Dalton Does It Better – Episode 4.10: Chuck Vs The Leftovers

Written by Henry Alonso Meyers

Directed by Zachary Levi

“Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, you’re the best “

The Spy Who Loved Me

Carly Simon

Dalton. Timothy Dalton. Guest star extraordinaire.

In Chuck Vs Phase 3, Yvonne Strahovski elevated a solid episode storyline with her outstanding performance, turning it into the signature episode for the series.

Timothy Dalton gives a guest start performance that also soars to great heights. But he is not so fortunate on the storyline side. His performance takes place in an episode that disappointingly concurs with the episode title.

This is one of the funniest episodes of the season and, if you maintain a 50,000 foot view, the individual scenes do offer good laughs. The best bit by far was Chuck and Morgan taking defense lessons via a Strip Kick Aerobics class. Even better that there was payoff to that bit when Chuck used one of the class moves to take down a baddie later on. However, diving down to levels where more detail is revealed the mechanical nature of the plot and the recycling of bits from previous Chuck holiday episodes, including more Die Hard references, detract from the fun. Mileage on the laughs will vary from individual to individual but for myself this episode, when Dalton was not onscreen, felt forced.

By far the best element of this episode was Timothy Dalton. He dominated the screen every second he was on the screen. The now revealed volatile and erratic nature of the Volkoff allows Dalton to run roughshod over everyone. One second dashing. The next, incensed. Another beat; sensitive and caring. The next; commanding and violent. The fact that his Achilles Heel is MamaB is a rather cliche but Dalton exploits to its fullest. So much so, that when he is onscreen he obliterates everyone else. All they can do is stand back and hope Volkoff does not lash out at them. Volkoff is a certifiable loon and Dalton can be seen having a ball with the character because of it. His performance gave me that same vibe when I first saw Anthony Hopkins portray Hannibal Lecter in Silence Of The Lambs.

Episode Flashes: Add your own in the comments.

  • Ah a villain listening to classical music. Cliche but it always works
  • Chuck Unplugged
  • Strip Kick! ‘I saw an infomercial.’
  • ‘Casey can never know about this.’
  • ‘Come with me if you want to live.’ MamaB to the rescue
  • Big Mike is so slick shilling Subway subs. Who can resist?
  • ‘Who has two thumbs and is taken?’
  • Morgan enjoying a foot massage a la Die Hard and the carpet trick.
  • ‘Shave my back.’
  • Volkoff’s Die Hard Assault Team
  • Nerd Machine sticker on Volkoff’s computer expert’s laptop
  • CIA Internal Defence System – not so special
  • Fatman & Indian – the not so dynamic duo
  • ‘Hand Frost the damn phone!’
  • ‘I got lucky. I got assigned to you.’
  • Casey gives Morgan a gun. Again.
  • ‘Is that a threat?’
  • Exploding Soccer Ball Of Doom
  • ‘That’s how you threaten somebody.’
  • Sarah and Chuck holding hands before going into battle
  • ‘Charles is my son.’ Really? Really. Really? ….Really!
  • ‘Kids love me!’
  • Chuck and Sarah’s silent planning during charades
  • Volkoff doing charades
  • Devon needs to be Awesome. Again.
  • ‘Cold. But surprisingly soothing.’
  • ‘I don’t have to really do that. I just love the sound.’
  • ‘You see. That is a real threat.’ MamaB protects her family.
  • Morgan unable to reach taped gun
  • Chuck knows Kung-Fu. Again.

With the totality of the spy arc pretty well revealed now, and we were told way back in Chuck Vs the Coup D’Etat that MamaB was a kept woman, Season 4 seems destined to be another season with another underwhelming spy storyline. At least in the first thirteen episodes. The saving element is, obviously, Timothy Dalton’s virtuoso, mesmerizing portrayal of Volkoff. To use the series’s best villain solely in the service of a kept woman storyline seems all the more the pity.

Dalton Doing It The Best

I fully disclose that my expectations of the Chuck being deIntersected arc not being realized undermine my enjoyment of this episode. But even from the perspective of judging what the show delivered, the resolution to said arc is undramatic, leaves many dangling – and somewhat contradictory plot threads, and offered no character growth for Chuck. He is literally handed the remedy via Devon. No struggle to reacquire it. No chances to show his mettle without it. No strengthening of family bonds. If anything Chuck was diminished during this arc. Chuck Vs The Couch Lock is my one of favourite episodes so far this season. It also one of the few episodes where Chuck felt like Chuck this season. Henry Alonso Meyers did not fare as well with this outing.

