Chuck vs The Cliffhanger (4.24)

The Season Four finale.  Vivian’s attempt at revenge against Chuck for Vivian being an idiot has left Sarah in a coma just days before the wedding.  So now Chuck will have to race against time and the CIA, while enlisting some unusual aid to get an antidote in time.

Join us after the jump for this week’s discussion.

Cliffhanger was ranked at 18 on our site poll.  I’ll say that means most of us consider it a strong episode.  My own impression is a little more mixed than for most of my top 20 episodes, but strong is still mostly my impression.  My main complaint is just that I dislike Sarah being in a coma for most of the episode.  But I’ll be posting an “Alternatives” post on Tuesday, and I’ll get more into my complaints then.

What’s good here is solidly good.  Starting with a very, very dramatic sequence in the hospital.  Sarah’s brief return to semi-consciousness is beautiful and heartbreaking.  I think the real dramatic weight of this show has always been about Charah, and we never see that better demonstrated than here.  Zach and Yvonne’s performances are perfect.  I get choked up every time at this point.

The adventure is also a blast, with Chuck going rogue to battle the CIA, starting with an unsanctioned break-in to a federal prison.  Chuck learns his whole team and operation has been disavowed by the agency, and Volkoff is being relocated to a more secure facility.  The Nighthawk is sort of a silly toy (so the weapons have to be fired remotely? Never mind the motorcycle couldn’t possibly have room for the mini-guns or ammunition behind the barrels we see.  And Chuck leaves with Hartley with neither helmet nor glasses; just how fast can he drive that way?); I like that Volkoff’s last lines involve disbelief that anyone could be named “Hartley Winterbottom” and then we see a pretty meek man escaping with Chuck.  I like that Hartley is so willing to help, and some of his reaction to 30 years of lost memories.

I like the sequence at Castle, especially learning what a slug Decker is.  But most of all, this is where Casey shines; both as a fearsome hero in his own right, and as a good friend and partner for both Chuck and Sarah.

The mission to Moscow is also a fun sequence.  We see Chuck’s total devotion to his mission (or to Sarah); and Hartley is excellent comic relief right before a dramatic scene with his daughter. Chuck’s return home, with some Russian companions is a fun moment as well.  I can’t help but think there would be some international fall out from a team of Russian Mercs parachuting into downtown LA, I guess this is one of those “rule of cool” moments and I need to let it go…

I’m sure it will surprise no one that my favorite part here though is the flashbacks to Chuck and Sarah’s practice vows.  I’m always a big fan of cute and sweet, and these flashback scenes are among the best of the series.  Sarah’s vows are so simple and sincere, no wonder Chuck’s breath is taken away.  And “talkie?”  So it manages to be funny too.  great stuff all around.  Yes, I’m a hopeless romantic.

There is barely a “B” plot in Cliffhanger, but that doesn’t mean none.  We get Morgan and the hospital scenes intercut with the main story.  I like this use of Morgan a lot; the part is smaller than he often gets, and he manages to be a good friend while sitting with Sarah, and has a wonderful funny scene with Devon taking out their CIA sentry.

But the last few minutes are the real stand out to me.  This is what makes this episode a wonderful, I would even say the very best of all the possible finales this show had.  So often our show runners left too much hanging, or too many questions as they came to the end (or possible end) of the series.  This is the one and only time they got it perfectly right for my taste.  The wedding was sweet and a lot of fun (although I wish we’d had a few minutes of the reception with everyone having fun together), Hartley’s wedding gift was really the unexpected twist for the end, and with Chuck and Sarah buying the Buy More and starting their own company we had just the perfect way to end things.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad for another 13 episodes; but Cliffhanger does a vastly better job of hitting all the notes right than Goodbye did.  As a finale, this is about the perfect way to end.  Many viewers had concerns about what Morgansect would mean for S5 (I did too), but if there had been no S5, Morgansect is of zero emotional consequence to me, and would have simply ended the show with one last punch line.

This Tuesday I will have another “Alternatives” post up for the last part of Season Four.  And then we’ll start Season Five next week.  The end is in sight.  So sad.

~ Dave

Happily Ever After And Then Some

Chris Fedak: So tell me, Joe. Now that you’ve seen the pilot, how would you like this story to end? How would you like to see it work out for Chuck and Sarah?
Joe: I certainly want Chuck and Sarah to become a couple, go through the steps and eventually have a white wedding. You know – surrounded by friends and family, the works. But getting there is going to be tough, CF.
Fedak: How so?
Joe: Well for starters, Chuck is going to have to stop being such a coward, especially around women. Avoiding them at his own birthday party? Sheesh. He’s got to grow a pair. I don’t know how he’s going to get a girl like Sarah if he’s had only one serious girlfriend before and isn’t quite over the shock.
And Sarah is going to have to defrost. Right now, she’s an ice queen, much more concerned about the mission’s success and her new NSA partner’s tendency to shoot first and ask questions after pancakes than about The Asset’s health and well being. Or her own for that matter. Even if it helps, there’s no way she’d settle for a guy just because he’s nice to children.
Fedak: Sure. Anything else?
Joe: Yeah. Could you put Chuck in charge of the Buy More? He needs a goal to shoot for!

This conversation between me and Chris Fedak never happened, of course. It would have but for a slight misalignment of two quarks shortly after the big bang, but maybe it happened in a nearby universe. I can say that because, from the first, the direction in which the show evolved was more or less exactly what I would have hoped for back then – in my most cherished dreams.

Take Casey, for instance. In the pilot he ruthlessly kills Bryce, a fellow spy, without hesitation and is described by Sarah as “a burnout. Cold-school”. He’s ready to shoot an innocent civilian just as ruthlessly. But now?

Casey: Shut up! You’re Chuck Bartowski, the second best spy I’ve ever worked with. Now you’re gonna go save the best one.

He’s only concerned about his friends. Chuck observing him go pale on hearing Decker’s voice was only the half of it, apparently.

Somebody deadly?

Somebody deadly?

As for Sarah, her description of Casey may have been a little self-referential and a bit of projection. The told Morgan she was “somebody deadly.” What he have now is a startling contrast.

Sarah: Okay. I’m just gonna go.
Chuck: Yeah, you get — Mm-hm.
Sarah: Ahem. “Chuck, you’re a gift. You’re a gift I never dreamed I could want or need and every day I will show you that you’re a gift that I deserve.
You make me the best person I could ever hope to be and I wanna spend, and learn, and love, the rest of my life with you.”

Lord keep her here with me, just a little more

We can’t stop there! Mary, who as Frost is calculated and ruthless while she seeks to complete Stephen’s mission, shows a different side.

Chuck: I want the nighthawk.
Mary: Absolutely not!
Casey: It’s a prototype. Never been tested.
Chuck: Eleven hours are counting. I don’t give a damn.
Mary: Chuck, have you ever even ridden a motorcycle? And I hope to God the answer is no.

Yeah, my mom didn’t want me to ride a motorcycle either.

Same as he ever was

Same as he ever was

They’ve changed so much, but somehow, Chuck remains Chuck. How can that be when he goes from cringe-worthy at a party to – this?

Casey: Remember when I told you opening the Agent X files would draw out a remorseless son of a bitch who would destroy our whole team without breaking a sweat? This is the guy they hire to kill that guy.
Chuck: That guy might think he’s a hardass, but I’m the Intersect.

I *am* the Intersect.

I *am* the Intersect.

Such bravado! It’s the opposite of whiny, things-just-happen-to-me Chuck from the pilot. Go Chuck! He’s strong and determined and unafraid to face danger.

Except that Chuck is pretty much unchanged. He’s without the Intersect now and must face his difficulties like he always has, without help. To the mighty head of Volkoff Industries, Chuck can only offer his life for Sarah’s because he has nothing else left.

Blinking away a tear

Blinking away a tear

It’s clear to me that there was only one person back then who always saw Chuck like this – We see her blinking away a tear when everyone else recognizes that fact. The rest of his friends only knew that he had it in him all along.

Finally, with Twist

Finally, with a twist

Oh, I may have quibbled a little about how long it took to get us here and I certainly had some doubts and fears, even about the inevitability of the Chuck&Sarah; the ease with which I was able to suspend disbelief is a sign of good storytelling. But ultimately, if the show had ended with Chuck vs. The Cliffhanger I would have been completely, deliriously satisfied. My then-unspoken desires for the characters and the story lines would have been fulfilled, with perhaps one exception – “More!” Always more. That, of course, is the hard wish to grant. It’s a law of nature that says: “More, faster, high quality – you can have any two of the three,” apparently.

Guys, I know Kung-Fu!

Guys, I know Kung-Fu!

No, wait. It seems that we got that too. Season five begins, not with a minister of the Intergalactic Federation of Planets joining the couple in Holy Matrimony, but with him donning a pair of sunglasses.

I rank this episode so highly it’s hard to put it at #2. I still love The Colonel because of the excitement and tension combined with the romance, but I feel like I’m cheating a bit with that choice. I always think of it as including the song Luisa’s Bones from The Dream Job and the ending of The First Kill, plus Sarah’s silent “no” to Bryce in The Ring.

The Cliffhanger stands alone much better, giving us a packed story, several daring, finger-tip rescues and a question.

Decker: [computer monitor] You really think you’ve been fighting evil, doing good? You’re just a pawn. You always were.
Chuck: What are you talking about?
Decker: You think it was all a coincidence? The Intersect, Fulcrum, The Ring, Shaw, Agent X? That was all just part of the plan, Bartowski, pieces on the puzzle board.
See ya never, civilian.
Chuck: Wait, wait. Wait – what plan? Huh? What plan?
My life was changed forever. My friends were put in danger, my family – My father was killed, Decker.
Decker: [laughs and ends the transmission]

More than anything, it’s Decker’s laugh at the mention of Stephen’s death that keeps me hoping for a resurrection.

Wishes overdue are all saved in locks
Wishes overdue…

No one knows you, till it’s over
You know no one true, till it’s over

– joe

Added late: While looking for images and videos to include, I came upon this, a little something I have not seen before. Much fun! But what really caught my eye were the comments that followed, so I encourage you to click on the “youtube” button there to see the video in-situ. Enjoy!


About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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159 Responses to Chuck vs The Cliffhanger (4.24)

  1. So what is it with them constantly needing paratroopers to get to a wedding? And a short wedding, at that. I think Ellie’s got more screen time. Everything after he loses the Intersect was pretty awesome, I loved S5 mostly for the way he was so capable without it.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah Marc that is absolutely one of my favorite things about S5, that Chuck can be capable and confident without the Intersect crutch. So much of the set up of S5 is just perfect for me. A good situation and a few really terrific episodes.

      But I think every wedding should involve paratroopers. I mean, would you really want to imagine one without?

      • atcDave says:

        It will be mentioned again Tuesday!

      • thinkling says:

        Ha. I didn’t see your paratrooper comment before I put mine up. I’m in full agreement about S5.

      • atcDave says:

        Great Minds Thinkling!

      • joe says:

        I really meant to emphasize that point, Marc – that Chuck does everything he does without benefit of the Intersect. Sarah knew he could from early on.

        For me, one of the best things about this episode was seeing her faith in him justified.

      • 08mansoor says:

        I really hope that there is a chuck movie. I was disappointed with season 5 and I wish that it was never made, because I really disliked the final three episodes. They ruined all of what sarah did and the person she became (side note: sarah walker is an 11; personality amazing and really attractive). Chuck helped her become a great person, and it was amazing. I just hated that losing memory garbage and other stuff like that. Some say that the magical kiss probably ended with her getting her memory back….eventually at least, however I am not fond of it. We could assume that it did happen, and leave it at that. But I can’t accept it and I feel like the writers believed that they were back together. But it is just not good enough. I want it to be 100% sure it worked out. This is TV not real life, and it is a series that should allow us to see the true clear ending after spending 5 seasons with the show and give us the true ending bad or good. For example, they should have at the least made a scene with 1 year later and it shows that sarah recalled everything and she becomes the same sarah we all love. Chuck is not really that suspenseful and the truth is that it is generally a happy show. A part of me believes the writers did this on purpose and they really have the true ending in their minds, and they are just hoping that Chuck can be revitalized and Chuck probably encouraged it. My other favorite show ended in one of the worst ways ever. Absolutely no closure at all. They should have made dexter died, choose to save Hannah or Debra, or just run off with Hannah and leave everyone behind.

