Below is a review of the Chuck series finale. Proceed with caution as spoilers are inside.
Chuck Finale Review “Chuck Versus Sarah” and “Chuck Versus the Goodbye”
I wasn’t emotionally up to writing about my thoughts immediately after I watched the Chuck finale last night. That probably sounds silly to a lot of people, but those aren’t the kind of people reading reviews of their favorite shows online. So, screw them. And let’s all hold hands while we acknowledge the loss of one of our favorite TV shows. It was almost canceled about 5 gazillion times, and no one’s going to say “it was perfect at every moment!” but damn if it wasn’t something amazing.
The resounding truth about Chuck (its eternal legacy if you will) is that it’s not the amount of fans that matter, but the passion they hold. And the type of projects that get created, greenlit, and pushed forward should be the quality shows that have passionate fans. If your TV show isn’t at least one person’s favorite show, then you’re doing something wrong. And in the case of Chuck, Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak did something right.
Of course, it wasn’t just Schwartz and Fedak. Just as there was Team Bartowski, there’s Team Chuck. It’s not just the familiar faces from the screen – although there’s no way I’d ever discount their talents or attractiveness! But there’s also the “crew” which is a small word for a whole lotta people who do a large variety of different tasks. That’s everything from script writers to prop masters. …Where am I going with this? Oh! I wanted to give a major thank you to them all. We really can’t thank them enough.
Let’s talk about the finale, which took part in the final two episodes. Um. It was good. It was damn good. I cried, and despite being a female, I don’t cry all that often. (I had different crying stages. From ‘okay, guess I’m not gonna cry after all’ to ‘Oh My God, why is my body breaking down like this!?”)
People are upset. People are actually furious. The thing is, some people hate the “ambiguous” nature of the finale. I don’t think it was all that ambiguous. And without doing something as big and different, the impact would have been so much less. I’ll defend the Chuck finale to anyone.
It’s not easy for a show to excite fans at the end of a five year run, and present them with something new. But make no mistake, finales are a great time to take a risk. Chuck has given us plenty of “Chuck and Sarah are happy” episodes, especially during season 5. It was a nice risk to see the show do something that leaves fans talking, that surprises them (rather than “they’re happy and okay and everything is predictable!”) and keeps a foot in the door for a continuation via an online movie, comic books, etc. Isn’t that what you want? Do you really need the show to say “And Chuck and Sarah lived happily ever after?” Don’t you have faith? Don’t you think it’s incredibly fun to think about everything that would happen after the beach?
If you want good storytelling, you can’t think every happy ending will be just as you expected. As usual, I immediately went back to my Joss Whedon roots. He taught my teen/adult self a lot about what good storytelling does. And it doesn’t always give you what you want or make you happy. If that’s what you want, then reconcile yourself to a lifetime of watching Katherine Heigl movies. But if you agree that most Heigl movies are cheesy filler, then let’s get real and let’s let the storytellers create a story worth telling.
There are a few things I didn’t love about the finale, although I’m not hanging onto those issues too much. I think that Awesome/Ellie going to Chicago wasn’t really necessary but there was just nothing else to do with them. I don’t like the idea of them living away from Chuck. I’m happy for Jeff and Lester. I’m happy for Big Mike. I’m happy for Morgan and Alex, although I think we could have used a bit more of them both in the finale. And I really would have liked to see Casey and Gertrude together, and know a bit more about what Casey’s path was. Him deciding to follow Gertrude and leave Alex seemed a bit of a misstep, even when she gave him her blessing. And it’s not that I don’t think he shouldn’t be with Gertrude, but seeing him ignore Alex’s calls just make me feel like maybe he didn’t grow enough or something… I don’t even know. Ultimately these aren’t really big complaints and none of this bothers me a ton.
And if I’m making a list, okay, I do wish Casey wouldn’t have left right at that moment. And I do wish we would have seen Chuck follow Sarah at the end of “Chuck Versus Sarah” – letting her go seemed the opposite of what you’d expect of him. And I do think we have to wonder if Chuck is really quitting the spy life now. He and Sarah were all set to give it up, but now she only remembers her spy roots, and he’s got the intersect back (he can get it removed, but will he?) And, did Chuck really need the intersect to hack the bomb, if he’s such a good hacker? But all of these things needed to happen. And I need to stop complaining. It’s good to have questions. It’s good to let it live with you for a while, write up some fanfiction later on. (I’ll be reading some, I think.) It’s good to let a show be different than you asked or expected it to be.
How much did you love all the references to the pilot and past episodes? The Bryce Larkin stunts, the dancing, the first date, the Wienerlicious… This wasn’t a boring flashback episode, it was paying homage to itself and I thought it was really fun. Everything was new again.
If I could ask Chris Fedak just one question (and I still haven’t seen this asked or answered in anything thus far – a huge shame), I’d ask him when it was that he decided that Sarah would not regain her memories. I think it was a bold choice, and I liked it. And I think that if you watched every season of Chuck and actually learned from it (it’s not just mindless TV, folks), you believe in the power of people to help themselves and help others. You don’t need someone to tell you that Chuck and Sarah will be okay, because you know it.
If I could ask him another question, I’d ask him to clarify on Sarah’s real name, because “Mo Sam Lisa Ryan” seemed more liked a jokey answer to say he didn’t know, but decided to then honor Morgan Ryan.
And if I had a third question, I’d ask him about the brunette best friend they cast for Chuck but then dropped. Was the plan always to have Chuck/Sarah get together, or would that additional female character have her own romantic possibilities to end up as the shows endgame?
What about the Sarah mission tapes? Or – I’m sorry, seeing Sarah’s face pushed down into a pillow while she got a massage?! Or seeing her fabulous hotel? Jeffster doing “Take On Me”? Mama Bartowski’s cameo? Clara in Castle? How Chuck knew where to find Sarah – back on that exact same beach? And didn’t it make you remember all of the little reasons why you loved Chuck and Ellie, Chuck’s nerdy ways, how much you wanted to BE Sarah Walker? How you wanted Jeffster to play at your birthday party? How you wanted to make Casey hug you? How you wanted Morgan to make you laugh all the time? How you are craving some Subway?
The show gave us ton of awesome spy stuff, but in the end it was about a guy and a girl on a beach.
And that’s pretty special.
You’re allowed to cry. You’re allowed to be sad. (That ending song pretty much kills everyone, right?) But Yvonne Strahovski already has projects lined up, and Zachary Levi is going to continue to pave the way for showing the world why being a nerd is cool with The Nerd Machine. It’s not over, because the way something made you feel never has to end. You can carry that with you forever. And it can make you a better, happier person. And that’s why TV isn’t just a hobby of mine, it’s a way of embracing the worlds I love.
Now embrace your inner nerd and make Chuck Bartowski proud. You have your mission. Scat!
Chuck finale ending song:
“Rivers and Roads” by The Head and The Heart
Chuck then and now collage photo credit: NBC, compiled by tumblr user ksu-95.