MamaB’s assertion that PapaB never wanted Chuck to be subjected to the Intersect Suppressing PSP does not ring true nor does her motivation. How leaving Chuck defenceless makes any character sense is impossible to ascertain given the paucity of details. There may be very valid reasons for what transpired but without any context, the reasons behind the creation of the PSP and the laptop, appear to serve only one purpose: as very mechanical story devices to facilitate the loss and retrieval of the Intersect. This is borne out by how the episode glosses over Chuck’s reacquisition of the Intersect. Will these questions be answered at a later date? Given some of the unresolved dangling story threads ie Devon giving Chuck the laptop which is expressly against Ellie’s wishes; the answer is not likely.

Even worse the deIntersect arc ends with Ellie still in the dark about Chuck spying and having the Intersect. With the PapaB heirlooms in the form of the car and the laptop, MamaB on the scene, Ellie’s impending motherhood, and the off season announcement that this is a season about family; this was the PERFECT time to bring Ellie into the know. Even more disappointment abounds; Chuck, Devon, and Ellie are back to lying and keeping secrets from one another. It is a writer’s maxim that writers should not give the fans what they want, they should give fans something better. I am hard pressed to envision a scenario that exceeds the possible payoff that was waiting to be realized in this episode.

All that aside, watch this episode to see Timothy Dalton’s performance. What a coup for the show in being able to cast him! His tenure on the show is a precious treat rarely seen on television.

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32 comments

  1. All the reviewers keep complaining about the ease that Chuck had with reacquiring the Intersect.

    Has no one considered that some kind of “Jeffster-factor” will impact the effectiveness of this firmware update to the Intersect? Jeff and Lester repaired Steven Bartowski’s futuristic laptop computer. Don’t forget that on top of them being Jeff and Lester (with all that this entails), they are also “Mac-guys” (see Season One, where they state this).

    I don’t think that we’ve seen the last of Chuck’s Intersect drama for this season, and Ellie is going to find out about the spying when she is the only one who can fix all of the damage that Jeffster and The Belgian’s scientist did to Chuck’s mind.

    These two complaints (Intersect and Ellie related) are both still valid. However, I suspect (hope) that if we had watched the next episode last night, there would have been some pay-off related to these issues.

  2. It’s a shame we have to wait till 17 Jan for the new episode :(.

    Furthermore, I agree that this wasn’t the best Chuck episode this season, and I hope next episodes will come up with some good suprises :). One thing that I missed whas the romance between Chuck and Sarah, it all seemed so … normal xD. Though I loved the shot where they where holding hands before going to battle and the scene where Sarah was holding Chuck when Volkoff hit him to the ground. ”Talking about the future”, that phrase was a promesing one ! But unfortunatly the bad guys & MamaB came in the picture. Till that phrase the whole episode went as I hoped it would go 🙂 well, I guess we should wait till Chuck asks Sara in a much spectaculair way. Can’t wait for the new episodes.

  3. I’m pretty sure that the Intersect arc is not totally over; I wouldn’t be surprised if Chuck had problems with it in a near future and Sarah will bring Ellie up to speed with what is going on.

    And as for the spy storyline being underwhelming, when you will realize that the spy story-lines are merely a pretext for the progression of the relationships (all the characters, not just Chuck and Sarah), you will enjoy those episodes more.

    The fact that it came right after the amazing Vs. Phase Three didn’t help either.

    • Of course the spy stories push the relationships. Knew that from the pilot. You have to agree that better constructed spy stories would give more rewarding relational payoffs.

      If that ever happens then, yes, my enjoyment of the episode will increase. Much like they do for Couch Lock and Phase 3 which have the season’s best constructed spy storylines. Consequently those two episodes have the best emotional payoff.

      Given the show’s propensity for dropping story threads I admire your optimism but fear for your expectations.

      • Remind me again what was the ‘storyline’ of Phase 3? How did it advance the overall story?

