Chuck 4.22 “Chuck vs Agent X” Recap

Before Chuck and Sarah could have their bachelor and bachelorette parties, their wedding had to be planned. And so it was, in the last episode of Chuck, for which you can read my recap here.

This week’s episode begins at a CIA substation in Provo, UT. An attractive girl walks through a warehouse. When stopped by a guard, she flashes her badge, perfectly placed for proper cleavage viewing. When the guard approaches, she drops the files she is carrying. As the guard helps her pick them up, she knocks him out with an uppercut. Securing the guard’s passkey, she let’s in Volkoff’s lawyer, Riley. They search for Orion’s computer, but find a CIA tracker the agency uses to keep tabs on the computer. Riley figures the CIA is being safer with the computer than they are with the tracker.

Cut to Ellie spilling food on the computer. Devon enters, and asks Ellie to apply some sun tan pre-lube before he departs for Chuck’s bachelor party. He asks her if she has found anything else interesting on the computer, but she informs him that all of the files keep ending up on a picture of a house. Well, hopefully Ellie can forget about it for a while when she throws Sarah’s bachelorette party. As for the boys, they’re heading to Vegas!

At the Buy More, Jeff and Lester take a slo-motion strut into the store dressed for the Vegas trip. What casino are they going to hit first? Casey says he’s excited for the gun ranges, and then a bit all the more poignant after last weekend’s real-life events, he pulls out a target of Osama bin Laden. Big Mike isn’t ready to leave because he’s afraid Morgan’s mom won’t let him go. Morgan tries to pump Big Mike up to make a stand against his mother. They’re men who take what’s there’s! Morgan commands Big Mike to march into their house and tell her….tht they have to work all weekend. Then they’ll both have an excuse to be gone!

Sarah bathes in the tub (yowza!) when Chuck enters in what he believes is a perfect Las Vegas ensemble. Noting how he completely missed the mark, Sarah says she can’t believe he’s never been to Vegas. Noticing his fiance’s current state of undress, Sarah says she is just reminding him of what he’ll be missing while he is away. Chuck mentions that he hasn’t spoken to Devon about Ellie still working on their father’s computer, but he figures Las Vegas is the perfect place to have a sincere conversation. “Wow, you’ve really never been to Vegas,” Sarah remarks. Chuck heads over to Devon and Ellie’s apartment. What he doesn’t know is that Riley has a lock on the computer in Echo Park.

While Ellie stays behind to do “stuff” with Sarah, Devon gets the group on the road to Vegas in a stretch Hummer. Devon says that they need to think of this weekend like war, and take Vegas by storm. “Now you’re talking my language,” replies a piqued Casey. Back in her apartment, Ellie toasts Sarah and her bachelorette weekend. They are going to his a spa in Santa Barbara, apparently, much to Sarah’s chagrin. “Get ready for some hardcore aromatherapy!” Ellie excitedly yells. Sarah is not excited. Devon stops the car and welcomes everyone to Vegas. The boys get out of the car, but find themselves in a forest. They are at a campsite called…Las Vecas. The guys can’t believe it, but at least Jeff is stoked — he’s going to find some “magic fungus” he knows grows in the mountains. Back in Echo Park, Ellie says that before they can rest at the spa, Sarah needs to get tired. They enter another room and Surprise! Ellie has gathered some of the Weinerlicious girls (God, remember when Sarah used to work there?) and some of her friends for the party. The CAT Squad girls were out on a mission and couldn’t attend. Sarah is thankful for the party, and not a small bit relieved, but she gets a text from General Beckman that Orion’s computer is compromised.

