposed to recognize la Ciudad? Is there a picture or something?
Casey: If there was a photograph, why would we need you?
Chuck: What did we just talk about?


  • Morgan calls Chuck a "gelding", but the word he really means to say is "gelfling", a sentient humanoid being with pointed ears who appears in The Dark Crystal (1982). A gelding is a male horse that has been castrated.
  • One of La Ciudad's bodyguards gets a microwave thrown at his face by Casey after trying to kill Chuck; that bodyguard is played by the same actor who later plays Yuri the Gobbler and this guard is named Uri. It might be that this is when he was captured to be freed in Chuck Versus the Gobbler - if it is, in fact, the same person, which is not clear but possible.
  • When Morgan is shown locked in the storage room, Canzonetta sull'aria is playing, a reference to a scene in The Shawshank Redemption in which Andy Dufresne locks himself in the warden's office and broadcasts the same aria to the entire prison through the PA system.
  • This marks the first time a character (Ellie) believes Sarah to have real feelings for Chuck even though she might not realize it yet. In Chuck Versus the Other Guy Sarah admits she fell for Chuck during the pilot episode.
  • Morgan tells the hotel clerk Chuck is 6'1" (186 cm). Zachary Levi, who plays Chuck, is actually 6'4"(191 cm).


  • Spoon – “Don’t You Evah”
  • Gotan Project – “Santa María”
  • Mozart – “Duettino – Sull’aria”
  • Band of Horses – “The General Specific”
  • The National – “Slow Show”


The gallery is here.