        Oh, that’s right Sarah gets angry, frustrated, heartbroken, hopeful while proceeding to kickass across Thailand – not really a storyline – didn’t really tell us anything more about any of the characters than we already knew. Yet, Phase 3 may be the best Chuck yet with some of the best emotional impact! Could it be that the emotional impact made it seem to be a better story than it was? I can imagine the reaction if Yvonne had not been able to pull it off as well as she did – everyone one have thought it a flat, uninteresting story.

        That considered Leftovers actually added more to the overall story than did Phase 3 – after all with Volkoff knowing Chuck is Mary’s son there are all kinds of future implications in that one fact alone.

        Finally, given that Chuck is always bringing back events from earlier episodes I don’t agree that just because some questions are left unanswered by this episode that they won’t be in some future episode. For instance, it’s hard to imagine that Ellie would just forget the Roark-7 and not ask what happened to it. I guess Awesome could lie & say he sold it a a garage sale, but as poor a liar as he is I can’t see Ellie believing that.

  4. Two thoughts:

    1. I agree that perhaps with more detail the Mama B de-intersecting Chuck storyline might make more sense. However, I think on its face Mama B’s reasons were pretty logical. She didn’t want Chuck to continue looking for her so I think she presumed without the Intersect that the CIA would sideline Chuck. My other thought is that she probably assumed Sarah wouldn’t let non-intersect Chuck out of her sight. I don’t think she anticipated the events of Fear of Death which tipped off Volkoff that he was still alive. This also makes the Papa B line make slightly more sense. Papa B wanted to find her (devoted his life’s work to it), so she was saying to Chuck your father wanted you to keep looking for me but I don’t. It doesn’t entirely justify the line but it helps.

    2. I’m not as frustrated by the Ellie storyline as others seem to be. I’d be fine with her knowing that Chuck is a spy again but I don’t necessarily need her involved in everything. What aggravates me more is the plot mechanics of her not at least knowing. I’m willing to be very forgiving on plot holes and stretching but it seems increasingly tough to reconcile the idea that Ellie hasn’t stumbled on the fact that Chuck is a spy again yet. For example in Phase Three, I think at the beginning Sarah said something like “five countries in three days” which suggests Chuck was MIA for at least 3 or 4 days. Even if Ellie was supposedly working some insane hospital shift, wouldn’t she have at least noticed Chuck wasn’t around? More importantly wouldn’t she have noticed now that they live together that Chuck and Sarah simultaneously seem to oddly disappear for days at a time? Say in Suitcase when they were jet setting back and forth to Milan? Additionally in Leftovers, wouldn’t Ellie have realized the brain scans were likely related to Chuck? Presuming she got the whole story at the end of Season 3 she would know Chuck has a computer in his brain that was invented by their father. Then her dad mysteriously leaves her a laptop with weird brain scans and information on it. Wouldn’t she have connected the two? Either the pregnancy hormones are going to her head or Ellie is the most oblivious brain surgeon ever.

    • My husband thought the same thing about Mama B’s reasons to de-intersect Chuck. But I think that the resolution of the intersect arc is still too abrupt and convenient and the lack of explanations makes us feel a bit off for the episode because we all know that Chuck (the show) can do it better.

    • My impression, based on how she reacted to Chuck in 4.04 and to the computer in 4.09 is that Ellie got anywhere near the whole story at the end of season 3, and most likely doesn’t know about the intersect.
      I also want to say that until I saw your comment I didn’t put it together that of Mary suppressed the intersect Chuck was so that he wouldn’t show up on other missions and Volkoff would continue to believe he was dead. I still hope they explain her comment that Steven didn’t want Chuck to see the suppressor and why he left a suppressor remover with Ellie or how Mary seemed to know about it.
      As far as additional episode flashes go, I got a kick out of the fact that Casey called Mary “Mama B” in this episode.

    • I don’t think Ellie knows about the intersect because in Chuck versus the coup d’ etat she said “We really need you to do some spy stuff now” and not “We really need you to flash now”.

  5. Thanks for the as usual spot on review Lou! Having been a Chuck fan from season one I’ve sadly come to expect that a stellar episode like Phase Three is often followed by a less than satisfying episode. Yet my problem with Leftovers is that it seemed like a rehash of previous plots.

