Was Monday night's episode of "Chuck" the best episode ever? No. Was it the best episode of the season? Probably not. But was it the episode we needed when we needed it? Absolutely.
"Chuck Versus the Other Guy" moved the show where it needed to go for long-term success, bringing together all the various storylines that had been introduced in the past few episodes.
Let's break this down character-by-character:
Chuck himself needed to finally pass his test and kill someone to advance to the next level of being a real spy. Chuck's never going to be a stone-cold killer like Casey or Shaw or even Sarah, but he needed to be comfortable handling a gun. The Ring director even called him on it when Sarah and Chuck had him trapped in an elevator, and Chuck was still using a tranq gun. If Chuck doesn't eventually kill someone, then the series is trapped in a loop of repeating character development from the first two-and-a-half seasons.
Sarah needed to finally make a decision between Shaw and Chuck, and while on some level it was made for her, getting that confession of love from Chuck was exactly what she needed. Also, I like that she didn't have to witness Chuck actually pulling the trigger on Shaw, because she was passed out. It helps Chuck remain innocent in her eyes.
Casey was never going to be happy not being a spy, despite all the lies he was telling Morgan early in the episode. And while I never truly felt like Adam Baldwin was going to leave the show, the only two options for Major Casey were re-joining the team or leaving Burbank entirely. I'm glad the resolution was the former.
Speaking of characters at a "join or leave" impasse, that was pretty much the theme of the show for Morgan, who temporarily quit his job at the Buy More to join Chuck's team -- a team that at that moment had been put on ice. I love what they're doing with Morgan on the show. He brings that enthusiasm and naivety to spy work that Chuck had in Season 1, and it's a lighter touch for a show whose three main characters have gone a bit darker this season. Plus, the interactions between Morgan and General Beckman were laugh-out-loud funny, including my new all-time favorite "Chuck" moment, when Beckman had to call Morgan and tell him, "I'm calling to say that you are officially a member of Operation Bartowski."
Oh, and Shaw, yeah, I doubt we've seen the last of that dude. Sure, Chuck shot him multiple times and he fell off a bridge into a river, but "body floating off into the distance" generally means "I was wearing a vest" or "The Ring pulled me out of the river and saved me" or some other dramatic crap that allows Brandon Routh to reappear in full villain mode later this season or even in a future season (hear that NBC? I want more seasons of "Chuck"!).
For a non-Ellie, non-Awesome, Jeffster-lite episode, I really enjoyed this one, possibly because Sarah and Chuck finally got to become Shuck (Charah?) at the end of the episode. I don't know how the creators of the show will keep it fresh with them as an official couple, but given how well this season has developed, I trust them.