'Chuck': We've got a bad feeling about this ...
That finale is called "Chuck vs. the Cliffhanger," but if the show comes up with a better one than what we got Monday (May 9), we're already preparing to be blown away.
So, OK, Sarah's (presumably) not going to die -- we've all watched enough television to agree on that, right? But real-life considerations of making a TV show aside, a cliffhanger is effective if it creates high stakes for the characters affected by it, and having Sarah's life in such grave danger on the eve of the wedding is, at this point in Chuck Bartowski's life, the highest possible stakes he could have. We are absolutely all in for next week's finale, whether it be season or series. (But please let it be season.)
That the rest of "Chuck vs. the Last Details" was also so strong only served to make the gut-punch of the end hurt that much more. Chuck and Sarah are looking forward to some R&R before the wedding, which of course Sarah jinxes by stating that nothing could possibly go wrong. Cue the call from Beckman, who informs Casey that Mary is being held captive by Vivian Volkoff, who has re-assembled the DNA-seeking Norseman weapon.
The rescue mission is a success (even if Mary doesn't exactly feel she needs saving), but they don't lay hands on the weapon, which Vivian intends to sell to the highest bidder. Beckman and Mary devise a plan for a member of the team to infiltrate the meeting and walk out with the weapon -- using Morgan, who happens to look like a recently detained arms dealer. That mission goes sideways, but Casey's sniper skills save Morgan, and Chuck and Sarah manage to retrieve the weapon, although Vivian escapes.
Those are the basics. What made the episode so enjoyable, though, were all the "Chuck"-perfect details surrounding the plot. Things like:
Chuck being put on the spot between Mary and Sarah. His plan at the mine tries to accommodate everyone's goals, but it mostly ticks Sarah off. She (and Casey, who helps set Chuck straight) has a point: You should always have your partner's back, even moreso if you're about to spend the rest of your life with her. Chuck gets wise later, and though it takes Mary aback a little, she knows he's doing the right thing -- and goes on to praise Sarah effusively at the rehearsal dinner.
The pop-culture stuff. The plot to get into the mine was straight out of "Star Wars," which everyone in the world but Sarah ("Why are you calling him Chewie?") recognized, and it was great, including Casey's "I got a bad feeling about this." The shot of Linda Hamilton doing Sarah Connor-style pullups in her cell was also pretty excellent. Best of all, though? