Beginnings and Endings

The End?

Where to start, and when to end, a question that must vex show runners and producers to no end on Network TV.  If you have a hit, you want to keep it on the air and a hit for as long as possible.  Then again around about season’s 7 and 8 a lot of hits have lost their creative juices and are going through the motions.  One doesn’t want to over stay one’s welcome, and I know I’ve dropped out of more than one hit show (Friends, ER, Cheers, Hill Street Blues) once they passed a certain point where they seemed to be treading water.

Chuck was both blessed and cursed to never suffer that fate.  Chuck was forced to tell their story and leave nothing on the table every season, because they never knew if they’d be back.  And then when they were back and wrapped everything up in a nice tidy 13 episode package came the inevitable backorder.  I firmly believe that if Chuck had done that 1.4 in demo the finale did all this season we’d be looking forward to the backorder to start in late February.  But Chuck’s many endings, and many new beginnings gave us a lot more Chuck and a constantly re-imagined Chuck.  In some ways we got Chuck TOS (seasons 1 & 2), Chuck Rebooted in season 3, Chuck, Mr & Mrs Smith Edition in season 4, and, well I’m not sure what to call season 5 yet.  Other than Awesome of course.

So dear readers, this gives us an opportunity,to praise and celebrate Chuck for what it gave us rather than bemoan its ending and what it didn’t.  Because like Sarah’s memories, something is never really gone if there are people around to remember and celebrate it.  Join me for some polls and a celebration of some wonderful Chuck moments, after the jump.

I have a confession.  This wasn’t my idea.  Well it was and wasn’t.  This is of course poll time, so that part, yeah, but one of our regular posters, MyNameIsJeffNImLost e-mailed me with an idea to find some of the best story arcs Chuck has ever done.  The ideas for arcs were extensive, but I can’t recall if we discussed beginnings and endings, or who brought it up.  In any case, my thanks to Jeff for the exchange and sparking, or coming up with the idea for these polls.  Unless you hate them, then it was all me.

I’ve taken a few liberties in these polls and added a few bonus rounds.  There are the obvious ones where you wind up the front 13 and kick off the backorder, but I put in a season 2 version of that with the original production order, later changed to get Third Dimension on after a big Super Bowl promotion.  The original front 13 ending arc was Santa Claus, Best Friend, and Third Dimension.  There obviously would have been a few tweaks in the episodes.  The back order (which they were assured of very early on) kicked off with Suburbs, Beefcake and Lethal Weapon.  In season 1, with the writer’s strike looming, and then arriving, they never finished the season order, so it’s closing arc is at a slight disadvantage.  I added in another that I think was intentional as a season ending cliffhanger had the writer’s strike struck earlier, so you get to weigh in on how Truth, Hard Salami, Nemesis would have worked as a cliffhanger at the end of the season like most shows do.  I’ve also added, for those expressing the opinion, the option of ending season 5 with the epilogue at the end of Chuck Versus The Baby.

So now for the polls.  First where to start, with your top three opening arcs.

And now How to end, with your top three season or series finale arcs.


About Ernie Davis

I was born in 1998, the illegitimate brain child and pen name of a surly and reclusive misanthrope with a penchant for anonymity. My offline alter ego is a convicted bibliophile and causes rampant pognophobia whenever he goes out in public. He wants to be James Lileks when he grows up or Dave Barry if he doesn’t.  His hobbies are mopery, curling and watching and writing about Chuck.  Obsessively.  Really, the dude needs serious help.
This entry was posted in polls, Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4, Season 5. Bookmark the permalink.

99 Responses to Beginnings and Endings

  1. atcDave says:

    Wow, some really tough decisions here. Like so many of these sorts of polls, the first couple choices are usually very easy, and the last spot is a killer!
    My own vague opinion is that I generally prefered the opening arcs to the closing arcs. But then I prefered “Fellowship of the Ring” to “Return of the King” too; I guess I like beginnings better than endings.
    In some of these cases I’m not sure “arc” is really the best term. I mean while the opening salvo of S2 was clearly meant to be three interconnected stories, I don’t think the same is quite as true about S3. At least to say I think Angel of Death was more of a stand alone. In many cases we end up with very strong episodes mixed with very weak episodes, which made for some tough choices.

    But this was a fun thing to ponder as we are now clearly entering the “post Chuck” era. So sad.

    • thinkling says:

      Speak for yourself, Dave. Post Chuck era?

      I agree it’s a tough choice. I like the opening arcs, but I think Chuck has traditionally done strong final arcs. I give them high marks for their ability to do good finales. While it’s true that THE finale hit me as a less than stellar plot choice, once I found my way through the dark tone of story to the light at the end, I view the arc as exceptionally well done, and dare I admit it, one of the best (shh, don’t tell anybody).

  2. joe says:

    Very cool poll, Ernie. But fiendish. The way I am now, there’s no way I could rationally justify the endings and beginnings that I chose as my favorites. Worse, if you ask me again tomorrow I’d probably chose differently and do it for different non-rational reasons.

    Our heads just screw things up, buddy.

    • thinkling says:

      I’m like that a lot in these polls, Joe. There are episodes that never fail to bubble to the top, but positions vary, as do some of the positions down the list a little.

      • joe says:

        Heh! And much of the music causes me to put a particular scene/episode/arc/season right at the top, too. At least, until I hear the next song on my playlist! 😉

        I hope I’m not so fickle IRL!

  3. MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

    After the difficult choices in this poll, I decided I hate it, and I blame myself. 😉

  4. Mind Cheater says:

    It’s an interesting poll… I definitely had to make a couple of tough decisions. It’s funny, a few days ago I was thinking about how some Chuck fans might choose “Baby” as a finale instead of “Goodbye”. I think the inclusion of “Curse” in its arc will lessen the amount of votes it’ll get though…

    • atcDave says:

      No doubt Curse hurt that possible finale for me! I liked Baby a lot and I think it would have made a better finale than Goodby did. But I’m not actually willing to give up some of what came later. In particular, I think Bo was the funniest episode of the season. Even Bullet Train was a lot of fun until the very end. I could have mostly done without the finale, but in the end, I don’t think it did permanent damage so it’s not going to bother me too much.

      • thinkling says:

        Honestly, I see the Omen virus arc as Hack Off, Curse, and Santa Suit, with Baby as a delightful stand alone.

        The story weaving has been really tight this season. The first arc ended with with saving Morgan. The hook, a hit on Morgan, led to a wonderful stand alone in Business Trip. Business Trip sets up the normal vs spy struggle, closing with the harsh contrast between the two and Casey in jail. Casey in jail sets up Decker’s double cross and the whole Omen arc (Hack Off thru Santa Suit). Santa Suit segues right into Baby, the highlight stand alone where Sarah decides she wants nothing more to do with the CIA. There’s no real bridge to Kept Man, except the theme of babies, and the dangers of spying, which segues right into Bo (a semi stand-alone) which ties up the theme and sets up the final arc. The arcs moved the season’s plot and supported its theme, whereas the stand alones, top episodes, carried the season’s theme and bridged the arcs. The breakdown to me was in wasting the conspiracy thread on Shaw. If S4 was genius, I have to call S5 brilliant, except for the aforementioned glitch.

        I feel a post brewing. 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I do agree using Shaw the way they did kind of threw away the conspiracy story. I’ve just started an S5 re-watch; and the little conspiracy cabal at the end of Zoom just doesn’t really work so well for Shaw. Its one of those things where if you examine what they’re saying closely, it doesn’t actually make the Shaw ending impossible; but it sure makes it seem unlikely. And more than a little disappointing. I think it was you Thinkling who observed how often with Chuck the individual episodes can be very good and exciting; but the grand mythology is rarely so satisfying.

  5. kg says:

    Went with First Date, Seduction and Break Up; Suburbs, Beefcake and Lethal Weapon; Anniversary, Suitcase and Cubic Z. Then again, it’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Season Two….And like most, I loved Honeymooners, but not enough of Role Models and Tooth to carry it through. Like Sarah, I was not impressed or amused by the Turners.

    Then we move on to First Kill, Colonel and Ring; Final Exam, American Hero and Other Guy; Santa Clause, Best Friend and Third Dimension.

  6. joe says:

    I’m not quite sure where to put this, but I have a question that maybe I can shoe-horn into the Beginnings and Endings theme here.

    I saw a tweet between Adam and Robbie Duncan that indicated he (McNeill) was to make an appearance in the finale. I assumed they were talking about Goodbye. Did anybody recognize him there?

    And if you’re reading, Mr. McNeill, sorry! I was too busy concentrating and fretting over Sarah to even remember to look!

