Chuck vs The First Bank of Evil (4.17)

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.

~ Dave
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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…

Sarah, unchained.

Sarah, unchained.

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.

Riley does Shakespeare - uh, Volkoff.

Riley does Shakespeare – uh, Volkoff.

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.

Bonnie & Clyde meet Trinity & Neo

Bonnie & Clyde meet Trinity & Neo

 

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!!!

The new roommate. NOT!

The new roommate. NOT!

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. 😉

It's time to grow up.

It’s time to grow up.

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.

– joe

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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82 Responses to Chuck vs The First Bank of Evil (4.17)

  1. resaw says:

    I don’t think there is a Chuck episode that I actively detest. However, this rewatch has left me surprisingly cool about 4.17. I didn’t find Sarah’s entry point to enthusiasm about the wedding to be realistic. Well, I can get how the selection of the wedding dress could begin to make it all real for her, but the transformation into Bridezilla was a bit over the top in my view. Also over the top was the “Clothing by The Matrix” outfits that Chuck and Sarah wore to rob the bank, made even more over the top by the banter between the two of them.

    I did like Riley, though. His attempt to sound like Volkoff by way of James Mason was hilarious. And despite the fact that he is as evil as they come, he was not wrong in his reading of the American spies. The CIA was just using her. Beckman repeatedly called Vivian “the asset,” just like she used to refer to Chuck. Old habits die hard. It was too, bad, though, because if Beckman had trusted that Chuck had the right approach, Vivian might have stayed on their side and been a genuine long-term asset for them. As it was, I thought Vivian’s response to being denied a visit with her father was much more reasonable than Sarah’s sudden passion for hazelnut creme cake. In fact, that bit near the end where Sarah goes nuts over hazelnut and flowers made me wonder whether Sarah was actually messing with Ellie’s head rather than being sincere. Dave and Joe, though, I gather you think that was meant to be taken seriously.

    Although I continue to find the character of Vivian to be quite “flat,” I’ve become a bit more intrigued about her personality. Shy and unsure about herself when we first meet her in the previous episode, she shows occasional glimpses of the training that has been instilled in her. There was, of course, the death of Boris from her shotgun in the last episode, but also the instinctive and effective response to the threat from Riley in Volkoff’s Moscow office, and the spontaneous action to take control of the situation when Chuck is caught in the wrong place inside the bank. The unfolding of events suggests that she was raised to be quick-witted, adept and ruthless in her actions, and lacked only the catalyst to bring those qualities to the fore. Now, betrayed by the CIA, or at best, lied to, she sees that at least Riley is honest with her.

    Notice, by the way, that Sarah seems to take Beckman’s backtracking over allowing Vivian to see Volkoff, as a matter of course, and only offers to help Chuck speak with Vivian, rather than rise to object to Beckman’s denial.

    Question: Should I know what “Sector 17” might refer to, when Morgan pretends to be talking to someone when he is spotted by an agent while underground in Castle?

    Thanks for the review, guys.

    • atcDave says:

      I guess my main response to most of this is just that I always expect comedy first. So is Sarah a serious bridezilla at the end? I don’t know. If she really is that over the top excited, it passes quickly enough. By the next episode she’s mostly going stir crazy from the lack of a good mission.
      Like so many things on Chuck, I think its there for a laugh, nothing more.
      That’s sort of how I respond to Riley and the Matrix-look bank job too. Its all in fun.

      Funny then that you are responding to Vivian. She is clearly a more dramatic, less fun sort of character. Seems to work better for you than me. Perhaps if she were a little more overtly cookoo I could have bought into her story better.

      I don’t get the “sector 17” reference either. Perhaps a game or comic book I don’t know.

    • joe says:

      Great review, Resaw. Yeah, I too mostly took Sarah’s over the top, Bridezilla thing as fun (and I’m also glad it passes quickly). Vivian’s turnaround is just about the only thing I take seriously in this episode.

      I found it interesting, this week, that it’s going to be a while before we get back to Vivian and Alexei big time, three weeks with Family Volkoff and five before Agent-X, where the theme I found to be the deepest here continues. There’s connecting and parallel threads going on, to be sure, and two stand-alone episodes that I really enjoy coming up (Muuurder and The Wedding Planner), but the the thread about the importance of family, the fathers in particular, is going to be suspended for a bit.

      I don’t get the “sector 17” reference either. Isn’t that something out of UFOlogy, like maybe Area 17 or X-Files or something? Perhaps one of the readers knows.

    • Sector 16 is the Yucca Flats, Nevada nuclear testing site. Morgan was probably just incrementing by 1 to sound official.

      Stargate SG-1 did something similar. Area 51 was the offsite “alien doohickey” research facility, so the SGC was called Area 52 in Congressional budgets.

      • anthropocene says:

        Nerd alert: I did field research inside the Nevada Test Site in the 1980s but I’m not aware of any reference to “sectors” therein. NTS and the surrounding weapons ranges are subdivided into Areas. A military airfield on (usually) dry Groom Lake, located in Area 51, was used by the USAF and CIA for advanced aircraft and weapons research—and as the most intensely secure location within a highly secure test range, it unavoidably accrued plenty of tall tales that seeped out into popular lore (aliens, etc.). Riding in a field vehicle with several colleagues (all of whom had DOE Q clearances though I did not), I once got close enough to Area 51 to be IMMEDIATELY warned to turn back, via radio call.

        Yucca Flat areas 1-4 and 6-10) is more accessible (just watch the “hot” spots), and plenty of visitors go there every year to see the quarter-mile wide Sedan bomb crater, the largest man-made hole in the ground.

      • anthropocene says:

        Largest man-made hole made with one single blast, I meant to say….

      • atcDave says:

        Wow, that’s cool Anthro. So you’ve been personally rejected from Area 51! (More or less…)

      • anthropocene says:

        That definitely beat the alternative (had we foolishly lingered)!

    • andereandre says:

      Sarah taking it as a matter of course didn’t surprise me. She has always followed orders blindly (except where it was about Chuck). I hated it though that Chuck accepted it so easily, he isn’t that guy anymore who always does the right thing.
      The Vivian arc always gives me the bad feeling that they brought it upon themselves, that they deserve what they are getting (although Vivian overreacts a bit with the Norseman, a prank pizza delivery should have been enough).