        Finally, I have one really important question to ask. It is 50/50 that chuck will be made as a movie. Chuck actor Levine said that the idea is floating around and that one major factor is that chuck is being played internationally, and they are waiting for the series to end in the international markets. So my question is, what seasons are the other countries on? And I just hope that they make a great movie and give us that really really happy ending that we all want. Chuck needs to make it happen while the Iron is hot. Unfortunately, I did not watch Chuck in the past and I just got on it. Sometimes it sucks being young when great things are happening. How 2 and a half men lasted longer than chuck is beyond me and quite honestly even parks and recreation.

      • thinkling says:

        o8mansoor: I feel your pain, but I will say that in spite of the tragic final arc and ambiguous ending, I am very glad we got S5. It was in many ways my favorite season. There is something so right about seeing all that growth played out in such satisfying ways.

        People who were around here at the time know what a struggle I had with the ending at first. Though I truly believe that throughout the season, they painted a wonderful future for Chuck and Sarah, and I believe from what we actually saw on screen in the finale it is reasonable to assume that they recover their love and that future.

        The finale was not unequivocally happy, like Cliffhanger, but I do believe it was reassuring and hopeful. I wrote my way through it in this article. Then in an epilogue story Sarah vs Finding Herself, I get them from the beach into that future we all wanted to see. It brought me closure, and some others I think. Maybe this and other wonderful post finale stories (Dave is our resident fanfiction guru) will tide you over until the movie and give you a better feeling about Chuck and Sarah’s future.

      • atcDave says:

        08mansoor I am in about the same place as Thinkling with S5 and the finale. I think they gave is a wonderful look at the fully mature version of the main characters (I only rank it a little lower than her because I think we had too many weak episodes, like Curse and Kept Man). I was initially very disappointed in the end, and I still wish they had added a little something to show us more clearly that the healing was underway. But there are internal clues that Chuck and Sarah were fine. To me, the biggest was just Sarah turning down Beckman’s job offer. Think about the first three seasons of Sarah Walker. Is turning down an offer to be reinstated as an agent something Sarah would casually do? No, this shows huge change and growth for her; in particular, she’s acting more like the fully mature Sarah we saw only late S4 and S5. The Sarah who became a more complete human because of Chuck’s influence.
        I also need to mention the parallel of Morgan. He had a similar, slightly less traumatic experience with the same version of the Intersect. And yet he quickly was restored to being the fully mature version of Morgan, even before specific memories came back. I think we are meant to see this as a parallel to Sarah’s recovery.
        And of course the scene on the beach. Remember how guarded and closed off Sarah often was in those two seasons? Well not in the end. In the end, she let it all go, she was able to laugh and cry, and finally kiss Chuck in the end. The writer himself claimed it was a happy ending, and that Sarah had “caught up” to Chuck on the beach.
        I do wish they had shown it more clearly. And I agree about wanting a movie, partly because seeing Chuck and Sarah happy together again is the only way I’ll be completely satisfied. But I have managed to be mostly satisfied with what we got.

        Also as Thinkling mentioned, there are a few excellent post series stories out there. Really quite a few. You can go to my favorites tag under the fan fiction header at right and find a full listing. But the best ones that come to mind are Thinkling’s (Sarah vs Finding Herself), Chuck vs The Lost Years by Angus McNab, Anthropocene’s hypothetical S6 (start with Las Vegas, episode 6.01) and Chuck and Sarah vs Their Next Adventure by MyNameIsJeffNImLost.

    • thinkling says:

      Doesn’t everybody have paratroopers at their wedding?

      I haven’t checked the time, but Ellie’s real wedding and the CS wedding were probably pretty close in screen time. (CS a little more maybe.) Ellie’s first wedding was mostly the stage for all the spy stuff. So funny. And then, of course, the Woodcomb beach wedding was inter cut with the Castle death scenes. Man, I’m glad they didn’t do that at the CS wedding.

      Anyway, two very different wedding episodes. Loved them both, for different reasons. Both let Chuck be the hero, but in very different ways. Both great episodes, but Cliffhanger is just hard to beat. It has a reserved spot in the top tier of my top tier.

      • joe says:

        Um… no, Thinkling. I had Imperial Storm Troopers, actually. [Joe blushes]

        Just to let everyone know how much this show has affected me, I’ll let on that I’ve become an avid fan of Downton Abbey now. Spent the evening at the manor with Bates and Carson and the Crawleys. That’s Alex’s fault.

      • thinkling says:

        They were otherwise engaged with their premier week in the theaters when we got married, so I had to settle for paratroopers. Yep the movie was released on the 25th of May 1977, and we were married only three days later.

      • atcDave says:

        Wow Thinkling, so when you got married, the world changed. That’s almost like having the fall of the Berlin Wall or the invention of Twinkies to commemorate your big day!

    • 08mansoor says:

      does anyone what seasons are being played in International countries? I hope season 4 and 5 will be completed by the end of the year, and then maybe serious steps can be taken for Chuck to be made into a movie. I wish Chuck would make a comeback via netflix and let netflix play an exclusive 10 episodes and then it can transition to a movie exclusively online or in theaters. I really hope the actors/actresses stay the same or at least Sarah, Chuck, and Casey.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t think its even consistent from country to country. Honestly, it sounds like a bogus excuse to me, always has. Shows run in different seasons and different production schedules worldwide all the time (just try to follow a BBC show in the states, you’ll constantly see spoilers from overseas fans who watching way ahead. Its just how the business goes). It may be something told to Zach or the show runners by a WB exec who doesn’t think on his feet very well. I would guess it just means the studio isn’t ready to entertain the idea yet. Hopefully, with new Chucksters coming on line through netflix we will get enough new buzz to generate some interest from the studio, or well, anyone with the money and influence to get something moving.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Now to be fair WB did think enough of the foreign markets to send Zach and a few friends to Japan to promote season 3, and this was after the show was over I believe. So it might be a consideration, especially if you want to distribute a movie worldwide as opposed to just in the US. That was one area where the VM campaign was caught flat-footed, they didn’t realize how much international support there was and had to scramble to capture it.

        In general I think Zach really just doesn’t want to deal with it for a few years, and foreign distribution is a convenient way for both him and WB to kick the can down the road a few years as opposed to a totally bogus excuse.

      • atcDave says:

        I would entirely believe its a “let wait and see what happens with VM” response. But it only makes sense for Chuck if we’re talking about a theatrical movie. And that’s only one of about four scenarios that have been mentioned. Now if it means WB is really willing to give us a big budget theatrical treatment, I’m all for it. But it still sounds more like “wait and see” to me. I would agree with saying kick the can down the road a few years; but I think that translates more easily to “bogus”.

    • 08mansoor says:

      lets sign this petition for a chuck movie and pass the word.

      • joe says:

        Monsoor, That link gave me a blank page. I did find The Petition here, though.

        I appreciate this. But I must give a word of caution – I haven’t vetted this site personally and they do ask for some personal information (a name and a complete address). I see no indication that they’re asking for financial or any other, easily abusable info, and I haven’t found any indication that there are problems associated with the site or their sponsors.

        Still, I’d sign the petition with a smidge of caution.

      • 08mansoor says:

        thanks for the heads up joe. I found it posted on youtube comment section and I just signed it. It seemed okay to me.

  2. anthropocene says:

    Marvelous. heartwarming episode. But I would have traded the silly sight gag with the church sign for a glimpse of Sarah opening her eyes in the hospital with Chuck at her bedside. It would have been a nice bookend to Sarah and Chuck in the Belgian’s lair in “vs. Phase Three.”

    • atcDave says:

      That is absolutely something I’m going to mention when I do the “Alternatives” post on Tuesday. They gave us a silly sight gag instead of a potentially beautiful scene.

      I do like the episode very much overall, top 20 seems very fitting to me. But there are a couple of annoying missteps like that.

    • thinkling says:

      Yes!!! That’s my only complaint really. What an absolute waste of screen time. Sarah opening her eyes would have been the scene to show us, instead of teasing until the last possible moment.

  3. resaw says:

    I have to say that, in retrospect, I also would have been quite satisfied with this episode as the series finale. The intercutting of Chuck and Sarah practising their wedding vows and Chuck’s overwhelmed response to Sarah’s words, words which perfectly summarized what Chuck had done for her, wrap up the trajectory of the story quite well, I think. On the other hand, at the beginning of the episode, when Sarah is packed in ice and says, “Don’t freak out,” and Chuck replies with, “We’re going to get married and be together forever,” that gives me an interpretive foundation from which to think about the series finale, when things appear so much more (horribly) ambiguous.

    Those who were paying more attention during this latest rewatch may want to help me a bit on this. How long was Hartley living in the Volkoff persona? 30 years? That makes sense of his Reagan and “Remember, it was the ’80s” comments. It also makes sense of Vivian knowing very little of her father. But, it was about 20 years earlier when Chuck had his initial exposure to the early prototype of the Intersect; it was about 20 years earlier that Frost disappeared from Chuck and Ellie’s life.

    One of my favourite conversations:
    Casey: “You could whack ’em if they got out of line. That’s smart, Reagan smart.”
    Volkoff: “Peace through violence. Remember, it was the ’80s.”

    Better for Casey were his encouraging words to Chuck as you quoted Joe:
    “Shut up. You’re Chuck Bartowski, the second-best spy I’ve ever worked with. Now you’re gonna go save the best one.” And,
    “You do whatever it takes; you save her.”

    Dave, a question for you, even with supersonic military grade air transit (and I wonder, does such a plane even exist to carry paratroopers?), how long does it take to fly from Moscow to Los Angeles? It is another one of those times when one willingly suspends these concerns for the sake of the story, I guess.

    I am a bit concerned about the state of Sarah’s memory at this episode, however. She says, “The Buymore has proven to be an excellent cover.” Uh, really?

    Thanks for wrapping up another season, Dave, Joe, everyone.

    • atcDave says:

      Hartley was Volkoff for 30 years. Remember Ellie discovered it happened before Chuck was born. I would guess things didn’t all go wrong immediately, and it was almost ten years after that when Mary got trapped by Volkoff in Moscow. At about that time Chuck was subjected to an early build of the Intersect. As far as we know, there was no human testing in between those events.

      As far as super sonic transport, there are larger bombers and transport aircraft that could carry 20+ guys. That’s not a big problem, well theoretically it isn’t. I have no idea how you would arrange such a thing. Perhaps Volkoff Industries had a supersonic military prototype stuffed in a Moscow hanger. And such an aircraft is unlikely to be designed for airborne operations, at least I’ve never heard of one that was; but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be used in a pinch.
      Right off the top of my head I think it would be at least a 4 hour flight, plus time to arrange and prepare such a thing. It’s one of those magic fast trips we so often saw in these last two seasons. Realistically, the round trip and arrangements, would have been a couple days.

    • “Shut up. You’re Chuck Bartowski, the second-best spy I’ve ever worked with. Now you’re gonna go save the best one.”

      This is a top-five line of the series for me, perhaps even my favorite. Casey’s complete dismissal of the intersect in regards to Chuck’s abilities is just a beautiful sentiment. What a turnaround from somebody who was ready to put a bullet in Chuck’s head just to shut down the computer in it.

      • authorguy says:

        He felt that way as early as season 3, when he told Chuck he was smart before he got the intersect, and could figure out where Shaw was taking Sarah. Maybe not the second-best spy, but a testament to his ability outside the Intersect.

      • atcDave says:

        Absolutely a great line Arthur!

      • authorguy, I think it’s a process Casey goes through. i’ve said before that I think the Casey/Chuck relationship is the most deftly handled in the show. You can really see the shifts in his attitude toward Chuck throughout each season. It happens really gradually, and it’s punctuated by quick and understated moments, which is so appropriate for Casey.

        Season 1: Casey sees Chuck as an annoying asset he has to protect.

        S2: Chuck is the annoying little brother he watches out for. People here hate Sensei, but I always thought that was when Casey’s shift began. The quiet “Thank you,” when he closes the door is huge. Plus, “You love me!”

        S3: Chuck becomes an agent worthy of his respect. “Before you had the intersect, you were smart.”

        S4: Chuck becomes his equal, and somebody he owes his life and family to. “Shut up. You’re the second-best spy I’ve ever worked with.”

