Past Is Prologue … and Epilogue

As you know when I first watched the Chuck finale, the permeative sadness overwhelmed the happy ending for me. Even after seeing the happy in the ending, I still couldn’t help thinking (out loud, unfortunately) that it was just another redux of wt/wt.

It isn’t.

The Chuck finale is a redux of Chuck and Sarah’s journey. When we met them, Chuck and Sarah’s circumstances had robbed them of their future. Their journey was one of redemption, the restoration of the future that was taken from them. Five years later, with their future restored and their dream so close they can taste it, their future is stolen from them. Again. In the cruelest way imaginable. The finale is their story — a redux of redemption and a love that perseveres and prevails against all odds.

At it’s core, the finale is a redux of Sarah’s journey. Her loss was the instrument of tragedy. Her recovery is the key to restoration.

Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

If I looked at the finale by itself, I could easily miss the story. The finale is not meant to be viewed in isolation from from the series as a whole or S5 in particular.

The series takes us on a wonderful journey. I’ve covered it here. S5 shows the last leg of the journey and paints the destination in vivid detail. Then when Chuck and Sarah are mere kilometers from having it all, tragedy threatens to undo it all.

The finale reprises their journey through Sarah’s journey. It is a revisiting of the story, not an undoing of it. We feel the tragedy and loss. We cry with them. We yearn and strive for them. We ache for Sarah to find herself. And she does. Because it’s a redux of her journey.

In Phase 3, we saw Chuck fight an inner battle to keep his sanity, his memories, his identity.

In the finale, his struggle is mirrored in Sarah, only she starts from the position that Chuck narrowly avoided. While embroiled in an external battle with an evil enemy and mortal danger, she wages an inner battle to get her memories back and figure out who she is and who Chuck is.

Since Sarah’s journey was largely internal, I felt compelled to explore inside Sarah. What thought processes get her from point A to point B? What is point B, exactly? (Hint: the same as the original point B.)

Sarah’s journey was one of identity. She went from hard core spy (point A) to normal girl (point B), all because Chuck connected with the lost part of her and drew her into real love and a normal life. Point B in Sarah’s original journey was the girl that Chuck saw and knew and loved — in Sarah’s words, the best person she could ever hope to be — for us, the Sarah we delighted in all through S5.

Circumstances force her to make that same journey again. Chuck lives out his wedding vows. He fights for her, loves her, and proves it to her every day. He is simply … Chuck … her very own baggage handler. Again.

The caveat, of course, of an introspection post is that it’s highly interpretive. This is what I think went on inside Sarah during the finale. Yes, I have to use some imagination, but I think my interpretation jives with what is presented on screen and with what I already know about Sarah and her story, with a logical assumption about a couple of other video log entries. You may see things differently.

Past Is Prologue

Spies Don’t Have Feelings. Feelings get you killed. You need to bury them in a place deep inside. That had been Sarah’s mantra. This morning, as far as she knows, it still is.

Sarah wakes up, completely unaware of the last 5 years of her life. In her mind, she is the spy she was 5 years ago — the one who just saved a baby from Ryker and set it up in her private version of WitSec. She gave the baby a normal life, the kind of life that Sarah never had and thinks she doesn’t deserve, because of the choices she made. This Sarah just sacrificed her own right to a normal life in order to preserve it for her mother and the baby. Any dream of a normal life for herself is buried in a place deep inside.

Agent Walker is briefed and goes to her assignment that evening, unaware that Sarah Bartowski ever existed, unaware that her assignment had awakened her neglected heart and given her love and a happy life. As incredible as Quinn’s story sounds, it is easier for this Sarah to believe Quinn’s lie than Chuck’s truth.

Facts and a Partial Truth

24 hrs later, Sarah has discovered the facts about the love that had snuck up on her, the person she had become, and the loss of all of it.

She knows that Quinn stole her memories. She believes the truth of Chuck’s story and her own video log. She also believes that her life (the person she became, the love she had, and the good life they shared) was stolen, along with her memories, so she says goodbye.

To Quinn: You stole my memories. You ruined my life.

She knows many facts about her previous life, but she’s operating from a partial truth. Her life was stolen, and she doesn’t have it within herself to get it back by herself. That much is true. BUT her life is not irretrievably lost, because with Chuck’s help she can get it back. That’s the part of the truth that she doesn’t see, yet. And here’s the catch. It must be a journey of her heart, not her just her head. That was always the hard part for Sarah Walker. Sarah Bartowski has a free heart, but Agent Walker’s heart was ruled by her head.

Unaccountably, Sarah returns to Chuck to ask for his help. The heart wants what the heart wants. It just seemed like the place to come, but then seeing Castle, a place that is both familiar and foreign, and hearing Morgan’s description of the person she became only affirm her belief that the Sarah they remember no longer exists.

Sarah’s heart is silently (for now) influencing her, but she is still working from partial truth. She still believes that she was irreversibly reset to Agent Walker.

To Chuck: I can’t be here. I don’t know how to be the woman you remember me as. All I remember is being a spy, a good one. It’s all I know how to do.

The one thing crucial to Sarah’s recovery at this point is for her to realize that the girl in the video wasn’t erased with her memories, that the person she became with Chuck is still there, and that she can get her life back. That will happen, as it did the first time, in relationship with Chuck. Falling in love with him just goes with that territory. After that can her memories be far behind? … NO.

Facts and the Whole Truth

Unaccountably, spending time with Chuck on their missions turns Sarah’s faux world upside down. Chuck is charming, attentive, sweet … and adores her. In spite of Sarah’s efforts to focus strictly on the mission, he elicits responses from a part of her she didn’t think existed. How does he do that? She’s beginning to see why she fell for him, why she loved him. More than that, she is surprised by the sneaky realization that she still. loves. Chuck Bartowski.

The restaurant revisits the Sarah of S1 and S2 — Agent Walker falling for Chuck, in spite of herself. Back in the day, no matter what walls of professionalism she erected, he always managed to sneak past them and connect with her. He would quietly camp out inside her walls, making her laugh, making her feel … things she’d never felt before … accepted, happy, loved. Then something would make her push him away, again. She would refortify her walls. Pretty soon, there he’d be, inside her walls. Again. She only ever fooled herself, because we all knew that she would have been disappointed if her walls had kept him out. (It’s a losing battle. She may as well surrender now.)

The dance reprises a bit of S3, with a call back to Angel de la Muerte … consulate party, dancing across the dance floor to get close to a mark. Now, as then, Sarah believes that what she had with Chuck is gone. Now, as then, the love is still there. Now as then, her love is obvious to anyone with eyes or a blood pressure cuff, and it will not be denied.

As the mission wears on, she finds herself behaving uncharacteristically, and not just on a personal level. At Chuck’s urging she puts her gun down to protect his friend. It feels … confusing … wrong and right at the same time. Why is everything so different with him? Why is she different with him?

The whole truth begins to bud in Sarah’s consciousness.

The post mission confrontation is there for a reason. It’s an important piece of her journey back to herself. She is still learning what she saw in Chuck and how much he changed her, both personally and professionally. From the exchange in their holding cells, I surmise her journal ended before Chuck’s spy training days. This is all new information to Sarah, and she has to connect some dots to figure it out. Be assured, though, she is connecting dots. Sarah isn’t passive. She doesn’t just float along. She’s a spy. She ignores nothing and assesses everything.

She is upset, no, mad that he blew the mission. In his defense he says killing wasn’t ever his thing. His defense? What kind of defense is that? Spies kill people.

You’re a spy, aren’t you?

He tells her it’s one of the things she liked about him, the fact that he wouldn’t pull the trigger … says she taught him how to be a spy, and after they fell in love, she stood up for him … didn’t want him to be any other spy.

Whaa? How? … Why?

Did Sarah Walker fall for a … what was it Quinn called him? A pussy? No, that’s certainly not it. In their recent encounters, she’d seen him calmly stare into the barrel of a gun … multiple times. She saw him dive in front of a bullet without hesitation … to save her. Vest or no vest, he would have done it anyway. She’s sure of that. No, not a pussy, not a coward.

So, why doesn’t he kill and why did she not want him to change?

What was it she said about him? He’s not like every other spy. He’s a good guy who wants to help people. Looking back over the short time she’s presently known him, that’s exactly what he still is.

When had she ever known a genuine good guy? … Somehow his goodness survived her world of deceit and moral ambiguity …

And he changed her. The nerd who works at a Buymore changed the hard core spy.

Another truth seeps into her awareness. If she had met someone like that, loved someone like that, the last thing she’d want to do is throw him into the deep end of the spy pool. She wouldn’t, didn’t (doesn’t) want him to change. Unaccountably, she wants to protect him (not that she’ll tell him that). So she decides to go after Quinn alone.

Pacific Concert Hall. Well, if that wasn’t the most bizarre mission she’s ever been on. Oh. Right. It probably wasn’t. Team Bartowski and Company (unconventional as they are) worked well together, with a synchroneity born of trust and long association. At times it felt so familiar, so right. Other times she felt like she didn’t belong.

They did it. Apparently she helped. If only the people knew the staggering truth, the real reason to applaud. She knew. She should be happy, euphoric even, but she can’t feel the celebration. Along with the the adrenaline let down, she feels … lost.

And Chuck? The more she’s around him, the more impressed she becomes. The unassuming nerd has a courageous heart. This genuine good-guy … not weak, not scared, not a pussy … is a hero, a leader, willing to take the weight of the world on his shoulders. He does the right thing, not the right spy thing, the right thing. She may have quite literally killed her chances of getting her life back. As he told her about the last upload, there was no judgment in his tone or demeanor, only love and sorrow (for her, not for himself). When she echoed his words there’s only one upload left, she knew what it meant, how things had to be. Unaccountably, she feels sorrow, too — for both of them — and a familiar admiration for this extraordinary man.

Everything over the past few days with Chuck has felt strange … and strangely familiar. Like her video self, she’s never known anyone quite like Chuck Bartowski. Unaccountably, she still loves him. He changed her. She was different with Chuck. Unaccountably she still is. During their 5 years together she had become a different person. Unaccountably, she is that person still. That’s too many unaccountably’s. There must be something to account for them.

She accepts the truth. Agent Walker no longer exists, period. She is no longer the woman she thought she was when she woke up 3 weeks ago, but she still feels disconnected from the woman she’s become.

I have to go find myself.

The intimate goodbye with Casey makes her ache for Chuck … for herslef, for her life … for things so real and so … not.

Even though she knows she needs time to think, to be alone, it doesn’t feel right to leave him.

The Heart of the Truth

Unaccountably (no, there must be a reason) she is drawn to a particular spot on the beach.

With no fight left in her, no vestige of Agent Walker, absolutely no pretense of anything, Sarah sits stripped to her core, alone with the sand and the sea and her thoughts.

The question is who are you? Graham’s words wash over her with every surge of the tide. Now as then, she has no answer.

She can’t go back, and she doesn’t know how to go forward.

She can’t go back to Agent Walker or to being the spy she was before Chuck. She’s not that person any more.


A man became the dividing line of her life. He changed her and her entire existence. Whatever her life was before Chuck … is no more. Funny, she thought her life with Chuck was gone because of Quinn, but really it’s her life before Chuck that no longer exists. Cruel twist. The life she remembers doesn’t exist. The life she now knows is real she doesn’t remember.

The only thing real to go back to is her life with Chuck. But how can she go back to a life she doesn’t remember?

That leaves forward. … Right. How can she go forward, if she doesn’t know who she is. Bingo. That’s her life story, isn’t it. New town, new con, new mission, new name … new cover … always someone to tell her who to be. Not any more. Chuck could tell her, but it’s pretty clear by now that he won’t.


He knows her better than she knows herself. Heh, maybe he always did. What was it she said he told her … I don’t need to know more, not about who you were, because as much as you don’t think so, I know who you are. … Maybe that’s how he changed her. He connected with the buried part of her and allowed her to simply be herself. That would certainly explain her confusion lately … Chuck touching, no, … engaging a part of her she didn’t know was there.


Was it this confusing the first time. Listen to her … first time, as if it’s happening again. … Is it? … Could it?

No matter which direction she looks, there he is. Chuck is her past and probably her only hope to find herself and move forward. But is it fair to him … a wife who doesn’t remember him or them, their wedding, their dreams … or even who she is or was. She knows she still loves him. She knows she wants back what was taken from her. She just doesn’t know if it’s even possible … or how …

She loses track of time. Her thoughts ebb and flow with the tide, until they dissolve into the rhythm and sounds of the sea.

“I was hoping you’d be here.”

He found her. How does he do that? It’s … comforting. “This place is important, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, yeah, very much. This is actually where you told me I was going to be OK, that I could trust you. And that’s exactly what I’m doing now. I’m asking you to trust me.”

Him, she trusts, but how can she trust herself … not to let him down, disappoint him.

“Sarah, I don’t want anything from you. I just need you to know that wherever you go I will always be there to help you.”

She nods. Wait. … He doesn’t expect anything …

“Someone you can call, whenever.”

… He’ll help her.

“Trust me, Sarah. I’m here for you always.”

Looking back or moving ahead, this man is her life. She loves him, wants him, wants it all. More than she can remember wanting anything, she wants to be part of her own life again, “Chuck, tell me our story.”

As she lives (or relives, technically) their story through his eyes, something inside her breaks free. Whether through actual memory or not, she feels their story filling her heart with laughter, joy, beauty, tears … and most of all, love. Sarah Bartowski is loved, and she feels whole. Chuck is giving her back her life through the power of his love.

She found what she came here to find, or rather it found her. Chuck found her. She knows who she is. No way is she ever leaving this man who found her (twice), let her see herself through his eyes, and invited her to be herself with him.

How to take the next step, she has no idea.

“You know, Morgan has this crazy idea.”

“What is it?”

“He thinks that with one kiss, you’ll remember everything.”

“One magical kiss?” She chuckles.

“I know, it’s …”

… the next step, “Chuck …”


… and all she wants in this moment, “Kiss me.”

Past Is Epilogue

The finale takes us with Chuck and Sarah far enough so that we know they’re in a good place, ready to reclaim their life and get back to their future … the one that was in sight before everything went south on the Bullet Train.

We’ve already seen the epilogue. S5 reveals it beautifully, piece by piece, as Chuck and Sarah find their dream together. It can’t be topped.

They’ll start their spied-up tech firm. Sarah already drew up the plans in impressive detail and picked out their digs. They will have to buy a new bottle of champagne, though.

They’ll move into their dream house, the one where Sarah carved her name with the promise that it would all be theirs … the house I think Chuck already bought. Follow the bread crumbs, with me. He had easy access. He called it their dream home, as though it already was. Ellie knew exactly where he would take Sarah. The Buymore had been sold. Why else would he sell it? What else would he do with the money? And there were boxes in the house (even in the living room) that weren’t there before. It’s not a slam dunk, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

After just the right amount of practice, the first mark will be etched into the door frame. Knowing Chuck, he’ll be measuring baby Bartowski as soon as they get home from the hospital, and Sarah will gaze in blissful adoration at her two (or three?) nerds.


The past was prologue and epilogue. All we need is a bridge. So, I leave you with Thinkling’s bridge to Chuck and Sarah’s happy ever-after.


… “Kiss me”

This is [… shut up and kiss me …] She could do this every day [… I’ll just prove it to you every day for the rest of …] for the rest of her life. It feels [… I love you. One more time because it feels really nice …] really nice. The sound of the waves, his scent, his kiss [… their honeymoon. I love you, Chuck …] Did she say that out loud? No, because he’s still kissing her, and may he never stop. He stops too soon. The love in his eyes would take her breath away, if his kissing hadn’t already.

She returns his look with equal warmth, “Perfect. This feels right. We … feel right.”

“So, Morgan’s theory …?”

“The kiss was magical.” She couldn’t help return his smile with a big one of her own, “I remember some things, nice things, important things, along with impressions … of you, of us … of kissing you … loving you. I have a sense of who we are … of who I am.”

He sees the truth of it in her eyes and hears it in her voice. His face relaxes into his gentle smile.

“I love you, Chuck.”

His smile explodes before he kisses her again. Oh, he makes her feel … music? [… It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life, and I’m feeling good …] good. Too good. Somewhere in an anaesthetized region of her brain, reason stirs. Heart pounding, she stops the kiss, “Chuck …”

He gets that look, like he thinks he’s done something wrong.

“No, no, it’s not that. I want this. I want you. I want us. I just think we should … you know … um, take it inside.”

“Oh. Right … Sure. Of course. Can’t scandalize the gulls, can we … or get ourselves arrested or …”

Her eyes sparkle with affection, “Chuck.”


“Take me home.”



About thinkling

In my [younger] youth, I was a math teacher, basketball coach, and computer programmer. In 1984, we moved to Brazil, where we serve as missionaries. I like to design things and build things, read things and write things. We now live part-time in Brazil, part-time in the US. Love them both. Wife, 37 yrs; mom, 30 yrs. I am blessed.
This entry was posted in Analysis, Inside Sarah, Season 5. Bookmark the permalink.

335 Responses to Past Is Prologue … and Epilogue

  1. atcDave says:

    Truly awesome epilogue!

  2. joe says:

    Wow. Just beautiful, Thinkling. How can I keep this short? There’s so much I want to say!

    Okay, this. I’ve been thinking for two weeks that it doesn’t matter so much if Sarah gets her memories back – they’ll make new ones. It doesn’t matter so much if Chuck&Sarah have lost the future they wanted. They’ll find a new future. What’s important is that they well get that together.

    But you start to convince me that I was wrong. It matters more than I realized, because that future is still what Sarah 2007 wanted. She just didn’t know it then. It is still the future that Sarah 2012 wants. She doesn’t know it, again, until, well, until that kiss. Then she knows it.

    I’ve been going for five years knowing that the singular event in Chuck’s life was Sarah breezing into the Buy More and ringing his bell. You pointed out that it’s the singular event in Sarah’s life too. It wasn’t something that changed them; it was an event that made them realize who they really were. That’s who they are. It’s not changed.

    • thinkling says:

      Yeah, Joe. I think it’s important to know that Sarah is still Sarah. Her journey is extremely internal. There’s always so much going on inside her. That can’t have changed. There is still a lot going on inside Sarah in the finale. Chuck isn’t the only one like a duck. Sarah’s feet were churning under the water.

  3. lappers84 says:

    Great write up Thinkling. Something I thought interesting was Morgan’s talk to Chuck near the end “listen to our hearts, because our brains screw us up” that wasn’t directed at Chuck, although it was an original Chuck quote. It was also Sarah’s issue throughout those two episodes. Several times during 5×12 when she listened to her heart (Sarah Bartowski) and she hesitated on certain things then her brain reminded her who she was (Agent Walker) – It was like she was having this constant battle between her heart and her brain, at the end she just got worn out. The end of vs Sarah she knew she loved him but she couldn’t remember loving him (again brain vs heart.) – it was her brain that won that particular round. Then she came back (even though she didn’t need to), her heart probably lured her back – And of course at the end she found herself at the beach (she doesn’t remember the relevance but she’s aware it’s important) – again brain vs heart. I think the way things were left (as ambiguous as it was) – it was safe to assume that whatever happened with Sarah the heart would eventually win.

    • thinkling says:

      That was Sarah’s epic struggle all along wasn’t it? That’s why Sarah Bartowski of S5 is such a delight. To me, by the end, her heart had already won. The laughter, smiles, and tears tell me that.

      • lappers84 says:

        absolutely, that’s why the ending would never be bad – as open ended as it was. Even if Sarah did leave Chuck after the beach scene – it was implied throughout that her memories were gradually returning. So she would never be gone for long – the heart would always win out. 🙂

    • thinkling says:

      Yeah, but she wasn’t leaving. If she had any thought of maybe leaving, she wouldn’t have asked for the kiss. I would say that even her desire to hear their story was a definitive decision to stay and be part of it again.

  4. jason says:

    Think / Joe / Dave – not sure if you are going to put up anything for future projects that the cast does. Thought this would interest people still looking at your site, looks like Zac will have a Fox comedy that essentially is chuck season 6, sans the spy life and Yvonne:

    “Zachary Levi has signed up to play the lead role in Fox pilot Let It Go. The comedy project – written by Traffic Light’s DJ Nash – will focus on a married couple, as well as the husband’s best friend and the wife’s sister. Chuck star Levi will play the husband, according to Deadline. The actor appeared in half-hour ABC sitcom Less Then Perfect between 2002 and 2006, before playing the title role in NBC’s Chuck from September 2007 to January of this year. Let It Go was picked up to pilot by Fox earlier this month, on the proviso that it would only enter production if the network was satisfied with casting”

  5. compromisedcover says:

    This is just beautiful Thinkling! I can’t thank you enough for helping me sort out my feelings for this final arc. I think it would take me a long time before I can watch the final scene without, at the very least, tearing up. Chuck’s love for Sarah shown in that beach just gets me every single time. It’s beautiful. Their love for each other is beautiful. Each is a half of one piece. Both their journeys will never be complete without the other. And Sarah can never find herself and be whole again without the (her) other half. Maybe for a little while, Chuck would have to be the bigger piece while Sarah recovers her memories of them, the important ones. But they always figure it out. They always do. And yeah, they’re gonna be fine.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks and you’re welcome, Compromisedcover.Nothing I’d rather do than that. Beatiful is a good word for the love in the finale and the beach scene … Chuck’s love and Sarah’s vulnerability with Chuck. It’s different from previous S5 openness, but it’s there nonetheless. Beautiful is a good word for S5. Faith and I were talking about that a bit ago.

      There are so many poignant moments that still just really get me: the video log; the courtyard goodbye; Sarah wandering Castle when she comes back for Chuck’s help and her encounter with Morgan; that last goodbye — all of it — from the time Beckman asks if it’s the end until the final shot of Chuck standing alone in his company — man. The beach … sigh.

  6. phaseou812 says:

    Well since I am getting to read this post on “Valentine’s Day” . . . what a lovely present. Rather that makes me a “shipper” or “shippie” or whatever, who cares . . . what an extraordinary post to remind me of an extraordinary chain of events that leads to the life changing transformation of Sarah Walker.

    Me and my kids have begun re-watching season 1, and we just finished episodes 9, 10, 11 (Hard Salami, Nemesis, Crown Vic). Your post regarding Sarah’s constant battle of putting up the professional walls and as “Lappers” describes the “brain vs. heart” (which would have been a nice title for the last episode as that was what it was about) hits home regarding those episodes in season 1. Sarah, although she never admits it verbally, becomes jealous of her “mark” wanting to break up and wanting to pursue a real relationship because he is purposely led to believe that it is not possible to have that “real” relationship with her . . . but Chuck has gotten behind those walls as secretly that is what she so desperately longs for on an emotional level, but cannot grasp the logic from head perspective. Even with the introduction of Bryce back into the scene in which we are given pieces of their prior romance . . . it is portrayed as a relationship that it is based on the priority of a “job” first as the most important aspect and a relationship that develops because of the restraints of their professional lives or jobs. Even when she elects not to leave with Bryce, she convinces her “head” that she has a job to do so therefore she cannot leave. . . although it is well acted out that it is her “heart” that won’t let her leave. She tries the entire episode of Crown Vic to rebuild those walls, while treating Chuck as distantly and as coldly as possible to convince him (or more truthfully to convince herself) that the emotional relationship is not real. Even when she believes she has reestablished those walls, the kiss was just a momentary error in judgment, Chuck provides the rope to scale the walls . . . “friend’s right”, with a gentle hand shake. That is something her logical mind can accept . . . there is no risk in being friends . . . although Chuck, with his character and compassion, has already scaled that professional wall again to set-up and simmer the fire.

    Sorry for rambling, but although the episodes to come continue to take us through the “wt/wt” scenarios, I find that the series final allows us to peak back to how far the couple have come from the beginning of their journeys. Because of the temporary suppression of her memories, the agent first, Walker, is forced to try to make since of the Bartowski she has become. Something that is not logical or likely to occur at the beginning of their “chance” or fate driven meeting in life . . . turns into a relationship that overcomes all odds and becomes reality again for us to relive through the final episode.

    Another great post Thinkling and a nice way to start off Valentines Day!

    • joe says:

      Beautifully written, Phase. On this site, going on at length is not “rambling.” It’s discussion. 😉

      What you wrote makes me want to start again from the beginning, and you make a point that I can’t help but repeat. I’ve never experienced a TV show that stood up so well to repeated viewings. Not even Star Trek (any series).

      I haven’t re-watched since the ending, but when I do, I’m sure I’ll be seeing new things because of that finale. At least, I’ll be seeing it with more insight.

      Tangentially, I’m a little worried about the idea of syndication. When I watch it’s often difficult for me to stop with one episode. Even the few that end on a positive note, with no cliffhanger, led me onto the next, if only to see what would happen to Chuck&Sarah next. Cliffhangers did that intentionally, of course.

      In syndication I just don’t see how someone could watch one episode, and I know it’s difficult to commit to watching daily. Even the original hard-core viewers (that’s us!) may be reluctant to watch in syndication when our DVDs are steps away.

    • thinkling says:

      Aw, thanks Phase. Sarah’s journey never ceases to intrigue me on various levels. And the finale gives a speeded up version. If you tack back on S5 as the epilogue, it is, as you indicate, stunning to see how far they came against ALL odds.

      It was obvious the first time through, but the farther we have seen Chuck and Sarah grow the more fun it is to see, even more clearly, what is going on in the beginning. One of the most beautiful Easter eggs of the finale touches on it so well, as we watch S1 and S2 Sarah on her video logs. How Yvonne does such a great job I’ll never know, but you can just see Sarah’s progress. And present day memory-wiped Sarah can too. Stunning.

      Great comments, Phase. I just don’t know what to rewatch first.

    • joe says:

      This seems relevant. From Chuck vs. The Seduction, Roan tells Chuck about the importance of giving Sarah “The Illusion of Being Pursued” (and about “The Montgomery”). I think that same magic worked on the beach.

      • phaseou812 says:

        Thanks Joe . . . that is one of the songs that I downloaded from the series that I was not previously aware of before Chuck. Hey, although I don’t have a link and this song was not in the Chuck series . . . what about “Sara Smile” from Hall & Oats . . . if you listen to the song it fits well into the ending. If I recall correctly, I think the series did have “Private Eyes” in there by Hall & Oates . . . but “Sara Smile” seems to fit.

      • joe says:

        Hall & Oates? Phase, you just picked out two of Mrs. Joe’s favorite songs. I don’t have them on my Chuck play lists. They are on my mp3 player, on “her” playlist – you know; my “Sally Mix”.

