Episode Reviews (2)
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WOULD HAVE BEEN GREAT WITHOUT THE WEDDING DRAMA
Despite the developing Vivian Volkoff plot, which ultimately takes this season in an exciting direction, this episode falls flat due to the supremely irritating wedding stuff. I never found it very believable that Chuck was such a girl when it came to weddings. Finding a soul-mate, yes. Planning a wedding, no. Within weeks of commencing a serious relationship with Sarah he's talking about marriage and babies and reading a book called "Dr. Fred's 101 Conversations Before I Do." After Clara's birth, the Bartowski clan immediately starts advising Sarah and Chuck about the wedding: Devon wants Clara to be a flower girl, Mrs Bartowski wants to lend Sarah her veil, but Ellie's not sure Sarah is a "veil kind of girl." In the same episode, Sarah suggests eloping, and instead of grasping that she's freaked out by the whole bridal extravaganza, Chuck aggressively pushes Sarah into agreeing to a big family wedding. In the episode after that, he contacts Sarah's colleagues from "The Cat Squad" - WITHOUT consulting her for a bachelorette party. Sarah tells him to back off, but he still doesn't get it, because in "Chuck Versus the First Bank of Evil" the campaign to pressure Sarah into wedding fever is stepped up a notch.
It the beginning of the episode, Sarah is consulting Ellie about flowers, and Ellie is exasperated that Sarah just doesn't get it:
ELLIE: "Roses or orchids?"
SARAH: "Uh... I don't know, uh, roses? What do you think?"
ELLIE: "I think that flowers can really set the tone of a wedding, you know, roses are beautiful, they're classic, they're passionate... not very whimsical"
SARAH: "And that's... good?"
ELLIE: "If that's what you want"
SARAH: "Uh, okay, uh, well... orchids?"
Ellie looks at Sarah as though she's incredibly nave and laughs "sorry Sarah?!?" I don't totally understand how a flower can be passionate, but evidently I should because I'm a girl, and girls are supposed to be excited about flowers, and intuitively know whether orchids or roses would be more suitable for her magical princess fairy cake day. Ellie patronisingly explains to Sarah that "at some point every bride feels a little overwhelmed with this stuff" and tells her that it changed for her when she went to collect their wedding rings and "it all just became so real." (Because jewellery makes everything right). Ellie goes on: "I was getting married to the man that I loved for the rest of my life. And then I just broke down crying, which sounds ridiculous right now." It does, Ellie. It sounds ridiculous that you were weeping over your wedding bands. "But it was a turning point" she says, "from that moment on everything became... magical. It was my wedding. I don't know when and I don't know where, Sarah, but I promise you, it's gonna happen to you." It's pretty clear from this point that it is gonna happen to her, and Sarah had better have a magical princess moment, or the Bartowskis will never forgive her.
Later, while Chuck's on a mission, they have this conversation:
SARAH: "Oh no I just got a text from you're sister, she wants me to go cake tasting.
CHUCK: [Sarcastically] "Cake tasting! How awful"
SARAH: "Okay, you should see two doors up ahead of you."
CHUCK: "Yep, heading toward them now, but don't change to subject."
SARAH: "Look, I know that this wedding stuff is supposed to really fun, but I just find it a little overwhelming, you know, the cake and the flowers and the venue"
CHUCK: Well, maybe it would be a little less overwhelming if you, you know, just pick one thing to get excited about; ease you're way in.
It's so obvious that both Ellie and Chuck want Sarah to get in line. Chuck can barely hide the fact that he's baffled by Sarah's lack of interest in cake, and also kind of indignant. Ellie, too, is kind of frustrated with Sarah, because Sarah's so emotionally stunted that she can't be moved to tears over orchids or wedding venues. Exactly why Ellie is pulling the strings here, I don't know. I personally don't find it plausible that Ellie Woodcomb M.D. Ph.D., who went to Africa with Doctors Without Borders, was offered a Fellowship in Neurology at USC and recently had a baby, would be so shallow when it comes to wedding receptions. Nor do I find it credible that Chuck, a male, would be such a big baby girl, and insist on a big flowery wedding when that's clearly not what Sarah wants. When she doesn't get excited about Chuck's tux, he says ""What's going on? What's wrong? Something's wrong with you." NOTHING IS WRONG WITH YOUR GIRLFRIEND, Chuck. Not all girls go weak in the knees when they think about weddings, especially girls who are grown-up, kick-ass spies. I resent that Sarah is being squashed into this mold.
