mxpw vs. Frea - Chuck vs. Agent X

Chuck vs. Agent X
Season 4, Episode 22, original air-date May 2, 2011

Chuck and Sarah put aside spy work to have a weekend of debauchery, but Devon's plans for Chuck's big night don't go quite as expected. Meanwhile, Ellie's investigation into her father's computer leads to a life-changing discovery.

So...this is not the week of Agent X. In fact, it was over two weeks ago, and this review is over two weeks late. Wait a second! What the frak is up with that?

Only one thing we can say: badgers.

Take that however you will, and enjoy our review!  We even managed to talk about the episode...some.

Frea's schedule has been hellish lately; we appreciate your patience!

Frea: So...Agent X...Agent X...

Frea: Remind me again, that's the story of how Xavier became Professor X by working for the FBI by day and taking classes in mutantnocity by night, right?

mxpw: Yeah.

Frea: Oh, look, I've already made the Marvel fans twitch, and I didn't even turn Angel into a girl. Hi, Marvel fans!

mxpw: He was taught by Beast, I think. Or Kurt Conners. I think that was the guy's name from Spider-Man.

Frea: That guy was my favorite in the movies!

mxpw: Which ones were he in again?

Frea: Superman?

mxpw: Right, of course. And he and Lex Luther bonded over their baldness.

Frea: Superman's Marvel, right?

Frea: Okay, now that the DC/Marvel fans are sputtering wordlessly, I say we do our review of "Chuck vs. Agent X."

mxpw: Sarah in the bathtub. With bubbles.

Frea: And Chuck and Sarah having a conversation like a normal couple. Okay, best episode over. Review done.

mxpw: There was more than the bathtub part to this episode?

Frea: Wait, wait, wait, my sister Graceless just came in to point out that there was a whole bunch of stuff after that.

Frea: I have no idea what she's talking about!

Frea: I thought that was all a bad hallucination brought on by the cheese curls Liz Lemon kept eating that gave her a false pregnancy test score.

mxpw: Hi, Graceless. Please tell her it was nice chatting with her earlier.

Frea: She says hello, and that she also appreciated the bubble bath scene.

mxpw: See, every time somebody mentions cheese, do you know what I think of? I swear, every single time.

mxpw: The weird dude from the Season 4 finale of Buffy.

Frea: The Cheeseman!

mxpw: Yup.

mxpw: Anyway, your sister has good taste, of course.

Frea: But naturally. She's an O'Scanlin. But back to the other parts of the episode that weren't a hallucination, I'm going to be up front with everybody:

Frea: I loathed this episode with a passion.

Frea: There were things about it I enjoyed.

Frea: But getting Klemmer back as a writer, in my opinion, was one of the worst moves this show has made. If they bring John Enbom on, I'll change my stance, but seriously: gah.

mxpw: For the record, I did not loathe this episode.

mxpw: But Frea makes tons of good points, so I also agree with her.

mxpw: I'm not sure how that works...

mxpw: And yes, Klemmer coming back was a questionable decision. Can we trade him for Miller and AA? I'm not even that big a fan of Adler.

Frea: Adler's back next season.

mxpw: If you're talking about that NBC thingie, Fedak said in the Mo Ryan interview that as of right now, there were no plans for the old writers to return. So the NBC thing was probably just a mistake. Kind of like how they spoiled the finale. *shakes head*

Frea: Ah, okay. Then I take it back.

Frea: Though if we had a fantasy Chuck writing league, Newman would be my first pick.

mxpw: LeJudkins counts as a single writer, right?

Frea: Yep!

mxpw: Then I take them/it as my first pick.

Frea: Okay, so far our writing fantasy teams are pretty well match. You've got Honeymooners, but I've got Phase Three.

mxpw: Wedding Planner!

Frea: Seduction Impossible!

mxpw: Um...First Fight.

Frea: Ooh, that one had "Kiss with a Fist" in it. Great episode.

mxpw: I agree.

mxpw: So I think that's LeJudkins 3, Newman 2. :P

Frea: Yeah, on the one hand I agree, however...