      • phaseou812 says:

        Well you know how it goes Joe, regardless of the Chuck playlist . . . the most important “playlist” to get right . . . is your better half’s . . . it makes the world go around smoother.

        I am a music buff by nature so I have tons of it . . . and it is the only thing that makes exercising manageable. However, I have failed to ever get my wife interested in “Chuck” . . . but the flip side of it is the Chuck series has become some special time that dad and the kids enjoy together. In fact getting ready to head upstairs and watch Chuck vs. the Undercover Lover as they have already ask this morning if we could watch. So we have been flying through Season 1 as of late with no new Chucks to sink our teeth into.

      • Wilf says:

        This is one of my top favourite songs from Chuck. And I only have around 70 in my Chuck play-list because I only download those that I really like, regardless of the scene they are from. However, that is a great Chuck scene, if very poignant at the end. Before Chuck I had never knowingly listened to any Kooks music. Chuck has expanded my musical range enormously, for which I am truly thankful.

  7. FlamesofDestiny says:

    You know, with all due respect, you guys have all seemed to miss the reality of this show: Like it or not, this was a show about Chuck. Not Chuck and Sarah. Not Chuck and anyone else. Just Chuck.

    TPTB have told you this a dozen times in interviews. They have shown you a hundred times in the show itself: Only Chuck matters. Everyone and everything else, including Sarah, are simply part of Chuck’s journey past his quarterlife crisis. Which is why what was important about the final beach scene is that Chuck is there telling Sarah to “trust him.” Whether Sarah loves him again, whether or when she gets memories back, simply is not important to TPTB. It is, first, foremost and only about Chuck.

    With the show’s run now completed, you should try to face and accept that reality. Too many of us (and I include myself) were watching a show that TPTB were not writing. They were writing about Chuck. Nothing else mattered. AT ALL.

    Want irrefutable proof of this? I give you Season 3. It’s only about Chuck deciding he wants to be a spy. It’s why everything else in Season 3 is so silly: Shaw, Sarah’s actions, whatever. All that mattered in original Season 3 was Chuck’s decision.

    Want more, very recent proof? Go look at the end of Baby. That was, arguably, the most Sarah-centric episode of the series. But, in the end, it’s about Chuck. Sarah’s mother asks if Sarah ever thought she’d get to this place. And Sarah’s answer isn’t even really about herself. She says: “Chuck taught me…”

    I’ll be honest with you: I would have preferred, especially after Colonel, to see a show about Chuck AND Sarah. But that wasn’t the show they were writing. And if you keep looking for a payoff in the Sarah character, you’re going to keep breaking your heart.

    Chuck, the TV show, was about Chuck, the character. Everyone and everything else was in service to that character and the concept of Chuck getting past his quarterlife crisis.

    The only happily ever after, the only completed journey, belongs to Chuck Bartowski. That is the gospel according to TPTB. And that, sadly, is all there is. And that’s probably all there’ll ever be.

    • joe says:

      Hi, Destiny. You may be in a minority here, but you’re not the only one here with that opinion.

      I think the counter argument is (afixing thumb firmly to nose and waggling fingers) PPPHHHTTTTHHHHTTTT!!!! 😉

      Okay, I’ll be serious. It’s equally likely that the reality is a bit different from what you said. I’m lying. It’s more likely that the show is about more than just the character Chuck. More than just one character, the show was about family, friends, the importance of trust, duty, loyalty, “doing the right thing” and even the importance of music (in a poetic and non-literal sense). It’s about the important things in life, especially love.

      With respect, missing all that is to miss the entire point of the show (not to mention the beauty).

      As for Sarah, like a lot of viewers, I loved seeing Yvonne Strahovski in various skimpy outfits. But if that’s all there was to it, I’d have gotten bored years ago. One of the best things about the concept was that Sarah Walker-Bartowski was mysterious from the first. A clear case of “less is more,” IMHO. Without her there is no Chuck.

      Without the Ellie, Casey and Morgan there is no Chuck. Without the Buy More and even Jeffster, there is no Chuck as we know it (even if there is some excellent FF AU). To me that means Zac Levi’s titular character is important, but not everything. Not even close.

      • Gord says:

        Agree with you Joe.
        As for Sarah’s skimpy outfits, that too was enjoyable, but like you said there was so much more to it than that. I think if she spent every week in a nun’s habit I would have still watched the show. Case in point – the remake of Charlie’s Angles they tried this year. I mean it had 3 beautiful woman but didn’t bring anything else to the table. I did watch the pilot episode and thought to myself at the end – well that’s an hour of my life I will never get back.
        Where as with Chuck after every episode was over I was thinking to myself – that can’t be an hour gone already.
        When I’m doing rewatches I often watch 2, 3 or even 4 episodes in a row. Heck I remember when I first got the S1 DVD, I went through the whole set in one weekend.

    • atcDave says:

      Flames you are largely correct; in fact, if you go back to our original S3 discussions you will see that as a recurring complaint of mine and several others, that the SHARED journey is far more interesting to many of us than Chuck’s solo journey. Yet TPTB clearly did not see the show that way. There was a disconnect between Schwedak’s concept of their show and what was playing out on screen. I think largely because of Yvonne’s charisma and performance. She made many of us feel more, and care more about her than we did about Chuck. Now I do believe their were always some staff writers who felt the same way (LaFrank, Judkins, and Newman come to mind). But Schwedak clearly outlined the show and plotted the major arcs in such a way that the primary focus was always on Chuck alone.

      But Flames you are also wrong. Chris Fedak clearly said as S5 was getting started that they no longer saw the show as just Chuck’s journey; it was now about Chuck and Sarah’s shared journey (Comic Con I believe, sorry, way too many interviews for me to keep them straight). And really both S4 and S5 show some of that slightly changed emphasis. Although Chuck was always still the big hero in the finale arcs, and Fedak himself never wrote Sarah very well; he clearly gave the other staff writers more of a free hand to tell Sarah’s story too.

      • FlamesofDestiny says:

        Yes, Fedak SAID it. But when you break down season 5, it’s still ALL about Chuck. Even if he MEANT to have a more even hand, it didn’t happen. And remember what Fedak ALSO said in his out interview with Sepinwall: To him, Sarah was a character from another show that stumbled onto Chuck (he really did mean it as a compliment).

        I see, for example, people here complaining about the fact that The Awesomes move away. Well, sure they do. Not because a foundation EVER really was laid. It’s just that you needed to show that Chuck was all grown up and didn’t need Ellie any more. So off go the Awesomes.

        And, remember, I LIKED the ending. I thought the show belonged back at the beach, so I’m not the one complaining. But even in Seasons 4 and 5, all of Sarah’s supposed journey is an appendix to Chuck. And, as I said, “the tell” is in things like the end of Baby. Sarah doesn’t say she learns anything, it’s that Chuck taught her something.

        Again, I am not endorsing the showrunners point of view. I’m just trying to be realistic about what is there on the screen. Which is why the ending is as it is: Chuck, the befuddled one that we saw on the beach in the pilot, is now the one reassuring Sarah. She started as the confident, in-charge agent and ended as someone who needed Chuck’s guidance. (And without putting too fine a point on it, the ONLY character in Season 5 who even reminds us of Sarah’s former grandeur was Shaw. What do they have him say after he captures her: “We all know you’re the superior agent.” You didn’t hear that any other time in Season 5.)

        I honestly and truly understand why this bothers so many of the posters here. I’m with them in a way: I came to like the Sarah character more than the Chuck character, too. But it’s crazy to think that what you want to believe is what actually happened. In the show, over five years, Chuck grew up. Everyone else is there as a storytelling device to acommodate his growth.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t really see it that way Liz. I think we saw some very satisfying growth of Sarah, which she rightly credits to Chuck. Just as Chuck tells Sarah that his growth is largely thanks to her. I found their mutual growth these last two seasons very satisfying. I do agree Sarah was always the secondary character in the story, but in the end not by much. My largest complaint in the end is just that they didn’t do a better job giving us the assurance that all was well with her. I actually believe the clues are there, but you are right about Fedak in particular, he focuses his stories so much through Chuck that we don’t even get a complete picture of Sarah’s restoration in the finale. But other writers did not seem to have this problem, and I felt Sarah was very well served for most of the last two seasons.
        I also don’t believe the Awesome moving is a problem for most of us, just the way their story was concluded seemed to be timed wrong. Ellie moving to bigger and better things is actually a great end for her story; I just would have preferred an end scene with Chuck and Sarah both saying goodbye to the Awesomes after her memories had started to return; in fact, I think that re-ordering of the ending would have resolved all of my complaints.

    • thinkling says:

      Sorry to be so blunt, Flames, but, well, you’re just flat-out wrong.

      TPTB have said in recent interviews that, though Chuck started out as a story about Chuck (the guy with secrets in his head), it soon became obvious that it was a love story. In fact they have reiterated that in many interviews.

      In any given episode you can point to something being about either of them. Baby was Sarah centric. You pick the one line in the whole thing that is remotely about Chuck. Baby was all about Sarah. Is Sarah’s story about how Chuck changed her? Yes. But it’s still Sarah’s story. I could say that even though FOD was mostly a Chuck-centric episode, it was really all about Sarah and how worried she was about Chuck (which would be more true than saying Baby was about Chuck). Chuck’s story is also about how Sarah changed him. Chuck certainly sees it that way. Chuck wouldn’t be Chuck without Chuck, but Chuck wouldn’t be Chuck without Sarah. Each is integrally important to the other. Their journeys are as entertwined as their lives and hearts. Without Sarah, Chuck never would have become the man or the agent or the husband we’ve seen him become. Without Chuck Agent Walker never would have become Sarah and Sarah Bartowski. That’s not accidental story telling. (Woops, how does Sarah keep popping up in this story. It’s supposed to be all about Chuck. Nope.) I do think the Sarah part of the story took on more weight than they originally planned, but they did finally run with it to the point that they now openly say in interviews that Chuck was principally a love story and all about relationships.

      I would agree that S3 part 1 was pretty much all about Chuck becoming a spy. But S4 is mostly about Sarah’s journey to real girl. S5 is about Chuck and Sarah. In fact most of the Fedak interviews and recent things being said about Chuck are about Chuck and Sarah. At the beginning of S5, Fedak expressly said the season would be about Chuck and Sarah figuring out what they want to do.

      To me the loveliest payoff in the whole series has been in Sarah’s character. It’s there, and it’s intentional. I’m sorry you’ve become so jaded.

      I wonder if we watch the same show, because if there’s one thing that’s certain on Chuck, it’s that, not only does Sarah matter, but family and friends matter. It it were all about Chuck, other characters wouldn’t have had the unprecedented growth they’ve seen through the years. Chuck let its characters grow — all of them — far more than any other show. If only Chuck mattered, then the others would have just been treated as props … two dimensional characters to move things along or make Chuck look good. But they are far more than that.They’ve all had their stories and their growth.

      There are shows that are as you say. Monk was all about Monk. The other characters were fun, but they had little to no real story. The Closer is all about Brenda. The other characters have practically no story, even Fritz. Sarah has an enormous amount of story and weight in the Chuck story, and that’s by design.

    • Faith says:

      I’m fine with that. The show is titled Chuck. I myself, have emphasized several times that no matter how much we wanted it to be titled “Sarah” or “Chuck and Sarah,” it is and will always be “Chuck.” But it’s not all bad, I think they told a wonderful story, both within the confines of the title and beyond it. It was all, collectively a beautiful and enduring story for me…one that I will treasure forever.

  8. thinkling says:

    I’m not sure where to put this thought, but since we’re wool gathering, I’ll put it here. One of the really big differences we see in the original Agent Walker and the reset Agent Walker is context, and I think Yvonne does so well at not being the original Agent Walker. The context being the assignment.

    Originally Sarah was always in the role of handler. In the Buymore and on the first date, Sarah was first and foremost doing her job, flirting with Chuck and making it seem like a date. We all saw that from the start, Chuck got behind her defenses. We saw it on Sarah’s face in the Buymore and the restaurant. But it flared momentarily on Sarah’s handler face. She was already flirting, so the context was already positive, and she didn’t have to hide it, just incorporate it into the role and convince herself that that is what it was — a role. That’s the way it continued. Sarah as handler always encouraged Chuck. I do think it was genuine, but it was also her job as handler. More and more her personal feelings snuck in, and we saw Sarah’s handler inseparably mixed with her personal feelings. Pretty soon being his handler was just a thin cover for her real feelings, and we saw real Sarah pretending to be Chuck’s handler. Of course she was all handler as his protector, but as his encourager and friend, that was pretty much all her.

    The finale is very different. At no time is Sarah Chuck’s handler. She doesn’t have to pretend to flirt or be on a date. In fact she won’t lead him on that way. So we see serious, all business Sarah, just an agent. When Chuck connects with her inner Sarah Bartowski and gets to her, it doesn’t look as happy or flirty, because that’s not the context. On the first date, Sarah didn’t have to hide the moment, because it fed into the context. The second time around, she has to try to hide it (quickly and soundly — stomp it out) because it’s completely against context. But it’s there just as surely as it was on their first date at El Compadre. That makes the dance scene all the more powerful, too. Again, she’s not being handler, not pretending to be on a date. So, straightening his tie comes out of nowhere. Of course we know where it comes from, but there’s nothing in the context that requires it or even makes it logical. Same with the dance itself. There’s nothing remotely agent-y about it. After the fact, there’s no way Sarah can convince herself that it was duty-gone-too-far or just part of the cover. It’s all coming from inside Sarah, and she has no cover to hide behind and no room for denial. So, we see Sarah move through her journey with very little denial. She faces the truth pretty quickly I think, and by the time Chuck gets to the beach, she’s ready for him and hoping to find herself and get her life back.

    Also the first time around, she had a reason or excuse to stay. This time there was no duty keeping Sarah in Chuck’s orbit. It was her heart and pure attraction. I think that’s pretty powerful.

    • atcDave says:

      And on a related note, how radical is it that Sarah chose not to return to government service in the end for personal reasons? One more way she was completely different from S1 Sarah, even if she couldn’t quite remember why.

    • phaseou812 says:

      Great conceptual point to pick up on the differences. It did not occur to me . . . but that is why the series finale scenes play so differently with Chuck and Sarah . . . is that she has no veil to hide behind or no role that she can cloak her emotions into. And as fans of the show, knowing Sarah’s past life and journey, what a vulnerable place for her to be as a person as that was one of her biggest fears, to be moved by emotions that were not in her control. Great job acting by Yvonne and a good observation into the differences.

      • thinkling says:

        Exactly. It’s odd after so much thinking and two theses, I’m still noticing things, and that’s one of them. We really saw an entirely different portrayal of Sarah, though she was very much herself. The reset S1 Sarah, not as handler but as spy to the grown-up Chuck that she helped him become. The thing is, after she knew the truth about them, she was softer and kinder toward Chuck. It was played so differently by Yvonne, and I’m just now figuring out why and how brilliant it was. Yvonne gave us all those conflicting layers.all still in character.

    • Paul says:

      Great way of putting it Thinkling! Context for Sarah was always improtant. I loved the quandry of S1 and 2 Sarah. She is a professional who’s job is to pretend to be in a relationship with a man yet maintain the professional distance, yet deep down (and as the show progressed, not so deep down) yearns to be in a relationship with him.

    • thinkling says:

      Just another thought on the differences, in addition to change in context: The first time around, Sarah was, of course, a top agent, an accomplished, dangerous woman, but inside she was still a girl.. Chuck was also more of a boy for that matter.

      This time around, Chuck is the man he became with Sarah. Sarah is still that top agent, but inside she’s a woman. Though her memories are gone, and her emotions are confused and on hold. the maturity and the growth she gained with Chuck are still there. I no longer see the girl she was, but the woman she became, minus the emotional openness and empowerment.

      Is that just me, or did anyone else get that sense?

      • atcDave says:

        I think that’s exactly right Thinkling. And its one of those things we can look to the Morgansect arc for clarification. Even with a few missing memories Morgan clearly remained the more mature Morgan of S4 and S5, he didn’t revert to the S1 man-child (errr, he went back to his later man-child phase?)
        So I also think Sarah can be assumed to be the more mature Sarah of S5, the missing memories may cause her some problems with context for her different emotions and goals, but I think in the end she was finding that context very quickly.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah. And Yvonne played all that nuance. She was 4 different versions of her S1 self on the video logs. Then she was this layered, conflicted, Agent Sarah Walker Bartowski person finding her way through to who she really is. Her best nuanced performance of the series, I think … even better than Phase 3, Of course, there are so many to choose from with her. 🙂

      • thinkling says:

        She was back at the S1 mindset, but not the S1 maturity. It was really a mind blowing performance. I’m gushing, I know. I’ll stop.

    • ww1posterfan says:

      First of all, this is my first time to this website/blog, and if I may say, I’m completely blown away. This particular analysis is especially powerful, to me, anyway. I’m a latecomer to Chuck. I actually watched the pilot and enjoyed it, but lost the show as quickly as I discovered it. I just re-discovered the show this last summer on youtube and then ordered all 4 seasons on DVD. I watched one season a week during the month of Aug. eagerly anticipating S5. I guess that is why the ending was so intense and extremely conflicting for me, having absorbed a mass dose of the show that is Chuck in such a short time and completely falling in love with the Chuck-Sarah relationship and all the other intangibles the show highlighted. It is coupled with the fact that I have not seen the episodes in their entirety because my business precluded me from watching the show live and lacking a recording capability. I also feel guilt at contributing to its ratings challenges by not being a regular live viewer.

      Anyhow, I just wanted to add some observations I made from watching the clips, specifically the clip of when Sarah returns to the BuyMore, requesting access to Castle and Chuck’s help with locating Renny Deutch. To me, this is one of the most revealing, yet nuanced scenes. I think this supplements/supports the contextual points you made above and your epilogue/prologue thesis in general.
      -Sarah appears nervous and vulnerable standing at the Nerd Herd desk. This is not Agent Walker-like, S1 or reset S1 in either case. Agent Walker doesn’t get nervous (vs. the Balcony). S5 Sarah Bartkowski does. S1 Sarah Walker confidently approached the Nerd Herd desk ready to engage her mark….this Sarah looks slightly hurt when Chuck approaches and blurts out “What are you doing here?” before stepping back and acknowledging how glad he is to see her and how great she looks. This elicits the slightest of smiles. The reset S1 Sarah is on totally virgin ground here and has no “cover” such as being a handler to hide behind.
      – Then Sarah asks for access to Castle and help with locating Renny. This struck me as unusual. She left Chuck in the courtyard, saying what appeared to be a final goodbye. She manages to track down Quinn, access his plane, and almost complete her mission of killing him. She obviously had access to intelligence and other spy resources to get that far as this took a couple of weeks to occur. Why come allll the way back to Burbank to continue that pursuit. Further, she acknowledges having read Chuck’s profile and knows he’s good with computers. Why was she reading Chuck’s profile when she implied she saw no future with him. Again, S1 Sarah had a reason to read Chuck’s profile as part of her assignment. This Sarah had no reason to other than sheer curiosity to find out more about someone she supposedly has no feelings for.
      – 2 final points. Sarah has a “tell” when she is lying to Chuck (and herself) regarding her feelings-she looks down and away before looking him in the eye professing her emotional fiction. It’s introduced in vs. Truth. She does this on 3 occasions during the 2 part finale: when she tells Chuck she believes him but doesn’t feel it, in this scene when she tells him she’s going to disappear after killing Quinn, and when she leaves Castle at the end when she claims she’s not sure what Irene Demova meant. Lastly, during this last exchange, the reset S1 Sarah has supposedly prefers to work alone, has been working alone for 2 weeks in her pursuit of Quinn, but appears to acquiesce easily when presented the opportunity to work with Chuck’s team. Her actions appear to totally contradict this reset Sarah in this context.

      I apologize for the length, but thank you the opportunity to contribute. I have some more thoughts on the whole memory loss and recall, but will save those for a later day.

      • joe says:

        Well, welcome to the discussion, ww1PosterFan. You bring up some great points.

        I noticed Sarah’s demeanor at the nerd desk too, but I didn’t put my finger on it like you did. After what you wrote, it seems to me S1 Sarah wasn’t approaching Chuck like an equal. She was a hot super-spy on a mission, and he was a nerd. EOS.

        On Sarah’s second visit to the herd-desk, she needed his help and seem no-where near as confident. Now it’s easy for me to think she realized that something was missing. It was more than just being skeptical about Quinn.

      • thinkling says:

        Hey ww1posterfan. First of all, thanks and welcome to the blog, and second, thanks for such great observations. Like you, I love the Chuck and Sarah relationship the most and the intangibles, the lofty themes and heartwarming story that is Chuck.

        You mention the Buymore scene where Sarah can’t figure out whether or not to ring the bell. I don’t think I’ve actually stated it, but that is one of the best scenes to me. Sarah seems to almost sense Chuck and turns around. The look on her face … well, her heart is in her eyes. It’s the reverse of all the hundreds of times she walked into the Buymore and Chuck looked up from the Nerd Herd desk and had his heart in his eyes. Small but powerful. I did notice the hurt in her eyes when he asked what she was doing there. Then the scene in Castle still gets me, too. Poignant. So many things that still get to me.

        There are many indications that Sarah Bartowski isn’t gone. She’s the real Sarah, the hidden one for now, that Chuck will connect with … again. She just has to figure that out. Her actions do indeed belie her belief that she has been reset to nothing but a spy. It’s interesting how she just can’t leave him, and still, for reasons unknown to her, keeps seeking him out. Yvonne played a differently nuanced Sarah, and the more I watch and think about Sarah and pay attention to how Yvonne plays her, the more brilliant I think Yvonne’s portrayal is. Fantastic.

        I love your pickup on Sarah’s tells. You’re right. Nice catch!

        Pop back in when you can and tell us your thoughts on memory loss and recall. Inquiring minds want to know.

  9. Wilf says:

    Thinkling, another excellent analysis, thank you. It really has added to our ability to interpret what we saw in the finale, and I, for one, buy into this and your other analyses. Not least because I want to, need to. I wonder, though, whether the depth that you, I to some extent, and others have perceived in episodes 12 and 13, actually in the whole of Season 5, is really there? What I mean is, did the show writers, and in particular Chris Fedak, really plant in these episodes all that the posts on this site and elsewhere have divined from them? Or is it, at least to some extent, wishful thinking on our part? To be slightly more specific, were all the nuances, clues, breadcrumbs, call them what you will, which have been perceived in relation to Sarah’s hoped-for recovery put there intentionally, or are they merely artifacts of our imagination and desire for them to be there? Of course, at least some visual clues could possibly have been added in by the actors themselves, taking the responsibility into their own hands to add interpretation if they were not 100% happy with the officially directed path of the episodes.

    • thinkling says:

      I’m sure we’ll always see some stuff that wasn’t on paper, sometimes, as you say, because the actors give it life beyond the page. But I definitely think that we are supposed to see Sarah fall for Chuck again. That’s the main story, or if you prefer, Chuck winning Sarah’s heart again.

      I think most of it is there. Where the line is between what we’re “supposed” to see and what my imagination supplies, I don’t know. Fedak has admitted it’s about Chuck and Sarah love story and that it reprises the whole series. So I don’t think we’re far off.

  10. Creature Fear says:

    Thanks so much for this article.  I’m shocked how much this finale has stuck with me.  I started thinking about the entire series and how both Chuck and Sarah were broken when they met but, as we learned over time and despite all outward appearances, Sarah was the more broken of the two (in my opinion).  After this article and a lot of thought (and reading an embarrassing amount of fan fiction), I am starting to believe that the series was wrapped up a lot more cleanly than many of us initially realized.  Someone mentioned that long posts aren’t rambling, they’re discussion so here goes…
    Sarah vs. the Truth
    The idea of Sarah retracing her journey helped to crystallize some things I have been thinking about since the finale.  The thing that bothered me the most at the end of Chuck vs Sarah (and thank god we did not have to wait a week between episodes) was when she told Chuck she knew everything he told her was true but she didn’t feel it.  Especially after seeing her melt when watching the mission logs from Casey. Was her response to the mission logs just a reaction to what she had apparently lost?  To your point about the past is prologue, the answer was in the final mission log.  It took her 564 days to admit her feelings to herself – while later admitting she fell for Chuck almost upon meeting him.  I then realized I couldn’t reasonably expect her to reveal her feelings so soon after such traumatic revelations. More to the point – she’s lying!
    I know it wasn’t explicit, but all along we have accepted that the old Sarah has a tendency to lie about her feelings and run away from them.  So why would she lie to Chuck, even go out of her way to say goodbye and then lie to him?  This helped me realize that it wasn’t her intention to lie to Chuck.  Much like most of the first two seasons (and many times thereafter) she was lying to herself.  Trying to protect herself from feelings she didn’t understand or remember the origins of.  This old Sarah is scared and has reverted to a place where she doesn’t believe she is worthy of being loved.  I now liken it more to way back in ‘Chuck vs. the Truth’ when she took the opportunity to hide behind the serum to continue to protect herself from voicing her true feelings.  Once I realized that this wasn’t reboot Sarah being cruel to save Chuck from continued false hope but frightened Sarah lying to herself, I started to better understand the journey she was on within her own head and felt better in general about that scene.  I just wish we had seen her face as she walked away.
    Quinn may not have been the most well developed character (mostly due to time constraints) but he was the cruelest / most sadistic.  He basically mind-raped her, knowing enough about the intersect to know that was exactly what he was doing, and stole (or tried to steal everything from her) and Sarah becomes increasingly aware of that.  And we all know you do not want to be in the way of Sarah Walker in full-on beast mode.  I think her anger at what was taken from her clouds her judgment somewhat in terms of what she thinks she can ‘get back’.
    He is ‘That Guy’
    In your Facts and the Whole Truth section, past is prologue again.  The old Sarah fell for Chuck very quickly by him just being himself.  Why wouldn’t she do the same thing now when she sees all the same things that she loved about him the first time around? Only now she doesn’t have to wonder about whether they can make it work – she knows that they once did and that he still wants her.  But is he too good to be true?  The old Sarah Walker would doubt that just as she does now.  I think the second turning point for her is on the roof of the Pacific Concert Hall.  When this man who loves her and has lost so much gives up what they both believe is the last chance for them to restore what they had to make the hero’s choice I think she is finally convinced.  He is the real deal. She is now the only thing standing in the way of her own happiness.
    Ellie and Morgan have their own Key
    It is telling that Sarah doesn’t just run away.  The old Sarah would have run.  By the time Chuck finds her on the beach, I believe her defenses have been totally destroyed.  And when he REALLY lets her off the hook by telling her he has absolutely no expectations of her she can finally open herself to the idea that she deserves this and she can listen to their story with an open heart and no fear.  This is the first piece of the ‘key’ if there is one.  Now she is ready to ask to hear their story – so she takes a step willingly into that scary future. 
    If they hadn’t gone through so much to get here she wouldn’t have been ready to really listen. So as she does, I choose to believe that some of her memories returned with the stories, even if just pieces, they were the right pieces.  The most important ones.  She wasn’t just laughing at funny stories and crying at sad ones she was remembering why she feels the way she does about Chuck.  This is the second piece – Ellie’s contribution.  Whether the kiss completes ‘the key’ to her memories or not, it definitely closes the deal.  And though she’ll have a lot to process, and maybe some gaps she’ll never get back, I no longer think it will take them more than a few weeks to get back to what they were.
    About those bread crumbs
    I wondered about the boxes in the dream house.  And whether the sale of the BuyMore was a throw away gag.  I’ll have to revisit Ellie’s reaction but you’ve convinced me.  Even before he got Sarah back, especially before then, no way was Chuck letting someone else buy that house.
    At the risk of restating much of what was already written, I can’t tell you how cathartic this has been, and thank you again for this article.  These last three episodes were definitely not meant to be considered in isolation.  I was numb upon seeing the finale the first time and eventually considered it a so-so ‘Cast Away’-type ending (i.e., whatever happens, however they get there, they’ll be together and OK).  Although I didn’t need the ‘five years later’ spelled out, I was upset that we didn’t get to say goodbye to the Sarah that we had seen grow so much as a character.  Now that I view the finale as a massive character piece spanning all the way back to the beginning I see we had all the clues we needed, I can watch ‘their story’ from the beginning knowing it ends beautifully, I absolutely love the finale and now think it was a worthy ending to my all-time favorite show.
    Happy Valentine’s Day Chuck & Sarah

    • phaseou812 says:

      Nice post! And I like your rambling much better than my rambling. Agreed with a lot of your observations and comments.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with most of this. Although I’m not as enthusiastic yet about this finale, I do agree all is well for Chuck and Sarah for this Valentine’s Day!

