Season 5 Episode 13

Chuck Versus the Goodbye

Aired Friday 8:00 PM Jan 27, 2012 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (34)

out of 10
308 votes
  • Not the best of Chuck's many finales, but still great.

    It's hard to summarise my feelings on the Chuck finale (or should I say the final finale, since we've had about 5 false finales before now). What I wanted was that magic mix of comedy, drama, spy action, and heart that made the show so unique and beloved for the past 5 years. Yet I can't help but feel that Chuck vs. the Goodbye only succeeded on three of those counts.

    *NOTE: Though technically this is a review only of the final episode, I'll include references to the previous Chuck vs. Sarah as they aired on the same night - and let's face it, it was all really one long episode.*

    Having Sarah lose her memories of Chuck, causing him to go all-out in his attempts to restore them, is not exactly how I pictured the ending of this light-hearted show. Sarah has grown so much from the cold-hearted, emotionally-distant spy from the first season that to have her back for the final 2 episodes felt somewhat dishonest to all that character development. From a plot point of view it makes sense, because it allowed the show to organically take a final trip down memory lane, especially with Chuck almost heart-rendingly emotional in that monologue toward the end of the previous episode where he talks about Chuck and Sarah's first kiss. And while I never bought Quinn as the ultimate final villain the show should have - both Volkoff and Evil Shaw set the bar pretty high in that regard - I suppose having Sarah technically be the final obstacle in her own happy ending was a clever twist.

    There was at least quite some comedy gold - I nearly cried with laughter when Jeffster! made a triumphant comeback singing Ah Ha's "Take on Me" in the middle of a symphony orchestral concert. And this led to one final Subway shout-out (I'd like to think Big Mike will spend the rest of his days sipping Cokes and munching subs right in the Buy More itself) as well as Jeffster! pursuing their dreams as German rock stars.

    Ellie and Awesome's conveniently-timed job offers in Chicago were a good chance for this couple, who for all this time have felt responsible as surrogate parents for Chuck, to live their own lives with their infant daughter. And while Morgan and Alex living together has been telegraphed for quite some time, it was very touching when she embraced her father at the end, and Casey finally acknowledges what a softie he's become.

    But back to the central conflict. Sarah spent the entire finale as a completely different person to the one we've come to root for - reverting to the cool and detached spy who pulled a gun on Chuck and Casey in the first season. As a result, it didn't feel at all like the same character we were all invested in (though kudos to Yvonne Strahovski for totally selling the character transformation), and Chuck and Sarah's patented happy ending seemed to slip further and further away.

    Though there were flashes of Sarah regaining her memories (the engraving in their house, the Wienerlicious, Irene Demova), it never came back in full, and while those flashes were obviously meant to reassure viewers during the open ending that Chuck and Sarah would eventually get back together, we didn't see Sarah get those memories back on-screen, so it felt less satisfying. Not only that but it leads to other questions - even if Sarah does get the memories back, will her love for Chuck (and softer and more emotionally-open approach to life) return? Will she simply fake a life with Chuck because the memories are too obvious to ignore? Personally I'd like to think that even after the Intersect glasses were destroyed, Ellie and Chuck got to work on redesigning them using their father's research, and eventually managed to build one and get Sarah's memories into them, and Sarah came back in full. Unfortunately, this won't be the official ending.

    And so, since this will be the last episode of Chuck, I'll do something I normally wouldn't during a review and suggest where I think the show should have ended. Specifically, five minutes before the end of season 4. This was the end of Chuck and Sarah's love story - with their wedding - as well as the two quitting the government spy business to go freelance, and the Intersect out of Chuck's head (and in no one else's). Morgan and Alex were together, Mary Bartowski was playing grandmother, and Ellie and Awesome had a newborn. No need to complicate things with Decker's conspiracy and Morgan getting the Intersect. The only parts of season 5 I liked were Carrie-Anne Moss as Gertrude Verbanski, as well as the thematic idea of witnessing the negative consequences of the Intersect in someone else's head and seeing why Chuck was uniquely suited to it in the first place.

    But I'll try not to dwell on my less-than-perfectly-pleased reaction to the finale, and focus on what made Chuck great as a whole. The comedy, the drama, the spy action, and the heart. Chuck and Sarah's epic love story. Casey's manliness. The Chuck and Morgan bromance. Ellie and Awesome, the beating heart of the show. The idiocy of Jeff and Lester, and Big Mike's Subway monologues. No other show I've ever watched combined so many disparate elements into one package and entertained me so thoroughly over such a long period of time.

    Aces, 'Chuck'. You're aces.
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