Readers Digest Rewatch: The Revenge of the Intersect Arc

It’s the end of this world as we know it.

At last we reach the end.  The end of our hero’s journey and the end of the show.  For this little show to have made it 5 seasons says a lot about its creators and their dedication to the fans, and the fans dedication to the show.  I’ll tell you truly that even though this was my first foray into full-blown fandom, it feels like something totally unique.  Will there ever be another Chuck?  Can that lightning in a bottle feeling ever be recaptured?  It still seems to me, even as it could be frustrating and depressing, that I was part of a giant family that extended out past the set where the Chuck family made our favorite show.  But I’ll tell you a little secret, one I probably share with the on-set family, a part of me was glad to see Chuck end.  Mind you I would have liked about 9 more episodes so we could get a few more Seduction Impossible or Muuurder-like bottle episodes, they were just fun to watch, but I thought the end was approaching for this volume of Chuck and Sarah’s stories.  My big investment was always in their stories, much as I enjoyed each episode on its own merits.  All stories have to have and end.  I was ready for the end, sad as it would be to have all my Chuck friends and family eventually move on.  In a way I was glad to see Chuck end on its terms in its due time.  And wow,  what an end it was.

Our readers pick for our final arc is the same one the Chuck crew ended on, odd how that worked out.  And despite the controversial and somewhat polarizing ending a non-scientific sample of our readers rated this as their second favorite Season/Series Finale Arc, and some of their top episodes for season 5, with  Chuck Versus the Goodbye grabbing the #1 spot with Chuck Versus Sarah coming in at #3.  Join me for a look back at the little show that could called Chuck, the end of the line, and all that it meant to us with these final episodes.

The Revenge Of The Intersect Arc
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Chuck Versus Bo
Chuck Versus The Bullet Train
Chuck Versus Sarah
Chuck Versus Goodbye

After the jump.

Season 5 was an odd duck to me at first.  They started out with a bit of a meandering arc that didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the show.  It seemed that our heroes were more focused with finding houses, or with clients and margins or running the Buy More than catching bad-guys and saving the world.  Morgan (Morgan, really?) had become the big damn hero, and Chuck stayed in the van.  Willingly.  However briefly…  Had marriage turned Chuck and Sarah into just another old married couple so quickly?

Season 5 seems lighter to a lot of people because the main characters are all (slight Morgan detour aside) their fully realized selves.  Especially our two main heroes.  As Faith and Thinkling have shown so well 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.  It is not because of any personal failings or doubts that our heroes find themselves at risk of losing everything so close to the end of their spy career, they prepare to leave the spy work and life with no wrongs to right, no unfinished business, it is because of the intersect and the external forces swirling about that precious prize. Those aspects of the season are not dwelt on, especially early on, but they are set up both tonally and in the narrative.

I turns out that the Morgansect arc may have been a lot more important than we ever thought.  There is a foundation established, and a lens through we will be able to see some context and the story under the story when the time comes.  But before that time there is the setup for that final exit and Chuck and Sarah’s final decision to live a normal life, together.  Building a family with Chuck will be adventure enough for Sarah, and Chuck will be satisfied to be a hero to Sarah and their children.  But that life they are heading for may be harder to obtain than just deciding it is the one they want.

Think back to the jarring end of Chuck Versus The 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 sentence 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 Chuck Versus The Curse or Chuck Versus The Baby. Think of how much more visceral the fights were in Chuck Versus The Santa Suit or Chuck Versus The Baby compared to previous seasons more stylized ones.

In my view 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 dysfunctional relationships, it’s about their pasts and external forces drawing them back and preventing them from having the future they so desperately want.

From the end of Chuck Versus The Business Trip throughout the rest of the series they were constantly upping the stakes and going more dramatic and occasionally violent as a setup for the finale. It was interspersed with the lighter moments where we glimpse the life they want to have after they leave the spy world to build a sense of what they risk losing.  From the end of Chuck Versus The Business Trip, where a horrified Chuck tries to stop Clyde Decker from crossing the threshold into Casa de Walker-Bartowski (an amazing visual metaphor for the spy life invading their home-life by the way, just watch Chuck and Sarah’s reaction) there was a sense that the hourglass had been tipped, and old enemies were bent on preventing them from leaving the land of spies alive.

But here’s the interesting thing; after Chuck facing his family curse and Sarah re-living the sacrifices she made to keep people who couldn’t protect themselves safe, and both of them facing their greatest nemesis, it wasn’t anything either of them did or any enemy they made threatening to take it all away.  It was something out of Morgan’s past, and the very thing that brought them together.  The intersect.

In Chuck Versus Bo the intersect is back in Team B’s life, and that puts team B back in the field for one last mission (NEVER say one last mission Sarah!).  This puts team B on Bo’s (and other nefarious spies for hire) radar.  Since Chuck Versus Bo has already been discussed, or at least the lighter parts, I’ll concentrate on it as the setup for the final 3 episode arc.

Just a quick aside on Quinn since a lot of people complain he creates continuity problems.  Here’s my take.  Quinn was a top CIA spy, and a Fulcrum recruit.  We know Fulcrum wanted the intersect and that they wanted to take over the CIA, NSA, government in general, and that they tasked Bryce with stealing the intersect for them.  Quinn was the agent they intended to get the intersect.  When Bryce sent it to Chuck instead, Quinn had to maintain his cover as a loyal CIA agent and Fulcrum had to delay their plans to take over the CIA.  Quinn was, as he said, sent back into the field for “one last mission” whereupon he was captured and tortured for 378 days (as he says), then upon his rescue, (again as he says) dismissed from the CIA.  I say that last was for psychological reasons.  It makes him so much more understandable and dastardly.

Upon his dismissal, Quinn, who still has a lot of contacts in the CIA and sources and assets throughout the world, goes to Fulcrum to tender his services.  Since he is no longer a CIA insider and can’t act as their turncoat he becomes a contractor.  As time goes on he finds that both the CIA and Fulcrum are working on a new intersect, and he longs to posses it and the power it represents.  He works for other organizations, such as The Ring, so when he hears of another intersect, one that can give him back his skills in addition to the intel it contains, he decides he must have this new intersect.  Once again he is foiled and the Ring team captured, and once again the intersect goes into someone else, someone who doesn’t deserve it.

Eventually he finds that many of his failures and many of his clients worst defeats are the work of one team and one man, the original intersect, the new intersect, Charles Carmichael.  And now its personal.  It’s a competition to Quinn, made worse by the fact that Carmichael doesn’t even know he exists.  Quinn has a nemesis.  Carmichael has one final nemesis too, he just doesn’t know it yet.

So it was that Morgan stumbled on to the next potential intersect in Vail one weekend.  Or rather Bo Derek “stumbled” on to him.  Showing his typical discretion and sense of limits Morgan has put himself on the radar of the soon to be infamous Nicolas Quinn.

Quinn has his intersect, but he’s heard of problems with it.  The original intersect, Carmichael, was once hospitalized, The Ring went to great lengths to obtain the necessary governor for their intersect Daniel Shaw, the Gretas nearly nuked LA, and apparently it drove one Hartley Winterbottom insane for 30 years.  But Quinn has been losing to “the intersect” for years now, so there must be a way to make it work.  The opportunity to see and assess Morgan presents itself.  Frankly the idea that a few minutes with Morgan doesn’t immediately confirm his worst fears, but leads him to pronounce Morgan “fine” confirms to me the dude is clearly insane.

In addition to never saying “one last mission” never let the bad guy live, and Chuck’s desire to quit without anymore blood on their hands will cost them all dearly.  The first payment is extracted in a warehouse ambush where the intersect once again entangles itself in the lives of team B.

In Chuck Versus The Bullet Train the line between Chuck’s two worlds all but disappears. Ellie and Awesome and Alex are all integrated into Team B as backup at the Castle, the baddies are once again infiltrating the Buy More, taking hostages, and Jeffster become the flames of destiny.  But before that we have a mission.  The Mission.  Save Chuck, then the other mission, get the intersect out of Sarah, then the next mission, save Alex, then save Alex, Morgan and Awesome.  Then save Sarah.  Sadly, the last is a failure, and that failure threatens Chuck and Sarah’s dreams and their very lives.

I must admit, despite fearing for our fair heroine’s brain, the Sarahsect was kind of awesome at the end of Chuck Versus Bo and the beginning of Chuck Versus The Bullet Train.  But the same feeling I had at the end of Chuck Versus The Business Trip happens again in Chuck Versus The Bullet Train, and it is clearly intentional.  The clock is ticking on Chuck and Sarah and their race to get out of the spy-life before it’s too late. Everything from the opening credits to Quinn’s 30 minute clock on Alex’s life to the progress bar downloading the intersect suppression software is a metaphor for all of them hurtling forward, unstoppable, toward a future and a fate they can’t control or avoid.  The intersect is in the drivers seat, metaphorically speaking.

The approaching danger is contrasted one last time with the future Chuck and Sarah have decided they want.  The house, the family, maybe babies.  But to get there Chuck and Sarah must defeat Quinn and rid the world of the intersect and its hold on them once and for all.

From the moment Casey is turned against them you get the sense Chuck and Sarah realize they may not reach their goal.  It is so tantalizingly close, but the intersect, or Quinn seem determined to rob them of it, and so Sarah takes one last gamble, takes one too many risks, and we see the nearly inevitable consequence of being spies played out for Chuck and Sarah, both of them looking at that future pried away from them, looking at the other from an un-crossable chasm, unable to reach each other or stop the spy world from pulling them apart.

Though it hasn’t always been a popular aspect of the show, TPTB have always taken the emotional toll of the spy-life seriously, even as they’ve treated a lot of it comically or played the tropes game or relied on the “Rule of Cool”.  The emotional toll, the broken trust, the lies, the distance, the inability to love or make a life, has always been a part of the world they built.  Love and family have always been a liability, something the bad guys can use against them, and we see that played out once again in Chuck Versus The Bullet Train.  But there is also a strength and a trust that can’t be broken that our heroes have found by breaking the rules of the world they live in.  The question is, can they co-exist permanently.

In wrapping up their show, I think it was understandable they wanted to make the case that this was a journey, their life as spies, that had two possible endings.  The happy one they showed us in episodes like Thinkling’s Normal Arc, or the one where they stayed too long, took one too many risks, one last mission.  They showed us both.  They showed us why this wasn’t, in the end, a show that could run for 10 seasons on a procedural plot of the week, why it wasn’t a Get Smart reboot where the characters were caricatures played for pure comedy.  They wanted us to care about these wonderfully real and appealing characters and all they could be to each other, and all they risked, and ultimately all they could lose.  On that count they were more successful than anyone could imagine.

Time ran out, and Sarah was lost.  Chuck lost the love of his life, the one person who gave his life meaning and direction, and Sarah lost her chance to ever be anything other than a spy.  The loss, of everything, was always there as a possibility, throughout the entire series.  But five years on, Chuck and Sarah are very different people.  Revisiting who they were and who they became and how in the end they saved each other was, to me, the perfect way to wrap up the series.

So we saw the tragic end if they stayed too long, even as we’d glimpsed the happy future.  We saw Sarah have her real life, the one she’s always longed for, and we saw it torn away, piece by piece, and we saw the one time the team didn’t arrive in the nick of time, and we’d see the consequences.  But in the end we’d see the difference they made in each other’s lives.

I think from the very beginning, or at least by the middle of Chuck Versus Sarah they showed us Sarah’s instinct was to listen to her heart, and it was only Quinn in her ear that prevented her from doing that. Quinn had her on the defensive, suspicious of Chuck, unwilling to believe that he was as too good to be true as he seemed.  But at the same time they managed to show us a Sarah experiencing serious doubts about her mission and the man who is supposed to be her mark.  That is a season 1 Sarah, but also a very different, very season 4-5 Sarah. To me that was the core of Yvonne’s tour de force.  This is the evolved Sarah trying to fit into the original Sarah’s skin, and it isn’t quite working for her, but I think they showed us season 5 Sarah from the very 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.

We see Sarah hilariously suspicious and afraid of a man who would never hurt her, and we see her start to understand that as she spies on Chuck and Ellie, obviously conflicted by their concern for her.  Something about Sarah’s world isn’t quite right, and maybe memory loss can’t explain it all.

Again in 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. In their dream home, once again, 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 marry 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.

Watch those scenes where Sarah realizes she carved her name in the molding… and before. What is really happening to Sarah there? Consider this, we saw the visuals as Sarah’s life and memories were ripped away. Why wouldn’t we see them return? Did we?  Frankly I felt we’re being told she remembers the event, but not the context.  She can’t yet connect her feelings and emotions about what was happening to the memories I think we’re being shown.  This is just like Morgan, still needing a memory to re-connect him to himself.  Old Sarah can’t believe she was in love, and hates herself all the more for going so far for the job that she’d fake love when the mark clearly thought it real. She may be able to picture Chuck on one knee in front of her, but she can’t yet connect it to the joy she felt, so this is Season 1 Sarah experiencing feelings she can’t explain or won’t acknowledge, thinking she screwed up, taking it out on Chuck.  This is Chuck Versus The Nemesis writ large.

While seeing the carving re-awakens certain feelings in Sarah, real love and hope, the diary reconnects Sarah with the reality of her feelings toward Chuck, and reconnects her with the context of some of those memories, but she still isn’t remembering who she is.  She became a trusting and open woman with friends and family she loved and cherished, as they loved her, but for now this is First Date Sarah, or Breakup Sarah.  She acknowledges the feelings, but denies they can be realized, or define her life.  She can’t be that person, the one Chuck wants, and perhaps deserves.  So at the end of Chuck Versus Sarah, we see a Sarah we’ve seen before.  She wants to protect him, to remove any threat to him living the life he deserves, and then she wants to disappear, and perhaps remain a cherished memory to Chuck as opposed to the disappointment she feels she’d eventually become.  Running away was Sarah’s default solution before Chuck.