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Ander the last is what always gets me. I mean, no doubt Chuck wronged her, but the response is pretty psychotic. Way out of proportion to the crime. As I said in the post, it might have worked better for me if the performance had been a bit deranged from the start or something. But they tried to show her fairly “normal” at first, and then she’s getting homicidal. Seemed a bit jarring to me!

      • andereandre says:

        @atcDave: Well, they show her as quick with violence nearly from the beginning. She doesn’t hesitate to kill Kaminsky in Masquerade, in this episode she puts a paper knife through Rileys hand, slaps Chuck in the face and pulls a gun on him.
        And it runs in the family, including her grandmother.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah’, and the bank manager sees her father in her … not a good thing. Beckman told Chuck to turn her into a Volkoff. Be careful what you wish for, huh?

      • I thought it was very relevant how well Riley called Chuck’s actions. His knowledge of Chuck, his prediction of Chuck’s (perceived) betrayal, and the revelation that Chuck put her father away in the first place all combine to make Vivian’s reaction plausible (not reasonable).

        I never had a problem with the concept of Vivian’s arc, and I think the actress is talented. But all told, we would’ve been well served if they’d given her Jeffster’s screentime. Just 10 extra onscreen minutes, I think, would’ve fleshed her arc out more believably.

        Of course, that’s probably the biggest problem with S4 – they just didn’t know what to do with the B cast – The Awesomes and the Buy Morons. They figured it all out in S5, where the B cast really shines. But in S4, Jeffster’s screen time would have much better used on Vivian, giving the Awesomes a better storyline, or actually giving Sarah and Ellie something to actually do together. We saw a glimmer of how the Sarah/Ellie relationship could have really worked in the Bridezilla scene of this episode.

      • atcDave says:

        Good distinction between reasonable and plausible. I think my complaints are all about performance. Certainly her dad would be capable of the psychotic over reaction.
        I would add, I think they did a good job of writing her such that she was a pretty lost and sad character from the start. It’s just the performance underwhelmed me.

      • Angus MacNab says:

        Vivian was always an enigma to me because while she was a to a large degree a product of her upbringing and controlled environment, there was something of a disconnect when the bank manager said he saw her father in her.

        A lot of our personalities are hardwired into us genetically, so the bank manager (and many others) made a gross error, in my opinion, seeing her that way. Volkoff’s personality was a fabrication of programming run amok, so it didn’t fit. Hartley certainly wasn’t that way. So, in a way it made Vivian an oddity that was grossly misjudged by everyone around her. Of course, no one knew that yet, which shows how we can all be misjudged when those who are doing it don’t have the complete story. In this case it pushed someone who could have been an ally in a very tragic direction.

        Chuck was the only one who appeared to see it, to see the real Vivian and try to support her, and then acquiesced way too easily when she was betrayed by a narrowly focused Beckman and the grinding gears of the machine. I was very disappointed to see him do that. It wasn’t who he is. And when Sarah stepped back into the unquestioning take orders mode and didn’t listen to Chuck’s instincts, which she had grown to trust so strongly, that only made matters worse.

        Vivian Volkoff was an object lesson in what can happen when we misjudge others based upon incomplete, erroneous or misleading information, and then act on it.

      • First of all, Hartley obviously could be “that way” with the correct stimulus. We know this because he was. If we buy into your genetic premise (I don’t; it’s very simplistic), it only follows that if Volcoff provided even some of the inputs needed to turn Hartley into Volcoff, Vivian could herself become colder or more dangerous. And we see her change more as her surroundings echo those of Volcoff.

        Second, people’s perceptions are biased by their expectations. When people look for witches, they see witches. Same for UFO’s, aliens, miracles, horoscopes, etc. With the manager was looking for similarities between Vivian and her father (and he clearly was, for security reasons), it would be astonishing if he didn’t find any, especially since Vivian seems to cold streak all on her own. That may be an “error,” but it’s a product of how human brains work.

        Chuck handled the situation admirably well. As soon as he heard from Beckman, he immediately and honestly told Vivian, and took responsibility for it himself. Then he told her that he wasn’t giving up, and would keep trying to help her meet her father, but it might take longer. Then he made sure to check up on her after the fact. What was he supposed to do?

        For that matter, if I didn’t know the future, I’d be on the CIA’s side of this issue. They knew that Vivian had some access to the remnants of Volcoff’s criminal network, and it’s certainly possible that her father could have given her information that they wouldn’t understand; just look at what happened with the Norseman.

        Sometimes you just play the odds as best you can, and it still doesn’t work out. It’s not necessarily anyone’s fault, and if Vivian were a more rational person, it probably would have been fine.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I think the bottom line is just that the bank manager saw something we did not. Again, I see mainly a weak performance. Her psychotic turn seemed out of place, even if it was foreshadowed.

        Like Angus, I would have preferred if Chuck had been a little more careful in how he debriefed Vivian. But some of that is just what we know in hindsight. He should have been clear in the first place that he couldn’t promise anything (although Vivian claiming he broke a promise is all on her, he never actually “promised” anything) and could only see what he could do for her. He should have been more clear in his apologies after the fact, he should have been clear that he too was lied to about what could be done, and should have accepted Sarah’s help. He also should have more aggressively followed up.
        But as I said, this is all hindsight. We see a little of the TV miscommunication trope at play here; Chuck clearly could have/should have said some things better than he did. And Vivian drew extreme conclusions and went to psychotic extremes.
        I’ve been mostly blaming the Vivian performance for this, but to be fair, Riley is part of the equation. He is so clearly a nut job, its just hard to buy into anyone deciding Riley should be trusted and Chuck should not.

        And again, this really is small stuff. A weak villain does not undermine my enjoyment of the episode or arc. All the other Chuck elements are at play and done well here. Ernie has observed that perfect can be the enemy of good. And I think that is exactly the case here.

      • Angus MacNab says:

        I think what I said may have been misinterpreted a little. My comment was intended purely in the context of the story. I do like the intend of what they were trying to achieve here, and my comments were only about the story itself and the way I perceived the characters, not any judgment in particular of the writing and/or the production.