    • thinkling says:

      Happy Valentines Day indeed. Thanks Creature Fear. Fantastic observations and insights. I’m so glad you worked through all this. Thanks for sharing it.

      I agree that Sarah feels the love from the video log. I don’t know if you read my other post, but I think it’s like the ache of a phantom limb. The amputee feels real pain in the limb that’s gone (of course it’s the spot in the brain that the limb was connected to). I think Sarah feels the love and emotion of her former self (it’s in that Chuck spot in her heart). The love is very real. But the limb ( her old life, the person she was, and her relationship with Chuck) were amputated by Quinn. Since the relationship that created that love no longer exists, she denies the reality of the love. So, yeah. She’s in a state of confusion and somewhat lying to herself about what her heart is feeling, but she can’t explain it logically. She has no context for it yet. The missions help give her some of that.

      I agree about the roof top, too. That’s where I had to think about the time in jail. It’s a link to the roof top. Their holding cell conversation gave Sarah the information to figure out what kind of hero Chuck is. The roof top proved it, sealed that deal. There she experienced in reality what she had learned conceptually in the cell, that Chuck was a genuine hero. The video logs primed her in the same sort of way for the dinner and dance and falling for Chuck’s sweet side. And the cell and the roof top completed the Chuck Bartowski package for her with his hero side.

      The beach with no defenses. That is another Sarah we haven’t really seen before. We’ve seen Sarah Bartowski that open and vulnerable, but this was different. Sarah was stripped of defenses and any false notions of identity. So Chuck’s approach was perfect. So nicely played by Yvonne. And then the transformation. Nice. I think we got Sarah Bartowski back, even though she’s still pretty vulnerable.

    • Faith says:

      A fantastic username for a fantastic post.

    • herder says:

      Very good point about her lying to herself, I would question if it was lying or a refusal to beleive that the happy person that she saw in the log was the same distant person she beleived herself to be.

  11. Faith says:

    Thank you for that Thinkling. Sarah Walker Bartowski’s story is indeed one of the greatest stories ever told.

  12. jason says:

    Thinkling – I have been hesitant to comment on what you wrote. So much of what you wrote this time is about interpretation, which is OK in small doses, but generally speaking, is not my favorite read. But, your prose is so eloquent, I enjoyed the reading your words anyhow, even if you left me feeling ‘I believe you, I just don’t feel it’. I wonder out loud how the artist (i.e. you) would have done with a better canvas to paint on?

    One thing you hit dead spot on (rationalization or not, what you wrote is right!), nearly the entire season was already the payoff, the epilogue. From my POV, the season in the books thru mid bullet train, relagated the last 2.2 eps to a stand alone movie. This movie paid tribute not to the future status of the couple in epilogue fashion, but to the entire show’s past, like a movie might.

    I was very worried about the final scene mid season, when I realized more than once I was watching a scene that would satisfy me as the end of the show. Here is my list of better or lets say happier ending moments than the actual end:

    the end of business trip up to the point Dekker showed up
    the end of Santa sans the Sarah Shaw visit
    the end of Baby
    the beginning of kept man cut right before the result
    the train romantic rendevous between the show’s two lovebirds capped off by a tease of the ending I really wanted depicted in a hand drawn picture

    That is lots of epilogue worthy moments already, as you so aptly pointed out. So instead we got a bizarre, tragic, sad, somewhat mean spirited, maybe even spiteful final two episodes, capped off with a ending that was actually ‘unsatisfying’. The ending was not joyless like the rest of the last two episodes were, but left me feeling ‘meh’, over what was a perfectly framed final kiss, in what should have been a lasting and epic final moment for the show. At the end of the day, I believed the final moments of the show, I just didn’t feel it.

    • thinkling says:

      Well, thanks for reading, Jason. I was a little nervous about this post because it’s way more interpretive than my usual fare, hence my disclaimer, early on. I stand by it as being reasonable, though.

      Of the scenes you mention, the end of Baby and the Bullet Train/cuddling/drawing ones are my favorites. One you left out that I love is Sarah with her plans spread out in front of her, along with the bottle of champagne chilling … and her ILY to Chuck on the phone(the last one we hear). I loved Business Trip, but it was two early for a proper epilogue, and Santa Suit didn’t hit me all that great.

      I get that the ending of the finale is hard for some people to feel. I get that you don’t feel it, but you have said you know it was meant to be happy. At least knowing and not feeling is better than not knowing.

      You and I often agree, especially our love of the Chuck and Sarah relationship, though I’ve come to like the finale and see its beauty where you haven’t. And that’s OK.

      The final story began with tragedy and there were undercurrents of sadness through a lot of it. However, I also see that Chuck and Sarah worked their way through it, step by necessary step, to a happy ending, something that is easier for me to really see now than when I first watched.

      The only other thing I feel when I read your reactions, and I hope you don’t take this wrong, I really think you’ve been too harsh on Fedak. He’s on record as saying he viewed S5 as a love letter to fans, including the finale. I know you don’t read it as such. I understand that. Nevertheless I believe it was his intention to give us the best ending he could imagine, It’s fair to say that you don’t like his creative bent or his version of a love letter or his unsatisfying ending or the tragedy and whole idea of the final arc, but I think it’s unfair, in light of his own words, to say it was mean spirited or spiteful. Just my 2c.

  13. garnet says:

    Really like your comments and commentary. I wonder if the problem some of us have is that we felt too deeply for this couple and their strange relationship. If we had not felt deeply, we wouldn’t still be here trying to make sense of what we saw and what we feel. For me mostly, the fact I still cannnot watch the end of 5.12 or 5.13 without the dust in the house overwhelming me.

    I can accept the art in the final episode. It did bring things around full circle, and at the same time show us how much all of the characters in the series have grown (interestingly perhaps Ellie and Awesome least of all).and I can accept Fedak’s assertion that this was a happy ending. When you think about it there really is no alternative. If Sarah doesn’t get her memory back, and Chuck and Sarah are not together, then Quinn has, even in death, won. CHUCK is a happy optimistic show at its heart, and with that thought, Quinn can not have won. So, it must be the sadness I continue to feel is more sadness at saying goodbye to these characters who have been almost as close as friends for the last 5 years than sadness at a relationship lost. The fact that this show has moved me beyond any other TV show, is a tribute to the wonderful cast that have really brought their best to each and every scene.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks Garnet for speaking up. My house is still very dusty as well, but strangely only when I watch the Chuck finale. 😉

      Even when I see that the ending is indeed happy, that Chuck and Sarah are going to get their dream. I’m certain of it. There is a bitter sweet sadness, first because it’s the last we see of them, and second because, well, you just can’t help still ache a little at what they just went through. Their victory is as sweet as any because of it, but it still squeezes my heart.

      You’re right, it’s a tribute to the show, the writers, and most of all the cast, Zach and Yvonne in particular, for breathing life into these characters and making us love them so much.

    • joe says:

      Hi, Garnet. I have that same dust problem too. 😉

      I just had a thought. Remember Chuck’s pre-nup? The one that Sarah willingly, even happily signed?

      I, Sarah Walker, promise to always love Chuck Bartowski. In return, he will always love me.

      If you’re Chuck, would you hold Sarah to that promise? I doubt it. He’s not that kind.

      But if you’re Sarah, do you hold yourself to it? I’m sure she does, enough, at least, for time to go by. It may take a little while, but eventually she’ll see the famous Bartowski eyebrow dance again, and then we’re back to (ab)normal, right?

      • phaseou812 says:

        I actually forgot about that . . . but a nice call back.

      • thinkling says:

        You know, Joe, I keep thinking of all the things Sarah will come across in the apartment to jog her memory. The prenup is one, and her paper with her practice vows is another. 🙂

      • joe says:

        Perhaps the Tron poster, too. I wonder what she might make of the ? by Lisa.

        They say the sense of smell provides very powerful links to past memories. Can’t imagine how it would work, his scent on his shirts affected Sarah once before.

      • thinkling says:

        Good one. I hadn’t even thought of that. Which will she think is more odd, the front or the back?

      • joe says:

        The front or back of his SHIRT, Think???

        Oh, I know what you meant. Couldn’t resist!

  14. thinkling says:

    Faith and I started out with somewhat different feelings and, um, “levels of like” for the finale. She helped me feel better about it, and you know how far I’ve come to write about it from the heart as I have. While I was laboring to put this post, Sarah’s inner journey, into words, Faith was crafting a music video that shows you the love journey that I’ve tried to describe with mere words. Faith and I are on the same page. It’s all good. … Dr. Thinkling prescribes Faith’s video to warm your heart:

    Chuck and Sarah; She Is the Sunlight

    • Wilf says:

      This is just amazing. Thank you. What a finale.

    • Esardi says:

      Damn I just saw this video and Faith and Think that was beautiful. That is one of many examples why I always felt this show was so special to me. It felt like home, and I miss it and really regret that it is gone. I do not know about you guys but I have not even bothered to turn on any shows on NBC. Good luck being last again on Fridays.

      • Faith says:

        Thank you for the kind words (everyone).

        Esardi, I made the video because I really do miss the show so much. It’s become a part of me for these last, 5 years or so and it’s like something’s missing in my life. But in a good way too, because I had it for those 5 wonderful years (4 years if you consider the fact that I didn’t start watching the show until season 2) and I treasure the memories. Every single one.

      • BigKev67 says:

        Wow! Can only echo Esardi’s words and those of other commenters both on the post and the video. Quite, quite beautiful, both of them – and in line with the wonderful work you’ve both done bringing us your perspectives of Chuck over the last couple of years. Bravo.

    • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

      Nice video.

      Couldn’t finish it however, knowing how sad and tragic the story ends.

      (As strong as the beach scene was, the finale never recovered from the gut punch of the fountain scene which was much much stronger.)

      Appreciate your efforts however.

  15. kg says:

    sob, sob….sniffle, sniffle….snort, snort.

    • thinkling says:

      *virtual hanky*

      • kg says:

        Thanks….Wonderful, thoughtful, sensitive, emotional, concise and provocative piece. Simply what we’ve all come to expect. You make it look so easy. And I know that it is not.

      • thinkling says:

        sob, sob … sniffle, sniffle …

        Thanks, KG. It’s been a real pleaure.

        And we’re not going anywhere yet. Stick around for some after-series rewatches and reminiscing with the Chuck This gang.

  16. Don says:

    Chris Fedak et al should be thanking you for making them look good. They gave us characters and a show to love but in my opinion they flubbed the finale. You communicate what they were unable or unwilling to show us in the filming of the last episode. Your introspection and study of the characters is always spot on. I am reminded of a fanfiction that is similar to your take on things. It’s about Chuck not Sarah but it shows that the person, the love is there even if the memories are gone (and it has a more satisfactory ending!). Thanks for your insight. You may yet warm me up to the finale.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks, Don. It’s been so much fun to delve inside the characters, but especially Sarah (for me). But I really think it’s Yvonne that makes them look good (Zach, too, but his character is very WYSIWYG and less complex, IMO). Yvonne, from the beginning, has fleshed out Sarah way beyond the page, in ways that writers and show runners couldn’t predict or direct, but only dream of. Of course, once they knew what they had in her, her skill allowed them to explore more depth and range in the story and characters. This episode is simply her magnum opus of the series. She made it work with a layered, conflicted, nuanced Sarah, who was different, as she should be, because of the situation, but consistent with the characterization and lovely character Yvonne built through the 5 years.

      I remember liking that fanfiction. Glad you’re warming a little to the finale. (I used to live near the equator … warm is in my blood.)

      • atcDave says:

        I do agree that Yvonne deserves the lion’s share of the credit for making Sarah such a complex and compelling character. So many times (re-watch Fat Lady or Gravitron!) there was actually very little dialogue or story, but her reactions completely MADE the scene. Arguably, her performance made the entire series; at least from a dramatic perspective it might not have been half what it was with another actress.

        I do like Missing Years very much; but also Chuck vs the Missing Memories by Ersk4 (its kind of a lighter fluffier story; more fun, less dramatic). They’re kind of the two great amnesia stories in fan fiction and both do a good job of showing the love as stronger than the specific memories. Of course now we’re getting a whole new crop of such stories.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree, and I would add that her skill also salvaged certain aspects of the arc that will not be named.

  17. garnet says:

    The big questions I wrestle with are, “How do we get more CHUCK, and Should we want more?”
    Answering the second question first. I am of two minds. I would dearly like to see more of Chuck and Sarah together, but I don’t want to ruin what I have seen. TPTB have left us wanting more, and either anxious or excited about the future, Perhaps there is no better conclusion, and yet I would, in a heartbeat tune in for the next installment. I worry that TPTB might use the ending for a reset of the relationship yet again, and as a result I am torn. What do others think?

    As for the first question, if we do want more CHUCK, what can we do to influence TPTB at WB to give it a shot. My personal preference would be for a series of Web Episodes (who knows how many, maybe 1-4/year) as a bit of a reunion and more spyjinks for everyone. TO get there the only idea I have seen focuses on buying the DVDs (and even that is vague, only Season 5? the whole series? Season 1) and that is fine, but there is a limit to my storage space and I have at least 2 complete sets already!
    Perhaps the perpetual question remains, “How can we bring CHUCK to more people?”

    Sorry if this is a bit off topic.

    • atcDave says:

      You ask a couple of excellent questions Garnet. While my first impulse is to say I always want more Chuck; after the finale we just saw I’m actually less enthused about that than I was, pretty much for exactly the reason you mention. I would want to see more Chuck ONLY if Zach and Yvonne were both on board, and if the story was of the more fun Charah centered variety. I NEVER want to see the wt/wt sort of relationship drama done with these characters again. If we saw buzz of a coming movie that it would be some sort of reset or darker story I would likely opt out. I got a (barely) happy ending and I’d rather just go with that than see more tampering.
      As far as how to go about it, that is more difficult. For now the production is shut down and there’s liikely nothing we can do in the short run. Zach has talked about wanting to do sort of web movie every year or so. That sounds mostly like a pipe dream to me, but stranger things have happened. I suppose keeping discussion active on-line and on twitter are good starts. Also, BUY DISCS, possibly more sets than you need! Show them that you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is. Money is usually the bottom line in getting things made, so let them see a Chuck revenue stream; that will speak louder than anything we can ever say!

      • garnet says:

        My gut feeling is that if we want this to happen two things will need to come together. The first is DVD and syndication sales will have to be good, and the second is we will have to keep reminding them that we are here.

        While Zachary’s Web movie sounds like a pipe dream, I wonder if he may be at the cutting edge of TV production. If WB were to be able to produce Web episodes with all the fixin’s (pay-per view, product placement, advertising merchendise, and eventual DVD sales) I suspect they could make a business case for it. This cuts the network out of the picture and allows all monies to flow directly to WB (or perhaps even better to the producers if they regain contol of the rights). I would certainly argue for a $2,000,000 test! If there was a show that could live on this way, CHUCK is definitely the show.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I agree about Chuck being a good test case. I think there could be some substantial savings by cutting the network and associated broadcast distribution, and advertising costs. I’d also say that a lot of production can be done far more cheaply than even a decade ago with HD cameras and editing software being within reach even for casual users. But sets, costuming, actors, stunts, and FX would still cost some money. I would love to see if a Chuck movie/webisode could be made of comparable quality to the TV show with a much reduced budget.

      • From 2007:

        Sanctuary cost $4.3mil in 2007 for the equivalent of 3 full-length episodes. It uses mostly green screen, which could save or lose money. It is also filmed in Canada, which saves money, and the producers (one of which was the lead actress) deferred salary.

        Things are a lot harder once sets and props disappear. My concern is the show would look like the actors we know and love performing a skit in front of home video cameras.

      • atcDave says:

        I certainly wouldn’t want to see anything less than Sanctuary. Some of the physical sets don’t need to be a big deal. They can really put Chuck and Sarah in any middle class home, there’s no need to rebuild the apartment, courtyard, Castle, or Buy More. In a lot of ways Chuck doesn’t need much, nothing about the main characters’ normal lives needs anything special or extravagant. But of course some time and money would need to be invested to make any adventure fun in the way we’re used to seeing. And you’re exactly right Jeff that becomes the essential issue, making the show look professional on a shoestring budget. Fortunately, that sort of thing is what has become more common in this day and age.

    • herder says:

      I don’t know that the economics will allow for a webisode or web movie in the next little while, but what I do see as being more likely is that if either Zach or Yvonne are in a sucessful series the other (or other cast members) show up for an episode or two as a guest star. Summer Glau was on Chuck with Adam Baldwin and I would expect Adam to show up on Castle with what’s-his-head, Melissa Gilbert was on Big Bang Theory with Johnny Galeki. If Zach’s new show takes off I could see Yvonne show up as an ex girlfriend, similarly if Yvonne goes back to TV, at some point Zach will have a guest appearance at some time.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        If Zach’s show is picked up he will most likely get an EP credit. From what I read in interviews he effectively acted as one on Chuck but turned the credit down to save money and to “not get ahead of himself” or some such sentiment since it was his first show as a lead. That his new comedy pilot even getting the pilot was contingent on him in the lead means a much bigger role for him if it gets picked up, and I guarantee he will do everything in his power to bring old friends and colleagues to the set.

      • atcDave says:

        I could easily see that happening herder. Even better, if they do another series together at some point (like S9 and S10 of SG-1!), but that would be very uncommon.

      • thinkling says:

        I would love to see them do something together again. Right now, I’m glad it’ll be a little while ’til they show up on something new. I need a little space before I can see them as other characters … too weird.

        By the time Zach’s new show airs, I’ll be fine.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t know though… As I understand it Zach is playing a married guy on his new show, of course I’m fine with that. But the more I think of it, I really might not like seeing Yvonne show up as an ex or something.

      • jason says:

        I think Yvonne showing up as an ex would be really, really funny. Chuck is over, it would be a blast to see them together, better an ex than brother and sister?

        I am not that excited about a Chuck movie, as someone pointed out, the show was called Chuck, and Sarah is pretty much not a concern, so much that it really didn’t matter if she remembered or not, the important part of the last scene was Chuck didn’t beg Sarah, he stood up for himself, and he let her choose, kind of like Daniel Shaw did in Mask / Fake Name lol!

        I would be really excited about a remake of the Thin Man starring Yvonne and Zac …. maybe a three movie series with real money budgets. Yvonne could use her own dog maybe to save a few pennies, but those two would absolutely knock such a project out of the park. If any aspiring young move exec’s are out there, pick up on this idea, it would rock!

      • thinkling says:

        Jason, I would love to see Zach and Yvonne do a married couple thing like Thin Man or even a more punched up, less syrupy H2H. They could pull off anything like that.

        I don’t think I want Yvonne as an ex, if Zach is married. I just don’t like that sort of thing, and it would be too weird. I would want to be able to root for them, because it’s them. But I would be totally against it. No thanks. I’d sooner go for sister or cousin or sister-in-law.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah family could work for me. Actually it depends on how outrageous the comedy is; if its slapstick or really wild I could see her as someone totally off her rocker and it might be fine. But if she’s too much like Sarah it could be tough to watch.

      • jason says:

        I am pretty sure Zac’s show is a straight up comedy, I would love for Yvonne to ruffle Zac’s feathers a little bit, either as an ex, or as a girl crushin on him. Zac, God bless his soul, pretty much acts as Zac when he acts, my guess is his new character will be pretty much the same guy as Chuck, so he will be easy to knock off his game, even while staying super duper loyal, which he will.

        My problem with his cousin or sister or sister in law is Sarah and Chuck really were too close to that line on the show Chuck anyhow, I don’t want to see that again. Plus, for you Castle fans, how fun is it to see Jennifer Beals ruffle Rick’s (and Kate’s) feathers? When done for comedy, not to make the fan base miserable, PLI’s are lots of fun, Yvonne would be awesome in such a capacity. She could even play a nerd, i.e. Jenny Burton like?

      • atcDave says:

        Sorry, I always dislike “PLIs”, including Jennifer Beals on Castle. To me it just means a wasted episode. I really wouldn’t want to seeYvonne do that on Zach’s new show.

      • For a show that claims not to want to repeat anything, we’ve seen four of Castle’s ex-es now (Meredith, Gina, Kyra, and Sophia) plus one OLI (Ellie Monroe) and one PLI (Selena). It’s getting old. From the sneak peeks and previews of the next episode, she’s treating him like crap and he doesn’t care. It might be funnier if Castle and Beckett were actually together, but I’m getting a feeling that is not going to happen until the season finale at the earliest. Then they’ll break up immediately as part of the cliffhanger because of the secrets coming out. It makes me glad Chuck was always under threat of cancellation. The next episode of Castle is #74. In Chuck, #74 was Family Volkoff, with the prenup misunderstanding. Castle and Beckett are years away from something like that.

        I just had a random thought about a Yvonne guest appearance on Zach’s new show. They could have a flashback episode to his bachelor party… Nah, that would be weird, too.

        Then again, most reappearances in new TV shows seem weird to me. Scott Bakula in Enterprise always seemed stiff because he was supposed to be Sam Beckett. The same in SG-1 for Ben Browder (vs. Farscape). Kesley Grammar’s new sitcoms didn’t work because he was Frasier (although I hear his new show is good). Tony Shalhoub is one of the few exception (Wings & Monk). Amanda Tapping’s accent in Sanctuary helps after SG-1, but it still is a little weird.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Jeff. I definitely need some space before I see them in something else. Anything else would seem really weird … for ZL and YS, not so much for any of the others. It would be better if they were together, but even that would be weird.

      • herder says:

        My thought would be to let her be his Australian ex-girlfriend, with her natural accent it would be removed enough from Chuck and Sarah to be ok but still great to see them on screen together again.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, the accent would help. For that matter she could pull off any number of accents.

      • BigKev67 says:

        I enjoy Castle for what it is, but it frustrates me too. The best eipsodes for me are the ones that touch on Johanna’s murder, or other episodes where we go deeper into the characters – Beckett’s PTSD and Espo’s sniper background in Killshot this season. And the actors – especially Stana – have the talent to carry those scenes. But the show just seems content to rinse and repeat most weeks, without stretching itself or its’ stories.
        For all of the pacing problems that Chuck sometimes had, I will always respect Fedak and the writers for having the balls to take some risks and actually move the stories and the characters along. I’d much rather see that than watch a show that seems happy to be on automatic pilot most weeks.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree with your Castle assessment BigKev. I still watch and enjoy, but it’s always a little meh. Castle lost some of its appeal for me after S2. It was time for the characters to progress and grow, and they didn’t. Rinse and repeat can only hold your attention for so long. I think SK is capable of more than the show gives her. Like you, it makes me appreciate Chuck all the more.

      • jason says:

        I am not a huge Castle shipper. I am fine if they never hook up, as long as the do a mission each week and tease the crap out of each other, and stay in trust with each other, even if just out of love’s reach. But for me, watching TV is all about delivery vs expectations.

        When I watch Fringe, I would be disappointed if they showrunner didn’t smash the co stars in the face with a frying pan as often as he could and call it drama. I really like the show Revenge, it is even twistier than Fringe, or lets say the show is very twisted. But when I watch Castle, that line is in a very, very different spot than Fringe, barely on the radar, hence I don’t like the Becket mother story at all, I just want a romp in the park each week. Chuck should have been written even with Castle, on that line that almost never goes dark, mean spirited, violent, sadistic or really serious of any kind, both shows are fundamentally fluff. Unfortunately, Fedak never got my memo that his show is fluffy, and every time he tried for substance, he failed miserably. That is of course other than season 2, when it turned out Scott Bakula and Chevy Chase delivered remarkable portrayals of dark and fluffy at the same time with a script that was at least not completely ludicrous that simultaneously satisfied the fluffy crowd as well as the mythology / canon crowd. Chuck never really found that sweet spot ever again, season 5 came the closest, until Fedak delivered the love letter from Hell for the final two episodes.

        Of course, this is all just my opinion.

      • herder says:

        So does he play cop-face (one of the better gags on the show) or more of a Jayne type character.

      • thinkling says:

        Or he could be a bad guy … muah

      • It sounds like he plays a cop who works in grey areas. A lot of cops on Castle have been dirty or at least not completely clean (Montgomery, Raglan & McAllister, Officer Hastings aka Lone Vengeance, Mike Royce, Holliwell from Den of Thieves, and I think one more). So, Casey might be a bad guy. The new captain worked IA, so they might be looking for a chance for her to come down hard on a bad cop.

