I wouldn’t want to be Vivian Volkoff. Especially not since she’s evil these days.
The CIA has fingered her as personally responsible for the bombs planted in Castle last time out, and tagged her for assassination. Vivian pleads innocence, and Chuck is forced to turn to her father, Alexei (Timothy Dalton, still in fine form) to help prove it, starting with finding all the components of a weapon she unearthed in his arsenal. This takes them to Somalia (hello, blatant Windows Live product placement!), where one piece is in the hands of a gambling-addicted pirate. It’s pretty funny to see Chuck playing Uno for his life, but more hilarious to find out that Volkoff’s idea of making amends is doing so at knifepoint.
Part two sees them head to the Swiss Alps, where Volkoff has to play a chess match with guns pointed at his head (“Guns, big guns. Lots of overkill. Story of my life”). Just as the final component is within reach, Volkoff double-crosses Chuck for Vivian, who then double-crosses him. Not unexpected, but sneaky nonetheless. It’s weird to feel sorry for Volkoff knowing that he’s as evil as they come, but I have to sympathize just a little bit.
In other news, Chuck is surprised when Sarah asks him to sign a prenuptial agreement. Not unlike several women I know, he pretends as if it doesn’t bother him, which only convinces her that it does bother him. The resulting awkward banter at not exactly appropriate times is fairly rote for Chuck. It’s not that they’re not cute as ever, but when they have some sort of relationship issue almost every episode, it’s hard for me not to feel like “been there, done that.”
Everyone else has their own family issues, too. Casey gets more time with Alex, while feeling bad that his still not having told her mom that he’s alive complicates her life. Ellie tells Mama Bartowski about what she’s found on her father’s old computer, and you can see the sneaky wheels turn in Mama Bartowski’s head. After a file is deleted, Ellie becomes suspicious about what her mom is up to – which is trying to protect her. “She’s not a spy, she’s my daughter,” Mary tells General Beckman, but the CIA also has plans for Ellie. Between that and the Agency’s quick willingness to kill Vivian, the CIA isn’t looking particularly great in this episode.
“Chuck Versus The Family Volkoff” isn’t the most innovative episode. The title hinted at the double-cross, even if you didn’t know that betrayal is a bit of a theme in this season of Chuck. It’s predictable in a few spots (Chuck and Sarah have a relationship issue! Sarah says something that unknowingly hits the nail on the head regarding Casey’s family troubles!). Yet I like this episode better than some of the recent ones, mostly because Timothy Dalton is still chewing the scenery as Alexei Volkoff. He really looks like he’s having the time of his life in the role, and that’s infectious as a viewer. While the episode isn’t groundbreaking, at least I had a really good time.