        I thought Chuck handled his job and the human side of his interest with Vivian well. The trouble I had with him as a character I admire was not standing up to Beckman like he should have on Vivian’s behalf, and for Sarah not saying, “wait a minute, he’s right!” instead of falling back on the easier way out of simply accepting the orders and following them.

        And no, when we finally saw Hartley free of the Alexei Volkoff programming he was nothing like Alexei. Genetics is not a simplification of the issue at hand either. It’s well documented through scientific study that it does play a factor in our core personality. In this case it points out the fallacy of how Vivian was judged, and ultimately pushed into that mold. Therefore perception, and the all too common practice of misinterpreting our perceptions factored heavily into what people saw in Vivian based on what they knew of Alexei, a man who was later shown to be not at all himself. Of course Vivian’s more mercurial nature could also have come from mom. Too bad we never saw her. Now, if mom had turned out to be Mary… heheh.

        I found a lot to like about this episode, and I thought much of what went haywire with Vivian happened as the rest of this arc progressed simply because they rushed her development as a character.

    • Couldn’t disagree more about Sarah’s reaction – I thought it was the most natural thing in the world. Hell, I do the same thing when I’m shopping for something new; for example, computers. At first, I’m completely overwhelmed by the selection, then once I figure out a few of the key terms, I get more of a sense of quality, and then I get more and more passionate about it

      Sarah is a perfectionist at heart. Once she stopped being overwhelmed by the idea of the wedding (and the dress is a great starting point), it only makes sense that she would throw herself into the process head first. It’s just totally consistent with her personality – think of how dedicated she is to developing the spy skills (she knows all languages and fighting styles, apparently), or how attached she became to Chuck, even before they were together. Sarah’s just the type of person who latches on to things hard – she’s got a little bit of nerd in her!

      Plus, the idea of Sarah as bridezilla just works as heartwarming humor. It was my favorite part of an otherwise underwhelming episode.

      • atcDave says:

        That’s funny Arthur, I like it!

        I thought it was funny, but never considered just how “in character” it actually was. Awesome!

      • thinkling says:

        I thought Sarah was just the right combination of fun/funny and sweet/endearing and lost in the wedding component of this episode. Like Arthur said, she wants to do this right. She doesn’t want to disappoint, but she has no handle on normal … until she’s able to find a way to come at it from her spy side. That’s why the wardrobe scene works so well for me. Sarah tackles this new challenge on her terms: no store, no overly enthusiastic sales people or well meaning helpers … just Sarah doing her own recon for her big mission. Then something about the dress and seeing herself in it beside Chuck in his tux triggers her emotional/normal side. I liked that. It didn’t really matter how much of her Bridezilla decisions stuck. (I knew we hadn’t seen the real dress.) The main thing is that it jump-started Sarah’s inner bride and got her past her wedding fears. Fun and very heartwarming.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah it was definitely fun and heartwarming!

      • anthropocene says:

        I believe you nailed it, Thinkling!

  2. Wilf says:

    I liked your reviews of this episode. However, I never really liked the episode itself and it’s one of my bottom 91 😉
    The bridezilla thing didn’t ring true and never materialised in any case (although so many things in the whole series never progressed beyond a single mention). Unlike probably many, I just did not enjoy the bank raid scene at all.

  3. oldresorter says:

    Dave – you like guessing at things like %’s that people who watch the show like or dislike things. Am I the only fan here who loves the campy, wonky, goofy, funny Chuck and Sarah show, with villians like Vivian? What I didn’t like is when the show got serious, again, I felt I was near the only one who didn’t like the Mauser execution for example and I was one of the few who didn’t like Sarah taking an episode long beating in the season 5 Christmas episodwe.

    I think bad acting is part of the fun in Chuck, I thought Dalton and Chase got it perfectly, and so did the woman portraying Vivian and her lawyer friend too. For that matter, so did the guy portraying Shaw, the model in the runway ep, the Turners, the bad guy with a big heart in Honeymooners, the two bad guys torturing Chuck were awful (yet brilliant), along with the guy Sarah tortured, the boyfriend, etc in Phase 3, on and on.

    I do think the writing sometimes failed characters, but overall the acting, maybe should not take such a hit as I think the off beat nature was intentional. So often when fans disliked the writing, the off beat acting took the hit, be it from either side of the divided fan base.

    And lets face it, ALL shows fail wrtiting sometimes for some part of the fan base, especially when the show does not aim dead square in the middle all the time. IMO Chuck did not aim in the middle and play it safe as often as many shows do, which is probably why at times I am fascinated by episodes, other times, I’m ready to throw things at my TV. It’d be interesting to hear non biased people discuss if such a strategy is a recipe for success. My very biased POV is this inconsistency is what got Chuck in trouble in terms of ratings, even as such strategy produces wonderfully campy episodes like Masquade and First Bank.

    • joe says:

      Jason, you’re not the only one who likes the campy, wonky, goofy, funny stuff. But maybe it’s my fault you think you are. I tend to go for the deep, dark stuff reflexively, and I’m not afraid to write about it!

      Truth be told, though, I wouldn’t like it so much if it wasn’t for the goofy, funny bits in between. Contrast, you know.

      • Exactly, Joe. I mean, Dalton is everybody’s favorite villain, and they just don’t come campier than that. This site caters more to the Charah types, I think, but I always appreciated Jeffster more than most for this exact reason (except for S4). For that matter, this is why I liked Shaw so much as a villain – he really bought into the campy premise of the show. Especially in Santa Claus – the Superman 2 redux, the knowing Mu-ha, “Shaw’s so smart, I bet he reads a lot of books,” and SO MANY deadpan villain lines.

        It didn’t make up for 3.0 (please let’s not start that discussion again), but I thought he was absolutely brilliant as the camp villain in Ring II and Santa Claus.

      • Oh, another hilarious note on this episode: Chuck’s mustache is not only clearly peeling off in the bank, but they also zoom in on it from underneath. Just a great bit of subtle ridiculousness, as is the mustache in general. I love how committed Chuck is to that disguise.