        Adam Baldwin played a bad FBI agent in Bones, so it’s not much of a casting stretch.

    • Gord says:

      I think if we ever got movies/webisodes or any other media continuation of the story, it would have to start with Chuck and Sarah living in their dream home with a family or plans to have one.

      Buy More would be gone, but the characters could still make an appearance. After all Big Mike is Morgan’s step dad, and Jeffster could be in LA for a concert. Casey and Gertrude could come back to help out the team as well. Of course if Chuck and Sarah have family, Casey will be their godfather. No one’s going to mess with your kids when Casey is the godfather.

      Of course Gen B will always be there when the team needs her ( or she needs them). Heck she might even be the god mother to little Chuck and Sarah.

      Imagine that – the intersect and superspy Sarah Walker are your parents, Casey is your godfather and Gen B is your godmother. You are the best protected kids on the planet. :LOL

      Some thoughts I had for possible storylines in a movie
      – Gen B is kidnapped, Roan comes to Chuck and Sarah for help.
      -Chuck and Sarah are getting ready for the Morgan/Alex and/or Casey/Gertrude wedding when bad guys show up.
      – Back in Chicago, Ellie and Awesome end up accidentally mixed up with some bad guys – maybe some Chicago mob boss has a sick son and he kidnaps the Woodcombs to save him.

      The point is there are many scenarios they could use to bring Chuck and Sarah out of retirement, because we know when friends or family are in trouble, Chuck will do everything in his power to help them.

      • atcDave says:

        I think any of those story hooks could work Gord. The biggest issue for later content will be who they can actually get. This is so often an issue on reunion type productions. As I’ve said before, Zach and Yvonne is the absolute minimum. If they had to, it could just be them trying to protect their kids. Any other cast members available would be pure bonus. If we can believe the closeness of those friendships we saw I think there’s a good chance others would make time for it!

      • thinkling says:

        I like those, too, Gord. There are so many possibilities. I love the idea of Chuck and Sarah and kids juggling their top secret work for the government/president (even if it’s mostly cyber stuff or not so life-threatening) with suburban/normal/school life.

        The way they ended the series, they have no set requirements at all. The front of the house and the rooms in the house are minimal. They’ve had pretty good practice at shooting on a budget.

        Gotta be Zach and Yvonne. But it would be a short project, so I bet the others would try to clear their schedule. I would love to see something develop into a few a year, with a new format (new tech company, normal life, special assignments … Thin Man or Undercover Blues style, whatever) … kind of like Columbo or Jane Doe, of Mystery Woman. Of course that’s more of a long shot than me winning the lottery at this point, and I never buy lottery tickets, so …

  18. garnet says:

    I agree with your concerns, but I’d also comment that Canadian shows don’t necessarily mean low budget or low quality. Many shows have shot in Canada including some McGiver, Andromeda,V, Flashpoint Warehouse 13 etc.. We have also provided some great talent to various shows (Vic for one current example as well as Nate and Stana from Castle) So I don’t know that you would have to worry too much about quality in the unlikely event that CHUCK comes to Canada 😉 Chuck vs. Canada hmmm… has a ring to it,

    Palm Trees are a problem as not even Vancouver looks that much like LA.

    • atcDave says:

      No reason the think Chuck and Sarah have to stay in LA either! Maybe they decide to escape civilization and flee to Vancouver (sorry, kidding!)

    • Sorry, I never meant to imply shows from Canada are low quality. A lot of quality shows I like were produced in Canada: Stargate, some seasons of X-Files, Highlander, Dark Angel, Smallville, Once Upon a Time, Eureka, and Covert Affairs. I meant Vancouver is less expensive than LA, which is why Sanctuary was “only” $4.3 instead of more. Many of the shows you and I listed might have been high budget, but they would have been higher in LA, simply because the cost of living is higher. I think NYC is even higher, which is why Castle is filmed in LA, even though it is set in NYC.

      Separately… I’m concerned about quality no matter where it is filmed. Sanctuary’s webisodes were high quality because they were trying to pitch a new series. However if Chuck is testing what can be done by minimizing the budget for webisodes, the quality might suffer.

  19. herder says:

    Lovely post thinkling, it feels so comfortable. I notice that you couldn’t help add what so many of us wanted, just a few more seconds to complete that last scene on the beach.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks Herder. All that’s missing is a cup of tea. Yes, as content as I was to think of them kissing on the beach for a long time, I just had to get them home.

      • herder says:

        Funny, I was brewing a cup of tea when I read this earlier this evening. Really what you wrote made me feel very comfortable with both episodes and that has not always been the case, congradulations.

      • thinkling says:


  20. Gord says:

    I loved the ending from the finale, but now after reading your analysis I love it even more. I think you really hit the nail on the head.

    My interpretation of Sarah asking Chuck for that kiss on the beach wasn’t so much about desperation to try anything to get her memories back, as an acknowledgement that after Chuck told her their story she knew that regardless of having all her memories back or not that she loved him. For me the message was no matter what obstacles were put in their path that their love for each other would conquer all.

    Nicely done.
    By the way, I have finally gotten to that final stage of grief when it comes to Chuck – Acceptance. I would love for there to be a Chuck movie or two (or ten) in the future but if that finale was the real end of Chuck at least I am left with fond memories, and my own imagination to complete the story.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks, Gord. … I think I’m still sort of in shock that it’s over, but what a series. What a love. They are old friends that I will enjoy revisiting often.

  21. garnet says:

    Sarah Walker wouldn’t have kissed Chuck unless she really felt something for him. Sarah Bartowski loves Chuckand would kiss him in a heartbeat. Either way it shows the emotional reconnection has been made.

    The episode really emphasized two things the effect emotions can have on memory and the “magic kiss”. the time spent on these two issues has to indicate just how important they are to the plot. Much like characters in a murder mystery, you don’t introduce a character unless s/he has some role to play. These were IMPORTANT.
    Ok there were 3 things, the final thing they repeatedly brought up was Chuck trying to get Sarah to listen to “their story”. On the beach Sarah finally accepts Chuck’s emotional request for her to trust him, and in trusting him she accepts “our” story. She needs to hear it to start the emotional connection, and she needs sthe kiss to cement it. After 20 days and at least the same number of times viewing the video log/beach scenes and several complete rewatches I can accept that this is a happy ending even without the editorial comments from Fedak. I can still WANT a clearer ending but I can accept that only an ending like this woud have people taking/writing about it 3 week after the fact.
    I certainly agree with those that have suggested that the last 2.5 episodes play like a movie, and I think overall a pretty good one.

    If there is any continuation of CHUCK is any way shape or form, I suspect a big part of it will be because of this ending.

    • thinkling says:

      I agree with this Garnet. Ellie told us that the emotional connection would cause her to remember, and Morgan repeatedly told us the kiss would work. Morgan had to say it more often, because he’s not a doctor/neurologist. 😉 And Sarah definitely wouldn’t kiss Chuck on a whim or out of desperation. But I think it was Sarah Bartowski who kissed him. even though she still doesn’t have all the memories, I think she was herself. Their story brought her back.

  22. garnet says:

    Actually they should have had Awesome get his two cents in, He is supposed to be the “heart doctor”.

  23. Duane says:

    Another great reflection Thinkling! There really are not enough superlatives to describe your analysis of the finale. I would love to read a copy of the script of the last episode. My guess is that your take would be very similar to the intent revealed in the directions to the actors. Like many others who have commented here, I’m also in a much better place with the story and particularly the ending.

    Maybe I’m guilty of over analyzing; however, one tiny little note on the beach scene doesn’t seem to fit for me. After Chuck spills his heart to Sarah, telling her that he will always be there for her, Sarah sighs heavily, not really a sigh of relief, perhaps one of heaviness or of being perplexed. The scene then cuts to Sarah asking Chuck to tell her their story. If Sarah has been needing Chuck to invite her and to help her back into their world, then her reaction to Chuck’s words at that point ought to be a bit more … warm? I guess it all depends upon the interpretation of the sigh. For me, there seems to be a bit of an abrupt tone shift from the sigh to the question of their story. Yvonne always plays Sarah’s notes pitch perfect so I’m wondering if I’m not getting it here. Just wondering if that moment on the beach scene worked for you or not?

    • thinkling says:

      Hey Duane, and thanks. I’m glad you’re in a better place with the story.

      That is a deep sigh, and yes I have thought about it. This is my best guess on it. I think it’s desire warring with fear. Chuck has just handed her a life line, the promise to help her and always be there for her. It’s all she needs to take that step forward … to take a chance … to trust. It’s a watershed moment, and she’s so vulnerable. She wants him and she wants her life back, but she’s also afraid. In that sigh I hear the weight of the moment. I also see her vulnerability beginning to crumble. It’s a big step, and once she takes it, there’s no going back. I think it’s a more realistic and honest “sigh” than a happier moe relieved type sigh would’ve been. One last pause before taking a pretty big leap. My 2c anyway.

      • phaseou812 says:

        To piggy back on what Thinkling said regarding the “sigh” . . . although I do believe it was a victim of the “cutting” and “slicing” of dialog of the final product as well regarding the tone . . . Thinking’s observation makes sense to me. Especially from the perspective as Sarah analyzes her own situation. The one thing that sticks with me, is earlier in the castle, after being provided with the evidence of her relationship with Chuck, her comment was . . . and I am certainly paraphrasing as I do not remember it verbatim but: “I don’t know if I can be the woman that you fell in love with” . . . which is greatly disturbing for her.
        As we shift to the beach . . . she already knows that Chuck has taken a bullet for her, literally, and obviously loves her . . . but the reassurance of his dialogue on the beach suggests a sigh that represents “okay, he loves me regardless of me . . . on my good days/bad days . . . with no false pretense of having to be a certain way . . . so I am going to give in and go against my current logic, and trust him with the vulnerability of exposing myself to him from an emotional perspective.” Based on the Sarah we were lead to believe existed before her Buymore days . . . that would be something that she would not be willing to do for anyone . . . family included . . . as early on she had learned to protect her feelings, thoughts, intentions and emotions from everyone, as they were her greatest perceived liability. So I take that “sigh” as I am willing to take this risk.

        Don’t know if that makes sense but that is my perspective.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah Phase, she wants it, but it’s a risk, a big step … a step she is one watery sigh away from taking.

      • Duane says:

        Yes, Thinkling, that’s it! A little Sarah-empathy makes it a lot clearer. With the life line, Chuck has forced Sarah into a moment of decision, which was delayed throughout the episode as Sarah’s thinking changed with each experience with Chuck. Now was, perhaps, her only chance to leap forward. If she didn’t take it now, she maybe would never have another opportunity as Chuck may not press her ever again. In that sense, it is “more realistic and honest”. With the whirlwind over the previous few weeks, Sarah has had a lot to process. Anyone would be confused in that situation and anyone would probably be astounded and afraid in the moment that Sarah now faced. At first, I understood the sigh as being a bit of a rejection of the moment, but now it makes sense!

        Garnet, I also agree that if we could see the situation in real time, Chuck and Sarah might have sat in silence a lot longer before Sarah’s query about their story, time the program did not have at that point. There would have been better flow then. I also wonder how much Yvonne’s and Zach’s state of mind impacted what the editors had to work with. With both of them struggling, the best cut might have been with a sigh that seemed a little too jarring.

      • thinkling says:

        Sarah’s sigh and her taking a big step forward. Though I see more behind it than Kev does, I do agree that Sarah has reached some conclusions and decided to act on them. The sigh comes between knowing and acting. It’s a heavy sigh, because of all that’s going on inside her.

        I hadn’t really thought of the parallel before now, but Kev made me think about it when he said her request to hear their story didn’t sound like someone in love. What’s Sarah’s MO for expressing herself? Initially she was very timid about expressing love, and a decision usually precipitated expressions of emotion (unless there’s a bomb about to go off). The parallel scene that popped into my mind, though, is the DYLM moment in Other Guy. Even in Other Guy, Sarah pauses significantly, on the verge of a sigh (twice), before deciding to admit her love. In OG, the question is about love. On the beach, Chuck has asked for trust. Sarah’s situation is emotionally and internally (on every level, really) much more complex, so there comes that heavy sigh that precedes her decision to trust and to not just hear but be a part of their story again. Even S5 Sarah still thinks things through, but then she can’t wait to tell Chuck about it, like the end of Baby and the scenes in Bo.

        Duane mentioned Sarah empathy, which is the driving motivation of this post. It’s something I’ve come to feel throughout the finale, Chuck’s love is powerful. Sarah’s struggle is poignant. Those are the two halves of the heart of story that come together and become one again on the beach

    • garnet says:

      I think that it is likely more a problem with the cut than with Sarah/Yvonne. I have noticed it as well, and I find it slightly jarring. There is the heavy sigh, cut, and we see Chuck/Sarah staring out at the ocean and a rather abrupt “Chuck, Tell me our story”. It doesn’t flow quite as nicely as I would like, but it may be Sarah’s way. once she makes a decision she acts.

      • thinkling says:

        Right Garnet, I think the cut may have something to do with the abrupt feel. The sigh makes sense to me, though.

      • jason says:

        When watching live, I was watching how real life Yvonne’s emotions were bleeding thru into the scene. That sigh then break in the action scene probably was broke up because of Yvonne’s reaction. The laugh & wipe the tears scene I read was actual real life Zac cheering Yvonne up. Plus I read later it was really cold that day, I think the combo made the scene much more uncomfortable than the team had planned.

        One thing about the ‘tell me OUR story line’. From the tapes Casey provided, Sarah saw HER side of the story, which caused her to ‘believe but not feel’. I think the last scene was meant to supply the second half to the equation – ‘OUR story’, showing us her ‘feeling’ the love finally – it just didn’t quite work. I am a sap when it comes to TV, and that last scene did not move me, mostly left me ‘UN-satisfied’

      • BigKev67 says:

        Her “Chuck, tell me our story”, sounded a little abrupt to me. Not the soft tenor of someone in love, but more like someone who has made a momentous decision and has decided to take action on it. Clearly Sarah becomes softer as Chuck tells the story and the memories, implied or otherwise, stir her. But my impression of the kiss is a mixture of hope and enquiry on Sarah’s part, rather than anything more definite. I don’t think Sarah Bartowski is back at that point – but she’s decided that she wants to be back, she wants to be Sarah Bartowski again, and everything flows from there given time.

      • Paul says:

        I took that sigh as Sarah’s “tell” when she made up her mind about something. You see something similar in “Other Guy” when she decides to say spill the beans and answer Chuck’s question.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah Paul, that’s the scene I thought of, too. She actually heaves 2 sighs before she says yes.

      • Duane says:

        Reply to Jason’s post a couple of posts below:
        If what we saw in the final montage on the beach was more the personal reaction of Zach and Yvonne dealing with the cold and their own emotions, I wonder what reactions the script originally called for there. For interpretation purposes, this is one of the most crucial moments with a lot riding on this moment. Did the actors give the director and editors what they wanted or did they change their storytelling a bit based on what was delivered? Curious isn’t it!

      • Duane says:

        Sorry, I’m referring to Jason’s post above!

      • From:
        What was Chuck’s growth from the nerd we knew into who he is now?
        Schwartz: When he’s walking on the beach with Sarah that you see at the end, that he’s the guy in control, he’s the guy in charge. How strong he’s become and how he’s capable, what did you say Chris? About holding it together?
        Fedak: Yeah, holding it together. It’s funny. He’s gone from the gangly guy to a guy who could become a CIA spy, but also still retain that kind of Chuckness. The fact that he’s a regular guy, he’s not going to shoot somebody in the back. But the other thing about that ending is that in the final moments of the show, it’s the emotional toughness. Chuck is there and he’s not telling Sarah, remember me, please remember me, he’s not crying, he’s not pleading with her. He’s just telling her that it’s going to be OK, that he’s going to help her. He’s there however she needs him. That was a big moment. Zach and Yvonne knew exactly what they were doing. We’ve been doing this for five years now. We talked about it for a second, and he knew this was the maturation moment. This was something totally internal and was Chuck being a real husband.

        Of course producers aren’t going to throw their actors or wardrobe department under the bus and say they couldn’t do their job because of the weather.

        In a Yvonne interview somewhere, she talked about how those were real tears.

    • Charah says:

      I like all the various thoughts on the “sigh”. Another fine piece of acting from Yvonne. To me it looked like the kind of breath you take after not realizing you’ve been holding it in a while. When Chuck starts talking Sarah immediately gets emotional. Then as it builds (“I don’t want anything from you…”someone you can call…whenever”) she’s so taken by his honesty and love that she’s on the verge of tears, using everything she’s got to hold it in and forgets to breathe. When he finally tells her with all his heart “Trust me, Sarah…I’m here for you always”, she loses it and has to exhale and sigh to compose herself 🙂

  24. garnet says:

    I was thinking overnight, and I wonder if this rather “high art” form of ending was Fedak’s attempt to elevate Chuck beyond what we have ordinalrily seen. By that I mean, we have always had that “little show that could” mentality. Perhaps, in his way, he was showing us and casual viewers that CHUCK was more than a piece of fluff. It did more than cause us to laugh for a few minutes. And instead of being just another mindless show, there was something “real” to it. There was always a Romeo and Juliet type feel to CHUCK;Two star-crossed lovers who would do anything to be together.

    The finale takes it beyond the simple Hollywood ending and gives us something with lasting impact. After all, its Day 21 and we are still discussing CHUCK. How many other shows have any of you spent this much time thinking about, writing about, and discussing this long after the finale. I know the answer for me is none.

    Whatever happens, as far as a movie/webisode etc., I expect that when the dust settles we will see that CHUCK will make a lasting impression on the TV landscape. I know I will always remember CHUCK and the family it created.

  25. uplink2 says:

    Beautifully written as always Think. I always love your perspective on things.

    I want to make a suggestion to everyone out there to read a chapter of FF on this final scene. A new writer to the Chuck world Anti-Kryptonite has written two stories that show the deep inner meanings of iconic scenes from each season. 1 story from Sarah’s POV and the other from Chuck’s. Both stories are fantastic. Brilliant writing and IMO the best new writer in the Chuck realm right now. But I have to highlight the final chapter from Sarah’s POV that was posted this morning. It is the beach scene and my god it is brilliant. It really has given me an even greater appreciation of that amazing scene and this writers take on the beauty they see in that moment.

    I don’t think I’m overdoing it in just how well done it is at least for me. Give it a read. It helped me a great deal.

    • TomM says:

      Uplink, I read the stories this morning and they are beautifully written. As you say the last chapter of Silhouette is particularly well done. The ending of the story, I think, is vague about whether Sarah gets her memories back. But, it doesn’t really matter because she knows that she loves him. I have to say that I was not happy with the last two episodes of Chuck and was ambivalent about the ending that TPTB gave us. Reading this story made me feel better.

  26. thinkling says:

    Chuck has definitely had its effect on us. I can’t quit thinking and writing about it, and Faith can’t quit pouring her heart into videos about it. Check out another of Faith’s videos inspired by the finale, Chuck and Sarah — I Won’t Give Up

    • Esardi says:

      Faith I want to thank you. You are not only a dedicated fan but your positive reinforcement has turned a highly negative reviewer of the last episode to your way of thinking.

      Do I still think I would have preferred a more visual conformation that Chuck and Sarah would be alright, sure I do. However, your positive feedback and that of Thinks’ has finally convinced me that in the end Chuck and Sarah got their happily ever after.

      Do not ever stop being who you are Faith. We need people like you to see the light at the end of the tunnel; it will prevent doubters like me from jumping off a perfectly good ship.

      • BigKev67 says:

        Perfectly put. I wasn’t quite as down on the ending as you, but it was probably only marginal, at least at first. Faith, Thinkling, several posters on the site, and many great people on twitter have performed a real service for me (and others in the fandom) over the last 2 or 3 weeks, and I’m very grateful. There are still some out there who aren’t reconciled yet – hopefully time will make things better for them, as it did for me.
        At some point – a few months down the line – it’ll be interesting to pose the same question that we did at the end of “Other Guy” – was the pay off really worth the trouble? Thanks to Faith, Thinkling and others, that question has at least a fighting chance of being answered in the positive.

      • Faith says:

        I really, truly appreciate that Esardi. I say it without affectation that we are a community and that’s what we do so I’m really glad that I was able to help you in any way possible. Kev, you too. From the bottom of my heart thank you for the kind words.

    • phaseou812 says:

      Another great video by Faith . . . although it has to be a labor of love to put these videos together . . . it sure is nice to experience the finished product of that labor.

  27. ww1posterfan says:

    Well, I’ve done some basic research on memory, memory recall, and amnesia. This will be a long post, so get comfy. From this research I have formulated a theory about how the “rotten” intersect “stole” Sarah’s memories. Additionally, the way Fedak portrayed her memory restoration is actually very plausible. I’m sure that wasn’t by design, but, rather happenstance. Regardless, knowing their is some basis in scientific fact that Sarah’s character will indeed get her memories back comforts me.

    This is really condensed, so forgive me if it seems to take a very complex subject and water it down too much. At its most basic level, memory can be divided into short term and long term. We are concerned with Sarah’s long term memory. Long term memory is further divided into declarative (“knowing what”) and procedural (“knowing how”). What’s fascinating is that both of these types of memory are stored in different parts of the brain. Furthermore, declarative is subdivided into episodic (events) and semantic (general knowledge of facts, etc.) Again, these types of memory are stored in different parts of the brain. Let’s take an event. The brain breaks it down into its 3 primary elements: sensory (light or dark, hot or cold, etc.), emotions (fear, love, anxiety), and the context (location, participants, etc.) These 3 elements are encoded in those areas of the brain responsible for them (amygdala e.g. for emotions) and then consolidated/stored in other areas of the brain. Encoding creates the memory trace and consolidation strengthens the pattern of neural activity representing the trace, i.e. the pattern is initiated multple times. The brain also creates “backups” of the encoded date creating these vast neural networks. In essence, you might have enough encoded and consolidated neurons to have the equivalent of 3 back up copies of each memory. In memory recall, the brain re-creates the firing of those synapses between the neurons in the neural networks to bring the event back to life. The more emotion present during an event, the stronger the consolidation. A few more points. Research points to the brain’s ability for essentially infinite data and indefinite storage, i.e. you never lose your long term memory unless actual portions of the brain are removed or physically damaged via lack of oxygen, etc. The issue is typically a problem with the ability to “re-fire” the synapses to bring the memory forward. Lastly, “lessons learned” in episodic memory will get converted to semantic memory, and, therefore stored again in yet another area of the brain.

    This brings me to a potential theory of how Quinn used the Intersect to damage Sarah and why I am certain in my own mind that all of Sarah’s memories will return, other than Fedak telling us so. As I said, I have not seen the episode in its entirety, but when Quinn is getting ready to show Sarah the flash cards he mentions a suppression device. I believe the “rotten” Intersect had a built-in self-destruct of sorts. The Intersect is primarily loaded into the semantic memory portions of the brain and set to trigger a “flash” when something is recognized. Overtime, this Intersect becomes more and more unstable impacted by the host’s brain chemical reactions to the high level of energy released (like Chuck’s headaches requiring the govenor) during flash. In this case, after a flash, instead of sending the implanted Intersect memory/data back to semantic memory, it attempts to write itself into episodic with the attendant brain wave surge damaging/short-circuiting/weakening existing synapses/memory traces. Since the flash memory trace isn’t in the right format, it never gets re-consolidated and is essentially forgotten. The most recent memories are the weakest since they have not been consolidated as much as older memories. Thus, with each flash a memory synapse is damaged going back in time from most recent to however long he tortured her. Men’s and women’s brain chemistry do diifer slightly, so the Intersect behaving differently in her than with Morgan is totally plausible.

    I think this theory works well. It leaves her procedural memory alone which is why she can remember all of her spy skills, etc. and gives an explanation as to why Sarah could never pull the trigger on Chuck in vs. Sarah. Sarah still has all the emotions surrounding her love of Chuck. She just can’t directly access them, but they are there. Ellie’s advice to Chuck to trigger the emotions is spot on because the emotion is what strengthens the consolidation of the memory and has the greatest chance of intiating a synaptic re-route if you will. Again, in documented amnesic cases the older memories tend to return first. Also, returning to familiar places does “prime” the recall process. E.g. in Wienerlicious Berlin, Sarah has a recall of some semantic memory of how the cups should be arranged, but she was also starting to connect with some episodic memory right as she and Chuck entered the restuarant. She absolutely despised working at the Wienerlicious and said so during vs. the Wookie. The first thing out of Sarah’s mouth is “this place is disgusting” and she is clearly agitated at being there. Of course, the next big recollection is in the concert hall. “What about Irene Demova?” This is huge because I don’t think it is possible to pull that out without a complete recollection of the entire memory and we all know Sarah had already fallen for Chuck by her own admission in vs. the Other Guy by that point in the pilot. It’s also telling that the very next place Sarah goes to of her own volition is the beach that Chuck went to after defusing the bomb with Irene Demova in vs. Pilot. Sarah’s brain is rewiring itself. As she regains her memory it will have a cascading affect and I believe it will only take a few months for it to re-wire itself. The trick was getting Sarah to stay and allow Chuck to assist her in that journey. By asking Chuck to “tell me our story”, Sarah let me know she’s vested in getting her memories back which by extension means her life with Chuck back. By asking Chuck to “kiss me”, she let me know just how quickly she wants it to happen.

    While I know the writers did not probably ever research memory and amnesia and the items I point out are there by chance and not story-telling design, it still comforted me knowing there was indeed a basis in scientific fact as to how we were interpreting the story and the inference Sarah ould get her memories back. This elimnated that particular ambiguity for me. Your epilogue/prologue analsysis reconciled Sarah’s “distance” for me as she took her emotional journey.

    • atcDave says:

      Interesting stuff. I think Faith touched on some of this a couple weeks back, but your even more detailed explanation is fascinating, thanks!

      • atcDave says:

        Oh one thing I think we often understate, is the importance of that last castle scene. Sarah had already turned down Beckman’s job offer. So when we consider her past claims about being “nothing but a spy” without Chuck, I think it makes a pretty strong case for her desire to reclaim that life with Chuck. NOT the spy life. So I do agree, that while on first viewing I thought the idea of Sarah running off to rejoin the agency was a risk, after later viewings I do not. Combining that with your research on returning memories, I think it’s highly unlikely Sarah would ever return to the spy field or abandon Chuck ever again.

