- Decker: "Your real name is Hartley Winterbottom."
- Volkoff: "Nobody names a person that."
- ― Clyde Decker on Volkoff's identity
Hartley Winterbottom is the true, original identity of the man known to the world as Alexei Volkoff. He was an MI6 scientist on the original Intersect team alongside Stephen Bartowski (Scott Bakula), and is the first Human Intersect. He is portrayed by Timothy Dalton. Hartley served as the primary antagonist of Season 4.
Before Identity Suppression Edit
Hartley and Stephen were very close friends, based on what Hartley's mother told Chuck. Whether this was during their childhood years, or during their adult years, was not mentioned. When working on the Intersect, the CIA assigned Hartley a mission to go undercover. Presumably, the Intersect was still in development, and Stephen Bartowski was still working on it. Together, Stephen and Hartley created a fictitious profile for Hartley to play while undercover; Alexei Volkoff, an international arms dealer. Much like Stephen, Hartley hated using guns, and this characteristic would prove to be a liability if he were to go undercover as a ruthless arms dealer. Hartley convinced Stephen Bartowski to let him use the Intersect for the mission. The version of Intersect uploaded in Hartley's head was only meant to temporarily suppress his real identity and replace it with his false identity, and according to Mary, it was supposed to last for only a couple of months.
After Identity Suppression Edit
Due to unknown reasons, Hartley's Intersect became corrupt, virtually concealing everything that made him Hartley, and replacing it with the attributes of his cover identity. Volkoff didn't remember anything about who he actually was, and even subconsciously, he believed himself to be Alexei Volkoff. In an unknown period of time, he became a criminal arms dealer and succeeded in the business. He founded Volkoff Industries, which became a well-known arms dealing company, catering to the destructive needs of various high level, dangerous criminal organizations, such as The Ring.
Mary Bartowski (Linda Hamilton) was sent into Volkoff Industries. Whether she was sent by the CIA, MI6 or Orion, was never mentioned. Also, her goal was never explicitly mentioned. Based on what she said in "Chuck Versus the Leftovers", she was sent by the CIA into Volkoff Industries to take down Volkoff's network by being a mole in his agency. However, it is also possible that she and Orion decided that she should enter Volkoff Industries in order to fix him and/or ensure his safety. She and her husband would spend the rest of their lives trying to undo the damage the Intersect had done. Meanwhile, to avoid the scandal of an international supervillain having been created by the CIA, the US government buried all evidence of Winterbottom's original identity.
Season 4 Edit
- Resisting Chuck and the CIA
Volkoff made his first appearance in "Chuck Versus the First Fight" as Gregory Tuttle, a bumbling MI6 handler with no field training, with Frost being her asset. The preset meeting and undercover identity were a protocol made by Volkoff and Frost as a way to safely bring her in every time she went on operations at a distance from Volkoff Industries, or if were ever captured. He goes to the lengths of arranging a lady to tranq him and Chuck, a plane to take them to "Volkoff", and even has a team of agents track him down at a bank to take him and Chuck. The reason as to why he scripted all of that was never mentioned, but it is assumed that he did it to convince Chuck and his team that him and Frost were legitimate spies, and there was a way to prove her innocence. He even takes a bullet for Chuck at the bank, and hands him the disks with the evidence on them, claiming that he can no longer go with him. Since those disks were triangle shaped, they worked only on Phalanx XR-12 computers, and that was available only at Orion's secret base. However, when Chuck, Sarah and Mary get there and Chuck finds 0 files on the disk, it becomes clear that the disks were a hoax, and Mary was a rogue agent. After Mary suppresses Chuck's Intersect, Tuttle shows up, completely clear of any gunshot injuries, wearing a suit. He then reveals that his real name is Alexei Volkoff, and that it was all a plan for him and Frost to find Orion's secret base. He then went on to tie up Chuck and Sarah to chairs, plant some bombs in the base and tell Chuck that he was a fool, much like Orion. Once the bombs were planted, him and Frost left Orion's secret base and detonated the bombs, destroying all the files and technology in there in the process.