        S5: Chuck becomes his leader, and Casey tries to support his growth. More importantly, Casey cares about Chuck so much that he’ll complement the Russians! 🙂

  4. jam says:

    “I have to say that, in retrospect, I also would have been quite satisfied with this episode as the series finale.”

    Considering what followed, this *should* have been the finale. Not that I was happy with Sarah spending most of the episode lying in a hospital bed, but hey at least it wasn’t the character destroying finale we ended up getting.

  5. revdr says:

    I agree with you jam….this should have been the ending that we got for this glorious series. From the trial run with the vows, to Chuck saving Sarah without the aid of the intersect we got everything we could have wanted. Chuck showed that he was the hero that Sarah told him that he was back in S2 just by being Chuck. His desperation to save her mirrored that of Sarah’s back in Phase 3 and showed just how much these two people loved each other. I pretty much now consider S5 my Pam/Bobby Ewing moment (it was all a dream) and I have a very difficult time even watching it past the latter part of Bullet Train. There was no ambiguity with Cliffhanger and we didn’t have to hope for a magical kiss to make everything right. We got the happy ending….

    • atcDave says:

      I agree exactly revdr. I even stop most of my re-watches at Baby. I am mostly okay with the end now, and can enjoy the finale arc,but it’s a more draining/brutal experience, and I don’t enjoy it as a casual viewing.

      • revdr says:

        Yeah Dave I’m with you there. Last week in the thread you said something about being surprised that TPTB allowed Chuck and Sarah to get together before the series ended. If that were the case Cliffhanger would have been the perfect culmination of four years of WT/WT. The thing is, getting them together actually strengthened the show and allowed the two of them to grow together. All of that growth was in full display in Cliffhanger. If they really had waited then the beach scene at the end of Goodbye would have been far more significant. No “they get to fall in love all over again” claptrap or unanswered questions (especially regarding Sarah’s state of mind). We deserved so much better that what we got.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t recall that exact discussion, but surprised is maybe not the best word. How about just pleased? I really had the impression quite early on that this show was one that would go against television norms and actually let the characters and relationship grow in a natural way. Of course I remain somewhat peeved at the torturous path chosen in S3; but otherwise, I am very pleased about the growth and development we got to see. Especially how mature and happy the characters were by S5. So yeah, I also am somewhat disgruntled with the end we got. As I’ve said, I really have found peace with it, I am content that all was well. But dang, I think I would haven given a tooth or two to have actually seen that…

  6. gatesoutcast says:

    An excellent review, but as a hopeless romantic myself. I would have loved to see the kiss work, and flash ahead a few years in the house with a kid or two, because of where I work I see daily human dark side constantly and would have loved a better ending. I too hope for the CHUCK movie. A petition anything out there?

    • authorguy says:

      Many of us felt the same, and we took our frustrations out in the form of fanfictions. Thinkling’s is probably the best of the bunch when it comes to ‘She gets them all back eventually’ school of post-finale fictions, especially for the hopeless romantics.

      • revdr says:

        I’m a hopeless romantic myself, and a hopeful individual as well. I don’t doubt that they eventually get back together. But the key word there is eventually. What has always been unacceptable to me is that they have to go through the task of getting to fall in love all over again. Even when (or if) Sarah gets her memories back there are still serious issues that would need to be addressed. Magic kiss not withstanding, Sarah has to deal with losing her memories and the actions that were taken while those memories were missing. That was not dealt with. Yes, she remembered a couple of things from years ago and the carving in the house, and she migrated to the beach, but she doesn’t remember being married or the man she is married to. Remember, she is being told a story of the last five years of her life by a man she trusts, but doesn’t remember. Those are facts. And when she remembers she has to come to terms with what she did to Chuck and Ellie and everyone else during the memory suppression. No one seems to be addressing that. Thinkling’s fanfic addresses some of that, but why should it have to be addressed at all? TPTB left us twisting in the wind and we deserved better. So did Chuck and Sarah. That’s why I have attempted to wipe season 5 from my memory. We shouldn’t have to create fan fiction to make ourselves feel better about the end of a great show that we all so obviously love.

      • authorguy says:

        You’ll get no argument from me. When I finally get through S4 and get around to rewriting S5, the story will be on the Decker conspiracy and those last episodes will never have happened (they can’t, given what happened in the first season of nine2five). They had 13 episodes to deal with it and they just cut it off in the middle and threw some half-baked slapdash junk at us in its place. I can’t help but wonder what prevented them from completing the original story, assuming (charitably) that they actually had a story and that something did prevent them from completing it.

      • anthropocene says:

        In conceiving an imaginary S6 I gave a fair amount of thought to how Sarah, Chuck, and those affected might deal with her memory loss, and with her misguided actions during her gonzo phase. I thought Thinkling’s terrific S5 coda fanfic presented a deeply heartfelt, wonderfully paced, and very organic example of how it might all happily work out. Sarah’s return and the transition of Chuck and Sarah to a non-spy lifestyle were central themes of Thinkling’s fanfic.

        But if there had been a real sixth season, in which the Chuckverse is again broken up into discrete weekly chunks, I think it’s likely that C&S and company would have remained immersed in their existing world of intrigue and danger, whether still as independent contractors or (less likely) back in the employ of the government. I would optimistically suggest that a real S6 would have brought Chuck and Sarah back together quickly (probably in the first episode) and then thrown new challenges at them. Stretching out the memory-loss problems would just have been a new version of wt/wt, and I like to think that lesson was well learned.

        Looking back over the series gave me a renewed sense of the resilience of Chuck and Sarah’s relationship in spite of all its travails. Many times over 5 seasons, to varying degrees, Chuck and Sarah hurt each other, let each other down, disappointed each other. But they were always quick to forgive, to move on, to heal. With the unfortunate exception of early S3 (an extreme exception that I think proves the rule), they didn’t marinate in gloom, and they never carried grudges. This may have been a consequence of the fast-paced plot, but no matter the reason, I think the same rules would have applied to S6; the past is key to the present.

        Seeds of a hypothetical S6 redemption were planted in the last two episodes of S5. Ellie knew exactly what was wrong with Sarah and her primary concern was to keep Gonzo Sarah from hurting or killing Chuck. She wouldn’t have held Gonzo Sarah’s death threats against a recovering Sarah. By bringing Gonzo Sarah her complete mission logs, Casey showed exactly where he stood (that big lug of a shipper!), and he would have welcomed a recovering Sarah back with a grunt and a hug. Ditto Morgan, and more so.

        So my hypothesis is that Sarah’s friends and family would be quick, almost reflexive, in forgiving her for her gonzo actions. Chuck, of course, would only be loving and nurturing. The only one who’d beat Sarah up over her gonzo actions is Sarah herself, once she again started “feeling” her love for Chuck—and I think that happened right there on the beach. When Sarah asked Chuck to kiss her, she wasn’t testing Morgan’s magic theory. She wanted to feel what it was like to kiss the man she’d already acknowledged was her husband and the love of her life. I’ll bet it felt pretty darn good, and right, and that Sarah and Chuck would have been out there kissing on the sand for quite a while, oblivious to time, maybe until the tide chased them off (which is how my episode 6.01 starts).

        Sarah would start a hypothetical S6 with some guilt and remorse, but in the spirit of the actual series, I think she would work those feelings off with actions more than words. She would love her Chuck more fiercely than ever (in all the ways that phrase can be construed), and strive harder to ensure a happy future for their family and their business. She would ask for Ellie’s forgiveness, and having received it, would go right back to being a faithful (if long-distance) friend. Sarah might crave spy-style action at Chuck’s side for a while, since that was what brought them both together in the first place (and would be necessary to make S6 episodes exciting), but as her memories gradually returned, she’d be thinking more and more about pursuing a quieter life. Of course, with Chuck still carrying the Intersect (and Chuck and Sarah being Chuck and Sarah), there’d be threats and challenges to deal with.

      • authorguy says:

        Well said. Chuck vs. The Epilog was my almost-first foray into fanfic-writing, and my goal was to solve the problem. However much of a shipper I may be, if the story doesn’t solve the problem it won’t work for me, so I always put strong story logic ahead of the fluff. (Most of my Chuck work is written that way, and every season has monumental problems to be solved.) It’s been a bit of a learning experience for me to be able to write fluff at all, and I usually end up putting it to the service of the plot anyway. (The ‘forgiveness’ aspect of the story is demonstrated with the effort everyone makes to solve the problem for her sake, rather than hugs and kisses.)
        So it never occurred to me to have any kind of a reconciliation about gonzo-Sarah. But in the story Ellie does say that when the memories are restored thy will overlay all of the current memories, so gonzo-Sarah and the original Sarah will merge into one being. In last half of my second story, Not This Time, I essentially rewrote the Epilog from Sarah’s POV, and that one ends with her and Chuck in the recovery room, talking about what she’d done, but most of the other characters are not there for that. (There is some talk between Sarah and Ellie early on, but Sarah was still in her gonzo-phase and was annoyed that Ellie felt the need to forgive her or help her.) So basically I would take forgiveness and moving on as a given, in any scenario, because that’s the way they are.

      • atcDave says:

        Anthro that is just an awesome assessment. There are basically two types of outcomes I’m willing to consider post series. The first is that they immediately resume their plans from the end of S5. That is, a more tech, less violent version of Carmichael Industries that will lead to a quieter, safer lifestyle more conducive to raising a family and getting on with a normal (ish) life. That is the sort of end Thinkling wrote. Naturally, that sort of end is not very exciting from a story telling perspective, at least not beyond a single tale like Thinkling’s.
        Which leads to the second sort of end I like. It involves a more active option. There is still healing and reconciliation, but Chuck and Sarah end up, at least temporarily, back in a situation more like Season Five. You and Angus have written two of the better examples of that sort of continuation. If there will ever be more Chuck beyond a single story it will likely look more that.
        Either way, I agree completely with your take on how quickly Chuck and Sarah would be together, and that reconciliation with friends and family would come quite soon.

      • thinkling says:

        Thanks Anthro. I agree with you that Chuck’s family would forgive and embrace Gonzo Sarah, and that’s how it goes in my story early on. I can’t see it any other way. After all Ellie told Sarah that she knew she wasn’t herself, and even after the Gonzo Sarah (love the nickname) debacle, they all tried to help Chuck get her back.

        I envision my Chuck and Sarah in their own company doing jobs and getting into scrapes along the way, so I’ve enjoyed your S6 a lot. You’re doing a great job of telling the stories I know are out there. I also happen to believe that the untold conspiracy is still brewing on a distant horizon.

        And obviously Dave’s right. Ultimately there has to be something beyond or more than a healing story. So, it’s all fun … well, inside Dave’s prescribed boundaries. 😉

      • atcDave says:

        You know I looked over my comment again when I read your’s Thinkling and geez, I came across as sort of a jerk! Perhaps I should have described it as a difference between a happily ever after ending; and something that continues the adventure. Both can be hugely satisfying, and in the cases mentioned, are.

        That forgiving and moving on is a regular feature of post series stories. I think leaving Ellie with a big grudge would be painfully out of character.

      • thinkling says:

        Oh, Dave, I never took it that way. They are just two different types of stories, and in some ways complementary. I took no offense … at all.

      • atcDave says:

        I didn’t really think you had, but I felt like a heal regardless!

      • anthropocene says:

        This has been a fun thread. Thanks all! Thinkling, your story inspired me to try writing a post-finale fix, and then it just kind of snowballed. Marc, I definitely need to read those early tics of yours you mentioned. And Dave—your enthusiasm and blog support have continually bolstered the Chuck FF community, even this long after the series ended.

      • authorguy says:

        Before you read Not This Time, I should warn you that it gets pretty dark. I viewed Sarah as walking wounded, not the blithe ‘oh I lost most of my self from the last five years but I’ll be fine’ portrayal they showed us. (The chapters of Not This Time we originally intended to go around and between Chuck vs Sarah and the Goodbye, so when we get to the rewatch maybe you can try reading and viewing in the proper order, as well. [1,2,Sarah,3,4,Goodbye,5-10])

      • atcDave says:

        Thanks Anthro! Even if I cheer lead for purely selfish reasons…

    • atcDave says:

      I think keeping the interest up on-line, and in various social media and twitter is our best tool for now. Just so the interested parties all know WE still want more; a better end.