    • thinkling says:

      Bravo. And thank you. I didn’t do all the research, so my knowledge is paltry compared to yours, though I’m familiar with bits and pieces of it. I did figure that emotions and sensory triggers would be a back door of sorts into her memories. That’s also why the kiss isn’t such a bad idea as a memory restorative, in that it is both sensory and emotional and would likely trigger emotional events, like the wedding, etc, hence the memories I chose for her to remember in my kiss scenario.

      You’re Intersect theory is fascinating. Very cool. We do know from Ellie’s testing Morgan in Bullet Train that he showed no permanent neurological damage, so there’s no reason that the memories shouldn’t come back with time and the right triggers.

      The most important things for her to remember would be the memories with emotional context with Chuck, which because of the consolidating, will probably come first any way. They would be like the foundation for all the rest of it. Like you said, her emotions and love for Chuck are still in there. We could see signs of that early on, and then as she spent time with Chuck, they surfaced even more. I think most of that was restored by the time they left the beach, first with his telling their story. You could see the emotional connection. Then the kiss would only add to it. With photos and videos and home and Chuck, the rest are sure to follow quickly … like you said a cascading effect. Really fascinating and so encouraging. It is comforting to know that there are legitimate reasons to believe that Sarah will absolutely get her memory back Thanks!

      • atcDave says:

        I’d add to that Sarah’s entire support system would point her back to Chuck; her parents and friends. We know she was a bit of a loner (!), but even so, Emma, Jack, Carina all know Sarah was happy with Chuck. So even the things she knew before would point her right back home.

      • thinkling says:

        True, Dave. At this point they will be great confirmation and support for her. It’s a lot of fun to imagine how some of the recall will play out and some of her encounters with people over the next couple of months. I still wish we got to see some of it for real, though.

      • atcDave says:

        No doubt.

        My wife and I just saw The Vow tonight. Okay movie; but funny thing. apart from a similar set-up (5 year memory loss) I’d also mark it down for a similar complaint with the resolution, too abrupt. Although, they at least had the decency to include two sentences about the “real” couple the story is based on, which serves as a sort of epilogue.

      • Faith says:

        Dave, though I was fangirling up and down the theatre, I have to agree. I felt then and I feel now that I much prefer Chuck’s version of essentially the same theme…but I may or may not be biased lol. Still, I loved the movie. There’s this line where he talks about reading a book that just hits home.

    • Faith says:

      Very informative, ww1posterfan. I tried to keep it less technical for my part and still convey the same sentiment so kudos for going full blown on just research.

      It’s funny I actually had this conversation with a couple of psychology major/doctorate pals and we’re all fairly confident because of what we know or learned. For once lol.

      Here are more fascinating stuff about memory (mostly dealing with PTSD but they also talk about all memory and how it consolidates).

      • ww1posterfan says:

        Awesome article! This topic is now a new interest of mine. Thank you to all of you for your comments and compliments. The research was a totally selfish endeavor. For some reason, this show and its ending profoundly affected me…and I’m a pretty stoic individual. I just loved the characters of Chuck and Sarah and wanted their ending to be the future for which they had planned and dreamed. I wanted the good guy (and gal) to have it all. After 2 weeks I’m finally starting to feel at ease that they have.

      • thinkling says:

        Welcome to the community of the profoundly affected 🙂

        I had trouble reconciling the two sets of research. The second article seemed to contradict some of the above information about consolidation. I know the procedure/chemicals target the emotional aspect of memories, but does the re-consolidating research negate the multiple backup theory, or just the reconsolidation of the emotional aspect of it?

      • ww1posterfan says:

        I don’t think it negates it per se. What I took from the article was that the protein inhibitor was able to target specific components of the memory (in this example pain) and “erased” it by preventing the reconsolidation after the memory is recalled, specifically in rats. We would therefore have to assume that rats consolidate and store memory identically to humans. They may not. I doubt their neural networks are as vast as ours. Also, in order to completely erase a memory it would assume that when a human remembers that all instances of the memory components are pulled simultaneously. This will be extremely interesting to follow as they start doing more testing on humans. I know they are certain of the redundancy given the brain does not generate new cells like other organs of the body, so redundancy is an evolutionary must. Lastly, physical pain and emotional pain would be stored in different areas of the brain. Lastly, the emotional pain associated with an event, if the event were to occur over and over again, would ultimately get assimilated into semantic memory as a lesson learned….like always read your contract, or don’t talk to strangers, etc. The phantom pain associated with a limb is a totally different type of memory. I think this is why the researcher feels the first breakthroughs will be made there. I have included the link to my research –it’s an easy read and only takes a few hours: human-memory.

      • Faith says:

        Thinkling, Propranolol specifically only affects the emotional aspect of traumatic memory. The subjects remember what they felt but they’re no longer intensely affected by them. But they can still recite and detail what happened and how they felt then and still feels.

        So short answer, no. It doesn’t negate the multiple backup theory, it just lessens the intensity of the emotional aspect of traumatic memory.

      • thinkling says:

        Thanks. That clears it up for me. I was thinking as I read, that rat brains would obviously be different from humans, not to mention human consciousness (that rats don’t have) which, though integrated in some way, is not merely a function of the brain. Interesting stuff. Thanks for the links, I’ll read them a bit later. (I’ve make it a clickable link, easier to follow).

  28. Heather says:

    I’m sorry, but I still don’t buy it. You can try to re-envision the finale any way you want, but it still remains that it didn’t give the viewers the closure they deserved. It wasn’t a happy ending. Sure, it could have been an even worse ending, but that still doesn’t make what we saw on the screen ‘happy.’ The writers let us down on this one.

    • atcDave says:

      While I would agree what we saw on screen was inadequate, I think its been objectively shown that it was meant to be “happy” ending. That is, even though it felt uncertain and melancholy on initial viewing; comments from writers, actors, and the internal clues in the story all indicate Sarah was regaining her memory and all would be well for Chuck and Sarah at some point in time. The only intended ambiguity (per Chris Fedak, the writer) was in what sort of time frame.
      Now I do agree I don’t like that either, I certainly wanted a more substantial pay-off for the end of a five year journey; but it was clearly intended to show Chuck and Sarah were all right. Whether the “magic kiss” worked or it took several weeks or months for Sarah to completely regain her memories is really the only question. And no doubt you can imagine all the additional difficulties or tragedy you wish, but what we saw on screen was meant to be an indicator that all was well, or soon would be.

      I do hope the extended director’s cut of 5.13 will make that even more clear. Possibly some more clues scattered through the episode that Sarah is remembering things and falling in love with Chuck all over (per both Fedak and Yvonne Strahovski that WAS the intent of the episode). But even without additional clues, the evidence is there, even if it is too understated for my taste.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        You see, this is where I don’t get it. The bulk of the reasonong behind it being a happy ending is based on interviews not on what was presented on screen (we’ll agree to disagree on “presented on screen” point). And yes, I refuse to let CF tell me what to think.

        The finale started in Sarah’s old bedroom and ended on the beach. ANY interviews mean nothing as to intent. As presented, on screen, it is a tragic story of love lost and MAYBE regained.

        It doesn’t matter what they intended, it only matters what I think they did.

      • atcDave says:

        Wow, I completely don’t get that. The return of Sarah’s memories is on screen and interviews confirm it. You’re taking an extraordinarily narrow view of canon. Much writing, from Gilgamesh to Lord of the Rings can be better understood through careful examination. I would agree that on a television show it shouldn’t be necessary, but when a point is ambiguous or poorly understood a more in depth analysis is completely appropriate. And at no point is a negative interpretation warranted. As WW1 was commenting above, even the “magic kiss” is a reasonable fix for the problem.

        You’re always allowed to not like the episode; but you’re letting that dislike turn into a pessimism that is not reasonable. And seriously it is not, you can’t find a single thing on screen to defend it. Even if you ignore all the evidence that Sarah’s memories were returning we’re still left with a Sarah who fell in love with Chuck in the course of the original Pilot, and seemed to have followed in her own footsteps for the finale.

        Sarah was no doubt violated and deeply harmed by Quinn’s actions. The “ambiguous” part of the ending is that we can never know if she got all her memories back and how long her healing took. But we did see her start that healing on the beach.

    • Carlos says:

      Exactly. All these elaborate detailed explanations by people trying to talk themselves and others into thinking the ending was happy leave me unconvinced. The show really should have ended with the wedding at the end of season 4. Deliberately choosing a storyline for the final episodes that was not resolved properly and which would split the small remaining fanbase was a moronic decision by Fedak and Schwartz.

      • atcDave says:

        I think the moronic part may be too harsh; but I’d say disrespectful and ill-conceived to those who fought so hard for this show. But there’s no “talking ourselves into…” it. The evidence is there if honestly examined. The problem is that it was poorly presented enough that it left a number of us unconvinced. We shouldn’t have to launch an investigation to determine how the show ended.

      • Faith says:

        That goes both ways you know. If we are “trying to convince ourselves,” then you are refusing to see what’s there. I for one didn’t create scenes of Sarah returning out of thin air but I understand that the reactions to them are subjective, not an interpretation per say but a subjective perspective.

      • thinkling says:

        True, Faith. Actually, though, I think a lot of Sarah’s return is quite objective. I like that they showed us Sarah returning, instead of putting it in the dialogue Straightening his tie and rearranging the Wienerliscious cups has to be shown. There’s really nothing ambiguous about those scenes. There are several other scenes where Sarah practically tells us she is remembering something: the carving in the door frame, the bell in the Buymore, and Irene Demova. In these cases, she gave us either outright verbal confirmation of a memory or a verbal cue of familiarity. Very little interpretation or subjectivity needed to know that Sarah is returning.

      • atcDave says:

        I’d also add Sarah was lying at the fountain scene. I do believe she simply didn’t know yet how to process what she’d just been through, and what she was feeling. But we saw her watching her video logs, she clearly WAS feeling it. She lied to Chuck because she didn’t know what to do. Her statement in castle (“I don’t know how to be that person”) is probably more accurate. But remember Sarah of five years ago was quite “truth challenged”. So coming to grips with truth was just one more thing she had to catch up with.

      • thinkling says:

        That’s true Dave. There was always so much more to Sarah than what she was saying. We’ve become accustomed to the forthright Sarah of S5, but it was not always thus. Yvonne layered the truth challenged girl of S1 and S2 with some of Sarah Bartowski’s softness and willingness to come and talk about it, when she didn’t have to. Remember S1 Sarah was duty bound to maintain that asset-handler balance.

      • Faith says:

        There isn’t a doubt in my mind that she was lying, mostly to herself in that scene. And I think she disproved her own lies when she in the end found her way back to him to ask for his help. Help from someone that she supposedly didn’t feel anything for except an inescapable need to trust and rely on. Trust for Sarah Bartowski, much less Sarah Walker is almost unheard of.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I frankly have a hard time understanding how anyone thought that she was telling the truth. Aside from the fact that we didn’t believe her the other 50 or so times she denies her feelings for Chuck to him or someone else, we see her confusion and her reaction to Chuck from the start. We see as early as when she looked at their picture while searching the living room that she was feeling something she didn’t quite understand. Again at the intersect room when Chuck approached Sarah it took Quinn, the spy voice in her ear, to break her out of Chuck’s spell. She was clearly feeling the love, even if she didn’t understand it or have any context to put it in. Again at the house, even before the fight, the look in her eyes as she said “this is real, you really love me?” it clearly meant something to her that he loved her enough to mary her, that someone found her worth loving, but she still didn’t understand the mix of emotions until she saw the names carved in the door frame and remembered the event, and that she clearly wasn’t playing a mark, she meant every word. That froze her in her tracks and essentially made her unable to act. At that point she knew she was, at one time, in love with Chuck. She finally re-connects with her own emotions and understands that she still loves Chuck while watching her former self admit her true feelings. Her reaction to that clearly shows she “feels it”.

        Sarah is lying to Chuck so he’ll let her go and move on with his life, because she feels that although Quinn tricked her she was also complicit in ruining their/his life. For her failure she decides she needs to stop Quinn, both because she helped him, and to keep Chuck and his family safe from the intersect. That context is added in Castle when she says her plan is to kill Quinn and then disapear forever. Funny how easily she’s persuaded to let him join her on the mission. She not only “feels it”, but has understood exactly what “it” is since she watched herself say “I’m in love with Chuck Bartowski, and I don’t know what to do about it.” as the lyrics to Your Hands; “We’ve been here before” at that exact moment to enlighten us to what she feels.

        As an aside on the log entries, the day numbers are interesting. All of the first few that refer to missions are multiples of 7, corresponding to how many weeks apart the episodes are. The last number isn’t. It places her confession Between Chuck Versus The Dream Job and Chuck Versus The First Kill. In other words it comes after her nearly losing him by being re-assigned, taking him to find his dad, nearly losing him again when he goes to rescue his dad and has to be dragged away. Remember the first scene in First Kill is Sarah walking in to the Buy More, happily bringing Chuck a Fro-yo (Obama Guava), and the episode ends with “take off your watch”.

      • It was not “all calm” after Dream Job because PapaB had been kidnapped. Her log had to be before Dream Job.

        Ernie, you were using air dates. However Chuck downloaded the Intersect on his birthday (Sept 18), which was several days before the premiere date (Sept 24).

        I used Sept 18 along with the air days for Broken Heart and Dream Job, and the dates make more sense:

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Interesting Jeff. I took the fact that they were using 7-day steps to mean hey were using the day of Sarah’s first contact as the zero-point and sticking to the air date of the mission in real-time. In that timescale, with each episode we see being aligned with it’s distance from the zero-point (at one mission per week) it means 80.57 weeks would have passed from her first contact, regardless of the date of that contact, so shifting the date of the recording based on an actual date as opposed to based on the timescale they constructed (one episode/mission per week) doesn’t seem right to me. As you say however, days don’t always line up on the show. They may not have even had particular episodes in mind, though it would clearly be late season 2. I thought post dream-job makes sense because while Chuck’s dad was kidnapped Chuck was safe and others were handling finding Orion. The Fro-yo entrance seems to line up with Sarah experiencing a general sense of calm about their team’s status (in the wake of having to pull him out of RI). I also think it feeds into “take off your watch” perfectly. She finally realizes what to do about being in love with Chuck when faced with turning him in to be bunkered, or giving up everything for him. Kind of puts Barstow into perspective too.

        I do however agree that she wouldn’t have felt safe admitting those feelings till after she dodged the 49B.

      • Episodes span multiple days and some run directly after each other so they are harder to place. For example, the Intersect download was Day 0, the ballerina and computer stealing ninja were Day 1, the first first date was Day 2. The beach morning was Day 3. Casey was at the Buy More when Chuck started his shift, probably that day. (They wouldn’t leave him alone.) On Day 4, Casey tackled the shoplifter after working at the Buy More for “one day.” So Helicopter was less than 7 days after the pilot.

        My thinking was the 564 entry was near the end of Broken Heart (day 6 of 7), after Sarah was reinstated, but before Chuck came over to Sarah’s freaking out about monitoring and about his dad. It was the last moment of calm. Breaking into the CIA database to find Chuck’s dad was an act of love that would force her to admit it to herself. Just think… if PapaB never answered that door, Sarah might have admitted to Chuck that she loved him. Between PapaB, his abduction, Jill’s return, Barstow, the wedding, and Intersect 2.0, she didn’t have another chance.

        Losing the watch was equal parts love and panic.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Good point, I hadn’t thought about how some episodes take up on the same day or night of the previous episode. The Frosted Tips/Business Trip transition being a prime recent example of the phenomenon. Now I see the validity of your method. Before it seemed like you were mixing timescales.

      • Faith says:

        Well said Ernie. Which brings up what Joe brought up previously in an email, “I love Chuck Bartowski and I don’t know what to do about it.” is probably one of the most spot on and significant lines in all of the finale, if not the series. It’s always been a given (as far as I’m concerned anyway) what Sarah felt for Chuck and vice versa, that whole doing something about it was always the question. None more important than in that moment when she asked him to kiss her. Come to think about it, I may just be getting inspiration for a post, finally.

      • It could be more complicated. One of my favorite Stargate fanfics covers five seasons. It tried to maintain the calendar based on air date. One problem was that one week a team member was stranded for three months. On the episode the next week… Oops, three month time shift.

        CvS and Goodbye were minutes apart in air time, but they were also two weeks apart. Literary license is usually needed for things like this. I was surprised Chuck had a date that actually worked.

      • herder says:

        Sarah was lying at the fountain, both to Chuck and more importantly to herself, come on she was tearing up listening to her logs and then coldly walks away? It takes a lot of self-deception to do that.

        Interestingly, when I had tried to do the math with the dates and the episodes I came to the conclusion that day 560-whatever was somewhere between Leathal Weapon and Predator. My math may be off but it does seem clear that somewhere between Leathal Weapon and First Kill she admitted to herself that she loved him which does corrospond with the story as told.

      • herder, I used the Sept 18th start date and let a calendar calculator on the web do the hard work.

        I think Sarah wasn’t completely lying to herself. She just didn’t know how and didn’t have time to process it. In her mind, stopping Quinn was more important than processing whatever her feelings used to be and might be now. Without the Intersect 2.0, she thought Chuck would not be able to keep up (especially according to the season 1 and 2 logs she had watched). So she told him what she needed to let him down “gently” (with all the “grace” she used at the end of Pink Slip). She compartmentalized away her feelings until the Quinn mission was over. After falling out of the plane, that plan had to be revised. With Chuck at her side, her compartmentalization didn’t work so well–most obviously demonstrated with her focus problems in the dance.

    • There are differences between being happy with the ending, a happy ending, and a happier ending. A lot of viewers are not happy with the ending for a lot of valid reasons, and they’re not going to change their mind. That’s ok. However, it’s hard to think of a circumstance in which the ending is not happy when 1) no one died and 2) Chuck and Sarah are kissing at their spot on the a beach as the show fades to black. Could the ending be happier with a longer ending that included a red door, a picket fence, and a baby? Yes. But the ending as-is is still happy.

      • phaseou812 says:

        Jeff, I certainly concur with your sentiment and for me that is an accurate way to look at it.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        1) Sarah Bartowski died
        2) That’s the only thing you can say about the ending.

        I totally get that people need to find that morsel of hope in the ending, because quite frankly it’s the only ending we’re going to get. It’s been nearly a month and I still see the series ending arc as a way of killing the show’s favorite character without putting her in the ground. I too hope she and Chuck returned to their former glory, but to me no such thing was shown on the screen that night.

        I often said that YS made SW into a character TPTB never wanted. I guess they got the last laugh.

      • joe says:

        This has been a great discussion (and I’m honestly amazed that there’s still this energy left in it after more than 3 weeks)!

        Jeff, that’s a valuable way of looking at it. Perhaps many fans were hoping for something as thrilling as Barstow was for us at the end of S2, or as uninhibitedly joyous as the Honeymoon train was at the start of S3.5. I myself was hoping for a bit more of the “power-couple” we saw at the end of S4.

        But that’s a bit nonsensical of me. That “power-couple” is exactly what I got for 11/13ths of S5. C&S were on that honeymoon train for two and almost a half seasons. Can’t blame me for wanting more, but I also can’t say that I didn’t get what I wanted from S5, overall.

      • Since you want to be literal about what was actually on the screen, the only people that died in the finale were Nicholas Quinn and the Ring agents. Everyone else who was breathing at the beginning of the episode was breathing at the end of the episode.

        On the screen, we never had any proof that Sarah Bartowski legally existed. The only references on screen to Sarah “Bartowski” were:
        – Hartley’s wedding gift – he wouldn’t know if she changed her name or no
        – Morgan’s Mrs. B. quip in Castle at the ending of Cliffhanger
        – Chuck calling her Mrs. Bartowski while flirting in Cliffhanger and Bullet Train
        Every other reference is to Sarah Walker. Sorry, but if Sarah Bartowski never existed, she couldn’t have died.

        Now if you are referring to the the metaphorical Sarah Bartowski… well metaphors are not actually on screen. Maybe Sarah Bartowski was metaphorically killed. (I disagree, but I understand the argument). But making that argument requires more assumptions than a happily ever after ending.

        YS is a great actress, but it always bugs me most fans give Chuck’s writers, directors, and editors zero credit for how the actors and actresses are portrayed. It’s a collaboration. Maybe it’s mostly due to YS, but if the material is crap, it doesn’t matter how good the actress is.

      • atcDave says:

        Shep your assertion that Sarah Bartowski was killed off is utterly untenable. As Jeff was saying, it takes far more wild assumptions to not see her return than it does to realize she is alive and well at the end. They were pretty clear with how Morgan returned, with Sarah regaining memories, with her continued affection for Chuck, her desire to “find” herself, the behavior we saw on the beach, interviews with the writers, and comments from the actors! The only thing going against her return is supposition that was never even shown on screen. We might as well assume they were killed in traffic accident while leaving the beach or founded a moon colony for all its worth. The weight of evidence is overwhelming with those who call it a happy ending; pessimism is pure unfounded speculation.

      • jason says:

        The problems with the end were multiple, the lack of joy in the final two eps was paid off at the end with a single kiss, not a particularily good one, not passionate, not really tender, maybe tentative would be the word that comes to mind, who can blame them, it was just as likely a ‘goodbye kiss’ as a magical ‘Hello, it’s me, kiss’. And the lack of resolution, left many fans wanting … that is a fact, fans didn’t make up the lack of satisfaction, and it was just not shipper fans, or any one type of fan, it struck across parts of the entire fan base.

        Think of the other guy, if Chuck had asked Sarah if she loved him and that was the end of the ep. The Fedak apologists would be all over the little clues: how she smiled at him in the apartment, she said thank you in a sweet manner about the tank, and she looked happy when Casey told her the truth about the execution. All true, but the subsequent PAYOFF in Paris and then in the Honeymooner episode is what made all the misery somewhat worthwhile, made the Honeymooners, a bottle ep, one of the best eps in the shows history.

        Fedak may have said the ending was happy, but he also said it was ambiguous, and that ambiguity is what didn’t work, it didn’t payoff the misery. And the ending, no matter how right (and it was sweet and very full circle-ish) relative to how vile, violent, and mean spirited the memory rape of Sarah Bartowski was in the final two episodes just didn’t work for as many people as it needed to in order to be considered a success.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:


        To me it’s very simple. The hopelessness and negative overtones of the fountain scene (for example) far outweigh any of the too subtle clues of “possible” hopefulness of the beach scene (for example).

        (Something I now identify as CF’s writing style after the misery and amnesia arcs.)

        I wish I saw it another way, I don’t. Such is the life of an ambiguous non-ending. It’s not my fault, it’s not my fault. The writers wanted it both ways and that’s what they got.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:


        “not my fault, not YOUR fault”

      • atcDave says:

        Jason apart from your end statement I agree with all of that. The 2-part finale was too dark for too long for too little pay-off. It badly needed an epilogue, or even a full epilogue episode (sort of like Honeymooners was for the misery arc). I would also agree if Other Guy were the end we’d be scouring over that episode for proof it was as positive as we hoped. And the great thing is, it was as positive as we hoped. I see Goodbye in a very similar light to Other Guy, its pay-off was inadequate for the story before it. So the bad news is, there is no epilogue for Goodbye; the good news is, it was at least a passing ending (D grade or better, not an F!)

      • thinkling says:

        Wow. Lots of discussion. I suppose it won’t surprise anyone where I stand. I think Jeff’s remarks about the happy ending that some people aren’t (and never will be) happy with are spot on. For me knowing that the ending is happy is important. Then I can watch through a corrected lens and see things I missed at first. My feelings often follow. (That’s how I process things. Not everyone comes to terms in the same way.) I admit I wanted the house and the dog and the baby as much as Chuck and Sarah did. I wanted to see it. But I do accept that we have seen it, and we know, if we assess the episode honestly, that that future is exactly where they are headed. Fedak told us so, but if he din’t, the story telling technique and structure give it to us, albeit in an understated fashion.

        We’re told by the writer, but we are also shown, that the episode is a meta-narrative of the series (of Chuck and Sarah journey, especially Sarah’s journey). We’re also told by the writer, and also shown, that the house with the red door and the spied-up tech company is the epilogue. It is developed all through the season as their dream, so all the finale has to do is get us back to the point that Chuck and Sarah are back together, in love, and happy. Granted they aren’t happy-giddy like getting the keys to the house or bringing baby Bartowski home from the hospital (but we know those things are in their future). They are happy-content to be “home” and healing from a terrible personal tragedy. They showed us this intimate happiness while Chuck told Sarah their story. They are ready to move forward with their lives,

        Shepp said The hopelessness and negative overtones of the fountain scene (for example) far outweigh any of the too subtle clues of “possible” hopefulness of the beach scene (for example). I really don’t see it this way at all. The fountain scene was heartbreaking, but it wasn’t the end, and therefore it wasn’t hopeless anymore than Truth or Breakup were hopeless looking back. It was the beginning of Sarah’s journey. At the time, she was convinced that her life was stolen and that she was reset to being nothing but a spy and therefore couldn’t/shouldn’t have/feel the life she saw on the video. It mirrors so much of Chuck and Sarah’s early journey, which had the same sadness and yearning and longing. That’s not to down play the heartbreak, but to say that it’s not the final word on the story. Ultimately, she couldn’t walk away or stay away. As with Sarah’s original journey, we had already seen how much Chuck affected her, but she didn’t think it was possible then (spies don’t have feelings) or now (her life was irretrievably stolen).

        The video log (as well as the series) gives us the structure of Sarah’s journey and the episode. We continue to see her memory return. We continue to see Chuck connect with the real Sarah (Sarah Bartowski). We continue to see Sarah rediscover her love and admiration for Chuck. By the time she says she needs to find herself, she knows she has changed, that she is no longer “nothing but a spy.” If she still thought she was only a spy, if she still had any thought of running off to be a spy (like before Berlin), then it would have been tchau baby, not I have to go find myself. She also knows she loves Chuck Bartowski, but she doesn’t know what to do about it. That’s the structure, the map of her journey. We already know the road, because we’ve traveled it before, and we’ve seen it replayed in the episode.

        By the time she gets to the beach, she has only two options: walk away from Chuck and by extension herself and her life or find a way to embrace her love for Chuck and step back into her life. That’s where Chuck comes in and helps her do just that. Boy, does that sound familiar. Oh, wait. It is.

        Her decision to hear their story is a decision to step back into her life. The tone isn’t celebratory like the end of vs Baby. That would be too jarring. But as Chuck tells her their story, she embraces her life with joy and laughter and tears. She feels and receives the love that Chuck is giving her. The kiss is proof of that.

