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Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover
Season 1, Episode 12
Undrcvr
Air Date January 24, 2008
Writer Phil Klemmer
Director Frederick Toye
Previous Chuck Versus the Crown Vic
Next Chuck Versus the Marlin
"Can't the man live without a cover for just a couple of minutes?"
― Chuck

Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover is the twelfth episode of Season One of Chuck. It originally aired on January 24, 2008, after a seven-week winter break.

It was the first part of a double bill with Chuck Versus the Marlin, which aired three days earlier on the Canadian City TV channel.

Synopsis[]

Because the Nerd Herd is repairing a hotel's computer, Chuck discovers that many Russian arms dealers and mobsters are secretly meeting in Los Angeles. One particular Russian woman, Ilsa Trinchina (Ivana Milicevic), catches his attention, and he flashes on her as being Casey's former girlfriend. Chuck is intrigued and tries to get Casey to talk about their history. After learning this woman is set to marry one of the Russian arms dealers, Chuck insists that Casey fight for his woman. Meanwhile, Devon and Ellie reach a tough point in their relationship.

This episode contains many references and parallels to the classic film, Casablanca.

Full Story[]

The episode begins in 2004 in Chechnya where Casey is undercover as an energy consultant, staying with his AP photographer girlfriend, Ilsa. She goes out with her camera, leaving him to sleep in, and enters a restaurant just as a bomb explodes. Casey is jarred from bed and runs out to find the plaza near the hotel in chaos. All the evidence left of Ilsa is the charred remains of her camera.

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"You're hurting the Intersect!"

Events shift to the present, where it is revealed a digital camera triggered Casey's memory. He is about to threaten an angry customer who is berating him, when Chuck intervenes. Chuck goes to the storage cage and kicks Jeff out, who is stealing celebrity hotel room phone numbers from the hotel's computer, which is in for repairs. Chuck flashes on one name in the register, and as more names trigger additional flashes, he begins writing them down, except for one: Ilsa Trinchina, who apparently has a connection with Casey. Chuck informs Casey of the flashes, and then teases him with the nickname "Sugar Bear," which he got from Ilsa's file. Casey reacts violently, pushing Chuck up against the wall and holding by the throat. Chuck tells Casey that he's hurting the Intersect, but Casey ignores him. Casey informs Chuck that if he ever mentions the name again, he will 'end him'. He tells Chuck to pound on the wall if he understands. Chuck does and when Casey let's him go, he falls to the floor.

Chuck advises Sarah of the flashes, and what he saw about Casey. Sarah's own interest is piqued, and she agrees to check into it. Team Bartowski is ordered by Beckman to head to the Grand Seville hotel to investigate. Chuck mentions Ilsa again, but Casey storms out. Sarah tells a confused Chuck that she discovered Ilsa was dead. They reach the hotel, where Chuck and Sarah use their cover as hotel staff to get close to a group of Russian mobsters, on whom Chuck flashes.

One of the mobsters mistakenly identifies Chuck as his cousin, Sasha, and pulls him into the celebration. While dancing with the Russians, Chuck sees Ilsa and tries to alert Sarah, but the mobster sees him and believes Chuck is trying to tell him he's interested in Sarah, so she is drawn into the dance as well. Chuck warns Sarah about Ilsa, and the two break away from the Russians warning Casey they've been compromised. Before they can get out of sight Casey, runs right into Ilsa, and tells her he thought she was dead. Ilsa tells him when she woke up after the blast, she had no memory of who she was, and could only recall his face. Meanwhile, Chuck flashes on Victor Federov (Pavel Lychnikoff), he is in town to marry his fiancée -- Ilsa.

Sarah is ordered to monitor Federov, while Chuck and Casey return to the Buy More. Chuck tries to get Casey to open up but is initially rebuffed. Casey finally tells Chuck about how he and Ilsa met, surprising Chuck that Casey is capable of real emotion. He asks why Chuck is so interested, and Chuck admits that if even Casey can find love, maybe there's hope for him as well. Casey is prepared to give up: saying a good woman wouldn't be with Federov. Chuck then reminds him that on paper, Casey could be regarded as an unsavory guy, and she didn't know what Casey did when they were together, so maybe she doesn't know about Federov. The two head back to the hotel and tell a suspicious Sarah they've come to help. She goes to plant a bug in Federov's room and asks the two of them to monitor the surveillance. Ilsa is alone in the bar, and Chuck convinces Casey to go see her. Meanwhile, Sarah runs into trouble with one of the mob enforcers and is forced to knock him out and hide him. Sarah calls Casey to plant the bug, but Chuck goes instead. He sneaks into Federov's room and, while planting the bug, sees Ilsa's briefcase. He opens a secret compartment and flashes. Ilsa is not who she says she is: She is French intelligence.

112ChuckUndercoverLover

Ilsa returns to her room and Chuck is forced to hide under the bed. She's not alone, but brought Casey back with her. The two fall on to the bed when Chuck's phone rings and alerts Casey to his presence. Chuck warns him about his flash, but Ilsa already has a gun on him. Before any explanations can be made, a very drunk Federov returns and propositions Ilsa, but he passes out after a few moments. Ilsa helps Chuck and Casey escape.

The next day at the Buy More, Casey is lying down in the Home Theater Room, while Casablanca is playing. Chuck enters, but Casey says that whatever happened between him and Ilsa, she's now dead to him. Chuck informs him a dead woman is there to see him. Ilsa enters, having tracked down Casey. She admits to him she was never caught in the bomb blast, and works for the French Secret Service, assigned to bring down Federov. Casey retorts he could have her, Federov, and half the Grand Seville arrested. Ilsa says that he wouldn't do it because it would be unprofessional. She apologizes to Casey and returns the necklace he gave her in Chechnya.

