Chuck ends with not only flashback episode that doesn’t feel like a flashback episode, but also with a loving nod to to the fans who have loved the show these past five seasons.
This final two hour evening functions as the Chuck series summary, utilizing the fact that Sarah has lost all her memories to allow Chuck and the gang to try to remind her of her past with clever recreations. It’s a clever trick to allow the writers to sneak in the traditional flashback series end montage without boring the audience or feeling out of place in the episode. The great thing about the way the writers arranged the episode, is that it was so much more than merely flashbacks of old scenes. Rather, they utilized relatively out of place sequences to recreate some of the greatest memories and scenes from the show itself.
The first hour, in “Chuck vs Sarah” we find Sarah returning to the gang attempting to infiltrate and recover the intersect glasses. While relieved, it doesn’t take long for Chuck to notice things are not quite right. His detection of minor things, such has her aggressive behavior and demeanor and the fact she doesn’t respond to his attempts to comfort her, plays into what made the core of the show, Chuck’s unabashed love towards Sarah and how much he truly saw everything about her. Without a doubt, it’s those small moments that define relationships as either great or just passing.
Fortunately, Sarah gets a bit of a memory jog inside the house with fragments of her memories still around awakened by the carving she made in the frame. It’s enough to make her pause on a defeated Chuck, ready to accept death in a world without his wife. I’m a bit surprised though, as an experienced intelligence agent, she should have been able to recognize that Chuck, his family, and friends were not a threat to anyone. She already was suspicious of Quinn and thought he might be feeding her false information from the start, yet continued to follow his orders after she realized Quinn lied about Chuck wanting to use the glasses for himself. Quinn just quickly changed her orders from reclaim the Intersect to steal the Intersect and she followed them unquestioned. If I had lost all my memories, and someone suddenly changed the mission to result in the same outcome, I would have had serious doubts myself.
By the end of the first hour though, we get to see something that the viewers never realized they had missed though. Viewing Sarah’s mission logs, we get to see the side of the story from Sarah’s perspective, as she slowing begins to fall in love with Chuck, and the confusion and anguish it causes as her mission becomes in conflict with her emotions. It was an wonderful way to bring in this other view, and provides some great tiny performances of Strahovski as she goes from a “unfriendly, unforgiving, and unquestioning about your orders” agent to a woman who realizes her charge is more than just a nerd in love with her and instead someone whom she actually loves back.
As the second hour begins, we get to see how unforgiving she truly is, as the subtle but intense hatred for Quinn shows on Sarah’s face as she attempts to gun him down on the plane. The writers of course tease us a bit with her hitting her head on the way out of the airplane, perhaps making us think she might remember. Alas, we merely get to see an even more hateful Sarah determined to destroy the man who took her life away.
As such, we see the true final mission in “Chuck vs the Goodbye.” Capture or kill Nicholas Quinn before he can fully assemble the original stable Intersect device. It is in this final hour we get the onslaught of memories for the fans cleverly poorly disguised as a mission. The majority of the first part of the episode involves a rapid fire revisit to all the scenes we loved in the show. From Sarah walking into the BuyMore wearing the same brown jacket she did 5 years ago to their mission at a Mexican restaurant in Germany, the same restaurant chain that served as Chuck and Sarah’s first, and weirdly awkward date, the whole sequence plays out like a long deja vu. It’s a cheap plot convenience (and oddity) to then have Quinn move the meeting to a ballroom which needs another sexy Chuck and Sarah tango and then to a German Weinerlicious shop with a welcome revisit of Sarah in her Weinerlicious uniform. As a villain who knows Sarah’s files inside and out, I’m not sure why Quinn would have picked those locations knowing that Sarah and Chuck were probably following him.
The whole sequence does serve to expand on another concept of Chuck we love so much. Chuck can never use a gun, and when he does, it’s hilariously disastrous. Case in point, shooting down Casey’s helicopter with his own gun he left at Castle.