    • You’re not the only person who likes that kind of thing, but I never felt that was the intention with Vivian. She wasn’t so much campy, or hilariously bad, as she was just uninspiring mediocre. For that matter, Dalton wasn’t “bad” either, but he was definitely campy and ridiculous. Reilly was the “bad” funny you’re talking about, and everybody seems to have liked his performance. A few more like that were the WWE guests and of course, Jeffster.

      On your other note, I dislike isolating one factor as “what got Chuck in trouble in terms of ratings.” I think it’s overly simplistic to look at it that way. You make a good point that Chuck’s tonal inconsistency made it hard for it to keep a consistent audience – people tend to go for one show for one thing, and Chuck was always a jack-of-all-trades experience.Personally, that’s what I love so much about the show; that all of its myriad facets struck a chord with me. But it also makes it really easy for Chuck to turn off, for example, a pure action fan, or someone who came only for camp humor.

      But other factors included: Season 3.0, lack of money and promotion, the writers’ aversion to risk taking in S4, changing showtimes, age, a scarcity of female cast members, lack of dramatic tension, and the end of wt/wt (as much as we all hated it, I personally know people who stopped watching as soon as Chuck and Sarah got together in Other Guy).

    • atcDave says:

      Jason I love the campy action adventure; it’s really my favorite thing to watch. I like a little variety too though. I thought Chuck typically did a perfect job of meshing the camp with the dramatic, with the sweet.

      My criticism on Vivian is mostly that I didn’t find her campy enough for the wild swings of character she goes through. But as with most things on Chuck, the complaint is not particularly big or serious; I’ve found myself defending a position here I don’t actually have strong feelings about!

      Overall, I think my hopes and expectations are somewhere in between you and Joe. I’m drawn in by the camp, but I like a little real human drama to really bring the characters to life. But I’m certainly not looking for the sort of universal truths and issues that appeal so much to Joe.

      Surprisingly (you better sit down Arthur), I find myself most agreement with Arthur on this. I think where the show most got into trouble was in being so eclectic, that it often alienated viewers by straying too far in any one direction. I have no doubt this gave the writers fits at times. And as I’ve mentioned several times; I think the single biggest failing was that by swinging so far dark in S3, they scared off many of the exact viewers who would have most liked the show it became in S4. I don’t say that to mean they should have avoided all drama or darkness, not at all. But going to extremes for an extended period, was a good way to fracture this fandom.

      Unlike Arthur, I’ve never encountered a single viewer who lost interest in the show at Other Guy. But I would have to admit, MOST of the people I know are older and married, and we’re pretty enthused about a fun, sweet couples themed action comedy. There’s really not enough of that kind of thing on television anymore. And I never heard any desire from anyone (IRL, this blog excluded) who actually wanted dramatic tension to come from inside the couple or team. I think this show, these characters, were clearly at their best when rising to the challenge of external threats. The show I always wanted to see was “Chuck and Sarah vs The World”; and I latched on to that quite early (like maybe Tango? 1.03). I loved the episodes that seemed to take us in that direction, and I think it’s really a pretty good description of most of the later series. But apparently some viewers, including many who were with us from the very beginning, never quite wanted that.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree with pretty much all of that, Dave.

        For me, I really liked the eclecticism of the show, but not its extremes. For example, I could only tolerate Jeff and Lester to a certain point. I loved the use of them in S5 … fantastic. Other times not so much. I would have liked some of the more dramatic themes of S3 without the extreme CRM (Central Relationship Misunderstanding/Malfunction/Misery). As it was S3 was too extreme for me on the dark side. S4 was, perhaps, farther to the light side than some like, but that’s much better for me than the other extreme. On the whole I really liked the mix of genre and the blend of humor, drama, adventure, romance, and heart. What always amazed me was how often we got all of the in a single episode. I love that.

      • andereandre says:

        But you got “Chuck and Sarah vs The World”, just not 5 seasons of it.
        I keep rewatching “Chuck” because every season is different so it never gets boring.
        I keep rewatching “Chuck” because every episode is different.
        I keep rewatching “Chuck” because even every scene is different: going from tension, silliness, romance, drama, action all in one episode.
        My personal feeling is that discussions about how TPTB could have kept the ratings high run against the spirit in which the show was made. Namely with disregard to conventional Hollywood wisdom, not going for the safe formula and just having fun doing it. Any other mentality of the creators would not have given us this experience.

        André

      • Nice Andre, I couldn’t agree more.

        Dave, I’m all lightheaded 🙂 One of those people, incidentally, was my dad, who’s been married for 30 years. It wasn’t that he loved the wt/wt, it’s just that as far as he was concerned, once Chuck “got the girl,” the story was over. And really, that just adds on to the point that Chuck’s diversity turned a lot of people away. For somebody who was just waiting for the guy to get the girl, it lost them in S4. I’m sure that there are a dozen transitions that turned off people who were similarly watching the show for only one of its aspects.

        Uplink makes the point (forgive me if I’m misstating it) that the problem with S3 wasn’t so much that it went dark as that the way it went dark was totally ridiculous, and not the good kind of ridiculous. I won’t rehash his point, though, or Joe will get mad and kick me off the site 😉 Point being, the middle of S5 was darker than S4 ever got, and people liked it because they didn’t create false tension between the protagonists. Instead, it was them working together to defeat external threats (Curse notwithstanding). The end of S2 and S3.5 had similar aspects of that basic narrative. I just think they lost that balance in 3.0.

        Thinkling

      • Whoops, sorry thinkling. I started to respond, then I realized I agreed with everything you said, so I stopped. 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        Andre I completely agree with saying the huge range and swings are part of what makes Chuck so special. And I don’t mean to get into too much S3 bashing (this time!) except to add that among my complaints with that season, is they were trying very hard to make the show look like everything else on television. Darkness and angst are so trendy and popular now, it just felt like they wanted to reinvent themselves in to being like everything else. I will concede they maybe swung too far back the other way for S4; but that season felt like the return of the quirky, fun show I had loved so much in the beginning.

      • atcDave says:

        Arthur we’re mostly in agreement on all of that. I never thought the “going dark” for S3 was the biggest mistake, it is just on the list… I think Uplink and I are pretty closely in agreement on the nature of our complaints.

