Did you go to the wedding? The big day finally arrived. The big day being Chuck's enormous season (and perhaps series) finale on NBC, which featured Ellie and Awesome's wedding, not to mention a game-changing ending.
NBC's Chuck may be the most charming show on television. The series has the nerdiest nerds, the cutest couple in Ellie and Awesome, the sweetest couple in Chuck and Sarah and the oddest couple in Lester and Jeff. But is this little series, about a computer geek who ends up becoming a spy after the FBI and CIA's Intersect computer is uploaded into his brain, worthy of a life beyond season two?
[Beware: Spoilers ahead!]
NBC will be making that decision soon, and the 6.11 million viewers who watched the season finale will be waiting to learn the answer. They've already leapt into action, targeting Subway, one of the show's key sponsors. Last week, star Zachary Levi led 400 conventioneers in England to a Subway for sandwiches, and the "Finale & FOOTLONG Campaign" is in full swing.
Certainly no series tried harder when it came to its season finale. It was actually a four-episode season finale, packed with guest stars such as Scott Bakula as Chuck's dad and the computer genius that created the Intersect; Chevy Chase as a Bill Gates type who works for FULCRUM and has a history with Chuck's dad; The Mummy's Arnold Vosloo as a bad-guy hatchet man; and Morgan Fairchild and Bruce Boxleitner as Mom and Dad Awesome. Even Jordana Brewster as Chuck's ex-girlfriend and Matthew Bomer as Bryce Larkin, the spy who got him into all this trouble in the first place, made a return visit during the last episodes.
The season had been leading up to the big question. No, not whether Sarah and Chuck would finally get it on. The big question was whether Ellie and Awesome would make it to the altar, considering everyone they know is a spy.
Leading up to the finale, "Chuck Versus the Ring," Chuck got the Intersect out of his head with help from his computer-genius spy dad, and Morgan quit the Buy More to become a Benihana chef. In the episode, Ellie and Awesome did indeed finally tie the knot, and ...
- Chuck quit the Buy More and the government.
- Ted Roark (Chase) popped by to threaten to kill Ellie if Chuck didn't get the Intersect cube. Chuck ran off to save the day, leaving Morgan to stall the wedding. Big mistake!
- Lester and Jeff's band Jeffster gave an impromptu performance of Mr. Roboto while Ellie waited and Chuck, Sarah and Casey ended up in a gun battle in the reception hall, destroying everything. Luckily, Jeff, with the help of some Roman candles, accidentally set off the sprinklers, ruining the wedding, so no one knew about the gun battle in the other room. Oh, and Roark was captured.
- Chuck managed to set up a new wedding for Ellie and Awesome with the money he got from the government, and it was in fact the wedding of Ellie's dreams. It was indeed awesome.
- Bryce Larkin, who is set to be the new Intersect, asks Sarah to go with him. She turns him down. Just as Sarah is about to confess how she feels about Chuck ...
- Another spy faction, that is, not FULCRUM, takes out Roark and kidnaps Bryce in an attempt to get the Intersect.
- Chuck may not have the Intersect in his head anymore, but he has his dad's fancy wrist gadget. He, Casey and Sarah leap into action to save Bryce and the Intersect cube. When an all-out gun battle erupts, Bryce is mortally wounded. He gives Chuck a card that will destroy the Intersect and dies.
- Chuck has to decide—become the Intersect again and be with Sarah OR live a normal life? Chuck becomes the Intersect again and then destroys the cube. Unfortunately, he, Sarah and Casey are captured. Fortunately, Chuck suddenly knows kung fu.
So, did it satisfy? Was the big wedding and Chuck's return to the spy fold, with kung fu a la The Matrix, the perfect end to the season? And if this is the end of the series, is this a good ending for Chuck?
The general consensus online is that Chuck's finale was indeed awesome. Maureen Ryan of The Chicago Tribune's The Watcher stated, "No analysis. No deep thoughts here. Who can think straight after that much fun? What I've posted here is just a warning—I will go completely into the ugly cry if Chuck is not renewed."
Alan Sepinwall wrote in the blog What's Alan Watching, "There are deeper shows on TV, more complex shows, shows with tighter plot logic, possibly even better comedies— though I find that last statement hard to believe after an episode that featured a line like 'Why are you letting Sam Kinison and an Indian lesbian wreck your wedding?'—but none features as much pure, concentrated fun as Chuck. It's overflowing with joy, as if [creators Josh] Schwartz, [Chris] Fedak and company (in this case, Allison Adler, who co-wrote the finale with Fedak) repeatedly ask themselves, 'What else can we put into this scene that's awesome?'"
As for Hitfix's Daniel Fienberg, he believes, "If 'Chuck versus The Ring' is the last we see of Chuck, at least the finale was exciting, hilarious and touching enough to bring tears to more than a few eyes (not that I have 'more than a few eyes'). Was it on quite the same level of Awesome as 'Chuck versus The Colonel'? Perhaps not. Still, 'Chuck versus The Ring' was mostly a splendid example of how to do a season finale. You resolve some things. You pay off things introduced in earlier episodes. And you say, 'Hey, this is what the show will be next season ... GET PUMPED.'
If there is a third season, there's no doubt viewers who have stuck by Chuck from the beginning will indeed be pumped. The sad part is that this wonderful little spy comedy could have been a hit on cable, but on NBC? Not so much. There's a case to be made for Chuck's renewal, but there's an equally strong case to be made for its cancellation.
According to Robert Seidman of tvbythenumbers.com, "The situation for those who haven't been paying attention is that although under normal circumstances, based on its performance it would be renewed. But because NBC is whacking hours out of the prime-time schedule that used to be available for scripted dramas in favor of Jay Leno, it seems like Chuck is on the bubble where NBC might want to renew it and might not."
So will it be renewed? Tune in soon when NBC announces its schedule.
Perhaps the bigger question is why such a good show has had to beg for viewers. Yes, Chuck's ratings were about as good as the higher-profile Heroes, but still ... Dancing With the Stars could have parted with a million or two viewers so this decision would be a little easier for NBC.