But as Sarah herself has said many times, she’s changed.  Chuck changed her.  She just needs to remember who she still is.  So the original Sarah, in her mind, finds herself acting on some sort of instinct she doesn’t understand, and finds herself back in the Buy More seeking Chuck’s help, but a little conflicted about ringing the bell.  Perhaps a part of her just needs to see him, or the part that trusts him instinctively and wouldn’t let her pull the trigger on him is telling her suspicious spy mind that Chuck can help, that she can trust him.  So Chuck and Sarah are back together, professionally at least, and the one last one last mission has a submission for Chuck.  Woo Sarah Walker, win her back, remind her of who she is.  Be the guy she fell in love with.  And once again the clock is ticking, as it is Sarah’s intention to run away forever after extracting her revenge on Quinn and making sure Chuck is safe.

With Chuck and Sarah back on the same side and working together most of the finale is a walk down memory lane, with call-backs to everything from their first date (I’ve lost count, is this their 5th first date?) to the Weinerliscious, to being locked up by Casey.  All the while Sarah is showing signs that she is not just remembering parts of her life, like how to stack cups at the Weinerliscious or that she likes to adjust Chuck’s tie as an excuse to touch him, but she’s re-experiencing some of those feelings she fought for so long.  Chuck kind of takes her breath away.  The problem is she’s fighting them still.  We get to see again the agent Walker who considered herself just a spy, and couldn’t believe she could ever be anything else, and we get to see Chuck once again see the real Sarah not even she recognizes, and once again show her that there could be more if she’d take that leap of faith and trust him.

Throughout the series they played the theme of Sarah having the chance to leave with Bryce or Cole, or of being ordered to leave after the 49B, or wanting and waiting to leave in season 3, but each time she decides not to leave because of Chuck.  Throughout the series we’ve seen that the very core of Chuck’s insecurities is that he isn’t good enough for Sarah, that her presence in his life will be a fleeting one.  Insecurities that stem from deep seated abandonment fears and issues, and because of that, at times he’s been excessively jealous or clingy.  We were shown that Sarah’s instinct is to seek a geographic solution to an emotional problem, and how only after she was forced to stop running and had to deal with her problems did she experience the emotional growth that made her capable of giving and receiving love.  To re-live who the characters were and reprise their journey was to me, the perfect way to end Chuck.

So Sarah leaves the spy life to find herself, and Chuck loves her enough to let her go if that’s what will make her happy.  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.  On that same beach where their story started, in one final scene they strip the entire series down to one scene that gets to the very core of the love story, Chuck learning to love selflessly and be the one supporting those who need support (rather than relying on Sarah or Ellie to support him) and Sarah learning to go with her heart and trust someone with it so she could find love.  I personally loved that they replayed that theme in the finale and ended on the same beach where Sarah learned to stop running and Chuck learned to take a leap of faith that he could trust someone to be there for him, always.

Before closing I want to make my case one last time that the happy ending is there for us to see.  I think it’s as clear as clear can be, but then, that may be just me.  Thinkling has an amusing way of describing this post.  She says I translate the love letter for people who don’t speak Schwedak-ese.  That’s all I ever hoped to be able to do, to share what I saw and loved about the finale, the final scene, or the show as a whole with people who might appreciate it in a whole new light.  So if you’ll indulge me one last time, I’ll try to show you rather than tell you.

This is season 5 Sarah from that dinner party at the end of Chuck Versus The Business Trip.  I remember this because it struck me as so different, a new side of Sarah that could be unguarded and open around those she loved and felt closest to.

This is that same Sarah, the one who can be unguarded and openly express emotion around those she loves and trusts.

The montage is the most expressive and powerful part of the Schwedak-ese dialect.  The music and the image form an emotional connection and an experience akin to our own  memory in a way dialog can’t.  We need to see and feel Sarah return, to experience it with the two of them.  Words simply aren’t adequate to convey what is happening.

The best shows teach you how to watch them, and Chuck has consistently taught us to ignore what the characters tell us, themselves, and each other, and see what they feel, experience it with them.  When Sarah told Roan that Chuck was just an asset, we knew she was lying.  When Sarah told Chuck she didn’t “feel it”, it was her old shorthand for I can’t process it.  She clearly felt it based on her trip down memory lane with her v-logs.

Was Sarah back?  Yep.  It was set up perfectly from the very beginning of the season, and shown explicitly in the finale.  Morgan didn’t regain his memories, but a story about his past instantly restored his emotional connection to Chuck.  We see the same process play out with Sarah in those final minutes.  It is there, it is set up, it is real, and at a certain level, if you aren’t willing to accept what TPTB have given you, it’s not them, it’s you.  Sorry.  Your reaction is valid, but you are reacting to the show you wanted, not the show they made.

Those last minutes on the beach were a fantastic coda for the show. Everything else is irrelevant and the core of the story is played one last time, stripped bare of the extraneous trappings.   A boy and a girl, two wounded souls who fate brought together see what’s best in each other, and come to see what’s best in themselves reflected in the others eyes. They believe in each other enough to believe in themselves again, and in doing so made their dreams come true.

~ Ernie

Joe’s Take

Way back, in Season 1, I thought Chuck’s unrequited love for Sarah was a sad thing. Remember that? She told him more than once that they had no future. (Whew! I’m so glad she was wrong!)

That wasn’t the last sad thing I saw in Chuck, of course. It wasn’t so much that they blew it in The Suburbs (although they did, and it was a bit sad), it was that the blows kept coming. After going on (multiple) first dates and becoming best friends, Chuck decided to forget about Sarah for a while and go off in search of two important people, Orion and his father. The fool gave up on them!

And even though Sarah decided nothing was more important to her than Chuck, it was sad that Chuck chose that exact moment to do “things that really matter.” Remember? Sidetracked again!

The sadness kept coming in Season 3 and there’s no denying it, it built up in us until that amazing release we had in The Honeymooners.

Season 4 was a roller coaster of frustrations as we watched Chuck fumble about a thousand proposal attempts.

Okay, I exaggerate, but it sure felt like a thousand attempts.

And when he finally did propose, we didn’t hear a word of it. It was about as romantic as Casey’s proposal in a dirty Buffalo bus station. But the proposal was more than sweet because they overcame all those obstacles. Truth is, we loved every minute because we had faith in Chuck and Sarah. We put up with all those hardships because of our faith in the characters.

Well, there’s no getting around it – Sarah was brutalized in Season 5 and in this final arc and it hurt us terribly. There was a purpose to it, though, even if that purpose was not to entertain us.

Not entertain us? Oh gee, most shows on television just hope to be entertaining and go no further than that. Many of them don’t succeed in reaching that level. Chuck was almost always entertaining. It made us laugh and gasp and smile inwardly when it wasn’t making us groan and guffaw outwardly.

I’m convinced that Chuck was striving for something more than just entertainment. Somewhere between all the silliness, fun and action scenes, it hoped to tell us something about friendship, the importance of family, trust (especially trust in yourself) and love. It told us, too, about having faith.

Chuck and Sarah are totally fictional characters, but they are us. The story was always about people who care, people who love, and people who are exactly like us, if only in part.

What happens to Chuck&Sarah at the end is up to debate because the story is not finished. That’s intentional, I believe. We are writing that ending every day in our own lives in ways that are less dramatic but no less worthy.

For five years we allowed ourselves to be affected by two very fictional characters and their friends. It’s only possible because the truths laid out weren’t there in the made-up story, but in our own lives and loves shared with friends and family.

When I think about it that way, I can’t help but think that, yes, it was a gift.

– joe

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About Ernie Davis

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

136 Responses to Readers Digest Rewatch: The Revenge of the Intersect Arc

  1. CaptMediocre says:

    The only thing obvious about the finale is that Ernie & I didn’t watch the same TV show.

    I can see what your trying to do in explaining what you and appreciate that you can see the “art” the intent in it.

    But since I have nothing to do with the creative process that put what was my favorite show on the air, my interpretation of the finale is so NOT my fault.

    The episodes were outstanding no doubt and no disagreement. I want to believe in the happy ending, but frankly it wasn’t their for me. It was biterrsweet at best.

    The fact that you and I (and others) saw completely different stories being presented is the true tragedy.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I’d agree that whether you like the ending or not, or find it uplifting or bittersweet are all highly personal and emotional responses, but to an extent they are going to depend on what you wanted out of the show, your desires and expectations. That’s just plain unavoidable. I’d never tell anyone their reaction or appreciation was “wrong”.

      But, a lot of people have said that we don’t know if Sarah comes back, finds her old self, re-connects with Chuck, stays or goes after the beach. I’m saying that at a certain level creator intent is clear and counts. If you watch that last scene and claim that Sarah is the same cold emotionless agent she tried to be throughout the finale, that she still doesn’t “feel it” you are willfully ignoring what is presented on the screen to justify your dissatisfaction. Which is fine if you want to do that, but I don’t feel the need to enable, reinforce, or allow statements along those lines to go unchallenged.

      I’m not saying you are doing this Capt, but that it has occasionally been a topic here, so I wanted to make plain in this last review that what is on the screen can’t simply be ignored. TPTB are clearly showing us that Sarah is back embracing her emotional side and has re-connected with Chuck. That much is clear.

      • atcDave says:

        I think it comes down to objective vs subjective issues. It is very easy to subjectively dislike something and have that influence our objective judgement. That is a type of bias, and of course it can lead to bad judgements. I’m not pointing fingers, we all do it on occasion. In particular, I’ve struggled with this a lot because my objective and subjective judgements are at odds here.
        Objectively, Ernie is completely correct about the intent of the episode, and that the outcome was unambiguously good for Chuck and Sarah.
        But subjectively I don’t like this episode as a finale. I’m pretty unimpressed with parallels and call backs and all the various style details involved. At least, unimpressed in the sense it has no bearing on if I ultimately like the episode or not. But even so, the most major complaints I had could have been corrected while still honoring all the various call backs. To me, the major complaint in the end is just that the pay off was inadequate and too subtle for the story that came before. From the brutal assault on Sarah at the end of Bullet Train, through an angst filled two part finale, the pay off is about 15 seconds of showing Chuck and Sarah had made it. I needed more. At a minimum, some more clear confirmation that Sarah Bartowski was back with us; the line “take me home Chuck” being an obvious minor change. But even better, in that it would have also helped my dislike of Ellie’s final scene, they could have rearranged the end TO MORE CLOSELY PARALLEL THE PILOT with Chuck and Sarah coming home from the beach to say goodbye to Ellie and Devon. We could get a call back to Honeymooners with Ellie seeing the two of them and asking if they’re back together; or a call back to the Pilot where Ellie asked “all night?!”. Basically, redo the return home from the Pilot while substituting Sarah for Morgan in the “group hug.” That would have brought a big smile to my face.

        I can translate all those specifics into some more general observations. As individual episodes, the finale arc was wonderful. All three (all four even) episodes were extremely well done, exciting, and potentially satisfying. As a finale, it was too abrupt, too incomplete. That is consistent with this writer. Chris Fedak does have many good qualities as a writer and of course I love the show he gave us, but his stories to tend to go for big shocking moments and inadequate resolution. I think that holds true of a majority of episodes he penned, but it was not such a big deal in previous episodes as there was always a “what happened next”. Now we’re stuck with an ending that left a large segment of the fandom unhappy and imagining the worst. Even if I don’t see the worst, it angers me that we are left with something that failed for so many viewers. Especially when it would have been just as easy to do things differently.

      • I couldn’t help this reply to your “that the pay off was inadequate and too subtle for the story that came before”

        Well, I guess some people needed to be hit with a 2×4, but a lot of people didn’t like that character and breaking him out so close to Santa Suit would have been repetitious.

        Sorry about that. *Sarcasm and inappropriate replies off*

      • joe says:

        Bittersweet isn’t so off-the-mark, Captn. In fact, it’s exactly right, because much of life is bittersweet. And that’s a large part of what I was trying to say.

        Thanks for saying it better.

        The only bone of contention that people have been having here (for months, now) is about the question “was it worth it?” Everyone seems to have their own level of tolerance for such a thing.

    • jam says:

      Agreed, Captn.

      “…if you aren’t willing to accept what TPTB have given you, it’s not them, it’s you. Sorry. Your reaction is valid, but you are reacting to the show you wanted, not the show they made.”

      Obviously they changed the rules for the last two episodes then, what we saw in the finale episodes didn’t fit the show they had been making up to that point. At all.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        “…if you aren’t willing to accept what TPTB have given you, it’s not them, it’s you. Sorry. Your reaction is valid, but you are reacting to the show you wanted, not the show they made.”

        I guess that sounds harsher than I meant in retrospect. My point is that if you don’t like the ending they gave us, it’s because it didn’t fulfill something you wanted or felt you needed to see, not because TPTB got it objectively wrong somehow.

        Their intent was to keep people invested in Chuck and Sarah and on the edge of their seats right up to the very end, and then pay it off with a final kiss signifying they were back together. If you didn’t like the way the show ended that’s fine, but understand it is because of your tastes and preferences, not something that TPTB had promised and didn’t deliver or dropped the ball on.

        The ending was a conscious decision to try to please the fans. You can argue that it didn’t work at some level since a lot of people didn’t get it or like it, but this constant refrain that it somehow isn’t a legitimate part of the show just baffles me. The entire memory loss and danger from the intersect was set up from the start and threats to Chuck and Sarah’s future was very much a part of this season from the very beginning. Them fighting to free themselves from the spy world and build a future together, and if they could accomplish that was a consistent theme throughout the season, taken to new heights in the final arc.