In "Chuck Versus the Leftovers", Volkoff finds out that Agent Carmichael is still alive. Unbeknownst to him, Mary had passed Sarah a blade for her to cut open the ropes and escape with Chuck, before leaving them. He assigns his top three assassins in the United States to assist Frost in killing Charles Carmichael. However, before they get the chance to kill him, Frost betrays and kills them. She then tells Chuck to come with her if he wants to live. Chuck, Sarah and Mary get to castle. Mary tries to explain the situation to Chuck, but Chuck's lack of trust and traumatic bias cause him to be a liability in the interrogation, which leads to Sarah shutting him out of the room while questioning Frost, alongside Casey. During the conversation, Chuck eavesdrops from outside and calls up Sarah multiple times, interrupting the conversation in the process. By the closing time of Buy More, Volkoff manages to get one of his agents to pose as a woman, desperate to get a 7G Smartphone on sale, in order to get the Buy More door open and to get Frost out of the CIA base. He spares no expense with preparations, bringing along a team of agents with automatic weapons, soldering equipment, bombs, and a hacker named K.K. with a high grade computer system. While his team starts cutting through the elevator shaft, he disables the CIA weapons system and kills all communications, thus effectively locking in Agent Carmichael and his team with no access to backup. He calls Agent Carmichael and yells at him in an intimidating manner upon being refused to have the phone handed over to Frost. It is then that his romantic obsession toward Frost is revealed. At the end of the call, Chuck questions his mother about who Alexei is to her. Frost states that they have never been together, but Volkoff is in love with her. However, it is not an unreasonable assumption that she uses his love as a weakness and resorts to romance in order to manipulate him. After Volkoff threatens Chuck with a bomb, Chuck and Sarah decide to surface with Mary, in exchange for being allowed to live. However, Volkoff breaks the deal, admits to lying, and in defense, states, "you threatened the woman I love". He points a gun toward Chuck, but before he is able to pull the trigger, Mary is forced to reveal that Chuck is her son. Upon learning the truth, he is a bit shocked, but doesn't seem to be as hostile or angry toward Chuck anymore. He also finds out that Frost also has a daughter, when Ellie calls up the Buy More phone to ask Chuck if he was going to come over for dinner. Out of desire to prove to Mary that he can bond with her family, Volkoff opts himself in the dinner as an uninvited guest, claims to be Mary's CIA handler who cleared her name, and even happily plays charades with the family after dinner. During the game of charades, Chuck whispers the truth to Devon about Volkoff's true profession and nature, and convinces him to not freak out, sneak in a gun from his apartment, and alert the CIA. Once Devon makes up an excuse to leave with Ellie, Volkoff hugs and kisses the couple goodbye before guessing that Chuck and Sarah had alerted the CIA. Volkoff's men aim their guns toward Chuck and Sarah, and when Frost aims her gun toward Sarah, Sarah drops her weapon, allowing Volkoff to take it and aim at her. Frost tells Volkoff to stop pointing that gun toward Sarah. Upon not being obeyed even after continued insisting, Frost aims her gun at Volkoff, and threatens him to back off from her family and their friends. Volkoff lowers the weapon, smiles at Charles and tells him that that is a real threat, before walking away.
- Working with Sarah Walker
At the end of "Chuck Versus the Balcony", General Beckman sets in motion a carefully calculated plan to establish Sarah's identity as a traitor, in order to help her enter Volkoff Industries as a double agent, with Volkoff thinking that she was a rogue turncoat. In "Chuck Versus the Gobbler", Volkoff starts noticing Sarah's work as a rogue agent and calls her into his office alongside three of his guards. Upon being questioned why he would trust her, Sarah beats up the guards, aims the weapons she retrieves at Alexei, and does not kill him. Seeing that act, Volkoff declares that she is such fun and welcomes her to Volkoff Industries. Frost suggests that she will betray him, and has her break Yuri the Gobbler out of prison. Later in the day, Frost meets Sarah in Volkoff's compound and tells her that Yuri is the only person who has access to the Hydra network, which is a crucial database, vital to the operations of Volkoff Industries.
With a little "under the radar" help from Chuck, Morgan and Casey, she breaks Yuri out of prison. Once she returns to Volkoff Industries with Yuri, Volkoff welcomes Yuri back, and claims that he went at a complete loss after Yuri was arrested. Yuri apologizes, to which Volkoff responds by saying that he's not angry, just a little disappointed. Upon being questioned about the disappointed, Volkoff changes his answer to "very disappointed", snaps and shoots Yuri in the head, killing him in the process. After killing him, he takes out Yuri's left eyeball. That is when Volkoff reveals to Frost and Sarah that the hydra network was stored in a glass eyeball designed to contain the entire network, and that glass eyeball was placed in Yuri's left eye socket. He goes on to show them the hydra network, then transfers it to a more secure location, and destroys the eyeball, saying that the system's only flaw, was human error. At that point, Mary sneaks in a piece of the glass eyeball that falls on the ground, under her foot, and stores it in a small box. He then tells Sarah that he has another mission for her, and along with her and Frost, he flies to Los Angeles in his jet. After reaching the Trident Tower, he shows Sarah an image of the fake ID badge used by Casey while breaking Yuri out of prison, and asks her if she knows him. Sarah answers that question by saying, "he is still loyal to me, so why not take advantage of him". In order to verify the answer, he hands her a weapon and sends her upstairs with Frost to kill Casey, who waits on the 9th floor, not knowing that the text he had received from Sarah's phone to meet there was actually sent by Alexei Volkoff. Before Sarah and Frost leave, he tells Sarah that he'll be watching, and shows them the live security feed of the building on his phone to prove it. Sarah and Frost begin climbing up the stairs of the building, and discuss possible plans to fake the killing. Just before they reach the 9th floor, Frost hands Sarah the piece of the glass eyeball that she had earlier sneaked in, telling her to give it to Casey if she ever gets the chance. Sarah walks into the room, and intentionally knocks over a can to alert Casey that she is sneaking up to him from behind. As they brawl, Sarah tells him that she has been tasked to kill him and that Volkoff is watching. During the brawl, Volkoff watches the fight from downstairs, feeling rather entertained. Sarah and Casey discuss ways of faking his death during the fake fight. Casey first suggests that she shoot him in the shoulder, which she declines. Then, Casey spots a platform that is 40 feet below them, outside the building, and tells her to knock him out on to that platform, claiming that he has survived 60 feet before. Trusting his words on this, Sarah agrees to the plan. Meanwhile, Chuck shows up downstairs, trying to find Casey and Sarah. Alexei and his men spot him, and in a rather friendly manner, he takes Chuck upstairs to see the brawl in person. By the time they get upstairs, Sarah beats up Casey bad enough to cause a little bleeding, enough to make the fight look legitimate. Upon being offered by Volkoff to kill Casey, Sarah says no, picks Casey up, and delivers a punch right in his face, causing the glass behind him to break, as he falls out of the building and on to the platform, safely. At first, Sarah looks at him and smiles, but the platform breaks due to Casey's weight and he falls down on the ground and ends up in a critical condition, causing Sarah's smiles to fade away. Volkoff speaks a few sentences of sadistic wisdom before getting one of his agents to knock Chuck unconscious and leaving with Frost and Sarah.
