Rewatch Week Seven: Season One Episode Seven

Chuck vs The Alma Mater

We are up to a very important episode in the lives of Chuck and Sarah. I included Sarah into the main plot because let’s face it Chuck wasn’t the only one who was hurt by Bryce’s actions.

Chuck vs The Alma Mater is an episode that starts the first arc of the series, and if you are veteran of the series, please read the following article about the upcoming episodes.  The Truth about the Imported Ex Nemesis, Now let’s dive into the Alma Mater.

First, The music.

There are two songs in this episode that are awesome. Oasis’s don’t look back in anger and Goose’s Trendsetter.

Main Story

Our journey through Season One continues, and we have reached the first episode in the story of Bryce and Chuck.  Chuck must return to Stanford, and help find the data before the bad guys do. However, Chuck and Sarah will learn that Bryce had his reasons for getting Chuck kicked out of Stanford.

We also get to see how vicious Harry Tang was going to be as the new Assistant Manager, and made it a point to break Morgan. This episode is a top ten for me, and it really is the start of the series long journey of Chuck becoming a spy.

The episode starts off with Professor Fleming giving a lecture at Stanford, and the bad guy shows up. Fleming saw him and fled with the disk, reports it to the agency. The government looks to Chuck to help because of the familiar face, but Chuck refused to help.

Chuck still held a grudge against the school who kicked him out for cheating. Something he adamantly denied. Professor Fleming told Chuck that a student (Bryce) informed the school that Chuck stole the midterm exam and was selling copies of the test. Chuck felt betrayed, and why not? He thought Bryce was his friend.

At Buymore, Team Bartowski are being debriefed on extracting Fleming, which they turn to Chuck for help, but he asked to be recused from the assignment because of the nightmare he went through with Stanford and Professor Fleming specifically.

This will all change when Chuck flashes on himself.  He started to remember Bryce use to check for something in the library, and it was the intel the baddies were looking for. Unfortunately for Chuck, he could not remember where in the library it was. Thus, he dreaded saying the words of having to return to the scene of the crime. I really like this part of the episode. Bryce and Chuck were friends playing with dart guns, and the betrayal really hurt Chuck.

Chuck found the discOne of the best things about Chuck would be the action sequences and in this episode we get an awesome sequence from the time TB find the disc until the ending of the standoff in the science hall.  Casey finding out that Sarah had one bullet left was funny. TB figured out the disc was a recruitment list. Bryce was recruited in 2002, and Chuck Bartowski was going to be recruited a year later. However, as mentioned above Chuck found out why Bryce got him kicked out of Stanford. Professor Fleming was preparing for Chuck’s interview, when Bryce walks in.

Fleming: Bryce., this isn’t a good time, I am waiting for another Student.

Bryce: Chuck Bartowski? He never got your message.

Fleming: What are you talking about?

Bryce: You put Chuck on the CIA recruitment track.

Fleming: Its not up to me Bryce, They want him for the Omaha Project.

Bryce: But that’s a military operation. They’ll Turn Chuck into…

Fleming: I am required to send. All the top test results to the agency.

Sarah learns Bryce was looking out for Chuck

Bryce: I want my friend out of this. {This is a very familiar tone that correlates with another episode more on that later}

Fleming: He is a perfect candidate. Key words in his essay responses correlate to 98% of the subliminal images on the exam.  ← This is because Chuck already has an Intersect in his brain.

Bryce: You don’t get it. Chuck’s a good person. He’s got too much heart for this kind of work. He’s no operative. You can’t put him out in the field. He won’t survive.

Fleming: The agency is not gonna let go of a recruit this promising. The amount of information he can retain?

Bryce: They are not going to give him a choice?

Fleming: He’s in no matter what.

Bryce: If he cheated on the exam, copied all the answers…..than it would invalidate the results, wouldn’t it?

Fleming: Yes.