    For the past three seasons (and twice this season) we have seen the Buy More taken over by baddies. Maybe this is intended to be a satire of governmental security but like SNL’s Seth and Amy, I found myself saying “Really?” during this episode. The joke is getting old as is the whole idea of a Buy More/CIA sub station. I mean where were the other agents? After repeated security breaches Beckman should be a candidate for early retirement.

    I also agree with others that the writers seemed to forget the previous mythology of the show and have made both Chuck and Casey appear to be helpless and ineffective at best. Also I’m tired of Awesome and Ellie’s aversion to the spy world. With the rest of their family and friends as spies why can’t their characters grow and be willing to hear the whole truth about their family? After all, their lives can’t be in any more jeopardy than they are already!

    Despite the disappointment with this episode I’m still a loyal Chuck fan. I just wish the writers were as concerned about such details as many of us fans are.

    • Right on Donovan, the fact that this was the first episode by a new Chuck writer, directed by Zack and lord knows what else was just too high a hill to climb. It was a total waste of the Volkov story line and Dalton. I got the feeling the writer really had no idea what to do and just had to get a script in. I’m not that worried about Mr. Levi directing, I’m sure they have enough talent in the regular crew to make a airable product. But if he hadn’t been cast as the male lead does Zack really think he’d be hired to direct? None of this is really helping the show. I fear for the future.

  6. I may be the only one on here that is tired of Intersect problems. I want to go back to chasing bad guys/girls with a great deal of comedy integrated into the storyline. I also want the Chuck and Sarah relationship to continue progressing. I enjoyed the Die Hard references and thought Timothy Dalton’s charades were hilarious. I have learned to somewhat overlook dangling pieces of storyline which may or may not be revisited. This show has left open what I thought were important or interesting bits of storyline since season one. I have taught myself to move on. With the intersect firmly planted in his head I hope the whining Chuck is no more. I wanted a new Christmas episode-thought there were some great storyline possibilities–evidently that is not in the cards –but I am anxious for the new adventures to start up.


  7. I may be the only one on here that is tired of Intersect problems.

    You are not the only one. I also really miss Chuck who was between 3×13 and 3×19. And it woudl be nice if they finnaly decided to Chuck is a spy or not. as I said some other site, ( and mostly they break me down ) I dont really like, they make Chuck weaker and Sarah just so stronger, yeah she is Spy but, not immortal or unstoppable. That is why i love the Anniversary. Casey and Sarah get captured but this not make them silly Spys. And Chuck is not Chuck becasue He is a fool or geek or whatever.
    So this not a good reason when they say Chuck is Chuck .
    I understood I have some unrealistic expectation some times. But yeah I would love to se if Chuck become more Spy even a litle more Cold-Blooded if is necessary.
    I mean Zach play the same old same old carachter almost very season, while Yvonne play a diffrent Sarah almost every season.

  8. YIPPIE-KAI-YAY MOTHERLOVER!! Morgan was hilarious, so was Jeff and Lester, so was Timothy Dalton (in a twisted sort of way…), and I am glad to see the Intersect back. I can’t wait to see what happens next… See y’all next time!

  9. just one more thing. Here is someone, who wrote realy well what i want to say . 🙂
    http://tvovermind.zap2it.com/nbc/chuck-pseudospy-sneer/41203

    “there’s a time and a place for goofy, nerdy, sweet…Chuck, and…for professional spy Chuck.”

    • This is an excellent opinion article by Jeffrey Kirkpatrick on the strengths and weaknesses regarding the growth of Chuck’s character. It is well written and definitely worth the time to read.

  10. Disagree as to all of it. This was a horrible episode, I believe I saw Fonzie strapping on the waterskis before this one was over. Also please make Morgan the character who gets killed this season. Please.

    • Agree, this was a bad episode, one of only two so far this year.

      However, completely disagree about Morgan. Morgan has become a great addition this year. He provides a bit of levity to the show. In fact, he’s more like Chuck was to the team in Season 1 and Season 2.

  11. I also agree that this was not the best episode of the season for me that is Phase 3, but I thought this was a good solid episode and I’m quite happy with how the spy story line is advancing. Volkoff knows almost everything about Agent Carmichael now. He knows his weaknesses, he knows where to find him, he knows how to hurt him by hurting the ones he loves.