- Contacted by Orion and Imprisonment
After returning to his base in Moscow, Volkoff watches his elevator stop while opening, at which point he immediately jumps out of the elevator. The lights go off and electricity goes haywire. Volkoff calls up his assistant to try and get the problems fixed, but his phone line is cut off, and his TV screen is hacked in to. The message on his TV reads "Hey Volkoff. I want my wife back." Upon asking who's doing this, Volkoff gets his answer on the screen, "ORION". He stares at the screen in horror, as the word ORION multiplies and flashes indefinitely on the screen.
He calls his assistant Armand into his office the next day and assigns him to find Orion's whereabouts. After that, he takes Frost and Walker with him to the Contessa, one of his ships, which is also where he stores the Hydra network. Whether he decides to stay there out of fear or as a method to avoid getting troubled by advanced hacking, is unknown. He then walks into the server room to find Frost in there, trying to access the Hydra network, along with Chuck, Sarah and Morgan. Frost manages to hold Alexei hostage and get the other three to escape, but in the process, gets trapped inside with Volkoff and his men. (to be continued)
- Attempt to Escape Imprisonment
In "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger" when Volkoff has the Intersect taken out of him, he almost instantly becomes a kind man, basically the exact opposite of Alexei Volkoff. Instead of the mean and fearless Volkoff, he becomes a person who is nice, helpful and a slight worrier. He no longer expresses romantic obsession with Mary, and at least initially has no memories of his thirty years as a supervillain. He is the person who convinces his daughter, Vivian Volkoff, that she is not evil. When Chuck gave him and his daughter new, clean identities, Hartley returned the favor by giving Chuck and Sarah all of his assets and Volkoff Industries as a wedding gift.
- Volkoff's profile is seen in Chuck's flash in "Chuck Versus the Cubic Z", where he is described as a 6'2" male, which corresponds to Timothy Dalton's height in real life.
- When Volkoff points a gun at Chuck at the end of the episode "Chuck Versus the Leftovers", he flicks around with the back of his handgun, an obvious reference to Timothy Dalton's James Bond.
- Volkoff's name in Russian is usually spelled Volkov. Such replacement of "ov" with "off" is characteristic of the French version. Russian nobles often used French as a first language prior to the rise of Communism; the Volkoff identity therefore may have been descended from Russian expatriates.
- In "Chuck Versus the First Fight", he takes on the alias of Gregory Tuttle based on a preset protocol in order to meet and safely bring in Agent Frost every time she worked on operations at a distance from Volkoff Industries. This profile, however, is very similar to his real identity which was suppressed by his intersect identity at the time. He wore a similar outfit, sported a similar personality while in the staged airplane fight, and claimed to work at MI6, where Hartley worked.
- While the reasons as to why Hartley's Intersect got corrupted aren't known and/or explicitly mentioned, one reasonable assumption to make would be that the lack of a Governor caused this. However, this can be disputed, as the version of Intersect in head was only designed to temporarily replace his identity, and not to provide him with documented information or physical skills. This means that his Intersect was never designed to flash, and the Intersect only needs a Governor when it flashes and overheats. Another possibility is that since the Intersect was in developmental stage, Stephen Bartowski and other people working on the Intersect weren't aware that the program had to be manually removed from the host's brain. As shown in multiple episodes, the Intersect stays in the brain, unless the images are overwritten, or suppressed by the Eurybia images.
Anna Wu • Alex McHugh • Alexei Volkoff • Bryce Larkin • Carina Miller • Clara Woodcomb • Clyde Decker • Daniel Shaw • Diane Beckman • Emmett Milbarge • Gertrude Verbanski • Hannah • Harry Tang • Jane Bentley • Jill Roberts • Langston Graham • Mary Bartowski • Nicholas Quinn • Stephen Bartowski • Vivian Volkoff