        In light of the things we know and what we’ve been shown, the beach scene isn’t all that subtle. (It would be subtle if you refuse to accept the structure of the story or Sarah’s progression.) Given what we know and what we’ve been shown, the beach scene was more than “possibly hopeful.” It was happy.

        It’s not that happier ending many of us expected, with a full return to what they showed us all through S5. It’s not that they didn’t give us the happier ending. They just didn’t give it to us again. And part of me still wants that extra episode so I can see all of that one more time, see Sarah’s full blown smile and happiness. But I don’t need it to see — and feel — the happy ending.

        I get that some people just don’t feel it. I can’t tell people what to feel, but I can tell them what I know and what I see that has helped me feel … happy.

      • jason says:

        Thinkling – The problem is, the pair of eps did not view well on first view to many, I think maybe even you were in that category. Of the lines spoken, the two most stunningly mean and hopeless lines were never countered by joyful or even hopeful spoken lines, the ‘I was too good at my job’, the’ I don’t feel it goodbye’, they needed something more concrete from Sarah to counter them (sort of like season 3 sham, we needed more insight into what Sarah was thinking, or since the show doesn’t give us insight, the script was written to dependent on us guessing what sarah was thinking, just like season 3).

        Then, as Sarah was making subtle progress with the many things you pointed out as hopeful on in the finale, the action of escaping her cell, or just walking away from Chuck the hero in the theater, and then again in the Castle as the show was winding down, the actions continue to tease the lack of progress to keep the angst high to the very end.

        The beach scene, I liked it and think the kiss was probably meant to work ‘magic’ in many versions of the scripts they considered, but as shot and edited the entire scene seemed off. I am not sure why, it should have been better than it was, I honestly think it was meant to emote more happiness than it did. And in spite of what you do so very well with this postscriptive type writing, the reaction of the audience to the first showing is still the real test of success, and best case, the pair of eps generated mixed reviews – not the Chuck I hoped for.

      • thinkling says:

        Jason, I can’t dispute what you’ve said about the first viewing, mixed reviews, and the pain of the episode. I’ve admitted from the start that I had to wrestle with it, and that my improved feelings came on the heels of a better understanding after further analysis.

        I’m to the point that I accept the story as a valid (even satisfying) way to close out the series. Within the story they told, it was pretty brilliant and had a happy ending, not joyful or celebratory, but happy. As such it’s bound to have a mixed reception.

        In that extra digging, I discovered a lot of beauty in the story and the brilliance of Yvonne’s acting, found the details and saw the journey, all of which I’ve tried to convey in my posts. If it helped some others find the beauty in the story or the happy in the ending (or just feel a little bit better about it all), then I’m beyond happy. However, I know not everyone will see it the same. And I still think it’s better to find the happy ending late than not at all. If there’s more to the story than I see at first, I’d rather dig and find it after-the-fact than walk away and miss it all together.

        About some of your other observations about the late pay off. I can see that. Obviously the beach scene was the end game (has been since the end of S4). Because of that, the pacing of Sarah’s recovery and progress was extended and teased out beyond what it had to be, but I can live with it. Having the last minutes of the show stripped down to its heart — Chuck and Sarah’s love story — was fitting. Ending with Chuck and Sarah as if they are the only two people on earth was beautiful, because in that moment, to them, each other was all that mattered. Setting the scene on the beach with the ocean behind them was powerful.

  29. Rob says:

    Jason — I’ve been thinking about this issue since the finale. After a complete re-watch of the series, I’m with you. I believe that it was generally a happy ending. There are tons of obvious clues that Sarah is coming back (in particular, I love her fixing Chuck’s tie). But, the ending needed to eclipse the heartbreaking pain that the fans were put through in the last two episodes. With extreme heartache of the characters, the finale should have been more overwhelmingly happy.

    • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

      **touches finger to nose**

    • Wilf says:

      I’m with you on this Rob (and Jason). I, too, have re-watched the season and I do now perceive (helped immensely by the insightful words of Thinkling, Faith, and others) the outcome as happy. But the evanescent pay-off did little to compensate for the extended pain of 99 percent of the final two episodes and I really needed the analyses of Thinkling et. al. to reveal that pay-off to me … something that just should not have been necessary. I didn’t need an extended epilogue (although that would have been nice), but I did at least need to see or hear something concrete in the final moments, not peppered enigmatically through the final episode like clues in a treasure hunt, to confirm that happy outcome.

      However, that said, would we be debating these points now, weeks after the finale, had there been more clarity at the time? I think not, so, in that sense, as many others have pointed out, Fedak’s finale could be said to have done Chuck a great service in keeping it alive in our minds for at least a little longer than expected. Also, it has prompted me to have a read of some of the fan fiction available out there which tries to put a clearer ending to the show, something I have never, ever, done for any show. And some of that literature is really rather good.

    • atcDave says:

      Yup, that I completely agree with Rob.

    • compromisedcover says:

      Yes. Yes. Beautiful ending yet inadequate.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah it was beautiful in its own right, I love re-watching that scene. Just wish it wasn’t the end…

      • thinkling says:

        I think that’s the bottom line, Dave … it was the end. The end of Chuck is one big emotion to deal with, and then the finale gave us another set of very powerful emotions to sort through and left us wanting one more episode or arc or season. 😉

  30. BigKev67 says:

    My friend @dren_lla on twitter is a very profound man. He said to me a couple of days after the finale that the beauty of it was that you could see your own inner workings in how you reacted to it. And the more I think about that, the more right it is.

    I’m going to generalise horribly here, but if you’re an optimist, a romantic, an intuitive, or someone who is happy to use their imagination to fill in the blanks, then the ending is obviously, unambiguously happy. We see Sarah’s memories returning in the Wienerlicious and with Irene Demova. We know Morgan got some/most of his memories back, and is still Morgan. We can see Sarah’s walls coming down again as Chuck works his charm. If you believe in the magic kiss, then Sarah is completely restored as they leave the beach – narrowly avoiding arrest, in Ernie’s scenario – and all is right with the world.
    But if you’re someone who is more literal, more pragmatic, someone who trusts only what they can see, the same evidence turns into something a little more equivocal. Sure we see glimpses of Sarah’s memory. But we know Morgan didn’t get his memories back in full – in fact he lost some pretty important ones. Sarah may get some more memories back – we don’t know. It could happen next week – it could take years. There will probably always be gaps – and that may play on my mind if I’m rewatching the show. None of this requires you to deny what’s shown on the screen with the memories returning – but it’s not a stretch to imagine a scenario where the hard work is only just beginning for Chuck and Sarah to reconnect, given that she may only get 50% of her memories back, and it may take years. In that scenario, you see the same evidence, but come to a different conclusion – one that could at best only be described as happy-ish. And one that, to all intents and purposes, resets your show.

    Essentially, it depends on how you view the world. And if you take his interview at face value, that’s exactly what Fedak intended when he said the ending was up to the individual viewer. So I’m going to disagree with Dave – I don’t think the ending was badly constructed at all. I think it did exactly what it was intended to do – and that is leave the story at a point where we’re asked to draw our own conclusions and bring our own hearts and minds into the story.

    The only part that still jars for me, and has done every time that I watch the ending, is the feeling that it’s an ending that belongs in a different show.
    Tonally, it’s an ending that would have fit Season 3 perfectly. It’s a little darker, it’s bittersweet, it relies as much on what is implied as what is shown. It requires a little more work – a lot like Season 3, in my eyes. But not remotely like anything in S4 or the vast majority of S5.
    The show went down a consciously lighter road in S4, and mostly continued down it in S5 – so to bolt on a Season 3 arc and a layered and complex ending to a show that hasn’t been remotely layered or complex in its storytelling style for at least 2 years, just seems odd to me. If I’m feeling uncharitable, it actually seems a little unfair. It means that as much as I see the art and the beauty in the ending, it just doesn’t quite fit.

    • Wilf says:

      Perfectly put, Kev. I’m a bit of a literal person, though I have come to accept the positive side of the finale. For me, though, I also really missed seeing much in the way of humour in the last two, even the last episode. Yes some scenes, such as shooting the helicopter were humorous, it’s true. But, on the whole I felt that the finale might have tried harder to sum up the tone of the series as a whole, which is after all supposed to be a comedy with a serious, action, darker side. The finale was definitely no comedy, not to me.

      • Paul says:

        But if you look at the past 4 seasons, the last few eps are always the most serious and dark with very little comedy. The series finale was pretty much in the same vein.

      • Wilf says:

        That’s true, Paul, but if this one was trying to sum up the whole series it might have tried a little harder to add some comedy. It was darker than any of the other finales (or for me it was) because it never really let in the light at the end, so a little more light-heartedness would have gone a long way. Too late now.

      • jason says:

        One thing good about the final two episodes, in the past, when they are destroying Sarah and trying to be funny with the rest of the show, it really has bombed for me making me only angry. In this case, they just decided to write a joyless pair of episodes which felt appropriate considering how completely they destroyed Sarah. So the final pair of eps by the end of the day simply left me ‘unsatisfied’ rather than angry.

        It is pretty amazing that they did not pay off the end with what they teased all season long, had they, my guess is 90% plus of those who disliked the final would have been in love with the episodes. The showrunners would have received an epic level of praise & those who support everything mindlessly that TPTB have done would have to be excusing themselves to be alone they would be so full of joy. The mean spirited nature of the episodes needed to be paid off in an equally evocative joyful ending. Instead, the ending was interrupted …..

    • thinkling says:

      Good observations Kev. I think you’re spot on about how different types of people perceive things, especially the sensing vs intuitive (Myers/Briggs reference)

      The final arc is definitely the darkest and heaviest *** Sometimes I wonder if TPTB knew it was going to come off as tragic and heavy as it did … or the intensity of the emotion it would evoke. Yvonne was the only one who seemed to get that. In the group interview, the guys were all focused on the coolness of the full circle thing. It was Yvonne who said that they should disclose that what’s going on between Chuck and Sarah is dramatic and hard — very hard. I haven’t heard anyone else (actors/TPTB) acknowledge the depth of the tragedy like she did, let alone empathize with how that would affect the audience.

      ***Though the finale is the most tragic, the tragedy comes from outside the relationship, totally beyond Chuck and Sarah’s control. They step up and deal with it. I love the quote that Jeff cited about Chuck being the husband. So, even though this is objectively more tragic, the S3 misery arc is still far worse to me. After 2 years analyzing it, I totally get it, but the most I can do is appreciate the core story and enjoy isolated episodes or scenes, because after seeing what’s really there to see, I still don’t like what I see. I still can’t really like it or “feel good” about it. My analysis of the finale has done the opposite. I see what’s there and I like it very much, in spite of the fact that heavy isn’t my favorite.

      The other comparison is the two finales themselves Other Guy and Sarah/Goodbye. Other Guy followed 10.5 episodes of sadness and relationship trauma, swept most of it under the bed in a hotel in Paris, and showed us that Chuck and Sarah were difinitively together. Now that to me was way too little pay off. I knew they were together, I was relieved the misery was over, but I had no idea what the epilogue would look like. Sarah/Goodbye was a dark chapter in the life of a happily married couple, coming after 41 episodes showing us Chuck and Sarah as a happy couple, committed and in love .. after 10.5 episodes showing, in vivid sweet happy detail, Chuck and Sarah finding their dream together. The tragedy is dark, but they come through it. The beach scene shows that they have come through it and will heal (the degree depends on how the viewer processes it). In Goodbye they actually deal with the tragedy, and there’s real healing (unlike S3’s mostly unresolved couple issues), and I know what the epilogue looks like. It’s a little hollow, but I can know (because they showed us) what comes next for them, in terms of their relationship and their future. So, Sarah/Goodbye has some parallels with Other Guy but is not only a better arc, but far and away more satisfying … *to me.*

      • Rob says:

        I have a hard time equating the drama during S3 with what was done in the finale. I find the Other Guy to be one of the more powerful and satisfying episodes of the entire series. The scene where Sarah tells Chuck that she loves him (when he is in full Nerd mode) is emotional gold. To me, it is the appropriate culmination of the growth of the relationship and resolving all of the prior drama with Bryce, and Jill and Shaw, etc.

        In comparison, the series finale (while hopeful) is simply insufficient for me. I agree it is a happy ending — and I’m extremely appreciative of this blog entry, because it helped me to that conclusion. It simply wasn’t happy enough for the last episode. Sarah said some pretty hurtful things that were never put into context or offset by equally loving emotions. Keep in mind that I believe that while her memories were lost, that she never stopped loving Chuck. I believe that most of her denials were lies that covered up her true feelings (as she did in the first 2.5 seasons). But, that is speculation on my part, and the bottom line is that the fans deserved a more definitive ending.

        If you told me that a movie was in the works, I’d have a different view. But, by leaving the Chuck-Sarah relationship open to ANY unresolved interpretation does a disservice to the fans who supported the show (and just watched 5 years of relationship building torn to shreads in a matter of 80 minutes).

        So again, while I agree that the ending was powerful, hopeful and happy, it simply didn’t go far enough.

      • thinkling says:

        I understand that Rob. I really really do. I wished for more but found a way to be happy with what’s there. As for the S3-OG / S5-Goodbye comparison, I think it boils down to what bothers people more and how they perceive the payoff. A lot of people rank OG as a favorite finale. I’m just not one. Although after listening to other people’s perspectives (like yours), I can see it in a more favorable light. In the exchange of ideas, we end up helping each other. It’s something I’ve really appreciated about the blog.

      • Hmm. This discussion has me thinking about refined version of the S3.0/S5 comparison: American Hero vs. Goodbye. Forget the full episodes and the arcs leading up to those episodes. Also forget whether you like the episodes. Just consider:
        – Before Casey showed up in Sarah’s hotel room in American Hero, was Sarah planning on going to DC with Shaw or to the train to meet Chuck?
        – Did Sarah get her memories back and/or did Chuck and Sarah have a happy ending?

        I wonder if the people who think Sarah was originally going to DC are the same people who think Chuck and Sarah did not have a happy ending. It’s a glass half full/half empty question.

        (I’ve always thought Sarah was going to the train before Casey showed up based on her “home” picture being out on the bedside table whereas it was not in Final Exam. Casey just made her thrilled with that decision. I also think Chuck and Sarah got a happy ending.)

      • atcDave says:

        I’ll kind of split the difference here between Rob and Thinkling. I definitely see parallels between the misery arc and 5.12/5.13. Most significantly the darker overall tone of the story (which I don’t really like in either case). I also see a lot of similarity in the mostly inadequate pay-offs.
        But the differences are huge too. The misery arc was essentially a completely wasted season for me, but it did end on an unambiguously happy note. By comparison the finale was brief and it did not assassinate either of my favorite characters. But on initial viewing it wasn’t much fun and it ended before I was even sure the ending was a happy one. Now as I’ve said here many time the last few weeks, I do believe it was happy ending, but I had to do research and a re-watch to be sure of that. To me, that’s a design flaw. Especially since it could have been “fixed” with about three words of dialogue (“take me home” or “I love you”). Probably the single biggest reason why I remain somewhat disgruntled is Fedak’s smug pride in the “ambiguity” of it. I know many here disagree, and it pains me every time I see it brought up, but I see him as being proud of the fact he hurt or ticked off a third of his fans. He’s claiming virtue for a moment that hurts or angers most viewers who see it a certain way. So while I can accept and even appreciate the finale and end scene on certain levels, it is also the very thing that guaranties I will be very leery of any future Fedak project. Because it turns out, all those lessons I thought he learned after S3, he didn’t. He still likes things far more dark and depressing than I ever will.

      • jason says:

        Dave – I don’t say this often enough, I think it more than I say it in other words, thank you and +1!

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff you ask an interesting question. I think I was actually more sure that Sarah was going to meet Chuck in American Hero than I was that she got her memories back in Goodbye, on the initial viewing only. After research, my opinion on American Hero has never changed (of course she was going to meet Chuck, Casey just made her completely sure about it); but my opinion about Goodbye has changed a lot, and I see it as far more clearly positive now than I did initially.

      • thinkling says:

        Jeff, I always believed she was going to meet Chuck, not only because of the picture, but the bag she packed. That wasn’t an I’m-moving-to-DC-to-continue-my-career-bag. It was an I’m-running-away-bag. Chuck had convinced her. Casey only confirmed what her heart already knew.

      • Rob says:

        thinkling — I agree. I initially felt crushed about the finale, but have grown to accept it over time (and your write-up really helped with that process). I don’t think that I’ll ever get past the fact that the finale didn’t meet my expectations (which — maybe unreasonably — was explicit closure).

        Jeff — The relief on Sarah’s face shows that she was going to DC with Shaw. Not because she cared for him, but because she didn’t see a future with Chuck (who, she thought, was morphing into a different person), and there was no reason to hinder her career by sticking around Burbank. Not sure about the comparison because that conflict was resolved, whereas the ending only inferred a positive result.

      • That specific decision was never answered because Casey changed the game by telling her she shot the mole. His confession made the choice a no brainer. That point in American Hero is not a open ending like the beach scene, but it is an ambiguous point in the storytelling that can be spun in very positive and very negative ways.

        You have helped demonstrate the ambiguity. Dave, Thinkling, and I thought she was going to Chuck, but you (and others I remember at the time) did not. A lot of fanfic writers agree with you based on the number of Sarah-leaves-Chuck stories. Unlike Dave, I wasn’t sure about American Hero until subsequent watches (because of the picture– good catch about the suitcase, Think). With Goodbye, I was sure of a happy ending on the first watch, but only a slightly one. With rewatches (and reads of posts on this blog), the ending became happier.

      • Rob says:

        Good points on the Shaw vs. Chuck question. I hadn’t really thought about it much, so I could be swayed either way. But, because they showed us her final decision, that was good enough for me.

        In comparison, I also acknowledge I have no doubt that Chuck and Sarah will live happily ever after. I just think that the ending (while powerful in its own respect) could have been done better. I don’t need to see memories coming back, I don’t need to see the house and kids. I just wanted affirmation that Sarah’s feelings toward Chuck overcame all of the mass destruction in the last two episodes. thinkling — your ending would have rocked.

      • thinkling says:

        Thanks, Rob. It’s fun to imagine all the good things to come.

      • atcDave says:

        Funny, although I disagree with Rob on American Hero, we’re in about the same place here. I would have liked a real epilogue, maybe even a full episode of Chuck and Sarah launching their new reality with the house, less violent business plan, and kids; I don’t need it but I would have liked it. But I’m very disappointed they didn’t give just that tiniest bit of closure for the ending. As I said above; three words, not necessarily even indicating she got her memories back, but at least indicating her love and commitment to her husband. (“Take me home” or “I love you” would have been all it took to make a mediocre ending into a beautiful one for me).

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I always thought she was going with Chuck for the aforementioned reasons. I took her mood shift to be something different. She was going with Chuck, running away, but remember her recent mindset. She’d ruined Chuck as far as she was concerned at the end of Final Exam. She’d taken a nice decent honest man, and lied and manipulated him into becoming a cold blooded killer for her sake, so they could be together. Did we believe her when she told Shaw she didn’t love Chuck anymore? No. She still loved him and wanted to be with him. She didn’t want to love him at that point, she couldn’t see herself ever able to face him again, or even answer a phone call.

        Her anger at Chuck at the beginning of American Hero is really self defense, trying to push him away so she doesn’t have to see a reminder of what she thinks she’s done every day. At the end we see that Sarah starts to understand that something mitigating happened that night that she didn’t see, and that Chuck doesn’t want to talk about it. Given her track record of secrets, lies and manipulations I think that Sarah starts to understand that Chuck doesn’t blame her for any of it, and if he can forgive her myriad of sins how can she blame him, or deny him one secret, or one failure to be who she wanted him to be. He’s still Chuck, just not her idealized Chuck, and the relationship they’re about to start will be different than the one she’d dreamed of, but like the season 2 cover dating, it’s probably all she feels herself capable or deserving of. She was going with Chuck, but when she found out she hadn’t ruined him, and she was still going with HER Chuck, who of course wouldn’t tell her what happened just to assure his own happiness when someone else was at risk if he did, then she was overjoyed.

    • Faith says:


      To which I reply, wasn’t that your argument for what to you was the weakness of season 4? That it wasn’t as strong tonally, or as intense plot-wise as season 3 and yet you’re judging this season with the same stroke as what would have worked for you in other seasons. You can’t have it both ways, I think we talked about this already ;).

      I’m more inclined to go with your other twitter thought, that the biggest take away (for you) is that it wasn’t enough. They could have–storytelling wise–expanded this storyline throughout the whole season without really delving into Morgansect or even the big conspiracy and instead let Rome burn so to speak. That would have been something. I’m sure a large percentage of the fan base would have been extremely unhappy but that’s par for the course. In that mindset, there would also have been an expanded epilogue so everyone’s happy. Which in my opinion is largely what they tried to do here but it still wasn’t enough. Oh well, it is what it is.

      • jason says:

        Faith – this whole thing seems so obvious to me, the show mostly works when it stays light, and mostly fails, EVEN for those who claim they like dark Chuck, the darkness never is enough or works right (cept for season two). I am glad Fedak designed the season, and not those subscribing to the notion that season 5 needed more darkness and joylessness to be better, when the darkness and joylessness is what failed the season – seems somewhat illogical, kind of like getting beat to death five times rather than once would make the experience more enjoyable.

        The fans of Chuck lite pretty much like every ep, as long as Fedak doesn’t dismantle, mutilate, or humiliate Chuck and Sarah, that is what defines a ‘fan base’, fans you can count on if you deliver your genre. The gift Fedak was given by NBC, was to be able to go out on his own terms, he could never write his Soprono’s or Newhart’ish type ending with renewal hanging over his head, because that was not the genre his ‘fan base’ wanted to see. The final season was a gift to Fedak, not to the fans, and the love letter was not about a sweet happy ever after love, but about a never ending bittersweet love that was challenged to the very end, even as the credits closed.

        I really did not mind the ending, although I hated the amnesia arc, and the complete lack of joy in the final pair of eps. I thought the kiss worked. I am sort of in agreement with Ernie, the entire pair of eps was written specifically to imply recovery, that seemed real obvious. Yet, in spite of all the clues, the showrunner even calls the end ambiguous. I loved what Levi said about the ending in one of his interviews, it was not happy, it was loving … a perfect description of the ending. I thought the show should have done happy instead, I think happy would have been more consistent with what the show really tried to be the last five years. But, as you said, it is what it is!

      • Faith says:

        Jason I’ve been cleaning out my DVR and so I’ve had to watch (like I really had to lol) season 4 and more and more I’m coming to see how completely and utterly satisfying it was. I guess my view about all of this, the finale, the end, and season 5 is clouded by that. The fact that season 4 was just so…satisfying that I really didn’t mind that as you put it Fedak told his own story, his own way. Season 4 was my story, and it was a loving one. As Thinkling said above, the season is the epilogue and I would add season 4’s utterly satisfying season to that epilogue. Now granted I love season 5 as well apart from *cough*Morgansect*cough* heh, but seriously, apples and oranges. If I were to sum up each of the last two seasons in one word, season 4 would be loving, season 5 would be beautiful.

        In the end, one thing has always been true: Chuck gives, on a seasonal basis, if not nightly, something for everyone. That is its downfall and its source of glory. And why I love it and miss it so much.

      • joe says:

        Faith, those are powerful words. You have me thinking in the same vein.

        For me, the single word that describes what hit me hardest is “exciting” and I apply it to S2 (especially those last 6 episodes). I’m not talking about just the excitement of Vincent being a deadly threat, or the excitement of a predator missile strike. I’m not talking just about the excitement I last felt as a 20 year old riding a world-class rollercoaster with a beautiful young lady hanging on to me for dear life although I’m including that because Chuck’s adventures often seemed like that.

        I’m also talking about the excitement of watching Sarah decide they have to run – the “Take off your watch” moment and the gentle touch of a hand on the back of a neck that’s meant to comfort. I’m talking about Barstow in morning light.

        That part of it is my story.

      • Faith says:

        Joe, based on what I felt during, after and right before Colonel, I’d go with exhilarating myself. Just too good.

        And the “take off your watch” still gives me goosebumps to this day! Definitely part of “my story,” as well.

      • thinkling says:

        This could be fun 🙂

        Faith I totally go with Beautiful for S5. For the finale (along with Beautiful ) I also choose Powerful.

        S1 — maybe Captivating

      • joe says:

        Faith, oh yes. “exhilarating” is the word I should have used.

        Thinkling? Know where I see that beauty in S5? Two spots come to mind. The first is in The Business Trip, when Chuck&Sarah are sitting on the edge of the pool, relaxed and surrounded by new friends. The second is in Baby, when everyone is introducing themselves to Molly, especially Sarah, her big sister.

        For S1 it has to be “Charming!” 😉

        BTW, ;{) is me with my mustache, grinning!

      • Faith says:

        If there’s a word for that moment and that feeling you get right before you fall in love, that would be my pick for season 1.

      • BigKev67 says:


        I never know whether to use Faith or Jem – I’m easily confused! 🙂

        I know you think I’m trying to have a dollar each way here. I don’t think I am – but I’ll try and explain myself better.
        I’m not saying that I disliked the final arc at all. I really enjoyed the last 3 episodes – I thought they were well constructed, well written and perfectly acted. I am saying that I think the final arc was way darker than anything done in recent history (S4 and S5) and probably in the series as a whole – and that discrepancy between what the show has delivered for 2 seasons, and what it gave us in the last 3 episodes is jarring. It’s jarring even for someone like me who quite likes a little drama and darkness – and it would be even more so for those that don’t. I know that the season finale arcs are always tense, but this one seemed a whole new level. As I said, it was back to a season three vibe. I loved most of season three – but that vibe seems out of place in Season 5, after two years of something much lighter. I guess that’s the point I’m trying to make.

        Similarly with the ending. In a different context, I love bittersweet and/or open endings. But they have to fit the show, and its DNA. And on a different show, this would have been a perfect ending. Certainly Chuck does bittersweet, but only occasionally and in passing – not enough to justify it being the leitmotif of the series finale IMO. And the 4 finales since Ring have all given an unequivocal answer to the question of the finishing arc – an answer that we see on screen. Do Chuck and Sarah get together? Yes. Does Chuck propose? Yes. Does Sarah say yes? Yes. Do Chuck and Sarah get married? The answer is understated sometimes (Push Mix) – but it’s there. Until now. Does Sarah get all her memories back? Um – maybe? We’re not told definitively. And this show doesn’t do that with its finales – until now. I think your series ending should reflect the tone of your show – and to me this one, as well done as it is, just doesn’t. And that disconnect is what remains with me about this ending, even after I’ve come to see the beauty in it.

