Chuck vs. the Family Volkoff
Season 4, Episode 20, Air-Date April 11, 2011
When the CIA targets Vivian Volkoff for assassination, Chuck turns to an unusual ally to protect her: Vivian's father, Alexei. Ellie suspects her mother doesn't want her to find out about her father's past.
Oh, Vivian Volkoff. Such a cool name and a hilarious father. That means you've gotta be awesome. Right? Right???
Okay, maybe not. Be warned: this is another mxpw vs. Frea where Frea sees lots of shiny things and mxpw tries to keep order. How successful was he? You'll have to read to find out.
mxpw: For your traumatizing pleasure: Yvonne Bieber!
mxpw: You're welcome.
Frea: She looks like a young starlet from the 60s
mxpw: I know. That's what Justin Bieber looks like.
Frea: Like, she could go star in the original True Grit
Frea: Or The Cat from Outer Space
Frea: Possibly True Grit from Outer Space
mxpw: It would be fitting! She plays a cat on TV.
Frea: *laughing* No, she plays a cat in Fates.
mxpw: Yes, she does.
mxpw: But remember, she was part of the CAT squad?
Frea: Sorry, I got Cat and cat mixed up.
Frea: She was never a Cat in Fates, but she's a cat.
mxpw: Yes, she most definitely is a cat.
mxpw: That is her defining trait for me from your story, I hope you know.
Frea: Not sure what's different at that point to make her not a Cat in Fates, but I can BS something.
mxpw: You can pretend it never happened, like I often try to.
mxpw: The only good thing from that episode was the fun of imagining Zondra as Sarah's ex-girlfriend. Oh, and Carina's legs. Other than that, I'd prefer it not be mentioned.
Frea: Oh come on, 6'4" Chuck fighting a 5'1" blonde doesn't automatically strike you as memorably funny?
mxpw: Ehhh. I suppose it was amusing seeing her hanging off him like a monkey.
Frea: It was!
Frea: It makes me think of that one Ashton Kutcher/Natalie Portman movie. "Are you really attacking me? You're like a hamster."
mxpw: That makes me think of the Star Wars prequels and Yoda.
Frea: Amy had neither a lightsaber nor Frank Oz behind her.
Frea: 186.372% less co--awesome automatically.
Frea: Whew, I almost said "cool."
Frea: ...crap. I said it.
Frea: By the way, we should make that a gimmick in our review.
Frea: We're not allowed to say cool.
mxpw: But I am cool!
Frea: But we need to use every other variation of the word we can
mxpw: Dibs on rad!
Frea: We sat and cooled our heels, listening to Coolio, until the episode aired. Five minutes before, I remembered I needed to put some coolant in my car to make sure the cooling system worked properly, so I coolly grabbed a bottle of the blue stuff and went to work.
mxpw: Coollly is borderline, but I'll allow it.
Frea: well, seeing as coolly means coldly and not awesomely
mxpw: How do you coldly grab a bottle of something?
Frea: By glaring at it because it's getting in the way of you watching the fourth-to-last episode of Chuck.
mxpw: Wasn't this the fifth-to-last episode of Chuck?
mxpw: THIS SEASON, I feel compelled to add.
Frea: ...you know, I think you're right.
mxpw: Oh yeah, that's right, look at me being optimistic.
Frea: Math is not my strong suit.
Frea: Congratulations, Maximus, you earned the bear tonight. Dibs on Shark!
mxpw: That's pretty sweet that I get to be the bear. He's one excellent dude.
Frea: He has a monocle sometimes. You have a monocle sometimes. It all works out.
Frea: It's possible that the version of you that has a monocle may exist only in my head.
Frea: Also, he wears a smoking jacket, carries a pipe, and has a bookshelf behind him with the entire collected works of Beatrix Potter and Kafka.
mxpw: No, there was that one time I went to a Sherlock Holmes festival. He had a monocle, right? Or was that Hercule Poirot?
Frea: I think that was Snake Plesskin.
mxpw: Snake was rad.
Frea: He was one hoopy frood.
Frea: Oh, yeah, there was an episode last night.
mxpw: There was?
