mxpw vs. Frea - Chuck vs. the First Fight

Chuck vs. the First Fight
Season 4, Episode 7, air-date November 01, 2010

Summary: In order to avoid Sarah after their first real fight Chuck heads out on a rogue mission. Meanwhile Ellie digs into the Bartowski family history.

So after last week, in which we were exactly seven days late in getting mxpw vs. Frea to your computer screen, mx and I sat down and actually came up with an appointed time during which to write our review. Which means we're on time. For once.

Just to warn you, there IS sarcasm ahead. But is it about the episode, or are we mocking something else? You'll just have to read and find out!


Frea: First all, I would like to give a heartfelt SCREW YOU SIDEWAYS to my local NBC affiliate, who oh-so-lovingly played a BS election special during the Chuck timeslot, forcing me to wait until this morning to watch what I felt was the best episode of the season.

Frea: Even though at times I found Chuck to be Too Stupid To Live (TM TVTropes), everything was there: the characters were great, there was actually a comprehensible plot, excellent fight scenes, I actually liked Linda Hamilton this week. There was a threatening plastic fork! Jumping out of planes! Sheep! Evil!James Bond! Aaaaaand, what might be called a "game-changing" twist. Best part? That game-changing twist...came from a video game console. Boo-yah!

Frea: And what did you think, my good Sir Maximus?

mxpw: What did I think? Well, much along the same lines, actually. This is going to be one of those weeks where we probably agree about quite a lot. I too thought it was the best episode of the season, even better than LeJudkins's previous effort "Suitcase." And with no SWP at all, so you gotta know I'm serious. I thought Timothy Dalton was hilarious and the best guest actor/character since Scott Bakula. I too thought that Linda Hamilton was even better than last week. The fight scenes were wonderful, especially the last one, which was quite funny, and for one of the rare times in this show's history, the twists were actually unexpected and genuinely twisty.

Frea: Okay, Max, be honest. Did you see either part of the twist coming?

mxpw: I think there were three twists in this episode. The first one, that Tuttle was actually Volkoff was the only one I halfway expected. Dalton was just so damn hilarious and perfect as Tuttle that he almost had me convinced that he wasn't a bad guy. I knew the guy could be funny from Hot Fuzz but he was just wonderful here. And his transformation into Volkoff was really quite different from Tuttle. A great bit of acting. Now as for the Orion Cave getting destroyed or Mary messing with the Intersect? No, I didn't see those coming.

Frea: I didn't see the Orion Cave getting destroyed coming, but thanks to not avoiding Twitter before I watched the episode, I knew about the Intersect sabotage. Definitely agree with you about Timothy Dalton. But we all know, British guys make the best bad guys. There's just something about the polish and sophistication that make them sound cordially awesome even while they're dropping you into a tank full of sharks with lasers on their foreheads. I think he's honestly going to be the first Chuck villain I've been excited about since we lost Vincent to the ranks of the incapacitated undead.

mxpw: Agreed completely. If they don't make him stupid like the Ring resolution was, then Volkoff could go down as the best bad guy in the series. Hell, Timothy Dalton is already one of my favorite guest stars and he's only had one episode. I mean, come on, his gleeful enthusiasm about everything spy was hilarious and endearing (which was why he almost convinced me he wasn't evil). "Tiny weapon standoff!" I laughed for a good five minutes after that. And then his quiet menace and confidence as Volkoff was really so different from Tuttle that he convinced me he could actually be a real threat.

Frea: It feels strange not to argue with you!

mxpw: Haha, sorry! I'll try to be more contrary later on.

Frea: Speaking of contrary, what are you thoughts on Morgan this week? My own take on him is that he's still overused and the others have a very long learning curve with him (taking him on missions, team? Really?), but he didn't bug as much as usual. I really liked his scene with Mama B. It was very, "My best friend's mom is back! She made the perfect rice krispie treat!"

mxpw: I'm really torn about Morgan this episode. I still feel like he is getting more screentime this season at the expense of Yvonne/Sarah (and AB/Casey as well, but we both know who I care about more). I don't think he quite annoyed me this episode as he did last episode or earlier this season. I was rolling my eyes a bit during the bar scene, but he had his funny moments there. I facepalmed when he touched Sarah's chest, and he still hasn't learned anything about boundaries (speaking on Chuck's behalf again?). But I really liked him in the scene with Mary. That was actually very smart of him and almost redeemed him for the episode. I really don't know what to make of the mission stuff though. On the one hand, I just can't buy Morgan in the field, no matter how much they try to convince me. On the other, I think we're supposed to see it as much about Casey's growth as Morgan's.

