My thoughts on the “Morgansect” issue on “Chuck”

I already addressed this issue near the end of my review of Episode 4.24 (“Chuck vs. the Cliffhanger), but after reading and hearing about the continued worry and objections among Chuck fans about Morgan downloading the Intersect as we go into Season 5, I feel compelled to reiterate my thoughts on the matter, and hopefully allay the concerns of some fans.

First, to repeat my point from my review of “Chuck vs. the Cliffhanger,” Morgan becoming the Intersect perfectly fits with a key point made by Joseph Campbell in his book on mythology and heroic legend, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell tells us that a hero doesn’t just complete a quest, grow as a person and gain enlightenment, but he also has to return to where he came from and pass that knowledge on to others. Chuck didn’t just need to grow as a hero and a person and become more capable of controlling his own destiny–he also needed to show others around him how to do the same thing. When you think about it in those terms, it’s only natural that he would pass the torch to Morgan in this way, both in the sense of Morgan downloading the Intersect into his brain as well as Chuck teaching him how to use it. It’s happened in a more gradual and subtle fashion throughout the course of the series with all the different characters, but this plot twist with Morgan is just a more blatant and literal example of Chuck‘s fine tradition of having its characters learn to become more than what they were when the story first began. In fact, Morgan’s desire to grow as a hero was hinted at way back in Episode 3.13, “Chuck vs. the Other Guy,” in which Morgan said that Chuck, Sarah and Casey had shown him that “[he] could be so much more” than the person he had been up to that point in his life.

Another argument fans have brought up is the issue of why Morgan is even able to download the Intersect at all, pointing to all the emphasis made in past episodes of how Chuck is special in his ability to use the Intersect. (Similar arguments were made when it was revealed that Hartley Winterbottom was the real first human Intersect when he downloaded the Alexei Volkoff personality.) The way I see it, the answer to this part of the “problem” is simple: The Intersect’s design has been improved over time. The way that the problem with Winterbottom/Volkoff was explained in “Chuck vs. Agent X” gave me the impression that the initial prototype Intersect was flawed, which resulted in Winterbottom being unable to free himself from the Volkoff personality. In Episode 1.02 (“Chuck vs. the Helicopter”), Dr. Zarnow made a point to emphasize that no one on the team that built the Intersect 1.0 imagined that one mind would be able to hold all of the Intersect images, which highlighted the CIA’s understanding of what they thought the limits of the technology were at that time.

Later, in Episode 2.13 (“Chuck vs. the Suburbs”), the Intersect built by Fulcrum destroyed or severely crippled the mind of anyone other than Chuck who tried to download the data, presumably because Fulcrum’s Intersect design and coding was so flawed that only Chuck’s innate ability to use the Intersect allowed him to survive it. Then, from the end of Season 2 to the end of Season 3, we saw that the Intersect design had been further refined by Chuck’s father, the CIA and The Ring, with Manoosh being able to use his “on-demand” Intersect glasses and Daniel Shaw being able to download The Ring’s version of the Intersect 2.0. Finally in Season 4, Ellie made a number of improvements to the Intersect’s coding and design, which Director Bentley stole so she could download the Intersect into the two Greta agents, whose personalities were seemingly the only factor that made them unable to use the program as well as Chuck could. All of these examples lend credence to the idea that the Intersect has been refined and improved upon throughout the events of the series, making it more likely that multiple people could download and use it, though it remains to be seen how efficiently or effectively Morgan will be able to use it.

Some folks might be saying at this point, “Matt, that’s all well and good, but what if Morgan takes so much of the spotlight as the new Intersect, that Chuck’s, Sarah’s and Casey’s screen time and story development suffer?” I’ll admit, Yvonne Strahovski saying about Josh Gomez having the “limelight” and that she and Zachary Levi will have it easier, and Josh Gomez saying that he’d have Zac’s work schedule in Season 5 during this year’s Comic-Con panel could be interpreted that way. However, I really don’t believe it means that at all. I believe that to at least some extent, Yvonne’s comments about Josh/Morgan during the panel were made in a “tongue-in-cheek” way. As far as the issue of Josh having a tougher shooting schedule is concerned, I believe that that is simply because of how much more Josh will have to do in the way of action/stunt/fighting scenes for at least part of Season 5. I’ll grant that I don’t know very much about television or film production, but it seems to me that action, stunt and fighting scenes take a much longer time to plan, organize, and choreograph so that they’re shot correctly and executed safely–much more so than simpler “hit your mark & read your lines” scenes.

