Goodbye Chuck

The final episode of Chuck has come and gone with reminders of all of the things that made the show good in the first place.

I have to give the writers credit. The show has played liberally with disbelief from day one. Yet they attempted to wrap things up without conveniently giving us the mega happy ending we desired.

SPOILERS

The fact that they didn’t magically restore Sarah’s memory gave us a taste of how great the show could have been had they been a smidge more realistic over the years. There was always another Intersect or someone crashing through the window at the final moment. There were certainly a few times where I thought the writers took an easy way out, and it hurt the show in the long run.

Even without a mega happy memory restore scene, we got the sense that everything was going to be fine. Sarah remembered the beach. It’s doubtful she would ever fully recover her memories, but I think we were meant to understand that her feelings for Chuck weren’t completely gone after all.

Of course, there were a few loose ends.

Chuck is the Intersect once more. The technology to remove it is destroyed. His sister is gone. He’s pretty much stuck with it. Can Chuck really resist using it to help people? What happens when someone other than Beckman finds out?

What about Chuck’s money? He was bequeathed millions from Volkov. That money was seized by the CIA. Chuck’s status has been restored. It’s possible that money was finally returned.

Even if it wasn’t returned, Chuck can sell off the assets in Castle and run a legitimate business. There was quite a bit of tech and weaponry down there. Maybe the Intersect has a few files on investment banking?

In all there are a lot of details there for you to craft your own happy ending out of them.

As for the last five years ….

Chuck had a wonderful premise. The cast was excellent, and the first few seasons were fun to follow. However, the error in its development was not crafting a narrative that lasted longer than one or two episodes. It began to feel like a geeky version of Charlies Angels with plots that were tied up nice and neat when the credits ran.

With that pressure to tie everything up nicely, the action portions of the show grew somewhat formulaic. At one point, a team member was kidnapped almost every episode. Sarah would chase off the bad guy while Chuck got in the way. Sometimes Casey would chase off the bad guy while Chuck got in the way.

The charm managed to last until Chuck gained the Intersect 2.0. The entire landscape changed a bit then, mostly for the better. It was soon clear, however, that though the new premise was fun, the writers didn’t quite know what to do with it. This was illustrated by the fact that Chuck pretty much just used Kung-Fu to solve all of his problems.

Occasionally he would play guitar or learn a language, but it’s clear that there was a lack of imagination with the new set-up. Instead of feeding into the possibilities, Chuck became more of a traditional spy show.

As much as I liked the show, I can’t say that the title character remained interesting for its entire run. Sure Chuck was noble and loyal, but he was squeaky clean. His geeky side was always amusing. But he didn’t quite feel real either. I can understand him not killing anyone (except for a few bullets for Shaw) but he definitely would have abused the power of the Intersect to a greater degree.

Power corrupts, and it would have corrupted Chuck at least a little bit more.

The final season was definitely one of the best. Finally we had stories that lasted beyond a single episode. They also had an impact. Morgan never regained his memory. Chuck quit the CIA. Jeff and Lester discovered the truth (several times).  If this had been happening from day one, Chuck would be heading into a solid sixth season.

I don’t mean to sound too negative. There’s nothing wrong with being light-hearted. I just can’t help but think the show was meant to be something more in the beginning and got bogged down along the way.

Still, it was a decent five years. Chuck had a unique visual appeal and proved that a fan base would accept blatant product placement if it meant keeping their favorite show on the air. It also proved that we geeks will accept geek pandering if the girl is hot enough.

The only thing I really wish had happened that didn’t was a Nathan Fillion cameo. He would have made an excellent former colleague of Casey’s.

Oh well, goodbye Chuck. I’ll see you again on DVD.

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