Frea: It came off to me like the whole Jeff and Lester forcing Casey to eat that disgusting sandwich after Casey threatened to kill them multiple times. I was on Casey's side the whole time for that, and I'm on his side for this: Morgan doesn't belong in the field, there's no need to apologize to him, and I feel bad for Casey, who's a career Marine, having to deal with this yahoo, who, while he does have a good heart, is just not meant for the freaking field. It's different when they were dealing with a reluctant Chuck. And yes, as awesome as Josh Grimes is, I really wish they would give Adam and Yvonne more screen time. I mean, even Sarah pointed it out to Chuck: he went to everybody else in the world, including total strangers, before he went to her. Practice what you preach, writers!

mxpw: I just think we're stuck with Morgan as he is and that's not going to change. I'm trying to make peace with that, even if it does pain me to think Yvonne might be losing screentime to him. Oh well.

mxpw: Though you bring up a good point and one of the few things I actually was not completely behind with this episode: the fight. While I really enjoyed the fighting while fighting resolution in the bank, and just loved seeing how good Chuck and Sarah are together as partners, I felt like the fight was really...underwhelming. Honestly, after watching the episode, I'm not really sure what the point was to it all, as they barely dealt with anything and the actual argument lasted for like five minutes. I'm glad that there was no long, drawn out angst, but at the same time, I feel like they really missed an opportunity to genuinely explore the depths of the Chuck and Sarah relationship and have some organic character growth.

mxpw: Though I really did appreciate Sarah telling Chuck that fighting with him was exhausting and that she didn't like it at all. That was very sweet.

Frea: Unfortunately, I feel like the fight was shoved out of the way to make way for the plot. It was like the writers knew "they've got to fight because we made Sarah go behind his back last episode and that's bad" but it was a very cursory thing. All build-up that led ultimately to "Fighting with you is exhausting" (which was a very sweet thing to say, yes). But I'll admit it: I laughed when they finally started talking because the thought of them escaping and arguing about their personal life is hilarious to me. I've learned not to expect organic character growth when instead the writers can go for the funny, so I just give in and laugh and turn to other shows for that.

mxpw: I know, I shouldn't have such high expectations, but it's hard not to. I mean, this show often suckers me in, raises my hopes that it will be truly awesome, and then levels things back out to more commonplace realms. I have to agree that the way they solved the fight was inspired, and I really did enjoy it, I just wanted more.

mxpw: Though, I call shenanigans!

mxpw: How the hell does Sarah not know that Friendster is passe but she does know what sexting is? Pfffft, I say!

Frea: I was a little concerned about that, honestly. It takes an iron will to live with a nerd and not even know what Facebook is.

Frea: Cos you know Chuck would be the type to be like, "Sarah, why doesn't your Facebook page say we're in a relationship?"

mxpw: And of course Sarah would respond with, "Wait, what? I have a Facebook page?" She'd look at it and then go, "Carina!"

Frea: Haha, well played, good sir, well played.

mxpw: Thank you, thank you.

Frea: The Redhead's Revenge is deep and immaculate. So...Linda Hamilton.

Frea: I liked her this week. Her scene with Ellie brought a tear to my curmudgeonly eye.

mxpw: Thank you for bringing that up.

mxpw: This may surprise you but I say that the scene with Ellie, and Sarah sitting in the background listening? Best scene of the episode, in my opinion. Easily. And that's with the great airplane scene (complete with awesome Alias shoutout), the bank fight, and the scene in the Orion Cave. Hell, this was maybe the best use of Ellie ever.

Frea: And a Mustang with a card in it reading "Eleanor?" I half-expected Nicholas Cage to show up at the end and try to steal it. Thankfully he didn't because a) he's expensive and b) ew, Nicholas Cage.

Frea: But I agree with you, actually. I thought the scene with Sarah sitting in the background between Ellie and Mary was very, very well done.

mxpw: I really want to know what Mary said to Ellie. I hope either Sarah or Ellie tell Chuck.

Frea: Having lived near a sheep farm, I spent the latter part of the episode feeling kind of bad for Sarah and Mary. Riding in the back of that truck with the sheep would not leave a very pleasant smell on one's clothing.

