By Ken Tucker
March 09, 2010 at 04:09 PM EST

This week’s Chuck, directed by star Zachary Levi, was a bold one for a series based on keeping secrets and keeping things light. The night began with Morgan “firing” Chuck as his best friend, since the latter had become so elusive and unavailable. Morgan just wants to hang out, eat Subway subs (which made their first appearance of the season here, I do believe), and play video games, like the pals used to. Chuck has to use his Intersect at new levels since he’s now a full-fledged agent. Other shows could keep these two together as cheerful chums for a long time, but Chuck likes to tinker with its genre… and with us.

And so the big reveal this week was that Morgan found out not only that beneath the Buy More is a CIA/NSA base of operations (Joshua Gomez’s jaw-dropped reaction to seeing the seemingly football-field-sized underground spy sprawl was some fine comic acting), but also that Chuck is a spy. Or as Chuck put it, “I’m a spy, buddy.” And Morgan’s great response? “My best friend a spy?… This is the best news ever!”

The episode took title its title, “Chuck Versus The Beard,” from the bearded Morgan’s suggestion that Sarah, as Chuck’s handler, has been his “beard” — that is, someone only posing as his girlfriend, and not the real thing. (The fact that a “beard” frequently refers to a gay man posing as the straight companion for a woman only made Chuck and Morgan’s close friendship an all the more amusing comparison.) This notion of Chuck-as-beard set off the evening’s other development, as Chuck, coming off his fling with Hannah, declared last night, “I do love Sarah!” As in, he doesn’t care who knows it, he’s (re-)staking his claim on her, and hoping she reciprocates.

But of course, earlier on, Chuck had moaned that he was no longer “flashing” his Intersect abilities because “my emotions mess up the Intersect,” and his emotions are never more rattled than when grappling with his Sarah fixation. Shaw told him he was “benched”: No flashing, no spying. And so you could look at this episode as the one in which Chuck pulled himself together: By admitting his secret life to his best friend and his eternal feelings to his best girl, he was able to make the mental/emotional breakthrough that had been eluding him the past few weeks.

The result was a slam-bang action scene (nimbly directed by Levi) with Chuck dispatching a Ring crew led by an excellent Deidrich Bader.

A couple of final observations:

• I’m very curious as to how Devon’s inability to keep his secret knowledge about Chuck from Ellie is going to play out with his suggestion that the married couple leave the country and join Doctors Without Borders. I don’t want to lose those two, even for a few budget-saving weeks, do you?

• I’m always bad at remembering people’s ages: Did we already know that Chuck is 28 (Chuck saying he and Morgan had been friends for 22 years, since age six)?

• Who’s the voice on the telephone line contacting “Colonel Casey”?

Your comments on this and all the Chuck revelations, please.

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