Lesson learned on tonight’s episode of Chuck: family dynamics can be a real pain in the butt.

Instead of taking on the recap chronologically this week, I’m going to break it up by family, because it seems more fitting for the episode.

Chuck & Sarah

The newest family of the bunch hit a small rough patch in the form of a legal document. While getting ready for work, Sarah sprung a surprise on Chuck: a prenuptial agreement. Chuck nearly has a heart attack and mutters something about needing another shower (for his hair – he didn’t wash it and was feeling European!) but really just wanted to go bring this bombshell over to Casey and Morgan for some advice. First he gets distracted by Casey and Morgan’s couple-like breakfast behavior (in sync movements and everything!). But they offer good advice: just be cool about it and sign the thing. So he does. Which freaks out Sarah because she assumed this would lead to a big conversation. Throughout the whole episode they go back and forth – with each other and every other person they come in contact with – about what this means and how they should be reacting. Sarah finally admits to Casey it is really about money she has saved away in case her dad gets arrested again and how she feels stuck between her parents. She rips up the prenup and Chuck has her sign a new one. It says they will love each other forever and never consider divorce. All together now: Awwwwwww.

Casey & Alex

Back at the breakfast with practically married Casey and Morgan – Morgan gets an invite in the mail from Alex (Mekenna Melvin) for her college graduation. Casey doesn’t get one because Alex hasn’t told her mom that Casey is alive, so if he shows up at the graduation it will be, well, awkward to say the least. Casey plays it cool (natch) but is visibly hurt. Later Alex comes to the Buy More to tell Casey her plan to meet up with him between the graduation ceremony and a dinner with her mom later. He doesn’t like that the plan requires Alex to lie to her mom, but Alex is willing to do what it takes to maintain her relationship with her father. One incredibly awkward hug later, the two settle on the plan. After Casey had the talk with Sarah about kids being stuck in the middle of their parents, he decides to tell Alex to cancel those plans and they will celebrate at a time that doesn’t require Alex to lie. Instead Alex decides to go a different route – it’s time to tell Mom that her dead boyfriend isn’t exactly so dead after all. I suggest Alex brings a lot of wine (whiskey?) to that conversation.

The Bartowski Family

Things are getting mighty sticky with the Bartowski Family. There are lies on top of lies on top of lies. The episode started with a tiny lie. Ellie telling her mom, Mary (Linda Hamilton), that things are fine and she doesn’t need any help as much as she appreciates it. Of course, Mary reminds Ellie she is a spy, and knows Ellie is hiding something. Ellie shows Mary the computer from Dad which almost causes Mary to have a mini-stroke. Then Ellie starts talking about the intersect and the mysterious Agent X and I started to think that Mary was going to go have a heart attack right there at the table. Ellie didn’t seem to notice though. At least not at first. Later, after Mary has babysat, Ellie realizes Mary erased some of the files and is none too happy about it. She interrupts Devon’s lecture on the validity of The Missing Link to Claire to let him know just how upset she is! Ellie asks Mary about it the next time she is there to babysit (what is it Mary does nowadays, besides babysit?) but Mary pretends it was an innocent mistake made when copying files for the CIA to look over. Ellie, the new spy that she is, uses the fancy baby-cam to spy on Mary. When she sees that Mary is on the computer again, she tells Devon they are going spy and following mom to see where she goes with the info.

The next morning Ellie and Devon (or should I say Hot Mama and Six Pack!) follow Mary. Mary went to Chuck at the castle (which is still being fixed up from all the exploding last episode) and tells him that Ellie is going to find out about Chuck eventually and it would be better if it just came to him. (If this were The Soup, Joel McHale would be standing in front of a screen that read “Mary Bartowski, unlikely voice of reason.”) Mary goes to Beckett – and by goes to Beckett, I mean goes to the room where she is always on the television screen – and asks for the computer to be taken from Ellie. But Beckett says the very high up folks want Ellie working on it because she has been able to figure out things that no other analyst could. Mary is just left to wonder what her husband has left in his wake. Back at home, Chuck goes to tell Ellie the truth, but when he brings up the computer she says all she found on it were some game cheat. Chuck gets a very sad face because she lied. Ellie never lied to him before. See, family is hard! But the Bartowskis are hardly the most messed up family on the episode….