        The final scene was very similar to at least two other “series ending” scenes, the hotel in Paris and the proposal in Push Mix. You don’t know what the future holds for them other than they are going to face it together.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie not to start any trouble, but both of those other possible series ending scenes you mention are things we’ve actually discussed in just the last few weeks as also being pretty unsatisfying if they had been series finales. I think for me, Cliffhanger was the only finale that would have worked well as a series finale. Although I sure am glad we got S5, I think I will always wish the finale had been handled at least a little differently.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Dave, I know some people didn’t like those potential endings, and I wouldn’t be surprised that they didn’t like the ending we got either. But given that people shouldn’t be surprised that Fedak went for that sort of ending again. I personally liked both (and thought Cliffhanger dragged out a little too long) so I’m not surprised I liked this one too.

        I guess my point is that a lot of people complain about Fedak’s style. That’s fine if you aren’t a fan, but it is his style, and at some level viewers have to accept that he does things a certain way because he thinks it works and look past the fact that it didn’t work for you to see the intent. I think that is a better option than not being able to re-watch the show because you didn’t like the way he presented the last few seconds. Yes, a lot of people wanted something different, but it is what it is. Don’t let the fact that you desired more keep you from appreciating what you liked. Don’t let the fact that there was a front 13 of season 3 keep you from liking Honeymooners or Ring I.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with much of that Ernie, but I do think it’s always fair game to complain about the things you don’t like. Sometimes feedback makes an impact. Obviously I don’t believe criticisms should ever be personal, I don’t understand forgetting what’s good because of what’s bad, and I sure don’t get a dogmatic refusal to see what was actually on screen (confusing an emotional reaction with truth).
        But I’m perfectly happy to draw a conclusion about style and tendencies. And a big one for me is, I think Chris Fedak consistently ends his stories too abruptly with inadequate pay off. As I said, Cliffhanger is the only exception to that rule in my eyes. I would guess the fact you liked the other ones more than I did indicates you may consistently like Fedak’s work better than I ever will.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Yeah Dave, I’m a not so secret fan of Chris Fedak’s work, even though I can see he has tenancies that a lot of people find annoying. He’s pretty ambitious in setting up stories, which I like, but that means there will be a dozen possibilities that don’t get explored for the 4 or 5 that do. He likes big flashy packed to the rafters episodes like Ring, but the plot holes and stupid stick moments in those episodes are often mind boggling. He’s a firm believer in “The Rule of Cool” and we’ve seen the dangers inherent in that.

      • atcDave says:

        Several of those other Fedak traits you mention are things I love about his writing. The big spectacular adventure, almost ridiculous cool and fun moments and stunts, and a very self aware sense of humor throughout. But oh those endings…

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I doubt we’ll agree on the endings Dave, but one thing I liked about this one was that it seemed un-rushed, at least to me, where Push Mix seemed like it had too much to tie up, and only slowed down in the last few seconds as Chuck proposed.

        The feeling I got when I saw Sarah on the beech in the last scene was one of relief. At last it was just the two of them able to sit and figure things out with no mission to distract them, no nemesis to face and no business to run. The two of them suddenly had time in a way they never seemed to in the entire series. Maybe that’s why I found it hopeful even as the end of the show was a bit bittersweet.

      • atcDave says:

        Rushed is exactly how the ending felt to me. Like they spent too much time on stuff that didn’t do much for me during the episode (way too dark for way too long) and didn’t leave enough time for the good stuff at the end. But as I said, that is how I pretty much always saw the endings on Chuck.

  2. Thanks for the write-up Ernie and Joe.

  3. atcDave says:

    You know I completely agree with you about the objectively happy ending. We differ more on how satisfying or well conceived it all was. But I think the biggest issue I would take is the assertion that it was time for the show to end. It was time to make some changes to style I think; as we discussed last week, I would have happily watched a spy themed action comedy centered around characters I already love for many more years. And I think suggesting it’s a choice of a finite series journey or Get Smart is grossly oversimplifying. A vast majority of television lies somewhere between those extremes, and I would have been very happy if Chuck had found some of that middle ground. My favorite shows are often those in which people lead lives of adventure while finding much to love and celebrate along the way. I think Chuck had vast potential as that sort of show, and I will always be a little disappointed that it didn’t happen that way.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Dave, perhaps I oversimplify sometimes, but for my personal taste, given how far and fast they’d moved these characters, and the endgame they’d always pointed toward, I wanted to see that end, and there were only so many times you could defer that without losing some of my investment on seeing it. Just like playing the WT/WT too long, at some point it has to be paid off or it loses meaning. At least to me.

      Could Chuck be a satisfying show the way you describe it? Almost certainly, but at some point you’d no longer see growth and movement or goals, and as we discussed, that’s not the type of show that grabs me and keeps me invested.

      • garnet says:

        I have to say that I wasn’t ready to have CHUCK end, and the suggestion that they were us is spot on. We had friends that we didn’t directly talk with, but they acted the way I hoped I would if I were in a similar situation. Their hopes and fears were our (mine at least) fears. They seemed more 3 dimensional and “true” than most TV characters (much of the time one could forget that these guys were actors).

        That said, I think it would have sadddened me to see them become just another cast of unchanging characters (think Sheldon/Jay/Gloria/Mitchell/ Frasier/Cheers) that perform weekly to largely uninvested and often uncaring audiences. Cancel Modern Family BBT and virtually any other show on TV and I’m not going to give it a second thought. CHUCK was different. CHUCK was welcomed into our house each week, and they whole cast will be missed. I would have loved another 6-9 episodes or even a season 6. But as someone said, stories have to end. Characters have to go on into the sunset. We had the opportunity to see the ending TPTB wanted for the cast, and they did give us a good ending. I still feel that much of my disquiet with the end rests in the fact I wasn’t ready to let them go. That is my issue, not TPTB’s.

      • joe says:

        You know, I wasn’t quite ready for Chuck to end either, but I was less ready for it to change. And after season 4 (that’s not a typo S4) drastic change was inevitable.

        Instead of change, we really did get an ending. I’m so glad we got to see a little of all those things we wished for over the years, Chuck and Sarah as a power-couple (like Hart to Hart), the comedy of 86 and 99 (Get Smart), the easy partnership of Nick and Nora (The Thin Man) and all the rest. But with an end, Chuck and Sarah did not end up copying any of those. They remain unique and special.

        It was well done.

  4. thinkling says:

    Great post Ernie and Joe.

    You know I didn’t see what you saw the first time I watched. It took me a while, and for that reason, it isn’t as happy an ending (emotionally) for me as for you. Intellectually I’m all in, and emotionally, I’m maybe 99% there. But that nagging 1% vestige from my initial take away will probably always haunt the ending, if only a little.

    That said I see the beauty of the season. It’s my favorite season. I think it’s brilliant and cohesive and tightly written. It’s probably the best crafted season (except for the massive Shaw boon doggle, which was all because they like the guy personally). Looking back you can really see how everything is building toward the final battle.

    I believe it was YS best performance (in many even better than Phase 3), even though I really hated saying goodbye to overt Sarah Bartowski at the end of Bullet Train, I like watching covert Sarah Bartowski complicate things for Agent Walker. Yvonne’s Sarah was layered, conflicted, confused … and absolutely S5 Sarah from the get go, making it hard for Sarah to be the woman she remembers. She thinks she can’t be the woman Chuck remembers, but she is much more that woman than the woman she remembers. On the beach, Sarah was ready to get her life back, and whatever happened after the kiss (whether it was like I imagined and wrote it or not), it was good, with Chuck and Sarah together and in a good place.

    I like the gifs. I had already linked those two clips in my mind. It was fun to see Sarah begin to feel her life again. I like the imagery of Chuck and Sarah kissing, with the endless horizon in front of them. I like that it’s just the two of them. Nothing else matters, because they only need each other (Honeymooners, Baby). Their future is their own with endless possibilities.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Its funny Thinkling. I watched the finale twice and went to bed happy, but I literally woke up in the middle of the night to the thought that people were going to call it ambiguous and unresolved, that they’d miss the significance of “tell me our story” and forget Morgan’s nearly instantaneous return to best friend once a memory was triggered. I’d already seen some comments that people didn’t like how late the resolution came, but the thought that people would call it ambiguous hadn’t occurred to me yet. Luckily Faith was on the case.

      • atcDave says:

        It didn’t help that Fedak was crowing about his beautiful ambiguous ending all over the Internet that night. It took some significant digging to find his intended context; that it was only the speed of Sarah’s recovery that was intended to be ambiguous (ie, if the “magic kiss” worked or not); and that the more significant “emotional” recovery was intended to be complete on the beach, with no ambiguity at all.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I forgot to mention in the piece (it was getting really long) how amazing Yvonne was at perfectly capturing the evolution of Sarah Walker in the v-logs. So thanks Thinkling for bringing up Yvonne’s performance. Every one of those played the character in the exact tone she’d done at the time in question. I wonder how many times she’s re-watched Chuck.

      • thinkling says:

        Wow, Ernie, no kidding. I’m sitting there thinking where did they get these old videos? Derrrr. *facepalm* What an incredible job … on top of the other layers and nuances of the finale. Stellar. Costuming and hair style were accurate, and Yvonne did the rest exactly capturing Sarah in those 4 & 5 year old moments.

  5. thinkling says:

    One other thing, for now. I really like your explanation of Quinn. Perfect.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Thanks Thinkling, I had really hoped that Quinn would have been at the root of the bigger conspiracy and Decker one of his contacts within the CIA running a secret cabal intent on getting the intersect for him and destroying Chuck and team B for thwarting him so often. They could have left Shaw in, making Chuck think that Decker’s conspiracy was ruined, and Shaw was behind it, but made Quinn the man unleashing Shaw with Shaw trying to double-cross him and get the intersect for himself. Not much would have had to change and Quinn would be a believable crazy-guy behind the conspiracy.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I think that would have been an awesome way of continuing the conspiracy to the very end. To me, Quinn had more gravitas than Shaw, but I don’t want to make too big a thing of that. Mainly, with his contacts across the various evil organizations we encountered in the Chuckverse and the whole not being incarcerated thing, he just seemed like a more credible big bad.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree, it would have been very easy to insert Quinn in the conspiracy. And Dave, you’re right that he certainly had connections. To my mind, Quinn could have been a tool in the hands of a CIA conspirateur. Heh, who knows he (or she) may still be out there. 😉

      • joe says:

        Good points.

        I’ve started to have a visceral reaction to Quinn. I loath him in a way I never did Shaw and find him completely irredeemable in a way that Volkoff and Ted Roark never were. Had they included Quinn more tightly in the conspiracy, I could detest him no less.

        I thought his “explanation” (as it was revealed in his dialog) was adequate, and honestly, at the time I was much more concerned thinking about how Chuck and Sarah were going to resolve all this to be too concerned with details like that. It’s amazing how much detail there is in those last three episodes as it is.

        But I would have enjoyed tying Quinn up with Shaw and Decker a lot.

  6. resaw says:

    Great reviews, gentlemen. I started reading this in the morning before going to work, and when there were no comments. Now, after work, there are already 25 replies recorded (perhaps more by the time I finish this)! The one thing that is clear in the various commentaries and responses is that everyone in this community became quite invested (understatement) in the Chuck and Sarah relationship, including me. When I first saw the finale, I was confused, uncertain, and disappointed. I really do believe that the authors of a work have the right to create what they want and it seems a bit off for me or others to be complaining about the way the story ended. At the same time, reviews of works of art, indeed, critical reviews, are perfectly appropriate, and so I have no problem with the idea of viewers critiquing what they have seen.

    Ernie, I don’t think this was your intention, but it almost felt like you were saying to those, who like me, didn’t “get it,” that we are not supposed to feel that way. We feel what we feel. When I even think about the finale, even though I’m beginning to appreciate the closing scene as containing more hope than I initially thought, it still tends to bring me to tears. I don’t know why. I guess I can’t help but put myself in their shoes. Even though I am reasonably confident that were my wife to lose her memory of our relationship she would likely not attempt to kill me, the destruction of that relationship through the loss of her knowledge of “us” would be just so heartbreaking, I don’t know how could I even find the will to carry on. On the other hand, if after all that, I had a chance to sit down with her, talk about all the things she and I had done over the years, see her respond with laughter and with tears and then, despite her memory loss she asked me to kiss her, then, yes, I suppose I would have hope to carry on.

    The problem for me is that I have to work so hard to come to that hopeful conclusion. If it takes that much interpretive energy to realize that this was a hopeful ending, do we really have a hopeful ending? Why should I have to *think* my way past the feelings I experienced (and still experience!) to come to the resolution that the author supposedly intended?

    This whole discussion reminds me very much of an area that, when I was a missionary in Japan and more recently a pastor in Canada, occupied more of my time then than it does now in my current employment. That is, the whole field of biblical interpretation. As in the interpretation of the Bible, when it comes to Chuck, we try to get at authorial intent, and we do that by, among other things, understanding the context in which a section of the story is placed in relation to the rest of the story. We look for repetition of themes, words, scenes, etc. I think in that respect that Ernie did a wonderful job of setting the finale in its context and drawing out the author’s intent. So, having said that, I ultimately do not think that Ernie was saying, “do not feel that way,” but “I believe that my interpretation is most faithful to what the author intended and that interpretation is based on my careful analysis of the context in which the finale is placed.” So, like Sarah reviewing her own story, I am prepared to accept that it was a hopeful ending but I still do not feel it. Well, actually, when I read Thinkling’s story, that’s when I can feel it, but the imprint of emotion when I first saw the finale will probably stay with me no matter how many times I watch it.

    Some final thoughts, loved Casey’s bear hug in the finale. Adam Baldwin was cast in a role where grunts and few words were standard, but that hug was something else. And of course, Yvonne and Zach were outstanding. They just drew me into their story so thoroughly. I’m still amazed that I spend this much time thinking and writing about a TV show. But this show was different. I’ll miss it.