Frea: Phase Three: Sarah pouring water over her head.

mxpw: Normally, that would be an automatic winner, buuuuuut: Sarah stripping out of her overcoat in Suitcase. I think it's at least a tie.

Frea: Bikini scene in Coup D'Etat.

mxpw: Aw crap.

mxpw: We already counted Honeymooners too. Okay, maybe Newman did score more SWP points.

mxpw: So did we just create the Chuck Fantasy SWP League?

Frea: Wasn't that what S4 was, when you get down right to the heart of it?

mxpw: Partially, yes. Heh. But they could have done better.

Frea: Including, and this is getting ahead of myself, the finale being everybody trying to save Sarah because SWZP isn't nearly as good as SWP?

mxpw: True, but I think she'd still make a lovely zombie.

Frea: Quite lovely, falling off limbs and all.

mxpw: Yeah. Speaking of being lifeless, let's talk about Vivian. Oh snap!

Frea: Burn!

Frea: If she were any more wooden, I'd worry about the burns, you know. Trees burn quite easily, which is probably why they dumped Shaw in a river instead of letting him near open flame. The special effects aren't exactly the greatest all the time, and staying true to life on that one would've just taken away from it all—oh, wait, this isn't S3. Never mind.

mxpw: Wait, am I getting this episode mixed up with Last Details?

Frea: Does it matter? Vivian was just an awful villain, awful Vader, and awful Volkoff.

mxpw: Yay for alliteration!

Frea: But getting back to Agent X, this episode just depressed me.

Frea: Did it really follow Wedding Planner?

mxpw: Sadly, yes.

Frea: *shakes head*

Frea: I know I'm random, but this show could give me a run for my money.

mxpw: I was not fond of the first half, I'll say that. Both respective parties were dumb. Chuck's because honestly, how does Awesome and everybody else make that mistake, and Sarah's because...well, because Sarah doesn't have any friends and why would Ellie think four strippers was a good idea? Isn't this the same woman who thought Devon having one stripper was cause for the apocalypse?

mxpw: At least Sarah's made more sense than Chuck's.

mxpw: Sort of.

Frea: And this episode was so sitcommy, it could pass for a Max Denby contribution. I mean, major plotpoints and jokes rested on the most sitcom scenarios you could find. Oh, haha, they switched bags! Those crazy kids, how wacky is that? And Las VECAS? Oh, hehe, they just switched the names a little bit, those lunatics.

mxpw: I didn't even know there was a Las Vecas.

Frea: Ha. Ha. Ha. *golf clap*

mxpw: Did you know that?

mxpw: The only good part about Chuck's party was Casey being awesome. Using Devon and Morgan as the Magnet while he went around killing people left and right was actually fairly smart and inspired. I was like, "Good job, show." Aaaaaand then Chuck fought the woman and I was back to being disappointed at how pathetic they made him look.

Frea: Oh geez! The woman! I'd completely erased her from my memory, but she was part of the huge issue I had with this episode: she was a) a horrible actress, and most of the dialogue from any scene with her and the Devil was just CLICHED.

mxpw: Too true. I didn't like her much either. I'm glad she met a fiery end at the hands of Casey's soulmate.

Frea: It was Denby bad.

mxpw: Yeah.

mxpw: I did think the episode picked up around the halfway point. I know you probably don't agree, but most of the stuff after they went to England was an improvement over what came before.

Frea: I didn't like the stuff with the old lady.

Frea: I thought it was just like the rest of the episode: cheap laughs.

mxpw: I'll admit that it was probably cheap, but I still found most of it amusing. I liked Sarah's accent, even though it was completely unnecessary. And I enjoyed seeing granny kick some butt, though mostly because of Casey's reaction to her.

Frea: Yeah, Casey saved this episode.