Frea: So here's the part where we give our ratings and I go back to playing solitaire, right?
mxpw: The episode was about Sarah wearing a cupcake bikini, right? That happened or did I imagine that?
Frea: I think you imagined that. It may be the LSD I've been slipping in your coffee lately. I mean, nothing but LSD could inspire Yvonne Bieber, I think. A most splendid brainchild on your part.
mxpw: Hmm...that explains a lot. Tell Walter he makes really good stuff.
Frea: Mmmbrownbetty. So I enjoyed the episode.
mxpw: And I enjoyed the episode.
Frea: Yet...that's about it. It was enjoyable.
mxpw: Yeah... The episode was nice and fun at parts, but lacked real oomph. No wow factor.
mxpw: That's not completely true. There was a point in the episode where I went, "Wow, Sarah, you're kinda dumb."
Frea: No wow factor? Are you kidding? I thought Yvonne looked especially pretty in her scene with Casey.
mxpw: In the snow bunny get-up, you mean?
Frea: And Chuck rocked a turtleneck.
mxpw: It looked like he raided Archer's closet.
Frea: And Ellie and Awesome called each other "Baby Mama" and "Six Pack."
mxpw: That was very cute. Though Mama B has to be the worst spy on the planet, but then I think we already knew that.
Frea: I thought it was hilarious that she knew Ellie and Awesome were following her, given that you're right, she has been shown to be kind of the worst spy on the planet. But hey, I'll buy it because I enjoy thinking about Mary leading her daughter and son-in-law on a merry chase through Burbank. Think of the possibilities of humor right there! The adventures of Sarah Connor, Baby Mama, and Six Pack.
mxpw: Oh don't get me wrong, it didn't bother me that much, I just think it's hilarious that Mary was foiled essentially by a Nanny-cam. But you're right, it's pretty funny to imagine Mary leading Ellie and Awesome on a wild goose chase all through Los Angeles.
Frea: So I think we should try to go over the episode point to point, maybe? I mean, I'm sleep-deprived, but I don't think the world is going to follow my normal train of—oh, shiny! What's over there? *wanders away*
mxpw: Excuse me everybody while I play Frea wrangler for a second. *ropes you back in*
mxpw: Okay, so point by point, huh?
Frea: But...but...ice cream! I hear that stuff's really co—ld.
mxpw: So we should start with the prenup probably?
Frea: (For the record, Frea woke up, did some writing, watched Chuck, did some 'shopping, went to work, came home, read a book, and now she's in class, on hour 23 of her day, and she still has 6 hours to go!)
Frea: Okay, I like that idea. Starting with the prenup.
Frea: So...Role Models came back in the worst possible way!
mxpw: It did?
Frea: The prenup was exactly like Sarah's blase refusal to move in with Chuck, in that it felt like it was generated specifically because the plot said there needed to be some kind of tension between our leads, and then it wasn't sufficiently explained when there were huuuundreds of possibilities that it could be explained that would give Sarah a fascinating depth.
mxpw: Ahhh, in that way, I totally see what you mean.
Frea: On the one hand, it was fun to see Sarah so completely puzzled by Chuck, but was the cost of Sarah's IQ worth it?
mxpw: The odd thing about the prenup was that it ultimately didn't even end up being about Chuck and Sarah. The writers ended up using it as a way to move Casey's story along and to introduce the theme of the Chuck women having issues with their parents. The problem with the issue, as always with this show, was the execution. The way Sarah went about the whole thing was just plain stupid. It seemed like she really wanted Chuck to ask her why she was getting the prenup, and when he seemed so disinterested, she got upset. The problem is, Chuck is not a mindreader and Sarah expecting Chuck to hound her about the prenup when just a few episodes ago she tore his head off for digging into her past was kinda ridiculous.
mxpw: That Sarah doesn't even tell Chuck onscreen in the episode why she wanted the prenup really undermined it as well.