    And on a final relatively trivial note, I’ve travelled on the Shinkansen (bullet train) many times over the years. Never was there a bullet train like the one in Chuck. Even so, I was kind of hoping that the finale would have somehow included the news that their first child (or twins in Thinkling’s world, or triplet’s in Yvonne’s imagination) would have been conceived in Japan on that bullet train.

    • atcDave says:

      Really good analogy on a Bible study compared to discerning intent from the Chuck finale. I also feel like I was using some of those same techniques; although I considered some of the author’s interviews to be a little more authoritative than most Bible study notes or guides I’ve ever seen!

      But now Resaw are really telling us the bullet train set was a little bogus? I’m crushed! Normally television matches reality so closely… (just don’t get me started on aviation related story lines!)

      I do think criticism and critique of commercial arts is completely legitimate. Like any other business venture it’s in the best interests of anyone trying to make a living in that field to know how their work is being received. We all may get a little passionate about it at times, but if anything that’s a testament to the basic quality of the story, setting, and characters. Shows that don’t draw us in as completely are much easier to just walk away from with a shrug.

      I still have some problems reconciling my feelings and reaction to the ending with what I believe it showed. I think a lot of that is just because of the crushing disappointment I felt when the screen faded to black on that first viewing. So even though I was able to do some research and deeper thinking about what I’d just seen to draw a very optimistic conclusion fairly quickly, that initial reaction is still a heavy burden. But I did an S5 rewatch pretty quickly that helped me see the parallels with Morgan’s story, and the extended cut made a big difference to me. So this last time I watched Goodbye (number six) I found myself reacting more joyfully than I ever thought I would. I am finally “feeling it!”

      • resaw says:

        I realize I didn’t quite finish my biblical interpretation analogy. I recall a seminary prof pointing out that one should generally choose the simpler interpretation. That is, if it takes too much work to arrive at a particular conclusion, that conclusion is suspect. Related to this, if the work presented is ambiguous, then the best interpretation is an ambiguous one, which in our particular case means that the various interpretations, some positive, some negative, some uncertain, are all within the horizon of possibilities for the Chuck finale. In some sense, in the interviews following the finale, Fedak had to interpret his ending for his viewers, but in a way, once it’s out there, the work is no longer in his control; interpretation is now left to the viewer. If the author had intended a less ambiguous finale, then he could have written it less ambiguously. He didn’t, so the ambiguity remains and is part of the “canon” that we must live with.

      • atcDave says:

        While I do agree the most obvious interpretation is generally the best, I think the intent of the writer still matters for something. There are plenty of examples, even just with Chuck, of things the writers said that were not plainly in evidence and I think the writers comments can be viewed as suspect; as in, not really representing what we saw on screen.
        But I disagree about the finale, I think the stated intent is easily within the realm of what we saw on screen (Sarah had emotionally recovered, the only intended ambiguity was the timing and extent of memories actually returning); and as that intent has been clearly stated by the writer I think it is most reasonable to consider that to be nearly canon. If we had clearly seen something contrary to that on screen (“but Shaw is a great spy…”) it would be a different situation. I would say the simplest interpretation is that what the writer said is exactly true.
        Now I would agree with calling it a bit of a story telling failure that so many of us seem to require the author’s notes to see the intended ending. Something needed to be done to make the ending more clear or definitive.

      • The obvious interpretation is taken directly from them kissing multiple times at end. The ambiguity if the kiss was Disney magical or just magical.

      • atcDave says:

        Thank you Jeff for cutting right to the chase. I do have a tendency to follow the harder path first…

    • joe says:

      Thanks, Resaw.

      I’ve been thinking for a long time that Christian themes ran throughout the show, sometimes subtly, sometimes not. I haven’t mentioned it in a while, and I really haven’t noticed it quite as much in S5. But I’m pleased that I’m not the only one who’s picked up on it.

      • resaw says:

        In a response to Thinkling’s work, I expressed a more explicitly Christian interpretation to what I saw in the Chuck finale: “I see Chuck as a kind of Christ-figure, offering selfless, sacrificial “agape” love. Sarah represents humankind. Sarah is experiencing redemption, and is remembering that her destiny lies in relationship with Chuck, just as humankind is wooed by a gracious, loving God, seeking reconciliation with a humanity that has forgotten to whom it belongs.” Excuse me for getting all theological….

      • atcDave says:

        Its no coincidence Christ choose marriage; specifically the love of a husband for his wife, as the metaphor for himself to the church!

      • thinkling says:

        Resaw, I think redemption is a theme, sometimes subtle, sometimes not, running through Chuck. We’ve commented on it in various posts. As to Dave’s point, that’s the kind of husband we see Chuck being to Sarah, and he reaches her through that love.

      • atcDave says:

        Exactly Thinkling.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Ernie, I don’t think this was your intention, but it almost felt like you were saying to those, who like me, didn’t “get it,” that we are not supposed to feel that way.

      resaw, that certainly isn’t my intent, and I think I’ve very explicitly stated I am not trying to discount anyone’s feelings about the finale. I think you correctly summarized a part of what I am trying to do later in your excellent post. I may be trying to change a few minds, but only if they want to be changed.

      A number of people have said they find it impossible to re-watch or enjoy the show based on their interpretation or impressions of the last episode or the last few minutes of the last episode. I find that sad, and hope to be able to provide what I think is a more accurate reading of where the end left Sarah and Chuck, together, in love, and moving forward with their lives together, whatever challenges they may face. A number of people have said they killed Sarah Bartowski at the end of Bullet Train, never to return. I’m trying to show that she was there all along just under Agent Walker’s carefully constructed facade, occasionally breaking the surface like when Sarah couldn’t pull the trigger on Chuck in the white room, or when she watched herself declaring her love for Chuck in the v-logs. Or when she is stunned into silent inaction upon remembering carving her initials into a door-frame as a symbol of the life she wanted to build with Chuck. In the final scene, it’s all Sarah Bartowski. Agent Walker’s facade is gone, and the Sarah laughing and crying with Chuck as they re-live their story on the beach is the same one we’ve seen all season, with a few memory issues that may or may not be resolved with a magical kiss.

  7. ww1posterfan says:

    Ernie/Joe,
    Thanks for the wonderful analysis and summary of this final arc. Anyone that has read any of my previous comments knows I, too, didn’t “feel it” on first viewing. In fact, I found “Chuck This!” in my quest for answers, specifically to put myself at ease over what I saw. So, no matter how sad I was on the first viewing, something good came out of it by introducing me to this wonderful “Chuck” fandom/community. And, I wanted to extend a huge thank you to all the contributors of this site for the time and effort you have put into your reviews and comments. You and this site are truly appreciated.
    Ernie, I’m not sure where you learned Schwedakese (is there a Rosetta Stone app for that?), but you are obviously fluent. I agree with your interpretation of this last arc (and season setup)in its entirety. I think many of us have echoed those themes repeatedly over the last few months, but you have put them into one of the most extremely cogent and persuasive arguments to date. I also think you are correct in your thoughts that our expectations and immersion into the Chuckverse played into our perceptions of the finale. Those expectations definitely exacerbate the chasm between those who found unbridled hope and joy and those still searching for it. I wish writing were as easy as geometric proofs were for me, but I’ve never been able to translate that logic from math language to English, but here goes. One side feels that the finale was not consistent with the show they had been watching and the payoff was too little. Another side feels the finale is completely in line with other finales, the payoff was appropriate, and the arc had been properly set up throughout the season’s previous episodes. I’ve come to the conclusion that both sides are correct. Here is why: Fedak’s own words. Fedak stated unequivocally that “they had to do something special and it had to feel different from what had been done in the past.” He goes on to discuss that they wanted it to be emotional and “fold down to what was the core of the show”, i.e. the Chuck and Sarah relationship, specifically “what if he didn’t get the girl? The stakes of the show were the relationship.” Lastly, he discusses how they wanted the final scene to be “much more of a heavy moment, more evocative.” I also don’t believe Fedak was a fan of the “true love’s kiss moment, either. Again, he states that “a snap moment would have undercut the good and great work and performances .” And, he reiterated his fondness for their being “something moving about Chuck and Sarah falling in love again” and ending on the “promise of the kiss…..the beginning of closure.”
    This finale and especially this ending were meant to be different, or maybe the better term is intensified. Fedak addresses the moment in Bullet Train where the train splits and Sarah is in the wrong car. He characterized it as “the stakes being very real-bigger than some of the death scenes, bigger than the death of Steven Bartowski.” I know that’s how I felt. You are absolutely correct in that they kept ratcheting up the stakes and the consequences as S5 progressed in order to get us to plumb the depths of those emotions. However, here is my “BUT” to all of this. That’s not the ride many fans thought they were taking after S4. And if you weren’t paying close attention throughout S5, you might have missed the fact you were watching a season closer to the darker half of S3. Also, while I can appreciate the beauty in revisiting the themes of the show, for a large segment of the fandom that was tired of Wt/Wt at the end of S2, bringing that aspect back was a risky proposition at best and creating that situation by brutalizing a beloved character was bold(?). Whereas many can see a retelling of the love story (which I can and do), many can only see an unnecessary return to angst that in their minds could have been replaced with a more traditional epilogue style of ending set up with more story to tell coupled with the whiff on the whole conspiracy storyline.
    Fedak felt the passion of the fans both positive and negative was the “show working.” I think he exceeded his wildest dreams with this finale and is unconcerned about the negative feedback. He did it his way and got the heightened emotional response he was trying to create. While I may not like it, I respect it. Joe stated that he thought TPTB of Chuck were trying to do more than entertain us. I think their idea of entertainment is to make the audience think and feel. Fedak can proclaim “mission accomplished” because he did indeed take “the stakes of the show into the last frames.” Those last frames were incredibly beautiful and touching as Thinkling and you, yourself, Ernie described earlier. Trust me, I have been thinking and feeling for months now. And, while I have come to see and feel the happy in the ending and the “genius” of this last season, even the best treatise in the world may not sway or repair the shattered expectations of many of the fans who indeed were watching a different show and expecting a different type of ending, a misdirection not of their own making. So, what I’m saying is your effort is noble Ernie trying to restore some fans’s ability to enjoy Chuck again and layout the intent and context, but TPTB may have, like Chuck and Sarah, taken one too many risks with some of their fans and erased their ability to connect and remember the joy they felt over the previous 5 years.

    • atcDave says:

      Wow, some really great observations there WW1. I think my own reaction to the ending/finale itself is similar to yours; but I think my final judgement is less generous. I’m still angry that such a risk was taken, and it was something that hurt or angered a significant portion of the fanbase. I would have vastly prefered an ending that would have had a more unifying effect on the audience. And although it’s likely true nothing could have pleased everyone, there were episodes like Honeymooners, Phase Three, and even Push Mix that seemed to please a significant portion. Like back in the S2 days. I think it would have been a simple enough matter to be more definite in the end in a way that would have been more broadly appreciated. And in case it needs saying, I’m not truly worried about “mass appeal”; I just wish we’d had something that would have worked for a bigger part of the fandom that bought sandwiches and wrote to advertisers for the last three years.
      In the end; I’m happy with the finale and it works for me, but only barely. The risk taken and the effect on the audience is such that I will be very hesitant to ever invest in another Fedak project. I simply do not trust him to satisfy me.

      • Gord says:

        WW1, ATCDave.
        Very interesting comments, and I agree with just about everything said.
        Although I personally loved the finale, I know I would have loved a S5 finale without the angst. I’m not sure I would have loved it as much, but if it made more of the fans happy about the finale then it would have been worth it.

        In early S5, when I learned that there was an episode called Vs The Bullet Train, I was thinking it would be a Honeymooners 2 kind of episode and silly me, I was hoping that we would see the Charlesesez again. But as the season moved on it became more and more intense and dramatic and by the time we got to Bullet train I knew we weren’t going to get the light episodes many fans were hoping for.

        That was ok for me, because I thought these episodes were very well done. Unfortunately, it wasn’t ok for a good portion of the fans. In that way, I really think TPTB blew S5.

        Unlike you ATCDave, I would give another Fedak project a try because there were so many elements of Chuck that were just so special. When I look back on this series I can count on one hand the episodes that really bothered me (mostly early S3) and even in those episodes there were still some very fun moments. I can think of only a few long-running shows in my lifetime that gave me that kind of satisfaction.

      • atcDave says:

        I always try very hard not to be absolute about saying I would not invest in another Fedak project. I obviously like a lot about his sense of fun and adventure. But I REALLY don’t like his idea of endings.
        For many (most!) of those involved with Chuck, that association is a good thing, and I will probably at least take a look at whatever they’re involved with. I’m not one who would say “I’ll watch Zach/ Yvonne in anything they do…” because, well, I won’t. I make my viewing decisions carefully and do my research before starting a new show. A Chuck association will earn bonus points for most any new show, but it won’t ever make anything a sure thing. Chris Fedak probably comes out of the whole thing with the most mixed record for me. I may find myself noticing a lot of his work in the future as I suspect he will often be drawn to the same sort of shows I am. But unlike the others, I think his name will give me pause. I’m just not sure if he knows how to write to my satisfaction.

        But as far as the ending overall, I was fine with ratcheting up tension for an intense and exciting run for the finish line. As I’ve said elsewhere, I likely would have been fine with everything else they did with just a little more assurance at the very end.