    • Wilf says:

      I agree atc. We may never get a movie, of course, but if there is zero Chuck-interest traffic online then there is even less chance.

    • revdr says:

      I totally agree that it would be Sarah that would have deal with both the immediate and long term aftermath of her memory suppression and her actions. I have no doubt that Chuck would forgive her knowing that she was not herself. He loves her. That goes for friends and family as well. She would have to forgive herself and that is not always an easy thing to do. That’s my argument; always has been. I had a stroke a few years back and I lost some of my short term (and long term) memories. No, I didn’t forget that I was married or who I was married to but it was a daunting task none-the-less. You cannot imagine the feeling of helplessness and incompleteness having to be told of some of the things that you did or experienced that you could not remember. It affected my marriage, my ministry and all other aspects of my life. The process was overwhelming at times. To me, It was far to easy to wipe everything away with a magical kiss. I love these characters too much to simply just say that all is well. Will everything be ok eventually, yes I truly believe that it will, but it is unrealistic to say that just because she listened to their story and kissed him that they are just going to get up, leave the beach, go home and all is well. My point, it will take time, and not a small amount, for them to get back to where they were. That’s where the ending of Goodbye failed because we were pretty much told that they “get to fall in love all over again”. Think about that. Now, I love fan fiction, but I never use it to reconcile my feelings over an episode or the ending of a series. I just felt like with Chuck we deserved to see a truly happy ending. We didn’t get that. That’s why I, after nearly two years, still have difficulty watching season 5 and use Cliffhanger as my series ender. We may never get a movie, so I will always feel shortchanged. The story is incomplete.

      • atcDave says:

        I actually think very few Chuck fans ever bought into the “magic kiss” idea. Tragic, but Morgan was likely mislead by Disney. As Anthro stated above, the hope many of us found had more to do with Sarah wanting to kiss her husband, presumably to reconnect with him in the end. I completely agree that ending was sort of a rude way to treat fans, and I will always wish they had given us something more overtly joyful.

        Obviously your own experience with memory loss likely adds to the emotion of that ending. We had another reader (ironically also a pastor) contribute his own story of his wife’s memory loss, and how that affected their reaction to the finale. I’ll see of I can hunt down a link for that later tonight, but their reaction was nearly opposite of yours. It is clearly an emotionally difficult situation.

      • garnet says:

        I’m not so sure that Morgan was mislead. We did have his experience with the Helecopter and the “intervention” that suddenly brought most of his memories and all of his personality back as well as his “Disney Theory”.
        Myself I am coming to think that the way we look at the ending is more the “glass half empty or half full” situation. I’m a bit more on the pessimistic side of things, so I find the ending to be somewhat unsatisfying to say the least. I think that the true pessimists likely find it extremely unsatisfying, and the true optimists actually quite hopeful. Those that simply notice that the glass is dirty….I’m not sure where they land.

        I am also of the opinion that TPTB really thought that the fans were going to love the ending, and they truly felt they were giving us the “love letter” Fedak talked about. I think they were a bit taken aback when many of us reacted as if they had given us a “Dear John” letter instead. I can’t help it if, two years later, I am still getting over their Dear John letter.

      • atcDave says:

        So Garnet are you suggesting Morgan would have recovered even quicker if Chuck had kissed him? Uhhh, let’s not go there…

        There certainly was an odd divide among those who loved the end and those who loathed it. I’ve said before I thought it was mostly a sub-set of those who disliked the Misery Arc, but now I’m not so sure. I’ve noticed numerous comments from viewers who liked S3 but disliked the end (Big Kev you are not alone!).
        And I think a sizable number of us remain somewhere in the middle. I can see how the ending is completely joyful, even magical when I watch now. But I had to work hard to piece it together; to make sense of clues not only in the episode but from earlier episodes and seasons as well (from Morgansect to “nothing but a spy”). Combine that with the disappointment and anger I felt on initial viewing; I think I will always see it as flawed and incomplete. We shouldn’t have to fight so hard to “get it”.

      • thinkling says:

        I can say with complete honesty that the finale was hopeful and reassuring. I’m wholly convinced that things worked out for Chuck and Sarah’s full recovery, and I draw that conclusion based on things we actually saw on screen (though you have to dig a little). I could never say it was unequivocally happy. No matter how you slice it there’s been a terrible tragedy, and there’s healing ahead, so unequivocally happy … no. I can also say that the finale was victorious. That acknowledges that there was conflict (the spy life vs the normal life as seen throughout the show and so vividly at the end of Business trip) and struggle (Chuck and Sarah had some serious enemies). In the end they won, though not without some losses to recover. I think the beach scene showed them well on the way to recover their losses. The tragedy made it sort of a hollow victory for many fans and definitely didn’t leave them with the same euphoric feeling of the wedding.

        I hear the word satisfying used, but I can’t even really say that I found the ending satisfying. (They keep using that word, but I do not think it means what they think it means.) If I am satisfied with something, by definition I want nothing more. The end left me wanting a lot more … about 90,000 words more. 😉

      • garnet says:

        Well… As the intervention was a form of shock therapy, I espect that Chuck kissing Morgan would have had the desired effect, I’m just glad that they didn’t go that route. The sandworm scene was enough for me.

        I fully agree that we shouldn’t have to work so hard to arrive at a “good place”. I see that as an indication that they failed in their storytelling. In fact, I suspect that only a diehard fan would take the time and make the effort to even try to make sense of all the previous episodes. And given that they were prone to make major errors in their own canon, it is unsettleing to think they would have had to have been thinking a season or more ahead to plant their clues. The pessimist in me says that is a big strike against believing their clues, as it seemed they were more often flying by the seat of their pants than planning the big picture.

      • authorguy says:

        I think someone here said they knew in S4 that they would have 13 episodes in S5, so they may very well have had some clues planted. But since it looks like they three away the Decker storyline very early on they may very well have thrown out a lot of those clues as well. Definitely bad story-telling.

      • thinkling says:

        Garnet, whereas I definitely see your point, I think S5 was the most preplanned season of all. I think the whole thing was planned before Morgansect and that the season finale was part of the pitch to NBC that got us a fifth season.

      • garnet says:

        Thinkling, if that’s the case I guess choosing between no season 5 and the finale we got, I can say I’m glad we got 11.5 episodes at least. Although, as I recall, it took a bit of time for you to put the pieces together yourself.

        I should put in a plug for your story as well. It was the very first Fan Fiction story I read, and 2 years later, I am certain that I have read MUCH more FF than I should have. You managed to take me from a somewhat down mood (grumpy for a week or two) and showed me the hope that was there (whether intentional or not). For that I give you my thanks, and a suggestion to anyone who has not read your story to go directly to the FF site and give it a read…..In fact its been a while, I might just read it again myself.

      • atcDave says:

        I have no doubt some of the “clues” are unintentional, but they are clues nonetheless. Like I mention the “nothing but a spy” line; I’m sure when written it had absolutely no bearing on a possible ending, but when I watch the end, and Sarah turns down Beckman’s job offer, it tells me 5.13 Sarah is showing late series maturity. She is way past where she was even in early S4. So I take that as a very good sign.
        But you’re completely right in saying that’s the sort of thing more casual viewers would likely not dig after. It only occurred to me when re-watching Phase Three several months after the finale aired.
        Of course the flip side to that is, most of the casual viewers I know were immediately fine with the finale. I think they saw it as hopeful, as healing had already started, so they were fine with it. While those of us who had more emotionally invested cared more about the outcome, and often wanted more surety. I only know one casual viewer who was unhappy with the finale, and man was he ticked…

        I think Thinkling’s comment is right on about the pre-planning. S5 is the only season that I think was completely plotted out before hand. They made a few changes along the way ( like abandoning the conspiracy story), but Morgansect is clearly meant to form a pattern for what happens to Sarah. Thankfully minus the kiss.

      • oldresorter says:

        I think the end would work for most casual viewers. They kissed, if you don’t care about Chuck and Sarah very much, the ending was happy, kind of cool.

        Has anyone ever guessed that the conspiracy was meant to be Shaw, not Quinn at the end, with a few changes to the story, to Santa Claus, Baby ep would involve Shaw more, etc? Then, either due to availability, or just afraid fans wouldn’t like it, they backed out.

        I would NOT have liked that, but it probably would have written itself better, and been really liked by a portion of the fan base. I think the whole thing would have made more sense, with appropriate changes along the way.

      • atcDave says:

        I definitely would have preferred no Shaw at all. It’s not a huge thing, Shaw is pretty much nothing to me at this point except a groan and roll of the eyes.
        But I really think they should have tied Quinn in to being the mastermind. Both he and Shaw seem to have had the same endgame.

        But you do raise an interesting question Jason, what if Shaw originally was the final foe? Is it possible they sort of punted the Shaw story because they feared Shaw would have too much baggage and be a distraction to the finale? Yet they still wanted to revisit the character one last time. I could see that. They might have even been exactly right about that. Still, I think the big final foe should have tied back to the conspiracy we heard about from the season premier. Something caused a break or discontinuity there, I wonder how it all went in the writer’s room.

      • thinkling says:

        Ugh. If Shaw had been the finale plan … well, I am glad it didn’t turn out that way. Resurrecting him was bad enough, and his return in S5 made Santa Suit feel like a tired rerun … an incredible waste of what could have been a great plot.

        But I honestly don’t think they wanted Shaw as the final big bad. I think they just wanted to bring him back one more time.

      • atcDave says:

        I suspect you’re right Thinkling. But I also strongly suspect Quinn was originally meant to be the big bad of the conspiracy, which just leaves me wondering how much (or how little!) was changed to disentangle the story.

      • revdr says:

        Everyone keeps talking about all of the positive clues leading to the hopeful ending, and yes, there are indicators of a positive outcome. But there are a few negative ones as well: “I did my job well, didn’t I? “I believe you but, I just don’t feel it”; “This beach means something doesn’t it?” tells me that she still not in a good place. That she didn’t take Beckman’s job offer says that right now she’s searching for something, anything to point her in a positive direction. She’s lost right now. She was single minded in her quest to kill Quinn and once that was done in her mind the question had to be so what now? Memories of the last 5 years of her life were suppressed (I didn’t ever think that they were completely lost), and the need to find a tether led her to trust Chuck. Sarah always had trust issues and Chuck had always been the one to break through. But realistically, she was being told a story that she doesn’t remember. Is she just supposed to accept that and move on? Lets be real here ,it’s still just a story. He is her husband sure, but come on; it’s to easy. Sarah needs to be in control and right now she has to hold on to that because It’s all that she has. It’s kind of telling when Fedak and company had to go into post series interviews to reassure everyone that oh yeah, they’re together. But the strongest statement from him was “how romantic is it that they get to fall in love all over again? That should you that there was miles to go before they slept. The beach scene was cute and a nice callback, but it was full of misdirection. I’m hopelessly romantic and I have not seen a couple with that kind of chemistry on tv possibly ever, but I never will buy that ending. That’s not the fairy tale.

      • Wilf says:

        revdr, I always laughed ruefully and incredulously at the statement “how romantic is it that they get to fall in love all over again?”. I mean, how clueless was that comment. OK, say I’ve lost my memory and cannot remember anything about the physics degree I slogged over for three years, so won’t it be absolutely fantastic to have to go back to university and study that wonderful subject all over again? Well, no, actually.

      • atcDave says:

        That was definitely an ugly moment we saw from Sarah at the end of 5.12, but it is still within the first day of when she was mind wiped, and she still has Quinn chattering in her ear. The next episode takes part over another three weeks, and a lot changes in that time. The biggest just being the time she spends with Chuck and sees him as a brave and capable partner who shares the same courage and willingness to sacrifice she does. She also starts remembering small details that may not be huge themselves, but they tend to confirm her connection to Chuck.
        And I think you badly underestimate the importance of the scene on the beach. Where she had pointedly told Chuck (and Morgan) earlier that she didn’t to hear “their” story, because it wasn’t her story anymore; on the beach she not only said she wanted to hear it now, but she called it “our” story. Again, it may be a small thing, but it shows a change in mindset that can only be called encouraging.
        I also think that turning down Beckman’s job offer is just huge. This is Sarah Walker, who has claimed since S1, and as recently as S4, that being a spy is who she is and is all she is. When she turns that job down she’s showing a completely different value system, one that she actually only embraced in Baby for the very first time. This most obviously parallels Morgan from the end of Frosted Tips, when he embraced his more mature values, character and relationships even without having all the associated memories.
        Not to mention a final kiss that extended long past a mere formality. The show ended with a couple that was clearly happy with the moment.