Frea: See, the funny thing is, I didn't even notice that she didn't give the reason to him on screen. It did move the Casey storyline along nicely though, didn't it? We got a Sarah/Casey partnership moment out of it, too. I like those. I also like that neither of them can no longer be considered in the "was hatched” category. Oh, progress. Hi, how are you? Make yourself at home. Want some tea?
mxpw: You know, I liked the Casey/Sarah moment too, but I didn't love it. Because A) I feel like they used the scene as a cheat so that they didn't have to delve into Sarah explaining herself to Chuck this episode and B) because they are starting to develop a pattern where it seems like Sarah is more comfortable talking about her past with everybody BUT Chuck.
Frea: But to be fair, Chuck goes to everybody BUT Sarah with problems about Sarah. Oh, the least couple-y couple on the planet!
mxpw: That's true. But then Sarah is like the least communicative woman on Earth, so it's kinda understandable. Albeit annoying. At least this time he got advice from somebody other than just Morgan. Thank God.
mxpw: But since we are on the topic of Casey, I want to talk about him.
Frea: His jaw is chiseled by Michelangelo himself.
mxpw: I want to commend the writers this season for how they have handled the storyline of Casey integrating back into Alex's life.
mxpw: They have straddled a fine line with the storyline, and they have done so fairly well. It's actually one of the more deft aspects of this season.
Frea: You know, I agree. It helps that I like Alex, and now that I've seen Masquerade, I no longer wonder exactly what the attraction to Morgan is.
mxpw: They could have blown it by having Casey force the issue or complain about not getting to be more involved with Alex's life, but they've instead chosen to play it right: with Casey taking a step back and not making Alex have to choose between him or her mom. I really liked that he insisted that Alex not lie to her mother and that he doesn't want to come between the two of them.
Frea: And it really speaks for the show and this season that I'm just as excited about Casey's storyline next week as I am for the return of Papa Burton
mxpw: Well, I won't go that far, as I love Jack and I have been anticipating this moment since I heard about it (Delorean is an all-time Top 3 episode for me), but yeah, I am definitely looking forward to seeing how Casey handles seeing Kathleen again.
Frea: I haven't been excited for a Casey storyline since River slashed him across the chest.
mxpw: Yeah, that was pretty bodacious.
Frea: And speaking of families, let's talk about Volkoffs!
mxpw: Well, what is there to say about Timothy Dalton other than that he is awesome?
Frea: I am pretty sure Timothy Dalton controls the weather.
Frea: Chuck Norris jokes wish they were about Timothy Dalton.
mxpw: It's always fun to see Volkoff. I actually think I found Volkoff more entertaining in this episode than any episode since First Fight.
mxpw: I think it was because he was more like Tuttle than AV.
Frea: He kind of reminded me of the beginning of...Gobbler? You know, where he's painting?
mxpw: Haha, yes. That was great. I have to say that prison therapy session was pretty funny. And I enjoyed in the episode seeing him go from remorseful criminal mastermind to embracing his inner evil overlord.
Frea: FUEL MY JET!
mxpw: That was a great line!
Frea: Truth be told, I said that five times at work last night. "Frea, you need to go stock the vegetables."
Frea: "Very well. FUEL MY JET!"
mxpw: Well, you and Volkoff are very similar. I can totally see it.
Frea: Man, I hope my firstborn isn't as lame as Vivian, though.
mxpw: Hey, you have to give her props for her willingness to kill daddy.
Frea: Seriously, we talked in a previous review about how Vivian is all tell and no show, and that was evident in SPADES this episode.
mxpw: Though that scene in the mountain bunker was just so...there were so many things wrong with it.
Frea: Bunkers are laaaame.
mxpw: Vivian's heel turn was kind of...out of nowhere. I mean, we could kind of see it coming, but they didn't really build up to it. Last we saw her, she was being tempted by the Devil, and all of a sudden here she is wanting to run her father's company and rule the world? She's ordering hits on people? Setting up elaborate plans that don't really make sense? Her storyline was a mess this episode.
mxpw: Most head-scratching moment of that scene, though? That all the guards she brought were apparently perfectly willing to die.
Frea: Well, it was probably the preferable option after a long car ride out to the desert with Vivian Volkoff.
mxpw: Oh burn!
Frea: That being said, Lauren Cohan is very pretty and I love her voice.