      • BigKev67 says:

        @Dave,
        Perfectly put.
        At this point I’d say my own relationship with Fedak’s work and style is “complicated” bordering on schizophrenic…
        On the one hand he gave me 2 of the best seasons of TV that I’ve ever seen, and a third that I enjoyed immensely despite its flaws. He created the world and the characters, found a spectacular cast and through them introduced me to a fandom which has been a mini-family in a lot of ways, and introduced me to new friends, both actual and virtual. I have Fedak to thank for all that.
        On the other hand he has certain elements to his style and how he tells and structures his stories that, to be frank, drive me up the wall. Some of them would have been deal breakers on any other show. And over the last 2 seasons of Chuck the multitude of those elements built up into a show that frustrated me as often as it excited me. And he gave me an ending that, genuinely although unintentionally, is one of the most disappointing things I’ve ever seen on any show I’ve liked.
        Ernie’s right though. His style is his style and it’s probably not going to change. The worrying thing for me is that the 2 seasons he was “solely” in charge of were the 2 seasons I enjoyed least. My own theory is that Schwartz kept a lid on some of the Fedak traits that I didn’t like so much, and kept his stories tighter and more coherent.
        I think my thought right now is that I would watch another Fedak/Schwartz collaboration – but if it’s just Fedak, I’ll probably skip it – or maybe just watch the first 2 seasons! 🙂

      • thinkling says:

        Well, surprise, surprise. I agree with Dave about Fedak and ZL and YS and future viewing. I would say I would give Fedak’s stuff a shot, but guard myself against expectations and emotional involvement.

        I loved S5 the best I think. First half of S3 was the only sizeable chunk of Chuck I didn’t like. You’re right Gord that S5 is as dramatic, really more so, than S3. S5 is everything all grown up, including the stakes in the game. As long as the threats are external and not the trope of LIs and inner turmoil or relationship immaturity, I’m fine.

        Now the light moments of S5 were among the lightest of the show. Unencumbered with any form of insecurity or relationship doubts or drama, they were just pure joy. Maybe that’s why people seem to think it was a light season. But the brilliance was the undertow of the spy world that became stronger and stronger. That’s really what it was like (if you’ve ever been caught in undertow). Heh, they made it back to the beach. I call the ending reassuring.

      • thinkling says:

        Sorry, I’ll just add that the state of Chuck and Sarah’s relationship made the drama acceptable — great even — in S5. In S3, it was the angst and drama inside their relationship that made the heaviness of the season too much to bear.

      • BigKev67 says:

        Re-reading my post it looks like I’m being harsh on S5. I don’t mean to be. I enjoyed S5 a lot – ending aside – but it does come in behind Seasons 2, 1 and 3.
        So 4 seasons I enjoyed, against one that I didn’t and an ending that nearly undermined the whole series for me – you can see why I’m conflicted!

      • thinkling says:

        I totally do, Kev. I didn’t really take your post as harsh. I was really responding more to Gord’s comments about the darkness in S5. It was balanced by the light and joy in the marriage, which seemed perfect to me. It’s the kind of drama I like and could continue watching seasons like S5 … except for the extremes like amnesia and sooo much torture. So many episodes were like that: Business Trip with the family/ally montage; Baby with the intense Ryker stuff mixed with the fantastic family party with Sarah’s mom; Bo with Sarah going from champagne and dreams to the Alamo; even Bullet Train with the happiness of the scene in the sleeper car deteriorating quickly into the horror that came after.

        Sorry I got off on a tangent, but I do see your conflict over S5, especially with how the finale affected you.

      • ww1posterfan says:

        I wouldn’t say my final judgment is more generous than yours. I’m an odd duck. I went through some really tough years 2004-2008. The last 4 years I have literally worked every day to find the positive in everything and focus on what I can control–mainly how I respond to situations. So, I can’t change the ending or Fedak and his style or any of it. But, I am at choice to how I ultimately respond to it. I can find the beauty/artistry/genius in it and enjoy those elements or I can give my power away and feel angry/miserable/disappointed. I’ve said this before, I’m simply not going to let the fact I didn’t get the ending I hoped for and expected keep me from enjoying a truly one of a kind show. Doing that only deprives me of enjoying dozens of wonderful episodes and does not hurt/affect Fedak one iota. He did it (the show and the finale in particular) his way and is proud of it-not in a malicious manner, but as an artist he delivered on what he intended. As for watching future Fedak projects, I probably would. However, I will maintain a 30,000 foot view and try to enjoy his process rather than invest in any characters or relationships to the extent I have with Chuck. The only other show I invested in this heavily was Babylon 5. Oh, and I really enjoyed The Tudors. I am currently watching Once Upon a Time, but, again, I am maintaining a safe distance from the characters because of Kitsis and Horowitz’s reputation with Lost. I watch very little TV at all. Too many shows are mindless drivel or overly politicized. Chuck was special-a show that focused on the important things-things that really matter.

      • BigKev67 says:

        @Thinkling,
        It’s more a conflict over Fedak as a whole rather than S5 to be honest. In an ideal world, I’d hire Fedak and use his genius at ideas, premises and imagining wonderful characters and stories. Then I’d kick him out of the room and hire someone else to make sure that the story is paced over the entire season rather than tossed into the last 3 epsiodes, that the mythology bears scrutiny, and – most importantly – that the characters drive the plot and not the other way round. The more “technical”, less glamorous parts of story construction and consistency, if you like. I think Fedak has huge weaknesses in those areas, and they’re normally really important in shows that I like. I expected him to get better at them as the series went on, and if anything, he got worse, so if someone else was taking care of those, leaving Fedak to be the “creative genius”, I’d be more than happy.
        I might stick a sub-clause into the contract for good measure – “under no circumstances will Brandon Routh be hired, extended or otherwise referred to. Also, the series finale will have 2 endings – one written by Fedak, and one written by anyone else!”

        See? Everyone wins!! 🙂

      • thinkling says:

        @BigKev: That actually sounds like a winning plan.

      • atcDave says:

        Kev I think I’d be very happy with Fedak as a staff writer, but not so much as a show runner. Although I think we draw some very different conclusions about Schwartz.I simply think his genre is teen angst, and I’m unlikely to cross paths with him again. I completely blame Schwartz for my least favorite elements of the show, the love triangles and heavy handed angst. For me, those things just flat out ruined S3, the only season I have serious reservations about. But as we were discussing a few days ago, for me Cliffhanger is the only completely acceptable season or mid-point finale of the entire series to me; and that’s a frighteningly bad average I would have to consider before following another of his shows.

      • BigKev67 says:

        @Dave,
        Completely take your point about Schwartz’s teen angst. It’s definitely swings and roundabouts with him, and Gossip Girl and HoD hold no interest for me. But I can’t ignore the fact that he co-wrote 2 of my favourite 3 episodes, (First Date and Pilot) and oversaw my 2 favourite seasons – whereas Fedak’s solo scripts never grabbed me quite as much (save for Nemesis and Gravitron). I don’t know enough about sciptwriting to be specific about what he contributed – but I’d characterise it as a snap and a tightness to the first 2 seasons that was never apparent again after he left. My suspicion is that he was much less hands on in S3 because of other commitments, so you may have got the worst of both worlds, where his wt/wt drove the story but without the snap and tightness that I mentioned. That’s one possible (hare-brained) theory. But the Schwedak working model of seasons 1 and 2 is my favourite incarnation of the show by some distance, so I’m always happy to give Josh his requisite share of credit for that.

    • thinkling says:

      Parlez Schwedakese? Great comments WW1!!! You know we agree on so much of all of this. It was a journey for me as well.

      • ww1posterfan says:

        No, I had to rely on you, Ernie, and Faith for my Schwedakese translation; although I’m starting to pick a phrase up here and there…probably enough to order a beer and ask where the bathroom is. 🙂 As for a journey, It’s hard for me to believe it was this time last year when I received my S1,2,and 3 disks and started my marathon viewing after rediscovering the show. I guess my compressed immersion into Chuckverse also influenced my initial response to the finale. Like Sarah, I needed a little more time to process it.

    • BigKev67 says:

      That’s a wonderful post WW1 and I have some thoughts on it but for now I have a question – which Fedak interview are you referring to? There’s obviously one I’ve missed because I don’t remember seeing those quotes.

      • ww1posterfan says:

        Kev,

        I got all of those quotes from Podcast #105 over at ChuckTV. All of it is in the first 40 minutes of the podcast. The podcast actually runs over an hour, but I haven’t listened to the last half. He gets asked about the conspiracy “plot” and provides a meandering, hedged answer which I still haven’t formed a concrete opinion about. I’ll be on the lookout for your thoughts.

      • BigKev67 says:

        Hm. I did listen to that interview but I concede I was probably too annoyed with all things Fedak to pay close attention. I’ll go back and give it another listen. Thanks WW1!

      • ww1posterfan says:

        Yeah, the first time I listened to it a few months back, I think I was listening for what I wanted to hear rather than absorbing what was actually being said.

  8. joe says:

    I was able to see the last 45 minutes of the Chuck ComiCon panel this afternoon (and for that, I thank you, Jam, for the link). As an FYI, Yvonne will be on the Dexter panel at 9:00 Eastern and if all goes according to schedule, you can see the UStream Video here.

    And thanks for that too, Mel!

    But apropos of this this thread, Zac was asked at the end what he thought of the Chuck finale. I tried to take notes, but I’m just not good at doing that in real time. Still, I got the gist of what he said and thought you might find it interesting.

    I had a great sense of deja-vu as I typed. Perhaps Zac has said these words before, but when he was asked if the ending was “satisfying”, after a pause for consideration, his three word answer was “I don’t know.”

    He did elaborate, saying that all the scenes that revisited past episodes (specifically, he mentioned the German Weinerlicious, but he meant them all) were for the fans who had seen every episode. It was easy for me to think that he was referencing Fedak’s “Gift to the fans.”

    He said that many of the scenes in the finale were hard to do and emotional – real tears as they were saying goodbye to real friends (Adam, not Casey, for instance). Zac said the he was the one who told “them” to turn off the sound on the beach scene – that was Zac and Yvonne talking about life that we saw.

    He then said he found the ending to be very “poetic” (his word). I think he was trying to indicate that he saw artistry in the ending, and he coupled it with the idea that Chuck had always been “entertaining.” It almost felt like he was trying to say they didn’t try to do more of the entertaining aspect, but more of the “poetry” for the finale, but that may just me my reading into his words.

    When Zac reiterated the question “Was it satisfying?” he just let it trail off without really answering. My impression was that we too wanted something a bit more definitive for Chuck and Sarah. It sounded very much like, months ago, Zac tied up Dave and Ernie and was writing for them. Maybe me too.

    He could never write well enough to make us believe he was also Faith and Thinkling! 😉

    • Zac said he likes to think Sarah got all of her memories back.

      That really doesn’t matter though. Yvonne thinks Chuck and Sarah have 10 kids! So even if she doesn’t get her memories back, as Zac said, “That’s a lot of sexy time.” That means they have a lot of work to do after the twins in Thinkling’s story.

    • atcDave says:

      One thing I truly appreciate about Zach is that he does seem to really care about how the experience was for the fans. Much as I feel sometimes like the ending was disrespectful to many of us, it seems like Zach gets exactly why and seems to regret it some. He might not have seen it while they were in their production bubble, but he gets it now.

      I do love some of the details about how they shot all those ending scenes; especially the Chuck/Sarah scene. It really adds some extra weight to the proceedings for me (I like knowing that they all really were friends).
      I also like Zach and Yvonne’s comments on the future for Chuck and Sarah. Now they are serious optimists!

      • jam says:

        He actually asked the audience today about it, how many thought the ending was disappointing, and who believed Sarah regained her memories. He’s definitely aware of the disappointment.

        Hearing that he believes in a happy ending and Sarah getting her memories back is nice, BUT I think it’s a clear sign of a failure that the writers and the actors even have to address the issue.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh yeah, I agree with that totally Jam. I do accept their explanations as (quasi) canon, but it has to be considered a major failure to have to continually explain the end and offer reassurance. A successful end would have left fans satisfied and content; and yes I know not everyone would agree with my definition, but I mean it 100%.

        But I really do appreciate that they make the effort!

    • joe says:

      Jeff mentions that Yvonne thinks Chuck and Sarah will have 10 kids.

      I think I know where you got that from, Jeff!

    • aerox says:

      It was a painfully PR-trained answer to be honest. I got the impression that he was teetering on the brink of giving in and showing some displeasure, while still trying to maintain an air of dignity about a show that he’s put his heart in for the past five years. Commendable? Sure. What I really wanted to hear? Not really. I’ve got the dozens of interviews before this one for that.

    • dkd says:

      The key thing I detected in the way Zac answered the question is that he doesn’t want to dictate to anyone what to think about the finale. He answered the question in a way that is respectful of of all opinions–negative or positive.

      He navigated it very well, IMO.

      • Yvonne tries to joke about which set is best, while not offending any Dexter or Chuck fans or her new coworkers and bosses. People say yikes. Zac tries to be diplomatic about people’s feelings towards the ending. People say he’s not happy about the ending and shouldn’t have been put in a position to worry about people’s feelings. And any time Fedak was interviewed… Some people are never happy and always look for the worst.

        However, even if his message was mostly true, Greenblatt was still rude.

      • atcDave says:

        Funny Jeff, you seemed to sum it all up nicely!

      • joe says:

        And so did dkd above. For what it’s worth, that’s pretty much my take on their words too.

        Yvonne did look like she was having a good time, especially doing her little dance with Zac. It’s mandatory that we don’t confuse the characters with the actors (and in general, the fans are pretty good with that). But it’s a little harder for most of us to understand that we really don’t (and can’t) know them all that well, personally (with rare exceptions, of course). It’s great that the cast of Chuck has been so accessible to the fans, but we still only see a part of them.

        For instance, I’m starting to understand that when Yvonne said a long time ago that she’s a bit of a tomboy, she wasn’t kidding! The lady likes to laugh.

      • jam says:

        Unfortunately there are still plenty of people who confuse the characters with the actors Jeff. People have been asking why ZL and YS don’t follow each other on twitter, but I think this weekend demonstrated why they avoided doing it for so long. Some folks get rather creepy about any kind of interaction between them.