Frea: What, focus on the strange stuff, me? Never.

mxpw: So what did you make of the end? I'm really curious as to what Mary did to Chuck. My speculation is that she downloaded a digital copy of Orion's entire database into his brain. Either that or upgraded the Intersect to Intersect 3.0. Now with wi-fi!

Frea: Yeah, I don't think the Intersect is gone because otherwise why wouldn't Orion have removed it instead of building Chuck a governor? I do think it's something in conjunction with the mysterious device in Ellie's kicking new ride.

Frea: Didn't Orion's message to Chuck last season say that together, Ellie and Chuck could do anything?

Frea: And we all know exactly how powerful Ellie can be. Seriously, if you let her into your story, she will CONTROL IT FOR TEN CHAPTERS.

mxpw: Hmm...I like the idea of Orion's legacy being divided between his children.

mxpw: *laughing* Yes, we're well aware of how insidious she can be. I'm thinking maybe she becomes the new scientist part of Orion. Wouldn't that be cool?

Frea: Ellie, join the team as a scientist? What an inspired idea!

mxpw: Yeah, I don't think anybody has ever come up with that idea before.

Frea: Probably a hack, if there was somebody.

mxpw: Yeah, like some lame fanfic writers. After all, we all know that fanfic writers suck and can't write for crap anyway. That sounds like just the kind of thing they'd come up with.

Frea: Trudat, home-skillet. So I like that Mary plays fast and loose with the law, but at the end of the day, she evidently cares for her children. I think that's a great way to go with her character! Though I will point out that in two episodes, she has shot her son in the heart and blown up his childhood home, so she's right up there with Irina Derevko. No wonder Volkoff likes Alias so much!

mxpw: Heh, I never even quite thought of it that way, but yes. I'm curious as to how they're going to deal with the whole Mary thing. I think it's pretty obvious since she seemed to know about the car AND where to go exactly to get the PSP of Doom, that she and Papa B were actually in contact while she was away. So I'm expecting her to ultimately be good, but this episode was much better than last week's in graying her up.

Frea: Definitely thinking she has ties back to the original Intersect project, which I think was in that box she pulled the PSP of Doom from. It'll be interesting to see where that goes. Additionally, the term PSP of Doom makes me remember my relatives in my early childhood, who were determined that video games were going to rot my brain. Thanks for (maybe) proving them right, Chuck.

Frea: Okay, Max, I'm going to say it: I liked this episode as much as a Season Two episode.

mxpw: *gasp*

mxpw: Reeeeally?

mxpw: Actually, so did I. Heh.

Frea: Even though when Chuck was blabbing all about his secret agent girlfriend to even what he thought was an MI:6 handler, I thought, "It's a good thing he has Sarah or else he would have been dead a long time ago for being too dumb to live, even by spy standards," I still enjoyed the episode. It was funny, well-paced, every single one of the actors brought their best to the table. I didn't really care for the Nurse Rachet character, but she was easily ignored (and she did lead to a tiny weapons fight....cue summon bigger knife!). They've set up what could be a very genuine arc of awesome and have possibly made a big game change...

Frea: My one drawback is I remember what happened the last time they tried for the big game change, and that was called Season Three, so please forgive me for being cautious about what’s to come, but I can say I really liked this episode, and that’s enough for now.

mxpw: It's funny you mention Season Three as next episode looks like Chuck is going to bring in some outside spy mentor to help with the Intersect. Much like the first four episodes of S4 were meant to correct a lot of the ills of S3, how much you wanna bet this new spy mentor is supposed to be like the anti-Shaw (speaking of Shaw, I thought Chuck got a nice dig in at Sarah during the fight in the bank about her only trusting people Beckman told her to trust)? Oh and the return of SWP! Yay! That doesn't really have anything to do with First Fight, but it definitely needs mentioning.

mxpw: So what did I think of First Fight? Best episode of the season. Best use of Ellie in forever, with one of the most well directed and emotionally affecting scenes in recent memory. Solid integration of Ellie and Devon into the episode plot. No stupid Buy More plots! Good Chuck and Sarah scenes with a funny fight resolution. An awesome badguy in Volkoff and a great guest turn by Timothy Dalton. And some really great setup for future episodes. I haven't been this excited about the show since the Orion arc. Well done, show.


mxpw: 4.5 Sarahs in nerdy glasses out of 5

Frea: 9 Castle Slides out of 10

A note to all commenters: please refrain from posting spoilers in your comment, as other people might not like to be spoiled! Thanks - mgmnt


  1. Ayefah2.11.10

    Josh Grimes? :P

    This was indeed an awesome episodes. But not exactly Sarah's shining moment of brilliance either: Who leaves a guy with a gunshot wound to the chest lying around without at least putting pressure on the wound? Oh, and speaking of small matters of logic...