Chuck informs the other guys that Awesome worked a long time on the bachelor party, so they should try to make the best of it. It can be just as fun as Vegas because it’s really about bonding. Sarah calls Chuck and leaves message about Beckman’s text. Sarah is then pulled away so the girls can create a toilet paper dress for her. As she spins around, Sarah tells Ellie that she needs her father’s computer. Ellie pulls her aside, and Sarah explains that the CIA had a breach of security; they need the computer immediately. Ellie goes to her bedroom to retrieve it, but realizes Devon took the wrong bag. They head out to the courtyard, and find a number of agents searching for Sarah Walker. When she answers, secretly reaching for her gun, one agent yells “Lock and load!” The men rip open their shirts. They’re strippers! The rest of the girls join the party, as the guys place Sarah on a chair and start dancing around her. She tries to call General Beckman to get agents to Las Vegas to retrieve the computer from Devon. With stripper crotch thrusting by her face, Sarah embarrassingly asks, “Is that a gun? Oh, uh…no it’s not.”

Over in Las Vecas, Riley appears with his female agent a number of goons. Chuck asks Devon if they can talk man to man. Chuck knows Devon didn’t take the hard drive out, and completely understands why. He just feels like the computer is pulling his family apart. Casey shuts them up so they and Morgan can watch the bad guys (Lester and Big Mike went back to the car to plan what to do next). Riley uses the tracker to find the computer, but at that moment, a rather stoned Jeff pops out of the woods. Seeing Riley’s lithe female agent, Jeff asks, “Are you here for the bachelor party?” She grabs him and ties him up, much to Jeff’s pleasure.

Morgan explains to Devon who Vivian is and that the computer contains files on Agent X. Chuck thinks he might be Agent X. Jeff yells, “Let’s get this party started!” as the female agent shoots Jeff up with sodium pentathol to get him to talk. As Riley begins to upload the Agent X files to Vivian, Casey, now clad in black and with camouflage face paint, breaks the neck of a mercenary who had been sneaking up on Chuck, Morgan and Devon. Casey instructs Devon and Morgan to sharpen spears out of sticks while he tries to get the jump on Riley’s men, and Chuck tries to save Jeff. As they fashion their weapons, Morgan gets a splinter, while Casey kills two more bad guys. Devon asks Morgan if it is hard to kill someone. Morgan replies that he doesn’t even get a gun. They hear something in the trees and jump up in attack position, but it is just Casey. All of the mercenaries are dead — he just wanted them to make spears to keep them out of his way.

Chuck approaches the female agent, and when she rushes at him with a knife, he flashes knife fighting skills. They tussle, and she gains the upper hand. She lunges, but Chuck grabs the computer to take the blow. She stabs through the computer. As she forces the knife closer to Chuck’s throat, Casey arrives and punches her out. Riley radios for his team to meet at the extraction point; they have what they came for. The guys quickly grab Jeff and load up the stretch Hummer to get out of there and head back to Echo Park.

Back at home, Sarah asks where they’ve been, and where’s the laptop? Chuck says Ellie deserves to know the truth. Sarah volunteers to tell her, but Chuck says he will do it, and in the process, tell her the truth about him still being a spy. The next morning, Chuck tells his sister that something has been on his mind. They have always been able to tell each other anything, but recently, he has felt like something has been in the way because their family has so many secrets. Ellie tries to tell him about what she found in the computer, but Chuck cuts her off, saying he knows about the laptop. Ellie says he’s still a spy. Chuck laughs because he had a whole speech laid out to tell her that. She’s not mad, but says there should be no more secrets between them. Chuck has one more.

Chuck brings Ellie to Castle, where she sees Sarah, Casey and Morgan. “What are you guarding down here that is so important?” she asks. “Me,” Chuck replies. He has the Intersect in his head. She can’t believe it, so as a demonstration he asks Morgan to attack him with a katana at full speed. Chuck flashes and disarms Morgan. “Pretty cool, right?” he asks his sister. Dad was pretty amazing that he made Chuck into Agent X. Here, Ellie protests; Agent X was from before Chuck was born. From her research, she found that a new identity was put into Agent X, but something went wrong and X actually became the new identity. Dad must have felt bad because he spent most of his life trying to correct the mistake. Unfortunately, the computer is destroyed so they’ll never find out more. Chuck says he didn’t spend ten years in the Nerd Herd for nothing. “Morgan, get my tools!” he yells, but has to clarify when Morgan doesn’t know what he’s talking about. “For fixing computers!”