    Imagine what he will do when Frost along with Team Bartowski finally take down Volkoff’s organization.

    Did anyone notice, that Chuck had one of the big boy guns when he and Sarah took Frost up to Volkoff. Anytime Chuck is faced with a serious situation where Sarah or Ellie are at risk he carries a real gun – Other Guy, Ring 2 final fight, Coup D’Etat when leading Awesome and Ellie to safety, and now Leftovers.

    One point I have brought up elsewhere – regarding the intersect upgrade. In order for Chuck to get the new intersect there were two passwords – one for Ellie to solve the memory problem, and one for Chuck to activate the intersect patch (or is it intersect 3.0?). For me that’s a call back to “There is nothing in this whole world that the two of you can’t fix if you work together.”

    Also that scene with Morgan near the end with the gun taped to his back was so hillarious.

    To me this was a fantastic Chuck episode, not the best but still fantastic none the less.

  12. I liked it more than the previous episode. With all due respect to Yvonne, her episode was awful. This was anticlimatic but maybe because of Zac directing? I am sure they´ll work on it in the last 3 episodes of this story arc.
    If they wouldn´t waste creentime with useless Morgan, they could have developed some real story. Well, I am a minority, I won´t complain.

  13. It’s interesting that you touched both Chuck as a character and Chuck’s function in the story in your review because I think that both have suffered this season. Chuck has been written as too whiny, unconfident, and incompetent. Moreover, his role has shifted from being the hero to being tossed around by the plot, which is problematic because the show is called Chuck.

    “Leftovers” left me with no sense of what Chuck’s goals and motivations are. Does he want to take down Volkoff Industries? Does he want to get his mom back, or does he just want the truth? How does he feel about his mother’s apparent betrayals? What objective is he working towards? Unfortunately, the writers made a grave error this season when they decided to concentrate more on Chuck and Sarah’s relationship than on Chuck’s journey. Now I don’t know where Chuck is coming from or where he’s going.

    • Agree totally. Enjoying the individual episodes but the season arc has lost the Chuck character somewhat and his journey as a hero totally.

    • IMO ,as pointed out in 4.01, Chuck wants to know the truth and to understand why Moma B did what she did. He understands her fears about wanting to protect Ellie and him from harm but He still has a lot of questions as to her true agenda as it applies to her mission and Volkoff. As he pointed out in the episode why suppress the intersect just to make him vulnerable to harm ?

      taking away the intersect I think showed just how much Chuck became dependent upon it to be a spy and his lack of confidence to still be an effective member of TB without it.

      Ellie involvement is going to tied to intersect and ground work is still in place for this to happen (Chuck confessing to Ellie that he back in the spy game during one of his dream sequence in phase 3 and Ellie not wanting Chuck to know about the laptop )

      But same time I can understand apprehension that this story will eventually bear fruit. The show and writers let us down last season and with crop of new writers this season work at getting back that trust. Merve you and Lou bring up good points.

      • I was fine with S3. I’m apprehensive about where S4 is heading because S4 hasn’t delivered so far. And I’m not concerned about new writers vs. old writers. What concerns me is that the storyline doesn’t seem to be heading anywhere. Because the plot hasn’t built up to much so far, the show is going to have to introduce a bunch of new stuff to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion.

      • Totally Merve. S4 lacks a consistent through line. What is the end game this season? Where is Chuck the show heading? Actually where is Chuck the character we originally got behind and cheered on this season?

    • You know, I had been having a problem with the show for some reason and I think you hit the nail on the head. It is trying to be all things to all people and it is starting to become a bore. They don’t know what they want Chuck to be. This season has been horrible, last season was bad except the two episodes where Chuck and Sarah finally ‘find’ each other. The first two seasons had an urgency to them, that the last two seasons have destroyed. And its all because we don’t know what Chuck is or is supposed to be. Great comment, let’s get our show back. Kill Morgan!

