Chuck Review: A Turn to the Dark Side?

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It happened. For the first time since Season 4.1 kicked off, I was not all that pleased with an episode. While "Chuck Versus the First Bank of Evil" was a pleasant enough hour of television, it was a bit too run of the mill to have my tastes.

The question of whether Vivian Volkoff will remain good or turn evil immediately returned to the forefront. As she played up her devious side at the bank, she proved to Pierre Chang* that she was more like her father than he originally thought. She also proved the same to herself and the audience.

(*Because I didn't catch the name of the bank manager, I'm hoping most readers here also enjoyed Lost.)

With Vivian

After Mr. Volkoff's Lawyer - played by yet another television staple, Ray Wise - got to Vivian and warned her not to trust Chuck and the CIA, the young heiress had much more to ponder. The fact that he told her he was the only one who could tell her what she wanted to know about her dad made it that much easier of a choice.

So, as the episode concluded with her in the limo, attorney by Vivian's side, the question hung around: will she turn to the dark side?

Another storyline that began last week and continued into "Chuck Versus the First Bank of Evil" was that of Casey and his secret mission with Robin Givens. Meh. The only joy I got from it was discovering Morgan's go-to move to pretend he's a spy: talking into his watch.

Now that we've gotten some of those plot-related details out of the way, let's take a look at how the Chuck Triple Threat played out this week. But, first, put on your best outfit from the J-Crew For Spies...

Action
The conversation begins and ends with the fantastic bank robbery by Chuck and Sarah. With the random shooting, the sweet flips, and, of course, the sunglasses and leather, it was all I could ask for. Other than that, there was Vivian taking out the lawyer with a knife and a vase.

Comedy
Let's first mention what didn't work. For the first substantial action in three or four weeks, Jeff and Lester really didn't come to play. This renaissance love affair just made it seem like the writers had run out of interesting thing to have these guys do. Roping Morgan into their story for the first half of the episode proved once again that the bearded wonder is much better on spy missions than hanging around the Buy More.

Speaking of Mr. Grimes, he had a couple of gems. A couple of my favorites: leading with the beard on his apartment listing, but then realizing he should use it as a pleasant surprise; joking about not putting a TV in his new apartment.

She's been getting in on the laughs more and more these days, but it's always surprising to see Sarah crack me up. She did it here while trying on wedding dresses, especially when sticking her tongue out in disgust. She was also hilarious as she talked to Chuck so sweetly about feeling magical in her dress, then immediately screaming at a bank customer to get down on the ground before she blows their freakin' head off! Great stuff.

Heart
There was yet another nice moment between Ellie and Sarah, as the former explained to the latter that at some point the wedding was going to feel magical. And when we saw that moment, it was truly magical. As Sarah muttered "we're getting married" to herself, cracked a smile, and began to tear up, everyone but John Casey was feeling emotional. It never isn't awesome to see Sarah Walker feel like a princess.

There are plenty of questions to ask as Chuck moves forward: What is going to happen with Vivian?  What the heck is Casey doing behind that wall in Castle? Is this all leading up to another wedding season finale? Taken onn its own, how much of a let down episode was this for you?

Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
  • 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (30 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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In simple words: give the intersect ( at least a version of it) to Morgan. That would create at least one more seasson. And get rid of Jeffster! They're not funny, too predictable. Well those are my two cents.

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The Buy More crew is getting less and less important, and I'm completely okay with that. They seem to be including Jeff, Lester and Big Mike in the interest in justifying pay cheques. The show has too many sub characters at this point...I think it might be time to let the Buy More crew go. Or like other people were saying, feel free to ignore them for an episode or two. Funny that this episode apparently didn't please the reviewer, who then spent the rest of the article gushing about how awesome it was :P. Chuck is facing a reduced budget and a big cast. Considering this I feel they're doing a great job for their 4th season.

Richy

There's so many sub-characters I don't think it's necessary for the two doofus' to have a storyline every episode lest they be overused.
Awesome hasn't had much storyline either the past few weeks, and that's okay. Granny Bartowski has been away this and the previous episode too. If they don't have a good plot for any of the above characters, don't just throw them in so they get some airtime. It was pleasant to see Big Mike with a few lines about bopping Morgan's Mom!

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I totally disagree. Okay, season 4 has had some very shaky episodes. Last week's episode in particular was a very bad one. Remember the let's-edit-in-some-gunshots-and-leave-the-rest-of-the-escape-to-the-viewer's-imagination? Or the awkward horseback riding sequence? Or even worse: Sarah Walker playing with Star Wars action figures?!? Come on, talk about out of character! Another example comes to mind: the last 10 minutes of "Chuck vs. The Push Mix", which were supposed to be "the best 10 minutes in the show's history" (apparently, that's how the show's co-creator Josh Schwartz described it). In reality, all they did was try to cram the conclusion of several story arcs into one episode, which ultimately ended in one giant mess. But enough about that, I was actually saying that I do not agree with the above review of yesterday's episode. Here's why... First of all, the bank robbery sequence was excellent, especially the subtle references to Pulp Fiction and The Matrix. If you've seen those movies (and who hasn't?), you know what I'm talking about. The storyline of whether Vivian will trust her CIA handlers or turn to the dark side was also very well done. It made me think of an early episode "Chuck vs. the Helicopter" in which Chuck was facing the same dilemma: can he trust his handlers or not? Given that Vivian didn't want to have anything to do with Volkoff, and she was quite adamant about that, I seriously doubt that all it takes to change that is a box of photographs in a bank vault. But I guess we will have to wait to find out, won't we? This time, they also managed to nicely integrate the wedding stuff into the episode without getting overly mushy. At first, I had my doubts about the wedding dress scene, until it turned out that the dress "has already been on a mission". Hilarious! Exactly the kind of Chuck humor we've all come to enjoy. Meanwhile, what's Casey up to? And what's behind that door in Caste? All in all, the writers have once again found the right mix between action, drama, and humor. In fact, watching this episode felt like watching a Chuck season 1 episode. Unlike the previous few episodes, I never had the impression they were filming on a tight budget. It's this kind of stuff that might just get Chuck a fifth season. But for now, I'm already looking forward to next week's episode...

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Interesting developments with Vivian and Sarah. Query - who is Vivian's mother? She looks a little like a young Mary Bartowski. And, will Chuck be able to pay for Sarah's new wedding aspirations?

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"Roping Morgan into their story for the first half of the episode proved once again that the bearded wonder is much better on spy missions than hanging around the Buy More." I think Vik Sahay needs something better to do. The writers have failed him. He's far too good for this garbage. Even in that silly storyline, his delivery is exquisite.

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Chuck has gotten worse with each watching. Will never know why they take a good storyline and screw it up so bad. To late to go back now again I guess so will give up on it too.