        And for the record, no one was “banned” from the site. We have used “moderation” on occasion, that is, some commenters will find their comments put on hold until one of us can review it. It is always our goal to get a wide range of opinions and viewpoints on this site, and it is only after several events that anyone will find themselves moderated. Well, I’m sure there are ways to get on the list for a first offense, but hopefully no one will test that!
        And Uplink is not on the moderation list, he has been quiet though!

      • joe says:

        Dave, isn’t it true that we decided to give out 5 yrd. penalties for bad puns, though?

      • atcDave says:

        Well yeah, bad puns are a very serious problem. I was thinking 5 yard penalty, economic sanctions, and double secret probation.

      • joe says:

        AND a double secret probation???

        You fiend!

      • andereandre says:

        atcDave said: “And for the record, no one was “banned” from the site.”
        Very true. Joe issued a very polite and very friendly executive order on November 16 and since then this site is so much more fun. I really appreciate that people adhere to his rules.

    • Angus MacNab says:

      I for one, loved the campier parts of this episode. I agree with Thinkling’s assessment of how Sarah’s journey of discovering her inner bride might push her into something of a manic enthusiasm once it was released. It was fun, and I want Chuck to be fun over everything else. I liked the bank heist for the same reasons. To me that was classic Chuck.

      Having said that, I also liked seeing the drama interspersed with the action, and romance, and the camp. I think a balance can be struck between all these elements if it’s done the right way, and this to me was one of the most endearing aspects of this show. It’s one of the things that made M.A.S.H. so popular.

      However if you don’t mix that combination of story telling ingredients just right it can leave a very bad taste in your mouth. I think most of us can agree that happened a few times with Chuck. To be fair, based on the myriad of opinions you get about any one episode, because each viewers own desires for the story and frame of reference, striking a balance with this large combination of elements is very hard to achieve.

      To a large degree Chuck did it admirably.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Angus I do think the very diverse fandom Chuck drew in was part of the problem. Although its probably true that any episode of any show has both those who like it and those who do not; but I think the eclectic nature of Chuck sort of forced the issue at times.

  4. joe says:

    I thought I’d continue the thread above here. The show’s desire to be eclectic is a good topic, but lately I’ve been noticing shows that are “reinventing themselves.” (Scare quotes, because for some reinvention is more a PR stunt than actual fact, I think.)

    POI and NCIS have both undergone cast changes that cause them to reconsider the status quo. I’m not sure where either is going, but both had reasons to change regardless of the cast’s personal and professional needs (NCIS because it’s been on long enough to get stale and POI because it constantly evolves).

    White Collar changed it’s major story line with the death of Neil’s girlfriend in S1 and Covert Affairs turned Annie’s first “affair” into a dead end about the same time. For my money, both of those shows did a decent job reinventing themselves.

    Did anyone see last night’s Mentalist? From what I can tell, they finally closed the Red John story (I think – and very nicely too). But what the heck are they going to do now??? Red John was the whole show’s raison d’être.

    I’ve seen enough of that lately to wonder about the craft of writing for a TV show. Are they prepared for this going in, or are they winging it? Sometimes, it’s hard to tell.

    • atcDave says:

      I think winging it, and planning carefully, are always both in play. Especially for things like cast comings and goings; I read that Taraji Henson (Carter on POI) had originally only signed a three year contract, and knew she would be killed off, at some point, in this current season. While Cote de Pablo (Ziva, NCIS) just decided for herself, it was time to move on. We’ve heard on Chuck that loosing Matt Bomer to White Collar was behind Bryce’s death.
      As I understand it, when a new show is pitched to a network, they typically have a 5+ year outline as part of the pitch. It shows where they plan on taking the show and characters. It helps the network know, even with a very odd concept show, that there actually is a plan for the future. It also gives a network the chance to comment and require changes before anything is even scripted.
      But I think all such outlines are only set in sand. Not only do unavoidable cast changes happen, but so often writers get new ideas for new twists and new stories; and they may go careening off at any odd direction. It also happens that unexpected aspects of a show may prove wildly popular and demand more attention than anticipated. Classic case in point, Homer Simpson was considered a supporting character to Bart at the start of the series.
      I think its a safe bet that on Chuck, Charah became a FAR bigger issue than the creators ever expected. Not to say it wasn’t a part of their original outline, and of course screen romances often have major emotional appeal to a show’s audience; but I think it was CF himself who called Zach and Yvonne’s chemistry nuclear.
      I know we’ve also heard a lot of apparently contradictory information about original S1 plans prior to the writers strike. But as I understand; Devon being an enemy agent and getting killed off, Chuck seeing Sarah kill a prisoner (Devon?), and the Intersect 2.0 were all a part of the original S1 finale discussion. Of course we know they completely reinvented Devon, and after S2 CF would say they had promised NBC they would never, ever use the Intersect 2.0 idea…
      So I just think all such planning/outline ideas are fluid until the episode is in the can. Things are often changed last minute, or in expected ways. That doesn’t mean they don’t have plans and outlines, just that nothing is set, until it is set!

      • joe says:

        That’s probably right – partly thought out and partly winging it. Certainly, it feels that way.

        What bothers me a bit more, I think, is the idea of pitching it to network execs. Well, not that the execs should be shut out from the start. They have some skin in the game, after all – their budgets. But I recoil at the idea they have creative say-so over aspects.

        I know they must have some, otherwise posers, miscreants and “artistic” misfits would be in charge by default. They outnumber the real creative talent, after all, and it’s only the money-men who are in a position to keep them in check. But I really hope it isn’t one of them who decides.

      • dkd says:

        “As I understand it, when a new show is pitched to a network, they typically have a 5+ year outline as part of the pitch. ”

        I don’t think the “five year” part is true. They do usually provide some other plot ideas to show what the next episodes beyond the pilot may be like. They might even provide a general direction for where they want to take it.

        But, a 4-year “outline” that they have to provide the network? Nope.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Chris Fedak is on record saying he felt he needed 5 years to tell his story, so he clearly had a 5 year plan. As I understand it it is common practice to sign the principles to 6 year contracts, which may be where the “5 year plan” comes in.

