Twist and Shout: Chuck vs. Agent X Review

The changing of the tone is a Chuck staple. On some nights it works, on others it doesn’t. In this one, it was hit and miss.

While the episode begun slowly with the tease of fun and sexy times, the episode itself was anything but (fun and sexy times). Regardless, a well done episode full of twist and intrigue that just built onto itself and soared.

I didn’t find the “Vecas,” nor the bachelorette party nearly as enjoyable as it was intended, but I thoroughly enjoyed Casey returning to his face-camouflage-wearing, double-magnet-using, bad ass self. I found his interaction with Mrs. Winterbottom hilarious and of soulmate proportions. John Casey has found himself a cougar to love, or at the very least a mother to have tea and gun range trips with.

Mrs. Winterbottom is an intriguing character. She channeled Betty White-esque endearment without half the exposition that is required with such a mythology heavy character.

Overall the shootout scene did a great job on a Firefly callback, Heart of Gold in particular. Though unfortunately, unlike Firefly it didn’t have nearly as much sexy time, heh. Though we did get the Snakes of Toluca lake and Sarah in a tub as gratuitous staples.

Still the back and forth between the morons, the strippers, the reveal, the family and the mission felt off. Don’t get me wrong, I think the episode hit the right note with Ellie and Chuck, an always welcome interaction but overall it was troublesome. Speaking of Ellie and Chuck, it was great to see Ellie finally be in on the secret and yet the story (aka conflict) didn’t end there. Well done on Klemmer’s and DeGregorio’s part.

Where the episode really hit its stride was the mythology. I think it’s been said but bears repeating, Phil Klemmer’s strengths are mythology heavy episodes (for the most part) and this one doesn’t disappoint. It’s an intriguing and out of nowhere twist to find that the “good guys” created the ultimate bad. It makes sense, more than ever why Volkoff was a sympathetic, believable, and even endearing character even amongst all the things we know he has done and will do.

Of course this twist also paints Vivian in a harsher light. There’s something to be said for destiny and yet another to learn that one chose evil, using free will. It’s like the old adage, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Vivian is evil all on her own.

All in all an intriguing 42 minutes and 16 seconds, the kind that only Chuck can deliver. Tantamount to season two’s Orion is Stephen Bartowski reveal, it is that surprising and intriguing. Well done by TPTB. 4 spy wills out of 5.


About Faith

Eternally faith-ful at least as it relates to my beloved Los Angeles Lakers. Yes that's where the username comes from. Other than that self-professed Chuckaholic, Laker blogger and part time internet addict. Ok, full time.
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53 Responses to Twist and Shout: Chuck vs. Agent X Review

  1. jason says:

    faith – interesting – I am not a ‘Chuck is an awesome drama / mythology show’ type fan – I lean near 100% to the heart, fun, and romance side ….. but

    Yep – starting with the chuck and awesome discussion about the orion computer, the episode did great. I was really afraid the last mike, jeff, lester Reno / Renouix trip was going to interfere, but even that made me laugh out loud – classic chuck humor. Loved the two ellie / chuck reveal scenes, I would not have changed a moment. But the strongest part of the ep was the Mama W scene and tuttle reveal.

    I am not naive or revisionist enough to think that all the open holes in the past shows & seasons were intentionally left open so in the matter of 20 to 25 minutes long after the show was destined to be gone everything could be answered. But nor am I cynical enough to withhold praise to klemmer (and fedak) for closing many gaping holes with last night’s ep. Bravo!

    Mama W was a great character, like casey, I loved that woman …. although, I cannot see real many men ages 18-35 loving her, more and more this show seems to be courting the Harry’s Law demo – although the devil lawyer’s lady hit girl made an impression at least on this male’s inner 18 year old parts.

    I did not see the tuttle / orion / mary / intersect thing coming – I sure hope those who love the mythology loved it, as I thought it was really nicely conceived, written and executed – I wonder if any of that was part of the original 13, if they did not invent it for the back 11, the twist was too good to keep on the bench? Anyhow, like the now 27 episodes before it, ep 4×22 continued my streak of enjoying chuck most all of the time, this ep, on the high side of that streak, a very good episode indeed.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree entirely Jason. I’m generally more interested in the episodes that make me laugh or bring out the warm fuzzies; but this was completely satisfying. To me, this is the way to do a mythology episode. I have no idea how much of the Volkoff/Winterbottom story was conceived from the start, but I like that twist a lot; and fits pretty seamlessly with what we already knew.

