Chuck “Chuck Versus Sarah” and “Chuck Versus The Goodbye” Review

I’ve mentioned before how one of my favorite film makers, Errol Morris, said at a talk that he didn’t believe there was such a thing as an all-round great movie, just great moments. It’s something I’ve been pondering a while and ultimately, I think I agree with him. I look at a show like Chuck and it is a prime example of this theory.

Overall, Chuck isn’t a great show, and by no stretch was this a great finale. In fact if I didn’t know better, with the exception of the last few minutes I’d have guessed this was just another episode. The villain was of little to no consequence, existing solely to move the plot forward, the stakes-the General’s seat possibly blowing up-were pretty much a retread of stuff that Chuck has done umpteenth times before. But it hardly matters. Chuck is filled with moments which are powerful: from Chuck and Sarah lying on a bed listening to Nina Simone to Sarah shooting a Fulcrum agent to protect Chuck to Chuck, kissing Sarah on a beach at sunset. Chuck is a sincere show, it’s a show that wears its heart on its sleeve and isn’t too cool for emotions and feelings. And the moments it creates because of this are beautiful.

The thing Chuck has done well is build its characters. So often I watch shows and count myself lucky to feel invested in one, maybe even two characters. At its centre, Chuck is a love story and I loved these characters. Sarah and Chuck and Casey and Ellie and Awesome-we even got a cameo from Mommy Bartowski-who was welcomed with a brilliant one-liner from Awesome (“Grandma, what did we say about baby Clara seeing firearms?”) I love the way Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski and the rest of the cast and writers have developed these characters from fairly standard stereotypes: the loveable nerd, the femme fatale, the lone ranger, the loving but nagging sister, the perfect boyfriend, etc, and morphed and evolved over the seasons.

I suppose I’ll have to talk about the memory loss plot. It was the major arc going into this episode and as much as I hated it, I think the writers and actors did the best job they could. It’s an interesting quandary almost exclusive to the art of making television shows: if this were a novel or a film, and if the writers new that this would be their end point, they could easily go back and incorporate more foreshadowing into the storyline. Imagine if Chuck had a voice over throughout its run, from season 1 epsiode 1, and we see that the entire show has been bookended by Chuck telling Sarah their story-think How I Met Your Mother but with an ending. That’s be pretty cool, but it’s the faulty, inherently flawed nature of television which very few shows can overcome.

So I really liked the finale because I’m emotionally invested in these characters and the writers worked to earn those sentimental moments at the end. It was all you could want from the finale of Chuck and it made me happy.