May 2, 2011

Episode Review: CHUCK, "Chuck vs. Agent X"

You can tell that Chuck is almost to the end of its season because the episodes get better and better. I've been pretty upfront about my dissatisfaction for the Volkoff arc, but "Chuck vs. Agent X" was a good episode all things considered.

"Agent X" was a very Volkoff heavy episode from start to finish, but it didn't feel too bogged down by the details (probably because we had Ray Wise representing the Family instead of Lauren Cohan). The action started as Riley (Wise) and a beautiful, but forgettable, colleague stole a tracking device that would lead them to Orion's computer. Since Ellie's been working on said computer this entire time, you'd think the baddies would be at her door, but Awesome accidentally ended up with it after he took her suitcase instead of his (he was heading out to Chuck's bachelor party). After taking out Volkoff's cronies in the middle of the woods, everyone headed back to Burbank to regroup. Once Chuck was home he and Ellie finally came clean with another, and even showed her Castle.

The subject quickly moved to Agent X, and Ellie showed them a picture of a house she found during her research, which Chuck flashed on and found out that it was located in Somerset, England. Figuring that Agent X had ties to the house, Team Bartowski was off and once there they encountered a delightful old spinster who knew herself around a machine gun. You see, she was the mother of the man who would become Agent X, and was ready for people to come snooping around. While Chuck tried to convince her that they were on her side, Riley and Vokoff's men showed up and a firefight ensued. The good guys were able to get away after the crazy old lady blew up her own house. Back at Castle, we found out that Agent X was none other than Volkoff himself.

While I have to admit that the big twist at the end was extremely telegraphed, it was still a nice little surprise because I didn't think Chuck would take the story in that direction. Yes, making Volkoff Agent X wasn't necessarily groundbreaking story telling, and it didn't stray too far from the common tropes found within the spy genre, but it was still effective. Plus, it got me interested in the rest of the season, which isn't something I thought I'd be saying at this point. Then again, my hesitations about this arc has never been about content but about execution.

Ever since the show introduced Vivian, it has taken a very predictable road, and it's been one that I've been disappointed in because it has been so familiar. I keep hoping the writers will zig when I think they'll zag, but they continue down the the well-trodden path, which is kind of why I'm on board with this new information about Agent X. It's obvious Chuck doesn't want to break out of its comfort zone, so why expect it. Instead, I'm going to enjoy the unceremonious ride.

The bachelor/bachelorette parties and the Buy Morons really added to the overall episode, but they were nice distractions from all of the mythology stuff. For example, I'm always a fan when Awesome's allowed to show his un-awesome side, so seeing him whittle sticks into spears just so he was out of Casey's way was brilliant. Even the miscommunication between Las Vecas and Las Vegas, was charming in a way that only Devon could pull off. I was even OK with Jeffster and Big Mike taking up a big chunk of the time.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Ray Wise should definitely be on the Mt. Rushmore of Evil-Doers.
  • Casey's target was eerily prophetic. I knew he had something to do with this weekend's mission.
  • We finally get to see Sarah in a bubble bath during Season 4?!?! Talk about pulling out all the stops.
  • A camping trip isn't a bad idea for a bachelor party. Sure, it's not Vegas, but it could still be fun.
  • I felt kinda sad when Casey broke their spears.
  • I'm so glad Ellie finally knows about Chuck. I'm even more relieved that she wasn't Agent X.
  • I was also glad that we got to see the return of Nerd Herder Chuck.
  • The little old lady was beyond great. Let's hope we see her again.
  • Casey putting his friends before duty was a major example of character development. I'm loving what they've done with his character over the last season and a half.
  • "Yeah, nature's gun range. It's the great outdoors."
  • "This place is amazing! They grow some magic fungus up in them there hills. I'm gonna go find some. Maybe chase a little tail."
  • "I've never hiked in a tie."
  • "Ooh, is that a gun? No."
  • "It's not my first mish." "I think it's your first mish."
  • "Do you know how to feed one of these things?" "Please, you're feeding me."
  • "You're like the mother I never had."
  • "I love this woman."
  • "They order a guy like me to a bullet in each one of our heads."
"Chuck vs. Agent X" may have been a little mish-mashed, and the big reveal wasn't so big when you think about it, but overall I had a good time watching the episode. I feel like what we learned about Volkoff, Agent X, and what it all could mean to Chuck could inject some much needed life in to the last two episodes of the season.


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