  14. It seems like comments are going around in circles. Last year everyone complained that they were getting too dark, Chuck was moving away from the guy we loved in seasons 1 and 2 and actually voted that Sarah and Chuck were the heart of the show. This year its too silly, Chuck isn’t showing enough growth and Chuck hero’s journey should be the center of the show. Personally I would like more on Chuck’s journey, but I don’t totally agree with some of the suggestions in this article. For one, the article linked to above indicates that in order to be a “true spy” Chuck shouldn’t rely on the intersect or Sarah. To train Chuck to be on par with Sarah and Casey without the intersect would take a great deal of time and seems rather unnecessarily now that they’ve resolved the intersect issues. I also fail to see how making having Chuck know how to fight due to “muscle memory” is any different than having him flash.
    As to Chuck’s confidence, he has gotten a lot more at ease with dangerous situation. Just think about how Season 1 or 2 Chuck would react to jumping out a plane or the needles in 4.08? But then again, I have a soft spot for self-depreciating (or self underestimating)Heroes. It made me cringe a bit to see Chuck act over confident both during several episodes of Season 3 and during 4.05 when decided to head into the building without the tactical team. He has been an agent for less than a year — it makes sense for him to have to defer to others with more experience with or without the intersect.

    • I loved S3 and Chuck´s character development there. I would be happy to see the show to continue in that tone.
      I would kick Sarah sometimes for not telling Chuck how she feels, too. They both seem to be really lost this season. All of them do. It turned into “Morgan show” where they try to make Morgan funny, with Casey making noises and with anticlimatic “dramatic” scenes.
      Last year, we were actually worried about one of the characters. This year, i wouldn´t believe it in a million years.
      I like S4 but it lacks something.

  15. This is the danger when you get to a season four,five and following on that you don’t redo old episodes again. This was not a good episode. But as Mel mentioned, when we go into such a big season with huge stars then when one episode isn’t good it really shows but if you were to put that in say season 3 you would have said it was okay. All I know is that I agree with Merve about how Chuck the main character of the show has really regressed!! Let’s keep moving forward people!! His relationship with Sarah shouldn’t have messed him up this much!! I want to see the Chuck that was in Couch lock-in charge and acting like a spy. I hate to keep repeating myself but the writers should have to rewatch seasons again and again. Thanks Lou for your review. I agree with you.

    • Why does Chuck need the big stars anyway? I don’t tune in to see what Stone Cold or Freddie Krugger are going to do. I want to watch Chuck be the hero and see how his character grows. Sometimes I think the writers are writing shows to fit in a theme like Die Hard or a guest star and are not focused on the important story of Chuck. I think the story of Chuck is strong enough to stand on its own without a guest star or themed show crutch.

  16. I like the character development debate that is going on, it is one of the things that makes this show stand apart from the rest. And while it’s obvious we are all interested in Chuck’s journey to figure out what he wants to do with his life (we already know who he wants to spend it with), I’ve always felt Chuck is the character who has changed the least over these first three and a half seasons.

    It is Chuck’s handlers, now partners, Sarah and Casey who have went through major changes in how they view the world and interact with others. Chuck still hates guns, still trusts people, and still puts his family and friends ahead of everything else. Compare Season 1 Casey to Casey now, he is a very different person. The change isn’t as drastic with Sarah, but that is because we have seen very little of her pre-Chuck. I hope we can get more back story on her. We got a taste of what she might have been like before she met Chuck in “vs Phase 3”.

    I happen to think this idea of making it appear as though Chuck is growing and changing while he actually serves as the catalyst of change for those around him is what the creators (Josh and Chris) had in mind from the start.

  17. I thought the episode was an average one botgh for the series but maybe a bit below average for this season as we have had some great epiosdes this year.
    I think it is interesting with observations that Chuck has regressed somehow as he is not being more of a spy when the hole premise is that he is a normal guy, he has emotions, he has family connections, trusts people, and he will not kill unless he needs to to protect the people he loves. These are the things that made not only Sarah fall in love with him its what makes us the fans love him.
    It would have been sensible maybe to train him to be a spy without the intersect but all the training was to help him use the intersect and how would they have been able to stop him flashing while training when he did have the intersect? This coupled with the fact that it would take appr 3 yers to get him to spy standard so that was not going to be an option he had to get the intersect back.
    I find it strange that few people have mentioned that this is the first villan that knows all about Chuck and his family he know about mum, ellie, Devon and all about his relationship with Sarah so and what impact that has for the future and in S3 when Awesome was threatened Chuck freaked out but now he and Sarah plan a way to get them safely out of the house so he is not the same guy he was in S1 and 2. This surely sets things up fot the future.