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TV Review: Chuck – “Chuck Versus the Goodbye”

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NBC’s Chuck comes to an end forever with “Chuck Versus the Goodbye.” The second hour of a two hour finale, “Chuck Versus the Goodbye,” finds Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) reluctantly allowing Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Morgan (Joshua Gomez) to help her hunt down Quinn (Angus Macfadyen, Californication, Braveheart), now that she knows he is a bad guy. Chuck still hopes to spark Sarah’s memories of their time together, but those hopes are dashed when Chuck must use the last Intersect upload to save many innocent lives, rather than to restore some of those memories. In the end, Quinn is killed, and Sarah does listen to Chuck tell their story, though whether or not she feels anything romantically for Chuck remains a mystery.

Talking of using the Intersect to restore Sarah’s memories, well, photos and such that pertain to memories, is a little creepy. It’s a plan that will reprogram someone’s brain. Of course, Chuck has always explored such themes with a light hand, given that the Intersect computer, which is implanted into one’s brain, is an important element throughout all five seasons of the series. And the fact of the matter is, when it comes right down to it, the Intersect ends up being used as a weapon that harms Morgan and nearly destroys Sarah. So Chuck does anything but promote such invasive technology. No matter how cool it appears to be.

Chuck ends up being a love story, first and foremost. There is a villain that must be defeated in the finale, sure, and there is spy work that must be done. But heart has always been a central element, and never does that take more prominence than in the series finale. Much of the final hour is devoted to Chuck’s feelings for Sarah, and his efforts to re-spark that romance within her. He wooed her once, over the course of several years. Even without her memories, she does return to him, even if she has excuses for doing so. So maybe Chuck can eventually get her to fall for him again.

The ending of “Chuck Versus the Goodbye” is left open to interpretation, which is actually quite nice. There are some plot holes and things that don’t flow well in the finale, which will be covered shortly, and trying to resolve Sarah’s missing memories likely would lend itself to more negatives. To tie up that story so neatly at the end of two hours, when the damage appears so permanent, would be unrealistic and hokey. But to allow Chuck and Sarah to kiss, both hoping against hope that this magical expression of their love will restore what they lost, then fading to black without revealing whether it works or not, is perfect. Because, the fact is, whether Sarah ever remembers or not, she is already seeing the love in Chuck’s eyes, and it will not take her long to make some new memories with him. They both appear ready for the challenge of starting over, so it is truly a happy ending.

“Chuck Versus the Goodbye,” as well as the hour preceding it, are full of nostalgia for Sarah and Chuck. Seeing Sarah back in her hot dog serving outfit, or the pair dancing heatedly, or diffusing a bomb with Casey (Adam Baldwin), is a wonderful treat, paying homage to the early days of Chuck, sometimes very obviously. With everything dark going on, this lightens the mood. It also helps viewers overlook the numerous flaws, as they are so moved by what is playing out on screen, that they forget about logic. A smart move here.

Sarah and Chuck aren’t the only ones who get the happy ending, either. Casey, after a brief slip back to the detached military officer he once was, chooses heart instead, and goes after Gertrude (Carrie-Anne Moss). Morgan and Alex (Mekenna Melvin) decide to move in together. Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and Awesome (Ryan McPartlin) take promising jobs in Chicago, which will allow them to afford a big house, something they cannot do in L.A., even with their doctor salaries. Even Mary (Linda Hamilton) stops in for a visit, and General Beckman (Bonita Friedericy) gets to play a small role in the final mission (the final final final mission, long after the characters’ stated final mission). So all the major characters are served.

Big Mike (Mark Christopher Lawrence) is thrilled to see Subway purchase the Buy More, or rather, excited by the prospect of the delicious food that will go with it. Subway has done much to keep Chuck on the air for all of these years, so despite some blatant product placement, which actually goes well with the hip charm of Chuck, and the confusion as to why a restaurant chain would want to purchase an electronic store, it can be overlooked. Subway deserves a reward for its staunch support of the show, and saluting it in the end is well justified.

Jeffster makes a final appearance in “Chuck Versus the Goodbye” as the duo (Scott Krinsky and Vik Sahay) performs “Take On Me,” with orchestral backup, to stop a bomb from going off and killing Beckman and the audience. Their musical numbers have been an integral part of Chuck, and present for many important moments. Thus, it’s fitting to see them one last time. Even better, the two are offered a recording deal in Germany, and complete their maturation that’s been building in this fifth season. finally leaving the Buy More and heading on to bigger things.

