It seems that everyday for the past few weeks I’ve only ever really had one thought in mind: they couldn’t…they wouldn’t…would they? And yet they did.
I’m not going to lie, I knew coming in that Sarah wasn’t going to have her moment and that honor would be Chuck’s. I’ve told myself to accept it, the show is and always have been called “Chuck” for a reason. No matter how much some of us would prefer it be called Sarah, or more appropriately “Chuck and Sarah,” it isn’t. But though I’ve psyched myself up, I’m still a tad disappointed. I didn’t really think they would eviscerate Shaw, but I had hopes. I didn’t really think that Sarah would be the one to end him, but I had hopes (even knowing first hand that it wasn’t going to be her moment). I knew coming in that this wasn’t going to be Santa Claus but I had hopes.
BUT what it was, was a great hour of television. Was it what I wanted? No. But what it was accomplished its goals. I felt loathe, I felt malice, I felt fear and most of all I felt creeped out. As most of you know I’m a big fan of dramatic tension and this had it in spades. It wasn’t so much that I believed that Shaw would win in the end (let’s face it, at the end of the day it’s Chuck), but that which he went about this…was disturbingly appropriate. The heart of the show to me is and has always been Sarah. If Chuck’s family is the soul, Sarah is the heart. And it was a brilliant plot tool to use her as the reason why Shaw wanted to win so badly, why he was so menacing. Shaw trying to kill Chuck in front of Sarah rang true to me. It showed me that there can be actual dramatic tension within the show even without making me leap for logic and buy into something I refuse to (*cough*Cliffhanger*cough*), or use the magic that is CAM/Gertrude Verbanski. There can be real stakes and real danger even without resorting to the stupid stick.
Yes there were moments when I quite literally groaned, moments when I had to physically restrain myself not to throw things at my 42″ flat screen television, but for what it was, it was great. The callbacks were made of win. The twist with Ellie all the more so. What Chuck did to intersect 3.0 was unexpected and expected (if that makes sense). Yes obviously he wouldn’t just willingly give Shaw the intersect, having figured it out, but I’m sure most people thought that Chuck would fashion an intersect for himself and he didn’t. The fact that he didn’t and that he relied on skill and training is…something we haven’t really seen before. It’s a welcome sight.
The bracelet wasn’t nearly as touching as the first time around, but I applaud AK Shuman for revisiting a loving memory, one long since forgotten by the show. I applaud her for going outside the boundaries of comfort and peace of mind to delve within our nightmares and bring in a veritable monster in our jolly midst. I agree wholeheartedly with Mo Ryan that this is by far the most effective use of BR’s Shaw as a villain, the way they couldn’t and didn’t during previous stints. I applaud Shuman for her effective use of a hated villain, and a hero’s journey.
The only question that remains is…was it worth it? Delving into this depth of…plywood, and all the bad spirit that it was bound to bring (IS bringing), was that episode worth it? For closure’s sake, I would say no. For Sarah’s sake, no. But for the show, “Chuck,” and the tone of the show, yes. It brought stakes and disturbia unlike any other and for that alone, it was half worth it. This is a different Chuck from what we’ve seen previously…it crosses boundaries and challenges itself and for that it’s worth it. I’d still rather not revisit old ghosts, but hey it’s their story to tell, and mine to enjoy. I didn’t like that Sarah was mainly relegated to Chuck’s role in Phase Three, but for every hero, there’s a damsel…and even in this one the damsel got her licks in. Yes, as stated, I would have rather she be the one to institute the Gertrude on Shaw’s ass, but I’m satisfied with how it went down. In the end, it was riveting 40 minutes of television, with a heartwarming end to boot.
Edit: I forgot to mention Beckman and Mo Collins. In typical Chuck fashion, it managed to balance tension, even drama with humor. One minute I’m laughing at Beckman’s DUCK moment, the next I’m tearing up at Casey’s [last] goodbye.