    Why did it take Morgan and Casey so long to get down to the bank that people were being let back into the building? And why, for the love of Betsy, was there no police tape around the GIANT SMEAR OF BLOOD ON THE WALL?!

    *cough* I never did watch this show for cohesive plotting, but the lack of first aid just bugged the crap out of me.

    But there was great use of Ellie! They finally passed the Bechdel test! There was awesome twisty suspense! And a small weapons standoff! And Timothy Dalton being awesome! We're only about halfway through the original order and we're already getting juicy big-time episodes like this? Chuck is looking more and more worthy of that full-season order.


    The Buy More: Useless or super-useless? Seriously, Summer Glau as Greta is pretty much the last chance I'm giving the place, and I always defended it in seasons past. The whole "make it a CIA base" idea was a good one in theory, but so far the execution has been pretty much nonexistent.

  2. Yeah, I enjoy mixing up actor and character names to keep people on their toes and see if they can catch it.

    Ahem. Yeah, that's TOTALLY what I was doing there. Completely intentional. Uh-huh.

    Yeah, the editing with Casey and Morgan coming in was a little strange, now that I think about it because they didn't want to reveal the big smear of blood until they were ready to do the Volkoff Reveal. Was it the police leading people back in or was it the bank security guard?

    My vote: Buy More = Super-Useless.

  3. JohnClark2.11.10

    I have to say my favorite part of this episode is the sort of unspoken vibes going from Mama B to Sarah. I think a lot of what Mama B did was directed as much or more at Sarah than anyone else, especially the MB/Ellie scene.

    My first thoughts after the PSP of Doom was that she'd wiped the Intersect in a bid to take Chuck out of the spy game. This was based on my feeling that Mama B told Ellie her whole tale in front of Sarah as a cautious tale to Sarah that you can't have a happy family in the spy game so best get out while the get'ins good.I figured going forward we'd see Chuck trying to build his own Intersect as he struggles to grapple with the way in which loosing his super powers effects him now that he's so completely accepted them after 2 years of trying to get rid of them. All the while Sarah watching the cycle repeat itself with Chuck/Sarah becoming Orion/Frost 2.0.

    However having read your guys thoughts the idea that it was some sort of Volkov centric upgrade is more plausible, so maybe my idea might be better explored in the realm of Fanfic.

  4. Ayefah3.11.10

    From the preview for next week it looks like maybe the Intersect isn't gone, but somehow inaccessible. Hmmm...

    But if it is gone - man, he's in trouble. He doesn't need it for marksmanship, but even though he can at least handle himself in a fight these days without it, that's not the same as being able to take on Volkoff ninjas.

    ...I vote for him inventing more debilitating gadgets he can hide on his person. :) Bring back the mint-flavored knockout spray!

  5. Anonymous3.11.10

    Hells to the yeah, I vote for some super cool Bondian gadgets ala "Fates"!!! I mean he is Orion's son after all. Oh and a big Woo Hoo to the return of SWP with the next ep!!!

    -JS Fan

  6. Sparky3.11.10

    9??? 4.5??? What does it take to satisfy you people!!! :P

    I'd like to see chuck fixing a girl's phone and Sarah interrupting :) It would be fun and a Buy more plot!

  7. ladycat7133.11.10

    I agree that Chuck coming up with gadgets would be great. Papa B said in season 2 that Chuck was an even better engineer than he was and I waited through the season 3 disaster to get and indication of that.

    I'm hoping that we'll get that this season and that the 3 Governer watches that Chuck has were made by him .

  8. Anonymous4.11.10

    Yeah, I haven't seen any indication yet that Chuck can hold a candle to Orion's engineering abilities. Even with all that time in Orion's den, it doesn't seem he's any closer to understanding the inner workings of the intersect. Pretty pathetic actually. I know if I were in his shoes I'd want to know how the damn thing worked.


  9. Ayefah4.11.10

    Maybe it'll be one of those things that the show overlooks until magically it doesn't. Like the sudden thought that (oh yeah!) Orion might have left something to Ellie as well as Chuck.

    The knockout gloves are a hint at gadgeteering, at least, which is more than I ever thought they'd give us.


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