Chuck 4.17 “Chuck vs the First Bank of Evil” Recap

If you missed last week’s romantic, and at times disturbing (Morgan being painted with chocolate!), episode, check out my recap here.

This week’s episode picks up right where the last one left off, with Vivian in Volkoff’s office, staring at the light emanating from the wall. Vivian approaches a panel in the wall which contains a clear plastic card, engraved with some very familiar numbers engraved on it (familiar to Lost fans, anyway). She removes the card and an unseen red light begins to blink. Vivian studies the card, and not divining its meaning, falls into Volkoff’s chair and says, “I give up.” A man’s voice says that is a strange reaction to the gift she has just been given. The man enters the office and introduces himself as Riley, Volkoff’s lawyer. Riley explains that Volkoff left Vivian a letter. He begins to recite it it an approximate Volkoff accent. When Vivian questions the affectation, Riley explains that Volkoff instructed that he read the letter that way to make her comfortable. Dropping the accent, Riley completes his recitation of the letter, concluding with Volkoff’s desire that Vivian follow in his footsteps as the head of Volkoff Industries. Vivian does not seem receptive. Sensing this, Riley asks her how could she possibly say no? “No,” she calmly states. In response, Riley pulls a gun saying that he can’t let her say no. Vivian deftly knocks the gun away and stabs Riley in the hand with an envelope opener. She grabs the car and escapes.

In Echo Park, Ellie and Sarah look at flowers. Sarah just doesn’t have a strong opinion about the flowers, or really, anything. Can’t Ellie just make the choices? Ellie explains that every bride feels overwhelmed, but there is a moment where everything changes. Ellie was picking up her wedding bands when she realized that she was marrying the man of her dreams and just broke down. She knows it sounds cheesy, but everything became magical for her at that moment. Ellie promises that Sarah will have such a moment (and I noted that said moment would likely occur between 8:40 0and 8:50pm).

Over at the Buy More, Chuck and Morgan stand in front of the TV wall. Morgan says he’s not going to get a TV for his new place. When Chuck practically falls over at this news, Morgan assures his best bud that he’s just kidding. A 72 inch-er is more like it. Chuck asks how the apartment search is going. Morgan still hasn’t found anything, and is living with his mom, but he has some prospects. Chuck gets a text to come down to Castle, so as he leaves he tells Morgan that he is happy everything is going so well for the bearded one. When Chuck leaves, Big Mike approaches Morgan and asks if he slept OK the night before. Morgan responds in the negative, citing some very loud cats. Big Mike informs Morgan that those “cats” are going to have a special dinner tonight, and could get a bit…frisky. Not wanting to hear about any more of Big Mike’s nocturnal activities with Morgan’s mother, Morgan says he needs to go place an ad for a roommate and quickly disengages from the conversation.

Vivian is in Castle, and tells Chuck and Sarah about Riley. She plunks card down the card from Volkoff’s office on table. Upon seeing it, Chuck flashes. It turns out the card identifies a vault at the First Bank of Macau, a depository for all of Volkoff’s wealth. General Beckman informs Chuck and Sarah that the bank is actually operated by the mob. The CIA (whatever happened to the NSA? Operation Bartowski used to be a joint CIA-NSA operation.) has tried to infiltrate it for years, but were always unsuccessful, losing a few agents in the process. They now have a perfect asset in Vivian because she’s an account holder. Chuck protests that Vivian is not built for the spy world. “Well, you’re a spy and she’s an asset,” the General retorts. Chuck needs to turn Vivian into a Volkoff.

Morgan sits in his office writing an apartment ad. Jeff and Lester stop by to ask Morgan to settle a debate for them. What is the best place to meet girls: a renaissance fair or a meth clinic? Morgan, just wanting to rid himself of the guys, answers renaissance fair. Lester immediately asks if they can have two weeks off to go to a renaissance fair? No, and he doesn’t have time to answer any more questions as he needs to find a roommate. Lester says that he and Jeff have an extra bedroom in their apartment/van; Morgan can stay with them. Morgan wants no part of their van, and is saved by a call to come to the sales floor. When he leaves, Lester reads Morgan’s apartment posting and notices that potential roommates will meet Morgan at the Buy More. Lester decides he is going to screw with Morgan to get Jeff and him their vacation.