        None of this is to say that a show should always do what it’s always done. It shouldn’t, of course. But if you’re going to take a stylistic left turn, I think it makes much more sense to do it at the start of a season (to give people time to get used to it) than to do it at the end of a series.

      • atcDave says:

        Big Kev that was very well put and sums up a lot of my feelings too. I’m sure I don’t even like dark as well as you do, so I found it particulary troubling and unpleasant. I’ve also come to understand it better and accept what the ending was; I also see the brilliant acting and well structured story. But it was a jarring change from what I loved most about this show, and I feel this ending didn’t serve me particularly well.

      • thinkling says:

        Joe, I see beauty in S5 in SO many places, principally in Chuck and Sarah’s marriage, and especially in Sarah. It’s stunning: the way she looks at Chuck, the way she toasts her family and friends, her searching for baby names, telling Chuck he should’ve awakened her so they could talk about it, the end of baby. The list goes on and on. That’s why the end of Bullet Train and the finale are so gut wrenching. I just hate that rape of Sarah Bartowski’s mind and life. But I see it’s all still there and Chuck is helping her heal and will help her get it all back. That’s more than beautiful. It’s powerful. I am returned to the beauty of it when I know that she’ll be that stunning Mrs Bartowski again, and the business partner in her glass office (that was once the Gipper’s), and the mother … who won’t have to shoot the paper boy.

      • thinkling says:

        Faith … icy-hot

      • armysfc says:

        i haven’t posted in a while, just reading to see whats up. there seems to be a single minded focus on the ending, c/s. people say it’s happy or not depending on how ones takes the c/s signs. lets go back to s1 shall we? what was chuck’s biggest fear, the bunker where he would be away from friends and family. flash to s4 he has the complete package friends family (less dad). all is well in chuck’s world. flash to the end of s5. where are his friends now? 2 are touring europe, one went on a mission. that leaves morgan and alex. next lets talk family, dad dead, mom gone again, ellie, devon and clara gone and wife may or not be herself again. the things chuck was afraid of losing in s1 happened at the end of s5. he’s broke with no job. if you can call that a happy ending your a better person than me.

      • I do not understand some of your assertions at all. None of what Chuck was concerned about in S1 happened.
        – The bunker is where Chuck would have lost all freedom – like prison. S5 Chuck is not in prison.
        – S1 Chuck would be happy that Jeff and Lester are pursuing their dreams instead of sexual harassment lawsuits on Buy More customers. The guy who backed Casey in Undercover Lover would be really happy Casey is pursuing Gertrude. S1 Chuck would be thrilled Morgan has a serious, non-psycho girlfriend with whom he is moving in together.
        – I don’t like that the Woodcombs left for Chicago, but it’s a lot different than the bunker concern. They would have thought Chuck was dead. At the end of S5 he can call, skype or visit. His satellite probably has really good rates.
        – In S1, Chuck’s mom had vanished off the face of the Earth. Now she is a phone call away.
        – Why is he broke with no job? The show never said he quit. Maybe the extended cut will expand on that, but as far as we know, he’s still working at the Buy More if he wants the job. He also sold the Buy More to Subway. That would bring in some good money. Selling the Castle inventory would bring in a lot more money.
        – his wife might not be herself again, but at the end he is kissing her on a beach. At the end of S1 he is not doing that.

        Was S4 happier? For Chuck and Sarah, yes. But the unselfish guy that Chuck is would be happier for his friends and even family at the end of S5. And it is nothing like S1.

      • thinkling says:

        Jeff … thank you! This is absolutely nothing like S1 Chuck.

        In S1 he was (he thought) a putz who got paid to wear a pocket protector, in love with a woman he could never have, a disappointment to his sister. He hated himself because he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life or who he wanted to spend it with. He wanted out of the Buymore.

        Now, he’s a national hero (albeit a secret one). He’s married to the woman of his dreams. They know what they want to do. He is the owner of his own company, which he will retool for a safer life. With the sale of the Buymore, he is by no means poor (and somewhere the government owes him 42 million). He has found his mother and his father (even though his father is dead). His sister and his mother and his father are proud of him. The notion of being bunkered is no more, obviously.

        Ditto Jeff about Chuck being happy for his family and friends.

        As for his wife, she (therefore, they) suffered a terrible tragedy. All indications are that she still loves him, and he will help her to heal. The message of the beach: everything is going to be OK. We have every reason to believe that Sarah Bartowski is returning and that she will recover her self and her essential memories.

        It’s not a party (yet), but it is a happy ending.

      • thinkling says:

        Oops, one other thing. I, personally, think S5 is happier overall for Chuck and Sarah than S4, (up until the tragedy, of course). But they will recover and have the life they’ve been dreaming of.

      • S5 is a happier season, but I was talking about the endings. S5’s ending is happier for everyone else, but S4’s ending is happier for Chuck and Sarah. They just got back from their honeymoon after all. Everything after that is bound to be downhill until the first baby is born. Then everything is bad until the baby sleeps through the night for the first time.

      • thinkling says:

        LOL. Touché! And that leads to a long trail of challenges and joys ahead for the Bartowski’s

      • atcDave says:

        I would agree S4 was the happiest finale of the series, and it directly set up the mostly happy tone of S5. It did make the darker finale arc a bit jarring, but the ending does strike as very happy in a “phew, we made it…” sort of way. What Chuck wound up with is vastly better than what he had back in S1. It would include a more adult version of friendship with Morgan (and Alex), the confidence and abilities to run his own small business, not to mention plenty of money for setting up and running that company, and most importantly a wife who is also a capable business partner and best friend.
        The loss aspect is really on two fronts. First is Ellie and Devon’s departure; which of course is a little sad, but this is the sort of moving on that is completely normal. And the nice thing with family is you know they’ll stay in touch and visit often. Sarah’s memories, if they don’t just come flooding back right away, is a bigger issue; but I think we already saw enough to know they’ll be dealing with that loss together. You know that’s one issue I needed more information about; but we did see enough to know they would be all right. I would have loved to see some highlights of her recovery, but we did get the minimum needed for a happy ending.

      • garnet says:

        That really is the issue, we got a minimally happy ending, and we were expecting at least a reasonably happy ending. We can see that Chuck and Sarah are together (although some would argue), but with potentially a great deal of work to straighten things out. It would have been much happier to see that they were on track and happy but with new external battles to fight.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Kev, I think I’m going to have to disagree with you. Not your observations, just your conclusions

        The only part that still jars for me, and has done every time that I watch the ending, is the feeling that it’s an ending that belongs in a different show.

        Tonally, it’s an ending that would have fit Season 3 perfectly. It’s a little darker, it’s bittersweet, it relies as much on what is implied as what is shown. It requires a little more work – a lot like Season 3, in my eyes. But not remotely like anything in S4 or the vast majority of S5.

        I am saying that I think the final arc was way darker than anything done in recent history (S4 and S5) and probably in the series as a whole – and that discrepancy between what the show has delivered for 2 seasons, and what it gave us in the last 3 episodes is jarring. It’s jarring even for someone like me who quite likes a little drama and darkness – and it would be even more so for those that don’t. I know that the season finale arcs are always tense, but this one seemed a whole new level. As I said, it was back to a season three vibe. I loved most of season three – but that vibe seems out of place in Season 5, after two years of something much lighter. I guess that’s the point I’m trying to make.

        I think the main point I would make is that this is a different sort of dark than season 3. In season 3 most of the darkness deals with the characters personal failings and weaknesses as they attempt to move on or enter a new world. It is the testing of those characters and their response to the new challenges that creates the drama. But I understand why you feel that the ending returns to that theme. I just think you are wrong.

        Season 5 seems lighter to a lot of people because the main characters are all (slight Morgan detour aside) their fully realized selves. There are no real issues between them that aren’t resolved quickly or easily (again, slight Morgansect detour aside). There are also visions of the future they want for themselves and the happiness they enjoy in their current lives, the fruits of their previous season’s work. So while it may seem that Sarah’s regression is a throwback to season 3 character angst, it isn’t. Sarah has something taken from her (as does Chuck) but it is not because of any personal failings or doubts that they find themselves at risk of losing everything, it is because of the real big-bad, the intersect, and the external forces swirling about that precious prize. Those aspects of the season are not dwelt on, but they are set up both tonally and in the narrative.

        Think back to the jarring end of Business Trip, where the warmth and general lightness of both the mission and the family party is contrasted against the brutality of the spy world. Casey hears a death sentance pronounced on him, his daughter and his friend, and has to gun down 6 people to stop it. Then he goes to a dinner party. The coming darkness and danger is there, from how the Morgansect arc introduces the Intersect as something rather dark and evil in hands other than Chuck’s, to the risk that Chuck and Sarah may never be able to fully escape their past or their family history in Curse or Baby. Think of how much more visceral the fights were in Santa Suit or Baby compared to previous seasons more stylized ones.

        To me season 5 was constructed to build the drama and tension to ever greater heights, and showing the fluffy moments of marital bliss and their future plans was a part of that. What they had to lose had to be real and hit home. And nothing hits home as hard as possibly losing each other. But again, this isn’t about disfunctional relationships, it’s about their pasts and external forces drawing them back and preventing them form having the future they so desperately want.

        The ending served a few purposes that were appropriate to the tone I saw and themes that run throughout both the season and the show. There is a sense of relief, they are out, finally safe to build something more stable and permanent, but it will take some work. Sarah is in a strange new world and will need Chuck’s help and support, but the man he is will be able to meet those challenges, largely because he is the man she helped him become. Chuck is in a new world where he has to be the strong one and the protector, something he has often relied on Sarah for, but he’s ready for that challenge. They are finally out, and it didn’t destroy them, but it cost them something. In the end they found each other and that was all they needed.

        Chuck and Sarah are on the beach where it all started, laughing and crying and re-living their story (and ours). The series ends with them rediscovering their love for each other is stronger than anything they may have to face, and then making out on the beach. Only Chuck fans could find that a depressing ending. 😉 Being depressed because it’s the end, that I totally get. I think a lot of us mixed the two together.

      • joe says:

        Ernie, great analysis.

        I’d like to add one thing. The feeling of tragedy is heightened, I think, by the idea that both Chuck and Sarah know what they’ve lost. That wasn’t present in S1. It was much more likely, back then, that they both could have gone their own way (or Chuck could have been embunkered, or either could have met the fate of most spies in that fictional world, a la Bryce). The end result would have held no promise for either – zero. Yet a year later, both could be reasonably expected to shrug and say “too bad. That’s the way it goes.”

        At it is, S5 ended with much more promise than zero, yet the tragedy is deeper.

      • thinkling says:

        Ernie, well said. You expressed it perfectly. There was a darkness introduced with Decker at the end of S4 that seemed to really raise the stakes. It was reiterated at the end of Zoom. And, as you said, the stakes are high because of what they stand to lose. I love the end scene of Business Trip and have commented on it several times. The party, the warmth and love, the celebration and laughter haunted by mournful music. It’s one of Chuck’s most powerful dramatic moments. It sets up the final battle, the struggle to be free from the gray spy world of murder, betrayal, and deceit. The undercurrent of danger that started at the end of Business Trip ran throughout the rest of the season, surfacing, as you said, in more brutal ways than before. It was the contrast that was brilliant and set up the stakes.. I see S5 as quite brilliant. If they hadn’t wasted the conspiracy plot, I would think it was off the charts brilliant.

        You described perfectly why I like this drama infinitely better than S3. It was external, tragic and sad and awful, but not about betrayal or losing faith in each other.or CRM. That I did not like at all. I’ve said that I prefer the source of drama or tension or danger to be external, not internal. This is a little more extreme than I had in mind or imagined, but I still prefer it to the internal dysfunction of S3. I like that the resolution, not only saves them from something tragic, but returns them to something wonderful.

        I love your description of what the end accomplished: the relief that they made it, not unscathed, but not defeated or destroyed. That’s no small thing, and the trouble has been brewing all season. It was a worthy final battle to achieve their freedom and new life. The beach scene absolutely shows that they made it and they will be fine again.

      • Faith says:

        Kev, I am if it says I am heh.

        Everything was magnified in the final arc, and in the final episode. I won’t dispute that. I would however point out that it’s the name of the game for things to be magnified in such situations. Just think of it as a storytelling device. This being Chuck’s climax, everything quite literally had to come to a head. In Smallville, for its finale Clark had to be Superman, he had to fly. That was its climax. Well in Chuck one thing’s always been true: the spy stuff, the mythology those all come and go, their importance can and as we can attest to has been negligible but one thing’s always been true: it’s the people, the relationships, that is where Chuck’s heart truly lies. It’s what we, ourselves give the biggest emphasis to. So for this to be Chuck’s final hour, it had to be magnified, the stakes, the emotions, the fear it all had to be magnified beyond even what we’ve ever experienced. If not now, when? Climaxes are climaxes for a reason. And in this climax they showed us that the people in our lives affect who we are and have become and nothing, not even memory loss could change that…that love doesn’t fade quite so easily. Did they venture into unknown territory? I don’t think so. I think Chuck showed in many ways the kind of show it was in the finale even without the flashback clips. It’s a show that is lighthearted at its core but it’s also a show that can and do surprise you. It’s a show that give emphasis to the things in life that really matter and I think they did that well, even in über magnified fashion.

        As for the ending scene specifically, I’ll probably address it in a future post. 🙂

      • BigKev67 says:

        My reference to an S3 vibe wasn’t an attempt to say that the causes and themes in S3 have been revisited. They’re clearly very different, and you’ve expressed that perfectly. My reference is more one of tone – the pain and the darkness almost overwhelms any other aspect in this last arc, much as it did in the front half of S3. Add the deliberate ambiguity to that, and the way we’re back to analysing every nuance of Sarah’s body language and expressions, just as we did in Season 3 – that’s the vibe that I’m talking about. And because it’s been so long since we’ve had to watch the show in that way, it feels a little jarring to suddenly have to do it that way again.
        That said, I haven’t watched S5 all the way through yet, and you’re right – there are some dramatic moments with Casey in Business Trip, and especially with Team B in Santa Suit, that clearly raise the stakes in a similar way. It may be that when I rewatch the whole season in full, the transition to this final arc won’t jar quite as much as it does now.

  31. Faith says:

    On a not so unrelated note, per the timer at the bottom of the page, it’s been 25 days since Chuck. TEARS!

    • thinkling says:

      Many tears! I still can’t quite believe it. I’m glad you left the timer there.

      • garnet says:

        I hope the timer will stay until day 564 and beyond!

      • Faith says:

        As far as I’m concerned it will stick, maybe past that lol…hopefully as soon as Ernie or Dave gets going for the polls, we can get rewatches going and then we’ll blink and it’s day 564!

  32. garnet says:

    I hadn’t really thought about it, but I wonder about when the videolog actually ends. Is day 564 the end or were there entries after that. Shortly after day 564 Sarah is off the grid with Chuck, and by Season 3 she is not exactly his handler and may not have made entries.

    In any event, I think that before the events of Season 4 the log would have been done. So the retelling of “their story” on the beach would have been largely new to her. The old Sarah would have run away, but he took the leap of faith and let Chuck tell her the story, and it was enough for her to embrace a potentially “Magic Kiss”. I see a happy ending here, but like so many others I would have loved a happier ending

    • Ernie Davis says:

      This is total fanon of course, but since Sarah is telling the truth about compromising situations like “the kiss” and that she initiated it as early as day 56 it tells me this would be some sort of personal and confidential log only to be examined after the mission to see where their agent might have gone wrong and to use to better train and prepare other agents for similar situations. As such the CIA would perhaps assure the log’s confidentiality and only examine it in the event of the agent’s death or the mission’s failure to encourage candor on the part of the agent. For Sarah it clearly became more than that. As for when it closed out, I’d guess it probably ended with the “official” end of operation Bartowski when Chuck went off to train and Sarah was no longer working as his handler.

      I’d venture as a bit of fanon that there was another log started when Operation Bartowski was re-constituted, and it somehow went missing some 12-ish weeks later when Sarah was packing for a train trip, both summer and winter wear.

    • I think there could be a lot more entries. If it weren’t so ambitious, I’d start a fanfic. It could have multiple entries per episode and could extend into S3.0. I’ve written one 100 chapter story and am not looking to start another one… at least not yet.

  33. Rob says:

    Speaking of epilogues, does anyone have any thoughts as to what the featurette on the DVD entitled “The Future” will contain?

    • I’m surprised nobody noticed that before. Good eye, Rob.

      I’m guessing they are going to have a slide show with captions about what happens next for each character. Of course that will lead to a bunch up people posting that they are not happy with it because it either doesn’t go far enough or isn’t canon because it wasn’t in Goodbye. In either case it proves how horrible the finale was and how TPTB robbed the fans of a rightful ending that should have been filmed instead of the Morgansect arc.

      Or it could be an exclusive DVD interview in whick TPTB and cast members theorize about what they think the future is for each character. We all know Levi, Baldwin, and Gomez wanted their characters to die.

      I shouldn’t be cynical about it… actually I’m not being cynical about the featurette per se…

      • Faith says:

        Quite a post there Jeff. Are you all right? Look Sarah bellydancing!

        Heh…my lame attempt at 3PM.

      • atcDave says:

        Wow, a surprisingly cynical comment from Jeff! My guess is an interview with Fedak, and he will mostly talk about the possibilities of a (TV) movie, books, or comic books. He may also talk about conventions, fan fiction, and “passing the torch” (a phrase I saw him use in several interviews a couple weeks back).

        Now I seriously HOPE its something more like Jeff mentioned with a slide show of what happened to the characters, or maybe even CF or a writer’s panel talking about the future of various characters (and the mythology? will the government keep playing around with Intersect technology?)
        I think that would be a total blast, and would possibly help me feel MUCH better about the ending.

      • Faith says:

        I’m guessing he’s getting frustrated Dave. We’ve all been there.

      • For some reason I just got that thought stuck it my head. I tried to erase it before I hit “Post Comment” but couldn’t. I blame something I read on a Castle forum in which people were complaining about people complaining about the show.

        But with Faith’s first reply, I’m laughing and better now. Thanks.

      • atcDave says:

        Well its no secret I’ve been very frustrated on and off myself. And I find myself irritable towards both extreme reactions to the finale, so I certainly can’t hold some crankiness against anyone!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Wow Jeff, that was dark… and specific. The cynical misanthropic curmudgeon in me wants to tip his hat, but somehow feels unworthy… 😉

      • I’d still be obsessing about Bryce doing horrible things in my bedroom of Faith had not provided that wonderful GIF. I’m better now.

  34. garnet says:

    TPTB have given us an ending that we have discussed at length and as noted above, our reaction to it likely depends more on our mindset than on the images. They have tried to produce an ending that will satisfy the fans, and they have partially succeeded, but most importantly, they have left everyone wanting more. Even those who find the ending happy seem ok with the idea of “something more”, and there are very few that have said, “meh, I’d rather not see anymore CHUCK”. As I recall one of the oldest showbiz axioms says, “leave them wanting more”. Fedak et al have done that.

    If we never get more, I can imagine a happy future for the whole crew, and that is not bad. Would I take an “I love you”, or “Let’s go home”, over the current end? In a heartbeat, but the ending does take a light little show and give it a bit more weight. If there were ever to be a nomination for an Emmy, these 2 episodes would give the voters lots to work with.

    • thinkling says:

      True dat.

    • joe says:

      Absolutely, Garnet. There’s no doubt that fans are still clamoring to have more, if for no other reason, to understand better where their favorite characters are going next.

      I might quibble with the idea that Chuck can be categorized as a “light” show, though. It certainly had metric tons of light moments, hilarity and even silliness. But in my mind they will forever be outweighed by the the exciting, tender and even passionate moments.

      • garnet says:

        True, but for the casual observer or even some critics, CHUCK would fall into the Scarecrow and Mrs. King meet Get Smart category. Fun, but fluff.
        I see a great deal in the shows myself, and can honestly say that no show has ever caused me to be so upset (read: sad, morose, lost tearful) for such an extended period. I can only say that the cast and showrunners came up with a one-in-a-lifetime show as far as I am concerned, and it all boils down to relationship, relationship, relationship.

      • atcDave says:

        I’d agree with all of that Garnet. The irony is, I loved the show most when it was funny, fun and sweet; and yet my emotional investment was the most extreme I’ve ever felt for any show. Go figure.

  35. garnet says:

    Well, I know what my problem is, I clearly identified way too closely with too many of the characters and their experiences in the show. If I had to say which character I would most resemble, sadly it would likely be Morgan, the slightly annoying sidekick. I have had a chance to think about some of the common experiences, and a few of them are below Names have been changed to protect the innocent,.
    I was a true nerd in the day where punch cards were considered the cat’s meow and BASIC a neat language. And by the standards of the day, I was a very low-level high-school hacker. I played Zork on the university Unix and Fortan systems. I too left my engineering studies after 3+ years (as I didn’t like it). And at the same time I had a long-term girlfriend break up with me in an unfortunate way; The night after a date with me she came by holding hands with the guy she was moving in with :(. On the plus side, she didn’t come back to try to kill me.
    I was also, in my younger years, rousted from a car surrounded by 4 men (speaking a language foreign to me),with guns drawn. So I know the “girlish screams” that come from looking down gun barrels, even if the men turn out to be secret police that reasonably quickly realize you are not a terrorist. I know my way around guns and rifles, and served for several years in a part-time non-operational position with a national police service.

    I did live/study for a couple of months in East LA so the area isn’t completely unfamiliar to me. Interestingly it appears that only Canadians go into the ocean in February 🙂
    I currently work as an MD so I identify with Elie and Awesome and find some of Awesome’s lines perhaps funnier than intended. I speak a little French (badly) but even I snorted at Awesome’s MSF pronunciation.
    I am old enough to have played Missile Command (and Space invaders, PacMan, Dragon’s Lair etc) at University, although badly I have to report.
    I played the Assassin Game, something like Chuck and Bryce in Alma Mater but on a university-wide scale.
    I come from Lester’s Saskatchewan, although not a “Hin-Jew”. BTW I have wondered if that may have been someone’s subtle reference to a CBC show “Little Mosque on the Prairie”.

    So in short, I can connect/identify with these characters in a variety of ways and on several levels. They are people I would want to talk to if I ran into them on the street, and they have been, in some ways, almost like friends that I have watched from a distance for years, through thick and thin. And that is why letting them go is more difficult than any other cast I have followed.

    In case anyone thinks I am having trouble telling fantasy from reality, I have never been to Comic Con, and likely never will go. I know the cast are only characters, but I see enough of my life experiences to empathise with most of them. Well, Shaw not so much.

    • thinkling says:

      LOL. Welcome to the punch card crowd. There are quite a few of us that have experience with dropping an arm load of punch cards. I think Ernie still has his very own collection.

      I started programming when apple was a fruit, DOS was a dream, and CPM was the OS of choice for micros which were anything but micro.

      Not an MD (or any kind of D), but I have translated for a lot of doctors on medical missions. I can identify with Ellie and Devon’s Dr’s without borders experiences, and my husband has been surrounded by police with machine guns on more than one occasion, in places where they shoot first and ask questions later.

      • garnet says:

        Those were the days:). My first personal computer was an Apple IIe with an astounding 128k ram and a cassette tape player to load programs and a dot matrix printer with printout that profs were not keen on reading.
        I also am old enough that I remember seeing possibly the original Intersect, “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” with Kurt Russell.

        As far as guns go, as an 18 year old passinger in a car with, a high power rifle cartridge visible on the dash, I wasn’t convinced the Germans might not shoot first. Not to mention they were not in uniform. As it turned out someone had called the police because they heard what they thought was a shooting and had id’d our car. So they were a bit antsy when they came upon us.

        I haven’t played with firecrackers since. 🙂

      • thinkling says:

        Heh, I remember that movie. We had it at one point, but the VHS got mildew in the tropics, and we had to throw it out. 🙂

        Dot matrix printers. You couldn’t read the output, and they were loud enough to wake the dead. Line printers were like cooking with gas.

      • joe says:

        This was a mistake! Now I have to enter this contest! 😉

        My third computer was a “Trash-80”, fully loaded with 128k (that’s k, not M) of ram. It took triangular uh, 5-inch floppies that really, really flopped. I later got a 4-megabyte external hard drive for it, and that hard drive was far bigger than the computer itself, and as costly.

        My second was a TI-99. Great little machine and easily programmable in basic. My first was a Timex-Sinclar toy of a computer with “chitlets” for a keyboard. It was programmable in basic, but the only storage device was a cassette player (so I recognize that, Garnet).

        Before that I had access to an IBM 360 mainframe at school, where I learned Fortran. I do believe that’s the Mameloshn (for those who remember their Yiddish). “500-Card Pickup” was a game we frequently played back then.

      • I missed punch cards. My first programming class was on an Apple II plus, but my home computer was an Atari 800 complete with cassette player and floppy drive. It started with 48K RAM, but one 16K card was removed and a 256K card was soldered in as a replacement, bringing it up to a whopping 288K. It would sometimes overheat.

        I still have it. It worked last year. 🙂

        My Star NX-10 9-pin dot matrix printer was actually relatively high quality because it had a two-pass mode. It practically required ear plugs to operate and took forever to print, though.

      • thinkling says:

        Heh, Joe, I programmed on TRS-80’s at Tandy Corp Head Quarters (the makers of TRS-80’s). These were the ones with 8″ floppies. And overheating … some of these puppies got so hot that on long compiles, we had to remove the back of the computer and fan it. They were so slow, you’d start a compile and go to lunch. Fun times.

      • atcDave says:

        Apart from a couple Fortran classes I was never one for programming, but I did do lot’s of gaming. I had an original Atari 2600 the first year it came out. One of my college friends had done some commercial programming for the Commodore Vic 20, and I remember well when the Commodore 64 came out his reaction was “what would anyone do with all that memory!?”
        So of course the C64 was my first computer. Several of my friends also had them, but I had bragging rights as the first with a floppy drive. I still remember how a book or magazine was required for a long gaming session, so I’d have something to do during the many long period of loadings stages/levels/whatever.

      • I still have two Atari 2600s. (The Atari 800 has better graphics and was a real computer.) Some cartridges work in one and not the other. A friend had a “Total 80s” themed birthday party last fall. There’s nothing like seeing Frogger and Adventure hooked up to their 42″ HDTV.