        Now for all that, I agree with saying the end was not enough. I needed more. I wanted to see the proof that Chuck and Sarah were fine. As simple as Sarah saying “take me home Chuck” and this whole discussion becomes moot.
        But the end really is more than just a little hopeful. It does show Sarah (and Charah) starting a recovery. I don’t believe we can credibly claim Chuck and Sarah have no future together, it looks clear to me they do. It’s the question of how easy or tough the next few months or years to get there may be. But the episode writer said that in the end Sarah had “caught up emotionally” to Chuck. I have to think that’s a very good thing. Whatever exactly it means.
        But I think all the indicators are that we left Chuck and Sarah in a very good place. I wish it had been more obviously good like the end of Baby. But I’m content until we start discussions for the movie…

      • atcDave says:

        Wilf I do agree completely with that! The idea of having go back over past experiences and mistakes actually sounds pretty dreadful to me! Like a lot of work to get back to ground zero. It’s right up there with putting down a book at chapter seven.

      • revdr says:

        Exactly! I saw the hope. I really did. But geez, look how long it took them, Sarah especially, to come to terms with not just her feelings for Chuck but her basic mistrust of everything and everyone, and just letting go. If we are to believe that she practically fell in love almost from the start, it still took her nearly three years to finally come to terms with those feelings. And now we are suppose believe that Sarah is sitting on that beach thinking that ok, I married him so everything must be real. I just felt insulted. Look, I’m not a writer, but I cant understand why it is so difficult to write a happy ending. I deal with ambiguity every day. Life is built that way. Is it too much to hope for a little they lived happily ever after from my favorite stories?

      • atcDave says:

        Revdr it is certainly frustrating to me that the happy ending is so out of vogue right now. It really makes me angry how many good shows have been undone by a bitter downbeat at the end. Now just for the record, I put Chuck on solidly middle ground in that regard. I believe only good things lay ahead, but I wanted to SEE it. Many viewers, and I’m sure writers, seem eager to mock those of us who “needed” to see them happy in the house with a red door and jr. on the way. And okay, I guess I didn’t actually “need” it, I’ve made my peace without it, but I sure did WANT it and I am disappointed they failed to deliver.

      • Dave says:


        I’m with you. The finale needed about 1 sentence…hell, a sentence fragment and it would have been fine. How hard would that have been?

        I have always favored “Chuck, we’ll be OK.” Your “Take me home” or “Let’s go home” work well too.

      • anthropocene says:

        I think they could have done it with even less: just have Sarah throw her arms around Chuck as they continued to kiss and the scene faded out. It would have been a nice little callback to the end of “Push Mix.” The scene we did get showed Sarah kissing Chuck with plenty of enthusiasm, so as a member of Team Glass Half-Full, I like to think she was about to embrace him anyway.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m not so sure I would call it enthusiastic Anthro, but certainly it went longer than it needed to if she was just going to pull away and say “see you later”. It struck me as tender and vulnerable, which again, would not have described Sarah at all apart from Chuck.

      • anthropocene says:

        I was looking for something between “willing” and “passionate,” and perhaps “enthusiastic” wasn’t the most accurate choice. I’m good with “tender.”. 😉

      • I’m going to save my epic Goodbye positivity offensive for a couple months until it comes up. Just know that YOU’RE ALL WRONG THE ENDING IS PERFECT *sticks fingers in ears* 😉

        Of all the possible alternative/extended endings the “one kiss and she’ll remember” is by far the worst. Even if you don’t like the ending, all that does is cheapen it. Even worse, it implies that the most impactful moments of their relationship would be physical. I can understand the need to see everything spelled out, but

        It’s funny, I always thought Shaw should’ve been the final foe. I was going to bring it up later, but it just would’be made so much more sense. I always wondered if they had to change it because Routh’s schedule didn’t match up. But then, I always liked him as a villain. Still, he was great in Santa Claus. Shaw’s so hot… I bet he reads a lot of books!

      • atcDave says:

        Why do people conclude that everyone who disliked the end wanted the “magic kiss” to work? I didn’t. I don’t think most of us with reservations did. But yes, I did want it better spelled out that they would be fine. It is never about a total recovery, that would have been cheesy. But resuming their life together, as two wounded vets who have each other to lean on, that would have been beautiful. What we saw was incomplete. Like turning off a tied football game at the two minute warning. Or like cleaning your house and calling it done without putting away your tools and supplies. It just wasn’t really done…

      • The original post of this thread mentioned it, as did at least one other person, as an ideal solution. I don’t think I implied the two in inexorably linked.

      • atcDave says:

        I may have missed it, but most of what I see is a desire for a more clear “happy ending”. That is not quite the same thing as total recovery. The only real issue to me is that Chuck and Sarah are together and happy about it. And that issue is what concerns almost everyone I’ve heard from. A few have commented on wanting to know all Sarah’s memories returned, but I think to most it’s okay if we don’t know when that happens, as long as we know they’re together.
        The line I most often suggest as a fix (“take me home Chuck”) accomplishes exactly that. It leaves ambiguity about Sarah’s memories, but provides assurance they face the future together either way. Obviously now we can never know how the ending would have been perceived if that line were present as the screen went to black; but I honestly believe it would have made almost everyone happy. Chris Fedak himself said he meant to show ambiguity about Sarah’s memories, not about them being together. I think that one line would have better that.

  7. Dave says:

    Really liked this episode a lot. About the only issue I had was Morgan-overload (At the hospital as well as at the end). I have not been a Morgan fan since the end of Season 2.

    Otherwise, it was great. Mary (the “mother-in-law”) meeting the CATs, Mary’s reaction to Chuck on the bike, Volkoff as usual combined to make this a superior episode for me.

    I think, all in all, I like the S3 finale (2 hrs) most as a good combination of action, intrigue and closure. S2 and S4 are about equal just below S3. S5 comes in last by a smidge (S1 rightfully had no finale due to the strike).

    If they had just pulled back on the Morgan dose and I would have liked this much more. Morgan officiating a wedding and Morgan with the Intersect…really!

    • revdr says:

      Yeah, my hope was that when Morgan left for Hawaii in season 2 that he would just stay gone. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I also felt like TPTB went way too far and spent far too much time enhancing Morgan’s role from season 3 on. Fortunately, he went from a major annoyance to a minor irritant during that period. And I will say this; Morgan became vital to Chuck’s growth over the course of the show, and it was the little bearded man who supported Charah even others were encouraging Chuck to move on. Morgan more than anyone (except maybe Jeff) knew what Sarah meant to Chuck and the positive effect that she had on him. The officiating of the wedding and the Morgansect (come on!) were a bit much but the Cliffhanger was so good overall that I could overlook too much Morgan just this once.

      • Dave says:


        Still love the episode. I have learned to live with too much Morgan. You are absolutely correct, Morgan was a big component of Chuck’s development, but he did it in a very annoying way. In all fairness, I was never into the “bromance”.

      • thinkling says:

        I was never really into the Bromance, either. Looking back I am ok with it (I view Morgan with more affection than annoyance now) and accept it for what it was. In real time viewing I sometimes complained about too much Morgan, but this time through it doesn’t bother me nearly as much. Actually pairing Morgan with Casey was a stroke of brilliance that mitigated the Morgan factor a lot.

        I actually liked Morgan in Cliffhanger, though the officiating seemed a little over the top and bothered me on different levels. Morgansect … meh. I was a little concerned but willing to see where they would go with it. And where they went is a discussion for the next few weeks, I guess.

        I guess I will mention one other thing that bothered me about Cliffhanger. I’ve never mentioned it on the blog before (but it bothered me so much I changed it in my story). Chuck’s vows, the words “So, no vows,” really bothered me. I know it was somebody’s romantic idea, but in reality, it was like saying no wedding. I mean at the heart of it all a wedding is a vow. That’s it. If there is no vow there is no wedding. (I changed it to “So this is my vow.”) I know that sounds incredibly nit-picky, but it undermined how special the vow really was. Whew, glad to finally get that off my chest.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m also no great fan of the bromance, but I would admit to finding Morgan often funny as comic relief. Its been mentioned by many viewers that TPTB seem to be just a little more enamored of Morgan than most of us seem to be. Its not a huge thing to me, Morgan is funny in moderate doses (especially paired with Casey!).
        No shock I agree with Thinkling in saying I wish he hadn’t officiated, that was a little too much.
        Funny about the vows. Chuck says “no vows”, but then he really makes one, so I guess it never bothered me so much. But it is sort of a disconnect, the whole point of a wedding is indeed the vow!

      • thinkling says:

        Of course, you’re right, Dave. Even after saying no vows, he made one, so no harm – no foul. I admit to being over protective/sensitive toward marriage, so in my mind that disconnect (good word) was a thoughtless, if not stupid, thing to say in a wedding. And I’m sure that the writers and all involved were unaware of the affront, which is in itself bothersome, but not as offensive as an intentional affront.

      • atcDave says:

        Just further evidence of the cultural conflict that Hollywood often doesn’t even recognize as a conflict. Or worse, they do…

      • Dave says:

        atcDave, Thinkling

        Morgan with casey was pretty good, but as you say in moderation.

        Not enough to make me not watch it though.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        The issue with Morgan’s growth as a character is that it came at the expense of Chuck.

        In the later seasons, not all, but an awful lot of the most “heartwarming” scenes were between Morgan and Sarah. This was not the case on earlier seasons.

        There’s half an ep coming up where Chuck doesn’t pick up on the chance that Sarah could be pregnant – Casey had to tell him.

        In making Chuck into a “competent” spy they took away many of the qualities that endeared him to Sarah (and to us). Chuck may be a better spy in the later seasons, but he was a better human being in the early seasons.

      • atcDave says:

        I partially agree with that Capt. I’m okay with Morgan’s growth completely (except that he’s occasionally over used). Its just they decided that occasionally in the later seasons it was okay to use Chuck for buffoonish humor. I found that very disappointing since they pointedly did NOT do that in the first season, and only a little in the second (and Sensei remains one of my least favorite S2 episodes precisely because they DID go the buffoon route).
        Chuck was, in some ways, more steady and mature in the first season than he was in the fifth. In particular, he was often the responsible and respected Nerd Herd Supervisor, good friend and good brother. Doing episodes like Curse, or even Kept Man to a lesser degree; makes him look like more of a doofus than we ever saw in S1.

  8. oldresorter says:

    A very good episode. But it probably doesn’t hold up for me as well as my other top 3 eps, Delorean, Pilot, Honeymooners. Seems more like The Baby and Phase 3, great eps, but not quite perfect.

    Had they split the wedding and the cliffhanger up, I think both eps could have been top ten. Chuck heroism in this ep, got overshadowed by my frustration that the wedding was the thing being ‘angsted’ up, as well as Sarah near dying. Sarah near dying was enough stakes.

    The wedding, say around ep 4×21, followed by Honeymooners II, would have been epic. Then CS could return and do the Chuck vs The Volkov’s in a two parter, with the cliffy ep resembling a role reversal Phase 3 even more than it did!

    • atcDave says:

      I certainly wish they had made more of the wedding, but I do like what we saw. Ideally, I could have gone for most of an episode being the celebration with family and friends, throw in a bunch more of the recurring characters, I think I would have enjoyed that a lot. But screen time always seems to work against such things.

  9. revdr says:

    I think, upon 2nd viewing (or 25th, I forget) that Chuck had vows prepared, but standing there, looking at Sarah (who looked incredible, btw) that what he initially wanted to say went out the window. I take marriage very seriously as well and I know that Chuck got caught up in the moment. It’s easy lose focus when your dream becomes a reality…..

    • thinkling says:

      That’s quite true, especially after all they had been through. I wouldn’t blame a groom for a slip like that, and therefore I don’t blame Chuck. But in the back of my brain I know it wasn’t a slip, b/c there was a writer somewhere who wrote that idiotic line and made Chuck say it.

