Alexei Volkoff was only ever supposed to be the cover identity for MI6 scientist, Hartley Winterbottom, which Hartley's Intersect created and uploaded when Winterbottom went into the field during an undercover mission when he was working with Stephen Bartowski on the Intersect project. Hartley took the cover of an international arms dealer, Alexei Volkoff, and assisted by Stephen uploaded an Intersect based identity, attempting to aid his cover, since Hartley was not a field agent.
This early Intersect application, however, overwhelmed Hartley's mild personality, and replaced it with the aggressive attributes of his cover identity. He literally became Volkoff. Eventually, Mary Bartowski (Linda Hamilton) was sent into the organization he founded, Volkoff Industries, to destroy what his alter ego had created, and apparently to work on Volkoff himself, to see if Hartley were redeemable.
His overt and odd love for Mary is perhaps an indication that something of Hartley was still there, since she had been his friend and the wife of his best friend prior to being subsumed by the Volkoff identity.
Alexei Volkoff was the head and founder of Volkoff Industries, an international arms dealing company whose base of operations is in Moscow, Russia. Volkoff was the reason Mary Bartowski left her family about 1991, she was assigned by the CIA to bring down his network.
In Chuck Versus the Cubic Z, Chuck flashes on a piece Volkoff Industries equipment. It reveals Volkoff's profile which states that he is about 5'10 - 6'2, speaks Russian, German and English, and was indicted in New York for his involvement in arms trafficking. He was also wanted for "Conspiracy to kill United States nationals, to murder, to destroy buildings and property of the United States, and to destroy the national defense utilities of the United States".
Volkoff, by his own description, is a hopeless romantic. He enjoys painting, poems, and listens to “Requiem: Dies Irae” by Mozart. Volkoff was also shown as obsessively possessive towards Frost, and claims to be in love with her. He personally goes to the CIA substation at Castle to rescue her when she is taken into custody, threatening death to all those inside should they not deliver her, saying he'd rather kill her than let her remain in custody. When Chuck was forced to turn her over, and Volkoff is about to kill him, Mary is forced to admit Chuck is her son. Volkoff responded with: "You didn't think I could have a relationship with your family? Kids love me!" He then forces them all to have dinner together, apparently enjoying himself, immensely playing charades with the unwitting Ellie.
After learning that Orion is Chuck's father, he becomes jealous and competitive, under the Chuck created illusion that Orion is still alive. He tries to earn Mary's love - she finally declares that, "Alive or dead, my husband will always be ten times a better man than you," he responds that he would bring her back Orion's body. It was playing on his obsessions that allowed Chuck to defeat and capture him.
He appears to be genuinely affected by his daughter's betrayal in Chuck Versus the Family Volkoff and appears to be willing to change his ways while in jail. Probably because he was not really Alexei Volkoff. Despite his ruthlessness in the criminal trade, he does appear to have a sense of honor, and also seems to have the capacity to be a genuinely normal person given his interactions with Chuck and others when he played the role of MI6 agent Tuttle.
Relationship with Mary
When Volkoff discovers that Chuck is still alive in Chuck Versus the Leftovers and had escaped the destruction of Stephen's secret base, he assigns Mary to send three of their best assassins to kill Chuck. He becomes more cautious - without knowing Mary's involvement in helping Chuck escape, he assumes he has underestimated Chuck.
After his men are killed and Mary goes missing, he launches a full-scale assault with his operatives against the Buy More, knowing that Castle is underneath it. He demands the CIA and NSA release Mary. With no other choice, Chuck and Sarah escort her to the Buy More, aware that Volkoff is in love with her. When he pulls a gun on Chuck, he tells Mary that she hopes his killing 'Agent Carmichael' can be seen as a romantic gesture. Mary tells Volkoff not to kill Chuck, and finally admits that he is her son. Volkoff then compels Chuck to "invite" him to the family's Thanksgiving leftovers dinner. Volkoff then joins the Bartowski family's dinner, trying to prove Mary wrong about her reluctance to admit to having a family.
After Ellie and Devon leave after a staged emergency call, Sarah and Chuck attempt to arrest Volkoff, only to be surrounded by his men. Mary then has Volkoff at gunpoint, forcing him to let them go, "This is exactly why I didn't tell you about my family. You don't know how to love someone. You only know how to control them. But you should know, that I could never love a man who would do anything to hurt my son. So drop it...you know that I am loyal to you. But I will not return with you, until you promise me that my family and their friends will remain safe. And if they don't... I will end you." Volkoff laughs, saying that is how one properly threatens someone, and agrees. He leaves with Frost and withdraws all his people from Echo Park and the Buy More.
In Chuck Versus the Push Mix, Volkoff appears to enjoy sending video calls to Mary. At the time, Mary was aiding Sarah in stealing the data from the Hydra network in his office. When Mary received a video call from him, she immediately positions herself in the dark corner of the office and answers the call. He seems very needy and clingy, another hint that somewhere inside him was a man beyond his depth. Even after finding out later in the season that she was always a deep cover operative in his organization, he still treats her well and attempts to win her love by eliminating what he sees as his competition - Orion - who Chuck convinces him, is still alive and coming for Mary, staging a cyber-assault on his headquarters.