    • atcDave says:

      He was in the helicopter that Chuck shot down, sitting right next to Casey. He even had a line! (Gasp Joe! you didn’t recognize Tom Paris?! You’re loosing nerd cred man…)

  7. Kelly says:

    Very interesting poll. In the end, I went with Pilot…Tango to begin and Bullet Train…Goodbye to end. Not very original. I’m not sure I would have answered with that ending selection if I had taken this poll even two days ago, as I would definitely put myself in the “dissapointed column” with regards to the finale. I wound up going with the Season 5 ending for two reasons: 1) By default it is truly the only ending. I might have liked some of the other endings better but they weren’t endings. I felt that to pick one of the others as superior, you have to be willing to give up what came after it. 2) I’ve come to the conclusion in the last 48 hours that one good thing about the way they ended the series is that it left me with so many interesting things to contemplate regarding what comes next. I’m not sure I would have felt that way if they had ended the show in a more happy, neatly tied up way.

    • Nervert says:

      That’s the way I see the ending as well. I’ve enjoyed the show for the adventure and that ending leaves plenty of adventure left open even if it’s the two of them finding a new way forward together or recalling their previous relationship. This ending keeps Chuck alive for me whereas a neatly tied up one would have killed it.

      • Aerox says:

        Could’ve gone with an ending where Chuck is forced to re-download the Intersect to save those people at the opera and him calling the call of duty again, just when they’re so close to quitting. Almost all of the conversations could’ve been identical, without the silly amnesia plot. The ending would be something along the lines of Sarah being frustrated with him for being the hero again (a la vs the Ring) and going to the beach to contemplate things. He comes there and promises to her that it wasn’t his intention but he couldn’t let those people die and they make up and then you can fade to black on a kiss as well. Leaves it plenty open for new adventures, but without the disappointment of the feeling (for some) that the character growth was so brusquely reset.

      • atcDave says:

        Nervert I think the problem is just how many long time fans and viewers found that ending inadequate. Its like they let down the very people who kept the show alive. And I’m not even complaining here about the major arc decision, I think any little thing to provide more assurance at the end would have been an improvement. Even as simple as a single line like “let’s go home Chuck” as the credits roll. That’s something that wouldn’t have had to add a single second of screen time, but would have made all the difference in the world about their perceived future. And just to reiterate, I even believe it was a happy ending. But it felt like it ended a beat too soon for many of us.

      • Nervert says:

        Dave – Yep, I realize that many people, probably even most, weren’t satisfied with the ending. I just happen to have been one of the lucky ones who got what he was looking for. The way they ended it keeps the story alive in my mind.

        Aerox – True, that would have been another way to go to keep the adventure going but they kinda already went there once or twice. Not that that has stopped them in the past.

      • Kelly says:

        As annoyed as I was with an amnesia plot, I do think the amnesia leaves Sarah in a much different place than the scenario Aerox laid out. Without the amnesia, Sarah was out of the spy business and ready to settle down. With the amnesia, I have no doubt she stays with Chuck but what they do next is much more up in the air.

      • joe says:

        Hi, Kelly. I can agree with that wholeheartedly.

        It seems to me that one of the many things “they” tried to accomplish was to leave door open just a crack for a possible (if not probable) movie. Suburban & Intersectless C&S home with 2.5 kids and a dog would my desire for them, but perhaps not so much for a movie.

        Of course, we could imagine them being dragged back by fate (or maybe by Jill? 😉 ) into the spy life, but then again, I could just as easily see them resisting that after a few years of domestic bliss. This way, they’re still more tied to it, and so are we.

      • Big Kev67 says:

        You may be right about the movie. There’s a core of people out there for whom this ending left such a bad taste that they may no longer support a movie – but you may be right.
        My theory is that they wrote a writer’s ending, or an ending that would have looked good in Filmschool 101. There are subtleties and tones to it, and it brings the story full circle in a way that gives you the meta payoff of the role reversal from the original beach scene. And it gave them the ambiguity that Fedak says he’s always enjoyed. Every box from a writers point of view was ticked.
        But it missed the visceral need that a large portion of fans had to have this story closed out happily – a need that TPTB were happy enough to play to and foreshadow for most of the last two seasons. I think that need for a more defined “happy ending” (but not necessarily a Disney ending) is something that the majority of fans would have preferred – even those who have accepted what we got – but that’s a subjective opinion, that I can only validate through my twitter timeline!
        But I believe that’s the cause of the disconnect – Fedak wrote a writer’s ending, rather than a fan’s ending, and most of us view this show as fans rather than writers.

      • joe says:

        Yeah, Kev. That’s my read of the twitter time-line too.

        And you’re right. There’s definitely a clash of perceptions going on, maybe even at multiple levels. I used the the term “Disney Ending” myself with the intent to indicate a bit of a sneer towards the unsophisticated rabble that might enjoy a simple-minded and treacly “happily-ever-after”.

        But I’M ONE OF THAT RABBLE! I have a feeling that Zac, Yvonne and Adam are too, and we’ve been fighting over how much Fedak is opposed to that. My guess is, he’s not. It’s not just my habit of giving people the benefit of the doubt that says he wasn’t tutoring us. I really think he was trying to do something a little better in the long run, best he knew how.

        But part of me (and all of us, I think) aren’t going to take kindly to the treatment given to characters that affected us so much. Besides being off-putting, it underestimates not just our love of the characters but our own imaginations as well. I’ve seen several minor adjustments right here that keep the richness without damaging our memories.

        Jan started the podcast repeating that “If Chuck was the heart of the show, then Sarah was the soul. And they killed the soul.” Well, you can’t kill the soul – it’s eternal. But you can certainly do damage to the spirit.

        I really resist thinking that he should have just given us what we wanted, or do it later in a movie. It just seems like the easy way out to me. On top of that, what we saw was subtle and a touch profound, much more-so than normal TV fare. I can appreciate that.

        I only wonder if I’ll ever come to love it, the way I loved the rest of the show.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Kev i agree. the thing about a movie scares me because of the ending. they have set up the perfect film school 101 story. 2 estranged lovers trying to get back together while working together. i’m no fool or easily duped. i’ll say it here and now if they make a movie anytime soon, that’s the path they will take. sure sarah was getting some of her memories back and some of her feelings. it’s easy to say she got them all back, but we don’t know for sure she did, do we? nope. so all they need to do is stagnate her progress and there you go. so as i said, bet on that being the story line they will take.

      • BigKev67 says:

        The most upsetting thing this week – aside from dealing with my own feelings – has been hearing the people who say they’re now going to have serious trouble rewatching because of the ending. There are plenty of them and there’s a serious sense of loss amongst them – something much deeper than “well that was a disappointing ending but I’ll get over it”.
        Only time will tell whether that disappointment is permanent or whether it extends to a majority of fans. But if Fedak is sensible he’ll be trying his damnedest to find out. If he’s upset a small and vocal minority and the casual majority are satisfied, then he did the right thing. If he’s upset anything close to a majority, then for his own sake, he probably needs to realign a little closer to “give the fans what they want” at least for finales.

        I’m more cynical right now than I was 10 days ago – and I think you’re right!

      • atcDave says:

        You know one of the things that amazes me most about this ending is how BigKev and I seem to agree 100% about it! I mean seriously Kev, you and I have been mostly at odds for the 2 and 1/2 years of this site’s existence. But our perception of this ending is identical. I have complete confidence CF and his film school pals are very impressed with the ending. But I bet 30-40% of the show’s core audience are hurt, angry or sad about it.

        I have seriously made my peace with the ending itself. But I remain unimpressed with the strategic decision making. And I do have similar fears to Army about if they make a movie. The main thing that makes me a little optimistic is that Fedak seems to have washed his hands of the writing duties (he has mentioned several times wanting to pass the torch to a new generation of Chuck writers). So I HOPE, if a movie is ever made, that they bring back one of the staff writers or find new blood to actually do the script.

        I would also add, at this point a movie has to be regarded as an extreme long shot. If Chuck continues, it is far more likely to be in novel or comic form (I think).

      • atcDave says:

        Oh one other thought, the DVD set apparently contains some feature called “the Future of Chuck.” For now, I would be quite happy if this includes some talk about Chuck and Sarah’s future together. Barring any actual future material, this may be an opportunity for some closure.

      • atcDave says:

        Kelly and Joe, I disagree about Sarah and the spy life. Sarah was the first of the team to reject Beckman’s job offer. And since I believe her memories are coming back sooner, not later, I believe if anything she will have an even greater reluctance to rejoin the spy life. I life I might add that she’s been hostile towards (in some ways) since the START of S3. I think her returning to Chuck in the end is a COMPLETE rejection of the spy life.