Downstairs in Castle, Vivian tells Chuck that she doesn’t want any part of the mission; she just found out her father is a criminal mastermind. Chuck replies that he can relate because his father left him when he was thirteen. What Chuck did learn, however, was that even though his father wasn’t around, it didn’t mean he wasn’t thinking abut Chuck. Chuck can promise that he and Sarah will help her find some answers about Volkoff. With that, Vivian agrees to take part in the mission. She needs more evil clothes though. Chuck engages a computer which scans VIvian with a green laser. A hologram appears (whoa, so this is where Chuck was putting all of its special effects budget all season?) of Vivian in a new outfit. With the disguise approved, a mechanized closet brings the combination forward. Castle picks clothes! Chuck mentions that Castle has a great makeover feature too, not that he has tried it or anything.

When Vivian goes off to try on the clothes, Chuck calls up a hologram of him in a tux. Sarah comments that it is a bit formal for a bank job. Chuck agrees, but he’s showing it to Sarah because that is what he is choosing to wear for the wedding. Sarah agrees it’s nice, but her comment seems forced. When called on her reaction, she apologizes to Chuck; she feels like she’s letting everyone down because she’s not into wedding planning. Chuck tells her not to worry about it; he’ll call of Ellie if Sarah wants. No, she will try harder for everyone involved. At that moment, Casey walks by, but he doesn’t stop to talk to them. Chuck asks where he is off to, and Casey responds that he’s going for a Hot Pocket. Chuck notes that they haven’t seen Casey in a while. Casey replies that General Beckman has a separate mission for him, but he can’t say what it is. They’ll talk later. With that, Casey rushes off, leaving Chuck and Sarah quite confused.

Upstairs in his office, Morgan has his first potential roommate come by. The guy is a renaissance fair king. After asking Morgan to kiss his ring as ruler of the realm, the king is followed by a wench and a half-man/half-goat faun. Morgan is exasperated, and when he next looks up, he is staring into the gruff face of the Colonel. Casey is not there for the roommate ad. Morgan want to know why weirdos keep showing up. He looks out the window an sees the renaissance fair characters reveling outside with Jeff and Lester. It dawns on Morgan that the guys screwed with his ad. Morgan then realizes that Casey has an extra room in his apartment. When Morgan inquires, Casey curtly replies, “Don’t even think about it.”

Macau. Chuck, Sarah and Vivian prepare for the mission in a van outside the bank. Chuck tells Vivian that she needs to think like her father. Chuck will, like Kevin Costner, be her bodyguard. There will be rigid security that will test her identity. Vivian replies that she is not good at tests; what if she fails? Chuck’s only further advice is, “Just pass.” He promises he will stay close. Chuck and Vivian enter the bank (with Sarah monitoring from the van), and are greeted by none other than Dr. Pierre Chang (yeah, second Lost reference)!! He tells Vivian that he wasn’t aware Volkoff’s account had changed hands, but when he scans the account card, he notes that it is legitimate. This bank manager leads Vivian to the vault, but Chuck is not allowed in. Chuck protests, but Vivian says its OK; she is not backing out of the mission. With Chuck’s assent, Vivian goes up the stairs to the vault alone.

Chuck radios Sarah and tells her security stopped him. Sarah tries to direct him to another avenue to the vault, but he needs a key card to get up to the vault level. “It’s time to be a spy,” Chuck says before approaching the security mercenary. He asks the guard how will he know Vivian will be properly protected? What if a Kung Fu master broke in and started wheeling his arms around for a fight. The guard delivers a punch to Chuck’s midsection, which staggers Chuck to his knees. As the guard helps him up, Chuck grabs the guard’s card, and makes his way to the locked stairwell. Up in the vault, Vivian walks up to a console. The bank manager tells her this is standard security procedure, and asks her to place her hand down on the console. A needle pricks her finger and draws blood for a DNA test. Meanwhile, Chuck arrives on the vault level but sees no sign of Vivian. “Oh, no!” exclaims Sarah. Is everything OK, Chuck wonders. Sarah just received a text from Ellie about going cake testing. “Yeah, cake testing. That’s so terrible,” Chuck replies. Sarah, hearing his sarcasm, admits she knows wedding stuff should be fun, but she’s finding it a little overwhelming. Chuck suggests she pick at least one thing to get excited about. “Ease your way in,” he recommends. Chuck then sees into a vault and spies an entire room full of computer equipment. He flashes that the equipment is stolen Chinese army computer servers. Chuck notes that the bank wouldn’t have military grade tech if it wasn’t up to something sinister.