Later, Ellie has an "epiphany." On the phone to Sarah, she says "you don't build the wedding around flowers or the cake or the food what do you build the wedding around?" Sarah obviously doesn't know, because she's nuptially handicapped, so Ellie (again barely disguising her frustration) says "the dress, Sarah. You build the wedding around THE dress." DUH.
I lose a little respect for Sarah when she finds a dress and promptly bursts into tears. "It's perfect!" she weeps, "we're getting married!" Later, to Chuck's delight, she tells him "when I put it on, it felt like magicand you know, I never thought I'd say this, but I felt like a princess." Chuck grins from ear to ear, because deep down what every guy really wants is a bridezilla. They're not afraid of commitment they're afraid that they'll end up with a fiance who doesn't want to spend thousands of dollars on disposable decorations and a frilly dress that makes them feel like a magical princess.
After that, Sarah goes a little crazy (women, right??). Coming home laden with shopping bags, she suggests Ellie order 100 dozen Casablanca lilies and fly the cake in from Paris because "you only get married once, right? And this is meant to be special, and plus it will make Chuck really happy!" Of course it will. Sarah is doing all of this because it's what Chuck wants, for some reason. Chuck really needs one hundred dozen Casablanca lilies and a French hazelnut cream cake to be happy. When Chuck turns up, Ellie says "I think I created a monster." Chuck is upset, because while Ellie was supposed to manipulate Sarah into getting excited about buying a whole lot of wedding crap, it was supposed to be within budget. In fact, the whole Bartowski clan created a monster. In this and previous episodes I feel like they all bullied Sarah into being more feminine, more materialistic, less interesting and a whole lot less unique. I ended up liking everyone less as a result. Fortunately, as the excitement picks up in future episodes, the tacky wedding stuff takes second place to the genuine marriage stuff, which of course is way more interesting anyway. I wish Chuck had realised that sooner, and not subjected Sarah and the viewers- to all this silly wedding buzz.
Wedding stuff aside, the Vivian Volkoff plot is great. I like her as a character. The bank heist was a lot of fun too. I just wish they hadn't introduced wedding stuff to the best scene of the episode. The plot device of Chuck and Sarah dragging their relationship drama into the midst of serious missions is getting wearisome.
The most ambitious and HILARIOUS episode they've made in a long time.
Well I don't know about you, but I was cheering Chuck on the whole time in my thoughts during that bank heist scene. And for good reasons, Chuck has remained one of the most consistent and HILARIOUS shows on network television.
I'd rather get the downside out of the way early, which will include how the first half was pretty slow paced, getting Morgan to live with his girlfriend's homicidal dad is efficient and workable, but still redundant in terms of character, and as much as I want to like Vivian, and the transition into a Volkoff, she's got not much more personality other than a parallel to Chuck's life if he'd wound up on the wrong path.
Nevertheless, the bank heist and Sarah's BRIDEZILLA moments saved the episode. A clear homage to a similar scene in The Matrix, it was gripping, intense, and on the reduced budget, is still, I dare say, the best action sequence Chuck has given us, as The Matrix's scene is to action films. I'm only surprised they didn't get Chuck to crack a reference about it. And Sarah played her part perfectly, from wavering and uninterested, to BRIDEZILLA, giving comedic scenes throughout. And although I never watched Reaper, Ray Wise gave a solid performance as Riley, and I definitely wouldn't mind him in future episodes.
So other than a few plot holes and slow start, here's hoping these consistently marvelous episodes continue!moreless