Frea: The rest of it, though? I was not impressed. The kickass granny trope has been done before, Vivian's stupidity as a villain and character was more than highlighted, and...yeah. Just Not Impressed.

mxpw: Definitely not one of their better efforts.

mxpw: We should touch base on the reveal at the end of the episode, though, since it was not only controversial but will have importance in the last two episodes.

Frea: Okay, that's a good idea.

Frea: I've said all of this on Chuck This before, but I think I'll just bring it back here, my whole stance.

Frea: I don’t think the Volkoff/Hartley reveal is a retcon, per se. There’s been nothing in there actually conflicting that’s been previously established. On the surface, Hartoff seems to be a “deepening of the mythology and backstory” behind this Intersect project.

Frea: In actuality, it’s just a flagrant show of really, really, really terrible writing.

Frea: In writing, the best way to lay out a major twist is to put in groundwork and drop in things like foreshadowing and clues that things might not be like they seem. It doesn’t have to be major, but there do have to be little signs along the way that a reader or viewer can go back and say, “Oh! Now I know why Harry could hear the voices nobody else could hear! He’s a Parselmouth!” The best twist is the one that completely shocks the hell out of you, but in retrospect, you can see that it was supposed to happen all along.

Frea: Chuck writers, however, do not do this. To me, this reveal was just lazy. They’ve done absolutely no set up for it previous arcs or seasons, so this whole thing came out of nowhere, just like every other continuation of the Intersect project. This is why people are able to call it a retcon even though it doesn’t outright conflict with what’s established already: because there’s nothing establishing it or grounding it to the plot. It feels “tacked on.”

mxpw: So I just want to say that for the record, I don't think this reveal of Volkoff being Hartley was strictly a retcon. I think it was close, but they left a lot of leeway for themselves because they never really developed the Volkoff backstory all that well in the first part of S4. I do agree that making Volkoff a victim of the Intersect was a little too easy and pat, and I wasn't crazy about it, but I do have to give them credit for at least trying to plug one of the many holes they created. Usually, they just ignore stuff like this and go blissfully on their way. So while it was lazy, it was sort of progress in a way? Something like that.

Frea: I can see your point, but I think it was a case of sticking a finger in the dam to block the flood waaaaaay too late.

mxpw: I don't disagree, but I consider it better late than never in this case.

Frea: I think that makes you the optimist.

mxpw: I agree.

mxpw: I am that.

mxpw: But I think everybody here already knew that.

mxpw: So do you have any last thoughts, Frea?

Frea: I hallucinated the Jeffster roadtrip music video, right?

mxpw: Sadly, you did not.

mxpw: I dearly wish you had.

Frea: Darn it!

mxpw: Yeah...I honestly have no defense for that.

mxpw: I tried and tried to think of something, but nothing.

Frea: Ah well. Glad Last Details was better, that's all I have.

mxpw: Okay. I'm glad Last Details was better too.

mxpw: At least Agent X had the bath scene and SWLP.

Frea: oh wait!

Frea: Was this episode where Ellie finally found out?

mxpw: Oh...right.

mxpw: Yeah, she did.

mxpw: Most anticlimactic thing ever.

Frea: Okay, then I do have to say something else:

Frea: That was like reading fanfiction.

Frea: Bad fanfiction.

mxpw: It was far too easy and made all of Chuck's agita and angst and lying seem utterly pointless. Since all Ellie did was essentially smack her forehead and go "Dur!"

Frea: Seriously, way to end a season long arc with a whimper, guys. Chuck did not deserve to get that victorious, Look what I can do! scene down in Castle.

mxpw: True, but I did like Sarah's appreciative look afterward. That was nice.

Frea: *sighs*

Frea: Bad fanfiction.

mxpw: So I think that's everything. Weak first half, stronger second half. And a bubble bath with far too many bubbles.

mxpw: score?

Frea: I'm checking Balcony's score.

mxpw: Okay.

mxpw: Might as well check Leftovers while you're at it.

