So much can be – and has been – said about the resilience of NBC’s Chuck. In fact, television circles will, I humbly predict, refer to it exactly how EP Josh Schwartz described it to EW: “Saved by sandwiches.”
The show always found itself facing cancellation (Chuck Vs. The Bubble, if you will), and yet, somehow, be it fans or footlongs, found a way to come back. And when it came time to close out the series, it seems only fitting that Chuck, the character, displayed the same resilience as the universe he existed in.
We always knew that tonight’s finale would pose challenges to the title hero. (They’d never let him off easy.) But even I never expected what they threw at him. [If you didn’t catch the series finale of Chuck, don’t read on until you do!]
You see, Sarah, with full Intersect brain and no memory, was tasked with killing Chuck in the first hour, after being brainwashed to do so. And she nearly succeeded, too. But even as we watched Sarah and Chuck scuffle and experience some close calls (seeing her beat him up was tough to watch), I recited to myself the old mantra, the good guys always win. It’s TV, the good guys will win.
Some time between cuing up the show and watching it unfold, I must have forgotten what show I was watching. This was Chuck, a show I’ve always admired for it’s fearless tendency to give you a loss when you expected a victory. A sad moment during a happy one. And vice versa.
Still, I told myself it was only a matter of time until Sarah came to her senses, brought down the bad guys, and fell in love with Chuck again. It only partly worked out that way.
You see, after realizing Sarah had got her wits back (but still no memory), Chuck became determined to win his wife’s heart once again. Cue old Chuck, complete with nerd herd uniform and hacking skills. I’ll be the first to admit, it was adorable. And even better was watching him woo Sarah in the same geeky manner that caused viewers to fall in love with him. It was like we were experiencing it for the first time all over again – a priceless gift in any context. But, as we prepared for the inevitable goodbye to the series, it felt even more special to watch it unfold all over again in double-time. (The restaurant! The dancing! Weinerlicious!)
Then, the climax. They went to the opera to diffuse a bomb that was attached to the General’s chair and would blow up if the music stopped. (How suspenseful!) But then Chuck found himself with a choice: Use the Intersect to stop the bomb or use it to restore Sarah’s memory. With lives in balance, he made the natural (but difficult) choice to use the Intersect for himself. [Small pause to acknowledge the musical excellence that was Jeffster accompanied up by strings. Pause. Good.]
So Chuck saved the day, all the while keeping the hope that something, anything, would bring Sarah back to him. (He was encouraged – and so was I – when Sarah remembered the Irene Demova Virus from their first mission and helped him diffuse the bomb.) But the waiting was for naught. Because Sarah didn’t get her memory back. (Or…)
The funny thing? There were still happy endings aplenty. Jeffster got a German record deal, Subway took over the Buy More, Casey went after Verbanski, Morgan moved in with Alex, and Ellie and Awesome moved to Chicago to take prestigious positions at a hospital.
And Chuck? Well, he went to Sarah, who was sitting on the beach, confused as ever, and upon her request, recounted their story. He told her everything, from the time they met to their wedding, not leaving out a single crazy situation, story or costume. And when all was said and done, he turned to her. “Morgan has this crazy idea,” he told her. “He thinks that with one kiss, you’ll remember everything.”
“One magical kiss?” she asked.
“Chuck,” she interrupted, “kiss me.”
And he did.
And then it was over.
But we know what happened.
Like, I imagine, many of my fellow Chuck fans, I sat in silence after I finished watching the last episode of the series. (Disclosure: I, like a few others, got a chance to see it a bit early.) Very rarely am I at a loss for words when it comes to TV. There’s always a gripe, a nitpick, an exclamation of joy. But it’s been a long time since I saw a show go out so perfectly on its own terms. In the end, all I could do was sit there with tears in my eyes and sigh with content.
Fellow nerds, what did you think of the series finale of Chuck?