This episode is centered on two major intersecting events, Vivian seeking her destiny, while Sarah tries to get interested in wedding planning. Vivian’s story may drive the plot, while Sarah’s keeps it fun.
After the jump, we’ll discuss this second episode of the Season Four back arc.
Bank of Evil was middle of the pack, 41 out of 91 on our ranking the episodes survey. I am pretty much in complete agreement with that. There is a lot that’s fun here, including an action sequence and a little character drama in the end. I do have one reservation I’ll get to later, but nothing that really diminishes the fun and laughs.
I guess Sarah’s wedding woes are the best place to start. There is nothing catastrophic at play, just that Sarah is struggling again with being normal. She worries about letting down Chuck (and Ellie) by not being as excited as she thinks she ought to be. I like that we’re seeing an open and honest Sarah in these scenes, she tries to play along with Ellie, but pretty quickly comes clean that she’s not very excited. She also goes to Chuck with her concerns. This is really a very open Sarah we’re now seeing. No doubt, the lady still has some secrets, but she has grown and changed enormously from the early days.
The driving force of the episode is Vivian’s quest to learn more about her father. Perhaps this is a fool’s errand? Enter veteran character actor Ray Wise as Riley, the overtly evil Volkoff attorney. You just know Riley enjoys evicting widows and orphans. And I love how he finds Alexei’s “own voice” to deliver his message to Vivian. Riley is a fun villain, this will help with Vivian on the scene. But initially, Riley’s entrance will push Vivian back to Chuck for help.
So we get to the first part of the bank job. Chuck wears a terrible disguise, Vivian gains access to her father’s account, we learn about some serious computing power at the bank. And everyone returns home. There’s a lot of travel in this episode, with Moscow, Burbank and Macao all in play. I hope Team B is using something faster than a BAe 146 this time.
Back at home, it is quickly determined they need to return to Macao… okay. And Sarah tries on wedding dresses. It seems like a bit of a non-sequitur at this point, but it really is a fun scene. Sarah playing dress up and getting exasperated until she finds what she wants, and a nice moment with Casey.
Back at the bank Team B has a plan for getting the data they need, and it involves a bank heist by Chuck and Sarah. This is one of those signature, fun sort of scenes that I think many of us remember as an S4 highlight. The threats and gun play as Sarah gushes over finding her magical dress. A silly and memorable moment.
And I’ve blown through a lot of stuff. As is so often true on Chuck, we have a lot going on in a short time. One important detail, Chuck has told Vivian he can put her in touch with her Dad. Riley pays her a visit during the bank job, and suggests Chuck may not be playing honestly. When the team returns home, and Chuck can’t produce Vivian’s father, she decides to side with Riley. And I’m sorry, but this part of the episode and arc fails me. It struck me as unreasonable that Vivian was so distraught by Chuck’s failure, and stretching belief that she would turn to the mustache twirling Riley as a result. I don’t want to belabor this too much. It does not destroy the episode or arc. But it does play in to Vivian being among the least interesting or effective Chuck villains. She seems like a foolish girl who will ultimately carry far more anger towards Chuck than her circumstances ever warranted. I tend to fault the actress; I think the performance is too understated. She needed to be more manic, and have more of her father’s energy or something. Perhaps the writing was weak here, perhaps the direction could have helped, I don’t know. As I said, its not a huge thing to me; but it is a noticeable deficiency.
The other issue I’ve skipped over is the “B” plot. This is mostly Morgan’s quest for a new apartment. And Morgan’s story meets up with Casey being assigned to a new mission. Morgan’s part of the story is funny, especially dealing with the Renaissance Fair crew. And I have to laugh at Morgan leveraging fierce killer Casey into letting him move in. Fierce killer John Casey, his girlfriend’s Dad. Yeah this seems like a good idea. Casey will be more involved next week.
Finally we see Sarah returning home and encountering Ellie. Ellie fears she has created bridezilla Sarah. A funny scene, that fortunately won’t really be followed up on. And that pretty much wraps this up. Another average, solidly fun episode.
