“Gotcha!”
– Bryce

Bryce Larkin: mysterious, charming, traitorous. Also dead. Unfortunately, Chuck isn’t a necromancer, so he can’t ask Bryce about Stanford or the Intersect. But he’s about to get some answers.

If you haven’t already, make sure to read the disclaimer.

Both Morgan and Chuck face their nemeses in this episode. Morgan (a.k.a. Samwise Gamgee) must take on Harry Tang (a.k.a. Sauron), who has secured the assistant manager position and become drunk with power. Using wit and guile, the bearded buffoon manages to wrest control of the store’s universal remote from Tang, taking away his power.

Chuck’s nemesis is a little harder to define. Bryce and Stanford are part of it, but it can best be summed up as the demons of his past. Chuck confronts them on a trip to his alma mater. He finds a disc containing intel about the CIA agents who were recruited out of Stanford, and locates his own name on the list of potential recruits. He watches the video corresponding to his name, and it is revealed that Bryce got him kicked out of Stanford to keep him out of the spy world.

Though it might have been implied in “Sandworm,” “Alma Mater” is the first episode to tell us explicitly that the spy world can corrupt. Bryce knew it. He knew that Chuck was a good guy and that Chuck wasn’t cut out to be a cold-hearted spy. Sarah knows it too, and more than ever, she’s concerned not only with Chuck’s physical well-being, but also his emotional well-being.

Filled with sepia-toned flashbacks and shot on location at a university campus, “Alma Mater” is a visual treat. But it’s also a landmark episode, marking the show’s transition into a more serialized format. Things are about to get interesting.

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