Back in the vault, Vivian is asked her name, her purpose for being in the vault, and if she is with a law enforcement agency. Vivian gives her responses, and the bank manager reappears. She has passed the test, and as a result, subsequent visits will be sufficiently less evasive. Vivian is handed solely a safe deposit box. When she asks if the box is it, the manager tells her that Volkoff said all of his prized possessions were contained inside. Vivian inspects the box’s contents and finds pictures and news clippings of her. Meanwhile, Chuck makes his way toward the vault, but is stopped by a guard. Sarah asks if he needs help, but Chuck says he can handle it. A second guard approaches Chuck from behind and grasps him around the neck. “Now I need help!” he radios to Sarah. Vivian leaves the vault and is met by the two guards and Chuck in zip tie handcuffs. She is told that her bodyguard was found in an off-limits area. Chuck apologizes to “Ms. Volkoff.” Picking up on his hint, Vivian slaps Chuck and pulls a gun on him. She bellows that she trusted him, and has never been lied to like she has. She swears she is about to shoot Chuck, but the manager stops her, explaining that there is “no need to do this on bank property.” The guards escort Vivian and Chuck toward the door as Sarah enters. Vivian explains that they can hand Chuck over to her new head of security, Sarah. As she departs, the bank manager says that despite his feelings earlier, he can now see Volkoff in Vivian.

Upon their return to Castle, Chuck and Sarah debrief Vivian. Is there any chance that anything in the box reveals the location of Volkoff’s riches? No, Vivian replies, there is only stuff about her. Sarah gets call; it’s from Ellie, so she steps out of the room. Vivian rues that the CIA will never allow her the chance to talk to her father, who, as evidenced by the contents of the box, truly loved her. Chuck, however, is the CIA. Perhaps he can arrange something.

Sarah talks to Ellie, who has had a wedding epiphany. A bride doesn’t build a wedding around the cake or the flowers. A wedding is built around the dress. Now, Ellie knows Sarah isn’t a girlie-girl, but Sarah cuts her off. Dress shopping seems like it could be fun! She is trying to ease into the wedding excitement so she is going to do some research right now. Sarah goes to Castle’s costume computer and calls up a dress. Sarah tries it on, but it isn’t right. She tries on an ugly one, and then two worse than the last. She wearily tries on a fourth and is arrested in the mirror. “Oh my God! It’s perfect!” she exclaims. She looks toward the computer and sees a hologram of her in the dress and Chuck in his tux. This is the moment of which Ellie spoke. “We’re getting married!” Sarah tearily and excitedly shouts. At that moment, Casey enters. “Petty dress,” he sincerely grumbles. Sarah’s going to need a new one though, because the four bullet holes in the back are evidence that this one had been on a mission.

Upstairs in the Buy More, Morgan catches Jeff and Lester on their way out of the store. He knows what they did to his apartment listing. Well, perhaps he should have granted them their vacation. Morgan explains that he still needs a room for the night, thanks to the guys’ hijinks, so can he stay with them? It’s too late, the vacancy has been filled by the renaissance fair king. The king is going to score them some major “ren tang.”

General Beckman tells Chuck and Sarah that the CIA has discovered that the bank is laundering money for criminals around the world. They need Vivian to go back into the bank and plant a bug in the servers Chuck found. Chuck explains that Vivian wants nothing to do with her father, so she will be reluctant to go back. But, if the CIA can arrange for Vivian to have a meeting with Volkoff, Chuck thinks he can persuade her. Beckman agrees to Chuck’s request. She then tells Chuck and Sarah that they will need to create a diversion to allow Vivian to plan the bug. Well, what kind of diversion does the General have in mind? “You two are going to rob a bank,” she explains. This plan elicits quite wide smiles from the two spies.