      • jam says:

        Oh it was Joe, not Jeff who I was replying to. :p

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Jam its a little scary sometimes how much fans want to intrude or impose on favorite performers. It seems so obvious watching them have fun together that they were all friends; AND, that the actors are VERY different people from the characters they played. I mean would Chuck have ever been so calm cool and in control? Would Sarah have ever been so silly rambunctious and outrageous?
        Again, it makes me happy they all seem to be friends (if nothing else, it makes it that much more likely they will want to do a reunion project some day!). But beyond that their personal lives are personal, and we are not a part of them.

      • BigKev67 says:

        Finally had a chance to see the second Chuck panel at Nerd HQ – and I completely echo DKD’s thoughts about how well Zac handled it. He brought it up unprompted for a start, which I appreciated. He was honest about what he loved about it and what satisfied him, and what they were trying to do – but acknowledged that it’s a polarising question and that a lot of people were disappointed. I know I appreciated an honest answer, and not some standard PR line that insulted my intelligence. The more I see of Zac and what he’s about, the more impressed I am.

      • jam says:

        Agreed about ZL, from everything I saw last weekend and what other people said/wrote about him he seems to be a truly awesome human being.

  9. Gord says:

    One comment you made very early in this analysis was how you thought S5 was lighter. I disagree. I thought for the most part it was the most intense season of Chuck there ever was. It did have its light moments, but especially the last half of the season it was more violent, and dramatic than any other season.

    I’m not saying it was a bad thing, but to me it was so different than what we were used to. The closest to compare it with would be early S3, but with the exception of Morgansect, I enjoyed S5 much more than I enjoyed early S3. Maybe it was the fact that Chuck and Sarah were together.

    I am also in the minority (or almost silent majority) that did love the finale with its happy but bittersweet ending. When you think about it, isn’t that what the end of a favourite show should feel like – bitter sweet? The two hour finale tore at my heart strings through most of it, but those final moments to me felt so good. As Chuck might have said – I was heart warmed.

    I can’t say that I wouldn’t have loved just another 5 minutes of epilogue where we would see Chuck, Sarah and their kids living in the house with the red door and the picket fence, having a family dinner with the extended family gathered. Casey and Gertrude back from Dresden, Ellie, Awesome and Clara visiting from Chicago, Mama B, Mama W, Molly, Morgan and Alex also gathered around.

    Yet it wasn’t necessary, because that is what I see in my mind in their future. There has been some excellent fanfic written about what happens next with our favourite couple as well. Props to Thinkling on the excellent job she did with her post S5 story.

    One thing I have noticed about the post S5 fanfic is that just about every one of the stories has them being pulled back into the spy life on occasion. I think if there was a S6 and beyond that is exactly what we would see happening. After all Chuck and Sarah are destined to keep saving the world and seeing them juggling spy life and family life would be a treat. For that reason, unlike Ernie, I wasn’t ready to see Chuck end. I really would have loved a few seasons where we would see the June and Ward Cleaver of the spy world happily raising a family while kicking bad guy butt.

  10. resaw says:

    If I can step back from my previous comments about the finale for a bit, I just rewatched vs. Sarah, and once again found the emotional impact of the story from the point where Ellie deliberately crashes the car, because she knows that Sarah would have wanted her to do whatever she could to protect Chuck, to be tremendous. It was just one heart-rending scene after another from there forward: Chuck and Sarah in their house, Chuck reminding Sarah of their first kiss, Chuck risking it all by setting Sarah free and then just about getting killed for doing so (analogies of Christian grace abound here), Sarah remembering the event the carving of their names on the doorframe, Sarah’s expression of genuine concern when Chuck was shot by Quinn, Casey’s conversation with Sarah in the hotel room, and Sarah’s review of her video log and dawning awareness of who Chuck really is to her. This was all just tremendous. From my point of view, especially following the video-log, I see that Sarah was falling in love with Chuck all over again, but she was back in early Sarah mode, unwilling to acknowledge that love, and so she came to Chuck to say that she believed him but that she would have to say good-bye.

    I probably say it too often, but Zach and Yvonne portrayed their characters in outstanding fashion. I was totally drawn into their world. I really appreciated Sarah Lancaster’s work as Ellie in this episode as well. If I recall, Yvonne used the word “tragic” to describe the story as it neared its end, and I can’t disagree with that assessment, but it was as well written and well-performed an episode as I could imagine.

  11. resaw says:

    I had a hard time bringing myself to watch the finale again. I finally did so, and I actually stopped the video along the way multiple times to make notes of my impressions, the things I appreciated, the things I felt I could have done without, etc. The bottom line is, I see a lot more hope in the finale than I did in my previous viewings. Some ambiguity remains, and much has been lost with Sarah’s memories, but Chuck and Sarah have that emotional connection again. Chuck won her over by being vulnerable and that allowed Sarah to be vulnerable herself. What an outstanding story.

    So what do I quibble with? I may have missed comments on this aspect of the finale, but as important as the scenes at the Mexican Restaurant (El Compadre?) and the Wienerlicious were in calling viewers back to the beginning of. the series, I found those pieces somewhat contrived. The tension that was driving the story forward to resolution did not need those scenes, in my view. I also felt that Chuck’s shooting down of the helicopter was just plain dumb; it might have been characteristic of season 1 or 2 Chuck, but it felt unworthy of the man Chuck had become in season 5.

    I really liked hearing the old a-ha song, Take On Me. In the 80s, when that song was popular, a-ha had quite a distinctive video style and was often played on TV. Personally, it also reminds me of the day when my wife and I lived in our little apartment with our infant first daughter outside of Tokyo.

    I’m really grateful for all the conversations that have taken place on this blog, for all the effort made by the contributors to seriously reflect on the contents of this marvelous show, and for the wonderful, diverse, and passionately argued opinions in the comments. Most of all, I appreciate the vision of the creators of this show, and the actors who gave life to their characters.

    So, revered principals of the Chuck This Blog, what lies ahead?

    • atcDave says:

      I also didn’t care for Chuck shooting down the helicopter. It was one chuckle for Chuck’s loss of dignity, once again. Oh well.

      Resaw I hope you were able to watch the extended cut. It might not help so much about the scenes you felt were contrived, but there is some dynamite extra dialogue in the Mexican Restaurant scene. I felt it made a huge difference both for explaining Sarah’s state of mind, and it drew sharp contrast to how ready she really was in the beach scene. When I first saw the extended cut it was kind of a big “aha” moment for me (musical pun intended!) and I found myself FAR more impressed with the dialogue on the beach scene.

      As for the future, obviously any actual news or developments will now be few and far between (barring an unexpected movie announcement!). But we will be starting a complete series re-watch in the next week or two. We would probably do an episode a week for the next year and a half. My guess is, these will be shorter than some of the epics we’ve posted before; and will mostly focus on impressions, the episodes’ place in show history and if our perspective has changed with the benefit of hindsight.
      We do expect discussion will wind down considerably over the course of the re-watch. As to if Chuck This has a future beyond that its hard to say. Perhaps if one or more of the stars end up with a new show we can all get behind? But my guess is we will fade into nothing. I mean, we all have to get a life at some point, right? (ducks for cover)

  12. Did anyone watch the Eureka series finale last night? It was a one-episode epilogue commissioned when the show was cancelled after a cliffhanger season finale.

    *spoilers*

    It hit every single stereotypically happily-every-after check box.
    – a proposal.
    – a kid returning from college, somehow graduating summa cum laude from Harvard after only two years
    – two other surprise returning guests that used to be recurring characters.
    – an amnesia plot resolved
    – a couple running away together
    – a sequence of flashback images
    – a last minute save
    – a tearful reunion after a release from prison
    – a long overdue promotion
    – a pregnancy revelation
    – a sappy little epilogue montage
    – a minor twist at the end to show the ongoing adventure idea

    It made me roll my eyes some at the clichés and cheesiness, but it also made me smile. It would probably have made a lot of people here happy to have an ending like that on Chuck, but it may have been quickly forgotten.

    • dkd says:

      I saw it too. Pretty safe stuff.

      I believe that five or ten years from now, no one will be talking about Eureka or its ending, while people will probably still talking about Chuck’s.

      Of course, Eureka panels at Comic-con never had the number of attendees that Chuck panels did either.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t believe the Chuck finale will contribute much to the legacy. A number of viewers loved it, some hated it; but I think for most the show ended with a solid episode and a happy ending. Perhaps that strong finale arc will be remembered as a good part of the series’ memory; but my bet is, S2 will stand out for most fans as iconic Chuck. That and the knowledge Chuck and Sarah ended well.
        I think usually, unless is a finale is extremely bad, its not what shows are remembered for. Especially recently when writers seem to think its a good time to do something different; we end up with a lot of series finales that are just so different from the proceeding show that many viewers don’t even remember them as part of the show they loved. And for me, that’s exactly the biggest lasting problem with the Chuck finale, its just not as much fun to re-watch as First Date or Honeymooners. I’m glad the finale ended well enough not to tarnish the memories of what came before; but it is what came before that I will always remember as the show I loved.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think one thing the finale did add to the series is that we all have a sense that the next chapter is worth watching. Before anyone complains of a reset hear me out. I had assumed that we’d get something akin to a Push Mix ending with perhaps a few glimpses into their future happily ever after. I also thought that would be nice to see, but not something we needed to watch. The Happily Ever After is where the boring stuff starts, and while it’s nice to see the family dinners and the #sexytimes, a whole show based on them isn’t something that would hold most peoples interest. There has to be something to overcome for our heroes. The popularity of Thinkling’s story should show that there is a lot of interest in seeing how Chuck and Sarah face those problems and overcome them together. I think there might be a better chance for some sort of follow-up to the series based on the ending setting up the next chapter, even if it’s only Zac’s webisode adaptation of Thinkling’s story. 😉

      • atcDave says:

        I think there’s some truth to that Ernie. I would certainly agree it makes it more likely for something to happen in the near future. Especially if Zach, Yvonne and others ever feel compelled to provide more closure for the many less satisfied fans.
        But I still don’t think the difference is big in the long run, say five years out or more. I don’t think the ending provided enough angst or uncertainty (thank goodness!) to be a driving force once the initial passions cool. Don’t get me wrong, I think the finale ended on a note that will need to be addressed if any new Chuck content is ever made; but I don’t see it as anything that will dominate viewer memories (!) of the show.
        I guess what I’m trying to get at is; I think after a certain point, if more Chuck content gets made it will be because people just want to visit the crazy world and characters they loved so much again. Not because there was a burning question that needed to be answered.

        I do agree entirely that we don’t want to just watch a new series that would be nothing but family dinner parties and a favorite married couple flirting with each other. Although a single webisode or epilogue movie along those lines might be a lot of fun. But anything along the lines of a new series or mini-series of Chuck would clearly require new major challenges.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I agree, in the long run the show’s legacy was established (in my view) by the end of season 2, and while season 3 tried my patience at times it didn’t diminish that legacy … much. 😉 Season 3’s back 6 and season 4’s front 13 built on what was already there for me, and while season 5 added even more to that, I won’t say the end (much as I liked it) gave me anything that I hadn’t already felt, just maybe more condensed.

      • atcDave says:

        I would agree with all of that exactly Ernie.

    • resaw says:

      I saw it. Eureka’s finale was simply in keeping with the kind of story it had always been, in my view. Once again Sheriff Jack Carter saved Eureka from imminent disaster brought on by scientific over-reaching. It may be more predictable, more clichéd, but I still enjoyed it. And besides, the scenes on the street in front of Café Diem are shot in my hometown of Chilliwack, British Columbia! How can I not love this show?!

  13. joe says:

    I never saw Eureka, Jeff, much to my chagrin. What you describe sounds like fun.

    And you make an interesting point. Chuck‘s finale was much more emotional and much less “fun” than I would ever have imagined. And I’m still dwelling on it (we’ll leave it up to historians to decide if that’s a good or a bad thing).

    Whatever it was, it made an impact, if only on me.

    • I only saw the last 2 1/2 seasons (due to Comcast temporarily moving SyFy to a premium tier). It always seemed like campy fun, so a sappy ending didn’t surprise me. A lot of the plots were repetitive: 1) scientist causes life or world-threatening disaster, 2) a bunch of geniuses try to figure out the problem, 3) regular guy makes naive suggestion which makes the geniuses think of the real solution, 4) regular guy gets stuck risking his life to execute the geniuses plan, 5) world saved. But it was still good, light entertainment. The tech gadgets and experiments were usually clever and funny, even if the tech was magic with some real science words thrown in.

      Eureka definitely went the safe route. I don’t see how any Eureka fan could be disappointed expect by the fact the show was cancelled–unless they wanted a more artistic ending or wanted to see some hated character die.

      FYI, on Spoiler TV (Internet poll disclaimers apply), it has 81.9% 5/5 and 11.7% 4/5. But it looks like the last two episodes were also highly rated (90% 4’s and 5’s) from the show’s very small voting sample size (~100).

      Chuck took at lot more risks. We were not always, but more often than not, rewarded with those risks.

      • atcDave says:

        I think with Chuck we see the natural consequence of all that risk taking too; when they succeeded it was brilliant, when they failed it was excruciating.
        I’ll always think just a little something extra to soften the edge of the finale would have been appreciated. And while I would have absolutely loved a happy and sappy full hour long epilogue to give us a nice send off, just a little more than what we got would have been adequate.
        I think the longer epilogue I wanted might have killed off this site a little faster (less to moan about in the end). It also might have made the show easier to re-watch for some; while making it less interesting to go back and study for others. But for myself, more would have absolutely been better.

        But the finale epilogue for Eureka sounds like a wonderful thing. And that’s exactly the sort of upbeat sounding ending that makes me think it may be a good candidate for my home at some point. I mean, I’ve long heard good things about the show from friends, and knowing now that all ends well only increases my interest.

