There’s always more than one way to tell a story. And now that we’re at the end of our re-watch we’ll discuss possible alternatives, both big and little things, for the finale arc.
Even for those who love the finale with no reservations, there remains the possibility of epilogue. So for the last post in this “Alternatives” series we will also look at what could have come next. And of course, this all means a rather “epic” list of links because dozens of entertaining and well done epilogues have already been written by Chuck’s prolific fan fiction community.
After the jump, we’ll dive right in.
This post will be broken into two major categories; Alternatives of the finale arc episodes (5.10-5.13) and Epilogues. Obviously this is the end of this series of posts, although I will continue to do my regular fan fiction posts as the mood strikes. I suppose we could start with a Bo alternative, but apart from a few minor complaints I have with that episode, there isn’t much I would really re-tool.
One fan fiction piece starts at about this time; “Chuck vs The Way the Show Should Have Ended” by Chuckfanster is a re-work of the whole finale arc (really starting from Kept Man). It has been very entertaining, but it is updating slowly.
Bullet Train is where things get a little more interesting from an Alternatives perspective. I’m sure you’ve all guessed my biggest complaint with the finale arc comes down to just how damaged Sarah is. Although I can live with it all, there’s certainly ideas I like better. And that starts right here, I love the idea of Chuck and Casey getting to Sarah just in time. Maybe they rescue Sarah from Quinn after some memories have been lost, but before any deep damage is done. This could have been played for a little light drama and pure fun. I like the idea of Sarah having a stray memory return at an odd time; maybe leading to tears, anger or laughter. I think this would have worked better for me than the sort of drama we saw that dragged things out to the very end (and beyond).
But I think 5.12 is where the alternatives start to get even more interesting. Along the same theme as I mentioned above, I really like the idea of Sarah “beating” Quinn’s plan sooner than in canon. An idea I mention in discussions a few day back was what if… Chuck has some sort of signal jammer active at the home. So Sarah finds herself alone with Chuck, with no Quinn to keep her confused all night long. In this lower tension environment Sarah starts to realize some serious flaws with her briefing. Maybe starting with the vague feeling her smiles in pictures with Chuck look real to her. This could lead to a sort of low key information gathering and interrogation of Chuck. Over the course of the night she and Chuck come to understand each other. At least enough for Chuck to know what’s happening, and for Sarah to know Quinn’s playing her. Come morning, we see Chuck and Sarah gaming Quinn instead of the other way around. This could still include some drama as Sarah’s memories have been removed. But I would like to see her actually reconnect, and fall in love with her husband even as they start their game with Quinn. As Always, I vastly prefer the idea of Chuck and Sarah as a team. Especially now at the end of the series, I consider it flat out stupid to tell the story the way they did or even to use the episode title they did. Believe it or not, I routinely try very hard to moderate my actual opinion on this matter. My other ideas are all variations on the same theme, like Chuck actually getting through to Sarah at the dream house; or Sarah verbalizing her realization she’s been scammed when she gets that first flash of real memory on seeing her carving.
Fan Fiction has delivered a couple of different treatments here. The first is from Kate McK called “For Better or For Worse“. This is a variation on the last fountain scene where Chuck speaks up about what Quinn has done to them. Its very short, and sets up what would have been a slightly different finale. Perhaps just a variation more than a major change.
Another is “Chuck, Until the Day I Die” by Kilobyte44. This starts with Chuck not wearing a bullet proof vest at the end of 5.12. Sounds like a dark twist, but it takes an interesting turn, and ultimately I like this treatment far better than canon.
Moving on to Goodbye alternatives. No surprise, the big thing to me is just I would have preferred to see Sarah clearly falling in love with her husband. As we’ve observed several times in discussion here, the writer chose a pacing that put all clear recovery off for the very end. So many of us found this unsatisfying. I know I sure did. But if we had seen Sarah have a few more personal sort of memories return, and seen her have some of the same reactions she did to Chuck the first time around, it could have been very different. I’ve also said a few times that even the smallest of changes would have helped me, just the simplest of statements from Sarah that she was determined to get her life back (“finding herself” strikes me as meaning the same thing, but in a vague/wussy/new agey sort of way. Say it like you mean it!) or that she knew she was already falling for Chuck all over again. My own minimal fix is Sarah saying “take me home, Chuck” as we fade to black. Long time visitor to this site NeilN suggested, as the fade begins, “After you fixed my phone and before you started defusing bombs with computer viruses, right?” That would have worked for me!
As I suggested in the earlier paragraphs here, a bigger change would have worked even better for me. I think it is hugely disrespectful when a show runner changes their show so much for the finale. We were all watching a show that was cheesy fun, larger than life, with a beautiful committed couple at the center of it all. Then for the last two episodes we see something quite different; with only a shadow of the single most popular character, and the lead couple is effectively estranged until the very end. Well guess what, this isn’t the show I was tuning in for! I wanted my favorite characters, favorite team, favorite couple to do great things together. This hardly happened. Ideally, I wanted the major part of Sarah’s recovery to happen in 5.12. Specific memories don’t matter as much to me as the love and commitment we saw for most of five seasons. If they wanted to put Sarah’s specific recovery off to the very end, well that might have worked. But I can never be completely happy with this badly flawed story. I was tuning in to see Sarah Bartowski, but they kept her off screen until the closing seconds. Not cool.
