'Chuck': Moving on and moving out

chuck-lauren-cohan-320.jpgA very bittersweet (and impossibly nerdy) breakup and a slew of new opportunities -- along with a possible new bad guy -- highlighted this week's "Chuck."

It's not that the past two episodes have skimped on character development, but "Chuck vs. the Masquerade" also threw a whole bunch of spy stuff on top pretty big things in the non-spy lives of Chuck and Morgan, Casey, and Ellie and Awesome. Yet despite all those plates spinning (and a few excellent comedy beats), nothing felt underserved. It was an excellent balancing act.

Chuck vs. the daughter

Someone is taking out Volkoff's lieutenants, and Beckman assigns the team to find Vivian McArthur, who the general believes is Volkoff's chosen successor. She's also Volkoff's daughter -- but she knows nothing of her father's criminal enterprise or the "key" the assassin is looking for.

The team gets Vivian back to Castle without much of a hitch. In addition to being confused about her dad, though, she's also at a loss about where her life goes from here. Her father has scheduled every waking moment for years, but now what? Chuck gives her a pep talk, telling her that before he got Intersected, he was at loose ends too -- but he went with the opportunity, and it became the best thing that ever happened to him.

Which is great advice -- except maybe when you're talking to the daughter of the criminal mastermind you just put away. When the assassin spells out the way her dad has prepared her, she takes to it rather swimmingly. The episode closes on her figuring out that "the key" is the necklace her dad gave her (and which was briefly around Sarah's neck). At Volkoff's office, she finds its place and has something pretty big revealed to her.

Now, has Vivian suddenly become eeevil just by virtue of discovering her legacy? Not necessarily. But Chuck's urging of Vivan to take control of her life may have inadvertently put her on a path to taking over the family business -- and given the evidence of her intelligence and willingness to take a risk in this episode, that could be a dangerous thing.

Casey vs. three's a crowd

On the mission to extract Vivian, Casey is once again in bartender mode, and he receives a compliment on his mixology skills from a masked partygoer -- who turns out to be an NSC (or "NCS," as she later puts it) director named Jane Bentley, and she has an offer for Casey: Lead the new team she's putting together, where his considerable skills can be put to better use than they currently are with Team Chuck.

Those skills come in handy in the team's effort to sniff out Vivian's assassin, and he takes out several shooters after Sarah's incapacitated. When Bentley approaches him again, he insists that he's not leaving Burbank. Except he won't have to: Bentley opens a door that leads to a corridor and another door -- and Casey's as curious as we are to see what's behind it. But we don't think we like Bentley.

Chuck and Morgan vs. adulthood

While Casey is feeling like a third wheel professionally, Morgan is starting to feel like one personally (and not just because Chuck didn't respect that Morgan and Alex "had" the living room for 90 minutes on Valentine's Day). "You live in "Charah's apartment," Casey tells him (and also: Charah? From Casey? Hmm). "... You're like their kid."

Sarah's attempt to make him feel less like the odd man out fails miserably (albeit hilariously), and not just because she's unaware how awesome the Han Solo/Chewbacca combo from the original Kenner collection is. "I play with toys!" a suddenly aghast Morgan yells. "I'm a child! ... I'm your child!"

It leads to perhaps the geekiest expression of bromance ever put to film, as Morgan and Chuck hash out their respective feelings about growing up for real and Morgan moving out (and into his mom's, for now). Even though they've only lived together for a couple years, it's a bittersweet moment -- particularly the Han-Chewie high five as the pair parts ways for the time being. It's easy for us to take because we know that Chuck and Morgan's friendship will endure, but it's a nice moment for Morgan as he continues to separate, ever so slowly, his identity from Chuck's.

Ellie and Awesome vs. Clara

While their story was pretty well self-contained, Ellie and Awesome's struggle to get Clara to sleep through the night fit in rather nicely with the theme of the episode. It also gave Sarah Lancaster to carry some of the comedy load alongside Ryan McPartlin, with each of them playing frayed and frazzled, Sleep Sheep-stealing new parents quite well. (The Jeffster! song that eases Clara's crying, by the way, is "Send Me On My Way" by Rusted Root, a previously named Capt. Awesome favorite.)

What did you think of the episode, and what do you make of all the potential changes in store for Team Bartowski?

Photo/Video credit: NBC