  14. resaw says:

    Ernie Davis wrote: “The popularity of Thinkling’s story should show that there is a lot of interest in seeing how Chuck and Sarah face those problems and overcome them together. I think there might be a better chance for some sort of follow-up to the series based on the ending setting up the next chapter, even if it’s only Zac’s webisode adaptation of Thinkling’s story.”

    I would certainly be in favour of a webisode, although I’d prefer to see a TV movie or even a theatrical release after the manner of Firefly – Serenity. As it is, following the conclusion of this rewatch, I’ve begun a reread of Sarah vs. Finding Herself. I realize upon re-reading it that I’ve integrated a lot of Thinkling’s ideas into my own rewatching of the finale. You are an influential figure, Thinkling! Thanks again.

    • garnet says:

      I think that the comments about the finale possibly making a followup more likely are probably correct. It leaves us wanting more. I know that Zachary has suggested that he would like to see a “Kickstart Campaign” and a movie/webisodes , but that would have to start with the owners of the rights. As far as what the probability of a future continuation of CHUCK goes, it is still anyone’s guess how likely this is. I tend to be a bit on the pessimistic, but would be happy to work on any campaign to help!

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Garnet I still think a new Chuck project is a long shot. It seems possible, especially after seeing the cast having so much fun together at Comic Con. But with the amount of money that would be needed, rights negotiated, schedules arranged…. well it is a long shot.

  15. Verkan_Vall says:

    Warning: If you liked the finale of Chuck, don’t read this post.

    Seriously.

    I actually could say a great deal about this last arc, but life is too short to spend that much space spewing anger. I did not see what the authors of this review saw, except for solid performances from a great cast. For me, Chuck was great because of the cast, not because of the plotting, which was poor, or the writing, which was uneven. I do not regret watching this arc (and the extended cut of the finale) for that reason, but I’ll never watch more than 4 or 5 of the episodes in this season again. It just wasn’t entertaining. The finale was a perfect example of Fedak & Schwartz’s M.O: nearly three full episodes of audience abuse followed by a payoff that we are supposed to figure out for ourselves.

    There was something that Zach Levi said during the 2nd Chuck panel at Nerd HQ: he said that the finale was “artistic”, and that crystalized something for me. This isn’t original, other people have said some of the same things here on this site. The last 3 episodes feel different, “bolted on” was a term Big Kev used, and I think that the showrunners were no longer talking to the fans, instead they are talking to their peers. It felt like they were running down a film school check list in a video resume or portfolio that they expected other people in the industry to see:

    Look, Look! I can do

    Action! Check
    Drama! Check
    Romance! Check
    Nuance! Check
    Irony! Check
    Tortured Ambiguity! Check

    Entertaining the audience didn’t seem to be on the list, and I think that the fans were never more than a peripheral concern for showrunners. ZL also said that the call backs to previous episodes were supposed to be a gift to the fans; this suggests that he is quoting or paraphrasing Fedak or Schwartz. If that is the case, then I will never understand how either of them think; why would I be grateful for emotional abuse that is paired with references to better times?

    A number of people on this site and on others have said that the finale has an advantage over a happy ending in that people will be talking about it for a much longer period of time. Others have said that the goal of the showrunners was to provoke an emotional response, either positive or negative, to make the show stand out. The problem with provoking negative reactions, especially anger, is that you never really know where that will lead, so you had better be prepared to deal with the consequences of your actions.

    For example:

    I will never watch any show that has any input from Chris Fedak or Josh Schwartz again. Ever. I intend to spend the rest of their careers telling everyone I discuss TV with, that the work of Fedak and Schwartz is not worth the time or effort to fill a thimble.

    How is that for a negative reaction?

    • jam says:

      “There was something that Zach Levi said during the 2nd Chuck panel at Nerd HQ: he said that the finale was “artistic”, and that crystalized something for me. This isn’t original, other people have said some of the same things here on this site. The last 3 episodes feel different, “bolted on” was a term Big Kev used, and I think that the showrunners were no longer talking to the fans, instead they are talking to their peers. ”

      I think that sums up the final episodes perfectly. They tried to be artistic, but in doing so they totally lost the tone and the spirit of the show. Especially the last two episodes feel like they’re from a completely different tv series, they don’t resemble the Chuck I loved at all

    • joe says:

      Well, that’s a great negative reaction, VV, as in, “Great” ~= “Impassioned”.

      And of course, you’re not wrong, by definition. But I’ll always be concerned that (the generic) you will think that I’m trying to force my opinion on you and “Fedak” is a proxy for me, or vice versa. I’m sure you know intellectually that I’m not. Emotionally – that’s another story.

      Truly, the only difference in our opinion is that I won’t ascribe any kind of malicious intent on the part of Schwartz of Fedak, and I don’t think they were trying to do anything like drag us (kicking and screaming) to a new level of artistic awareness and free us from the shackles of our blissful ignorance.

      [Heh! That was my attempt to channel the WWE’s Damian Sandow, “the intellectual savior of the masses”. Bad joke! ;)]

      I don’t know them well enough to distinguish those things from an honest attempt to give us something that was, in their professional opinion, better than that standard fare we get routinely on the boob-tube.

      I use that derogatory term to indicate my opinion of most of the offerings on TV. Read it with an inflection of disdain. Most of what we see isn’t bad. It’s mediocre. The worst of Chuck was better than mediocre, and the best was an enriching experience. I think you agree about that. Those who didn’t stopped watching long ago, as they should have.

    • atcDave says:

      You know, I don’t completely disagree. Except VV, I don’t for a second believe Fedak WANTED to annoy anyone; that is, I don’t believe he was consciously just trying to impress peers at the expense of his audience. But like most of Hollywood he is a product of his environment and will, like any other writer, occasionally produce stuff that feels self-important. Have you seriously never noticed thus on any other show? There’s a reason much of the finale felt like a film school attempt at extra credit; that is, this is how many, many shows go at that finale time of year. We get stories that are more arty and less fun than we see in the middle of the season. At least on network television, I think this is pretty absolute. Basic cable sometimes escapes this trap by not trying so hard for ratings or Emmys; at least until recently this was true, although I believe more and more writers and producers on cable channels are getting the bug now too. They do want respect and notice from their peers, and we can’t completely blame them for that. It’s a variation on the same sort networking games many of us play in our careers. And I have no doubt, most industry insiders are convinced that what they are doing equates to quality. It’s not that they don’t care what you or I think, it’s just that they completely don’t get it.

      I think Zach’s words were very telling on that count. He acknowledged they had gone for a “poetic” finale instead of an ” entertaining” one. It doesn’t even register with any of them that many of us are pretty hostile towards “poetic”. To Zach’s great credit, he seems to understand that many fans are disappointed with what they did. I think CF has at least a little clue, after all, he’s explained or defended his finale many times now. I’m not sure if the little clue CF has is enough to make a difference on his future work, and also not sure how much of a chance I’ll give him to show he’s learned.

      But I really don’t feel so much anger about it either way anymore. I am satisfied things ended well for everyone involved. The very worst I can say at this point, is that my favorite ever show ended somewhere on that Bullet Train. At least, that was the last I ever saw of the fun and joy that I found so intoxicating with this show when it was at its very best. But IT DID end well, even if the last 2+ hours were not as fun as what I wanted to see. I would agree with saying the end felt too different, too down for too long. But we can see the seeds being planted for this end from the very start of the season. That full season is what gives the context to find the joy in the finale. It may not ever be the end many of us wanted. But it’s not a terrible outcome either. I would say disappointing more than upsetting.
      And I’m no longer interested in being angry about it. It wasn’t bad enough to justify my anger. The characters I love are fine; better than that, they made it through to the end they wanted. Maybe with a few more scars than I would have preferred, but they made it. I will never feel the total joy some viewers did, but I don’t feel any anger about it anymore either.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Warning: If you liked the finale of Chuck, don’t read this post.

      Seriously.

      I’m not sure why you would post if you don’t want people to read it or respond to it unless they agree with it, unless it is to guarantee only agreement in responses, or absolve you of needing to defend your points to those who might disagree, or to give you a reason to be offended should someone who likes the finale, like me deign to disagree and post to that end.  You certainly know that is guaranteed to make people who liked the ending read it, and want to respond. And I seriously thought about skipping a response. But here’s the thing, you’re posting on a site where bloggers with a wide variety of opinions who are making a variety of arguments, pro and con, about the quality, direction, interpretation and their personal feelings about a show with a very diverse audience provide others with a forum to join the conversation.  To try to both make use of that forum, then limit what you consider acceptable responses or dictate who should read seems a bit rude.  You don’t get to walk into our discussion, take the floor for 5 minutes, declare only like minded arguments will be entertained, then ignore counter arguments. To an extent I feel, as an author of this post and proponent of my interpretation, I need to respond, both for myself and for those who share my view.  Many obviously do based on these episodes being among the highest rated, even on this site, where the comments seem to always run contrary to the polls.  But then it’s a well known phenomenon, unhappy customers are far more likely to share their displeasure than happy ones to share their satisfaction.

      I actually could say a great deal about this last arc, but life is too short to spend that much space spewing anger.

      Irony! Check

      Sorry, couldn’t resist.

      The finale was a perfect example of Fedak & Schwartz’s M.O: nearly three full episodes of audience abuse followed by a payoff that we are supposed to figure out for ourselves.

      That sounds kind of angry, and more personal than objective.  Not to mention that it paints audience abuse, not drama or angst or action as the MO. That goes to motive, which you don’t know, not method. Much of the audience didn’t feel abused and a lot of us fans liked the payoff and didn’t have much problem figuring it out.  It was just a different kind of payoff and to some of us meaningful in a way a sugary sweet happily ever after wouldn’t have been.

      You can disparage it as a film school check list, but it spoke directly to a lot of us in a very personal way, so recognize your dissatisfaction for what it is, a difference in taste, not an objective critique of a subjective experience.

      Entertaining the audience didn’t seem to be on the list, and I think that the fans were never more than a peripheral concern for showrunners.

      No, I disagree.  Every interview with Chris Fedak he has said he wanted to make the finale and the last season something special for the fans.  You do not know what he was thinking, feeling or motivated by.  Neither do I, but I at least respect his public statements enough to not dismiss them as irrelevant to his state of mind then proceed to explain his true motivations.

      If what you mean is entertaining you personally didn’t seem to be on “the list” I’d have to agree.  Based on what you and others have said, you wanted a very different show than the one we got.  But as I said above, at a certain point you have to accept that as your problem, not theirs and not ours.  The show went in a different direction, you didn’t like it.  I understand, but you are not entitled to the show you want.  You are stuck with the show you get. We all are.  That leaves you with four choices.  Like.  Don’t like.  Watch,  Don’t watch.

      I will never watch any show that has any input from Chris Fedak or Josh Schwartz again. Ever. I intend to spend the rest of their careers telling everyone I discuss TV with, that the work of Fedak and Schwartz is not worth the time or effort to fill a thimble.

      How is that for a negative reaction?

      I’d call that an unhealthy reaction and a perfect example of an entitled fan of Chuck.  You feel you were owed the Chuck show you wanted, and when you didn’t get it you took personal offense.  Now you intend to injure, as much as possible, those who gave you such grave offense in retaliation. Let me ask you this, would you go to a site dedicated to their new show Sarah to tell all the authors and posters there how much they suck? OK, make the show Morgan and assume you never watched it. Would you go out of your way to tell fans their work was unworthy of their time or attention?

      Right now you are probably pretty pissed at me for telling you how you feel and what you thought, aren’t you?  You should be. You don’t like me questioning your motives do you?  You shouldn’t. I don’t know you or how you feel or react to things and shouldn’t be characterizing your motives.  

      I apologize.   I did that on purpose to put you in our place for a change. Sucks doesn’t it.

      But here’s the point, my interpretation comes directly from your public statements and is reinforced by them.  Yours requires dismissing TPTB’s statements and relying on a wholly fabricated set of goals and motives.

      Now I can’t stop you from being offended, but I can point out that at a certain level your anger and offense is your problem, not theirs.  They don’t know you so they can neither give, nor prevent you from taking offense.  They can only make the show they believe in and take it in the direction they believe in.  We as fans have more choices than they.  Watch.  Don’t watch.  Like.  Don’t like.

      Now one final point and this is general in nature, not directed to VV specifically, though it may apply. The show is over.  It is what it is, absent an unlikely new Chuck project.  That gives us another choice as fans.  Accept it in whole or in part.  Reject it, in whole or in part.

      Now if you accept it for what it is or was, welcome to the conversation.  If you reject it, what are you still doing here? 

      Going forward it may be helpful to note, the main reason I chose to respond was because the original post really wasn’t about the episodes or the show. It was about the creative team, their failings, their motives, the offense they’d given and the retribution they deserved. This is the type of post we’ve talked about BTS and have discussed just deleting in the future. The show is over. We don’t owe anyone a platform to disparage TPTB or other posters. Not enjoying the show at times is fine and valid, and worth sharing as long as it doesn’t degenerate into bashing those who made it or those who enjoyed it. Consider that when posting.

    • Verkan_Vall says:

      This is another long post.

      Hi, Ernie. Feel better? Sounds like you’ve been holding that in for a while. I found that whole “Put me in my place” thing very interesting; the internal dialogue that accompanied your victory must have been fascinating. May I make a suggestion? Next time, work in tandem with someone; after you make your point(s) (formed by your superior intellect and honed by your clinical logic), have your partner post “My, he put you in your place.”
      When you do it all by yourself, you give the impression of someone patting themselves on the back in front of a mirror.

      Yes, this is the short post; the original post was north of 10,000 words before I was anywhere in sight of a conclusion, so I scrapped it.