I suppose I should mention my own vision for where things go next is a rapid, but not instant recovery. I think the Bartowskis seek out a safer business and lifestyle, like they were discussing in Bo and Bullet Train and stayed as far from the government as possible. I also think that meant kids pretty quickly, like within the year. But not every story I recommend has to follow my vision exactly. Some writers liked the idea of putting them back in the spy life. That’s fine, especially for longer stories that envision a lot more adventure ahead. A few writers drew Sarah’s recovery out a little longer than I prefer, this is also not a huge problem to me as long there’s a good reason for it, or the pay off is particularly satisfying.
All the stories below are from my own favorites list. I have excluded a few that remain too incomplete, but otherwise this should be pretty comprehensive. I do apologize if these brief descriptions aren’t quite a proper review (!), but this list is very big! As always, feel free to recommend your own favorites; I may disagree, or I may find a new one for my list! I will break this into three categories; one-shots, multi-chapter stories, and on-going series.
One-Shots (these are all pretty fast reads)
“Chuck vs The New Key” by CostasTT is unusual in providing a tech solution to Sarah’s problems. But she already knows she wants her husband and life back.
“5 Memories That Hit Sarah Like a Freight Train” by Wonderlandleighleigh has a pretty self explanatory title!
“Sarah and Chuck’s PANTS” by newbie93 has a title that could only make sense to a Chuck fan.
“Just Last the Year” by Crimson Pretichor takes a little longer than I normally prefer, but arrives at a good place all the same.
“This is What Dreams Should Always Be” by Janeway1390 I find particularly powerful.
“Five Seemingly Insignificant Memories” by dettiot has fun with some minor canon memories returning.
“Never Forget” by Mikki13 is a little steamier than I normally go for, but it just seems so right in this case.
“Chuck vs The Magical Kiss” by greengirl16 is a little more involved than the title suggests.
“Beckett vs the Linchpin” by MyNameIs JeffNImLost is a real odd duck on this list. It is technically a Castle crossover, and a sequel to another of Jeff’s works. But it addresses all the main epilogue needs in a humorous way very fitting to Chuck.
“Sarah vs The Wisdom in Memories” by BDaddyDL is another of those that touches all the bases nicely.
“The Bartowskis versus May Flowers” by Alice Hermione is a longer one-shot.
“Chuck vs The Goodbye: Extended Edition” by 00Awesome takes a brief look at our favorite spy family five years later.
“Sarah vs Finding Herself” by Thinkling is the closest thing for me to an “official” epilogue. Okay, of course it isn’t. But I had the honor of being in on the whole creation process Thinkling went through, and I like to think I helped in some small way. No doubt, this story hits all the bases with me. This is the ending Chuck and Sarah would have wanted in Bo or Bullet Train.
“Chuck Versus The Lost Years” by Angus MacNab is epic in the best sense of the word. If Thinkling provides the “normal” epilogue for the series, Angus provides the “comic/super hero” version. It amazes me that two epilogues can be so perfect, and so different.
“Chuck & Sarah vs Their Next Adventure” by MyNameIsJeffNImLost is another that manages fun and outrageous just like the show itself. It still needs to be FINISHED (ahem…), but its complete enough to be a ton of fun.
“Chuck vs What’s Next” by Jason75 (AKA Jason/Old Resorter) has a campy, over the top feel that fits what the show itself was often like.
“The Long Road Home” by BillAndBrick (BillAtWork and Brickroad16) works a good conspiracy/adventure into the recovery process as Sarah is determined to do even better than she did the first time around.
Series (or Season Six)
“Chuck Versus What Happens In Vegas” by Anthropocene is the start of an epic Season Six. I linked the writer’s home page to provide access to all titles in this series. We’re currently up to episode seven. That makes this a lot longer than the epilogue stories, and that’s a good thing. Anthro is accomplishing something really special here.
“Chuck vs Love Boat” by Ronnie1958 is another writer’s hypothetical Season Six. Again, I linked the Author’s page so readers can access all the stories in this series more easily. This action-heavy series has the huge virtue of updating at a blazing fast rate. Seriously, I think we’re averaging five chapters a week. And its been a really good time.
So hopefully that will keep you all busy for a while! Or at least, I hope some of you can find something useful there. It amazes me how prolific our fan fiction community can be. There’s even a few more very promising stories left incomplete. I would love to hear from readers here, share your own ideas on how you would have liked the story to end (or not!). Whether you wanted a few minor tweaks, or something entirely different I look forward to hearing from everyone. And speak up about epilogues too, so much great stuff out there, but I always look forward to that new twist. Recommendations of already published stories are always welcome too.