The bad news is, Chuck is now officially over. The incomplete finale managed to divide the fan base once again and lead to a lot of hard feelings. And I can’t even describe how much I’ll miss seeing this crew together and having new adventures.
But the good news is a lot left hanging on screen means a field day for the always creative fan fiction community. So join me for another fan fiction review where we look at the already sizable volume of stories that set out to tell the story of what comes next.
The first attempts at filling the gap showed up the very night that the finale ran. Now, just over a week later, we already have many post-finale tales.
Now for the record, you all know I believe Sarah’s memories came back quite quickly. I think there is evidence both internal to the story (Sarah’s brief recollections during 5.13) and historically (how quickly Morgan came back) to back up my theory. I would love to see a one-shot appear that deals with it this way; Sarah maybe being almost overwhelmed by the flood of memories returning in just a few short days; while trying to make peace with her sister-in-law after threatening to kill her; and reclaiming her recent dreams.
But not surprisingly, most fan fiction we’ve seen has focused on a slightly longer term recovery process. I don’t find this surprising at all, there is obviously more story, and more potential drama in drawing it out longer. A few writers have even been so bold as to put Sarah back in field as an agent, basically running from her old life and dreams. While it’s obviously any writer’s right to tell the tale they want, this is categorically not what I’m looking for in a Chuck tale, and you won’t find that in any of the stories I recommend.
What you will find in my picks are an assortment of tales that finish the scene at the beach, or pick up years later and tell new stories for the Bartowski family.
And actually, my first choice doesn’t quite fit either of those categories; it is also the shortest one-shot I have ever recommended in one of these reviews. It is “For Better or For Worse” by Kate McK. Personally, I found Sarah’s goodbye scene at the end of 5.12 to be a little lacking. Not that there were problems with the drama or performances, but I have a bit of problem with the idea of Chuck letting Sarah leave without saying something. I thought as Sarah’s husband he had lost at least as much as Sarah had, and he needed to make the offer to help Sarah in her mission. Okay, maybe Chuck knew Sarah “needed space” or some such. But it rang false to me, and Kate perfectly fills the gap. Those who are familiar with her work will know she often writes very close to canon and makes only the most subtle changes that snowball as the story unfolds. This short piece follows that model, Chuck objects with dialogue and reasoning that has actually appeared other places in the show (particularly Baby). This isn’t a magic fix to what is broken at this point in the story, but it does make for an end scene that seems more in character for Chuck (to me) than what we saw on screen. It can be read in 5 minutes and would rated G.
Next is another one-shot that follows a different path from what most of us have envisioned for “what’s next.” It is “Chuck vs the New Key” by CostasTT. This is different in providing a mostly spy-tech solution to Sarah’s memory problems. But seriously, don’t let that put you off! There is no doubt Costas’ version of Sarah has completely fallen in love with Chuck all over again, and the solution ends up being quite a bit more appealing than a simple re-write of memories. Like many Costas’ stories he makes a good use of the family and friends theme, and he even brings Emma and Molly into the tale; which not coincidentally is one of my favorite parts of the show itself. This is a slightly longer one-shot and would take about 20 minutes to read. It would be rated PG mainly for when the happy couple gets a little affectionate.
The next one is another one-shot that takes advantage an obvious mnemonic device strait from canon. Its “Sarah and Chuck’s PANTS” by Newbie93. Sarah gets a little nosy and pries into Chuck’s personal stuff; but of course this leads to some fun memories for the recovering amnesiac. This is a fun and sweet story that can be read 15 minutes and would be rated PG.
Another one-shot is “Never Forget” by Mikki13. This one is a little steamier than I normally recommend, and let’s just say Chuck and Sarah are lucky their stretch of beach isn’t well patrolled by the police. I had to include this brief story because it comes closest to what some of us wanted from an epilogue (well, maybe if that epilogue was on Showtime…) But more to the point; memories come back very quickly, and there is a house with a red door and and a baby involved. This is kind of the completely expected denouement. It is however, quite brief and can be read in less that 10 minutes. It would be rated R for reasons you should already understand…
The last one I’ll discuss today is “A Very Bartowski Christmas” by Lipton Lee (also known around these parts as Leigh). This is a family gathering set about 25 years after the finale. So far, this is a very fun gathering of the usual cast (plus a couple of OCs) and a fun “look back” at things that have happened since the show. Including some references to Sarah’s recovered memories and a previous attempt to kill her sister-in law. But this really is mostly for fun. It is so much fun to imagine these characters we came to love so much continuing on; and living (almost) normal lives. This is a multi-chapter story. It is currently three chapters in and could be read in 30 minutes or so. It would be rated PG for some mild language. By the author’s own admission, its unclear how long this story might go; so if you like it, offer an encouraging review, we might get more!
I’m honestly not sure at this point how long we might keep this up. The fan fiction community has been fairly active since the finale. Not just with endings, some new AUs, and on going works have been updating too. For myself, I expect to keep reading for a long time to come. These periodic reviews will continue as long as there seems to be interest. Perhaps this little site will remain for a while yet too!
Be sure to check out the post “Finale Alternatives and Epilogues” that expands on this idea. It was written a couple years later and includes several much more ambitious Epilogues for our favorite show.