      • dkd says:

        Chris Fedak having a “5-year plan” in his head–and we have no idea how detailed that was–is not the same as the network having a “5-year outline”. Found a blog by Jane Espenson that expands on how general the series bible can be–and not all series even have them:

        “That’s the only bible I’ve seen that worked that way, though. (It may be a half-hour vs. hour distinction.) The other ones I’ve come across (and there have only been a couple) have generally been sales documents used to help a television network or studio understand a new show, and are sometimes given to new writers as they join the staff, for the same reason. They discuss the characters, especially their back stories, and the world of the show. In the sales document version, essentially a much-expanded pitch, there may be a discussion of plot lines projected into the future of the show, perhaps in the “season one will be about…” form. But since shows often take off in unexpected directions, this kind of feature is quickly outdated and irrelevant. It’s possible that a bible may contain some firecracker of information about the way the creator envisions the eventual end of the series, but since everything is subject to change, that firecracker may be a dud. Especially if the fuse was lit many years earlier.” http://www.janeespenson.com/archives/00000550.php

        Keep in mind, that the word “outline” means more to me than “season one will be about…”

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Chuck apparently had a relatively detailed bible. Yvonne had talked about some of Sarah Walker’s backstory while season 1 was still in production and Chris Fedak referred to it in a talk he and Josh Schwartz gave at Google in season 5.

        That’s not to say the bible can’t change (and likely did) when something like Orion as Chuck’s dad or Sarah’s mom and “sister” comes up. But at least Chuck and Sarah didn’t turn out to be brother and sister in season 3, and Morgan was a relatively benign Ewok.

        I take you at your word that nothing along those lines is given to the networks. I meant that the fact that CF referred to his plan and the principles sign 6 year contract could lead to the impression that the networks are in on the 5 year plan.

      • oldresorter says:

        Sleepy Hallow is most enjoyable, for those who haven’t tried it, give it a shot, a Sci Fi / Monster / Comedy genre might be a way to describe it, with a hint of US history and a bit of romance sprinkled in. Here is an interview with its showrunner, he describes in ‘some’ detail his ideas about s1, s2, s3 and a 7 year plan, which might not mean 7 seasons.

        ON season one he said, ‘While not written yet, Goffman said he has “a really good idea” how he wants to end the season’.

        He continues talking about season 2 with, ‘Goffman also knows how they are going to start and end the already-ordered second season, and he has some ideas heading into the third, should the show be so fortunate.’

        Finally, he added when talking about the long range plan, ‘Goffman is fascinated with the concept of seven years throughout history and also discusses the Bible’s seven years of tribulation as a formula for TV drama: ”As a pattern, seven years is a good arc to look at,” Goffman told TheWrap.Even with a seven-year arc, one year may not necessarily equal one season, Goffman pointed out.’

        http://www.thewrap.com/sleepy-hollow-mark-goffman/

        Most of what he said seems semi-conistent with what I recall coming from the Chuck writing team, wasn’t it?

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Jason Sleepy Hollow has been pretty fun. I’m still not sold on it having much long term potential, but I’ll keep watching as long as its fun. And I think me not being sold on long term is exactly why longer term plans are part of the sales pitch (okay fine, “outline” isn’t the best word…). I think any number of show concepts seem cool but are hard to visualize going anywhere, and the show runner needs to prove intent.
        I remember Babylon 5 from the very start being on a five year plan; and all the changes and variations it went through as various realities were forced on it; like when the original star had to leave (for mental health reasons according to most recent info. Talk about an unexpected twist!) or when the network told them to wrap it up in four seasons, then changed their minds and ordered a fifth. Oi! No matter how careful a plan one has, reality intrudes.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Sleepy Hallow is most enjoyable, for those who haven’t tried it, give it a shot, a Sci Fi / Monster / Comedy genre might be a way to describe it, with a hint of US history and a bit of romance sprinkled in.

        Jason, I’ve been enjoying Sleepy Hollow too, but to call what they sprinkle in U.S. History requires a generosity that makes Chuck’s worst plot holes look trivial in comparison.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie its US History, Medieval European History, and The Bible! They play loose with a broad range of facts and texts. But when you learn at the start that George Washington was waging a secret war against demons and black magic; well, it sort of sets the mood for a lot of things!
        The mash up of it all has been a lot of fun, but I’m always wondering when they’re going to cross a line I can’t accept.

      • joe says:

        I’m with you guys about the way Sleepy Hallow plays fast and loose with history (and I agree; it is a decent show, so far).

        But isn’t that a lesser crime than the way Once Upon a Time has totally futzed with classic fairie tales??? I mean, Ariel (the little mermaid) meets Peter Pan (who really should have an alternate-universe Spock beard)??? Really?!

      • oldresorter says:

        I kind of like the loose and fast references. But then again, I scored 22% on the trivia test, so attention to detail is not my strong suit LOL. Afterall, whose to say Washington wasn’t wagin a secret war against the devil? I like all that goofy stuff. Rosewell, Area 51, Hitler living in South America, UFO’s, Bigfoot, Ghosts, and all the Kennedy conspiracy stuff. Not saying I believe it, but I find it entertaininig, within some limits.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason I agree it’s all a lot of fun, but it’s that “whose to say” part that gets me a little cranky. Especially when we’re dealing with such well documented historical events and figures, I shudder at the thoughts of what nonsense some folks will end up believing. Sure most people know George Washington vs demons is a silly fantasy, but so many believe various conspiracy theories it’s downright frightening.

      • joe says:

        Don’t know about you guys, but I was into “Paul McCartney is dead” big time back in ’68. That had conspiracies and alternate universes written all over it. Sheesh. I probably played every record I had backwards at least once. Try THAT with your CDs, youngsters.

      • mr2686 says:

        Paul IS really dead. He blew his mind out in a car, he didn’t notice that the lights had changed! 🙂

      • joe says:

        And here I thought that John’s altered voice deep in the fade at the end of Strawberry Fields saying “I buried Paul…” was the ultimate clue.

        Clearly, I missed that one, Mr! 😉

      • JC says:

        Sleepy Hollow and Arrow have filled the Chuck and Fringe places in my TV heart. While SH does play fast and loose with the history, Middle English in the colonies? The two leads have insane amounts of chemistry and Tom Mison is so brilliant as a man out of time that it carries the show. The cold opening with him recounting the story of his lost love to the OnStar lady is one of my favorite moments in TV ever.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah JC, Crane is the highlight of the show. I loved that OnStar bit, I was laughing so hard I could barely breath!