      • armysfc says:

        Joe i would agree with the ending except for one thing and it’s a big one. this was the end, not the middle not the start. the end, over, finished done. they didn’t deliver the product they pretty much promised all season. that’s the problem. i agree it was bold, inventive even but a poor choice all the same. i understand people loved the ending, there are people who love angst as well. you don’t promise a love letter to the fans and deliver this type of ending. as soon as you make that statement you can no longer write it from a writers perspective, you need to write from a fans perspective because that’s a promise you made to them from the start. if they didn’t make that statement i’m on board, but they didn’t. that statement was almost a verbal contract with the fans to deliver what the fans wanted, not the writers whims.

        Kev i’m the same as i was after the finale and that’s not gonna change.

      • armysfc says:

        Dave, i don’t think it matters who they get to do the script. the vast majority of writers do not know how to write a couple together. it’s something that is rarely done. that makes it beyond the scope of most writers. for example your in ATC but could you just jump into a war zone and tell fighter jets where their targets are and direct them on which boogies to engage? you probably could but it might be out of your comfort zone. that’s the issue i see.

      • atcDave says:

        Army I’m specifically thinking of staff writers like Newman or LaJudkins who have had a good feel for these characters all along, already know the setting, and have generally delivered the most popular episodes. You are right that writing an actual couple is difficult for most writers, but my biggest concern is just finding someone who knows what a “love letter to fans” should look like for THIS audience. To me, that should be the number one priority before any movie is done.

        And, you guessed it, I would kind of prefer they don’t even try. This takes me back to my gaming days; there occasionally came a point with a much loved character, that it was time to retire them because you no longer want to trust their well being to some fickle GM. I think it would be better to just end Chuck entirely than take our chances with some half-baked story that might just make things worse.
        I never thought I’d say that! But at the very least, Fedak no longer has my confidence.

      • armysfc says:

        Dave very true about those writers. however it’s not up to the writers to pick the direction of the movie or show. didn’t LaJudkins write 12 and that was dark as all. given the choice i doubt they would have gone that way. they were told what to write and did. same as addler in the horrid ep she wrote. so despite having good character writers they have to go with the story they are given.

      • atcDave says:

        Well, a movie could be different by being out from under the control of Fedak. Obviously, a lot would have to change before that could happen. But even with Star Trek, Roddenberry had little influence after the original series.

      • MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

        I doubt a Chuck movie will happen. If it happens, I fear they’ll have them broken up just so they can get back together (like National Treasure and Mask of Zorro). However if anyone writes the screenplay, it would probably be one of the current Chuck writing team. The current team wrote Chuck and Sarah together for over 40 episodes. It can be done.

        I’m not sure about a Chuck movie because of more reasons than just a possible cliched breakup. Story telling approaches are different in movies than TV shows. Chuck had such a unique feel to it, I’m not sure if a Chuck movie would feel like Chuck.

        I know a lot of people did not like the ending. Maybe a different ending would have pleased more people. But I still say a majority liked it a lot.
        – In Ernie’s poll 78% put it in their top 4, 49% gave it 5/5, 69% gave it 4+/5.
        – In Spoiler TV, 71% rated it 5/5, 82% rated it 4+/5.
        – In IMDB 76% of reviewers gave it 10/10, and 88% gave it 9+/10. The average score is 9.36 and a weighted average is 9.0. That is the 5th highest IMDB score for any Chuck episode (behind Colonel, Ring, Other Guy, and Ring II).
        – On, the finale is 8.8/10. That is tied for 15th overall for Chuck episodes.

        The ending didn’t work for a lot of people, but a lot of evidence indicates that it was well liked by a majority.

      • armysfc says:

        Jeff are those polls just referring to the ending or the final episode? i like the ep and would give it an 8/10 but give the ending a 2.

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff I agree with a lot of that. I have a lot of doubts about a movie ever even getting made, but the biggest reason is just money. I would be seriously surprised if anyone ever figured out a way to get a movie paid for. And the way these things go, in spite of good intentions now, a year from now chances are no one will even be thinking about it.

        I also have a “good enough” attitude towards the ending. It will never be a favorite of mine. But the list of movie sequels and TV reunion movies that really damaged the legacy of what came before is staggering. I assume a “happily ever after” from this point, any movie has a reasonable chance of damaging or even undoing that.
        As I understand it, most viewers feel as good about the finale as I do, OR BETTER; so I really think its best to leave it alone. The best I’m hoping for at this point, is some comments from Fedak similar to interviews he’s given recently; that would cement the “happy ending” idea in more viewers minds. (I figure its 50/50; either he gets belligerent and give his “ambiguous” talk, or he recalls all the distressed tweets he’s seen and talks about Charah’s future together fighting cyber-crime while having babies).

        To me, the worst thing at this point is just dealing with never seeing this cast together again. That is the biggest part of the mourning process for me.

      • Army, SpoilerTV’s is for the two episodes together. The other polls are for the entire Chuck vs the Goodbye episode. At first, I loved the final episode and was uncertain about the ending. The ending has really grown on me after multiple viewings, but I understand how someone could love the episode while disliking the end. However, I doubt anyone who thought that would rate it 5/5 or 10/10. Some of those people might put it in the 4/5 or 9/10 category, but I doubt that is all of the 4 and 9 voters.

      • atcDave says:

        BTW, I’ve spoken with three more casual viewers since I last reported, all felt the ending was “mostly happy”. So I’m beginning to feel a lot better about how the show will be remembered by most viewers.

        For myself, I could imagine giving the finale a “4” or “9” if I’m in a generous mood. Both episodes were extremely well crafted and well acted. I will always feel the ending was incomplete, but after a couple of re-watches I don’t find it as offensively so as I first felt.

      • Aerox says:

        I measure the finale by two different points. One is the episodes in general, which I would rate very high, as they were awesome, simply put. The ending to the episodes (and the series as a whole) is on a whole different level which I would rate lower than the episodes. I think that there would be some different results had the poll been: What did you think of the episode, followed by: “What did you think of this being the finale of the show” or something along those lines. Then again, I can’t comment for casual viewers. All I know is that a few friends of mine who are casual viewers weren’t pleased with the ending, so that’s mostly what I’m basing this on, as well as my own experience. It gets better with rewatches, but if you’re a casual viewer, you might not even bother with that.

      • Big Kev67 says:

        I think the finale and the ending are 2 completely separate questions – or they should be. I loved the finale (I’d give it a 9) but I disliked the ending. So how far do I mark the finale down as an episode because I disliked the ending? In the end, I didn’t mark it down at all precisely because I think they’re separate questions. ChuckTV had the 2 separated out – it’ll be interesting to see how the results split out.
        But you’re right. Ultimately it’s a moot point. We got what we got. I’m just hoping I can get past the nagging voice that I had in my head last week as I rewatched an old Sarah/Chuck scene – what if Sarah doesn’t remember this? Why am I watching, again? Sadly for me, that voice has got more insistent over the last week.
        I don’t need to love the ending. But I would like to rewatch at some point….

      • The Chuck finale definitely could be split into two separate polls. A lot of episodes are like that. Bo had the Sarahsect twist at the end. I’m sure Morgansect ruined Cliffhanger for a lot of people. I liked Mask until the Chuck/Sarah hallway scene near the end. I like Alma Mater and Cougars better because of the ends.

        Even in this poll, I had trouble deciding if I should pick the First Date/Seduction/Break-Up arc in the survey. In conjunction with Marlin and Cougars, those five are my favorite run of excellent episodes. But the ending of the arc in Break-Up is painful. (Why, oh why, listen to Bryce Effing Larkin? I just erased a rant about how bad of a spy he was in that episode.)

        The point I was trying to make is if the ending is disliked, it at least somewhat taints the episode. It would not get a perfect score. A lot of people are giving Goodbye a perfect/Awesome score.

        The IMDB and ratings were interesting and a little surprising. The voters are registered and they are more likely to be fans of a lot of shows, not just Chuck. Honeymooners, Phase Three, and the Pilot are high, but not top-15. On IMDB Colonel is 2nd, but with it is tied lowest in the first 3 seasons. One of them has Three Words and CAT Squad with very high ratings. (Carina fans and/or they like it when Sarah gets mad at Chuck.)

      • atcDave says:

        Wow, some very disturbing polls! I do think the ending is a powerful part of the overall impression of an episode. If most viewers are rating the finale highly they probably felt better about the ending than many viewers here seemed to. Although my guess is at IMDb and they are probably more general TV fans and less specifically Chuck fans. They likely don’t represent the rabid core who fought for the show like you find here or at the NBC forums. The results of Chucktv’s polls will be very interesting. And not to be too insular about it, but I do think a “love letter to fans” should have been more about us. I think calling it a “writer’s ending” is probably the best description.