      • jason says:

        dave – if u recall, after 4×6 I whined much about wanting to see CS on an adventure, rather than CS angst being the adventure, and how CS angst over-shadows the show, well, 4×22 was a great example of what I meant. CS were used as narrative type characters to transition the story along, giving the audience help to understand, the bath scene helped understand the ‘bach’ parties and the talk with awesome while providing us with some skin, some love, and some cuteness (“you really never have been to vegas” aw shucks sarah). Then, the courtyard scene rehooked up chuck and sarah, then transitioned us into the ep’s greatness, beginning with ellie finding out, ellie being taken to the cave, the chuck ‘two words Baby Clara’ comment, and off the big 3 went, on an adventure. The bobbing and weaving like a prize fighter between warmth, comedy, and mythology is what the show does best, and this is best accomplished without any use of CS angst, CS is the glue that holds the madness together as it transitions from genre to genre.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Jason, and we’ve really seen very little CS angst in S4.5; its made for a very satisfying run.

      • Chuck604 says:

        I agree with you both, Jason and Dave. I thought the episode was great. Although, I kind of guessed the Agent X identity it was a well done and pretty funny episode. Like Faith has already stated the parts that stood out was the reveal between Chuck and Ellie, and for some reason Casey’s reaction to Mama W while she was firing the M60. All in all I had a really fun time watching it.

  2. sd says:

    This kinda felt like a bridge episode—if a bridge can have so many reveals?

    To me, a lot of the humor felt off— as if it “had” to be there b/c Chuck is after all, a dramady

    The real story were the links in the chain…the Orion-Mary-Tuttle/Volkoff-Chuck connection…that was great. The ah-ha of realizing why Mary stayed so long undercover…why she was off the CIA map and truly why Orion never wanted his son intersected….

    As someone who has suspected (with proof) that the writers have played fast and loose with facts and have freelanced the mythology at times…it’s so cool they are connecting the dots over a long arc.

    • Faith says:

      I agree with that SD. A lot of the transitions felt off because it felt like it was inserted rather than organic to the plot. Usually Chuck does a great job at this by utilizing parallels and clever plot metaphors but in this one they didn’t/or it didn’t work.

  3. alladinsgenie4u says:

    Nice writeup. Thanks Faith.

    Of course this twist also paints Vivian in a harsher light. There’s something to be said for destiny and yet another to learn that one chose evil, using free will. It’s like the old adage, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Vivian is evil all on her own.

    Hmm, so will Vivian in an effort to kill Agent X prove to be her own deadliest enemy? Will there be redemption for her once she realizes the truth?

    • Faith says:

      I wouldn’t ever put it out of possibilities for anyone to be redeemed in this show, but I think we can safely say that Vivian won’t be getting her redemption song this season. The dissension they’ve created in both tone and direction has foreshadowed this and I think they will continue with it to the end.

  4. Silvercat42 says:

    One thing this episode proved is that TPTB really know how to throw in twists while at the same time advancing the story and adding to the mythology. So many shows tend to twist their plots primarily as a gimmick or for shock factor, or to reboot a series (I’m thinking primarily of Dallas and the fact that an entire season turned out to be a dream). In contrast. Chuck twists are integral to the overall story and are major plot developments in themselves, such as Stephen revealing himself to be Orion, Tuttle turning out to be Volkoff.

    Unlike some “fans,” I don’t give a twit whether this episode was planned from the beginning of Season 4, or whether it was written after TPTB realized they needed to tie up loose ends. It just doesn’t make any difference if it is executed well, which it was.

    While, in my opinion, there are better episodes than “Agent X,” it managed to contain all the elements I enjoy about Chuck (well, there could have been more PDA between C&S), it creatively and effectively set up the last two episodes of the season.

