After spending two seasons wanting to get rid of the Intersect and go back to a normal life, suddenly in Season 3 everything Chuck wants is to be a super-spy? Did the writers deliberately change his characterization just to boost the show's ratings?
Before season 3 Chuck is a human tool that barely survives numerous adventures with a pair of hyper-lethal spooks, one of whom sees him as nothing more than luggage that needs to be carried along from mission to mission. After the season 2 finale he has uber ass-kicking skills downloaded directly into his brain. It's plausible that the constant feeling of helplessness and worthlessness of his position as the Intersect, a feeling significantly reduced by said ass-kicking skills, was the main reason he wanted out.
Why the entire angle with Sarah trying to get Chuck to run away with her was even thrown in is questionable. It seemed rushed, forced, and existed solely to strain their relationship for the first half of the season.
So much this ^^ ^^ If Sarah has such pressing concerns on what becoming a spy would do to Chuck (and subsequent episodes show that these fears are justified)— Why for the love of all that is lovable didn't she choose to elaborate to Chuck in those conversations we caught glimpses of in Chuck vs. The Pink Slip???? It's Sarah's second time deciding to go AWOL for Chuck, but she doesn't feel like sharing any horror stories about what becoming a spy does to a person. She just sort of assumes that Chuck will trust her that spy life sucks — at a time when Chuck is most inspired to become one. Also Sarah's brilliant "run away with me" plan makes no provision for Chuck connecting with Elle and Awesome.
Character motivations for this get fleshed out more later in the season as Sarah worries more and more about Chuck becoming a real spy and, moreover, potentially actually killing people. It's still really awkward at the beginning of the season, though, even knowing this.
Because this time, instead of having the intersect forced on him, disrupting his life, he's chosen it and has realized that he's actually good at it.
Chuck's battle between I Just Want to Be Normal and I Just Want to Be Special is actually cooking throughout season 2, though Chuck doesn't always realize it. For example in "Chuck Versus the Third Dimension" he is still dealing with the shock of seeing Sarah kill in cold blood, and wants time off to deal with it, but ultimately when it's given to him he realizes he likes being a part of the team.
How is it that nearly every week, Sarah gets the crap beat out of her (her face being bruised and cut at the end of most episodes), and no one has ever commented on it? She works at an Orange Orange, not exactly the place where one would get such bruises every other week. I have yet to hear about any of her "hobbies," which could explain it, nor any other explanation of what's going on.
And to make it plain, I understand that no one would probably ever think that Chuck is beating the crap out of his woman (for whatever reason), but the fact that no one says, even offhandedly, "Hey, Sarah's looking roughed up, what happened?" or something of the like just throws me.
The most recent episode (Chuck vs. The Best Friend) especially. The episode ends with Sarah and Chuck in a store full of people with Sarah's face cut up with several band-aids. Anyone who considered themselves her friend ought to asking if she's okay.
It could be that nobody considers her his or her friend-the closest thing to a friend she has outside of the people who would know where the injuries came from would be Ellie, who is not about to accuse her brother of being abusive.
It would be fairly easy for her to claim that she does karate or something in her spare time. Doesn't explain everything, but would at least be an excuse for why she's perpetually beaten up.
And how is it that when she was placed in the spotlight at her high school reunion, nobody seemed to react at all to the fact that she was soaking wet and bleeding from her mouth?
I thought that was a terrific 'we don't care' moment from the writers. They could have made the girl-on-girl fight scene without them getting all wet, but they went with it anyway, unapologetically.
One slight nagging issue I have with the second intersect is that while it may give Chuck's mind the ability to pull off a whole load of karate moves, his mind is still in the body of an untrained guy who spends most of his time on computers and does not do much in the way of strenuous physical activity. His body would physically not be capable of performing some of the moves he does, such as head height round house kicks and various flips etc. Moves like that would require a substantial amount of flexibility training, especially for a guy.