        But that said, Kev you do have to know Sarah’s memories came back! They were returning during 5.13, and Fedak himself has said they were coming back. I’d also mention I’m currently re-watching the season from the start; and an interesting thing I noticed about Morgansect. Remember how his memories were slipping in 5.02 and 5.03? Well Chuck WAS able to get through to some of those buried memories by the end of 5.03. And when Morgan snapped out of it, he recovered his essential personality even quicker than his memories.
        If we assume Sarah’s situation is similar, but more severe; we know those memories can be brought back. We also know the essential Sarah Bartowski can be recovered even more quickly than specific memories. And I believe we already saw THAT happen at the end of 5.13 (“Chuck, kiss me…”). The specific memories will take longer (just as Morgan’s did), but they will come back.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        If CF SAID it, why couldn’t he just SHOW it.

        (He also said that in some universe Shaw would be perfect for Sarah instead of showing it. )

        Not buying it.

        I’m with BigKev, the ending sucks the life out of ANY rewatching.

      • Jason says:

        My 2 cents on the ending vs polls, I think hardcore Chuck fans, esp either those invested in Sarah or those who do not trust Fedak, disliked the ending, simply because it is possible she did not remember. I have been surprised how much the ending was unpopular among a variety of hardcore fans, even if one tries to use polls to justify it, the bottom line is lots of invested fans didn’t like it, if BigKev, Actdave, Thinkling, DR all agree the end was somewhat lacking – that is a diverse group and points to a problem intuitively even if explicitly one may try to make a case it was not unpopular .

        I think for casual fans and most critics, the ending was romantic. The entire three eps on screen (and season if you include Morgansect) leads the to conclusion she already is remembering, and the ‘tell me our story’ – followed by story montage – then the ‘kiss me’ – followed by the final magic kiss ending is romantic, as long as you don’t think too hard – the episode uses the words magic kiss and recovery together multiple times, then the end delivers a magic kiss, that is the story as presented.

        Seems there are (or used to be) lots of DR fans here. I read where he did not like the end at all, seems he was told by his ‘ninja’ that the end was really good, and that it was clear she remembers. I wonder if the ending was softened in the final edit to make it more indeterminate? I once read that Fedak was worried about the ending, it would not be that hard to believe he obsessed over just what to include or not in an attempt to make the end ‘perfect’ for him, and he just went too far?

        When I watched the final two eps, I really thought people would love them, and that I would be one of the few who didn’t, so the reaction surprised me. I did not like the amnesia storyline & the neutered Sarah Bartowski characterization, but even I thought the actual episodes were terrific. I also thought the writing for the entire season was probably the best since season 2. I just didn’t like the any of the stories the great writing told, even while enjoying most of the episodes for the characters, until Sarah was destroyed in the final arc.

        Finally, I have been telling fans of ‘drama’ Chuck for three seasons now that the show should stick to romcom, because there are not enough dramatic character or stories on the show to do drama, without repeating the destroy Sarah to hurt Chuck story (hence I do not want a movie EVER). I have been saying this since early season 4. I think this season proved me right on many accounts. Season 5 was a love letter to those drama fans, and the bottom line, IMO they didn’t like it near as much as romcom fans would have liked ‘their’ Chuck, with a Norman Rockwell perfect happy ending.

      • JC says:

        Right after the finale aired I commented that I believed had they gotten a S6 or more episodes I expected them to be separated. The finale set up an easy reset for the show, another Prague type scenario without mutilating the characters. And it allows them to go to the Chuck and Sarah angst well once again. Contrary to what anyone on the show says that’s the only conflict that ever mattered. Every since Fulcrum the villains goals always come back to the relationship and how its impacted. Even when they got together they still tried to go that route with stories that got more absurd and hurt the characters.

        That’s why I disliked the ending. By asking fans to write it they set up everyone for disappointment. I would say a majority of fans think they lived happily ever eventually but we never saw it. So if they go in a completely different direction which I think they would you piss of those fans.because of the expectations you allowed them to create, It’d be like S3 on steroids.

      • thinkling says:

        After a week plus, I feel immensely better about the ending than when I first watched. As my post indicated, rewatching and analyzing made me feel better right after. That improvement has compounded with time.

        Various things about the finale made it hard to see the forrest for the trees. The kind of ending I imagined, given the foreshadowing, obviously didn’t happen. The state of happiness Chuck and Sarah got to in the finale was vastly different from the one I expected to see. And there was a lot of heavy drama and lingering sadness. All that said, I think they gave us a happy ending. Yes it felt understated, and I would have loved a little more guarantee that Sarah would fully recover her memories. But I have no doubt that Chuck and Sarah are together to stay … 4ever. That’s Chuck and Sarah’s love story, and has been from the start. There’s no chance that Sarah is leaving (none, zip, nada, zilch), and they are as happy as possible given all they went through and the stage of their recovery. They found the essential part of their happy ever-after … their love and faith in each other.

        Whereas I think Fedak is out of touch with fans, sometimes, I do think he tried to give us the best ending he could think of, not realizing how it would feel to some people, not realizing that the permeative sadness would overwhelm the understated ending. I don’t think the movie would start in a bad place at all. I think it would start where we expected to end up, because of Fedak’s stated view of how he sees Chuck and Sarah’s future, which is basically exactly how S5 painted it.

        CF: I see Chuck and Sarah together, being a husband and wife, starting up that computer security firm. Hopefully they won’t find themselves dodging bullets for the rest of their lives. Of course, as a writer, now I start thinking, “You know what? They could get into a little bit of trouble.” That gets the story side of my brain going. But for now, they’re happy and they’re together and thinking about their future.

        He painted their future in the foreshadowing. He even carved it in stone, er, wood. In the finale he put their relationship and their love to the ultimate test and snatched away their future. (The medium of the test (Sarah’s memory loss) was unthinkably tragic. Hence the intensity of the grief and sadness.) Then he showed them fighting their way back to each other. Chuck’s pleas in the house and the carving were like a defibrillator for Sarah, and from the moment she saw the logs, she entered her process of returning to Chuck and finding herself. At the end, with everyone else gone, Chuck goes to find the only one who really matters. With Sarah plus nothing, his world is complete. With everyone else minus Sarah, his world would be empty. Chuck and Sarah both find their way back to each other (and their belief in each other) at the beach. Their love survived the ultimate test. In that, the belief that persevered and the love that couldn’t die, Chuck’s world is complete and their future is restored.

        I believe that’s the story Fedak told, and that, to him, he gave us a love letter about a love that survives everything, no matter what. He intended to give us a happy ending and a bright future, and though it’s understated and subtle, it’s in there. Though it’s not an upbeat, happy way to end what is overwhelmingly an upbeat and happy show, it is a positive ending made viscerally powerful by the visual of the ocean, before them as they kiss.

        The tragedy they faced was nothing short of heartbreaking. There is lingering grief because of what’s happened, but also because of what hasn’t. Sarah’s memories haven’t returned to the point we can rejoice. This is the part that leaves us with a sense of dissatisfaction. However, the return of Sarah’s memories are just as foreshadowed as the house with the red door and the white picket fence. (Morgan’s recovery of himself, Ellie’s tests showing no permanent damage in Morgan’s brain, Ellie’s statement about the emotional connection to memory, and the memories we’ve already seen return) Fedak showed us Chuck and Sarah’s future and the return of Sarah’s memory in the same way, through foreshadowing. He confirms this in an interview:

        Q: Well, after last week’s episode, a few commenters were upset with the idea that Sarah’s memory had been erased, and that all her character growth we had spent the last five seasons was for naught. What would you say to that? CF: I would certainly say it’s not erased. It’s not all gone. It hasn’t been five seasons all for naught. It’s in there. And the fun will be remembering it and falling in love again. How could you imagine anything better?

        I didn’t want all the sadness. I do accept the story they told for what it is and what they meant it to be. Sarah’s growth didn’t vanish. Their love didn’t die. They didn’t lose faith. All of those things survived against all odds and the cruelest of tests. I have found the beauty and the power in it. All that to say, I determine to rewatch Chuck, not with the thought, “what if she doesn’t remember this,” but with a smile imagining how she will remember it and the joy of the moment for both of them. That’s the love letter, even if I missed it at first.

        I can’t tell anybody else how to read it, but from Fedak’s own words that’s how he wrote it, (even though I might mark him down a bit for poor penmanship in spots.)

      • Thanks for restating that, Thinkling.

        That first quote from Fedak is why I would want him to write or be heavily involved in an hypothetical movie (which I still doubt would happen). If they bring someone else in, I think they think Chuck and Sarah need to be split before the movie so they can reunite during.

      • thinkling says:

        Jeff, that would be truly awful. I see the movie starting in the house with Chuck and Sarah happy, running their less dangerous counter cyber terrorism firm, possibly with children. Then they get called back into duty by the president … or stumble onto a cyber terrorist plot that threatens national security and world peace, maybe the existence of life on earth as we know it. I see a movie returning to the power couple of S5 in a great adventure with comedy, romance, action, cool spy stuff, exploding things, danger and a little drama. At least that’s what I would love to see, and I think that’s what would satisfy the greatest number of Chuck fans.

