Yvonne Strahovski, Gary Cole and Zachary Levi in CHUCK - Season 4 - "Vs. The Wedding Planner" | ©2011 NBC/Mike Ansell

Yvonne Strahovski, Gary Cole and Zachary Levi in CHUCK - Season 4 - "Vs. The Wedding Planner" | ©2011 NBC/Mike Ansell

Stars: Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Adam Baldwin, Joshua Gomez, Vic Sahay, Scott Krinsky, Sarah Lancaster, Ryan McPartlin, Mark Christopher Lawrence, Bonita Friedericy
Writers: Rafe Judkins & Lauren Le Franc
Director: Anton Cropper
Network: NBC, airs Monday nights
Original Telecast: April 18, 2011

As the family Volkoff revenge plot heats up, CHUCK takes a complete break from that ongoing arc for a wonderfully silly one-shot episode titled “Vs. The Wedding Planner.”

This is a chance to explore the backstory of Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) while also bringing her grifter father Jack Burton (Gary Cole) back into the picture for another guest appearance.

The episode begins in 1988 and we’re introduced to a young Sarah who is working in tandem with her father in grifting. However, her father is looking out for his daughter too and realizes she’s much better off being cared for by her grandmother than having questionable “adventures” with dear old dad.

Cut to the present and with all the grifting and scams her dad taught her, Chuck (Zachary Levi) and her fall for one of the oldest tricks in the book when a shifty wedding planner bilks them for all their money.

Using CIA resources to find this woman, Chuck and Sarah are caught for using the agency to help them personally. Thus, they are temporarily benched by the agency. However, Chuck has found out that a major arms dealer (and one of the wedding planners other marks) is heading to Los Angeles for a wedding that isn’t going to happen, so to get back in the good graces of the agency, they decide to take the arms dealer down the old fashioned way – the grifter way.

This is where Sarah’s father comes into play. Now knowing she works for the CIA, and she needs help, he aids them in the con to expose the arms dealer. It’s a very fun con that is much more silly than usual for CHUCK – which is a good thing.

As far as I’m concerned, if there’s any excuse to bring Cole back in the picture, it’s fine with me. And although it’s a bit of a stretch that Sarah would reveal to her dad government secrets, it’s still fun to see her work a con with him.

The ending also is quite heartwarming when her dad realizes that even though Chuck is a schnook, he’s a much better man that he is.

I also love the pay-off to Sarah’s piggybank that we see in the earlier part of the episode when she’s a kid. It’s a great little moment and gives Strahovski warmer emotions to play with for a change (and I loved her attempt at a New York accent).

Meanwhile, Casey’s (Adam Baldwin) former fiancée finally discovers he’s still alive and she wants answers. Unfortunately, the pay-off, while well-written, was still not the powerhouse moment it should have been. Maybe it’s because Casey is so introverted, that the writers felt they needed to play the scene close to the vest, but I really wanted to see his ex go ballistic in finding out he was still alive. I wanted more emotion and more heart, even if it was coming from her.

“Vs. The Wedding Planner” is a fun and clever CHUCK episode. It’s much lighter than usual and it has the always reliable Cole doing his comedic best (please give this guy a regular show to showcase his always stellar skills).

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