We see him pull them off once. We don't see the week of recuperation. Also, he probably went through a lot of physical training during superspy camp. Also, he has been training with Sarah and Casey.
About Sarah's cover in Season 2 : Does anyone else work at Orange Orange? What happens when they need to go down to the Castle? Is the fro-yo store suspiciously closed on hot summer days?
Is there some fundamental difference between Chuck and Jake 2.0? 'Cause it just bugs me that the former survives and the latter was canceled relatively quickly.
Well, the biggest difference is the two main characters. Jake is a superhuman, after being infected with whatever it was the NSA was working on. Chuck is just some hapless guy who is uploaded with all the CIA/NSA's secrets. Jake (who worked for the NSA the entire time) was fine with his thing, more or less, while Chuck just wants his life back.
There's also the little thing about one airing in '03, and the other starting 4 years later. Time passing can make a big difference on whether or not a show gets the viewers.
Chuck also takes itself a lot less seriously and its mixture of humour and spy action may be more appealing.
Jake 2.0 was made of winking at the audience. I miss it. I like Chuck, the shows have different feels, but just had to say.
The intersect room Just Bugs Me. Seriously, how are you supposed to pick up all of whatever-it-is that makes the Intersect tick when roughly 1/2 of the displays are behind you?
You're not, and that's the point. It allows the random person to be able to walk in and do what they need when the Intersect is on, without getting all that information. It seems that if you are looking at the monitor (as Chuck was) when it's booted up, then you get uploaded with everything. Note, that it's been pointed out several times, that only a few people are capable of getting the intersect uploaded and NOT frying their brains. The room itself is probably the "safe" way of having the info there without killing anyone that walks in the room.
Then what happened during Chuck vs. The Ring with Intersect 3?
Chuck got uploaded because he was staring at the monitor during the boot up of the Intersect. Just as the above states. Then the Intersect got fried because of the disc that was inserted.
The fact that we STILL don't know if this show is canceled or not Just Bugs Me. C'mon, NBC, stop torturing us!
It has now been announced that Chuck has been renewed for a third, 13-episode season.
And now up to a 19 episode season.
A very small issue, but the timeline of the hunt for Orion just bugs me. Orion disappeared after designing the Intersect, which was explained as being developed in response to terrorist attacks in 2001. Beckman claims to have been searching for Orion since "before [Walker was] in a training bra." Since Sarah graduated from high school in 1998, either the Intersect has a pre-2001 history that never made it into the show, or Beckman exaggerates a lot. (If it's the latter, there's also an implausible age gap between Chuck and Sarah, since it's strongly implied that Orion disappeared when Chuck was still a kid.)
Orion's disappearance from the government's radar may have occurred much later than his disappearance from Chuck's life, which explains the age thing.
It's pretty clear that Orion has been missing since before 2001 and that the "9/11" explanation was either retconned or the higher-ups decided that Sarah didn't need to know the truth.
How about this: Project Omaha (the image-uploading technology) was Orion's invention that sent him on the run. When the post-9/11 intersect of CIA and NSA intelligence was proposed, they decided to use project Omaha technology to build it. (I'm assuming here that the name intersect comes from the idea of a database overlap between the two agencies. Against this is the fact that Orion refers to the technology in general as "Intersect", and this may or may not be him simply using the terms Chuck is most familiar with. The main point, that the technology could well predate the database, stands regardless.)
Maybe it's just me but I also thought that the 'before you were in a training bra' comment was either hyperbole or an attempt to make it sound like Orion was more badass than he was. It's not like Beckman is always entirely honest.
Why on earth didn't Walker and Casey give Chuck any sort of self-defense training or something? They repeatedly go on about how important he is, but never think to teach him some sort of martial arts or at least give him a taser or something (he wouldn't use a gun). I know that the second season finale renders the point moot, but still...
Well, I've always assumed that during the first two seasons he is regarded as a temporary asset, so there wouldn't be much of a point of training him - remember that the first order was to kill him, only the fact that he defused the bomb convinced the NSA and CIA that they could benefit from letting him live.