      No, I did not write the lead-in to tempt people into reading the post; it was a courtesy, a warning to anyone who might not enjoy walking into a rant. I’ve done the same thing a number of times where Season 3 was concerned. In fact, you yourself have requested that people who didn’t like the finale to show some consideration for those who did. So I placed a warning and a space before my rant. Now you say that those lines of text are so cunning, so diabolical that it FORCED you to read my post.
      I can only wish I was that potent a salesman.

      The truth is that you don’t want consideration from those who disagree with you, Ernie, you want their silence. Sorry, I’m old enough to know that if you don’t speak up, nothing will change. I also know that if you reward a given type of behavior, you will get more of it. Well, I definitely do not want the types of mistakes made with this show to be repeated in other shows and I have no intention of rewarding Schwartz and Fedak for what I consider to be their contemptuous treatment of their audience.

      You call me “entitled”; actually, “invested” is a more accurate term. I think Schwartz & Fedak are the entitled ones, given that they seem to think that their audience will just sit there and take whatever abuse they want to throw at them. Yes, Ernie, it was abuse. I’ve been told for 30 years that the 1st rule of Television is: Perception = Reality. It does not matter what you intend, if the audience sees and hears something else. A big part of Chuck’s audience didn’t enjoy what they saw and heard, and if the show runners didn’t want that, they should have done a better job balancing pain and payoff. It is part of their job.

      Back to being “invested”. The key to building a long-term customer base (or a faithful audience) is establishing connections or emotional links between the buyers and the seller. Just about the best way to do that is to get the customers involved in the process, to bring them on board (but there is a risk that goes with that). I supported the show like most of us did: I bought items from the NBC store and the dvds when they came out (multiple copies of seasons 1, 2, and 4, for me). But I’m also one of the people who went out and tried to get more people to watch when JS and ZL asked the fans to get more viewers, Dave got new viewers as well.
      When we did that, we expended something that we can never regain or get back: our Time. I managed to get 10 households to watch Chuck, a total of about 40 people. This means nothing in the big picture; none of those households were Neilson viewers. But after that, I had an investment of time, effort and emotion in how entertaining or satisfying Chuck was, in more ways than one. For example, since the show ended, I’ve had a chance to talk to people from each of those 10 households. No one enjoyed the finale, and everyone had something to say about it. Therein lies the risk of getting the customers invested in your show: if they feel cheated or slighted, it gets personal. That means that you have former customers spreading bad word-of-mouth, and the general rule of thumb in business regarding word-of-mouth is that the bad outweighs the good by a factor of 10 to 1.

      I’m always going to support the great cast that I think made Chuck what it was, but just as no one made me put the effort I did into supporting the show, no one can stop me from saying what I intend about the way Fedak and Schwartz treated the fans of Chuck.
      Well, the show is over now, as you said. Since I have work to do (and since you decided to make a thinly-veiled threat to delete any of my future posts that displeased you), I think I’ll make my farewells.

      Thank you, to all of you. Thank you for the laughs and the conversation and for helping me get four of my friends back to the show that they loved after S3 drove them away. Thanks especially to Joe, for making a place where this community could grow, and to atcDave, for pointing me towards so much great fan fiction. I wish you all well (you too, Ernie).

      A note to those of you who are fans of Chris Fedak & Josh Schwartz: step up to the plate and start swinging for them now, because it is going to take at least 10 of you to balance out what I have to say about them.

      Now, if you will excuse me, I have a negative marketing campaign to design and implement.

      Clear Skies.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      For quite some time we’ve asked that people who want to post on our blog observe some rules of common courtesy. For the most part people have complied. One of those rules is that impugning the character or motives of other posters or those who make Chuck is not appropriate. We want this to be a place to talk about the show, not where we rant about what a jerk someone is for not following our preferred storyline. A disclaimer at the top of such a post doesn’t change that. Since it seems that some posters don’t see the line between criticizing someone’s work and criticizing their intelligence or their character, or refuse to abide by those guidelines, we’ll make it easy and as noted above just delete the post. It was not a thinly veiled threat, it is a statement of intent and it applies to everyone who posts on the blog.

  16. FSL says:

    Only with this post was I ready to watch the final arc for the second time, with trepidation might I add. I am starting to appreciate it a bit more. Gone, or more like pushed aside, was the anger towards the decision to destroy the Sarah character we knew and loved, and every character going their separate ways. I am finally able to appreciate more the significance of “Tell me our story” and “Kiss me, Chuck”. I guess I will always want that little more of the happy ending. But the actors put in such a good performance that I am now more willing to overlook the… rather disappointing plot.

    • atcDave says:

      You know that’s about exactly where I am FSL. I have come to accept that it was a completely happy ending, and in many ways I can appreciate the quality of it. But I will always wish we’d had something more clearly joyful to celebrate the show and characters for those last few minutes.

    • joe says:

      Your words resonate, FSL. I watched S5 again with that same trepidation. In the final analysis, it was worth it.

      Yes, it felt like I was being torn down as much as Sarah memories. But did you notice? Both Chuck and Casey went through the same thing (and it really took me 3 viewings to see that). What made that important to me was the realization that we really got to revisit the characters that charmed us in the beginning and watch them find themselves again. You don’t have to stop at the point where Sarah is “destroyed”, because we also see where she is starting her journey again, this time with a sure footing.

      I too was disappointed that we didn’t get all the way back to where C&S were after Cliffhanger or even after The Honeymooners. But you have to remember, Sarah fell in love with Chuck “…after you fixed my phone and before you started diffusing bombs with computer viruses,” and that’s very, very early. If you watch The Goodbye again, you’ll see that she’s at least that far along.

      And I still think that the ending gives us plenty of room for a movie. 😉

  17. FSL says:

    Yea. At “Kiss me, Chuck”, Sarah’s ready again, magic kiss or otherwise. =)

  18. joe says:

    Oh boy. I can’t resist adding just a little to this not-so-new thread, because I ran across this article today: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/428532/human-stem-cells-found-to-restore-memory/

    The title is: Human Stem Cells Found to Restore Memory, and before I caught myself, my reaction was: “Gee! Maybe this can help Sarah…”

    Hi. My name is Joe and I’m a Chuckololic.

  19. Robert says:

    Here’s my take after six months.

    Was the Finale perfect? No.

    – It’s probably not what most of us were expecting, but then, it wasn’t what Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski were expecting either.

    – It was difficult to watch Chuck and Sarah at odds, completely out of synch, especially after 2 and half seasons of seeing them perfecting their relationship. You could hate what happened to them in 5.12 and part of 5.13, but you cannot hate the beach scene, because it’s a happy epilogue.

    -By then, it was clear that Sarah Bartowski was on her way back, with all the clues and reactions she had regarding Chuck (especially in 5.13), and it was clear by then she “felt it” again, but didn’t know what to do about it (like season 1 and 2 Sarah).

    – The last 5 minutes were a happy ending (something that Fedak himself confirmed) for Chuck and Sarah. She decided to trust him after he assured her he wouldn’t put her under pressure, and that he would always be there for her. What was her reaction to that? She almost immediately asked him to tell her “their” story. She finally acknowledged that being Sarah Bartowski “is” who she was in the past, and who she is now, something that, until then, she categorically refused to do (see Mexican Restaurant, extended episode 5.13).

    – When he told her their story, you could see before your eyes Sarah reconnecting emotionally with Chuck, they were again in sync; they had the same strong feelings at the same time; tears, laughter, joy, love.

    – Now that her feelings for Chuck were clearly back again, she decided to show him (and us) openly, so she leapt on the opportunity to kiss him; she firmly interrupted him when Chuck began spiralling over the ridiculousness of Morgan’s plan, and ASKED him to kiss her (Only to get her memories back? Maybe a little, but what Sarah really wanted was to show him her love, that she wanted him again in her life whether she’d get her memories back immediately or not, that’s why she continued to kiss him until the screen went black), just like 3.13, and with almost the same words. These two are back together, and in love (as Fedak himself confirmed).

    I can agree to some extent that tonally, the Finale was not exactly like the rest of the series, that it was tragic, and difficult to watch at times, and that it wasn’t at all what some expected, hence the very emotional and negative response of some people.

    At first, I really disliked the Finale, and honestly, even now, 5.12 and 5.13 are not episodes I will rewatch very often; BUT from what I’ve seen, Chuck and Sarah overcame that last obstacle, definitely not unscathed, but still together, and in love with each other, and for me, that’s what really matters.

    • atcDave says:

      I would agree with most of that Robert. Although I still take issue with saying it had a happy epilogue. I’d say it had no epilogue at all, and that remains my biggest complaint with the end, by far. I wish they had given us a more positive and joyfull send off for these characters, more a celebration of what was great, instead of so much angst and uncertainty to the very end. Now all that said, I do believe the happy ending was there, but I think it was too subtle by far. I would now describe the finale as clever, well executed, and well acted. But also too dark for my taste, way to much angst, and an inadequate pay-off.

      • Robert says:

        I understand how you feel, Dave, I really do; I felt exactly like you in the beginning.

        Why I’m saying it’s a happy epilogue is that at the end of 5.13, everyone had left; Sarah, Casey, Ellie, Awesome and Clara, Mama B. and Morgan was with Alex. Chuck was on his own. End of Story. Everyone was gone.

        What would Chuck do next? That’s when Morgan pep talk-ed Chuck into looking for Sarah, and he found her. Then he proceeded to do exactly what Ellie and Morgan told him (twice) to do; stir her feelings with their story, and kiss her. And it worked (The memories returning is just a red herring, they were already returning)! Chuck and Sarah are together again and in love, ready to face the future together.

        Structurally, the “angsty” story ended just before the beach scene. The beach scene is a happy epilogue, and it shows Chuck and Sarah in love and together again, as confirmed by Fedak, and by Zach Levi and (implied) by Yvonne Strahovski on the DVD’s of Season 5. (Chuck vs the Future).

        If you keep your eyes fixed on the angsty part (most of 5.12, and the first part of 5.13), it will blind you to the happy ending, even making it feel too small or inadequate like you said, but if you look at it within the grand scheme of the entire series, it was just the last obstacle to their normal life together (Quinn, that they finally got rid off); and that’s why the beach scene, while beeing simple and not very long, is very powerful.

        The beach scene is the continuation of their lives together; and it exactly parallels the first beach scene in 1.01. Sarah already loves Chuck at that point, and she asks him to trust her, and that she will be there for him in the spy world. Chuck in 5.13 loves Sarah and ask her to trust him, that he will be there for her in the normal life. The only difference being the romance this time, since both are in love with each other and a couple at this point…

        Their life had been until that point an hybrid of the spy and normal life, but both Chuck and Sarad had decided that this time, they were to have a normal life. The “Quinn” incident just postponed their plans for normalcy. And by getting rid of the last Intersect-related enemy (Quinn), they can now have it, together. That’s a happy ending!

      • atcDave says:

        Robert I completely get that the end was happy, we saw the return of Sarah Bartowski on that beach and I am 100% confident all is well for Chuck and Sarah. But it was too subtle by far. Way too many viewers didn’t see it, and even more of us didn’t see it at first and needed to analyze and process the whole episode, or even cast and crew interviews. I will always consider it poor story-telling when so much of the core audience needs research or assurance to figure out the intent.
        I am satisfied with the happy ending. But I can not call it a successfully told story, and that will always be a major sticking point with me.

    • thinkling says:

      Nicely and succinctly stated, Robert.

  20. Robert says:

    atcDave,

    That’s what I meant by “keeping the eyes fixed on the angsty part”. I wasn’t very thrilled to see that they found a way to reintroduce one last time the WT/WT thing either!

    And my first emotional response at the end of the Finale was “WHAT?!?! THAT’S IT???”. Perhaps it would’ve been easier (and better) for everybody, writers, cast and fans, to send all the characters each their own separate way, everyone smiling, without any problems, etc. That’s what almost everyone were expecting (Zach and Yvonne too!). And I must say that it would’ve been nice!

    I was originally pissed off after the Finale, but then I decided not to let myself focus on the bad part of the Finale, but on the good one. And there was enough stuff in the beach scene to understand that Chuck and Sarah were ok, back together, in love, and facing the future together. That is why I decided to rewatch it, the next day, after I’d slept on it.

    TPTB stripped Sarah and Chuck’s relationship to the bones to show us that they love each other for real, that they will always fight for each other, that they are meant to be together, and that they will always be there for one another. That’s what the show really was about, not the spy life, not the high adventures; It was their love for each other. Nothing can stop them anymore.

    You know, the uproar about the Finale kind of happened before during Season 3, with the Shaw arc. A lot of fans were reacting badly (I know, I was one of them for a while) because they had splitted Chuck and Sarah, and because of Sarah’s reactions and actions (she wasn’t herself, she was lame, she confides in Shaw, not in Chuck, etc). And after even seeing Chuck and Sarah getting together as a couple in 3.13, some fans were still unhappy, because they focused on the angst, and not on what was really happening underneath, and then openly, and especially the happy Chuck and Sarah parts in 3.13

    Now, after 5.13, there won’t be a 5.14 “Honeymooners”-type episode (one of my favourites), but they gave us clear enough clues to understand that they are back (again) to that place in their lives.

    And to adress directly your sticking point; I wasn’t very thrilled to see Chuck and Sarah separated, and that for most of the Finale, the feel of the episodes weren’t exactly like the earlier episodes of Season 5, BUT I didn’t let that mar my enjoyment of the show (after I rewatched it, of course); and TPTB knew that they would be “lynched” if they were separating Chuck and Sarah for good, so, even for just that reason, I knew they were going to be ok, we saw that happening at the beach.

    But I know that whatever I say will not change the emotional response that part of the Finale gave you. I was just telling you what changed my own emotional response after I rewatched the Finale. That’s why I said in my first post that the Finale wasn’t perfect, that it probably would’ve been better to do it like cast and fans expected, but they raised the stakes, and Chuck and Sarah made it as a couple, and that’s what really matters.

    So you may argue about the manner it happened, but not about the end result! 😉

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