With no other place to stay, Morgan unpacks a sleeping back in the store’s home theater room. As he tries to sleep, he hears the sound of approaching people. Pretending to be asleep, Morgan sees two workers entering Castle through the home theater room, talking about installing a TS-347 super computer. Morgan follows them into Castle to Zone 6, the special, and secret, NCS wing of Castle being constructed. Peeking around a corner, Morgan sees Casey supervising the construction. Morgan tries to make his way down the hallway, but is stopped by the clenching hand of Colonel John Casey. What is Morgan doing there? Morgan explains that he needs a place to crash, so he was upstairs in the store, but since he doesn’t have his contacts in, he didn’t see anything. Trying to keep up the (terrible and unconvincing) ruse, he staggers out.

Macau. Vivian enters the bank and has the manager take her up to the vault. In a van outside, Sarah prepares for the mission by donning some sunglasses. She turns to Chuck, only to find him with a stocking on his face. He saw them in Sarah’s bag, and figured they would be wearing them on their heads because they are bank robbers. “I packed them in case we have time to go out later,” Sarah explains. “Take those off. You’ll rip them,” she says with a smile. They kiss, and Chuck announces, “Let’s go rob a bank.”

In a scene very reminiscent of Neo and Trinity entering the building where Morpheus is being held in The Matrix, Chuck sets off the metal detector before he and Sarah start taking out the guards with a mix of gunfire (into the air by Sarah), tranquilizer darts (by Chuck) and some great gymnastic moves (natural for Sarah, Intersect-aided for Chuck). Vivian is told to wait in the vault by her escort who runs off to see what the commotion is about. Now alone, Vivian installs the computer virus into the servers. Chuck jumps onto the bank counter and demands all the cash in the bank. Meanwhile, upstairs, Riley appears as Vivian leaves the vault. He tells her that she is being played by the CIA. Her father is not a super-villain. When Vivian protests, Riley asks her if one of them seemed to know her. Did he say he knew what she was going through? Was it the man in this picture? He displays a picture of Chuck. “This is Agent Charles Carmichael, and he arrested your father.”

Down in the bank lobby, Chuck asks Sarah if she is having fun. “Yeah, a little,” she replies with a devilish smile. She tells him that she tried on a dress and it felt like magic. She follows that statement by shouting, “Keep down or I will blow you’re freaking head off!” to one of the bank patrons. Upstairs, Vivian tells Riley that her father was a criminal. Riley replies that Volkoff loves her, and left her everything, so how bad could he be? Chuck said she will have a chance to meet with Volkoff, but Riley says the CIA is lying. They will never let her see her father. When she does want to meet him, she can contact Riley via the information on his business card. Riley then gives her back the necklace she left in Volkoff’s office. Vivian goes back downstairs where Chuck and Sarah take her “hostage” and run out the door. With Vivian contemplating Riley’s words in the back of the van, Chuck and Sarah burn the stolen (and criminal) money. Chuck tells Vivian that she did great, but notices something is wrong. Is everything alright, he asks. Yeah, everything is good, she says, but it is clear Riley got into her head.

Back at Castle, General Beckman informs them that Vivian successfully tapped the bank’s servers, leading them to criminals all over world. Chuck asks the General about Vivian’s meeting with Volkoff. Beckman says they can’t do it; it’s too risky. Chuck protests, but Beckman ends the dispute by informing Chuck, “You told the asset what she needed to hear.” Does Chuck want Sarah’s help to tell Vivian? No, Vivian trusted him, so he’ll do it alone. Chuck gives Vivian the bad news, that the CIA is going back on its word. She replies that she thought Chuck was the CIA. He is, and he will get her in touch with her father, but it may just take a little longer than they planned. Vivian thanks him for being honest, but it is clear she is reconsidering Riley’s offer.

Sarah and Ellie enter the Echo Park apartment courtyard with Sarah loaded down with shopping bags. When Ellie was talking about flowers, she never mentioned lilies. Sarah needs lilies! A hundred dozen! Oh, and there was this incredible patisserie in Paris, so maybe they can make the wedding cake and Sarah can have it flown in. Ellie, clearly surprised by Sarah’s wedding enthusiasm turaround, asks if maybe 1200 flowers and an imported cake might just be a little too much. Maybe, Sarah replies, but it will make Chuck really happy! Sarah will go look into a private pilot for the cake, and disappears into her apartment. Chuck overhears the end of the conversation. “What was that?!?” he asks his sister. “I think I created a monster,” she replies. Doesn’t all that sound a bit pricy, Chuck wonders. He still only works at the Buy More. “Well, you’ll have to pick up some extra shifts,” Ellie responds, “or rob a bank.”