Why does Casey let Chuck go on Nerd Herd house calls? He grabbed Chuck in the second episode by calling the Nerd Herd Help Line to get Chuck to make a house call, so shouldn't he have figured out that the bad guys could do the same? And even then, when bad guys did use the Nerd Herd Help Line to lure Chuck should have been another clue.
They use the house calls as explanation for Chuck's every mission-related disappearance, so it's probably easier. Also, if not Chuck, who in the damn store would do it? This would raise way to much suspicion.
Is it me or was the villainous plan in Chuck vs. the Gravitron and whatever the previous episode really dumb? If Sarah, Casey or Chuck had just been slightly intelligent it would have fallen completely apart.
Why would the government want to stop having a human Intersect? You can't take a room-sized computer to a party and ask it who looks familiar. You can take pictures of everyone at the party and bring them back to the computer later, but that's a lot of time lost. And that's not to mention that most of what Chuck finds, he finds by noticing people or objects that nobody was looking for in the first place. A computer's not going to randomly glance at the crates on a Korean diplomat's luxury yacht; it only looks at what its owners tell it to look at. The downside is that they can't update Chuck with new intel, which is a good argument for also having a computer, but eliminating him altogether makes no sense.
Casey does try to convince the General this, but she has a point about the security issues of a human intersect. Chuck keeps getting kidnapped, falling in love with the wrong person or just plain wandering off. There's the risk that he'll start babbling state secrets if he ever gets a head injury or dosed with Sodium Amytal. Plus there's the simple risk of him going rogue- he's proven very good at giving Sarah and Casey the slip, and the information in his head is ridiculously valuable.
The CIA and NSA already have thousands of people who know vital, valuable state secrets and could be kidnapped or go rogue. They're called "employees." The only reason Chuck hasn't been given the same training the rest of them get is that they insist on maintaining his normal life alongside his role as an asset and field agent.
But those people only know a tiny fraction of what Chuck knows. An employee going rogue isn't going to cause anywhere near the destruction that would result from the Intersect falling into the wrong hands. Additionally, they were selected, interviewed, security checked and psychologically tested before being given access to any information.
So you've got a human database. Even if this Human was a psychologically qualified secret agent of unimpeachable loyalty and skill, he or she still needs to sleep occasionally. A computer can be turned on whenever you need it. And you might not be able to take it to a party, but spies have been secretly communicating over hidden radios/phones and sending pictures to each other over airwaves for decades now. So you can still send a trained agent and let him send back pictures and names of other guests and so on to have you run them through the database while he mingles.
The problem isn't that they don't want a human intersect, its that the intersect is in Chuck. They need the Intersect to be in a Bryce Larkin style secret agent. Chuck is a civilian, and the fact that he isn't a spy comes pretty close to canceling out the benefits of the Intersect.
In "Chuck versus the Ring," Casey could hear gunshots on the first floor of Castle when he was downstairs, but he didn't notice the gunshot downstairs when he was on the first floor. That's not how sound works!
Ambient noise levels, what Casey was paying attention to, position of the shots... There's quite a bit that can mess with soundwaves.
There's also that Casey & his team were joking around & playing poker when Miles killed Rourke, which could help drown out a silenced gun shot; but when the other shots are fired, they're actually silencing the background noise that covered the first gun shot.
How in the hell have people at the Buy More not noticed the extra feature of the nerd-herd mobiles. These include: a second set of controls in the passenger seat that override the main ones, a remote control for it, handcuffs in the wheel. Oh, and how could I forget, a bomb! And if we go with Lazarus designing it, how did a small tech store get their hands on CIA grade materials and decide to use it in their cars.
Casey (or Sarah, I forget) mentions in an early episode that the government "upgraded" the Nerd Herders after Operation Bartowski began.
This troper finds it far more curious that an apparently unlimited amount of Nerd Herd cars can go MIA without anybody ever asking where they went.