      • I like that idea. If they need “drama” it should be about pregnancy tests again. Or maybe Baby Bartowski is kidnapped by someone out for revenge and it a rescue movie (a little more complicated than the Star Wars plan from Last Details). As I’m typing this, it sounds like Doctor Who’s “A Good Man Goes to War.”

      • thinkling says:

        Yeh, or the drama could be around the hospital in Chicago where Ellie and Awesome work … or the Woodcomb branch of the Bartowski tree. As much drama as was heaped on Chuck and Sarah, especially Sarah, I think it needs to be dumped elsewhere in the movie.

        Just an additional note to this monster thread, for the record, I’m very pleased with how the Chuck writers wrote married Chuck and Sarah. I’d pay to see them again and again.

      • I haven’t been as vocal about the finale as others – I think most that like it fall into that category. Like Nervert, this ending – or rather this Goodbye, keeps Chuck alive for me. I will admit to a brief, OMG, what did they do? when I first saw the ending, but I immediately watched both hours again, and walked away very satisfied. It’s been over a week, and there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t thought about the finale, the last scene, their future. I can’t name any other TV show that has affected me as much. Thinkling’s posts mirror a lot of my thoughts and Joe’s was so spot on in calling it what it was – not an ending, but a goodbye. Please don’t forget about me. I haven’t and I doubt I will.

        I’m not about to tell you what you should think or how you should feel about the finale. Our beliefs, opinions and judgements are our own and we all need to take ownership of them. Our feelings are spontaneous reactions to that, to what we saw and what we experienced, and honestly, none of us really has control of our feelings cause they just happen. I never believed the show would finish the way it did. I felt shocked at first, followed by sadness, but I came to realize that my sadness came from the show being over. That’s when the love settled in. Zac commented that there might not be tears of joy, but certainly tears of love. I get that now. I will never forget this show and the finale is a big reason why for me.

        Now regarding polls, I took a completely unscientific one this past weekend when I spoke to the several friends I has turned onto the show. They all have gone back and watched prior seasons and have been faithful weekly viewers for the last two to three years now. Not one of them told me they disliked the final scene. They took the final as a whole and enjoyed it for what it was. All (100% in a poll is rare) rated it the best ending of the many the show has had and said that they would begin their series rewatch within the next week. I think we are in for 91 weeks of Chuck.

        To those of you who are feeling disillusioned with the finale, I wish you peace.

      • Jason says:

        Hopefully this made it to the right spot. Since I think Yvonne is going to become a big star, here is the only condition that I would be really excited about a movie, Yvonne gets script approval (in a sense she does either way star or not, as she can so no, but I am afraid she is too nice to say no, maybe her and Zac can gang up on the creative people?).

        But overall, Fedak, Weadon, or even if Adler or Judlafranc were in charge, how will they write the angst or the drama without destroying Sarah (and CS)?

        And sorry thinkling, after the final, why would you use any Chris Fedak quote to support any POV, when words like tell our story, give the story a proper end, love letter, happy ending, etc meant what they meant to him? One reason I did not get too jacked up over the final, or over the final arc even, is I was ready for it, the old fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, Fedak if given a movie, would be working on his third chance to ruin Chuck and Sarah.

      • There was an obvious disconnect between Fedak and some of the people who watched the finale. Fedak has said in several interviews what he thinks the ending was. Some people don’t see it his way because they wanted to see it on the screen and/or they don’t trust him. I’m not arguing any of that.

        My point is Fedak and the other writers of the S5 writing staff are the most likely to continue from where he thought the show left off, which was a happy place in which Chuck and Sarah stay together, she gets her memories back, and they work in their computer security firm. If they bring someone else in, the new people are likely to mix things up, which is normally not a good thing for shows. The tone is changed, characterizations could be completely destroyed, etc.

      • Aerox says:

        Nervert, as per your reply that they went there already, they went there again 😛 Except this time it was overshadowed by the fact that Sarah couldn’t remember a damn thing. Chuck still has the intersect (as far as we know) so with that in mind, the same thing would happen in my scenario, except without the silly angst of memory loss.

        As per the rest: I’m sure there are a lot of people who enjoyed this final arc. But regardless of what the general consensus is, this is what YOU (or in this case I) felt about the ending, so it doesn’t matter if everyone else loved it. I was disappointed.

      • atcDave says:

        As always, very well put Thinkling! I’d like to have you write all my responses…

        Just a few stray thoughts. I still don’t particularly trust Fedak, and I would prefer one of the staff writers get the call if a movie ever happens. But that aside, I think he has to be considered a reliable testimony for interpretation on the scene he wrote! This is not at all like the Shaw situation, where the writer’s intent was simply looking different on screen than what the writer thought it was. This is purely a case of discerning what the writer’s intent for the scene was. He has given an answer that actually can be reconciled with what we saw and what was alluded to in the episode (Sarah’s memories ARE coming back, and Chuck and Sarah ARE staying together). I will continue to consider it a bit of a fail just because so many of the fans who cared most were left uncertain by what they saw. But after doing some digging (which we shouldn’t have to do!) and paying close attention on re-watch, the ending clearly was “happy”.

      • thinkling says:

        Jason, my quotes from Fedak go to intent. Some people question his motive, which is unfair given his words. He told us he gave us a happy ending, a love letter. So instead of questioning his love for his show or for the characters he created, I went looking for what he told us was there. I went looking for the Chuck and Sarah I know and the love story I’ve been watching since S1. I think they’re in there, even if told in a backhanded way that disappointed a lot of people. Fedak’s taste is fair game, and his misreading of a significant portion his fans, but not his motives.

        For me, the misery arc is the only segment of the series that came close to ruining Chuck and Sarah’s story, because it damaged their character and undermined their belief in each other. The finale did just the opposite. It affirmed their belief in each other and showed the endurance of their love, albeit through tragedy and the harshest of tests. So I don’t think it ruined them. It left a bad aftertaste for a lot of people, and that’s a shame.

        The other thing I see, especially after the Fedak quotes, is that the finale is not meant to be taken in isolation from the series or (especially!) from S5. Fedak went to great lengths all through the season to develop the epilogue — the happy ever-after — and to show us his vision of their future. The circumstances of the finale challenge everything and threaten to take it all away. Chuck and Sarah beat the odds and fight to overcome all threats. In the end they are in a good place, ready to reclaim their life and build their future … the same future we’ve watched them dream about during the first 10 episodes of S5.

        As to a future movie, I would be cautiously optimistic. If CF were incapable of writing a good Chuck and Sarah love story, we wouldn’t have gotten 3.5 and 4.0 and 4.5 and 5×1-10 (40 episodes).

    • Nervert says:

      And by “they” I mean the show runners.

    • phaseou812 says:

      Thinkling after reading all of the blogs of this thread . . . I ran out of time to respond in-depth . . . but I wanted to say that I support all of your comments as they express a lot of what I see . . . as well as there was several other good points as well from others . . . but thank you for posting Thinkling as I believe it represents a lot of my POV.

      • thinkling says:

        phase, thanks for the kind words, but mostly thanks for joining us on the journey. It’s been a pleasure.

  8. andyt says:

    This may have been the toughest poll ever on Chuck This. I went with S1 opening arc because I think that those are three very strong first episodes, and they convinced me that this show was more than worth my time. For the final arc, I had to choose between S2 or S5. I think both are very strong, emotional and exciting. Also, both final arcs come at the end of a spectacular run of episodes before that. In the end, I choose S2. This is probably my bias for S2 which I think is the best of the show; although I am nearly to the point of calling S5 the second best and only by a few hairs.

  9. compromisedcover says:

    Hi! Since this is the running thread, I just want to say thanks to the regular commenters here especially the moderators for my much needed support group. You guys made my struggle to make peace with the ending much much easier. Like some commenters here, I found it incomplete, that it was missing something. For the next few days I was scared to even contemplate re-watching previous episodes for the possibility that the ending ruined the entire series for me. I decided that until I haven’t accepted how the show ended, I would not attempt a re-watch. My raw emotions have died down, thankfully, and this blog helped tremendously. I’m in the ‘I like it, but…’ camp, and maybe eventually I would come around to actually loving the last 2 episodes. I have come to accept it now (I think?). Joe, Thinkling, Dave, Faith, Ernie, thank you for being a bunch of articulate schnooks.

    • joe says:

      Hi, Comp. Thank you very much for de-lurking and saying that. It’s appreciated.

