The First Bank of Evil — Scores Big In the Fun Zone
MyGregorio, that would be Henry Alonso Myers & Craig DiGregorio, both of whom wrote solo in the past, teamed up and turned Chuck Versus the First Bank of Evil into a FUN episode. They generated humor, warmth, drama, and tension by kicking most of our friends way outside of their comfort zones.
I, on the other hand, was smack dab in the middle of my comfort zone. Chuck and Sarah were great together, working out Sarah’s wedding woes in sweet and humorous communication. Their missions were fun and funny. I’m always a fan of Sarah/Ellie scenes, even though we’ve had so few, and these were perfect. The Buymore parade of Renaissance Roommates was creative and funny. Jeffster’s antics remained in the acceptable column (always appreciated). Sarah’s transformation from reluctant bride to Bridezilla was both entertaining and heartwarming. Casey’s crack about hooking up later to get facials and chat conjures up the hilarious, albeit disturbing image of Casey in a mud mask with cucumber slices over his eyes. Oh, I have to unsee that. How can I unsee that?
Chuck Versus the First Bank of Evil … What’s not to love!
A Vivian centric episode, First Bank of Evil opens with Vivian rejecting her father’s lawyer (Riley) and his offer, regardless of how many weeks he spent perfecting it. It closes with Vivian accepting Riley’s offer. What happens in between is the episode’s main story of course.
In 43 short minutes, Vivian became all at once sympathetic, scary, and a loose cannon. OK, make that 3 short minutes. How about that opening scene. Vivian is out of her comfort zone and in way over her head. Or is she? I was afraid for her one minute and afraid of her the next. All the while I was cheering for her against the wiles of slick Riley and the darkness of her father’s legacy.
I have already decided that I like her character a lot, no matter which way her loyalties ultimately fall. Laura Cohen is appealing and convincing in the role. The lawyer plays the devil to Chuck and Sarah’s Jiminy Cricket. It’s great. We have Wiley Riley the Badvocate to hate … and an innocent, or at least neutral, soul to root for.
Handlers and Inner Who’s
I was intrigued by the parallel between Chuck and Ellie as handlers and Vivian and Sarah as their assets. Obviously the differences are huge, but the parallel is there, none-the-less.
Vivian must get in touch with her inner Volkoff.
Chuck’s orders: You’re a spy. She’s an asset. If this mission is going to work, you need to turn that girl … into a Volkoff. GB
Sarah must dig deep to find her inner Bride.
Ellie’s personal challenge: If they are going to pull off this wedding, I need to turn Sarah into a bride.
Thus begins the tale of two monsters. Volkenstein and Bridezilla. I mean that with the greatest affection, of course.
The Chore of Roses. Ellie has taken Sarah under her wing. Sarah has welcomed it. I love that. Sarah is priceless in her cluelessness and endearing in her efforts to be the bride she thinks Chuck and his family want her to be. I have to wonder if Sarah has even been to many weddings, other than Ellie’s. Did she ever notice the flowers? [Confession: I don’t think I ever noticed any of those details, and wedding planning is definitely outside my comfort zone. I am so glad I have a son (Tux and rehearsal dinner … I can do that). Whooh.] Understandably overwhelmed, Sarah tries to punt and let Ellie make the choices.
Ellie is perfect here. She doesn’t even consider taking over Sarah’s wedding. It’s wonderful to watch Ellie tease and laugh with Sarah. It’s heartwarming to see Ellie open up about her own experience and emotions, something Sarah desperately needs. Chuck awakened the real girl and inspired the woman-in-love. Even though he is her world, she has emotions that only another woman can identify with, understand, and help her navigate. She needs Ellie.
Ellie’s ring story is a tipping point. Sarah’s face shows us that Ellie touched a soft spot, and that perhaps crying over it wasn’t so terribly ridiculous. Sarah gains perspective and hope. The wedding isn’t about flowers or venues; it’s about getting married to the man that she loves for the rest of her life. Once that sinks in, the wedding and the magic will be hers. I don’t know when, and I don’t know where, Sarah, but I promise you … it’s going to happen to you.
Recruiting Vivian. First order of business … convince Vivian, the asset, to take a job she’s not interested in. She wants nothing to do with her father or guns or danger. Chuck says they will be with her to protect her. Then he reaches out and identifies with her, not out of trickery, as some agents would do, but out of a sincere desire to help her. Sure he’s doing his job, but his motivation is always that of a good guy who wants to help people. He encourages Vivian from his own experience, much the way Ellie did Sarah. Like Ellie, Chuck makes a promise: I don’t know what you’ll find out, but I can guarantee you that if you help us, we can help you find at least some of the answers that you’re looking for. Ellie’s promise was a pretty safe bet. Chuck’s? Not so much. But for now, Chuck finds the right currency and Vivian takes the job.