Morgan finds Casey in the store and asks him what was going on in Castle. Casey rebuffs his inquiries until Morgan mentions the TS-347 being installed. Is Morgan leveraging Casey to stay with him? “Is it working?” Morgan asks. Casey reluctantly tells Morgan that he can stay with him at Casey’s apartment as long as he doesn’t tell Chuck about Zone Six. Morgan promises to not say a word. He better not, because if he doesn’t keep his mouth shut, Casey knows where Morgan lives.

Chuck tries calling Vivian to again apologize about the Volkoff meeting, but she ignores the call. He leaves a message for her. She stares out a car window, and when she sits back in her seat, Riley is revealed. “I’m ready to know the truth about my father.”

Commentary

OK, now we’re picking up some steam! I loved this episode in so many ways. First off, it seemed like the show had money in the budget for the first time in a long time. Granted, the sets were pretty basic (that vault hallway looked pretty familiar), and the bank was clearly repurposed from the bank shootout where Chuck, Sarah, Mary and Volkoff (when he was still posing as an MI:6 agent) came under fire, but the holograms, the new Castle Costume Computer, and the number of extras and gun play in the robbery scene gave the show a nice gleam that has been absent. There were no poor green screens here, that’s for sure.

Second, I loved the banter going between Chuck and Sarah on their missions. The two characters (and the two actors, no doubt) really seemed to enjoy the chance to play “bad guys” during the robbery. When the dialogue about the wedding dress was layered in, it made the scene, and the episode, just jump off the screen. Similarly, the earlier discussion about Sarah’s lack of wedding preparation enthusiasm while Chuck was trying to make his way to the vault provided some nice beats for the actors to play. It was all great work.

Part of what makes this work is the fact that the missions are sometimes not all that exciting, so to pepper them with Chuck and Sarah’s personal issues always makes those scenes more entertaining. More than that though, the wedding discussions really work because of the role reversal the two characters are playing within these conversations. Stereotypically, men want no part of wedding preparations, while women are overly enthusiastic. It has always been the case that Chuck has been the more emotional “female” part of their relationship, and Sarah the more reserved, stoic “male” part of the couple. So, it is natural for them to take up the roles they do in the wedding preparations. Further, this construction makes it all the more effective when Sarah finally has her wedding “moment” when she tries on the dress, and funnier when she goes gaga over the flowers, cake, etc.

I do hope that Sarah doesn’t completely swing over to the other side of the stereotype and lose her somewhat disinterested, somewhat gruff approach to the wedding. Having one scene where she’s a typical “girlie-girl” is one thing, because it is funny and refreshing to see Yvonne Strahovski play that side of Sarah, but she is still Sarah Walker, international spy. I’m sure the writers know this, and with the looming stories about her parents lurking in the not-too-distant future, I’m not all that concerned.

I will admit to a bit of concern about the general lack of Casey in this episode. As I mentioned last week, the show always works best when Chuck, Sarah and Casey work together for long stretches. So, the potential that Zone 6 and the NCS could pull Casey away from the team for too long worries me. With Morgan discovering Zone 6, however, some of my concern is allayed. There is now a possibility that Morgan will partner with Casey on his NCS missions, which could lead to any number of hilarious situations. We’re just going to have to wait and see, but I do hope there is still plenty of interaction between the original Team Bartowski members.

Alright, that’s what I have for “Chuck vs the First Bank of Evil.” What did you think of the episode? Do you like Sarah as a typical bride? How do you enjoy the “Chuck is creating his next enemy” story developing for Vivian? Can you not wait to see Morgan and Casey as roommates? Well, you’re going to have to wait a bit longer than normal. Chuck is not on next week as The Event is returning with a two hour midseason premiere (uh…….yay?). Our favorite accidental spy will return March 14th. For another take on this week’s episode, be sure to check out Emma’s review. I’ll be back in two weeks with another recap. Until then, I’m off to not complain that the wildlife makes too much noise.

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