Now, for the drawbacks. The two hour finale is full of plot holes. Why does Quinn need to remind Sarah of Ellie’s name after Sarah studies files on Chuck and his loved ones? How does Morgan gets Jeffster dressed and ready to perform so quickly? How does Casey know that Sarah has taken up residence in her old apartment? The list goes on and on. Chuck has never been the best written series on television, but the final two hours are some of the worst, logic wise. This is disappointing, after five great years. The fact that the wonderful depth of heart distracts fans enough to enjoy the episodes does not take away from the wish that a little more time had been taken to make the story make more sense. Ah, well. Nothing can be done about it now.

In the end, Chuck deserves thanks and praise for the five years it touched, tickled, and entertained us. It will be sorely missed.

Oh, and did anyone else catch that Chuck ends with Chuck possessing a newly updated version of the Intersect in his head? Awesome!

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome is the creator and writer of It's All Been Done Radio Hour, a modern scripted live comedy show and podcast in the style of old-timey radio serials, and the founder of the Columbus-based entertainment network, IABDPresents. He is also the Chief Television Critic for Seat42F.com and a long-time contributor for Blogcritics. Plus, he works fiction into his space time. Visit http://iabdpresents.com for more of his work.
  • mladen

    I WANT CHUCK season 6, 7, 8 and more

  • Valehart

    Ya know out of most of my favorite shows that are out, such as Spartacus, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad, this is by far the best show I’ve seen. I am going to support it by buying all blue ray versions of it. I hope like many others they bring it back or do something to tie up all loose ends.

  • Daniel M

    Mike you make me laugh thats freaking funny I am with you on it though Bro we do have more power than they like to realize I am down with creating a survey. I think we should figure something out and I am sure all of you are from different parts of the country so we could make something work. If your interested people in trying to make this happen send me an email and lets figure out a way. [personal contact info deleted]

  • matthewjflynn

    I can’t understand why the network would take such s good show off the air after only. 5 sessions. When other shows that weren’t. as good. have. lasted longer. What were they thinking. Bring Chuck. back

  • Awesome

    Pls try and continue chuck, its the best programme ever

  • Kevin

    Hi nbc i know chuck finish a long time ago but last night i was able to finish watching the hold show and it was very good i love it but what i don’t love is how it ends please just for one more season

  • Sadly, it is too late to save it. The best we can hope for now is a feature film followup, though that’s a long shot.

  • khan

    we have got to get it back i love it although im in south africa come on guys we need it back we all love it soo if anyone reads this who works in NBC we know you can change them from taking CHUCK away from us

  • I love Chuck, too, but guys, it’s canceled. It’s not coming back. Maybe someday we’ll get a movie or something, but that seems like a very long shot. Just enjoy the gift given to us. 🙂

  • Ayman

    I love chuck , hope it will back again 🙁

  • mike

    The fans can buy chuck, and buy a tv network. It’s time we the people took control of television programming away from networks, away from old executives, aways from a stupid tired way of deciding what stays and what goes;(neilson crap). Your fired NBC!, period!! We will boycott you forever, and your sponsors for ever too! We are contacting them all now!!!!

  • mike

    Chuck will return for season 6. I promise! NBC is nuts! We the fans pay the bills, and make the decisions too! NBC just does not realize the power we the fans have over them. We the fans will make the decisions, because we are their stockholders, their BOSSES! They will learn when we take our fight to the streets/internet/skywaves.. Boycott nbc everyone, then the sponsors will boycott nbc. Then we will win, i promise!!

  • andrea

    OMG my husbund and I love the show, we laugh, we cry and we enjoy the adventures. Please bring Chuck back.We will miss the crazy people at the Bymore.

  • Laura Blickensderfer

    My husband, son and I are so sad that Chuck is over. We have loved the show since the first episode and never missed one. We also loved every character in the show. You will be greatly missed. please come back for another season!!!!

  • Jeremy w.

    I can’t do this, but you guys can. Go around and get a survey of people who want chuck back for season 6 and send it to NBC tv studio or whatever. That will be seen by them more than them seeing these comments. If you get enough people surveyed maybe they will put chuck back on. Ask people to survey their friends too. Good luck if you do. I. Just giving an idea. I really miss chuck. He is awesome.