Frea: But why bother to set up the parallels between Chuck and Vivian if you're just going to rely on a heel face turn?
mxpw: Oh man, yes. She is beautiful.
Frea: That's valuable time in which we could have been watching Sarah prance around in a cupcake bra. Hey, look, I'm channeling Maximus!
mxpw: I don't know, to be honest. I mean, she could have been such an interesting character, but they have just not developed her.
mxpw: At least Volkoff was more than entertaining enough through most of the episode to make up for Vivian, so she didn't bother me much.
mxpw: I mean, a deadly game of chess? Awesome, and I believe a nod to a Bond movie I can't remember the name of off the top of my head. Chuck playing Dr. Phil to Volkoff and encouraging him to embrace his inner evil overlord was very amusing to me for some reason.
Frea: Possibly because you had to do the same thing to me last week to get me to work on Chapter 49.
mxpw: That is possible.
Frea: I will say this for Chuck: lying to Ellie aside (we'll get to that later), he was hilarious this week.
Frea: I'm ignoring the fact that there's no way the Intersect wouldn't come with ten thousand different statistics, probabilities, rules, and body-language reading tips for playing poker, and just enjoying the fact that he played Uno against Ellya.
mxpw: Or that the Intersect wouldn't have been able to beat that chess game.
Frea: And of course the other dude had a Draw Four card hidden.
Frea: I always keep one in my sock.
mxpw: But yes, watching Chuck play an Uno match to the death was perfect.
mxpw: That was the funniest moment of the episode to me.
Frea: I have what may be a silly question.
Frea: But why couldn't Casey go in to Ellya's compound?
mxpw: Here's my fanwank: nobody knows Volkoff better than Chuck so he was the only one who could go in as his representative.
mxpw: Also, he might be needed to flash on something.
mxpw: It's very thin, I know, but it's all I got.
Frea: What, you expect things to make SENSE, Frea? Gah. I thought we trained you better than that.
mxpw: Yeah, for serious. You should know better!
mxpw: I think it was worth it for the Uno scene. And for Volkoff to then "apologize" to Ellya.
mxpw: We should probably talk about Ellie now, yes?
mxpw: Since thanks to the end, we know her search for Agent X will tie into the Volkoff storyline.
Frea: Yeah, somehow. I will give the show props for now: I can't figure out how, and that excites me. That being said, I am so, so, so tired of the lying.
Frea: Chuck came off worse in this situation, but they're still both pretty bad.
mxpw: I have to give Chuck a small benefit of the doubt because he at least said he was going to tell Ellie the truth. Granted, he didn't go through with it and is still fighting telling her the truth, so it's not really anything in his favor. And yeah, Ellie is starting to come off as bad as Chuck at this point. Mary is telling both her children to be honest with each other and I suppose it's kind of amusing that they aren't listening to her. This is obviously the teenage rebellion phase she missed out on while they were growing up.
Frea: I don't think I can give Chuck any benefit of the doubt, really. His reason for continuing the lie is because he doesn't want to disappoint Ellie because he's lied to her so much, so the solution is to keep lying. He's got a degree in engineering. Clearly, he understands the word "exponential."
Frea: But good point. When Mary Bartowski is the one giving you advice on honesty? It's time for an intervention.
mxpw: If anything, the end of the episode should be a weight off Chuck's shoulders. He knows that Ellie is lying to him now. They are lying to each other. Ellie has lost a lot of any moral high ground she might have had. He can just go up to her and be all, "I lied to you, you lied to me, let's just be honest with each other and put all our cards on the table." I know that won't happen, but it's a nice thought.
Frea: That's a good point. It'd be nice for there to be a "bigger person" in this scenario, though.
mxpw: I am curious to see who Agent X is, so at least the storyline is interesting enough to overcome at least part of the whole lying fiasco.
mxpw: Yeah... That's probably not going to happen.
mxpw: Who do you think Agent X is?
Frea: Sarah's mom.
Frea: I edited that response, by the way.
Frea: The first draft was, "Your mom."
mxpw: Oh nice, very funny.
mxpw: Just because I was with your mom last night, doesn't mean you have to lash out at me.
