Brandon Routh, Chuck

Have Chuck and Sarah been naughty this year? On Friday's Chuck (8/7c, NBC), it looks like Santa is bringing them something far worse than a lump of coal: their old nemesis Daniel Shaw!

"We wanted to do a Christmas story, and Christmas is such a holiday that's haunted, like in the Charles Dickens tradition," Chuck co-creator Chris Fedak tells reporters during a December set visit. "We thought, 'Let's bring a monster from our past.' At the end of Season 3, Brandon [Routh] was such a good 'muahaha' bad guy. I was like, I've got to bring back the 'muahaha.'"

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But wait, isn't he dead ... or something? Rogue agent Daniel Shaw (guest star Brandon Routh) has already had two faked deaths on the show, and last we saw him, he was knocked out cold in the Buy More before Morgan (Joshua Gomez) accidentally detonated a bomb planted there. It's assumed that Shaw was taken into CIA custody off-screen before the store exploded.

"He died a couple times. Well, not really. He's tough," says Zachary Levi, whose character Chuck has a bitter history with Shaw, both personally and professionally. Not only did he kill Chuck's dad (Scott Bakula), but he also once dated and later tried to kill Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski). "Other bad guys we've had on the show, like Roark or Volkoff are different types of enemies. It's more of a 'How does the team, together, take down this empire?' as opposed to just this one guy and his vendetta.

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"I feel like Daniel Shaw and Chuck Bartowski, we're both the same age, we were contemporaries and we were enemies and friends at one point ... Frenemies," Levi continues. "And also, you know, in some ways vying for the love of the same girl and that Sarah had killed his wife, that was very messy. It's cool to have even more closure than what was the closure before."

Check out this preview of "Chuck vs. the Santa Suit":

Uh-oh! Is that the Buy More in the backdrop we see? "This season's been [about] nods and homage to other episodes and having characters like Shaw come back. I fought him in the Buy More last time I fought him," confirms Levi. "[This time] I beat the crap out of him. I don't do it without taking a few licks myself, obviously. It wouldn't be a fair fight."

How the battle ends remains to be seen, but Fedak is happy that Routh did indeed bring the "muahaha" back. "It's one of our most crazy, intense episodes," Fedak says. " Brandon came back and he was great. He just plays an icy killer like nobody else."

Chuck airs Fridays at 8/7c on NBC.