A long time ago in a galaxy not so far away, the journey to glorify nerd epicness began. The main quests and numerous side missions have lead to this point, where the accumulated XP will be tested in this final showdown between good and evil. This is it, boys and girls; tonight is the night that Chuck comes to an end.
The Self-Deprecating Nerd
As the series comes to an end, it is no surprise that the basic premise of the show is brought back front and center. I’m not talking the “guy gets email, guy downloads super computer into his brain, guy flashes on things, guy saves the world” premise, but the age long rule-breaking story of nerds and beautiful people coming together romantically. Like this ever happens in real life, psh! Ok, just kidding, but the point I am getting at is that Chuck was a playground for nerds, during an age in which it is cool to be one. So why on Earth is Chuck talking down about himself!?
Maybe I am just being rather defensive because of how easily I always connect to the show due to similar interests and inside jokes of the celebrated nerd culture, but I actually got pretty upset during the scene that shall be called: “Zachary Levi ugly cries.” Sarah starts the scene inside “their house” trying to sell Chuck on the idea that the last five years have been a lie (something that even she doesn’t believe fully based on my astute eye translation skills), and though he is trying desperately to make her remember, she manages to put a crack in his resolve. And I wanted to smack him! I was emotionally invested in the tragedy that was unfolding in front of my eyes, and begged Chuck not to cry as the tears glistened on the cusp of his lower lid because I was already in a rather fragile state emotionally due to the occasion, and then all of the sudden Chuck crashes the Nerds Rule party! Where has all your confidence gone, Chuck? Not only that, but after going through everything with these two Chuck manages to degrade their relationship down to a cliché by harking on the fact that she was able to fall for a nerd. Bad Chuck! Bad, bad Chuck! You are better than that!
Everything Comes Full Circle
Though this scene was a personal low point in the episode as Chuck counts himself short, the rest of the two hours basically plays out like the equivalent of viewers and show makers coming together to skip hand-in-hand down Memory Lane as Chuck tries to get his Sarah back. Every now and again there is a flashback, but instead of falling prey to the clip show set up of recapping to remind us of times past, the past episodes are brought to us as we see allusion after allusion to the early episodes of the series worked into the present day storyline: a location similar to the first date restaurant, Sarah (and Chuck!) in the Wienerlicious uniform, Chuck’s inability to correctly interact with helicopters, the porn virus bomb deactivation, etc. Heck, even Chuck gets the Intersect back. Unfortunately for him, he forgot to sing about Vicki Vale as Sarah stood at the Nerd Herd desk as he did the first time they met here. She would have been smitten right then and there had he pulled that card out; but no, Chuck forgot to do it, so he had to go to much greater lengths to get the girl back.
Reveling in the Glory
Even if Sarah can’t remember why she loved Chuck, this episode makes it impossible to forget why we do. I’m not just talking reliving some favorite moments with the callbacks, but rather I’m referring to the simple smile-inducing joy brought on by the heart of the show. Even with all the emotional down moments, Chuck always managed to keep what the show was right under the surface, blending the humor back in. This show is about a guy with a computer in his brain, so it is ok to keep it light, and tonight was the perfect reminder of the fun of all seasons past (minus the rough start of this season, of course, which I still have trouble not scowling at).
Another callback to the pilot, Chuck and Sarah’s relationship somehow becomes oddly similar to what it was in the beginning as Chuck and Sarah are playing inside two different truths. As tragic as it is knowing that Sarah doesn't remember their relationship, I couldn’t help but laugh at the humor as these two tried to figure the other out, similarly to Mr. and Mrs. Smith when they discover their spouse is also a spy. Chuck turned on the charm with the encouragement from Morgan, each time being countered by a smile for appearances and then face-drop on Sarah’s part as soon as he turned away. Sure, Sarah cringing in disgust inside was not a good sign for the couple, but it was funny. Sad, but funny. Oh dichotomies.
And then there is Morgan, playing with the Cloak of Invisibility. You are a wizard, Morgan, you are. Simple nerd humor dances around gleefully as this finale takes the time to smell the roses, but the show also pays respect to the journeys that each character has taken as they have evolved into something more than what they started out as, including highlights involving two of the “harder” characters. Casey the Colonel comes back, but thankfully he doesn’t stay long as he remembers why he deserves that “Worlds Best Dad” apron he donned while cleaning Morgan’s taquito gunk off of the floor. And then Mrs. Bartowski pulls a gun on Sarah in front of baby Clara, a big no-no for Ellie and Awesome. Good times…
As the finale winds down, it was a relief to see that Chuck was not going to pull an Angel on us and end the episode in a way that has made it impossible for me to go back to that series following that finale’s original airdate. In this happy ending, everyone is moving on with their lives to better things following the end of the spy life for the majority of the characters. Some of the “Aw” moments include: Jeffster getting a record deal (or possibly getting taken into some Hostel like situation), Big Mike gets even closer to Subway (which gets a great nod in this send off), Morgan and Alex move in together, Awesome and Ellie are moving to Chicago for a simpler life (Midwest represent!), Casey goes to find Verbanski to get his happily ever after (after hugging a whole bunch of people, might I add, including Beckman!), etc. But let’s face it, as happy as I am for all of these characters as they receive endings they deserve, the only thing I really care about in the end is what happens to Sarah and Chuck.
In all honesty, I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted the ending to go for these two. Obviously I wanted them to get back together, but it was just a question of how Sarah would get her memories back. Instead of taking the cheap road out by using the glasses to download Sarah’s memories back into her mind (something that seems rather manipulative if you ask me), we are left with a Sarah who still doesn't remember anything about the relationship or what it felt like to love the man begging her to remember. A rather depressing scenario, especially considering we are leaving them in a place where they are not as happy as they once were, but there was just something about that beach that put me at ease; and the cognitive repetition of Yellowcard’s chorus to “Believe” as Chuck told Sarah their story gave me the calm reassurance that everything will be all right. The fact that Chuck is not wearing the crumbs of cheese puffs in an unkept beard is also a good sign.
As a nerd who is also equally cool (*brushes shoulder off*), I could not help but find a kindred spirit in Chuck five seasons ago. We stood up for each other, we awkwardly snorted from laughing so hard together, and we even ugly cried on occasion. Ok, technically I did all of these things at the show, but I felt like it was a rather reciprocal relationship, filled with happiness, catharsis, and respect. So though it is sad to see it go, the loss will never take the glorious memories of our time together from me.