What changes—and what doesn't—in Chuck

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Season two of NBC's Chuck ended with Chuck Bartowski downloading Intersect 2.0 voluntarily, accepting his role as a hero. The new Intersect will give him physical abilities, but the fun will be seeing what a guy like Chuck (Zachary Levi) does with those abilities.

Series co-creator, writer and executive producer Chris Fedak reminded fans that the Intersect was designed for a cold, calculated spy like Bryce Larkin. Give the same abilities to a mild-mannered Everyman and you don't instantly get James Bond.

"The Intersect 2.0 went into the mind of Chuck Bartowski, a wonderful guy, really great, not exactly completely in control of his emotions, and there's going to be issues because of that," Fedak said in a group interview last week at Comic-Con in San Diego. "Our show's always been about a regular guy, a fish out of water. It's not about a super spy, but maybe someday he'll turn into a super spy. We're getting to the point where we're like, 'Maybe it's time for Chuck to get out of the car.' That's what this season is all about."

Chuck star Levi confirmed that he would still be playing the same old Chuck, despite the game-changing season finale. More importantly, his declaration that he knows kung fu, a la The Matrix, may have been premature.

"A lot of people were concerned that this was going to change Chuck, that it's not going to be the show anymore because now he knows kung fu," Levi said in a separate group interview. "He doesn't know kung fu. What you're going to see through the course of the third season is that every mission now there's going to be a little physical element to it that Chuck is now able to do. Or in some cases not able to do, but he thinks he should be able to do."

Expect the Intersect to kick in and fizzle out at inopportune times. "Maybe he'll be able to take down some bad guys because his Greco-Roman wrestling comes out," Levy continued. "Maybe he'll jump in the ring thinking his Greco-Roman wrestling is going to come out, and it doesn't, so he gets decimated."

Fedak also pointed out the difference between abilities and powers. Chuck has abilities, not superpowers. He may know how to fight, but a trained fighter still has more skill with the same abilities. This ensures that Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) and Casey (Adam Baldwin) remain employed guarding over the holder of the Intersect.

Yvonne Strahovski

"I think one of the differences is that in the past, Chuck was the fish out of water, the guy you kept in the car," Fedak said. "Now with his abilities, Sarah and Casey aren't simply there to protect him. They are also there to guide him, to kind of be, in a way to be senseis, to kind of turn him into the Intersect 2.0, the super spy that he is supposed to be. So I think that the dynamic has shifted to more of a Mr. Miyagi [relationship]."

Levi won't be hitting the gym and bulking up for his character's new abilities. "I hope not, unless working out is playing more video games," Levi joked.

There will be more crazy action this season though, Fedak promised. "I'm looking forward to using a mini-gun in our first episode back, episode 301," Fedak said. "It's the machine gun used by Arnold in Terminator 2 and Jesse 'The Body' Ventura in Predator. I'm very excited about it."

Season three will also find more of Chuck's family and friends getting close to his super spy action. Season two already let Captain Awesome (Ryan McPartlin) in on the secret.

"We are going to have a lot of fun this season with people getting close to the spy world, maybe not always figuring it out, putting two and two together, but getting close to that danger," Fedak continued. "Also, for a guy like Awesome, this is the ultimate extreme sport. He might have the wrong perspective on this kind of very dangerous life that Chuck is leading, but I think we realized we really like expanding the world of the show."

This doesn't mean leaving the Buy More behind. It's also important to Fedak to show Chuck having a real life. "Most shows, whether they are about spy or a superhero, the Clark Kent doesn't do a lot of reporting," Fedak explained. "He doesn't show up, take notes and do a lot of the footwork of reporting. For us, we really dug the idea that you would see this guy's personal life. What we enjoy about Chuck is that he can't get away from his home life, and we want to see that. We want to see the regular everyday part of it. So he can go off and has this extraordinary mission, come home and you still do the dinner scene. We still do what's going on in his home life. What's Morgan [Joshua Gomez] telling him about the Buy More? That's the fun, the heart and the warmth of the show."

Chuck returns to NBC in March 2010.