Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Cliffhanger (4.24)

NBC Synopsis: OPERATION BARTOWSKI RACES TO TAKE DOWN VIVIAN VOLKOFF AS SHE THREATENS CHUCK AND SARAH’S WEDDING – LINDA HAMILTON, LAUREN COHAN, MEKENNA MELVIN, RICHARD BURGI AND TIMOTHY DALTON GUEST STAR – Before he can kiss the bride, Chuck (Zachary Levi) must enlist his wedding party to take down Vivian Volkoff (guest star Lauren Cohan) and stop her from destroying the big day. When he turns to Alexei Volkoff (guest star Timothy Dalton) for help, the CIA sends its toughest agent, Clyde Decker (guest star Richard Burgi), to stop them.

Chuck This Ranking: 18
Dave’s Ranking: Maybe lower? Not much.

First Impressions: 4.24 Chuck vs The Cliffhanger: First Impressions

Full Write Up: Chuck vs The Cliffhanger (4.24) by Dave and Joe

Alternatives: Season Four Alternatives: Finale Arc (4.20-4.24) by Dave


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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19 Responses to Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Cliffhanger (4.24)

  1. Justin says:

    What I enjoyed the most about this finale is Chuck being a determined man on a mission, doing everything he can to save Sarah’s life. I wished the wedding scene was longer and that the whole thing about Morgan being downloaded with the Intersect was cut out. I think Season 4 should have just ended with the wedding.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with most of that.
      I actually would have preferred more at and after the wedding, I would have liked to see the whole family and friends celebrating. Have you ever read Atlee’s “Scenes from a Wedding“? Its older, it was actually started before S3 ever ran. But I love how it creates “the event” and weaves a story (or two) throughout.
      Basically I wish we’d had a whole wedding/reception episode to just have fun with our favorite couple and their eccentric friends.
      As far as Morgansect goes; eh, I don’t care. Not for the good or the bad, its sort of a nothing to me. It was a funny Chuck punch line. Its just a shame they tried to do an actual story with it the next season. It would have been best if it just had no effect, no functionality at all for the bearded troll.

      I guess I’d say Cliffhanger works okay for me. I do like Chuck’s focus and determination. The end is so rushed it ranks as a mild disappointment. Its beautiful, and I’m happy we made it to this point; just not enough.

      • Justin says:

        I also didn’t like Decker claiming there to be a great conspiracy driving the events of the series from the very beginning. It turned out to be crap for the most part in the following season.

      • thinkling says:

        Great episode, definitely in the top of my top tier. Big smile throughout the wedding and great relief that it actually happened. I would have liked a little more wedding, but I was satisfied with what we got.

        I hated … more than that I resented the funeral sign gag. What a waste of precious seconds in a tight, tight episode. I thought it petty and cruel and, unfortunately, typical of the neener-neener-gotcha story telling I associate with Fedak. Seeing the moment Sarah woke up would have been so much better for the fans. The sign gag was there for Fedak and only Fedak.

        As to Morgan-sect, the ultimate significance to S5 justified it. Had there been no S5, it would have been unnecessary and presumably omitted.

        The Decker reveal I thought had so much possibility. I found it intriguing. Only at the end of Santa was I bitterly disappointed. I think the cop-out on the conspiracy plot was the biggest downfall, story wise, of S5. I still like to ponder the rich possibilities of such a conspiracy. It could have explained so much and tied things together in a such a satisfying manor.

      • atcDave says:

        Well you both know I agree with most of that. Decker seemed poised to be a great villain, but the dud conspiracy left him, and that whole story, mostly irrelevant. The church sign gag was certainly a waste of screen time, at best. The Morgansect is of course most important for how it informs us for Sarah post series. As far as that goes it matters. And honestly I liked the next three episodes just fine when they first ran. I think better choices could have been made for S5; the dud conspiracy and corrupt intersect fell short of Chuck at its best. But they don’t really anger me like certain other story decisions do.

      • authorguy says:

        For anyone who wants to see a possible version of the Decker Conspiracy, I recently completed that whole storyline in my nine2five season 3 story, and have just started posting the chapters of the series finale.

  2. A smile on my face from watching this season 4 finale. As I said in response to the full write-up of a couple of years ago, this would have been suited me just fine as a series finale. I felt good about the way this ended, unlike my sense of bewilderment at the end of 5.13. I agree with Justin about cutting out Morgan getting the Intersect, though; I could have done without that.

    One thing, though, that I’ve never noticed before: When Chuck kissed Sarah during the wedding ceremony, he put his left hand up to her face and you could still see the twist tie that Sarah had tied to Chuck’s ring finger when they were doing their practice vows. Then, with a change of camera angle, there was no ring on his finger at all. Finally, when Chuck shows up at the Buy More and talks to Jeff and Lester, he shows them his wedding ring, which appeared to be made of a more conventional precious metal substance.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah this was definitely the most completely acceptable finale they did, I would have been fine with this as a series ender.

      I seem to remember some comments when this first ran about the continuity mistake with the rings. I don’t believe it was anything more than a simple error.