    • alladinsgenie4u says:

      Even if TPTB wrote this storyline to tie up the loose ends, I personally thought that it was well done. Makes Volkoff all the more multi layered. Should be interesting to see if Chuck (and Ellie) are able to save Winterbottom from the dominant personality of Volkoff.

      And as for lack of C/S PDA – less said the better. TPTB have taken it to the extreme by imposing a drought on SexyTimes. There have been so many scenes where fans felt that even a kiss was appropriate but we got nothing. Hope there’s an upward trend in Season 5.

  5. Amron says:

    It really matter if the writers didn’t have planned this twist since the beginning? I mean, they give us a way to close a lot of plot holes, not only in this season but in the past ones as well: Orion’s kind of failure adds, as somebody had said, a new layer about a lot of things making the story a little more complex. I think that, if we forget for a minute about the conditions under which it was written and we only watch it as a new chapter of the story, this twist would be a lot more appreciated.

  6. jason says:


    NBC’s Chuck inched up 8% from its its last original to a 1.4 adults 18-49 rating. Law & Order: LA was also up 8% to a 1.4 rating in adults 18-49. The Event was flat vs. last week with a 1.3 adults 18-49 rating.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Up is good. I’d have prefered more up, but it’s at least the right direction.

    • atcDave says:

      Agree Ernie, up is good. Last week’s rerun was actually up too, at least compared to previous reruns. It would be great if this meant a little momentum for May sweeps!

    • patty says:

      On my verizon menu grid they had the synopsis for the Pilot. Don’t know why but if that was widespread it probably hurt ratings.

  7. Crumby says:

    You basically stated my exact sentiment on the episode Faith. 🙂

    I REALLY liked the Ellie stuff and what they did with the mythology, but the episode felt a little off at times, especially in the first half. Compared to an episode like Masquerade, that was juggling with lots and lots of different plots, it felt way less organic IMO. As a result the comedy also wasn’t as good.

    That said, there were a lot of good stuff in the episode, it was very enjoyable, and I’m definitely looking forward to the last two episodes.

    • armysfc says:

      i lost my place so i really don’t know where this will end up, lol. but for what its worth…

      i would have liked the mythology more if they hadn’t made one big mistake. well to me anyway. chuck says, “i’m the first human intersect.” he knows he is not. i take you back to the ring. orion tells chuck he has an intersect, the data is old but it’s good and says he was young when he did it. using hartley as the first part of the equation, wouldn’t orion have been the second human intersect? taking that into consideration, would orion have intersected himself if he had seen what it did to hartley? he would have fixed it or thought he did first. this leads me to ask two questions. one, if he believed he fixed the problem that caused hartley to go evil why did he need ellie to fix that part of it. two, he already figured out how to remove the intersect and did with chuck. if he was indeed working with mary the whole time or knew where she was and could contact her (going with the theory she went rogue to help hartley), why did he not send the intersect removal program to mary and have her fix hartely? there where other holes as well. was hartley working with orion and tested it on himself? or did orion do it to him? i don’t remember them saying orion did it. so i may be wrong on that part.

      i’ll just wait and see if by the end of the season it comes out.

      • atcDave says:

        We saw in Ring 2 that Chuck actually received the first working Intersect as a child. We don’t know for sure when Stephen received his, but he sure seemed surprised that Chuck was able to take the whole thing; so I think most of us concluded Chuck was the first successful human Intersect.
        Its also possible removal/suppression devices came along long after Hartley was lost. Even if the ability to remove has existed for quite some time, getting the technology to Mary and exposing Volkoff to such a device may not have been easy.
        I think dealing with the problems and issues with an Intersect gone wrong is a far more plausible story than having a spy trapped in a 20 year mission with no good explanation.

      • armysfc says:

        dave, i also thought chuck was the first. but he knew his dad was one also and before him. so his response should have been i’m the second. unless you count the kiddie one, which would have been small and not contained much data or he would have been flashing his whole life. remember his first flash? so things like that would have popped up before if we go that way.

        there are just two many questions left open for me to ignore them for something i want to believe happened. like i said before just my opinion on what i got out of it.