Upstairs in the Buy More, Big Mike, aka “Rain” from Earth, Wind Fire and Rain, doesn’t waste a free party pass. He is going to take Jeff and Lester to the Big Dirty…Reno. Time to load up the Toyota Corolla! Downstairs, Chuck fixes the computer. Ellie calls up some redacted files that reveal only that Agent X’s first name is Hartley. There is something else, though: the picture of the house Ellie kept stumbling upon. Chuck looks at it and flashes the house’s location: Somerset, England. The date on the picture is a week before Agent X went missing. Could Agent X have been hiding out there for the last thirty years? Ellie wants to come with them, but Chuck says no. “Don’t worry, this is what I do,” he assures his sister.

Somerset, England. Nothing has changed at the house, so someone must still be living there. They knock on door, and a little old woman answers. Sarah adopts an English accent (I am thoroughly enjoying this trend of Yvonne Strahovski doing different accents every week) and says that she is showing her fiance, Chuck, around where she grew up. the woman invites them in for some tea.

Casey wants to know what’s taking her so long; she could be poisoning the tea. When the woman brings the tea back, they take reluctant sips. Fortunately, they have not been poisoned. The woman asks who the “handsome young man” is, referring to Casey. Chuck says he is a hitchhiker they picked up. Sarah says her friend, Hartley, used to live in the house. The woman says Hartley was the previous tenant, and bit of a recluse. When he moved out thirty years ago, he left behind a box of personal effects. Would Chuck give her a hand in retrieving it?

She leaves Chuck in the hall where he sees a picture of the woman and a boy and flashes the Hartley files. He comes out of the flash to find the woman pointing a large gun at him. Hartley is her son, so what does Chuck want with him. Chuck explains that Hartley is in danger, that Chuck is with the CIA and they ar trying to protect him. The CIA disavowed Hartley, the woman explains, why should she trust Chuck. He explains that his father tried to help Hartley all these years. “You’re Stephen Bartowski’s boy?” the woman asks. She says Stephen and Hartley were close. “Are you going to fix my son?”

Riley and his goons show up outside the house, and send gunshots through the window. Casey and Sarah return fire, with Casey noting that they are outgunned and outmanned. The woman runs in with her shotgun, and asks Casey to “lay down some fire, laddie.” The woman figures they are after Hartley’s spy will. She gives the key to Chuck, and he and Sarah run to the basement to get the will. The woman tells Casey they need more firepower, so she opens up a chest and pulls out a Gattling gun. He asks if she’s ever fed ammo into a gun before. She laughs, “Laddie, you’re feeding me!” As she fires away in slo-mo, a huge grin of awe spreads across Casey’s face.

Down in the basement, Chuck asks where would one hide a spy will. Chuck and Sarah eventually find the round spy will case. Casey is out of ammo for the gun, so the woman rigs a grenade atop some plastic explosives with yarn attached to the grenade pin. “You are the mother I never had,” Casey beams. They run out of the house and gather with Chuck and Sarah behind a stone wall. Riley’s men, including the female agent enter the house. She spies the grenade, but it is too late. the woman pulls on her yarn, and blows up the house, killing everyone except Riley, who drives away. “You remind me of my son,” the woman says to Chuck, “He didn’t like guns either.” “I love this woman,” says Casey.

In his luxurious, yet practical Toyota Corolla (Blatant Product Placement!), Big Mike, Jeff and Lester head to Reno. To the strains of “Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car” by Billy Ocean (God, I love that video), the guys take turns driving. Jeff finally announces, “We’re here!” They get out, but realize they are back in the woods. A sign says they are in Reneaux, British Columbia, Canada! Big Mike begins to strangles Jeff, but Lester stops him. He points a few meters away to a Canadian casino.