I know that everyone is entitled to their own opinions about this stuff, and that with a show that people are so passionate about as they are with this one, it can be very easy and understandable to go with one’s initial “knee-jerk” emotional reaction to changes like this. I’m just trying, in my own way, to provide folks with an opportunity to “take a step back” and look at the matter from a different perspective. I just hope folks don’t let their concerns overwhelm them and detract from their enjoyment of this 5th Season that we all fought very hard to get. Let’s enjoy this season, fellow Chuck fans, and let’s give Josh Schwartz, Chris Fedak, the writers and the cast our full support as they get the chance to end their story on their own terms! 🙂

Long Live Team Bartowski! Long Live Chuck! 😀

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6 Responses to My thoughts on the “Morgansect” issue on “Chuck”

  1. kristine c. says:

    I was in the 3rd paragraph and I’m formulating my rebuttal then you said it for me: “Matt, that’s all well and good, but what if Morgan takes so much of the spotlight as the new Intersect, that Chuck’s, Sarah’s and Casey’s screen time and story development suffer?”

    I guess you’re right. We just got to wait. This is a show we fought for another season and we have to trust Josh and Chris to end it as usual in Chuck fashion. I’m guilty for being one of those who’s worried for Morgan getting much more screen time. I’m a shipper through and through and though I don’t expect that for the entire 42 minutes, Chuck and Sarah will stare at each other’s eyes the entire time, I’m just hoping they’d still be able to keep the passion alive.

    But yeah. Chuck to infinity and beyond. 🙂

  2. Lianne says:

    Matt,
    Just read your entire post, and while I try to have an open mind, I am a huge shipper and big fan separately of Chuck, Sarah and Casey. And with Josh getting the same schedule as Zach, it seriously concerns me. I want to believe this final season will be “epic,” but based on what I heard from the interviews at Comic-Con, I’m not so sure. Zach and Josh were so excited to be working together, and while that’s all well and good, I don’t need to see their bromance up front and center either.

    I’ll watch because I too fought for a final season. But I think I may have to lower my expectations.

    • Matt says:

      I understand what you mean, but the point I was trying to make by describing Josh’s heavier workload is that longer work hours could be because of scenes that are more involved to film, but aren’t necessarily longer in terms of screen time when you see the episode as it airs.

      • Lianne says:

        I agree with that. And that makes sense. But I don’t think I saw Yvonne’s response to Josh/Morgan intersect story as “tongue-in-cheek,” I saw it as her not really knowing how to respond , and also, maybe a bit hopeful that she’ll get to be a badass spy soon. She seems to enjoy it. What’s also interesting to me is that this seems to be a major issue for people, and while it was addressed at Comic-Con, I wonder if Fedak and company really have an idea as to how many people are concerned. They seemed to make light of it, or joke about it. I don’t think many people are as excited as Fedak and Josh and Zach are. But I hope you’re right Matt; I hope Josh’s schedule is like Zach’s simply because of the new things he has to learn.

  3. Great post, Matt, and I have to agree with you. At the very least, it can certainly be proven that the Intersect has been modified and upgraded over the series, and with the various tests I’m sure Chuck would’ve gone through ‘behind the scenes’, as it were, as well as general observation of Chuck’s experience with the various Intersects, it can’t have been too difficult to find more methods of improving the Intersect ‘behind the scenes’.

    As for Morgan taking the spotlight this season, didn’t we all have a similar fear that the show would change after season two’s Intersect 2.0 upload, fearing that we might be watching a very different Chuck from then on? I did certainly have my own fears with that, but that opening five minutes of season three put to rest those concerns, and, because of that experience, I’m more than willing to put my faith in Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz this season.

    p.s. And after all, according to the CIA, it is still Chuck that “has to fail” this season, not Morgan…

    • Matt says:

      Thanks, Tom! Yeah, I know a lot of people can’t help but worry about significant changes to the show, but we just need to have faith that Fedak & the writers know that they have a winning overall formula on their hands, and that they know better than to radically change it.
      October 28th here we come!

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