      • atcDave says:

        I was counting the kiddie one, I think Chuck assuming he was first is completely reasonable. There may be some questions but nothing that should be a very big deal. It answers far more than it poses.

      • armysfc says:

        Dave one last point and i’ll end it. you are correct during those years it may have been hard. they have had hartley in custody for how long now? if mary knew about it and hence her mission. if it was her goal, why didn’t she fix him now? seems easy enough to me at this point to remove the intersect.

        in the end we will just have to agree to disagree on this point.

  8. Rick Holy says:

    Overall, a decent episode. But I still can’t get beyond the presence of the BuyMorons, in particular, Jeff and Lester. If they’re to be used in the show anymore, it should be like “salt.” A dash here and there. Even a “pinch” (which I believe is MORE than a “dash”) is too much anymore.

    When there was a more “Buy More” focus of the show (S1 & 2), they fit into the whole scheme of the show much better (and having Anna Woo was also a bonus during those first two seasons). But now their presence seems almost forced.

    This show can be funny without them. Nothing against Scott and Vic personally, but ya gotta call it like ya see it.

    If we do somehow eek out a 5th season, clean out the BuyMore house (except maybe keep Big Mike in some NON-Buy More capacity [the man can always get employed as a Subway manager], because he does have a connection with Morgan via Bolognia – and there’s comedy to be found in that mix.

    Two more episodes to go. Can’t wait for the wedding!!! And if we DO get a 5th season order, it’s party time! It will be interesting, however, to see what changes or doesn’t change in a possible 5th season.

  9. Gringo Chuck Fan says:

    NOVEMBER 21 1980
    This day in History:
    Dallas’ “Who Shot JR?” episode (Kristen) gets a 53.3 rating (83 mill)
    – Fire at MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas kills 84
    – It is revealed Kristen shot J.R. Ewing on “Dallas”
    gets huge TV ratings: 53.3 rating (83 millon viewers)
    – John & Yoko pose nude for photographer Allan Tannenbaum

    • armysfc says:

      ok, not sure whats that’s about but if we’re going there, 3 Mar 83 105 million (some estimates are as high as 125 million) watched the final episode of M*A*S*H. at the time there were only 83 million TV’s in the US. funny thing is i can’t find the ratings for the episode, lol.

      • atcDave says:

        Imagine if your favorite show was scheduled opposite THAT! That’s before most of us even had VCRs too, decisions were a lot harder back in the day…

        (oh and Army, I think all its about is its the date Winterbottom was Intersected according “Agent X”.)

      • armysfc says:

        Dave thanks, i didn’t watch the episode, flyers vs bruins play off hockey was on. if you want feel free to delete that post since it has no bearing on anything.

      • Gringo Chuck Fan says:

        November 21 1980 –
        That was the date when Stephen & Mary Bartowski ” Intersected” their friend and college, Hartley Winterbottom…
        I was just wondering if there was any significance of that date…..
        Might be something to do with the monumental ratings for ‘Who Shot JR?’… against the stumbling Chuck ratings???
        either that, or its somebodies birthday… who knows?

      • armysfc says:

        another question as i didn’t watch the episode. i have read other places that only orion was there and mary didn’t know. did they say in the episode that mary knew about it? did they actually say mary knew hartley? i won’t be able to catch it for a while. but would like it spoiled as it were!

      • atcDave says:

        It wasn’t all spelled out, but I think that Mary knew Hartly is a logical conclusion. It would completely explain why she undertook a twenty year mission; she (and Orion) likely felt responsible for what had happened to him AND were willing to go to extremes to not just “take down” Volkoff but help him to get rid of the Intersect.

        I guess we now can apply a filter to almost every comment Frost has made about Volkoff to imagine she said “The Volkoff program”. It will be interesting to see how differently she may feel about him when Winterbottom is restored.

      • armysfc says:

        Dave thanks! it raises some questions but i’ll keep them to my self.

  10. weaselone says:

    I liked the episode and I’m going to give Schwedak the benefit of the doubt and posit the reveal of Volkoff as Agent X as all part of a master plan as opposed to a bucket of a hot tar for use in patching plot holes. We first met Volkoff as Tuttle, so the idea that the Tuttle character wasn’t merely an act, but also represented the original personality coming to the surface it quite appealing. It also goes a long way to explaining why Mary was gone for well over a decade and why Orion didn’t utilize a well placed Predator missile to take down Volkoff and bring back his wife.