I always thought that the implication was that the CIA is replacing the destroyed Herders. As for the additions, it could just be Chuck's Herder that got them. In the pilot, Chuck drives the car to work, so Nerd Herders must be assigned to specific people.
In "Chuck versus the Pink Slip" why does Sarah wait for Chuck to make a zip line? Shouldn't she know how to do one herself, being a trained spy? Even if she was purposely not doing one in hopes of Chuck using the Intersect, if it was a life or death emergency, would you wait for a guy who had vertigo and failed to do it months ago?
In "Chuck versus Operation Awesome", Shaw doesn't give Chuck the message that will save his life until after Chuck has refused to kill him several times. If Chuck had been more willing to shoot, Shaw wouldn't have survived.
Shaw knows everything about Chuck so he knows that Chuck doesn't kill not even the the ring.
In "Chuck versus First Class", why did Shaw give Chuck a tranquilizer pen that doesn't work at high altitudes? If the spy agencies can make a program that ingrains information in people's heads and can hack a 747 to be controlled remotely, I'm sure that they could make a $14 Rollerball.
After "Chuck Versus the Beard," I've come to the conclusion that Shaw is either dirty (or at least some third party, outside of NSA/CIA ventures and the Ring/Fulcrum) or not very bright. As a theory, it may be completely wrong, but it explains a lot of little things like that.
He wanted Chuck to think on his feet after the initial plan went awry.
In the most recent episode why was Casey fired? I mean he gives everything for his country, is a great spy and soldier (and an elite sniper), reguarly goes beyond the call of duty without complaint, yet he takes something to rescue his wife and despite his perfect record, hes instantly fired. I would be fine if he were demoted, but an outright sack and told to go live a normal life, when he destroyed his normal life to serve his country? *** you General
Apparently, he's been cut far more slack than others before him. And it was the Ring we're talking about. Not that that's an issue now, of course!
Casey compromised national security for emotional reasons. The worry that Sarah or Chuck might do the same is the exact reason that their relationship has been under fire (both from outside sources and from Sarah herself) from day one. And it's not something you get a free pass for because you only did it once.
WHEN oh WHEN are they going to address that scene with the General from the beginning of season 3 when she said to Shaw about "not telling him/them"?
I believe that was simply referring to his existence/addition to Team Bartowski.
If I'm not mistaken, those episodes featured a person not actually part of Team Bartowski taking part in the mission (Bryce Larkin, Cole Barker), meaning that they could perform a three-man operation without Chuck being present. So it could be that most of their operations requires three operatives, and Chuck's all they've got.
Justified in various ways throughout the series. In the first 2 seasons, Chuck's involvement in field work is usually by accident, either through his own impulsiveness or through circumstance. Season 3 and forward, the Intersect 2.0 made it safer to deploy the Intersect into the field. Either way, quite a few missions were saved from failure by Chuck being on scene, so I imagine that would play into the CIA's decision to allow Chuck to train as a field agent.
There's also the fact that technology isn't perfect. There's hardware failure, interference, and greater potential for discovery by a keen observer the more fancy gadgets are involved (someone hears static on their radio, spots the hidden camera, etc), which creates both the risk of missing crucial information and the possibility cover for the op could be compromised entirely. So this is weighed against the risk of bringing an asset into the field in situations where no combat is expected.
So there's a top secret government project whose primary objective is to protect the identity of the human Intersect, a task vital to national security. The codename of this project is... Operation Bartowski??
I understood it as that was simply what Beckman called it while talking to "team bartowski" and on the NSA records or whatever the General has otherwise it would mean keep on saying somethin like "operation intersect" over and over and they try to limit atleast somewhat how often they use the word "intersect" per episode.
Operation Bartowski, after Stephen Bartowski; the creator of the Intersect.
When Awesome got injected with poison or something, was that just meant to get Ellie and Awesome Out of Africa or was it meant to kill him?