Back at Castle, the agents bring the will to Ellie. She asks if they have to wait for a code from the CIA. Nope, Chuck has the key. He pauses. The identity of Agent X is in that box, the whole reason their family fell apart. They open it and find a card for Hartley Winterbottom. Underneath the card is a picture…of a young Volkoff!! Alexi Volkoff is Hartley Winterbottom and Agent X! Chuck wonders if maybe his Mom was trying to fix Volkoff in her own way this whole time. Casey grabs a computer floppy disk and scans the files. “Interrogation Room. Now!” Casey commands.

He disconnects the security camera in the room, and tells everyone that they are going to pretend they didn’t see this information. The CIA created one of the most murderous men in history. If someone finds out, they will hire someone like Casey to put a bullet in their heads. He’s sure Orion didn’t want that to happen. Chuck says maybe it was enough that the search for Agent X made Ellie and him rely on each other. Ellie protests, and thinks they should fix Agent X. “This isn’t for the CIA,” she says, “It’s for us.”

Commentary

We are moving into the final stretch of Season Four of Chuck, and possibly the entire series. If it is the end (which I certainly hope it is not), I think the path they are moving down would tie a nice bow on the series. Chuck and Sarah get married; Ellie knows that Chuck is still a spy and accept that; Casey has a family in Alex, Morgan and, likely, Kathleen; Stephen Bartowski’s work is completed in the “curing” of Alexi Volkoff, aka Hartley Winterbottom; Vivian Volkoff is brought to justice, etc. The whole thing could be neatly packaged, and we’d all likely be satisfied. Of course, Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak have stated that the season finale actually ends on a major cliffhanger. The episode is actually titled, “Chuck vs the Cliffhanger,” so it is almost 100% unlikely any of the above will tie up neatly. That said, however, I think this week’s installment has placed the show on a great path heading into its final two hours.

Obviously, the big reveal that Volkoff is Agent X was huge, and I’m actually upset with myself that once they said the house was in England, I didn’t figure out the surprise. It has always been odd to me that Volkoff has a British accent, but now, of course, it all makes sense. He is English, and has just had his identity switched by a corruptive form of the Intersect. As someone who covers Chuck on a weekly basis, it’s hard for me to be surprised by anything, so I really enjoyed that this was a true surprise for me. Moreover, I loved the fact that back at the end of Season Three, one of the files Chuck viewed in his father’s house’s basement was for Agent X. As the show had only been renewed at that point for thirteen episodes, it doesn’t appear that this Agent X storyline was originally in the works, but maybe it was. If it was, then kudos to Schwartz and Fedak for planting its seeds way back when.

As far as the rest of the episode goes, there was a lot of fun to be had. The Vegas/Vecas joke is an easy one, but it still amused the heck out of me. I loved Sarah’s swings form horror at the idea of just relaxing for her bachelorette party, to the excitement of having an actual party, to renewed horror at the “guns” placed in her face during the strip show. This just goes to prove that when given the opportunity, Yvonne Strahovski can act. I can only hope she continues to get more to do on and post-Chuck. I thought Casey’s admiration for Mrs. Winterbottom was just fantastic, and very well played by Adam Baldwin.

Last, what can be said about Zachary Levi and Sarah Lancaster that hasn’t already been said? When the show first debuted, one of the criticisms against it was that Levi and Lancaster had more chemistry than Levi and Strahovski. Fortunately, the latter pair have developed into one of the most excellent and real “couples” on TV, while the former have not lost their acting spark. The scenes between the two of them are fantastic, and I had a huge smile on my face when Chuck told Ellie that he had “one more secret” to tell his sister, before bringing her into Castle. That scene was perfect, and it’s a great development for the show to have, at this point of the series, the whole family in on Chuck’s identity.

All in all, I thought this was a pretty great episode that make me excited for the final two hours of the season. What did you think? Did you see the identity of Agent X coming? Are you glad Ellie finally knows the whole truth? Is Mark Christopher Lawrence (Big Mike) the best in-show pitch man you’ve ever seen? Please leave your comments below. I’ll be back next week with another recap. Until then, I’m off to dishonor your shirt…in Japanese.

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