Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Family Volkoff (4.20)

NBC Synopsis: IN ORDER TO SAVE THE LIFE OF A FORMER ALLY, CHUCK MUST JOIN FORCES WITH HIS GREATEST FOE—LINDA HAMILTON, LAUREN COHAN, MEKENNA MELVIN, AND TIMOTHY DALTON GUEST STAR—A bad day gets worse when Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) throws Chuck (Zachary Levi) a surprising relationship curveball as the CIA orders Vivian Volkoff (guest star Lauren Cohan) assassinated. In order to prove Vivian’s innocence, Chuck must put his trust in a dangerous ally her father Alexei Volkoff (guest star Timothy Dalton). Meanwhile, Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) suspects that her mother (guest star Linda Hamilton) is interfering with the search into her father’s past.

Chuck This Ranking: 73
Dave’s Ranking: a little higher

First Impressions: 4.20 Chuck vs The Family Volkoff: First Impressions

Full Write Ups: Chuck vs The Family Volkoff (4.20) by Dave and Joe
Summer Re-Watch 4.20: Chuck vs The Family Volkoff by Joe and Dave
Cool/Not Cool: Chuck versus the Family Volkoff by Thinkling
Daughters: Chuck vs Family Volkoff Review by Faith

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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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5 Responses to Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Family Volkoff (4.20)

  1. As s4 episodes go, I actually appreciate this one a fair bit. I’m surprised it hasn’t been the occasion for discussion. For instance, I think there are some great lines sprinkled throughout. When Chuck is presented with Sarah’s prenup, he claims he has to wash his hair and says, “I feel dirty, smelly…European.” (I really don’t know what that means to Chuck, although, I learned that “European” here in southern Ontario — which is not where I was raised — apparently is a common descriptor of people from southern Europe, from regions bordering the Mediterranean. I guess Swiss, Dutch, German, etc., is something other than European…?). When Chuck talks with Morgan and Casey during their breakfast, and sees how they have become like a couple, he says, “I’m just going to get out of here before I’m scarred for life.” Timothy Dalton’s Volkoff is also always great. When he speaks it’s almost as though the words have a delicious taste to them: “Sad, isn’t it? Why do I always choose fear over love?” And to Elias while holding him at knifepoint: “Your morality is in a state of development.” And “I want you to understand that I am still a work in progress.”

    Chuck keeping his spy secret from Ellie is kind of like season 4’s version of the Chuck-Sarah WTWT of the previous seasons. This episode teased us at the end with the prospect of Ellie finally finding out that Chuck is a spy, only to be put off because Ellie lied to him. That’s a bit hypocritical given that Chuck has deceived Ellie for almost the entirety of the series, except for the last couple of episodes of s3.

    One more good line from Casey: “Can’t trust a limey with good teeth.”

    I still haven’t found a way to appreciate Vivian. The character just never clicks with me.

    Finally, the prenup: I like the way the tables were turned and Chuck was the cool, “no need to talk about it” guy, which was driving Sarah crazy. Once again, all the angst could have been avoided if Sarah had just explained her reasons for setting the money aside. But of course, the opportunities for tension in that particular plot line would have been lost if she would have been more forthcoming.

    I’ll say it again, this was a pretty good episode, and given my oft-stated disappointment with large swaths of season 4, that’s about as high as the praise gets for me.

    • atcDave says:

      The one thing about S4 that definitely disappointed me was Vivian. The performance is too understated, her motivation for “going bad” is beyond weak; she just doesn’t live up to the tradition of over-the-top Chuck villains.
      But other than that, I think this episode works pretty well. I’ll still put it at that lower end of average, but as we’ve observed here many times, average Chuck is still a ton of fun. I think I like pretty much everything you brought up Russ. I’d even add the pre-nup. It never struck me as angst at all, it just made me laugh. I thought it was obvious from the start Sarah was just waiting for Chuck to talk her out of it, and when he “played it cool” it just knocked her off balance. Too funny. And it ends with a perfect sort of sweet moment.

      Dang I miss this show…

  2. Martin Traynor says:

    I put vs. the Role Models on last night as I was flying back into town, and actually watched the opening sequence again and just felt so sad and happy at the same time. I remembered and almost re-felt what it was like watching Chuck through the first time, with the cautious and excited anticipation of what adventures would befall Team B. and Chuck/Sarah specifically. Then I was sad that I can never really get that back, and will likely never experience it with another show (I don’t even think that I want to experience it with another show, to be honest).

    I enjoyed almost every episode of season 4 quite a lot, and this one certainly had its moments. I’ll agree with the bulk of Russ’s comments and moments he pointed out. I enjoyed Sarah and Casey’s little talk about putting kids in the middle while Volkoff (with Chuck) played chess for entrance into the cave…

    I also liked the way the prenup played out, and how Casey mentioned to Sarah when she complained about Chuck being so cool, “Yeah, wonder where he gets those ideas…”, all the while being the source of that particular cool…

    I would say that 90% of the angst through this show’s run was manufactured in a way that was at either completely out of character or at least contrary to how those characters would normally act under any given circumstances unless they were conked on the head. That said, the prenup the way it played out didn’t bother me, but TPTB had Sarah doing a whole lot of stuff that made no sense, as we’ve discussed before. At least it was funny.

    I wish they could have done more with Vivian having been an ally. She doesn’t work as a villain because they never set that up right and took the time to really develop her fall. And I don’t buy for a second that she would get so bent out of shape over a father she never knew or seemed to want to know her.

    Overall, a fun episode with another nice Charah moment (a few, actually) and some nice Sarah/Casey and Casey/Morgan interactions, and I always say that it’s the characters that make me love this show so much, so I’m good with it.

    • atcDave says:

      i also don’t really expect another show to ever get this level of excitement and investment. Of course I never intended it for Chuck either so who knows. But what this show did to me was unique.

  3. noblz says:

    I missed last week’s discussion, so a few words on Muuurder. My least favorite episode of S4 for me. That said, I felt the reaction of Sarah to the new Nerd Brodie was hilarious. Also her reaction to the new female Nerd when they were being disarmed was a hoot. Casey as the Intersect’s mindless muscle. The female Nerd asking Sarah how she got the Intersect to commit…snort. But it still made my dud pile.

    Family Volkoff did not make my top 10(29) but was a good solid episode. I agree with all of the above comments but Thinkling’s review re: Sarah was spot on. This is another that was originally “meh” but got to “this is a good episode” on re-watch. Dalton was great as always.

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