  10. revdr says:

    I hated the idea of the magic kiss…that was a far-fetched resolution to the story, but, I wasn’t looking for a “let’s go home Chuck” either. That was unrealistic as well. I would have loved the truth…”Chuck, I know that we’re married and I trust you, but I need some time to find out who I am.” “I know that we mean something to each other and I want to know that, but until I can find me, I cant give you all that you want or need” ” I appreciate you being here for me because I cant remember anyone caring about me that much” It would have been truthful and honest and a nice callback to Best Friend. I could have very easily accepted that.

    • joe says:

      I really appreciate your read on that ending, Rev. We’re gonna be talking about this much more in the next 13 weeks, but for now, I just want to say that I’m focusing on your word – “truth”. Interesting term to use in this context.

      To some extent, we’re all going see what we want to see. That’s human nature. But what we’re trying to do here is understand what they (yeah, them) were trying to tell us. The difficulty is that they intentionally left a lot of that up to us and our imaginations and to our own experiences.

      For me, that alone takes Chuck a bit beyond mere mass entertainment and pulls it in the direction of art, because it calls on us to provide some of the story ourselves.

      I suspect that’s why so many of us are still thinking about the show two years after it ended.

    • atcDave says:

      Wow, I would have really hated that end. Way too dreary. I would have preferred the magic kiss!

      • revdr says:

        Don’t freak out Dave! I honestly wasn’t going for dreary. Just a little realism. Sorry if it brought you or anyone else down. This wasn’t my intent.

      • oldresorter says:

        The problem with the magic kiss, it’s the story they told. In the end, the wt/wt angst nature of the story teller got the last laugh, as we will never know if she got her memory back or not.

      • atcDave says:

        Rev it’s just pretty close to what I had to convince myself did not happen! I was never watching for realism, and they burned me out way back in S3 on any variation of the wt/wt game.

    • thinkling says:

      Yikes, what Dave said. The ending we got was more upbeat than that, because I think it took us beyond that. Those were the things Sarah had already said to him: I don’t know how to be the woman you remember; I believe it, but don’t’ feel it; I need some time to think, to be alone. In her “tell me our story” I heard her trust and a desire to be read back into her own life. As Chuck told their story she began to find herself. I believe that Sarah smiling and laughing and crying was her reconnecting with her feelings for Chuck and with herself — Sarah Bartowski. It wasn’t a full recovery, but it was a manifest, non-ambiguous beginning. The kiss sealed it. It wasn’t a test. It was a promise.

      It was a harsh final arc, a bit too harsh, IMO. I think CF was shocked at the extent to which it was perceived that way. But then many fans were shocked that he was shocked. When you bring Chuck and Sarah into real life and relate to their situation on that plane (which is what we’ve all done for 5 years), it can’t be anything less than an epic tragedy, especially to those who have dealt with memory loss, either personally or with someone they love. But CF wasn’t thinking like we were thinking.

      I have to adjust my context — remind myself that it’s fiction. The magic kiss may be a bit too Disney, but in the Chuck world, people recover from Intersect memory loss through emotional connection and memory stimuli, as per Ellie’s words, and seen in Morgan’s recovery and Chuck’s recovery in Phase 3. Looking at the finale and the beach scene through the Chuck lens, it’s a great deal more hopeful and “happy” than the real world lens. Still, having said all that, it ended too soon and left me wanting to see more of the recovery.

      • revdr says:

        Absolutely, Thinkling: And I realize that Chuck is indeed fiction. However, isnt most fiction tinged with at least a hint of reality? I guess after all this time I just needed more. I haven’t been invested in a single series (or shipped a couple) this much, ever. Closest for me would be The West Wing and I suffered through 6 and 3/4 years of when will they with Josh and Donna (I always knew they would, eventually). And, at the end of the day that was resolved. With Chuck and Sarah we got no real resolution, just a hope. And I’m not discounting hope, not at all. I didn’t need to see the picket fence and the house with the red door or the next generation of Bartowskis running around the yard. I just needed some type of closure. Everyone hopes for a movie, myself included, but realistically that’s a long shot at best. Gilmore Girls fans have been waiting for a movie for over 7 years with no hope in sight. In the mean time the principles get older (Lauren Graham is 46, Scott Patterson, 55) and, they had a much larger fan base to appease. I’m like you and atcDave and many others who just needed a little more. Sorry, just blowing off a little steam.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        I think the issue is that they didn’t know when to stop. The “drama” was pushed past the point of no return (in the finale and in an earlier season).

      • atcDave says:

        I think “a little bit more” is something we almost all can agree on. But no doubt, after months of thinking and discussing I’m much closer to where Thinkling is in terms of what I saw and how I interpreted it. Of course the fact Thinkling and I worked through this together, on this site, may have a lot to do with that!

      • thinkling says:

        Okay. So I’ve been thinking about all this … again. (Sorry, guys, but it’s you’re fault 😉 ) Like Dave said, the more casual viewers as a whole didn’t have much of a problem with the finale.

        It seems that the people who were the most upset are a subset of the more invested viewers. Somewhere along the way we We stopped viewing Chuck and Sarah as mere superheroes who get shot one week and return to building hopping the next and began to relate to them (can you do that with fictitious characters?) as though they were real people that we cared about. That’s high praise for the writers, but mostly for Zach and Yvonne for giving us such wonderful characters and making us care about them and root for them. It’s the relationships and characters that drew most of us in, especially CS, but all the others, too. So, when tragedy struck (and this tragedy is probably the harshest and most deeply personal of all), it was real and personal to us. We reacted the way we would have IRL with someone we really care about.

        CF and the guys cared about the characters but pretty much engaged with the story in the superhero-world context, where of course Chuck and Sarah are going to be okay, because that’s the kind of show (world) it is. Zach pretty much said that in a post-series interview.

        I keep going back to the pre-finale interview with the main 4. The guys (Zach, Josh, Adam) all thought the finale was great, fine, no problem; but Yvonne interrupted and said they had to acknowledged that what was happening with Chuck and Sarah was tragic and hard, very very hard. In the same interview each guys expressed that he thought it would be cool if his character died a heroic death (superhero-world mindset). Yvonne was taken aback. ‘Really,’ she said, ‘you wanted your characters to die? I didn’t want my character to die.’ What’s cool in the superhero world isn’t always cool IRL.

        It’s two different ways (or planes) of relating to the story. … That and whether or not one perceives the final scene as enough of a resolution in either plane.

      • atcDave says:

        Of course if you really take the super hero mindset all the way, even Chuck getting killed probably wouldn’t have been that big an obstacle for Chuck and Sarah…

        But I love that interview; after Yvonne speaks up its like the guys are a little embarrassed for how they were talking.

  11. revdr says:

    True enough. Having been a reader of comics for a very long time no one really dies in the super hero world. But as Thinkling so aptly alluded to, if you care enough about these characters and see them as real on some plane then you experience their joy…and pain; and you want to see them get that happy ending. After all, you are on that ride with them. The journey has to have a purpose, and hopefully a destination. It has to feel real. Granted, if you really care you want the end of the journey to also be the beginning of a new adventure, not to end at a fork in the road. That’s what was missing for me; while I saw all of the hope that most everyone else saw, I didn’t see them reach the end of that initial journey, just the hope that they would. Not the promise, just the hope. Or in the Chuck finale world…to be continued. Gets a little old after a while.

  12. Christopher says:

    Actually this episode for me was the best episode when it comes to all the genres the show was intended. What I mean is action, drama, comedy, romance and suspense. The interaction between Sarah and Chuck a week before their wedding is priceless. Sarah’s vows were perfect, and Chuck’s rampage to save his wife is like an episode we saw earlier in the season, and why the last two episodes off Chuck were dreadful. The two nearly gave up freedom and their lives for the sake of being together. Sarah’s don’t freak out while in the ice bath is so touching that it makes me choke up.

    Imo. I would of been happy if the show ended here. There was no need for an extra 13 episodes if that was the way it planned out. Sarah and Chuck getting married is what we were waiting for since the The Truth and later the beach wedding. For me Sarah and Chuck were the symbol of what love is suppose to be. Two people coming together and working through every obstacle. Did they stray yes, was it for long not for the most part. Trust me Chuck became I do Chuck. Sarah saying you are still my Chuck is worth it every time I watch it.

    We were spoiled by two actors that made their characters larger than life. We got the ending we all deserved to be taken away a year later. From every near kiss, to every jealous rage, to break ups of covers that were not really covers. We were treated to a couple that were robbed of an ending that was meant to be.

    I remember watching the end of Dawson’s Creek and vowed to not watch another WB show because the fact that Pacey ended up with Joey was too much. I am like this with the New Girl because I think Zooey and Nick are perfect together. or Watching the screen turn black when Soprano sees the guys enter the diner. It just rubs viewers the wrong way.

    Chuck however the character shows his character to be able to withstand all of this to watch his wife suffer through what she went through in that tub of ice and to sit by her side in the goodbye is a remarkable guy. Sarah to listen to Baddie tell her pursue Carmichael and we kill him. Sarah to go into Volkoff Industries and free Chuck’s mother and finally to watch them ready to quit a life they both didn’t want but were force to have ruined everything in the end

    What we love about Chuck is what we miss about Chuck. What we think about when reading fanfiction to hoping for a movie like Veronica Mars is doing. To cheer for Zac and Yvonne and the rest of the cast to do well in their respective careers. Its like the Fans and the show are one and one for all

    I miss Chuck and I only started watching three months ago. I have re-watched the show 8 times already and plan to do some more. I actually proclaim Yvonne as the hottest woman to come out of Australia even better than Nicole Kidman and it is not close in my view

    Chuck vs the Cliffhanger was really the dropping of the ball by the TPTB

    • revdr says:

      Chris; I would actually say that Cliffhanger was a more adequate ending for the show than what we ultimately wound up with. The Mogansect not withstanding, you got everything that you could have wanted; Chuck being a hero (without the intersect) and saving the love of his life, the incorporation of all of the primary characters working together to help save Sarah and a happy ending with the wedding. If the show had stopped there I would have been totally satisfied. I’ve said that “to be continued” is a cruel joke to some extent (season 2 especially) but when you know that your show is ending as we did with S5, ambiguity is just not right. I love Chuck; I saw every episode live (never missed one) and,like everyone else would sign any petition, participate in any poll. Buy more Subway, whatever it takes to get a movie done. The impressive thing for me has always been the creative way our fanbase has risen up to save the show countless times, and how we still, after 2 years are not only discussing Chuck, but actively promoting it. BTW, I totally disagree with you on Pacey/Joey. The chemistry was off the charts. There is a reason that the S3 ender was called “True Love”. I am on board with Jess and Nick though. But that’s a whole other discussion for a whole other thread.

      • thinkling says:

        You know, I’ve always thought that if Cliffhanger had been the end they wouldn’t have had the last scene with Decker and Morgansect. That was strictly a lead in for S5. Had there been no S5, there would have probably been a different last scene most likely.

      • authorguy says:

        Maybe extend the wedding, and not bother with buying the Buy More or any of the rest of that. More of an HEA.

      • atcDave says:

        I would have loved a few more crowd interactions at the wedding, then end with the ride off in the limo.
        But I still think it works well as a finale even with the hook. I guess I find the hook interesting, and funny, but not emotionally compelling. So could have let it go fairly easily, I think. Especially compared to every other season finale that left me with more urgency, more of a NEED to see what came next. Unfortunately that does include Goodbye. Although I am very pleased with so much of S5, I am glad there was more!

      • lappers84 says:

        The one of the thing that bothered me about the end of cliffhanger was Deckers speech to Chuck regarding the whole conspiracy thing, and in hindsight made no sense really since Decker was being manipulated by Shaw. I just think Quinn could have been made a far more superior ending bad guy if we found out he was the puppet master all along. But perhaps that’s just me, I’ve always been more interested in back story.

      • thinkling says:

        Definitely the most disappointing thing about S5 to me … flushing the conspiracy plot down the Shaw hole.

      • You know, thinkling, I’ll never stop believing that Quinn’s role was originally made for Shaw, and some scheduling mishap prevented it. I mean, it just would’ve made so much more sense if Decker’s speeches at the end of Cliffhanger and Zoom were leading up to Shaw’s attempts to sabotage Chuck and his family through intersect manipulation. Instead, they had to shorten the arc and make up a backstory for Quinn.

