The five-year odyssey of ‘Chuck’ ended its run this past Friday with a two-part series finale that, if perhaps not an artistic pinnacle for the show, at the very least brought things together with a satisfying note of closure.
The first episode, ‘Chuck vs. Sarah’, opens with Sarah stumbling home to Chuck, bruised and bloody. She claims that Quinn’s mind-wipe didn’t take, and she killed him by tossing him out a hotel window. Chuck is immediately relieved. However, some flashbacks quickly clue us in (as if we hadn’t already figured it out) that this is all a ruse. Sarah in fact has had all of her memories of the past five years erased. She believes that she’s been in deep cover for the CIA, and that Quinn is still her handler. As far as she knows, her relationship with Chuck has been nothing but a mission. Now Quinn wants her to use Chuck to bring him the last remaining Intersect upload, currently under lock-and-key at the DARPA research labs.
Chuck wants to destroy the Intersect, which he feels has brought too much harm to too many people. He convinces the team to help him. Morgan chimes in with the funny line: “I’m really glad that we’re doing this third last mission.” The break-in at DARPA has some fun call-backs to the show’s pilot episode. Sarah pretty closely recreates Bryce’s chase scene and gymnastic moves, and the Intersect lab of course looks very familiar.
While supposedly planting a virus in the lab’s computer, Sarah secretly downloads the Intersect onto a pair of glasses. She then locks Chuck, Casey and Morgan in the lab and escapes. Quinn triggers an explosion behind her. Fortunately, Chuck had been suspicious of Sarah’s behavior and switched out the glasses. The guys manage to take cover and survive the explosion.
Some complications ensue, and Chuck eventually brings Sarah to the house that was supposed to be their dream home. He tries to get her to remember their history together (cue clip montage), but she’s still a blank. Sarah finally starts to believe him when Quinn shows up, and Chuck throws himself in front of a bullet to save her. (It’s OK. He was wearing body armor.)
Later, Casey gives Sarah a copy of the video diary of her mission logs, in which she watches herself falling in love with Chuck over the years. She apologizes to Chuck, but unfortunately still doesn’t feel anything. She tells him that she has to leave to find herself.
In Part Two, ‘Chuck vs. the Goodbye’, Quinn has the broken Intersect but needs a three-piece computer “key” to repair it. He gets the first piece from a former Fulcrum agent played by Mark Pelligrino (Jacob from ‘Lost’). The second part is held by a former Ring operative in Berlin. Sarah cuts her sojourn short and shows up at the Buy More to ask Chuck to help her stop Quinn.
Chuck’s mother (Linda Hamilton) also turns up, and informs him that the key can be used to reprogram the Intersect. If Chuck can retrieve it, Ellie may be able to program the Intersect to fix all of Sarah’s missing memories.
Morgan convinces Chuck that he can treat this mission like a date and use it to remind Sarah of why she fell in love with him. (He also spouts a theory that planting a big kiss on her like a Disney prince will magically bring all of her memories back.) In Berlin, we get more call-backs to earlier episodes, including (and most hilariously) a visit to a Weinerlicious – which of course means the return of Sarah’s Weinerlicious outfit! At that diner, Sarah’s sense memory kicks in and she remembers bits and pieces of what she did when she worked there. Chuck takes this as a very promising sign.
Unfortunately, Chuck blows the mission when he can’t bring himself to shoot and kill Quinn. His refusal to kill anyone used to be one of the things that Sarah loved about Chuck, but now she’s just pissed at him for it. Quinn gets away with the second part of the key.
The final part of the key rests in General Beckman’s custody. We return to California as Quinn rigs a bomb under her chair at a performance of the Los Angeles Philharmonic that she’s attending on diplomatic business. The bomb is both pressure-sensitive (it will explode if she gets off the chair) and programmed to blow as soon as the music stops. Only one thing can save the day – an impromptu Jeffster performance!
As the duo take the stage to delay the bomb by belting out their rendition of A-ha’s “Take on Me” to much audience appreciation, Chuck and Sarah confront Quinn on the roof of the building. Sarah shoots and kills Quinn. In order to defuse the bomb, Chuck has to upload the newly-repaired Intersect into his own head, which means that he can’t use it to fix Sarah’s memories.
In a series of wrap-up scenes, we learn that:
- Frequent product-placement sponsor Subway has outright bought the Buy More.
- A German record executive offers Jeff and Lester a recording contract.
- Morgan and Alex decide to move in together. Casey offers them his apartment, because he’s leaving to chase after and be with Verbanski.
- Ellie and Awesome are moving away to new jobs in Chicago.
In the final epilogue, Chuck finds Sarah on the beach. She still remembers nothing, but asks him to tell her the story of their relationship. (Cue another montage of old clips.) He also tells her Morgan’s Prince Charming theory, and the episode ends with the two of them kissing (Chuck and Sarah, not Chuck and Morgan). Does Sarah get her memory back? That’s left an open question.
All in all, the series finale does a good job of wrapping up the show. It has a lot of nice character moments, some effective humor, and plenty of emotional nostalgic scenes. My only complaint is that I feel that Chuck and Sarah deserve a happier ending than this. I mean, yeah, it kind of is a happy ending, but Sarah having no memory of anything that happened over the past five years is really unfair to Chuck. It also effectively means that Sarah’s entire character arc over the course of the show has been wiped clean. Is this Sarah ready to give up spying and settle into domesticity with Chuck? That’s something she had to struggle with, especially this last season. Now that whole dramatic arc has been reset. I’m generally a fan of ambiguous endings, but this one doesn’t feel appropriate to the show.
I’ll get over that, though. ‘Chuck’ has long been an erratic series that suffered frequent quality swings. If not perfect, I’m glad to see it go out on a strong note.