'Chuck' season finale: Back to the future

chuck-vs-the-cliffhanger.jpgBefore late last week, a good percentage of "Chuck" fans had made a degree of peace with the idea that "Chuck vs. the Cliffhanger" would be the last we'd ever see of our favorite nerd spy hero. The main hope was that it would go out on a strong note.

Then it was renewed for a final season, and then "Chuck vs. the Cliffhanger" aired. Would that have been a great (if tantalizing) series finale? Sure. But man oh man, am I happy it wasn't.

Because Morgan Grimes, sudden super-spy, is going to be awesome.

We'll spend the next few months thinking about the implications of the finale's final couple of scenes, but what made the payoff so spectacular was the fact that the 40 or so minutes before it were also great. Here was a Chuck who, even after being de-Intersected by the CIA, remained confident enough in his own worth as a spy (or focused enough not to think about his limitations) that he would walk into Volkoff Industries unarmed and bargain for his love's life. A Chuck who, even before he had the Intersect taken from him, didn't think twice about going rogue in an effort to save Sarah.

That is the Chuck we've been seeing more and more of as Season 4 wore on, and that Chuck, sans magical spy computer but with essentially unlimited resources to conduct freelance missions, is one that feels like a very deep well of possibilities for Season 5. The fact that said spy computer is now in the head of the small, bearded gentleman who's been Chuck's lifelong wingman feels like an even deeper well of possibilities.

The final scene with Morgan telling the team "I know kung fu" was of course an echo of the Season 2 finale, "Chuck vs. the Ring." But compare the bewildered, even slightly fearful Chuck in that scene with the elated Morgan in "Cliffhanger's" final moment. At the end of Season 2, all Chuck wanted was to get the Intersect out of his head. Since finding out about his friend's other job, all Morgan has wanted to do is be part of the team. Well, he's all in now, and given how well Josh Gomez plays the comedy beats on the show, we're in for one very funny final season.

The effort to save Sarah and the revelations of the final minutes -- including CIA bad guy Decker's intimations that everything that's happened to Chuck so far has been part of a grand, nefarious plan -- kind of overshadowed the fact that Chuck and Sarah are now husband and wife. We already knew how devoted Chuck is to Sarah, but the flashbacks to their practice wedding a few days earlier drove home the point without ever getting too maudlin. That Sarah would express herself so wonderfully in her vows is an indication of how much she's grown over the past four years. It suits her.

I could go on at great length about the awesomeness of the rest of the episode as well -- the wrapping up of the Volkoff storyline, which in turn paved the way for Team Bartowski to go freelance; the return of the C.A.T. Squad for bridesmaid duty/tactical support; Casey's several brilliant lines ("Russians, so many Russians" is a favorite); and more. But I'd rather just get out of the way now and let you talk about the finale: How glad are you to have "Chuck" back for one more go-round, and where do you think we go from here?
Photo/Video credit: NBC
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