The Driving Force
Ah! Finally, something that Dave and I really disagree on. That was no poor disguise Chuck was wearing, Dave. That was Sarah’s panty hose! Kinky!
Oh, wait. That’s not the disguise you meant…
If I examined my memory about the Chuck vs. The First Bank of Evil before the re-watch, I would have exclaimed about the release of Sarah’s inner Bridezilla. Isn’t that great? Oddly, I could never see Sarah’s going somewhat nutz over a hazelnut creme cake imported from Paris, ordering (yet another) 100 dozen Casablanca lilies and renting an island for the reception as being particularly OOC for her. No, denizens of the ol’ NBC boards will remember how, from the first, we knew that when Chuck finally breaks through Agent Walker’s shell, when the ice finally melts, there would be a gusher of – well, something. A lot of something. This certainly qualifies.
My memory contained Ray Wise as Riley, wonderfully Shakespearean in his oiliness as he poured poisonous words into the ears of Volkoff’s heir apparent. I prepared to laugh again as Chuck and Sarah assumed the identities of Bonnie and Clyde – come Neo and Trinity – as they rob The First Bank of Evil. If you close your eyes while that video above is playing, you’ll remember them that way too.
Chuck: Keep filling those bags, people. Let’s go Let’s go Let’s go!
[To Sarah] Having fun?
Sarah: A little.
Chuck: Kinda takes you mind off the whole wedding thing. Doesn’t it?
Sarah: Actually, it hasn’t been so bad, you know. I took you up on your advice and I found a dress.
Chuck: [imitating The Fonz] Heeeey!
Sarah: Ellie was right. When I put it on, it felt like magic.
[shouting to a bank of evil customer] Get down on the ground before I blow your freaking head off!!!
I’ll confess to totally forgetting Jeff and Lester’s attempts to bring the renaissance fair to their apartment-slash-van and to the Buy More at Morgan’s expense and you would have had to remind me about the strange construction going on in Castle. It’s going to be important for the next few weeks, but not here. Not in this episode. That’s okay. I try to not make it a habit, but for some things brain-bleach is absolutely necessary. 😉
And of course, there was Vivian. To me, she’s not forgettable. I know that many of our readers didn’t like the way this came out in the story, but, especially in Chuck vs. The First Bank of Evil, I rather like the character. Vivian was an innocent, sheltered always from the vicissitudes of life, from things that just seemed to happen and things that were never under her control. Now that harsh reality is right in front of her, Vivian’s only recourse is to grow up fast. That’s usually painful.
Sound familiar? Vivian could be Chuck’s sister, and because of that, I have a soft spot for her. When she finds out that her father very much wanted to be in her life, Vivian lashes out at the one person who should have helped her, the one person who could have helped her and the one person who seems to have done everything wrong. No, Chuck knows what it’s like to be separated from family, but seems to have used her as a mere CIA asset anyway. Vivian has to question if all of this was deliberate deceitfulness. It is, after all, a short step from here to betrayal.
On his part, Chuck feels like his hand is very much forced. In fact, it is, but then again, Bryce felt the same way when he maneuvered Chuck out of Stanford. Vivian, trained to be poised and self-controlled, is suddenly in a world where she has no control what-so-ever, a world set up for her by her father and the CIA. In fact, she could be Sarah’s sister that way.
‘Cause sometimes it’s who, not what you do
Just because your father did doesn’t mean that you should too
I don’t want to lose you
Don’t go away from here
It’s that sinking feeling of being alone
And it’s the way it makes you screech
And pulls the skin off your bones
And I can’t help but think, as I pick my mouth off the floor;
Will you still know me in a year?
Each of them over reacts, in their own way, to the events in their formative years, to the forces that make all of us. Perhaps none of us would react the way Sarah did, or the way Vivian does at the end of the episode. But honestly, I don’t know that any of us completely escape overreacting like that. We have to react, at least, a bit. It seems very human.
It’s one of the things that set these characters apart.