Bryce: Good. Now you’re going to help me, Professor

Spoiler Alert

While watching this scene you learn two things about Sarah and Bryce., Sarah constant glances at Chuck while Bryce and Fleming talk are looks of impressed and concerned its not a secret She cares for him. Hence, the “Nobody must know about this.”  Sarah had already learned what Bryce knew then, and Bryce’s need to protect Chuck was revealed to both Sarah and Chuck. He framed Chuck, so Chuck can avoid being recruited.

I want to spend a little time on this line. Bryce: I want my friend out of this. Here is some research for you guys to do. Watch this episode and then go to season 3 and watch Final Exam. Sarah’s plea with Shaw is very similar to Bryce’s and everything she heard on this video came intuition in the first 12 episodes of season 3. Chuck became a jerk, but we’ll save that when we get to season 3 of this journey.

Daniel Shaw: Chuck has to kill him.

Sarah Walker: What? Chuck has to kill him? You’re giving him the Red Test tonight?

Daniel Shaw: That’s right.

Sarah Walker: Why didn’t you tell me?

Daniel Shaw: Because you would’ve said you couldn’t be a part of it.

Sarah Walker: I can’t… I can’t be a part of it. And I won’t! *You* have to meet him. I can’t make him do something like that. I’m not sure I want him to be able to do something like that. ← This line is not the same words as Bryce, but you get the drift.

  Final Opinion of This Episode.

This episode ranks high for me because of the back story and of all the Bryce episodes this one is the best one because he does not come off brash.  He showed compassion for Chuck.  He also introduced Chuck to Jill, which would be his college sweetheart. However, the writers screwed up the whole Jill story from the pilot. Research team did not do their homework.

Chuck said, Jill and him met by bumping heads picking up books and bags, but we learn Bryce Introduced them.








  1. I think Bryce is a very complex character. He is presented sometimes as a bad guy, but he did everything possible to keep Chuck out of CIA bussiness. That says a lot about him… He is a good friend. That should be taken in consideration.

    • First off, welcome to Chuckaholics Mocanu Andra.

      I agree Bryce comes off a bit brash at times, but his intentions are noble. He cares for Chuck. but sometimes Bryce told Chuck the truth about the spy world. He didn’t use Sarah tactics of lying. Tough love, isn’t your true friend suppose to tell you like it is.

      • Bryce had to know that sending the Intersect to Chuck was going to somehow get him involved, though.
        And he seemed to always want to come between Chuck and Sarah even when it was not welcome. Maybe it was a misunderstanding, but Sarah let him know early she wasn’t interested in pursuing a relationship with Bryce, but he still persisted…lying to Chuck to get him to back off.

  2. Alma Mater
    Very good episode! I believe it is the most entertaining so far. Two things stand out for me. One (as Christopher mentioned) is the rise of Harry Tang. Harry plays his character so very well. Makes you pull for Morgan even more just to see him get the best of Tang! There is more to Morgan than you think. He actually is very resourceful when it comes to protecting his BuyMore life style. There is also the first steps of maybe a future Morgan romance as well.
    More importantly though is how this episode really supports ‘Chuck’. The show goes to great lengths to tell you how smart Chuck really is and was before the intersect was put in his head. Chuck had it all. Super Smart, modest, fun loving and nice guy. The flash backs all supported that. After seeing the Bryce(Chuck) interview, he realized that Bryce did have his reasons for lying about the test! He really was a good friend who tried to look after him. I think Chuck picked up that attitude in later episodes where he would do anything to protect those he cared for.
    One last item. I found Sarah’s very very emotional look while watching the recording of Bryce a great puzzler. We know she cares about Chuck, but I do think she was showing some pent up feelings for Bryce. She now was sorry about the way she was thinking about Bryce and that she was wishing he was there. Sarah did say though that Bryce probably had a very good reason for picking him.
    I also rate this episode high! Here we go with my first seven on the rewatch.
    My continuing order!
    The Intersect Project (Pilot), The Alma Mater, The Sizzling Shrimp, The Tango, The Helicopter, The Sandworm and The Wookie!

    • Everything you said about Bryce is an accurate one. We often think of Bryce as this emotionless robot. A superspy that bottles his emotions. The perfect spy, but even the perfect spy has a soft spot for Bartowski.