I'd say it was to get Ellie to Burbank so as to enact what it is they end up pulling with her.
It's stated a mere MOMENT after they drive off that Justin feigned symptoms of malaria on Awesome.
Yeah, but didn't Justin say something like it was meant to look like Malaria, but my question is was the point of it to kill Awesome or just get them out?
It was to get them out of Africa & back to Burbank, to use them in their plans to discredit & kill Chuck, Sarah & Casey.
Why did Shaw pull the punches in the staged fight that got him uncovered by Morgan? They were just 2 faceless mooks. He could've beaten them to a pulp for real and not killed them. He's used to protecting his cover at all costs, so a realistic option would've been actually killing them (without telling them obviously). Instead he pulls the punches completely?
Beating up their agents isn't a good way to convince someone that you're actually on their side.
Also, clearly the two agents knew that there would be a staged fight with Shaw because their reactions would also have to be staged. They probably wouldn't have taken kindly to the fight going from "Staged" to "Likely to end in their deaths"—if they didn't outright attack him back, putting his own life at risk, they'd at least have made some surprised or outraged remark that made it obvious Shaw had joined the Ring.
After three seasons the show is still mostly contained in Los Angeles. True, the intersect was all information from the CIA and NSA but shouldn't the FBI be getting in on at least some of the domestic espionage?
The Intersect is unusual because it is a joint venture between the CIA and NSA. Neither of these organizations would normally communicate with each other past what is absolutely necessary. And they would never discuss national secrets with the FBI. The show is based in Burbank because Chuck's cover is his real life. If he starts being whisked away to other places too often, or for too long, it starts to look suspicious.
Fridge Logic: C'mon, nobody noticed a plane fire-bombing the Abandoned Warehouse District?
Shaw doing a Face-Heel Turn, it doesn't make sense as he should know the Ring set it up so that his wife died. Understandably, he's angry at Sarah but that shouldn't of meant he all of a sudden decides to work for the Ring. The way it happened just seemed rush and comes off a bit of a wall banger.
Was it the Ring? My memory may be foggy but I'd thought that was all CIA, and at the very least Shaw seemed to believe so.
There's no evidence that the Ring set up his wife's assassination.
The CIA director ordered Sarah's red test, thinking Shaw's wife had turned to the ring. Then allowed Shaw to believe it was the ring that killed her for 5 years. Why would he believe it was the Ring who set it up if the CIA refused to tell him the truth about it?
Chuck's new short haircut. Totally lacks the nerdy charm.
God, this. At least give him a beard, Goddammit!
It's part of his character development- mainly, him going from hapless nerd to bad-ass spy.
The main thing that bugs me is that the intersect was probably too huge a file to send by email, no matter how it was encoded.
Why would a Russian criminal mastermind have a British accent? I mean, I know Timothy Dalton's Welsh, but the only times he use a (very fake-sounding) Russian accent is when he wants to confirm his "Russianness". His HQ is in Russia.
To be fair, if English was a second language for him, and he learned it from someone with an British accent, he would speak it with an English accent. Alternatively, he may be of British nationality and just have Russian heritage.
Alexi Volkoff is actually Hartley Whinterbottom a scientist who was implanted with the first version of the intersect and became his cover of Volkoff. So the Russian is just the cover and he is British.
Also very much Truth in Television. When he was in Iraq, this troper personally knew a Kurd that had a VERY pronounced English accent, because he went to Oxford.
How does Chuck has info on Vivian Volcoff in the Intersect without an update? She's a relatively new villain that shouldn't even be in the Intersect yet.
Whose to say he doesn't get updates now? Sure, going by writing it's sloppy, but I see no reason for Chuck to not have his Intersect regularly updated with new information. At the begining of the series everyone (including Chuck) wanted it out, so there was no reason to. Plus, he didn't flash on Vivian once (I think). He flashed on suspicous activity at a stationary location.