    • Wilf says:

      Yeah, the whole thing with the twist ties on Chuck’s finger had me believing at the time of first watching that this was all a dream or something, and that the wedding had not really taken place; maybe even that the 3pm funeral was for Sarah. After all the writers had done over the years, it was hardly surprising I’d be just a little bit sceptical of the reality of it all. It was only after Chuck appeared in the Buy More with his ring that I began to think it really was real. Although it was a great finale with some really great Chuck moments, I hated the fact that Sarah was hardly anywhere to be seen (except prone and asleep) for most of the time and I, too, would have loved to see more of the wedding since that was such an important moment in the series. But I suppose that sums up the whole deal – as far as the writers were concerned, it was all about Chuck and never really about Sarah while, for me, it was more about Sarah or, at least, Chuck and Sarah.

      • DKD says:

        I’m with the writers on this. I was attracted to this show as a Hero’s Journey for Chuck Bartowski first and a romance 2nd. The wedding itself was on screen just the right amount of time for me. I find weddings to be tedious. One of the things I liked least about this season was the emphasis on wedding planning. Ugh. Sarah’s initial lack of enthusiasm in that area was something she and I share.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Wilf I agree exactly. From quite early on Sarah was actually the most interesting character on the show to me. So while I enjoyed Cliffhanger, and I like where it leaves us as a finale very much; it needed a lot more Sarah to be a “great” episode.

        Just like Lord of the Rings needed more Aragorn to really be terrific…

  3. Martin Traynor says:

    I think my favorite line in the entire series was uttered in this episode, or at least my favorite Casey line, “Shut up. You’re Chuck Bartowski, the second best spy I ever worked with. Now you’re gonna go save the best one!” – The love and respect Casey has for the two of them by this point in the series is second only to the love and respect Chuck and Sarah have for each other. The circle is complete.

    I also loved how capable and brave Chuck was WITHOUT the intersect. He meets Vivian without a plan, purely…desperately in love with a dying woman, and he has no recourse but to offer himself in her place. Just as she physically tore through Asia to save him, he figuratively tore through evil to get Sarah back. He did what Chuck does best – he related to Vivian and talked her (with Hartley’s help) into not only providing the antidote, but a whole freakin’ platoon of paratroopers!

    I also loved the memories of their dry run for the wedding and how they tied that into the real deal with their twisty tie rings, which they were wearing in the limo, along with the real rings. Nice touch that was uber cute.

    Though I adore her, I didn’t need more Sarah here. Just as Chuck was catatonic for “Phase 3,” so, too, is Sarah here. This is Chuck saving her, and that’s fine with me. But I also would have liked either a bit more of the wedding…or more after the wedding of some celebration/reception denouement.

    I watch at least parts of this one over and over again. I liked Hartley. I liked Mary filling in for Sarah in her absence as part of Team Bartowski (jail break, Hartley escape, antidote delivery/”So many Russians…” Liked Chuck dressing down Decker. And I loved Chuck and Sarah presenting Casey and Morgan their plan for Carmichael Industries in the vetted Castle. Sarah’s pride at telling them of Harltey’s wedding gift was priceless!

    And while I’m glad for most of season 5 (excluding the end), this also could have been a very satisfying and fulfilling end to a great show. Morgansect didn’t really bother me much, either.

    • atcDave says:

      I like though how Casey specifies that Chuck is still the “second best” spy he’s ever known! No doubt there.

      I would say that if there had been more of the wedding/reception it would have completely settled my want for more Sarah in this episode. And no doubt, the “practice vows” scene was awesome!

  4. noblz says:

    This one did not make my top 10(29), but it is a good solid Chuck-centric episode. I’m with Wilf, I didn’t care for Sarah in a tub of ice for most of the episode. My best Chuck episodes have Chuck, Sarah and Casey working as a team. The one exception is Phase 3, because it was just that good of a performance by Yvonne. In this one, Zach did knock it out of the park, but helpless Sarah was too much. In P3 at least we had dream Chuck.

    I also didn’t care for the whole Morgansect thing, I knew it would lead to some weak stuff.

    Perversely, my favorite finale was the two-parter that ended S3, but I’m probably alone in that.

    • atcDave says:

      I believe the S3 finale polled well. It was fun, but I would flip those two, I prefer Cliffhanger.

      • oldresorter says:

        cliffhanger has not aged well for me. problem with Cliffy was ‘putting Sarah Bartwoski on ice’ was theme of the final two eps of season 5 too, except the writers forgot to cure her that time. I sure liked it first time though.

  5. Martin Traynor says:

    This was probably my most favorite of the finales, if only because Chuck and Sarah are married, and for me, it ends with the most satisfaction, hope, and the most positive potential. Actually, to me, they all ended with hope and potential, although I struggle to see it with the Season 5 finale (though one might say it ended with the MOST hope and potential, because that’s ALL it ended with!!).

    Season 1’s end made you think Chuck and Sarah were getting together, and Season 2 even started that way. Season 2’s end looked like the show was taking a turn with Chuck’s new abilities, and that he and Sarah were closer than ever. We saw that not to be the case. Season 3’s was the closeout of such angst, with Chuck and Sarah together, lots to build on, but then 4 started out so…weird, with them apart most of the that time. With Season 4’s end, they were married, together, starting their own company, the team was intact and they had buku bucks. The ONLY detractor was the Morgansect, but even that didn’t really bother me much.

    I won’t even discuss Season 5’s ending, since that is coming up soon anyway…and only leaves me discombobulated and lugubrious…

  6. oldresorter says:

    seems like Castle is coming back, maybe not with rick and / or kate?


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