This leads to the most touching speech in the whole show, Morgan’s telling off Casey and forcing him to consider that he hasn’t gotten soft because of Chuck, but rather has become an even better spy because of the relationships he’s made with him and Sarah. It’s a parallel that also fits with Sarah, whom Casey reminds is exactly like him, or was exactly like him at one point. It’s a strong reminder to him and the audience that these are not the same agents from 5 years ago. They are both a team and a family, and the theme that they all are more than what they were alone is a constant in both episodes.
With the inevitable defeat of Quinn, we get yet another fun callback to the first episode of the series, using the Irene Demova porn virus to defuse a bomb. It’s fitting and a bit silly, but it’s a nice circular reference to the silly that started the show itself. The sequence itself even allows for us to revisit the long absent Jeffster one last time with a thrilling rendition of “Take on Me” to save the day one last time.
With the world saved, it finally becomes time for the traditional series end with all the characters going their separate ways. Ellie and Devon move to Chicago to start a new life with great jobs and Grandma “Mimi” “Frost” Bartowski in tow. Alex and Morgan move in together (which is a terrifying concept with Casey as a father) as Casey leaves to find Verbanski. Big Mike gets to keep his job at the BuyMore with his new favorite owner and long time supporter Subway. Even Jeff and Lester find their escape and fulfill their dream with a record deal in Germany. The one bittersweet moment though, is the fact that Sarah doesn’t regain her memories, despite having fragments still around. In fact, we end up back where we started. A nerd has the intersect, and he loves a spy who falls in love with him in return.
As a fan of the show who truly loved Chuck, we love the show not for the action, or the humor, or the even the eye candy (oh the eye candy). We love the show for the core motif of true love. The show is about a nerd who falls in love with a spy, and a spy who falls in love with a nerd. We may not get to see a cliched everything is happy and perfect for everyone ending, but rather, staring with a kiss, we get to see the start of how Sarah and Chuck get to fall in love with each other all over again, an adventure all us nerds want to experience as they did.
Chuck turned nerds into romantics and romantics into nerds and never took it self too seriously while always being serious at what it did, making us laugh, cry, and be proud about being a nerd.
- “Lossen up that leggy blonde”
- Casey in a “World’s Best Dad” apron.
- “I think we are getting wooed…by midwesterners.”
- “I’m really glad i’m part of this 3rd last mission, seeing how i wasn’t part of the other…two…” — Funny considering how many endings this show had.
- DARPA – Laser Robots, brain controled Quad-cotoprs drones, and a cloak of invisibility.
- Sarah pulls a Bryce by jumping though a window and taking out all the guards.
- Sarah’s action sequences reminded me a lot of Black Widow from the Marvel movies, including her in a black leather body suit.
- “She may be the best spy in the world, but I’m Chuck Bartowski. It’s not like she’s out of my league.”
- “Your target is Nicholas Quinn.” “I take it you don’t want him alive.” “No…I want him very dead.”
- “Unleash the perverts!” — For the first time ever, the BuyMorons get a line to say.
- “Mom, why is there a gun out?” “Grandma, what did we say about baby Claire seeing firearms?” “Sorry dear, old habits.” — As Devon covers Claire’s eyes.
- Subway buys the BuyMore. Fitting since it was Subway and the crazy fan campaign that saved season 2 and gave us as much fun as we’ve had these years. This is how you do product placement, with a giant glowing sign.
- “I can smell it coming, you’re going get all weepy and emotional…I can skip that part.”
- “There’s one thing russians do well..it’s give good hugs.”
- “I’m a casey, I don’t run. I stalk my prey.”
- “Only listen to our hearts because our brains screw it up.”
- “Chuck…tell me a story…”
- In the final callback, we see Sarah and Chuck on the beach, the very same beach she tells Chuck everything will be ok. Once Sarah comforted Chuck and helped guide him through the changing world around him, and now it is Chuck who gets to carry Sarah though a world of rediscovery.
Gratuitous shot of Sarah
No doubt the show runners know the appeal of Sarah…so for the totally pointless yet loved shot of Sarah…
Sarah walking up the beach in black all pissed off.
The music selection on Chuck has always been top notch to fill the mood of the scenes, and tonight proves to be no exception. The “Finale – New World Symphony” by Dvorak happens to be one of my favorites to ever play and listen to as well.