First appearing in Chuck Versus the First Fight, Chuck meets him under the alias of Gregory Tuttle; he is originally presented as Frost's enthusiastic, if bumbling and completely inexperienced in the matters of field-work, MI6 handler. With Chuck's assistance, Tuttle escapes Volkoff's agents and helps Chuck recover data that would clear Mary and prove she has been in deep cover to bring down his organization. However, after being apparently wounded in a gunfight while recovering the disks, Tuttle reveals himself as Volkoff and that the entire operation was a plan to locate and destroy Stephen's intelligence. He attempts to kill Chuck and Sarah in the explosion that destroys Stephen's work, but was, unbeknownst to him, betrayed by Mary, who left a means for them to escape.
Later in the season, Volkoff is alone in his headquarters, when the entire building suffers a power failure, and upon accessing the computer network in his office, a message tells him that "I want my wife back". He then begins to think that Orion is still alive. This causes him to panic, and he immediately goes out to sea on a vessel named The Contessa, where he stored a backup Hydra network, lest Orion hack into it.
Chuck, Sarah, Morgan, and Mary attempt to access the Hydra network on his vessel, but they are captured. Volkoff is taken off-guard by Mary's betrayal. Despite this, he still loves her, and has her look at the interface of his network, where he received a new message from Orion, telling them to meet at Stephen's house. When Volkoff arrives, he finds out that it was Chuck all along who staged the messages on Volkoff's networks, from the presumed Orion. Chuck's plan culminates later when he manages to have Volkoff unwittingly speak each element of the audio password to his network, which Morgan is able to re-edit and use to gain access. It was instantly received by Orion's secret computers hidden in the cabin, where the system began downloading the Hydra. When he realizes his mistake, Volkoff points out that Chuck cannot leave the house as Volkoff operatives surround the area. Chuck then answers the knock on the door, revealing General Beckman herself and a unit soldiers waiting outside the cabin to arrest Volkoff.
Before departing for prison, he says to Chuck "Tell your mom to come visit me."
Main article: Hydra Network
Beckman and Sarah contrived a plan to have Sarah to be apparently arrested for treason, and so the seeds were sown for Volkoff to welcome Sarah's presence in his organization. Sarah immediately sets about earning Volkoff's trust. As Sarah goes into deep cover into Volkoff Industries, she discovers that Volkoff secretly monitors his agents through a network, called the Hydra. Mary, however, appears to have been aware of the network, as she has always taken extreme caution while on weapons transactions, and has shot Chuck in the past to avoid suspicion of her true affiliation. Volkoff then has Sarah assigned on a mission to break his former bodyguard Yuri Gobrienko out of federal prison.
When Yuri returns to Volkoff's headquarters, Volkoff kills him and extracts a false eyeball - he explains to Sarah and Mary that the Hydra network is actually Yuri's fake eye. Volkoff begins uploading all of the data in the Hydra onto a vessel called The Contessa. After the upload is finished, he immediately destroys the eye, although Mary furtively picks up the fragments of the device and has Sarah pass them on to Casey when Volkoff orders her to kill him. During a fight, they choreograph a fall on to scaffolding he assures her he can survive.
Mary and Sarah are later brought to The Contessa, where Volkoff stays with them out of fear that Orion is still alive, after previously encountering several hackings in his Hydra network in his office. Later, Chuck and Morgan are aboard and began searching for the network, where they team up with Sarah and Mary to enter the database hidden in the ship. After reaching the network, Chuck begins tampering with the machines, which causes Volkoff to later find a message in the Hydra interface aboard the ship that tells her to meet Orion at Stephen's cabin.
In Chuck Versus Agent X, it is revealed that Agent X is the code name of Hartley Winterbottom who was a MI6 scientist, and the first human Intersect. The episode also reveals that he had maintained a close friendship with Stephen Bartowski (code name Orion). When the Intersect malfunctioned, Hartley believed he was actually his cover identity - Alexei Volkoff - and became a genuine international arms dealer, although some subconscious memories seemed to linger, as evidenced by him naming his daughter Vivian, later revealed to be a Winterbottom family name.
Orion originally built the Intersect to assist Hartley in going undercover in an arms dealing organization as Alexei Vokoff. The Intersect gave Hartley a new identity and a different personality. Slowly corrupting his mind, he began losing all memories of his life as Hartley, and assumed that Agent X was a threat to the organization he ran.
Prior to the discovery of the identity of Agent X, in Chuck Versus the Family Volkoff, Vivianput out a contract on the life of Agent X to consolidate her position by completing what she thinks her father could never do.
- The character name was first used for the head of security at the Russian embassy in DC in another McG produced series Human Target, ep 103, filmed in the fall of 2009 which aired on Jan. 26, 2010.
- The first mention of Alexei Volkoff in the "Chuck" franchise was in Chuck Versus the Cubic Z, filmed in April of 2010 and airing in October, but the character was not actually introduced until Chuck Versus the First Fight.