    It also has the advantage as others have noted af painting Vivian in a much darker light because ultimately she chose the path she was on. It wasn’t a matter of destiny or bad blood winning out.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Have I mentioned lately that I love you Weaselone?

      Wait, did I say that out loud?

    • Faith says:

      Bromance eh? Awesome. 😛

    • Big Kev says:

      Haven’t heard from you for a while, Weaselone. Good to have you back!
      I’m frankly undecided on the whole master plan vs bucket of tar argument. But in terms of my enjoyment of the episode and the broader story, it doesn’t matter a jot. Loved the twists. Loved the episode. Love where they’re going.
      I still have some questions. Is Tuttle a voluntary manifestation of Winterbottom’s original personality that Volkoff can now control? Or is Tuttle/Volkoff supposed to be a genuine schizophrenic? If MamaB had the PSP to deintersect Chuck, why didn’t she just use it on Volkoff to see if that would “fix” him? If Winterbottom knew Orion, then presumably Volkoff would have known Mary before she was Frost?
      But there’s still plenty of time to answer those questions in the 2 episodes that are left, and I’m sure that they will.
      Is it Monday yet??

      • JC says:

        One other thing though, is Volkoff/Winterbottom the reason Papa B left? I know there’s still two episodes left but this retcon really makes Mary and Stephen out to be horrible parents. They abandoned their children for a friend.

      • Tamara Burks says:

        Actually this makes it out to where they didn’t willingly abandon them. She got close to Volkoff in order to deactivate the Volkoff personality but the deactivation failed and she got stuck. The CIA then declared her rogue and the Project Isis that started the whole mess closed . Remember that Mama Winterbottom said that when they couldn’t retrieve Hartley that they disavowed all knowledge of him. And by extension they not only burned Mama B they cut off her way to go home. If she showed up at her house she’d be arrested as a traitor. By the time the people she knew were out of power , Volkoff had spies deep in the CIA and she’d been gone a long time.Not to mention he probably had a way to follow her straight to her children (like in the leftovers).

        Papa B went after her trying to rescue her and not only got noticed by bad guys (Fulcrum and possibly the Ring) but the CIA noticed and declared him rogue and erased any evidence that he was once a CIA asset in order to further bury the secret that Volkoff was a CIA creation. Either it took a few years for him to get noticed like that or he didn’t start his rescue operation until Ellie was old enough to look after herself and Chuck should he be killed while attempting the rescue of his wife and the deactivation of the Volkoff personality.

        The NSA just knew Orion as a fugitive (remmeber the NSA and CIA didn’t like to share) they probably never knew that he was an asset.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      You know, I’m kinda working on something and I kinda want to keep my powder dry, but a part of me wants to restate, does it matter? If it’s the master plan, well kudos, if it is a “bucket of tar” I have to take some limited issue. It isn’t a bucket of tar, it’s a new roof. It isn’t a slap and dash patch here and there, it is a complete replacement. We don’t have a patched leaky roof, we have a new roof. Discuss. 😉

      • atcDave says:

        It’s inspired regardless of when it was conceived. It’s almost more impressive if they were making it up on the fly.

      • jason says:

        i would think this tar was called out on the original ‘blueprint’ I mean story board- my question is was the tar going to be applied in 4×11,12 or 13 had the renewal notice not come in?

        I doubt I will ever know unless fedak tells us all, but I would have to think some of season 3’s ‘patchy’ spots in 9/10/11/12&even 13 were caused by the renewal and subsequent rewrite. To my eye, the 3×9 attempt by shaw to execute chuck would have been a perfect moment for sarah to have seen the light, with then 4 episodes following that would have been a combination of the 16th thru 19th eps along with the 10th thru 13th.

        Whatever the case, season 4 did much better, I was simply musing that some of season 4’s problems for some may have been caused by ‘pushing’ some of the story out …. as many of you know, I had no problems with plot holes in the first half of 4, but some did, a combination of the tuttle/volkov/mary/orion twist in say around the 11th or 12th ep would have probably fit pretty well had 4×13 been the series ender, better this way – eh?