      • lappers84 says:

        Personally getting rid of Shaw completely from season 5 would have been easier imo

      • revdr, I really would’be hated Cliffhanger as an ending (though as Thinkling said, it would’ve been better without the need for an S5 “cliffhanger”). It always left me unsatisfied for a few reasons:

        1. Marriage as the end of a story. It’s all-too-common “conventional” TV wisdom that once the couple gets together, the drama is over. The coolest aspect of Chuck S3.5 on is that the show completely bucked that wisdom, put C/S together, and followed that up with its best seasons (4/5). S5 is an even cooler extension of that – it puts the couple together and delivers the best storytelling the show had during its run.

        2. The episode isn’t that good. Sarah’s barely in it, the Chuck/Vivian resolution is absurd, and other than Volcoff and a nice Casey line, there’s just not much good about it. The flashbacks are unbearably sappy, and the wedding scene itself isn’t one of the top 40 C/S scenes in the series. Push Mix and Goodbye were two of the best five episodes in the series. Even people who hate them as endings don’t disparage their merits as individual episodes.

        This last objection is completely an individual matter of taste, and I’m aware most of you will disagree, but…

        3. It’s soooo boring! Cliffhanger is an ending to a show that I’d never think about again. The writers just wrap a pretty bow on the show and leave nothing to the imagination. Push Mix/Goodbye let us go in the middle of an adventure that’s still going. They leave us talking about their future, arguing about how it all turned out, wondering if they get together immediately or if it takes a while, how a movie will turn out. Even two years later, I catch myself thinking about Chuck and Sarah, and how it all played out.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I’m more with lappers on this one. Drop Shaw entirely (or not, I don’t really care much) and make Quinn the mastermind behind the grand conspiracy. They sort of hinted at Fulcrum involvement again in Goodbye; I think it would have been fun to throw them all together. Something like Quinn has exploited the remaining Fulcrum and Ring assets to get the perfect Intersect for himself. And then make him the great manipulator of the whole season.
        Shaw as mastermind was VERY underwhelming. Even to the point I just didn’t believe it was true until the whole season ended and Quinn never tied back in to Shaw! Rather than a resolution, it just feels like they forgot the story after Santa Suit.

      • Dave, I’m definitely not saying they handled that part of the story well. It was totally underwhelming. I’m just giving my theory on why they botched it so badly.

      • atcDave says:

        Arthur I think you’re in a minority for not liking Cliffhanger! If you go back and look at our ranking the episodes poll Cliffhanger shows up at 18; while Goodbye was only 38.

        I would actually say both were pretty solid episodes, but I think most viewers found the completely happy resolution of Cliffhanger more satisfying than the questions left by Goodbye.

      • mr2686 says:

        See, I don’t think of it as flushing the conspiracy theory down the Shaw hole. If you look at Decker’s speech at the end of Cliffhanger, he’s pretty generic “do you think it was all a coincidence, the intersect, Fulcrum, The Ring, Shaw, Agent X”. I look at it like this, we find out later that Quinn was supposed to get the intersect but got captured. He was released/escaped within the first year sometime of when Chuck got the intersect. Ok, in Bo we learn that Quinn became an independent contractor much like Carmichael Industries and some of his clients were Fulcrum and the Ring. So to me, it’s not hard to imagine that he was somewhere in the background manipulating Fulcrum and the Ring, also getting the Ring to turn Shaw, and then using Shaw to help destroy Chuck so that Quinn could become the one and only known Intersect or at least give Chuck a corrupt version of the intersect so that a clean one could be created that Quinn could use . His reference to Agent X could just be the fact that they took the Volkov version of the intersect away from him so that he could not help Chuck. Even so, It’s kinda like introducing a major character in the last few pages of a book, but for me this all works mainly because it’s a TV show and that’s the way they work a lot of the time.

      • authorguy says:

        A lot of stories introduce a major villain only at the end, for the twist, but it’s usually someone they put in at the beginning and left unexplored. Make Devon the villain, that would work! Thinkling suggested Roarke as the bad guy way back when.

      • revdr says:

        Arthur; I agree with you on a couples points: I’m with you that there wasn’t enough Sarah (and a little too much Morgan) and I too wasn’t to enthused about the Chuck/Vivian resolution. But the sappy flashbacks I loved (the vows rehearsal was very sweet). I also liked Push Mix and I’m pretty sure that I could have accepted it as a series finale also. It gave us most of the same elements that Cliffhanger did except way too much Morgan (I still cringe at the whole “yoga seal” laser scene-real waste of film). But Chuck was again the hero: and he devised the plan to bring down Volkoff without relying on the intersect; Sarah and Mary were working in tandem; and the birth of baby Clara with the whole family there. And while I would have liked more Sarah/Casey interaction at the hospital the episode was still pretty great. The proposal was spot on because it was simple(making it perfect in it’s simplicity) and the fade out would have made for a lovely end. I don’t think that, as TPTB stated that it was the “best final 13 minutes of the series” it was still better than the last 4 minutes that we wound up with. Cliffhanger had it’s faults, but in the end, more that anything the love story was the most compelling thing about Chuck, so the wedding would have been a great way to end things.

      • atcDave says:

        MR I think there’s a couple of problems with the Shaw conspiracy. Starting just with Shaw himself. For all too many of us he is not a “character we love to hate” like Volkoff or Roarke, he’s just baggage. Don’t get me wrong, he is passable as a pure villain, but I think he overstayed his welcome long ago. Bringing him back generated more groans than enthusiasm.
        Second issue is just how he was sort of sprung out of the blue. We had no reasonable way to suspect him, and he never really discussed his co-conspirators or what anyone else had done or accomplished for him. He was practically a stand alone villain who just happened to end the conspiracy we’d been hearing about.
        It just felt like a very underwhelming end. And it sort of orphaned the finale arc. I really think they needed to make Quinn the mastermind and maybe leave Shaw in place as one of his tools; or even better, choose a different character for the Shaw role.

      • thinkling says:

        Right, Dave. Bringing back Shaw the first time (S3) already felt like they just didn’t have any fresh ideas for the story. Then again in S5. Oh brother!!! Are they seriously that idea challenged?

      • atcDave says:

        Maybe it was meant be parody?

        We know how much the Chuck writers loved to poke fun at pop culture, so maybe Shaw’s finale return was their homage to all the television villains who’ve been brought back from the dead two times too many.

      • mr2686 says:

        Dave, I think that’s exactly what they DID do. Shaw WAS a tool..maybe a little off the reservation at the end, but I contend that it was Quinn all along that, if not pulling the strings completely, was a definite influence on the bad guys of the show. Then, of course, he comes out of the shadows at the end so that he can claim the intersect for himself. I do like your notion that the writers had parody on their mind with regards to bringing back Shaw multiple times. I think people forget that there’s a lot of digging and the old nudge nudge wink wink regarding pop culture, and that’s what makes Chuck so much fun. I think sometimes people go right past the jokes and try to over analyze the situation.

      • atcDave says:

        MR it was really my first impression too, that Quinn WAS the mastermind behind the conspiracy. But after further review, I actually don’t see any evidence of that! They never claimed Quinn was behind anything more than his own operation to be the Intersect. It is too bad, he was a twisted psychopath who seemed to know everything about the Intersect. But story wise it looks like the conspiracy actually ended at Shaw.

        Now I’ll concede its possible that’s a malfunction of the editing room(?). Perhaps the scenes explaining the connection didn’t make the cut. And that might be another bit of meta-humor too. The villains and spy stories of Chuck were so secondary to what the show was really about they cut key elements from the ultimate villain’s story and nobody really cared…

      • mr2686 says:

        Dave, I guess that’s where we differ. To me, there’s enough “Chuck” evidence with what I said about in Bo, to conclude that Quinn was involved, in some way, way back to
        Fulcrum and up to and including the end. I think just by the fact that Shaw was “surprised” to learn that Sarah had killed his wife and the way he learned about it, indicates he wasn’t involved with either Fulcrum or the Ring…at least not until after. Kinda off hand, but nothing that the writers haven’t done before. Anyway, I happy with that and it works for me.

      • joe says:

        Mr, I have to admit that I too saw no evidence that Quinn was involved in the conspiracy to which Decker referred. I remember being disappointed that the thrust of Decker’s speech seemed to have been forgotten completely.

        But that idea sure puts an interesting twist into those last few episodes! I’ll be looking for clues when we get there in a few weeks.

      • oldresorter says:

        It felt to me like Decker referred to Shaw at the end of Cliffy, and that Shaw was supposed to be the final season, final ep big bad. Then for some reason, the writers aborted.

        Quinn felt like he was shoehorned into a role way, way too big for him. Not for the actor, but for the character. The shaw character whispering in Sarah’s ear telling her to kill Chuck, harm Ellie, etc, that would have been really dark and dramatic.

        Cause lets face it, Quinn won. Quinn destroyed Sarah. But at the end, who cares. It honestly more felt like the showrunner destroyed Sarah. Had Shaw been given that victory over Chuck and Sarah, the end really would have been hurtful. Funny thing, so many here that liked s3 wanted ‘stakes’. Shaw ruining the show, rather than Quinn, that would have upped the stakes.

        This way the end left me feeling empty. How many people checked the time when the credits rolled, and wondered if somehow one more scene was coming up? I know I did.

      • oldresorter says:

        One more thing, Sarah shooting Shaw on that roof, rather than Quinn, that would have been epic. this way, I’m not even sure who shot, it was Sarah, wasn’t it. Had SArah killed shaw, it would have been a top ten moment in the show for many people. A real climax.

        But at the end of the day, Chuck needed to recover Sarah’s memories, somehow, anyhow, magic kiss, seeing a ballerina, going to a beach,using some gadget Ellie made, having Orion show up with a device, telling their story, somehow, he needed to win. A terrible way to end, a failed mission, failure to recover Sarah’s memory.

      • atcDave says:

        And that’s exactly why it’s best it wasn’t Shaw! I think they did win in the end; but obviously so many viewers aren’t sure. Imagine if all those viewers who felt Sarah was broken in the end felt that Shaw had won. Even if Sarah shot him, the anger, well, it probably would have been about the same. I want to say it would have been worse, but I’m not sure if viewers who were really unhappy could have been much angrier!

      • Chris Byrnes says:

        we can agree to disagree about Pacey and Joey. Most people feel that Dawson and Joey should of ended up together because of the whole history of it. I am a fan of the Intersect, I think it was something Chuck needed to get him confident in who he is. The thing I didn’t like was how he used it as a crutch at times.
        If the man can take down Volkoff by using Orion to lore him in was Brilliant and well done. He didn’t need the intersect, but he did need it to defuse bombs. Although defusing a bomb using fruit juice is classic in my view.

        The reason the fanbase is so revved up about Chuck was because the show had everything in it. A little Something for everyone. We were fortune to be able to know Sarah and Chuck and the rest of the gang.

      • revdr says:

        Ok Chris; we’ll agree to disagree about Dawson/Joey/Pacey. But anytime you to want to discuss it let me know; I’ll give you 100 reasons why. I do agree that Chuck became too dependent on the intersect; and he saw it as somewhat of an equalizer in his relationship (as least the spy relationship) with Sarah. After all of that time trying to rid himself of the thing I think that after he made the decision to download 2.0 he figured that he could finally have it all. I always said that Sarah helped Chuck to embrace the hero within himself but, it took having, and losing the intersect to realize that is Chuck himself that was the real hero. Season 5 forced Chuck to step up and be the man that everyone knew that he could be (and was). So you are absolute right, the intersect played a big role in Chuck’s growth. In the end though, Chuck was just Chuck, and it was his love of family and friends and doing what’s right that drove him at all times. There was never any moral ambiguity with him.

  13. revdr says:

    Absolutely; they dropped the ball on the conspiracy theory idea. If this this started with Agent X look at what they had to play with: the reason behind to Agent X; Stephen and Mary’s involvement (that would have given them the opportunity to bring SB back in flashback); Riley’s involvement; the possibility that is wasn’t an accident but by design that the team (Chuck/Sarah/Casey) were brought together. So much could have been done rather than waste several episodes on the tainted intersect (that would have greatly reduced Morgan screen time…always a plus) and we still could have had Quinn as the final player.

    • authorguy says:

      It’s too good a story to cut off in the middle, without a very good reason.