Later, Chuck goes to Casey's apartment and finds him quite drunk, and listening to Neil Diamond, enjoying a dinner of burnt Hot Pockets. Chuck tries to convince him to fight for Ilsa, but Casey is resigned to letting her go until they discover a bug in Ilsa's necklace: Federov had been spying on her, and heard she was working for the French government. Casey decides he has to save her and drags Chuck with him since he's too drunk to drive.

They arrive at the hotel but are ambushed in Federov's room and tied back-to-back. Federov intends to marry and murder Ilsa, then fake his own death by putting Casey, Ilsa, and Chuck - as either the pilot or 'man' stewardess - on his private plane and letting it crash. After Federov leaves, Casey provokes the guards. Using Chuck to protect his back and as a weapon, he takes on the henchmen, but they are eventually forced out a window and fall several stories into a pool below, where the ropes finally break. Casey emerges from the pool and has guns drawn on him by several of Federov's men as he announces his objection to the wedding. Sarah backs him up, but recognizing they are outnumbered sets her gun down. Chuck distracts the Russians who turn their attentions towards him and Casey, giving Sarah the opening to kick her gun to Ilsa, and grab another from a nearby Russian. Both women hold Federov at gunpoint, ending the stalemate.

Casey and Ilsa share one night together and say goodbye outside Chuck's apartment the next morning, while he incompetently tries to spy on them. After she leaves, Casey tells Chuck that they'll likely never see each other again: It's a spy's life. Chuck tries to offer Casey consolation saying that at least they have their friendship, but Casey shoves him into the bushes and walks alone back into his apartment.

Meanwhile, Ellie and Awesome come into the Buy More. They're greeted by Jeff and Lester, but Morgan takes control to help them decide on a joint anniversary gift. Ellie is interested in a big-screen TV, but Devon is eyeing a washer and dryer. Both insist their choice will give them more time together: Ellie because they can sit down and watch TV together, while Awesome argues they don't have to worry about laundromats and can stay in more. Ellie gets paged by the hospital and leaves the choice to Devon, who decides on the washer dryer. When she finds out he went with his own choice the two get into a fight.

Awesome spends the evening at the Buy More with Morgan, Jeff, Lester, and Skip complaining about relationships over a game of poker, which Awesome wins. Unfortunately, he didn't realize that the all-male group was playing strip poker, and hurriedly leaves when the others start undressing. Meanwhile, Sarah is looking for Chuck and arrives at his apartment, where she finds that Ellie is very drunk and upset about the fight. Sarah tries to get away at first but agrees to stay when Ellie begins to freak out about being left alone. Morgan shows up and Sarah uses him as an excuse to leave and find Chuck and Casey.

Morgan tries to help Ellie to bed, but she passes out drunk on the couch. Eventually he gets her to the bedroom where he stays at her insistence. When she wakes up the next morning she initially panics before realizing that nothing actually happened. She thanks Morgan for being there. Awesome comes in and apologizes. Morgan flinches fearing he's about to be hit, but Awesome knows that it wasn't even remotely possible Ellie would actually sleep with Morgan. Awesome shows Ellie that he got her the TV, and the two make up.

Trivia[]

  • Casey's lost love is named Ilsa, one of several references in this episode to the movie Casablanca.
  • When Chuck finds Casey in the Buy More after Casey has encountered Ilsa, Casey is watching Casablanca.
  • The song John Casey is listening to when he is drinking, and which plays again while he's wading out of swimming pool in his tuxedo is Neil Diamond's "Love On The Rocks".
  • Chuck's reaction to Casey opening up about Ilsa ("It's alive!") is another of the Frankenstein references made about Casey.
  • When Chuck is having his heartfelt talk with Casey after Casey says Ilsa is lost to him forever, Chuck says that it seems to him that Casey would want the American Dream, and Casey responds that "I do what I do so that all the other slobs can have it." This is reminiscent of something said by "The Operative" in the Firefly movie, Serenity.
  • As Ilsa says her goodbye to Casey in the hotel, Casablanca (1942) is playing on the television in the background, specifically Ilsa's goodbye to Rick.
  • The morning after, when Ellie wakes up and startles Morgan awake as well, he quotes Sixteen Candles, "Damn, mom, I got my head gear on."
  • Both Chuck's line at the end -"I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" - and the camera shot, in terms of angle and composition, are also from Casablanca, somewhat undermined by Casey's shove.
  • During a break room poker game at the Buy More, Morgan calls Skip Johnson Michael – his real name.

Quotes[]

Chuck: One, one more thing. There was one more name, another name I flashed on actually. But I left it, her name off the list.
Casey: What the hell are you talking about, Bartowski?
Chuck: Does the name Ilsa Trinchina mean anything to you, Sugar Bear?
Casey: [Casey slams Chuck against the wall] You say that name ever again, and I will end you! Nod if you understand.
Chuck: [hitting his head against the wall] Casey you're hurting the Intersect.

~

Casey: Nice girls don't marry corrupt Russian oligarchs.
Chuck: Well, I hate to break it to you, but nice girls don't go around marrying guys like you either - G-Man assassin? International spy? I mean, pardon me for saying it, Casey, but at least on paper, you're kind of an unsavory dude!
Casey: Granted.

Music[]

  • “Love On The Rocks” by Neil Diamond
  • “Ultimate” by Gogol Bordello
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