      Gee. I really didn’t expect that we’d be around to act as a Chuck Support Group, but here we are, at your service! 😉

    • atcDave says:

      I’m very pleased we were able to help!

    • thinkling says:

      Ditto Joe and Dave. I’ll say it’s the best I could hope to do (and I imagine the others feel exactly the same) as a Chuck This writer, to share my love for the show, positive epiphanies, and helpful insights in a contagious way.

  10. joe says:

    Peter, I’m putting this at the end because the thread is already so long.

    You said:

    It’s been over a week, and there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t thought about the finale, the last scene, their future.

    I know what you mean. I woke up this morning and realized that I had had a dream with Sarah in it. For all the time I’ve spent thinking and writing about the show, I must say this is the first time I actually had a dream with those characters.

    At least, it’s the first time I remember.

    That makes me think that we need a little peace of mind too, Peter, perhaps just as much as those who’ve (more or less) given up ever finding enjoyment in the show again. Apropos to the other discussions, that’s why I tend to think that, in the event a movie is made, many fans will show up. They’ll still be looking for that peace.

  11. Joe, while I would like a movie, I’m personally at peace. Honestly the last time this happened for my with a TV show was Northern Exposure, the final scene when Joel was on the Staten Island Ferry with New State of Mind playing in the background. I know the show continued after that, but I stopped watching. I wanted to remember that moment, wonder if Maggie would ever join him, wonder about his/their future. I was at peace then and I still haven’t forgotten.
    I don’t know if we will ever have a movie. If we do, that’s icing on the cake for me. But regardless, I am at peace and I honestly hope those that have been most disaffected by the last scene find it too.

    • dkd says:

      I have not posted much about the finale since I watched it.

      I was fortunate enough to watch it with 50 fans at the viewing party at the NBC Store. My memory of that night involves laughter, cheers (when Jeffster concluded their song), tears and applause at the end. After that, several fans went to a Korean karaoke place in Manhattan where half the songs we ordered were from Chuck and we sang along with the songs. It was a lot of fun.

      I knew from my twitter feed that there were a few fans out there whose experience was–shall we say–a little different. As a result, I avoided online discussion like the plague and still do. I wanted my final experience of the show to be the fun I had that night and not a lot of arguments, debates, and complaining. Fortunately a lot of critics like Mo Ryan wrote very nice reviews that I was able to agree with and enjoy.

      I accept the ending for what it was and the experience I had with those other fans for what it was to me–a very emotional, yet positive experience. It’s kinda sad that some people are unhappy, but I can’t change anyone’s mind or alter their emotions.

      I don’t know if there will be any more original Chuck content. I do intend to continue to purchase Chuck DVD’s and other materials just so that it is, perhaps, possible. My last favorite show, Farscape, got to continue as comics which are canon and allowed people to find out what happened to John and Aeryn and their son after the mini-series. I bought a few, but haven’t been a regular reader. They talked about webisodes for a while, but never got the funding. A movie would be the most difficult thing, financially, for Chuck to pull off given its low-rated history, IMO.

      PS: I kinda knew how it was going to end, the minute I saw that screenshot of the beach scene in the spoiler thread.

      • The DVDs are going to have another 7-9 minutes of extended and new scenes in the finale.

        I’m behind on the Farscape comics too. Written, comic, and TV show story telling are all very different story telling mediums. I’m not sure Chuck would translate. I looked at some online previews of the last Chuck comics, and they didn’t do anything for me.

        Star Trek TNG’s finale (not counting movies) is still one of the few (only) finales I’d put in as a top 5% episode of its series. Chuck’s finale was top 15-25% for me, but it will stay with me a long time. Farscape’s finale will hang with me the longest for appearing to kill of the two leads. (They had to survive because it was originally a season, not series finale). I loved it because it was the Farscape producers sticking it to the Sci-Fi channel (with a big frell you), instead of going with a storybook happy ending 30 seconds earlier.

        The subsequent Farscape miniseries (and comics) will never diminish the impact of that first finale for me because that episode was more about the abrupt cancellation than the story itself. The follow-ups made the story a little happier for the two leads, while killing off supporting characters. It was a lesson in ‘be careful what you wish for’.

        Would anyone want a Chuck movie that had the red door, security business, Baby Charah, all of Sarah’s memories restored, and no Charah angst… just to have Casey die?

      • atcDave says:

        Honestly Jeff I could live with that ending. I’m not eager to see any character killed off (not even Morgan!), but I could see a certain appropriateness in having Casey go out in a blaze of glory.

        I’m not sure where Chuck’s finale will eventually settle in my personal rankings. It might be quite high; it was clearly an excellent episode (both parts…) and I’ve made peace with the ending.
        But my initial reaction was pretty numb and disappointed. Even if I was satisfied it was a “happy” ending within thirty minutes or so (that’s how long it took me to find the first Fedak interview; and for once, one of his interviews helped me a lot). But that’s a big initial bias to overcome. For now, I’m very sympathetic with those who strongly disliked it, even if I don’t really agree with most of their complaints any more.
        I guess I’ll just have to say I appreciate the quality a lot and am satisfied with the end. I’m just not sure what “affection” I’ll ever have for the episode. I give it a middling ranking (anywhere from 2-4 on a five point scale; varying with my mood and exactly how the question is asked).

      • joe says:

        Great sentiment, Jeff.

        But you just jogged my memory. Wasn’t there a rumor floating around that someone important dies in the finale? Or did we/I just interpret a quote that way?

      • thinkling says:

        I think it was mostly from Comic Con when CF said that no one is ever safe. He said someone on the stage (which was everybody but SL) might not make it, and it would be big. At that point, it was just chain yanking, although, we know from post finale interviews that they did consider a character death, but didn’t end up killing anybody off.

        The only public mention I ever heard of it though was Comic Con. That was all it took for the idea to build steam and walk all the way to the final.

      • I tried ranking my favorites the other day. If the ending was a little more complete and the Woodcomb’s leaving made more sense, it’d probably be a top 13 episode for me because of all of the callbacks, the Jeffster song, and the beginning of the beach. Instead, it’s between 13 and 24, in a group that’s hard to separate. That’s rounded down to a 4 for me, because the 5s are clearly better.

        Farscape had a Casey-like character get a hero’s death, but I didn’t like it because they were talking about him ‘retiring’ with his Gertrude the entire miniseries. I was VERY happy no one died in the Chuck finale.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Joe, It was at COMICON that Chris Fedak said somebody at the table might not survive the season, then in one of Fedak’s interviews he says he was seriously considering killing off Casey pretty far into the breakout of the season, and was also considering the full Thelma & Louise ending for Jeffster.

      • thinkling says:

        I’m glad, too, Jeff. A character death on top of the main story line would have been over-kill. IMO it would have detracted from the story they were trying to tell.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Jeff you just nailed my two biggest reservations with the finale. IF the ending were just a little more definitive; and IF the Woodcomb’s ending had been structured a little differently (as I said the other day; maybe Chuck AND Sarah having the “see ya later” talk with Ellie AFTER Chuck and Sarah returned from the beach together) it might have radically improved my mood about the end. And would almost certainly have elevated the finale up to one of the all-time best.

      • joe says:

        Oh, thanks, everyone. I had forgotten about CF’s ComiCon statement until you mentioned Jeffster going out in a blaze of glory, Ernie.

        I forgot about it ’cause I thought he was joking from the first. It was his body language, I think! 😉

      • compromisedcover says:

        More Chuck will always be better than no Chuck at all in my book. So if ever a movie, TV movie, webisode (most likely to happen than the rest IMO) comes up in the future, I’ll be right there. And I think whoever writes this will gun for the comedy if the story starts off from the finale, i.e. they’ll insert humor with Sarah’s memory loss and recovery. But whichever format Chuck comes back in, I’ll take what I can get. Heck, I’d be happy if they’ll just post mock home videos from the Woodcombs sent to the Bartowskis and vice versa online.

      • Joe, I took it as a joke originally, but then some of the online reviewers picked it up and ran with it. It made the idea sound more legitimate, even though they were not “official” spoiler channels.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’m sure someone has already done it in a fan fiction, but I like the comic potential of Sarah regaining her memories piecemeal. Chuck is living with a walking timebomb/emotional wreck as she seemingly randomly remembers Prague, their wedding, Hannah, the proposal, the real proposal, Jill, Barstow, Lou, their first kiss, Rye, Thailand, Barstow… Depending on the memory and seeminly out of nowhere regardless of their present activities she can suddenly decide to jump his bones, or haul off and slug him like in Pink Slip.

      • Aerox says:

        Joe, that rumor was started by Ausiello. It involved multiple shows he “really enjoyed” and in ONE of them, an important cast member would die. People simply drew their own conclusions and the rumor got formed to: “Someone from Chuck will die”

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie I’m already gathering material for a look at the fan fiction spin on things. I few have touched on the random regaining of memories, but nothing quite as explosive as you suggest. Too bad, that would be fun!