The Volkoff Family

All those bombs that blew up the castle last episode? Well they were bought by Vivian Volkoff (Lauren Cohan) so there is a kill order on her. Chuck is still unsure of how bad she is and asks for a meeting with her first. They go to some middle of nowhere location and Vivian still claims innocence and says she wants nothing to do with Volkoff industries. To prove it she has brought an unknown device that she found. But then a sniper takes out most of her men, and she gets mad at Chuck saying he’s betrayed her again. Really, Chuck? Are you still buying her innocence? Sometimes Chuck’s naivete is a little hard to swallow after four seasons of the spy game. Anyway – the device is a complete mystery – Chuck doesn’t flash on it and the analysts have no idea what it is. But there is one man who would. Alexei Volkoff (Timothy Dalton – thank goodness they brought him back). Chuck and Sarah go to see him in prison and find a new and remorseful man. Proving Chuck isn’t a complete idiot – he isn’t buying it. They tell Alexei about Vivian having a kill order on her and they ask him to tell them about the device. He says it’s the Norseman. Basically – get a DNA sample of someone and you can find and kill them (and their family) in a crowded room. Charming! But it is a 3 part device. They still need the tracker and the killing agent. Only Alexei knows where they are and he will only talk if he can meet with Vivian. They don’t agree and leave.

Back at Castle, the team finds out that Beckett decided it was worth making the agreement and suddenly an entire unit of heavily armed men come in, along with Alexei, who is being rolled in, Hannibal Lecter style. Minus the mask. The first part of the hunt takes the team to Mogadishu to get the targeting device back from a pirate, Abshir. Alexei lost it in a card game to him. He tells Chuck to just say he works for Volkoff, but all that gets Chuck is about 4 dozen automatic weapons pointed at him, and Abshir saying he has to play cards for the device, but if he loses he dies. Chuck’s response: “Do you have UNO?” Turns out, yes they do! But Abshir is a big fat cheater, so Alexei convinces Casey and Sarah to let him out and take care of it. He does. Not only does he get the tracker, he apologizes to Abshir. (I’m not sure how I feel about this running joke, and yet Dalton really pulls it off, so I’ll let it go.)

The killing agent is in some Swiss bunker that can only be opened with Alexei’s DNA, naturally, so off they go to get the last component. The first safeguard before getting into the bunker is a timed chess game – you lose, or don’t finish in time you get shot. I was kind of hoping this would be a game of Wizard’s Chess, and then they would go and find the Sorcerer’s Stone in the bunker. (I’m not ready to let Harry Potter go this summer….) Alexei starts to have a melt down, questioning who he is, but Chuck reminds him that he is a badass villain – the worst that ever lived – and it brings Alexei right back. He wins the game, and into the bunker they go. Casey and Sarah heard mysterious Russian voices over the intercom and went in to see what’s up. Turns out this was all a set up by Vivian. She knew the device would lead to Alexei’s release. And Alexei knew when he saw the device it was a message from Vivian. Unfortunately for Alexei – he misinterpreted the message a bit. Turns out Vivian wants revenge on Chuck AND Alexei. As far as she is concerned they both lied to her and ruined her life. She is a very very angry girl. And very much a villain – check out her lipstick shade! She takes the killing agent (the other two components can be rebuilt), has her henchman set up some plasma bombs and locks Chuck, Sarah, Casey and Alexei in the room to die. Alexei, once again, gets upset because he ruined his relationship with is daughter – jail has really messed this guy up – and Chuck tries to calm him down for help on how to get out. It doesn’t seem to be working. Since Chuck left his juice boxes in the car, there is no way to diffuse the bombs and they are about to die, when Alexei sets up a small EMP device and knocks out all the electric devices, including the bombs. Whew. Way to be clutch, Alexei!

Back at Castle, Alexei gets to apologize to one more person – Mary. He tells her that he never deserved her love the way Orion did. Ain’t that the truth!

Last scene: Vivian ordering the parts be remade for the Norseman. She has a target in mind. The biggest threat there ever was to Volkoff industries….. Agent X.

Dun dun duuuunnnnnn.

So…. who is Agent X? Sometime it seems like Chuck. Sometimes it seems like Ellie. I’m unclear. Next week: Gary Cole returns as Sarah’s dad and my still unfulfilled hope that he will hold a mug and ask someone to come in on Saturday will be renewed!

What did you think of Chuck versus the Family Volkhoff?

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Written by Melissa Miller. Find her on Twitter @Serrae and follow her blog I [heart] TV

If you have difficult family dynamics, and based on this episode it’s clear everyone does, then you should check out Small Screen Scoop daily. It helps! Honest!