Dressing For the Job I. OK. What about that wardrobe … way cool. See! I knew there was a wardrobe. One of those doors is a time warp and a portal to far away places. It also serves as a … well, wardrobe. Clearly Vivian is impressed with it, too. Did you catch the look on Sarah’s and Vivian’s faces when Chuck starts talking about the makeover features. Too cute!
All of the wedding conversations between Chuck and Sarah were spot on and demonstrated their greatly evolved communication skills. Just the thought of conversations like these used to produce extreme anxiety for both of them. Remember the chat of Cubic-Z and the van conversation in Coup d’Etat? I liked the way the wedding conversations were woven into the natural course of things with such ease.
Chuck shows off his wedding finery. Sarah is clueless, “It’s a little formal for a bank job.” I love this scene. (I hear myself saying that a lot.) Chuck no longer lets Sarah get away with hiding her feelings, “What’s going on? What’s wrong? Something’s wrong with you.” Sarah now talks about her feelings without a warm up session with a punching bag, “I feel like I’m letting you guys down.”
This is Sarah Walker … good at her job, not very good at normal. This is her view of herself in the normal world … a letdown. It’s interesting that her circle of people she doesn’t want to disappoint has expanded to include Ellie, maybe even Mary and Devon. Chuck dispatches that notion with haste and affection. Fears allayed. Mission on. Yay. … Without Casey. Boo.
Doing the Job. Off to Macao, one of the 10 countries where Portuguese is an official language (sorry, had to throw that in).
The Charleses-ez are on a mission, only Mrs. Charles is quarterbacking from the van. That’s unusual, but their teamwork is as smooth as ever. They both encourage Vivian, walking her through the mission. Mr. Charles (excuse me, Kevin Costner) goes in as Vivian’s body guard. Chuck’s act, not to mention the look of curiosity and amusement on Sarah’s face, as he sets himself up for a hit in order to steal the key card, is so funny, and so … Chuck Bartowski.
“Cake tasting … how awful.” I loved Chuck’s affectionate teasing throughout the episode. More wedding conversation woven in with the mission. Somehow they never miss a beat. Chuck talks Sarah off the ledge and gives her some sensible advice, Pick one thing. All the while she steers him around the hallways, until he stumbles upon the stolen Chinese servers. That’s the multitasking spy couple we love. But then there’s an oopsie … a pretty big one … hkhkhelp.
Most important, perhaps, Vivian passes her Volkoff test. No, not the bank’s identity test. Her inner Volkoff test. When she sees that her protector is in handcuffs (gulp), she panics a little. Chuck subtly reminds her that she needs to channel her father and not her fear, “I am … so sorry … Miss … Volkoff.” Wow, was she good, or what! And by good, I mean bad. A test for pacemakers everywhere. She is indeed getting pretty good at this.
All that excitement and the mission was a bust. Not even lunch money in the safe deposit box, just a photographic record of Vivian’s accomplishments.
I couldn’t help noting the contrast with Ellie’s photo album. Ellie’s pictures show a legacy of love, each picture a memory of family warmth and shared moments. Vivian’s pictures reveal a legacy of loneliness, each a record of accomplishment and activities, but no warmth. Vivian with her rifle and her hockey stick … her horses.
The pictures tell the difference between the Orion legacy and the Volkoff legacy, the difference between Chuck and Vivian. Will Chuck be able to keep Vivian from following in her father’s footsteps? A day’s wages of CG pesos says we won’t know for a while, yet.
Seeing that her father has kept up with her, or at least her accomplishments, makes Vivian want to know more about him, talk to him. Once again Chuck offers to help make that happen. He goes too far out on a limb this time, though, because it’s General Beckman who holds the saw … or is it?
Dressing For the Job II
Ellie interrupts shop talk to talk wedding. Did you catch Ellie’s caller ID picture on Aunt Sarah’s phone?
You build the wedding around the … weather? Priceless. Bzzz, wrong answer. (We tried that. Planned for a warm starry night — got thunderstorms and flash floods.)
The dress. Finally something registers as do-able. Maybe there’s a way for Agent Walker to ease into Bride Sarah, with a little CIA magic. Watch the look on her face as she steps up to the wardrobe control panel. She’s back in her comfort zone, and the wedding actually teases a smile from Sarah Walker. Shopping for a wedding dress the Walker way. Alone. No prying eyes or instructive voices. No hovering sales people or pushy wedding planners. No perky brides-to-be or ogling observers. Just her, free to be herself. Perfect.
