Strahovski, Sarah & Goodbyes
Wow. I can’t believe the end has snuck up on us so quickly. Though I haven’t been able to keep up with Chuck as avidly as I once did, it does not make its graceful exit from television any less sad. It’s a sad day for nerds everywhere, and an especially sad day for us Yvonne Strahovski fans who have grown accustomed to a healthy dose of her awesomeness every week.
As much as we may not want to accept the end, it is upon us. We’re about to lose all of our beloved characters to television history, but as they say — all good things must come to an end. And boy was Chuck a good thing.
It was ultimately a story about family, and in a case of life imitating art, a family of fans have grown up around the show. We fans of Yvonne Strahovski joined over a common bond many years ago on Strahotski.com and now have moved to YvonneDaily.com. The good news is that while Chuck may be going off the air, Yvonne Strahovski is surely not going anywhere!
But enough of the sentimental stuff (for now), let’s get on to my very last review of Chuck — Episodes 5.12/5.13: Chuck Versus Sarah/Goodbye.
“Put Chuck Bartowski to rest… once and for all.”
Well that was a doozy. It was an emotional rollercoaster with laughs and tears. It was the end of an era. It’s hard to write a review for this final episode. It’s hard to separate the critical review of these standalone episodes with 5 years of the friendships I feel like I’ve built with these characters.
Chuck has largely stayed on the air because of a rabid bunch of fans — fans like us — who refused to let it die. These last two episodes were clearly written for the fans. I applaud the writers and crew for really throwing it all out there for us. They could have made the ending more mainstream, but instead they wrote an ending for the fans with endless references and throwbacks; with writing that gets at the heart of the show.
It’s clear to me from these episodes that the creators of Chuck have come to love us for loving Chuck as much as we love them for giving it to us. The final episodes might have been about Team Bartowski, but they were really about the fans, the creators, the stars — the worldwide Bartowski family.
“Loosen up that Leggy Blonde!”
For a show called Chuck, these episodes gave Sarah Walker and Yvonne Strahovski more to work with than most any other episode in the series. It was a beautiful night to be a Strahovski fan. Her performance as evil Sarah turning back into our Sarah was a masterful performance. It was Yvonne Strahovski condensing Sarah’s entire transformation over the course of the show in the span of two hours.
As much as I love Zachary Levi and Adam Baldwin, Yvonne Strahovski absolutely stole the show leading up to the end of the series. Chuck was clearly meant to be the heart of the show, but as love goes, in the end it was the fusing of Chuck & Sarah both that were really at the heart of it.
I’m not sure the writers set out to create a love story, but ultimately that is what Chuck became.
“I’m really glad we’re having this 3rd last mission.”
As much as I loved the Sarah transformation, it necessarily ended up detracting from some of the supporting characters. Casey and Morgan had some great stuff at the beginning of the two hours with their discussions about how things had changed, but then there just wasn’t enough time to really get as much of them as I would liked.
Morgan is always good for a laugh, and was able to get some jabs in but I sorta felt like Casey was too quick to turn against Sarah and then back to his old, ruthless spy life. I can appreciate the goal there — to remind us all where our characters started from — but it wasn’t done nearly as deftly with Casey’s story as it was with Sarah’s.
Still, I absolutely love what Casey and Morgan have built over the years. They were perhaps the most unlikely of friends, but Baldwin and Gomez really managed to convince me that they had a true bromance perhaps every bit as strong as what Morgan and Chuck had at the beginning.
Casey leaving to find Gertrude at the end would have been bittersweet if not for Alex. Knowing that Casey and Morgan will likely be linked by marriage in the future makes the whole dynamic permanent in a satisfying way.
“How many people are in my room right now?”
Chuck has always had a strong supporting cast. I was reminiscing about how one of my favorite moments in the first episode was the description of “Captain Awesome.” He was a throwaway character for some laughs. At the time, I half expected him to just disappear.
But Awesome stuck and together with Ellie formed a really strong support system for the show. The contribution of these two characters really can’t be overestimated. Without them, Chuck wouldn’t have had something to ground himself to. He needed them to always remind us that he wasn’t always a spy.
The ending for Awesome and Ellie wasn’t bad, but it was kind of random. I don’t have any problem with them moving away to Chicago for new opportunities, but it didn’t have the same character motivation that the other endings had. That disappoints me a little, but I can let it go.
“One word: Jeffster.”
What would a Chuck finale be without Jeffster? Those rascals have really managed to worm their way into my heart over the years. At times I thought they were annoying, or too detached from the main storyline, but they had staying power and I found myself lighting up as I started to realize that the only way to save Beckman was for Jeffster to once again take the stage.
Their input into the finale was minimal before that scene, but it was an appropriate way to use them. I can’t think of a better ending for those two then to head off to become German superstars.
“Shut up; we’re saving you.”
Two other minor characters that got their just endings were Beckman and Big Mike. They were the rocks of their respective teams and mirrored each other in more ways than one.
Beckman could have no other ending than she did. She is and always will be the General. Having her saved by Team Bartowski one last time was a welcome treat, and it’s nice to know the team has an open invitation. Maybe we’ll get a made-for-tv movie one day of just one more mission!
Big Mike’s ending is hilarious. The writers deserve so much credit for turning their sponsorship from Subway into one of the funniest running gags in the show. It’s the sort of thing that newcomers probably roll their eyes at, while us long-time fans are laughing every time Subway makes an appearance. I think Subway should consider continuing to use Mark Christopher Lawrence as a Subway spokesperson in commercials.
I also want to give a quick shout out to Linda Hamilton making a return appearance. I didn’t expect to see her and her entrance was epic. I really wish we would have gotten to see Sarah’s dad as well in some small role.
“Find the porn virus – find it now!”
I loved all of the references in the last episode. It was like a flashback episode with far more cleverness than normal. I imagine there were references that I missed and have long since forgotten, but it was more than just writing. The set designers went out of their way to make sure there were props and clothing reminiscent of previous seasons.
Among some of the less obvious ones, I noticed Sarah’s jacket from season 1 and the Desert Eagle from earlier this season. The obvious ones were also tons of fun — it was great to revisit the White Room and Wienerlicious. It’s too bad the Orange Orange didn’t work its way in there somehow.
That sort of attention to detail is exactly what I mean when I say that these episodes were for the fans. Only we could possibly pick up and appreciate all of those references. It was a great trip down memory lane.
“You fell for me, Sarah.”
And now we have to discuss the ending. I imagine some people aren’t going to like it – they’re going to want to definitively know whether Sarah got her memories back. Is it enough for her to rebuild them and start over with Chuck, or does she really have to get them back to be the “old” Sarah?
It’s a tough question that I guess we’ll never know the answer to. But it’s good to end a series with a question – it will be the age old debate of Chuck fans for years to come. We will undoubtedly have believers on both side of the coin, and we’ll always have to wonder just how powerful that kiss was. It was certainly passionate.
From a character arc perspective, I like where it ended. The problem with the romance between Chuck and Sarah was always complicated because of where it started. By starting over, Sarah gets to really start with her guard down and I think that will only make them closer in the end.
At any rate, I think it was pretty clear that there are Baby Bartowskis in their futures.
It’s been a wild ride, guys, and though I wasn’t able to stick it out til the bitter end with Strahotski.com and writing reviews here, I’m honored to have been allowed back to see it all off.
Chuck is awesome. The fans are even moreso. Long live Buy Moria!
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