In "Chuck Versus the Push Mix", how do they all get between Russia and the States so fast? Chuck and Morgan reach The Contessa from California not long after Volkoff arrives there with Mary and Sarah. Chuck and Volkoff would each have to take a flight of well over twelve hours to get back to Stephen's cabin, which is even more problematic given that Volkoff was only minutes behind Chuck and would almost certainly have access to a faster, more direct flight, meaning that by all rights he should have got there first. And when Ellie goes into labour with Mary and Sarah still aboard The Contessa, they manage to get back home in time for the birth, which is fair enough because, though it wasn't the impression given, Ellie's labour could well have gone on that long... but they arrive at exactly the same time as Chuck and Morgan do. The only explanation is that The Contessa is sailing off the coast of California, in which case, what's it doing there?
Continues to be an issue in the season four finale—Chuck could not possibly get from LA to Moscow and back again within the time frame Ellie gives him, let alone do anything in between the two journeys.
Why are Jeff and Lester still not fired? Seriously, they pull crap that would get anyone fired (or jailed!) and they're definately not being kept on because they're charming or good-natured. Even Rule of Funny stopped applying long ago.
Buy More was not at first that serious of a store. It is full of slackers, Big Mike and everyone else simply don't care. Second off, as Morgan said to Beckman, the store had gotten too perfect and clean when the CIA took over. So much that people might realise that something's off, so hiring the past workers worked as a cover.
Doesn't explain why Jeff & Lester can run around sexually harassing the customers.
Simple, they're both Bunny Ears Lawyers - As bad as they can act, they are damn good at what they do. Chuck outright states in Chuck Versus the Santa Suit that when the two of them are focused, they're better than the CIA's best.
In the two years he was in custody, why didn't anyone remove Shaw's intersect?
At the end of Chuck versus the Bullet Train and the beginning of Chuck versus Sarah, Sarah is put back in the hotel room that she was in during the very first episode. How...how did Quinn KNOW?
He knew Graham & Bryce were both dead, chances are he was able to access the case file.
Plus, it's to add more "authenticity" to his downright evil plan to coerce Amnesia!Sarah into killing Chuck.
Confused about the series finale. Does Chuck now have a pristine Intersect in him again? If he did, why would the CIA let him "find himself" like the others if it's clear through the whole series they would never let the Intersect out of their sights?
They could have suppressed it if it was going to be an issue, or figure that Chuck has had the Intersect rattling around in his brain long enough to be trusted with it. He's still an asset as the one of the only known people who could safely handle the Intersect, and not defect to evil.
I'd imagine that they could entrust the thing to a guy who's saved America countless times, who's son of the guy who invented it.
They let him retire at the end of season 3 too. He saved Beckman's career, and pretty much every intelligence branch. Not to mention that if they DO need him, he's not too hard to contact, and is generally willing to help. Not to mention he went through the necessary training. And at this point removing it from him, means NO intersect for anybody. Which I'm sure would be okay with Chuck, but not so much with the government.
What the hell was the Key about? Intersect 2 was a dramatic change to the architecture, and very definitely went over Orion's head, so it can't be just a lock out device. Was it something along the lines of firmware flashing, or a hot swap in the field?
Yeah, pretty much. Chuck wanted it so he could restore Sarah's memories, so I imagine the key could be used to add/remove content from the Intersect on the fly.
If they needed Quinn alive for disarming the bomb inside the auditorium, why didn't Sarah just incapacitate the guy by shooting out his kneecaps or something, rather than killing him? Sure would've made Chuck's plan to restore her memories with the glasses go smoother.
She didn't know about the plan until after she'd shot Quinn. As for going for the kill shot rather than incapacitating him, there are 2 reasons: 1) Quinn would be deadweight they'd have to drag back to the bomb, since he couldn't walk & wouldn't exactly be willing to help them - Remember that Chuck & Sarah running without having to carry him don't get back to the bomb with much time left; and 2) Quinn could just pull a Taking You with Me, now that his endgame (Becoming the Intersect) wasn't going to happen.