But your serious guess is Sarah's mom?
Frea: Or Clara.
Frea: Possibly Jeff.
Frea: Maybe Cole Barker, but that's iffy.
Frea: Jack Burton's a little too neat.
Frea: Casey could do it.
Frea: It'd be a real twist if it were Alex.
mxpw: So in other words, Agent X could be anybody that has ever been on the show?
mxpw: Jeff being Agent X reminded me of that one fanfic where Jeff was secretly Chuck's guardian angel and just acted like a drunken idiot so that he could stay close to Chuck and protect him. Kinda makes me want it to be him. Heh.
Frea: Let's not front here.
Frea: We all know who Agent X is.
mxpw: Bryce Larkin?
Frea: Morgan Grimes.
mxpw: That was my second guess.
mxpw: Morgan has been undercover all this time and his whole persona has been an act.
mxpw: What a way to end the show!
Frea: Oh, that was one of my favorite things about the episode.
mxpw: Very little Morgan?
Frea: Minimal Morgan. For once, this episode did not suffer Excessive Morgan Syndrome!
mxpw: Three cheers for that.
Frea: Hurray! Hurrah! Hooray!
mxpw: Oh, one of my favorite things about the episode? Sarah's outfit in the beginning.
Damn, that was hot. Closest thing we got to SWP this episode.
mxpw: But that's a good segue into our wrap-up. What are your final thoughts?
Frea: I know I'm being snarky today, but I didn't think the episode was all that bad. I didn't think it was fantastic, I didn't think it was horrible. It was just amusing, and it made me laugh a lot, and it wasn't even the final nail in the coffin for things needing to make sense/have weight/have dramatic impact because that funeral pyre's been burning for a long while. Not a bad way to spend an hour with my family on Monday night, but the only reason I think I'll ever need to rewatch is to count the number of times The Word that Shall Not Be Said was used, and to turn it into a drinking game. Sarah Walker, I don't believe you ever went to Harvard. Chuck, you should have ended at least three scenes with "Thank you, I'll be here all week." Casey, you're fun. Timothy Dalton, you're truly the hoopy frood among the cast. Linda Hamilton/Mary Bartowski, I fear Sarah Connor too much to say anything but, "Yay! You're back!"
mxpw: And my thoughts are, shockingly, fairly similar to yours. I didn't think the episode was mindblowing or anything, but it was funny and entertaining and I will probably never look at Uno the same way again. That's the kind of stuff the show does best. The drama? Very much hit or miss (mostly miss, at least lately).
mxpw: I thoroughly enjoyed Timothy Dalton's probably final turn as Volkoff. He was funny and his rapid personality shifts were great. I too don't believe Sarah ever went to Harvard. Except for the end and Chuck continuing the lying, he was pretty funny and likeable this week. Casey was good and I am really liking how they are developing his storyline with Alex. And it was fun to see Ellie and Awesome team up for spying, even if that whole aspect of the storyline is kind of absurd. All in all, a pretty decent night of TV.
mxpw: Oh, and because I want to be fair here, I thought Zac looked like he'd put on some muscle in this episode. At the end with the green shirt? I figured you must have appreciated that, Frea.
Frea: Oh, I did. I most certainly, certainly did.
mxpw: Even I was like, Chuck sure is looking good this episode. I thought of you and how you must have drooled over his shoulders.
Frea: To be fair, the whole package was drool-worthy. Especially noticeable in the scene where they're being briefed by Beckman at the beginning.
mxpw: Yeah, that scene was the opposite of hot.
mxpw: So final ratings?
Frea: 6.5 Castle Slides (That Really Got a Workout on that "48 Hour" Furlough) out of 10
mxpw: Damn, that was lower than I was expecting. Now I have to adjust my score appropriately.
Frea: Maybe 6.5?
Frea: Fine, 7.
mxpw: I'll give it 3.5 Snow Bunny Sarahs out of 5.
So, your thoughts? Did you love it? Hate it? Were you in-between like us? And how many times did you expect us to say "cool" during this review? (Oh, crap, I just said it again! Drink!)