  36. Sean says:

    Hi All,

    I am currently rewatching the series – making my way through the backend of Season 3 at present and Thinking I have to agree with your assisment of Sarah’s journey. On a side issue Chris Fedak did a podcast on in which he argued that Chuck became a Man in vs Goodbye. I would disagree with that – I reckon Chuck became a Man in Season 3’s vs The Final Exam – The stake out of Anatoli – When Sarah handed him the glasses & Chuck’s Responce – “This isn’t over” is the exact point where Chuck became a Man

    What to people think?


    • thinkling says:

      I think dkd down below has a good interpretation of what Fedak said, or meant to say, that Chuck had really grown into a mature husband at that point. I don’t think it’s splitting hairs at all to say that being a mature husband is way farther down the road of maturity than just being a man. So if you look at Chuck’s process from S1 to S5, he went from boy to man to spy to lover to protector to husband (more or less, anyway).

      It’s a process, and I think your observation about Final Exam, when he said, “this isn’t over,” is one of those moments when you go wow, he really has grown.

  37. jam says:

    I don’t remember if Fedak claimed that Chuck became a man in the finale, but if he did that’s pretty ridiculous. I’d also say that Chuck “manned up” long before that.

    • dkd says:

      I just listened today at lunch. The gist of what he said is that Chuck is a very different person sitting on the beach in the finale than he was in the pilot. I didn’t sense he was saying that those changes happened in the finale, but that what happened in the finale was the result of those changes.

      Encouraging Ellie to go to Chicago was part of him not wanting Ellie to feel that he needed her to baby him anymore.

    • thinkling says:

      We see lots of moments along the way when Chuck “manned up.” Those moments give visible evidence of the internal growth that’s been taking place.

  38. Judy says:

    One of the reasons that people became less interested in Chuck and more interested in Sarah is that his character development was largely over by the end of season 3 and definitely by the middle of season 4. The show lost its central premise where viewers could identify with the nerdy, fish out of water, Chuck. Sarah’s development continued throughout the series.

    • thinkling says:

      Interesting point, Judy. You’re probably right for some people. For me, I always found Sarah to be a more interesting, complex character. Though S4 focused more on Sarah’s growth, I saw growth in Chuck, too. Becoming a spy was an important step, but I think he still had some issues to face, and I liked the way S4 dealt with them. I know some people didn’t, but I liked it a lot.

      • atcDave says:

        To me they sort of switched as to who’s development was most interesting. In the first two seasons I thought Chcuk’s growth was most significant, in the last two it was Sarah. I prefer to skip the black box…
        But I found both characters likable and appealing throughout, they only switched in terms of growth. Both also had their occasional bad moments, but Chuck’s often seemed worse or more annoying, and I think that’s a big part of why some were disappointed with him in the later seasons. (meaning, I think it was a mistake for them to sometimes draw so much humor from Chuck, when he was also the character we were expected to relate to. Those roles were occasionally at odds)

      • thinkling says:

        I agree with that, Dave. I think the problem for writing Chuck as time went on was how to maintain his charming-nerd, regular-guy persona, even though he had grown into a capable spy. That kind of balance was hard to maintain. Sometimes it fell flat.

    • jason says:

      I find your comment really interesting too Judy, proof of which is my longish comment. I think both Chuck and Sarah have benefited and lost from the notion of ‘mash-up of genere’s’ thing that Schwartz talks about.

      For Sarah, she has carried the dramatic part of the show most seasons, I think by nature dramatic characters are more layered, more interesting. Hence, the warm, desperately seeking ‘normal’ woman mysteriously veiled by the cold, tough, harsh, superspy was really a great story.

      How Chuck unlocked the mystery that was Sarah Walker probably was the ‘linchpin’ of the Chuck story. No wonder Fedak wanted to tell it again in the finale?????

      Chuck’s character probably was most affected by the mashup in a bad way, and is a testament to ZL’s genius as he pulled it off. Few could, but as I think of it Adam Baldwin, Chevy Chase and Tim Dalton did very well, Routh and the fat old guy in the finale did not. LH sort of struggled with it, Sarah Lancaster was brilliant at it too & Josh Gomez did is surprisingly well. As late as kept man, ZL’s script called for him to play a comic buffoon, while simultaneously he had to sell that he is the man of Sarah Walker’s dreams. I thought in Baby when he, Casey & Morgan were trying to convince Sarah to take them along as backup for her mission was classic funny / dramatic Chuck working, but it worked because it did not cross the line, Sarah was convinced.

      My season 3 comment still held in season 5’s finale, Sarah Walker was a character in a drama, while the rest of the cast is in a comedy. This works OK, until the story crosses a line, or goes over a limit. Felt like in s5, once Santa came along, she got whisked away into her own dramatic tv show, while Chuck and the rest of the characters kept acting in their own ‘other’ comedy show, with only Chuck moving in and out of both. This moving back and forth made Chuck look pathetic at times, as it is hard for him to be funny (say the Beckman kissing scene in Santa), while someone is punching Sarah in the face for 60 straight minutes.

      Obviously, others liked that multiple personality disorder tv show, which is fine, but typically when the show split that way, that is when my passionate dislike for the show most manifested itself.

  39. Pingback: A Grief Observed^ — A Hope Retained (Chuck vs the Goodbye) | Chuck This

  40. George says:


    I am over two years late and likely no one will read this post, but I will respond anyhow.

    I never viewed Chuck as a laugh-track comedy, but as a light-hearted Chuck/Sarah story, or a geek 6 trying to make it with a 10. It worked very well at that level. I then read Thinkling’s original blog, which caused me to re-watch major portions of the series. Although a little sanguine, Thinkling’s analysis is correct, and leads to the conclusion that the end scene of Chuck Versus the Goodbye was an effective and good ending.

    Sarah, who was played wonderfully by Yvonne Strahovski, had her memory destroyed, which caused her to revert completely to agent Sarah. Thus, even after truth was exposed, Sarah first tells Chuck that she does not feel anything, and will disappear after killing Quinn, because “I don’t know how to be the woman that you remember me as.” It is ambiguous whether Sarah truthfully felt no connection with Chuck or desire to reconnect with him, or whether Sarah was lying to herself, because she could not break out of her agent Sarah mindset. I think it is the latter, because even in the DARPA and house scenes, she cannot, despite best efforts, completely sublimate Sarah Bartowski to agent Sarah Walker.

    In any event, the ensuing events cause her to start viewing Chuck as Sarah Bartowski saw him. Recall the exchange in Chuck Versus the Mask [3.07]:

    Chuck: If I have to see you with someone else, it might as well be a hero. Right?
    Sarah: What can I say? I have a type.
    Sarah was drawn to hero types, and Chuck had demonstrated himself to be a hero. Therefore, in the final Castle scene, Sarah does not tell Beckman that she wants to leave Burbank, or that she wants to disappear or that she even wants to undertake another mission, even though she said that was the only thing she remembered and was good at. Sarah stays in Burbank to find herself – to find the woman that had previously voluntarily and happily had married the hero Chuck and wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.

    Sarah is drawn to the beach, because she is searching for a way to reconnect with her husband. Her request for “our story” and “kiss me” are actions of a woman who has committed herself to the relationship. After that, it is rather irrelevant whether the kiss works a “magic.” Chuck and Sarah will continue on their relationship, either with memory or hoping that the memories will return. It is just as easy for me to envision Sarah saying after the kiss that “my memories are restored” or “I still do not remember, but please take me home.” Sarah was not going to say – “it didn’t work and I am leaving you and Burbank.” So, the actual detailed end is an irrelevancy, because it is only relevant that Chuck and Sarah are in fact together again, and the details are best left to one’s imagination.

    • joe says:

      Are you sure no one’s going to read this, George? 😉

      Hi. Good analysis of the finale. Something you said, though, makes it even more concrete in my mind…

      …Sarah first tells Chuck that she does not feel anything, and will disappear after killing Quinn, because “I don’t know how to be the woman that you remember me as.

      Very true, and very important, I think, especially after I remembered that Sarah told herself essentially the same thing in the video log – that, although she was in love with Chuck, she didn’t know what to do about it.

      That’s her nature – always confused, baffled and a little afraid of her own emotions. We’re going to bring this up again in a couple of weeks when we review The Goodbye again (I’m sure). But it’s becoming clear to me that, much like Ellie said, her emotions aren’t much changed. The memories, important as they are, are not everything.

      • revdr says:

        Yes, all that is true; but you cannot discount that she doesn’t remember. Sure, she offhandedly or subconsciously remembered the arrangement of cups or even the Demova Virus, but she doesn’t remember being married. Will these memories return with time? I believe so; but to say that Sarah’s in a good place, realistically, isn’t so. Take it from someone who lost some memories, it takes a lot of work, and a lot of faith, to find, and refine yourself. It’s a hopeful ending, and beginning, but Sarah, and Chuck have miles to go before they sleep.

      • garnet says:

        There will be a few people at least that read this post…. I find muself in agreement for the most part. I just keep thinking that I shouldn’t have to try so hard to justify to myself that they are in fact together and that nothing is going to tear them apart. I think that is what I will always think of as a failure in the storytelling. As some have previously noted, all that it would have taken would have been some acknowledgement on Sarah’s part that things were going to be OK. Some would have been happy with a simple shoulder bump (from the pilot) and some with something a litle more explicit such as a line…”Let’s go home”. But it remains hard to separate the fact we were watching the end of a special program and were going to be saddened no matter what, from the way it ended in what can be called bittersweet at best.

      • atcDave says:

        Garnet I agree exactly with that. I think it has to be considered a story telling failure when such a huge chunk of the audience is left wondering or unconvinced of what happened. Ideally, the story should speak for itself, not require analysis and interviews to sort it out!

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I look at it this way, compare the Sarah we see alone in her hotel room, brought to tears by her confession of love, and on the beach, laughing, crying and reacting to their story with obvious emotion openly displayed, to the one who she showed to other people, calm, cool, detached. It was a mask we’d seen before, or if you like the wall she hid behind. But the hotel showed she was still an emotional woman and the beach showed she had reconnected with who she was with Chuck, unafraid to show her real self without fear or reservation. Emotionally Sarah was all back and re-connected with Chuck.

      Granted, we don’t know the state of her memories, and no doubt they would have a tough journey ahead for a time (why I thought Rivers and Roads was the perfect song for the final scene) but I will dispute one claim.

      Sarah does remember being married to Chuck. If she didn’t Chuck would be dead. The thing that saves Chuck’s life is Sarah staring at the initials carved into the door frame and remembering doing it, in the full context of her emotions at the time, dumbfounded that she meant it and felt it, whereas previous bits of memory Chuck stirred up had no context or emotional resonance to her. She remembered them happening but couldn’t put the corresponding emotions together so they just left her confused. With the full emotional context of what she was saying and feeling as they carved their initials into the door frame she began to realize that what Chuck was telling her was true. The image of herself confessing her love was just the final proof of a truth she already knew.

      What she didn’t know was how to connect the feelings she had with the woman she thought she was as opposed to the woman she truly was. That took the beach, a story and a kiss.

      • atcDave says:

        I mostly agree, although I’m not completely sold on the carving being a concrete memory. But I agree strongly that Sarah’s behavior, her openness and overt emotionalism in the last scene is pretty compelling proof everything will be fine. This is nothing like her early behavior, only as Mrs Bartowski was she so comfortable and relaxed.

      • joe says:

        That was a great way to put it, Ernie. I also think that the carving isn’t really a concrete memory, but I’m becoming convinced that she’s starting to remember the emotions all through the episode. But like I tried to emphasize, emotions confound, confuse and even scare Sarah – they always have. She’s slowly remembering that it was Chuck who brought her past her fears and out of confusion.

        Perhaps he’s doing that again on the beach.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well I’ll just say this, it was concrete enough to stop her in her tracks and leave her staring slack-jawed and dumbfounded at what she was remembering.

      • revdr says:

        I’ll wait for three more weeks, but that’s kind of the point isn’t it? It’s that state of confusion that will make this new journey (and that’s what it is) the same tenuous one we saw for 2 1/2 seasons. The fact that the writer himself described the scenario as them “getting to fall in love all over again” leads one to believe that although the beach scene was sweet, and a full circle return to the beginning, it wasn’t a take me home situation. Although she was laughing, and listening and even asked to be kissed, she was still confused, Even if we are to believe that she isn’t the season one Sarah, and I do believe that she truly is not, she still isn’t in the Mrs. Bartowski mode either. Just by her general nature alone, it’s the not trusting her own feelings that would for stall any immediate happy ending. Unless the “magical kiss’ worked….

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I just completely disagree rev. There was nothing reserved about the last scene. And I think there’s no way “falling in love all over” means a 3 year sentence. From what we saw at the end, probably not even 3 weeks. More like 3 hours… or minutes.

      • thinkling says:

        Finale discussion. Thanks for dropping by George. Stick around for some more discussion, soon to come.

        Well put, Ernie. I’ll comment less now and hopefully more later, but I do consider the carving her first real memory — and episodic memory, not just procedural — and it’s a memory of her and Chuck. It’s doesn’t give her full context, but it does give some small anchorage to her conflicting emotions up to that point (eves dropping on Chuck and Ellie about her cold feet, the DARPA room, and the house). And the fact that it comes to her within 48 hours of Quinn’s torture and memory wipe is huge. And it does save Chuck’s life.

  41. As Garnet said, they had so many call backs to the Pilot, that the shoulder bump at the end would have made a large portions of fans happy with the ending. That non-verbal connection would have portrayed that Sarah is coming back, and as suggested in many Fanfictions stories, that just like in reality, it takes faith, patience, and hard work to restore memories, and we know Chuck in his universe would be willing to do anything for Sarah.

    • garnet says:

      The ending seems to be to be a perfect “English Teacher’s” ending. It has lots to analyze and debate, but in the end, although we did analyze CHUCK to the nth degree, it was mainly for fun, not out of desperation. I see them trying to give us an “Epic Ending”, and instead hitting a short popup to the pitcher in the bottom of the ninth….End result game over with a lot of heartbreak and limited possibility for redemption…Unless there is a movie, and with Zach’s campaign not generating the results he had hoped for, the movie is quite possibly dead in the water.

      • Yeah, I find that with Nerd HQ not crowdsourcing like he had hoped, it makes the Chuck movie a very dim prospect of being made. The ending was definitely a cop out, and if you fiercely fought to keep the show alive as many of you had, I can see it being a let-down.

  42. Pingback: Episode 5.12 | Chuck This

  43. Pingback: These Are a Few of Our Favorite Themes: The Intersect (5 of 5) | Chuck This

  44. Rachel Smith Cobleigh says:

    Beautiful, just beautiful! I was amused by how this post obviously turned into some scenes in “Sarah vs. Finding Herself”. 🙂 Great job, and thanks for sparking a wonderful discussion in the comments about how memory works, and how the Intersects might interact with it.

  45. thinkling says:

    Thanks, Rachel. As you can see the finale provoked much discussion. We went on for months. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • Today marks 5 years…writing my fan-fic allowed me to make peace with the finale but it hurts to know TPTB did not have enough foresight to know that we fans wanted a complete ending and put it on screen

  46. joe says:

    First of all, let me thank Rackel and Josh for still, after all these months/years, following and paying attention to this blog. That’s a tribute to the show and to the fans.

    Josh, just a couple of months ago Mrs. Joe and I did a marathon Chuck week and managed to get in all the episodes. Now, I can’t quite put all my thoughts to words after months have gone past, but I do recall two related thoughts from then. The show was much more about Chuck, the character, than about Sarah than I had realized after the first dozen viewings. (I hear fans saying “Huh?” all over the country and Canada. We had a major discussion early-on, how the show was really about ChuckandSarah and, of course, how much we “loved” Sarah/Yvonne.)

    Second, when you see all five seasons worth of episodes in rapid succession, the ending plays much more gently, with less abrasion, than on the first viewing. I think that’s not because I already knew the ending, but because it’s easier to recognize how themes and scenes from earlier-on are redone at the end. It’s easier to see the writer’s and creator’s intent as they attempting to re-tell (recapitulate is the proper word) Chuck’s story in rapid sequence though other characters, especially Sarah. It urges the viewers to experience Chuck’s journey again in a creative way.

    Writing endings for shows (and for books, I understand) is hard. There are not many who succeed. My all time favorite TV show ending was the last episode of the Mary Tyler Moore show, where they all hug and sing “It’s a long, long way to Tipperary” and STILL make you laugh. A major disappointment, for me, was the ending to M*A*S*H. I’d rank the finale of Chuck closer to the former than the latter.

    And again, thanks for reading!

    • IThat’s all great stuff, Joe! Rewatches are always Interesting; especially when done at different paces. Last year I introduced Chuck to a friend and we usually watch four episodes at a time whenever he comes over. This is usually enough to get through the seasonal arcs mentioned on this blog. We’re in season four about to enter the IIntersect-less arc where Volkoff is revealed and Sarah goes “kill bill” to get Chuck back…the latter part of this is my favorite episode of the show. Watching arc by arc usually means stopping at cliffhangers and my friend’s reaction is always priceless.

      Your point behind the creator’s intent with the finale is why over the years I have grown to appreciate it.

      Both those shows were before my time; though I have seen the final scene of MTM in countdown specials and such, it is the definition of the perfect way to go out.

      My Great are Friends and Frasier…but the worst for me by a mile is 7th Heaven, mainly because I just don’t get it, one bit.

      I still check for comments regularly and get notified anytime there is new content so as long as there’s something to discuss or mention I am not far behind!

    • thinkling says:

      Heh, Joe, I also did not like the M*A*S*H ending. MTM was good – a happy ending for a happy show.

      One of my favorite endings was Monk. Another least favorite finale was Merlin. It’s interesting how much the series finale colors a viewer’s entire attitude toward a show.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah the MASH finale was way too melancholy for a usually fun show. To me, that’s the real measure; does the finale honor its own show!

        You know I’ve made my peace with the Chuck finale, but that first impression will always be the lasting one. It ended a beat BEFORE I needed it to.

    • atcDave says:

      Joe I haven’t done a whole rewatch in quite some time, but I have watched a few episodes with friends and would say the show holds up extremely well. Of course I’m only watching episodes that were always favorites, but still…

      I’d also add I think we always recognized that show was mostly Chuck’s story. But many comments about the proposed alternate “Chuck & Sarah” title was actually a desire for a slightly different show with more time spent on Sarah.

      • I’ve often wished the Buy More no longer existed after it was destroyed in S3 finale…Chuck and Sarah were together and serious about staying together so I feel the show missed a transition point like it transitioned when Chuck downloads the 2.0.

        So much screen time gets wasted with the Buy Moreons that could have been used for Charah and their real friends…not that the Buy Morons weren’t friends but…the one thing I was sure of when I wrote my fanfic was the Buy More would REALLY be no more!

      • joe says:

        Yeah, Dave. That’s what I remember too – I think one time or another, we all wanted more Sarah. At least, most of us who were nerds of the male persuasion did. Right? 😉

        I agree that the show holds up pretty well after all this time. Not all of my ol’ favorites do, but I’m still very glad I spent the $ on the Chuck DVDs!

      • joe says:

        Josh, leave us a link to your fanfic!

      • atcDave says:

        We did hear that the writers meant to be done with the Buy More after S3, but the studio wouldn’t allow it. Buy More covered too much cost with product placement.

    • mr2686 says:

      Joe, I’m in agreement with everything you wrote. I usually get in 2 re-watches of Chuck every year, and the rapid watching of the 5 seasons definitely works well for the overall story. I’m also glad to see there are others that are disappointed with the MASH finale. It’s always on the top 10 list, but I never liked it. A bad or disappointing finale will often be the difference to where I put a show in my top 100, especially when it’s between that one and another show with a great finale.
      It’s hard to believe that it’s been 5 years since Chuck ended, and soon to be 10 years since Chuck started. Where has the time gone?

      • mr2686 says:

        By the way, I am in the segment of fans that are glad the show did not get rid of the Buy More. I’ve always liked a more balanced Chuck episode, with a good amount of Buy More/Ellie & Devon/Jeffster/Morgan to complement Chuck/Sarah/Casey.

      • joe says:

        Back at-ya, MR. I don’t want to be overly critical of any production, because I know that a lot of good people put a lot of hard work into these things, but another show whose ending disappointed was Castle. That was a shame because it was mostly a very good show (and yes, I’m aware of reports of some tension between cast members).
        But that ending, with Rick and Kate surviving to “live happily-ever-after” w/kids but without any explanation, expansion or exposition was a bit of a cop-out.

        One ending that I found interesting and intriguing was the finale of Person of Interest. I’m still digesting it. That show is one I’ll probably have to re-watch a few times just to understand more of the nuances.

        I expect Mr. Robot to end with some unexpected twists. The writer(s) there seem to love unexpected twists, almost to a fault! I’m assuming, but I haven’t heard yet, that it’s coming back.

        Hum… I just played some tunes as I typed, and Fall Into Place just came on. Wow. Memories. Where HAS the time gone, indeed.

  47. duckman says:

    The only product I remember from the buy more was an Oppo disc player, and 1- I was already a loyal customer before the show even aired, and 2- I didn’t even notice the placement till I saw a screen cap (probably on this site) years after it ended. Placement $$ wasted on this nerd.
    Now, the toyota commercialls with Devan,Ellie, and Morgan have me open to buying one still today. If they want me to watch commercials, that’s how.

    • atcDave says:

      Don’t forget Subway! Big Mike was the ultimate pitchman.
      But yeah, I never paid much attention to the ther items either.

    • joe says:

      Waaa? Don’t you remember the Rumbas? The Microsoft “Zoom”??? Okay – I kid. Nobody remembers the Zoom! 😉

      • Everyone, Here is a link to my fan-fic, I tried to paste a hyperlink but alas I have to settle for a basic URL path

        I am still very proud of this story for many reasons. I spent two years on it. There’s a lot of fun stuff in here, but I’d say the biggest difference between other follow ups is I tried to fill several S5 plot holes; that eventually evolved into a larger more original plot. Don’t be afraid to leave reviews!

        I was inspired by current events (no Donald trump is not in it) and made care to involve Ellie and several other characters in ways they weren’t used on the show, though Jeff, Lester and Big Mike are limited to a cameo.

        Almost all Chapters have Author’s Notes to give people an idea of where my head was at during the writing process!

      • atcDave says:

        Josh’s story is a lot of fun in a comic book, larger than life sort of way. One of the more action packed, explosive sort of epilogues.

  48. Castle was less satisfactory than Chuck was because at least with the latter we could see the method to the madness.

  49. Vish says:

    Beautifully written. I love your writing style, Thinkling. It’s very ‘visual’.

    And the finale… my brain says it was well crafted, beautifully acted, quality television. But my heart aches for something more.. this wasn’t enough..

    I always disliked when Chuck (the show) went dark. And Sarah… I can’t think of any beloved female lead who was put through so much torment… both physically and emotionally…

    My small addition: A post-credit scene perhaps. Bit of ‘fun’ to finish on a happier note.

    Chuck stops the kiss and asks, “Anything?”

    Sarah makes a thinking face “Ummmm” and shakes her head “Nope”

    But her eyes twinkle, as the signature megawatt smile lights up her face.

    The kiss resumes, as the screen fades to black.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks, Vish. Yes, that would have gone a long way toward making people feel good about the ending. If you really want more … you can read the story this thinking spawned: Sarah v. Finding Herself.

      • Vish says:

        Thanks, thinkling. Read the first two chapters. And I have no words to describe them. Seriously. As an artist who likes to visualize and create pretty pictures in 3D, your ‘visual’ writing style is perfect for me.

        Will get back to it when I find some quiet time.

      • thinkling says:

        Thanks, Vish. So glad you enjoyed it.

      • Noel U. says:

        Thank you for “SARAH v. FINDING HERSELF”.
        I was introduced to CHUCK early on in 2014 and for me it was love at first episode! My love for the show was centered around Chuck’s and Sarah’s unique and often times turbulent journey into love! How delighted I was when they finally figured it all out!
        How unhappy I was when the show ended! Without an ending! And then I read this story. What a fantastic epilogue to a finale that had left us yearning for closure! I loved every chapter of your story and especially the way Sarah’s memories began to re-surface! I had mostly come to terms with the beach scene, and talked myself into believing that somehow Chuck and Sarah would be okay but what I really wanted was a definite, black and white, no doubts whatsoever ending. You brought that to us and so much more as you created situations and events and wove them into the fabric of a delightful tale that was an absolute pleasure to read. The beauty of this story is that we got what we wanted and that is closure! Closure in a heartwarming way that definitely appeals to this romantic old soul! Thank you so much for this beautiful love story!

      • atcDave says:

        It is always awesome to hear from another Chuck fan. And you know so many of us felt exactly like you did when the show ended. I think that’s why there is SO MUCH fan fiction about ending it right. Of course, only a great show could have generated so much enthusiasm and so much fan fiction to begin with.
        I expect Thinkling will respond to you too (eventually!).

      • thinkling says:

        Thank you Noel! You are right where so many of us were throughout the show and at the end. It is nice to know the fandom is still there and growing. I think it is a timeless show, with all the intangibles we love, delivered in such a delightful mix of genre. It’s also very nice for me to know that Sarah vs Finding Herself is still being read and aiding fellow fans in their recovery from PFSAD (post finale sadness and depression). What a nice way to start the year … thanks.

      • thinkling says:

        Hehe. Thanks Dave. I just got home from church and lunch … and I did respond. Happy New Year, btw. Thanks for your faithfulness in keeping us updated on fan fiction. I do miss the Chuck comradery. Fun times. I’m deep into other projects for the moment, but I know who my supplier is when I need a Chuck fanfiction fix.

      • atcDave says:

        Yes I’ve been the community enabler for many years.

        I didn’t mean to steal your thunder, just wasn’t sure when you’d respond!
        No doubt life goes on, “Chuck” and the community are just a fraction of the time investment they used to be. I do miss it, but I’m unlikely to ever make the time for it again we all did back in 2010, 2011, 2012…

      • thinkling says:

        No worries. My thunder comes and goes. Yeah. I think I’m unlikely to ever invest as much in another show as I did in Chuck. It was fun, but I don’t have the energy for it again. Chuck was, and probably should remain, unique. 😉

  50. Vish says:

    Speaking of bittersweet ending done right, have anyone here seen 11.22.63? It’s a 8 part mini-series. Written by Stephen King. Starring James Franco and dreamy ‘Sarah’ Gadon. The ending is tragic yet wonderful. It makes you teary eyed but also puts a smile on your face. Beautiful, beautiful ending. Do give it a try. I think Chuck fans will love it.

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