Frea: Okay, I gave Balcony 2.8 Castle Slides. I'll give this one 3.

mxpw: And I'll give this one 2.5 Sarahs in a bath with too many bubbles out of 5.


  1. Crumby18.5.11

    So mxpw, I'm gonna make my joke again here cause I was kinda proud of it. "Sarah in the bathtub. With bubbles." That's how mxpw died in Clue.

    Right after the episode, I thought well, at least it's not a retcon (technically) and it could explain some stuff, so, I kinda liked that. I think that's what you were saying mxpw.

    But, as much as I was inclined to give them some slack with this Agent X reveal, I'm not anymore, since the final scene was completely ignored afterwards, and that as always the resolution was... lacking to say the least.

    The second half of the episode was better IMO. I liked the Ellie stuff, even though I completely agree with what you said (bad fanfiction, Chuck easily forgiven...). I guess I was so tired of it, I was just glad it was over.

    The whole thing felt inorganic. Took individually the scenes aren't that bad, I think, but the sum of it...

    Well, I was not a Klemmer fan anyway. A disappointing first act to this disappointing S4's end, I guess.

    By the way, I appreciate you guys taking the time to do the review, even if it's 2 weeks later. I always like to read your thoughts on the episodes as it often open my eyes on certain things that I don't see. Also it's fun! So thank you.

  2. My opinion of the episode spoke for itself when I opened up this post and couldn't even remember what episode you were talking about. Yeah...almost completely wiped from my memory banks. In other words, utterly forgettable.

    Except for the bubble bath scene, that is. mx forced me to make him avatars as soon as he finished watching the episode. :P All I have to say about that scene is that no bubble bath EVER has that many bubbles. I mean, seriously, I don't think they even had water in the tub! Sarah was washing herself with bubble fizz! Aaaaand no one cares, right? Nope, not at all. Hahahahaha.

    As for the Jeffster music video...the only thing I liked about it was the song, which I found on Youtube afterwards. :) Oh, right. The other thing I remembered about the episode was that Kesha song that they played like, five times. Bloooooooooow-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-ohhhhh....

    Thanks for the review, guys! :)

  3. THAT'S 70'S SHOW. That's the only thing I could think of while watching that roadtrip music video. They totally ripped off the title sequence to That's 70's Show!

    That is all.

  4. ladycat71318.5.11

    I liked the look on Casey's face when he was looking at Mama Winterbottom firing that gun. It looked like a cross between I wish you were my mother and I want to be the cub to your cougar.

  5. ladycat71318.5.11

    Oh and the look on Morgan's face when Chuck was doing the sworldplay around him. It's almost like they had been playing around with the katanas before and Morgan knew there was no way Chuck would cut him even by accident. He was clearly mugging.

  6. I don't typically chime in because I watch Chuck like I read Sookie Stackhouse - with a complete willingness to get lost in what's put in front of my - and debating/rating/analyzing completely ruins that, but I feel the need to point out two contrasting things to see what you all make of them:

    1. I think there have been some slight foreshadowings of Volkov/Winterbottom. Chuck's mom said something like 'there's more here than you know,' when not-defending herself to Chuck about why she's been Frost for 20some years. There are probably a few more hints Mary dropped, but they were very subtle and I'm not one to rewatch for reference.

    2. When Mary and Volkov trapped Sarah and Chuck in the Bartowski Basement, Mary 'de-intersected' Chuck with that Playstation thing. She clearly knew it existed, so why didn't she grab it anytime in the past 20 years and zap Volkov with it? That would certainly have turned him back to Winterbottom...

    And as an Alec Baldwin fan, this episode is one of my favorites thanks to him. :-) Casey got to be clever, sexy, heroic, and hilarious, as well as the motivator of most of the episode, and AB was clearly enjoying himself. I'm smiling right now thinking of him feeding the line of bullets to Grams while visibly thinking 'Best. Mom. Ever.'


  7. Anonymous21.5.11

    Mxpw, when are you going to continue writing fanfic?
    Im looking forward to next chapter of Banality.


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