      • dkd says:

        Babylon 5’s J. Michael Straczynski was one of the first showrunners who communicated with fans on line. It was on the old Usenet. He did give the fans the impression of an elaborate 5-year plan. He later admitted that while it did exist it wasn’t as detailed as fans grew to believe it was.

        To be clear, I never said Fedak didn’t have an idea of where he was taking Chuck in the longrun. I never said Chuck didn’t have a bible. I just objected to the inference that the network had a 5 year outline at the outset. At the beginning of a series, the network just worries about getting it through the first 13 with decent ratings. Given the survival rate of new shows, they aren’t thinking as far ahead as year 5.

        I do recall that when renewal time came up, the creative team usually had to pitch WB and NBC of what the upcoming storyline plans were. But, that was usually for the number of episodes they were renewing it for.

    • thinkling says:

      An interesting thing along these lines … I don’t know if any of you watch Arrow, but the character Felicity was supposed to be a brief arc guest spot. However, her character was so popular, she became a regular … one of the Arrow’s inner circle. The actress has chemistry all by herself and with anyone else on screen.

      As for POI, it was indeed dramatic, but I don’t know if it was a good change. I’m trying, and failing, to imagine how they are going to replace Carter. She is unique in that she is the “true north” character. All the other protagonists have serious baggage and/or are compromised in some way. She was the one with true integrity, and in that way was a touch stone for the whole team. At present the team feels anchor-less.

      • oldresorter says:

        Felicity reminds me in Smallville of how much chemistry Lana, Clark and Lex had. IN reality, too much chemistry because it didn’t fit the comic book canon. I would have been quite content had the show stayed on track with those three being friends, rather than forcing the story into the canon. I wonder if Arrow will do the same thing, with Laurel eventually pushing Felicity to the side? Her and Oliver are great together, in a near epic wt/wt story line, the kind that could stay wt/wt for a long time. In Oliver’s eyes, she’s too good for him, and she is smitten with him. Sort of a role reversal of Chuck and Sarah isn’t it?

        Of the shows that did big things last week, Arrow was the only one I didn’t like, bringing a big bad back from the dead AND making him Oliver’s sisters real father. Two stories I dislike. But … Arrow is that kind of show, so I can tolerate it.

        Change must keep more fans than it loses, cause I don’t think there is any doubt shows lose some fans when they make big changes. I read something from the POI showrunner, that he plans to frequently mix things up, so the Carter thing will not be the only time this happens. I’m thinking Reese and Finch are safe, everyone else is expendable.

        Finally, Castle spoiler of sorts, isn’t it sort of fun that the themes that Chuck furrowed out, Castle seems to be following, first Beckett staking claim to territory in his man cave, then last night the baby story? Be great if one of Chuck’s legacy is starting the dialogue for how to write a successful wt/wt coupled up.

      • thinkling says:

        I know Felicity is smitten with Oliver, but there’s such a loyalty and friendship there that I don’t really “ship” them. In fact I’m totally uninvested in any of the potential romances. (It’s a CW show, so I’ll withhold investment until there’s likely to be some sort of payoff.) I just think the show is fun. I do think Thea and Roy are cute together. Oliver’s relationship with Felicity is a real friendship with someone who knows him and is his faithful friend … something no one else is to him. I like it just fine the way it is and would probably prefer it stay that way.

        I agree about the recent turn of events … huge eye role … not appreciated at all!

      • oldresorter says:

        I sort of agree Think, as I said, Oliver and Felicity could be a wt/wt for a long time, if they never get together, that might be best. I like the Laurel scenes too as the romantic female lead, she is doing a great job in what is a really hard role. Felicity has it easy, she is near perfect at everything, and gets all the clever, funny lines.

        Laurel on the other hand is doing all the heavy lifting, the drama, the questionable stuff, dealing with the betrayal by Oliver, her betrayal of Tommy, the alchoholic father, she is in many ways the show’s heavy, which is not an easy role. My guess, if Felicity stays around, she’s going to get her hands dirty at some point, its the type of show Arrow is. Yet, she is, how did you put it, a clear compass to steer the team to good and away from evil, like Carter was on POI. One of the problems with Chuck, they didn’t have enough characters involved in the meat of the story, Sarah seemed to have to do the role of about five female characters. Then again, if anyone was up to the task, Yvonne was – LOL!

      • atcDave says:

        Thinkling my wife made a very similar observation about Carter on POI, even going a step further and saying she thought Carter was one of the very best female characters in all television. Really does make loosing her a big loss. As I mentioned last week, these kind of cast changes often lead to me quitting a show. I’ve been liking POI quite a lot, but that can only be in spite a major character death, never because of it. Any more character deaths may be the end of it for me.

        Jason I really did like Castle this week. It is funny the parallels we can find with Chuck, although some of those parallels may just be obvious with a romance and engagement arc. But I did find it funny to see a very Chuck-like sort of role reversal at play, with Castle being the enthused (and more capable) one where a baby was concerned.

      • JC says:

        Weird, I think Laurel is the weakest link on show. She has no chemistry with Ollie and her being the end game I just don’t buy it. I know the lore of the Green Arrow is Laurel and Ollie but its just not working on screen. I’d be happy if they just replaced her with Sara instead. That is until Shado shows up with his love child.

      • oldresorter says:

        JC – I think most people think Laurel is the show’s weak link. I on purpose tried to at least defend her a bit by saying when a fun show goes dark by exposing nerve endings, the characters doing the work often take the hits. In Chuck, since I loved Sarah so much, I tended to lash out at the writers instead, but in Arrow, Laurel takes the brunt of the criticism (maybe justifyable so, I sure see what people are saying). Still, I like the work she is doing or what I think I said is I like the scenes she is in. She is out of step with the show, she is in a personal drama, while the rest of the gang is helping out a guy in green tights.