      • Seeing memories come back in the show would have been really funny. That’s part of why I figured Morgan had all his memories back. Except for Casey messing with Morgan about Star Wars and Indy, they didn’t have any ongoing memory restoration jokes. For example, what if Chuck tells Morgan to get his P.A.N.T.S., but Morgan doesn’t remember and wonders why Chuck wants his pants? Casey could have messed with Morgan for half the season.

        Here’s a very short and funny fic:

        Notorious JMG has one in progress, with two chapters so far, one for each episode. Chapter 2 is funny:

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Dave, the scenes practically write themselves, right! Somebody says something about catching a train and it can trigger memories of their first honeymoon, or Prague. I can practically see Sarah getting a far away look as she remembers, Chuck doing a doubletake and realizing what’s happening frantically running through his list of possible memories associated with trains trying to be ready for any reaction, and trying to calm her before she reacts. Sarah looks at Chuck, her eyes narrow … “Sarah, honey, don’t freak out…”

      • joe says:


        Chuck is living with a walking timebomb/emotional wreck as she seemingly randomly remembers Prague, their wedding, Hannah, the proposal, the real proposal, Jill, Barstow, Lou, their first kiss, Rye, Thailand, Barstow…

        Heh! It’s a little funny, but my idea (like I tried to put to words yesterday) is almost the opposite. You see, Sarah’s back to being under strict emotional control. Well, mostly, which is why the ending is actually very positive. Sarah’s obvious reaction to Chuck telling their story is the beginning of the end of that emotional control straitjacket, again.

        But I digress. The point is that Chuck is the emotional one, and he’s got that emotional timebomb in his head – uh, heart, set to go off every time Sarah reconnects with their past. She’s going to be more than alright with it because the memories will be fresh, new and maybe even fun. For Chuck, they’ll be happy, but more painful as he continues to want her to remember.

        I’m wondering if anyone in the FF universe will pick up on that!

      • thinkling says:

        There’s also the potential for some of her memories to come back in dreams and/or nightmares.

  12. Carlos says:

    I find it ironic that lots of fans did not like the final scene on first viewing and then desperately resorted to reading comments by Chris Fedak to convince themselves that the ending was a happy one so that the entire series would not be ruined for them. Any ending that requires people to search out comments by the creators and other fans on the internet in order to believe what they want to believe is a failure.

    • Aerox says:

      I didn’t dislike the ending because of the ambiguity of the subject (e.g.: Does Sarah regain her memories?) but rather that the pay off was non-existent in this particular situation (series finale, 82 minutes of near heartbreak etc.). I knew Sarah’s memories were coming back, but I would’ve liked seeing it, as opposed to imagining it.

      People who seem to think that her memories are gone forever weren’t paying attention during the episode.

    • I wouldn’t call reading an interview of the lead writer and creators desperate. It’s called being a fan.

      I’m sure a few people fall into that category you were talking about. However the comments you are reading here are from people who’ve read a bunch of negative blog comments before they got around to reading Fedak’s interviews. Considering the hostile response I got when I posted the link to one of the interviews in the initial reaction thread, it seems to me that no one paid any regard to those interviews until they have at least the slightest of positive inclination to the ending. The interviews are confirming, not convincing.

      The ending is something that gets better on multiple viewing for some people regardless. Rewatchability is a key factor in how highly I rate an episode, and for me, Goodbye is very rewatchable because new little details are revealed each time.

      I was “uncertain” after my first viewing of the ending. Part of it was because I could not fully process Chuck being over. I added a DVR chapter break at the beach scene and immediately rewatched just the ending twice before getting back on the Internet, and I liked it a little better. Then I hung out here and read a bunch of people saying it was the worst ending ever, TPTB were talentless hacks, and they’ll never watch Chuck again. I called a friend who thought the ending was obviously happy and didn’t understand why I would think otherwise. (She wasn’t reading this or any other blog). So I watched the ending a couple more times. Only then did I see the interviews, which at that point confirmed what I was seeing–the ending was an unambiguous happy one–at least for me. But in the interviews I was more excited about the extra 8 minutes in the extended cut than any confirmation.

      I’m sure some people will never see the happy ending. Some didn’t like the memory arc, so they wouldn’t like it anyway. Some are grieving because Chuck is over. Others wouldn’t want to see a happy ending even it it were obvious. They’d believe the exact opposite of what the writers say regardless. I don’t think hating TPTB is healthy, but that’s their prerogative. But I doubt any ending of any story arc would have really made them happy.

      Most of the people who don’t like the ending, though, seem to have more reasonable complaints (e.g. it should be longer–which I agree with, they wanted the red door, etc.) and don’t let Fedak’s interviews make them either hate or like it more.

      Chuckwin’s Law is for S3. I’m guessing we’ll need a new one for discussions that degenerate into how awful the ending was.

    • thinkling says:

      That’s not really the case, Carlos, not for me anyway (though I can see how one of my remarks above makes it look that way). I didn’t read any of Fedak’s comments until well after I had rewatched the episodes, done my analysis, and written my post. It was the finale itself that convinced me of its own happy ending. Was it understated? Yes, but it was definitely there.

      After the fact, it was nice to discover that I was not, as you suggest, just finding what I wanted to find, or finding things that weren’t really there, but that I was indeed seeing what the writer intended for us to see.

      I don’t ever just believe what I want to believe about the show (or anything else). There has to be evidence for belief, otherwise it’s make-believe. I want to understand the story that’s there. After I understand it, if I still don’t like it, fine. I may mostly ignore it, like some aspects of S3 (black box), but I don’t make up something else to delude myself. And I certainly don’t report disingenuous findings or wishful imaginings or pass along delusions to people who read my articles.

      Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

      Seeking out the opinion of other readers and (especially) the opinion of the creator of a work is the opposite of “just believing what you want to believe.” It’s an effort to clarify something that wasn’t obvious, an effort to understand the story, and a sign that you value the story enough to make the extra effort. Had it turned out that Fedak went off the rails and betrayed the story in the finale, then I would have said, “Man, he really ruined the end of the story. I’ll just have to stop watching half way through Bullet Train from now on.” But he didn’t derail or betray his story. He gave Chuck and Sarah a happy ending and a good future, and I’m glad I took the extra time and effort to find the beauty in it.

    • ArmySFC says:

      Carlos, well i agree, then again it is human nature to change ones mind at the urging of others. it’s why kids start using drugs, smoking, drinking and other crazy stuff. they succumb to peer pressure, it happens all the time. it’s how cults start as well. scream your your rhetoric loud enough and long enough and people will listen. it’s all about finding a better outcome than you what you see or have at the moment. in general people are weak and will bend to someone more dominant than they are, again happens all the time. ask Dave about the rise of hiltler.

      the point i have always made about the ending is easy enough. the people that have indeed softened at the ending aren’t casual viewers, they are the hard core devoted fans. the casual fans just watched it and formed their own opinions. as Dave would say casual fans don’t post or vote in polls. their opinion of the finale will never be heard or changed. if they liked it they will continue to like it, if they didn’t it will always be a failure.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I’ve mostly stayed out of this, because I personally loved the ending. I thought it was perfect. They managed to replay every season and every theme they’d built over 5 seasons and re-visit it, and at the same time construct a meta-narrative about goodbyes where the Chuck team said goodbye to each other and to the fans.

      Television shows teach you how to watch them, and it’s better to be shown than told, but often people get caught up in the told and ignore the shown. People take every word spoken by any character as canon truth. It isn’t. People ignore clear visual references where TPTB are showing you what is going on in a character’s head. Some people who say they want to be shown really want to be told.

      Consider this, we saw the visuals as Sarah’s life and memories were ripped away. Why wouldn’t we see them return? Did we?

      Watch those scenes where Sarah realizes she carved her name in the molding… and before. What is really happening to Sarah there? Frankly I think we’re being hit over the head with the fact she remembers the event, but not the context. Old Sarah can’t believe she was in love, and hates herself all the more for going so far for the job that she’d fake love when the mark clearly thought it real. Season 1 Sarah, she screwed up, and is taking it out on Chuck.

      The diary reconnects Sarah with the reality of her feelings, and reconnects her with the context of those memories, but she still isn’t remembering who she is. That happens on the beach, and to my eyes was clearly complete, if not all the memories restored, when she asked Chuck to kiss her. Does she get all her memories magically restored? I don’t care. Like Morgan did, she remembered who she was with Chuck’s stories about their past. The laughter and joy and tears were all Sarah, not agent Walker. She was ready to get all her memories back, or make new ones, it doesn’t really matter. She really just wanted Chuck to kiss her, and had the perfect excuse.