In 'Chuck Versus Sarah', why didn't Chuck prove she loved him by calling her "Sam". She'd know that the only way he could know that was if she'd told him, which she'd only do if she loved him.
Because the CIA already knew that name. If somebody had access (which Chuck did), it really wouldn't be that hard to look it up.
By the end of the series, the premise of Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer really becomes problematic. Later seasons establish that Chuck is a pretty bad-ass hacker in his own right. In fact, by Season 5 we've learned that he's a near-legendary figure, the Piranha, in hacker circles. He's able to break into the CIA, random criminal organizations, the BUY MORE, and even hack a complex virus's code within seconds. And yet the only way he can pull the arming codes for a nuclear weapon out of a game of Missile Command is to play the game and get to the kill screen? Video games, even early arcade cabinets, are ultimately just programs and coding, and can be hacked just like any other computer or application. So why didn't Chuck put his Piranha skills to use and just hack a Missle Command cabinet to find the codes?
Because he could have, but he was trying to help Jeff relive his glory days. There's also the possibility that if Chuck hacked the game, he wouldn't be able to spot the missile codes amongst the other coding; and it would take more time for him to run down every line of coding for the game in attempt to find the codes, especially if he didn't flash on them. Hacking the system relies on Chuck knowing what the codes are to begin with, which he doesn't or the episode has no plot.
Missile command is NOT a complex program. Even if he had to go through line by line it wouldn't have taken more than a couple hours. If he had time to find and retrieve a specific Missile Command unit, he had enough time to go through the code. Plus, come on, it's not like he was operating in a void! 10-20 people working on it at the same time could have combed through the program in minutes.
A much better Headscratcher is why the hell somebody hid MISSILE CODES in a freaking arcade game. These things have zero security, the only thing that is required would be somebody to know what they are looking for (codes), and any unit in existence.
So what Decker said at the end of season four wasn't true?
It's very ambiguous, but my interpretation is that Quinn is the threat that Decker was referring to. If I recall correctly, he said something about a bigger threat, one connected to Chuck's whole career. That's what Quinn is supposed to be. Granted, they didn't get a chance to really flesh out Quinn's character, but his motives certainly fit. He was supposed to get the Intersect that Chuck got way back in Season 1, and he's sort of been involved in Chuck's life ever since. That's why he's sort of the ultimate threat. But, again, there wasn't a lot of time with Quinn, so this is possibly speculation.
Does the Intersect slowly get out of date, or is there some means by which new intelligence is added to it as it is recieved? Are there any instances that either show it lacking intelligence about something because that something is new, or conversely of "knowing" data that it should not know unless it had been updated?
"Chuck Versus the Breakup" shows that the Intersect can be field-upgraded. Remember the glasses Bryce left for Chuck? Presumably after this point, Chuck regularly receives some sort of intel update. Once the capability is established, you don't really need to bring it up again.
Is there ever an explanation for WHY Shaw's wife was the target for Sarah's red test?
According to what little we have, the CIA had reason to believe she was turned by the Ring so Sarah was sent to kill her. Unfortunately, the source on that (the Director) wasn't exactly reliable. Maybe it's true. Or maybe the Ring knew Eve Shaw was a mole and orchestrated her death by framing her. Or maybe Graham himself was part of the Ring and used his position to make her Sarah's Red Test target (Beckman herself said Graham took the truth to his grave).
What exactly were the plans of Fulcrum and the Ring? Yes, both organizations were attempting to rebuild the Intersect, but why? It's implied in "Chuck Versus the Suburbs" that Fulcrum (or at least some of its members) may have just been Well Intentioned Extremists who believed the government wasn't going far enough to protect American interests, but what about the Ring? It's established in "Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte" that the Ring clearly has global interests (unlike Fulcrum, whose goals appeared to be strictly domestic) and gaining the Intersect and taking control of the CIA are merely means to an end.