        I struggle when shows that are not really dark trying to go too dark. I just made a comment about POI, which to me is dark, so most of the ugly fits. A show like Arrow, it fits less, as Arrow is meant to be more fun, and less thought provoking, chilling and edge of your seat riveting. I realize all this needs to strike a balance, since POI has some LOL moments, and Arrow at times does chilling or edge of your seat stuff well. I’m surprised the actor playing Oliver doesn’t take more heat, especially at first, he really struggled, with even the most basic scenes. And for whatever the reason, Felicity really strikes a contrast to Oliver, her expressive, witty, bubbliness vs his complete lack of personality.

      • JC says:

        Yeah, I think Katie Cassidy has pretty much done as much as she could with the material she’s been given. I just don’t think the writers know what do with her character at the moment so she’s just kinda there. Part of it is because of Ollie’s story has so much going on she can’t move forward until he does. That part reminds me of Sarah. I felt the same way about Stephen Amell until the we got the flashbacks. You can see the contrast between Ollie on the island and the present day one. He’s deliberately playing him as broken and stoic.

        I wouldn’t call Arrow dark per say, it falls into pulp stories like Doc Savage or The Shadow.

  5. noblz says:

    I really like this episode as a companion to Masquerade. Would not have been so hot standing alone.

    Things I really liked…the bank robbery (thought that was great, C&S knocking off a bank in such a nonchalant fashion), Sarah’s evolution as a soon to be wed bride (picking the dress was just darn cute) and the interaction between C&S and Casey.

    Not so hot…Morgan (although moving in with Casey bears fruit in the next episode) and Vivian’s conversion (I’m with atcDave, they should have made her a loon it would have worked better).

    Middle of the road worked well following Masquerade and preceding A-Team.

    • atcDave says:

      We’re mostly on the same page Dave. I did think Morgan’s story was a little funny; maybe a little too much screen time for it, but I liked the RenFair people and leveraging Casey. The whole idea of why Morgan would ever want to live with Casey is just so goofy, it makes me laugh. Of course some of the odd couple scenes to come are priceless.
      But I think you’re exactly right about it being middle of the road. Fortunately, with Chuck, middle of the road is a good place to be.

  6. oldresorter says:

    Has anyone mentioned Fir Crazy yet? I’m such a sucker for sweet Xmas Halmark RomCom movies. Sarah Lancaster was great. Sometimes, the best movies simply deliver what is expected, that’s what Fir Crazy and Sarah L did, a sappy, corny, predictable, happy ending type performance that all Christmas movies I like are. Can’t resist saying – Awesome!

    • atcDave says:

      Because of scheduling conflicts I won’t be recording it until Saturday. But yeah, I am happy to be the enabler to my wife’s Hallmark addiction. Sweet sappy, romantic holiday movies work great for me!
      I’m glad to hear it was fun.

  7. resaw says:

    Well, as long as we’re going off topic, any comments on the latest Person of Interest? For my part, I thought it was another excellent show, not maybe at the heights reached last week, but very, very good. The opening sequence, with Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt playing, was powerful stuff. And the flashbacks were very effective.

    • oldresorter says:

      A compete ep paying homage to the affect and consequences of Carter’s life and death, with multiple opportunities for payback, and a near perfect ending. I complain about the ep that Orion died as being one of my least fav eps (other than a few of the obvious ones), Carter’s death and then this ep is what I’m talking about Chuck missed with Orion’s death. Both deaths provided writers a chance at meaningful, riveting dramatic story telling. In the case of POI, they played the death pitch perfect.

      Fusco and Root pretty much taking over the show, I love both characters. Two great Fusco lines early on, something about ‘your psycopathic vigilante” to wit Finch answers ‘Which one?’ and Fusco follows up with ‘this is the work of tall, dark, and deranged’. Root, she is probably the best bad guy on TV since Arvin Sloan. The best bad guys are 49% good (Maybe 25%, but at least have some good in them) and do some heroic stuff layered in with hideous evil. Heck, two of the best bad guys on TV are on POI, Elias might be even better than Root. I agree with his final statement, when it comes to POI, “I’m just going to watch!’

    • joe says:

      I really enjoyed the episode.
      I’ll try not to spoil here (just in case there’s someone who hasn’t seen it yet), but the Johnny Cash opening, the surprise growth in Fusco and the way they brought Elias back in was great. I’m not sure I like Root, but I must admit, she’s an interesting character, especially if you saw the episodes where she was introduced.

      Here’s a spoiler. The only thing that made me wince was the fight scene between Fusco and Simmons. Given the way those two have been portrayed up to now, I didn’t buy it for a second. Other than that, the show was just about the faster hour I’ve seen on TV.

      Oh – I absolutely agree with you, Jason, about the bad guys being 49% good (and vice-versa for the good guys, btw). What really struck me last night was that Carter has been the only character who wasn’t compromised.

      Does anyone think Zoe will be back?

      • thinkling says:

        Same thing struck me, too, Joe. That’s why she leaves such a void. She was the show’s moral compass, so it hit me … man, how do you replace that essential component?

        Yeah, Elias and Root are very good, yet very different, bad guys.

      • thinkling says:

        I think Zoe is always in the wings when they want to bring her in for some. I like her … and John does, too.

  8. JoeBuckley says:

    I’d like to thank everyone who’s commented. I’m grateful for all of you and your contributions. It really means a lot to me.

    Enjoy this Thanksgiving holiday, and if at all possible, enjoy it with family, friends and loved ones. Be careful on the roads!

  9. Good morning Joe, Ernie, Thinkling, Faith, Liz, Rick Holy, actdave and chuck fans old and new not only in the U.S. but all over the world! First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to you all and your families.

    For the ones who know me and the new ones on this website who don’t, my name is Bernard Gilree and I know it’s 5 months since I’ve commented about Chuck! But I been working and now I have a few days off for the holidays and I’m enjoy it.
    I’m soon be writing a new blog over the holiday season. I know you all talking about s4 and I’m just start watching the last 6 episodes of Chuck s3 on my DVR player at home. Talking about being late to the party!

    I’m just letting you all know that my blog CHUCK S3 WHAT IT’S REALLY ALL ABOUT is still up and running! http://www.bernardthisblog.blogspot.com
    So I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and a happy holiday season.

  10. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs the First Bank of Evil (4.17) | Chuck This

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