The march of wedding dresses was high on humor and infused with warmth … something “Chuck” does better than any other show. Happy. That’s the word. How can I watch Sarah trying on wedding dresses, a little out of her element but pressing on, and not smile … or laugh? How can I notice her expression as she finds the dress; see her face when she takes in the hologram of her and Chuck dressed for their wedding; or catch the moment when it became real for her, “We’re getting married.” … How can I watch all of that and not be supremely happy? It’s not a cover. She’ll never have to give these rings back. The life she longed for but didn’t dream she could have, a love beyond imagining; the man she loves, the wedding, and the magic are all hers … and it’s real.
You know what else was perfect? Casey being the first to see the dress. Soft, understated affirmation from the closest thing she has to a big brother. A quiet word of advice, “Uhh, might want to get a new one, though. Looks like this one’s been on a mission.” Great moment.
And the bullet holes? They forced her to actually shop for the dress, like normal people. Plus, I’m glad she’s not getting married in CIA issue attire. It also leaves room for us to be surprised at the dress she actually bought.
Dressing For the Job III
Maybe I should have called this post Burbank Fashion Week. Neo-Bonnie-and-Clyde. Uhh, Honey Bunny and Chuck go matrix to rob a bank.
So much fun. This scene definitely makes my exploding list of favorites. Here are the Charleses-ez at their best. I will always guffaw at Chuck with Sarah’s hose on his head. I only laugh harder at Sarah’s annoyance at Chuck wearing her hose on his head for the robbery, that would be the good hose she packed in case they had the chance to go out on a date. That was just a wee bit of the S1 Chuck showing. The rest was all S4 Chuck and Sarah.
How cool are they striding into the bank like they own it? I admit they were probably recognized, but maybe the bank will blame Vivian, whom they would never touch; or they will think her head of security and her body guard took advantage of her.
Handspringing and summersaulting through a hail of gunfire. Typical Chuck, Having fun? The new Agent Walker, A little. Me? A lot, thanks for asking. The pleasant wedding banter interlaced with ugly threats to blow people’s heads off and break their faces was icing on the cake … or the dress, or maybe both.
While we’re having fun downstairs, sinister things are brewing upstairs. Riley slithers up to Vivian to entice her to the dark side. He paints Volkoff as a doting father. The proof is in the pictures, right? Wrong. But they did their job. They softened her. Then he paints Chuck as the mean CIA agent who put her father in jail. True, but he failed to mention that Volkoff tried to kill Chuck and Sarah, numerous times. So, Vivian, if you really want to get to know your father, give me a call. I’m the only one who can help you. Oh, and the necklace. Nice touch.
I guess I should give an honorable mention to Morgan Guillermo Grimes for how deftly he handled Casey. He told his asset what he needed to hear in order for him to do what Morgan wanted. On the other hand, maybe it was the other way around. Maybe Morgan ended up being handled by Casey. It is to Casey’s advantage, on two fronts, to keep Morgan close. Mua.
Chuck and Sarah. Chuck and Sarah are not cut out to be handlers, especially of innocent people.
They are both good at it. Sarah handled Chuck through 2 years of missions. She walked a tight rope to keep her job, keep Chuck out of a bunker, and protect him … from anything. She knew better than to make promises, but she fought for his best interests … always … even from day one. Sometimes she lost. Sometimes she accepted the loss.
Sarah more than anyone knows what Chuck is going through. She knows what it’s like to fight for your asset’s interests and lose.
Chuck is a natural, even if a little green. He’s a good guy who wants to help people. He’s an empathizer. People trust him, and he takes care of them. So what happened with Vivian? Well, he did his job. He reached out to Vivian and told her what she needed to hear. He got Vivian through both missions. GB is happy. The CIA is happy. Chuck is miserable. Sarah aches for him.
Chuck told Vivian what she needed to hear, not to manipulate her, but because she needed to hear it. He meant it. His heart charged ahead, where his feet couldn’t follow. He made promises he should never have made. However, someone at the CIA sawed the limb off behind him, undermining his work, and probably losing the asset. That someone may be the one responsible for turning Vivian into a Volkoff, maybe even a Volkenstein.
Why do I say that Chuck and Sarah aren’t cut out to be handlers of innocent assets? Not because they’re not good at it, but because they care too much. It eats them alive.
Ellie. Ellie’s efforts hardly fall into the handler category, but the parallels were fun to point out. She is helping, not handling, her almost-sister-in-law and friend. If it weren’t for Ellie, Sarah would still be mumbling about roses and orchids and planning her wedding around the weather. She would still be overwhelmed and feeling like a letdown to her family. Thanks to Ellie’s patient efforts, Sarah found her moment and owns her wedding.
One-hundred dozen Casa Blanca Lilies, an expensive dress, flying the cake in from Paris, a private island for the ceremony. Lookout world, Bridezilla is on a rampage.
Be very afraid.
Just ask Thailand.