Thoughts on the Chuck Series Finale

So as Chuck fans sadly know all too well, last Friday was the end of everything. I’ve read a fair bit of feedback, and it ranged from sad to frustrated to satisfied. For what it’s worth, I thought I would put my two cents in. Warning: there will be spoilers, but since it’s over by now, I don’t think it matters that much.

So, the debate seems to be around the ending: we’re not sure exactly what happens. Throughout the episode, Sarah has proven that Quinn essentially “undid” the last 5 years of her life with all those flashes. Yet, there are a few hints that she may remember some things after all. No one can fault Chuck for not trying hard enough. His impassioned pleas after kidnapping her prove his love and loyalty, even if she is just a shell of her former self. You have to admit, she says and does some kinda cruel things…

Of course, the fact that he proceeds to take a bullet for her in spite of her is enough to convince anyone.

 In a sense, Sarah does come around. After hearing herself on video, she believes Chuck’s story about them. Though, I think she at least sort of believed it before that. The funny thing is that despite repeatedly saying she’s leaving, she never really does. It’s almost like she seems to know that the self she might find out in the world wouldn’t be as fulfilling as the self she had in Burbank. If you put yourself in her shoes, it would be a rather odd situation: having a life somewhere but little or no memory of it, versus going out to make a life but not knowing where to start. Despite her seeming confidence of her plans to leave, I think she was second guessing herself—especially as Chuck was pointing out little blips of memories she had been holding in reserve. Now, theoretically, had Chuck not found her at the beach and she had been there alone, I’m not sure what would have happened. Maybe after taking a couple days to recover from the shock of everything, she would have concluded that she had nothing left to stay for and would have left. Maybe she would have figured she hurt those who knew her too badly to stay in their lives and left. Or maybe she would have decided to try to rebuild a life there. I don’t know. Thankfully, we don’t have to use too much brain energy on that, as Chuck found her.

I knew I would cry at some points in the episode. I did tear up a bit during Chuck’s pleading. I cried (surprisingly) when Ellie told Chuck he was “aces.” And, of course, the final since, which is also the subject of the mild controversy, was probably my biggest tearjerker. I actually still cry when I watch this scene, even though I know exactly what’s coming:

So, the question is: did it work or not? My opinion is, it did to an extent. As I mentioned before, I think if she were really dying to leave the situation, she wouldn’t have just said she was going. She would’ve been gone asap. The fact that she stayed, even for a little while, tells me that she was contemplating and perhaps open to the idea of sticking around. Or, better yet, maybe she instinctively knew the beach was important and was hoping to regain some memories by sitting there. In fact, she indicates that she had the feeling that spot was important. I admit, I was kind of heartbroken to hear Chuck say, “I don’t want anything from you,” because you know that’s kind of the biggest lie ever. But what can you say? He’s a good hubby; even though it’s got to be killing him, once he starts coming to terms with the situation, he’s willing to sacrifice his desire to be with Sarah in favour of stepping back so that Sarah can make a new life for herself. Sarah asks him to tell her their story, which I think is another indicator that she is at least open to the idea of rebuilding her life with him. Yes, there is the possibility that maybe she was just so impressed by his devotion to her that she wanted to know how it became so strong. But I doubt it. I think she wanted more information because she realized whatever they had was worth learning about and fighting for. Stories could bring up memories, after all.

And, of course, there’s the kiss. I think her inviting him to kiss her so abruptly is yet another indication that she’s willing to pretty much try anything to work back toward the great life she was making with Chuck. The buildup to the kiss tells you she wants to try. My theory around whether the kiss brought back all those memories is this: muscle memory. Our bodies have a way of remembering things that are such integral parts of our lives and are then gone suddenly. I hate to use a movie as an example, but it’s the best illustration I know: 50 First Dates. At the end, she  recognized something about him, even though her active memory didn’t know him. Sarah had glimpses of the past going throughout the episode. I think the kiss unlocked another few memories, but to say that it was a cure-all is a bit ambitious. The fact that they were kissing for at least a good ten seconds is a pretty good sign. I like to think that afterwards, they decided to take things slow and start from the beginning. Start dating again, start getting to know each other again.

The other big question that’s come up is: was this a satisfactory ending to Chuck? It was definitely unexpected and sucky, and if they had to throw in a monkey wrench, I don’t know that they could have thrown in a more gut-wrenching one. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I am really going to miss the show. A lot. All that being said, though, I think it was satisfactory. Maybe people smarter than me can picture it, but I’m not sure how many more places the storyline could’ve gone. And the show ended on a hopeful note without spoon feeding a happy ending. It kept you on your toes, even until the last credit. And even though it’s this weird contrast of a hopeful yet haunting ending (I’ve had that “Rivers and Roads” song going through my head ever since that scene, and I’d never even heard it before. As an aside, though, it was the perfect ending song.), I’ll take it. Even having the hint of a happy(ish) ending is better than a tragic one, or even worse, one where you literally have no idea what happened (infamously i.e., The Sopranos).

So, in conclusion, thanks to the Chuck crew for doing a great job with a great show. My TV viewing will definitely have a gaping hole in it now. And that’s not even counting personal sentimental value the show has to me. Chuck was a show for the person who wanted it all: underdogs, action, comedy, romance, and drama. And the fans got it all, amazingly. I can’t wait to do it all again on DVD. 🙂


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