    • atcDave says:

      Well I really think the bottom line is they never wanted to devote serious time to the villains’ story. The show was about Chuck, his family and friends. The baddies existed to add some purpose and excitement, but otherwise their story was never very important. I’m mostly okay with that. Just as I was jealous of too much screen time going to Morgan, I would have felt the same over too much going to the villain’s schemes. It is a little frustrating when sometimes they maybe skimped too much, and left us with some real head scratchers, like did we miss something with the conspiracy? But it’s one of those things that doesn’t worry me too much!

      • Chris Byrnes says:

        Dave, I agree with you on this. The conspiracy is not an issue for me. I put a caution flag when I saw they gave Morgan the intersect uh oh. there are three episodes I liked in season 5 the first two and the Hack off which was well done and more should of been show about the Piranha

  14. revdr says:

    That’s the thing; going into the season that knew that this was the end. Yet it seemed to me at times that some of the 13 were not well though out (Bo, Kept man come on).There was so much to work with that was left in the writer’s room.

    • Christopher says:


      Season 5 is bad because of the order of the episodes really. Misuse of Characters were another, and we both know that the Intersect given to Morgan and Sarah was too much. I mean between the two I understand the need from Sarah’s case. She had no choice. She was a dead duck if she didn’t put the glasses on. I told Dave once before I like Characters that make impacts whether their special guests or repeat guests. I am actually one of the few people on this site that will say I love Shaw. I thought he was the one who shaped Chuck into being the Spy from Season three on we got.

      Remember this: Shaw said to Sarah and Casey

      Daniel Shaw: I think we can all agree that this team has been dysfunctional for the last two years. And I think I know what the problem is. The problem is them.
      [Indicates Walker and Casey]
      Sarah Walker: What? What does that mean?
      John Casey: It means that he’s a moron.
      Daniel Shaw: Chuck, they coddle you. You could be a great spy, but they won’t let you evolve.

      Daniel Shaw: Don’t answer the phone.. He’s taken care of Hugo and he found the key there is no need for him to call
      Sarah: He could be in trouble
      Daniel Shaw: Go ahead answer, but just know that if you do he will never become a spy, and some day that will get him killed.

      These two lines were what told me that Shaw was a good character.

      Some of the other characters besides Volkoff and Roark that gave me something was Quinn. You can’t save a Character that does a lot of damage for the final 4 episodes. Its bad writing. We spent more time with Morgan as the intersect than build a character for an entire season with such promise like Quinn. We could of kept him and he could of been the one involved in the whole conspiracy theory. Especially since Decker himself says that Shaw was just a pawn than for Shaw to be the one behind the Omen virus It didn’t add up.

      • It can add up, you just have to use spy math, with virtual numbers. If Shaw was Decker’s boss what better diversion than to say he’s a pawn?
        I liked Shaw too, I saw a lot of wasted potential in his character. I’m very unhappy that I can see what he was meant to be in S3 and yet I know that my own writing skills aren’t up to the task of writing that story either. Nine2five is in some respects a second-best solution for me, even though it’s truer to the spirit of the first two seasons than a properly done S3 would have been. I saw drama on the scale of Hamlet in there, with no Shakespeare in sight. A tragedy in many senses of the word. The season 4 that would have followed that season three would have been so much better than the season 4 we got, but the viewers probably wouldn’t have wanted to take that trip through the valley of the shadow of death (not even the good version, much less the S3 we got), even if the promised land was waiting on the other side.
        Quinn could have worked, except he was never brought up in earlier seasons, and a properly done villain on that scale should be someone introduced in the first chapter who you’d never suspect. I’m thinking Graham is the mastermind. Orion blew himself up to fake his death, why not Graham? The only problem with that solution to my mind is that it’s been done before, and I hate to do what someone else has already done. If the story logic forces me down that path I’ll follow, but I’d rather not.

      • revdr says:

        Chris; I agree that Quinn could have been better served as a character if he had been introduced earlier in the season. His character seemed rushed and underdeveloped. Can you imagine seeing him as the puppet master, pulling strings (including Decker’s)? It would have brought the conspiracy theory into play and to a more satisfying end rather that that plotline being pretty much tossed aside as it was. It would have also better justified the return of Shaw, showing him more as just another disposable pawn, instead of the mastermind. And I agree that the whole “who has the intersect this week” story was badly overused. Given that, I could have better accept Sarah getting the intersect (rather than Morgan) earlier in the story, giving the memory loss more time to play out, and allowing for a more satisfying conclusion, rather than a somewhat unresolved (or understated) resolution. As to Shaw himself; while I agree that he did indeed play a part in Chuck development as a spy, he was never and overriding factor in doing so. Although his assessment that Team Bartowski was dysfunctional was somewhat correct, the results spoke for themselves. Casey and Sarah developed Chuck slowly, but their motives were clear; Casey knew Chuck’s potential, but he didn’t want for him to just go blindly into missions without knowing exactly what he needed to do. He knew that Chuck was smart and just wanted him to think on his feet. Sarah of course knew these things as well, she just didn’t want for Chuck to lose himself in pursuit of being the best. Shaw didn’t care about any of these things. His motivation from the beginning was revenge, for the death of his wife. His hatred for first the Ring, then the CIA, is was what drove him; and he was willing to use whatever, and whomever he needed to exact that revenge. So yes, he did help to develop Chuck as a spy, but Chuck did so not because of Shaw, but in spite of him. Shaw always underestimated Chuck love and loyalty to family and friends, thinking it to be a weakness rather than a strength. Shaw was blinded by hatred and revenge. Chuck saw more clearly because of love. Shaw ultimately served only to reaffirm Chuck’s unfailing moral values, making him the better spy, and man.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with a lot of that rev, certainly I think they could have given us a better set up for Quinn. Then making Shaw one of Quinn’s flunkies would have worked.

        I sort of disagree about the “dysfunctional team” bit. They had made too big a thing the season before about how awesome Team B was. The only way that line works for me, is if Casey’s retort (“proves you’re a moron”) becomes the theme of the season. Casey and Sarah should have recognized Shaw as a meddling moron and never been fooled by him at all. I think it could have made the arc a lot more fun if we saw Team B working to undermine, or succeed in spite of Shaw’s utter stupidity all season long. Obviously no love triangle is a requirement.
        The other possibility would be Shaw as a good trainer and mentor for Chuck who goes bad/is driven mad by his need for vengeance. Basically make Shaw a good guy and partner, then his betrayal would have meant something to the viewers beyond “good, that’s finally over with…”
        Basically they tried to have it both ways, and created a contemptible unsympathetic character.

        There will be an S5 Alternatives post up in a couple weeks that is the perfect place for exploring more the options that could have been interesting or satisfying.

  15. Chris Byrnes says:

    The problem fro me though is we don’t know how far back Quinn actually goes. What we know is he was suppose to be the first Human Intersect. He got denied and like Shaw turned on the CIA. Grant it Shaw’s reason is a lot more understandable. Especially when the woman your with now turns out to be the woman who killed his wife.
    Chuck took down all of Quinn’s accounts. Since he was involved with the CIA’s Intersect program. IT makes sense how Fulcrum, The Ring knew about the intersect and how to build one. Volkoff really was never into getting the Intersect, well because he was an intersect.
    Decker coming in at the end of Season 4 was a good villain for the time but sometimes we as views get throw through a loop when its never furthered explain.

    Like for me the Omaha operation is very intriguing and I would love for the writer to dab into that story because of the history it was linked too. Why was the CIA recruiting Bartowski for it. What was the operation really about and what not.

    • revdr says:

      So many unanswered questions. I get it. The writers totally dropped the ball on all of these points. The thing about season 5 that irked me more than anything was the lack of reasonable explanations about all of this. They dangled the carrot then abruptly hid it away. They knew that this was the end of the series, but seemed to choose to change direction before the season started. TPTB’s unyielding desire to make Morgan a bigger part of the story seemed to suppress (wink) everything else. Huge waste of time for me. I liked Morgan, but only to a point. I would have hoped for more. I’m satisfied with season 5 overall, but I didn’t like the end, or the justification for it. It just seemed like an unfinished story to me.

    • lappers84 says:

      I second that revdr, the problem is CF was more interested in telling the story of Chuck and Sarah than anything to do with the story that had so many holes in it, if there is a movie I’d love for there to be some of those backstory gaps to be filled.

      • revdr says:

        Yeah, except that it seemed that he was more interested in the bromance, rather than the romance…Chuck and Sarah always drove the show, much to CF’s chagrin, and although the story revolved around the romance, they tried too hard to steer away from it. It would have easier to embrace it. It always seemed to me that they found it difficult to just write them and a happy couple, growing together.

      • atcDave says:

        I think if you go all the way back to the Pilot you see the bromance as a huge part of the show. And in my experience, more casual viewers really did love Morgan and the bromance. But I think most viewers, certainly most of us here, found the romance MORE compelling.
        I guess my default feeling is I would have preferred that as Chuck matured, and as Charah matured, Chuck would have spent less time with Morgan, more time with Sarah.

        However, that DID in fact happen. If you go back and watch S1 or S2 episodes, Sarah’s part absolutely grew MUCH larger in the last two seasons. CF DID recognize that Sarah and Charah was a bigger part of the show than he initially expected (perhaps he was expecting something more like Psych?). He has spoken of that in some interviews, including interviews on the S5 disc set. He was surprised, and he did adapt.
        For many of us (definitely me, sounds like rev too, I know many others) he didn’t adapt enough. I would have preferred an even smaller part for Morgan, and an even bigger one for Sarah. But he did adapt, and he did recognize the romance was the driving force for MOST viewers in the last two seasons. (I mean he recognized it in the last two seasons, I wish he recognized it sooner!).

  16. revdr says:

    Dave; once again we are on the same page. It was definitely evident that they were adapting, just for my taste, not enough. It was fun to watch them go through the experience of the growing relationship, the engagement and the marriage. And you are absolutely correct in that they should have shown more of Chuck changing his priority from the friendship to his marriage. When Cory and Topanga got married on Boy Meets World (yeah, I know :)) his best friend Shawn made a toast expressing the fact that in essence that Cory had a new best friend, his wife, and that was the way it was supposed to be. To a lesser extent, that’s primarily what Morgan was telling Sarah in Balcony, that there had to be changing of the guard. I always loved the romance of it all, and the last two seasons at least gave us that.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah that’s exactly how I see it with the spouse as the new best friend. Obviously the old friendships remain important, but priorities change.

      • Chris Byrnes says:

        I agree, even Sarah chose her husband over duty many times. Since Sarah was an agent often she was alone on missions, her friend was her duty. Thus each time Sarah was ready to choose Chuck over duty. In essence, Sarah from the start chose Chuck over her best friend.

        It is safe to say that even though they were together for 2 and 1/2 years and married for almost one year. They were really together longer than that. They were together for 5 years grant it was just a cover, but more of a cover of a real relationship.

        Morgan needed to take a back seat to Charah, but it was hard in the beginning because Morgan for years only had Chuck in his life. This is where I find it to be fine in season 1, but after the first year Sarah has been around. Morgan should of not concede his rank, but relinquish it a bit.

        After all Sarah actually treated Chuck like a human rather than trying to tell Chuck how to live his life like his family most notably Elle. Sarah looked out for Chuck whether Chuck was there or not much like Morgan See in my view Sarah positioned herself in to Chuck’s life at the right time. Much like Chuck did for her. She would never admit it in season one or two but she was Chuck’s girlfriend.

        So in essence Sarah already gave up her best friend for the chance at being with Chuck. She was tentative in the beginning to show anything because of the circumstances. However, in the Broken Heart we learn that there feelings for each other were good for the well “asset”

    • lappers84 says:

      I suppose you could also count what Morgan said in the finale to Sarah in castle – basically reaffirming what he said in Balcony, oh and his decision to move out of the apartment in Masquerade (though I think that was more for his own sake than Chuck and Sarah)

      • revdr says:

        You are right, lappers; and it shows how much Morgan had matured. I don’t think that he could have done that in season 1, at least without being a big pain and insinuating himself into the relationship (which he kinda’ did).

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah, he kinda did anyway! But no doubt Morgan grew a lot over the course of the show.

  17. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Cliffhanger (4.24) | Chuck This

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