    • armysfc says:

      not sure if this the bucket of tar approach or not. keeping with the winterbotton/orion/mary buddy idea. this seems like the general reason for not taking him out or stopping him sooner because they want to fix him or he was their friend (major ideas that have been expressed and excepted here). it’s a very plausible idea and one i could get on board with. it just has to much on the down side for me to like about it.

      not doing anything led to nukes being pointed at the US, millions of illegal arms being sold. we saw first hand some of the folks he dealt with. do you think those arms were never used to kill? the message it sends me is, support and protect your friends at all costs including innocent lives and the potential for millions to die in a nuclear blast, including your own children.

      papa b never seemed like the type of person that would want innocent people to die, neither does mary. i can understand papa b wanting to help his friend. that makes total sense. that’s why he was working on the problem and left it to ellie to fix.

      like ernie says, i’ll wait to see what they have as an explanation for why it took so long. i just hope it makes sense.

  11. Judy says:

    At the time, in First Fight, Timothy Dalton made the transition from Tuttle to Volkoff seem interesting and chilling because he’s a good actor. I think we all talked about how fleshed out Tuttle seemed as a character and that we were sorry to see him go, except that Volkoff was so great. In Agent X, where Hartley turns out to be Tuttle in all but name, it puts an interesting spin on First Fight. It gives one of my very favorite episodes more depth, although Mary’s behavior remains odd.

    Given the return of Tuttle’s sweater in the hospital fan pic, I think it’s a lock that Hartley/Tuttle is restored.

    I really like how they’re bringing many plots together.

    • patty says:

      Maybe they learned from season 3 and actually told Dalton some stuffso that he could play the part better. Routh and Hamilton both said that they were often unsure how to play their characters because they did not know their own backstory.

      Apparently JK Rowling told Rickman Snape’s backstory during the filming of the first film so that he could play the character better. I think it made the movies better in the long run and Fedak and co. should take note.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with that Patty, it’s kind of an unfair load on an actor to not even tell them the backstory of their character. Of course that happens in television all the time. I would guess the vast majority of television shows start with very little fleshed out that way.

  12. Gringo Chuck Fan says:

    Here’s a ‘what if?’ from outta the blue for yall to chew on…..
    What if Mary had flashed Volkoff with the PSP rather than Chuck?
    Would that have ‘un-intersected’ Volkoff – to allow Hartley Winterbottom back outta his exile? things that make you go hmmmmm…..

    • Gringo Chuck Fan says:

      Sorry – I just read through some of the earlier posts – and must to once again submit to those with intellectual capacity far keener and swifter than mine…
      Apparently I’m a day late and a few dollars short on my recent PSP posting.

    • atcDave says:

      It is an interesting spec though. Perhaps the Winterbottom/Volkoff program was different enough it would be unaffected by the PSP device. Like Volkoff’s was a Windows 3.1 program (geez, 1980? not even! how about a BASIC program) While Chuck’s is in Windows XP. They’re so many generations and systems removed none of the supporting technologies would even be compatible.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        How dare you! Chuck is Linux, all the way. 😉

      • herder says:

        I got the impression that the PSP suppressed the intersect, not removed it so if it were used on Volkov it would not necessarily remove the 30 year old programing. Winterbottom has been Volkov for 30 years, even without the ability to acess his intersect programing all his experiences would be as Volkov and the PSP would have no effect.

        The Orion computer on the other hand removed the intersect from the Gretas and likely could do the same for Volkov. When Chuck had the intersect removed in Colonel it was a weight off of him, the same reaction for the Gretas, Chuck had no similar reaction in First Fight when Mama B PSP’d him.

      • patty says:


      • atcDave says:

        In 1980 we barely had discs!

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        Yeah, most of us had to make do with those dinky little tape cartridges, and let me tell you, sequential access is for the birds.

        And don’t get me started on punch cards. (yes, I’ve been working with computers THAT long)

  13. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs Agent X (4.22) | Chuck This

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