      What a special guy huh? he was able to get both Bryce and Sarah to care for him despite the assignment given to them. Bryce was buddies with Chuck in stanford. The same as Sarah except Sarah wanted to eventually take it a step further than just friends

  3. Bryce had emotions but he was the definitive spy. Even more so than Sarah. For this reason Bryce was heroic, but sadly he would never be more than this because he lacked that connection with real life.

    He had nothing to lose, nothing to gain. He was just a spy working on a mission – unlike Chuck who was living the mission, who had everything to lose and only his real life to gain.

    I liked Bryce. He was brash, had flair and was obviously the complete professional, but his sense of heroism was on the side of being extreme. So not someone I would want around my girlfriend for too long.

    There is a fine line between heroism and stupidity (a guy who did not value his own life beyond what part he played in a mission). You could say:

    Bravery can be a matter of conceding defeat in order to learn from the experience while stupidity can be encouraging the prospect of death in a hopeless cause.

    “I found Sarah’s very very emotional look while watching the recording of Bryce a great puzzler.”

    At this point I believe Sarah is discovering the web that both Bryce and (especially) Chuck are caught up in. She also finding out how important Chuck is to National Security. I think she is just overcome because she had an attachment with Bryce but more importantly, she now knows that Bryce dealt a blow to the man she is now bonding with – Chuck.

    Yes, she probably understands why Bryce picked him (and that is why she could meet him), but like any sacrificial lamb, do they deserve it?

    • This was the episode in which, I quote transformers for this one “There’s more to meet the eyes.”

      Bryce is a hero because he can see the real problems behind the Intersect. He believe both versions of the program were dangerous enough to want to destroy it not once, but spoiler alert twice.

      Throwing this out there for everyone. If there was a movie wouldn’t it be cool to dive into the the past of one Langston Graham.

      Here we have Graham a CIA director all the power in world affairs, and it is no secret to get to the top of that industry you have to do some dirty deeds.

      That being said. Graham had both Bryce and Sarah under his watch. The two were great team. Nemesis proved they work in unison. So, when word got out there that Bryce had turned. Sarah also was getting burned in a sense with make a decision with the baby.

      Thus, think about this at the same time frame Sarah is learning what the agency is capable of. The idea of killing a baby didn’t suit her. Graham was the one who reported to her his version of why Bryce turned.

      He join Fulcrum and stole the Intersect. Now when she was enroute to Burbank all she knew was Chuck was a friend of Bryce from college. so with that the history with the man she was told had turned. She was about to use as a mark to find out what he knew.

      After meeting Chuck and realizing the only threat Chuck was going to be was to her heart and feelings she worked so hard to bottle up. Meanwhile, Bryce was being torture and revitalized by Tommy and his crew. All for the sake in helping Orion’s son. If that isn’t selfless I don’t know what.

      Sarah reaction at the end of the episode made everything Graham had told her was a lie, and for a woman who was trained and taught by Graham (father figure of the CIA) what kind of reaction would that be. What would Sarah have done if she knew not only did the agency give Casey the order to kill Bryce, but now also gave the order to the same man to whack Bartowski.

      even after Sarah said this guy wasn’t a threat, what did graham tell her to do. Kill him, so everything Sarah knew about killing and that enforcer Casey talking about in Phase three was all Langston.

      Its not an excuse for Sarah actions to kill, but i believe killing was the last option. She wasn’t like Shaw or Casey blood thirst.

      Its what she loved most about Chuck, I just finished watching Operation Awesome, and I saw Sarah and Chuck look at each after watching Shaw take out Sidney. They both showed concerns for this guy standing for him.

      or in Sizzling Shrimp, she told Casey no kill shots. The gymnast was only capped in the knee so thats not a kill shot. The only one we actually scene where she killed someone was in the baby scene taking at all those guys in the room and Mauser.

      and we all know why she killed Mauser, which we can all agree based on the poll question she was justified in doing.

      So, Bryce in my opinion is a hero. He had the hardest secret to keep. He knew Orion and was helping him protect his son from the agency he himself wanted to destroy twice.

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