      The scene on the beach was the perfect coda to the series, and I really pity people who can’t see that. It was also the perfect love letter to the fans.

      Chris Fedak has a season commitment out of me, whatever he decides to do, because I’ve seen he plays a long game, and given the resources and some certainty will deliver. Maybe not wise, maybe not practical for TV, but admirable.

    • herder says:

      I’ll agree with the improvement on rewatch, I waited a week to check it out again and now this week I’ve been humming Rivers and Roads. I also think that a lot of the difficulty was connected to the fact that the show was over and in a pretty unexpected way. That said I can easily see some people still having difficulty with it as there is a tendancy in the show to over promise and under deliver on their payoffs.

    • atcDave says:

      I think there’s some truth in that Carlos; but I also think the situation is complex and not so easily defined. At a most basic level I agree, if we need to seek out the writer’s interpretation of his story to know what happened, then it has to be considered a story telling failure.
      But there are few separate issues here. I see three different questions. The first is; what was the overall quality of the episode. Well I think the episode itself was exciting, well written, and well acted. It was exciting from beginning to end. It was also a lot of fun, Although fun in a way different than Chuck normally is, so I think there’s some room for criticism on the grounds the episode was not really FOR the most loyal part of the fan base (those who were most invested in the show AS IT WAS). In hind sight I’m fine with it, but last week I was still quite grumpy at a finale that did not deliver a very Chuck-like episode on the very last opportunity to see new content.
      The second issue has to do with how the episode ended. As a pure episode ending I think it was fine. We finally got to that happy moment on the beach. The worst was over, and healing was ready to begin for Chuck and Sarah as a couple. I need no outside consult to know that. And if we’d had another episode or twelve to watch that rebuilding/rebonding process it could have been a lot of fun.
      But that leads to the final issue which is where I needed the most help. That is, how was the episode as a SERIES finale. For my taste, and obviously for many other fans, it simply left too many questions. Most significantly, we won’t ever get to see Chuck and Sarah build that future they both had been wanting so much. That is disappointing, and for me that is the biggest failure. Now I was able to seek out the author’s intent and it really eased my mind on a lot of it. To me, if the writer is envisioning the same version of happily ever after that I am it gives me a good feeling about that ending. And that is precisely where the whole series legacy comes into play. Did everything Chuck and Sarah fought for five years for matter? Hearing the writer say specifically yes it matters, Sarah hasn’t lost five years of growth and love, completely redeems the entire series for me. So yes I consider it a bit of a failure that the ending was incomplete or not clear enough; but the SERIES is not ruined, Chuck and Sarah will be fine, the last five years DO matter.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, I’ve stayed out of a lot of the discussions and probably will for a while longer though I will come back to it eventually. I understand the whole writer’s ending and do see the beauty in it but one thing has been bothering me a lot lately and that is something I think will be very difficult to deal with. In the last two episodes of the series, Sarah never once tells her husband that she loves him. The video logs notwithstanding. I know she does at the beach and even before that but that is something that was missing. We have to imagine it for ourselves. Memory loss or not aside that should have been in there at the end.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree Uplink that would have helped the ending feel more complete for me. But of course, we have heard Sarah tell Chuck she loves him many times. If we are to assume Sarah memories are coming back in short order (as I believe the episode does make fairly clear is happening), then she will be 100% who she was before and will have no problem saying those words again.
        It does go back to the Morgansect arc, Morgan was back to 100% normal Morgan even before ALL the memories came back. In particular, he valued the same friends and loved the same people with as much intensity and loyalty as ever. If something similar happened with Sarah, I think we can conclude she completely loves her husband, and cares for all her friends, before she even leaves that beach. In fact, I have zero doubt she’s going home with Chuck, giving a heartfelt apology to Ellie, and then won’t be letting Chuck out of the bedroom until well past noon the next day! Sarah Bartowski reappeared on that beach. Although she may have to be re-introduced to Alex…

  13. herder says:

    Interesting thought Ernie, I also thought that Sarah was getting back her memories faster than she was admitting, mainly because they were the actions of someone so very different than who she thought that she was. The thing that convinced me were the expressions on her face while watching her long followed by the hard good-bye to Chuck in the courtyard. Sort of a situation where she is saying that is not who I am, but maybe you could convince me that I’m mistaken.

  14. Yayness says:

    It has been several weeks since I watched the finale and I keep hoping I’ll feel better about the ending. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Two issues that I just have a hard time reconciling. )1) As someone mentioned earlier: The abrupt decision to move by Ellie and Awesome (totally unbelievable to me given the circumstances they’d be leaving chuck in; and (2) Sarah never came back. By that, I mean “our” Sarah. For a series finale, I wanted to be able to see my favorite character one last time. I remember thinking “OMG, we’re only going to get five minutes of the real Sarah if they keep this up” during, and then thinking “Where’s the rest of it?”
    I wanted to say goodbye, and I found it really disrespectful to the fans as well as the character that they didn’t give us that opportunity. I liked Chuck V. Sarah a lot because it was fast paced and super cool, but Goodbye ironically deprived me of a very important goodbye.

    • thinkling says:

      Howdy Yayness. Thanks for speaking up. I know how you feel. As much as I have come to like the finale and see the ending as happy, I am still a little sad that we didn’t get to see full blown Sarah Bartowski until the last couple of minutes. She’my favorite character, too. I think the arc is heavy, sad, tragic … more than Chuck ever has been before. At the same time I’ve come to see it as a beautiful arc (though sad and heavy are still not my favorite thing). The hardest thing about the arc wasn’t so much the story itself, but that it was the last thing we get to see.

      In some ways it’s like Other Guy in its incompleteness. But I like the finale of S5 about 1000% better than Other Guy. Had Other Guy been the series finale, I would have felt so robbed. It would have totally left us to imagine Chuck and Sarah’s happy ever-after. Imagine no Honeymooners. Talk about tragic. 😉

      Sarah/Goodbye and Other Guy had similar endings. In Other Guy, there was no doubt Chuck and Sarah were together. In Sarah/Goodbye, there was no doubt that all was well, Sarah B was back, and Chuck and Sarah were together to stay. Neither finale took us far enough to give us that happy ever-after epilogue many of us long to see..

      So, why do I like Sarah/Goodbye 10000% better? Because of what came before. S5, as I’ve said in my last post, is the epilogue. It’s one giant Honeymooners. So, I’m a bit disappointed not to see very much of Sarah Bartowski in the finale, not to see the wedding ring again (I know, horribly sentimental) and her breathtaking love and openness with Chuck. Even though I don’t see that in the finale, I have seen it, and I know where they end up when they leave the beach, or very soon after. S5 is the epilogue, Dr. Thinkling prescribes watching (in whatever dosage proves effective) the end of Baby, Bo (the morning scenes before the one last mission and Sarah in Castle with all her plans arrayed in front of her and phoning Chuck), and the cozy scene from Bullet Train. There are many other great Chuck and Sarah moments from S5, but those are my favorites.

      I’m like you in that I really wanted to see that Sarah again, but I can accept S5 as already having shown me the epilogue I wanted. Just like Sarah remembered carving her name in the door frame, she will remember the drawing and all those wonderful moments that warmed my heart.

      As for Ellie and Devon’s move, it bothered me less than most people, I guess. Some of the rush was just fitting everything into a short time slot. But for me, people grow up and move on. It was a grown up ending, like Chuck has always let its characters grow. Ultimately I would rather imagine all of them moving on and growing rather than being stuck in and endless loop in Echo Park. It’s life. Like Chuck said, he is all grown up. Ellie and Devon are only a flight away. Maybe it’s because I’ve lived my adult life on a separate continent from my family, and now my son is on yet a different continent. It’s hard, but you live your life, treasure your time together, and make adjustments to be present when you’re really needed. Either way they’ll make it. Chuck will make it.

      Of course, it’s a moot point, because Chuck and Sarah are together again. Like Honeymooners, Ellie will be able to leave knowing that. Chuck is fine with Sarah. Realistically, the truck isn’t pulling out, yet. They were just getting started packing. Ellie will get to see Sarah again. There will be a wonderful reunion Bartowski style. And Ellie will get to poke around in Sarah’s brain before she and Devon leave for Chicago. More stuff we didn’t get to see, but you know it’s going to happen.

      Sorry to ramble. Don’t know if it helps. Hang around though. It helps to talk.

    • atcDave says:

      Yayness I feel exactly the same. I may KNOW everything worked out but I will always feel robbed by not seeing it. Specifically not seeing the return of Sarah Bartowski; we have to go back two episodes, to Bullet Train, to see the last of our favorite character. It is very disappointing, and that will likely keep from ever completely liking this ending; but for now I’m just thankful they gave us enough we can imagine the best.

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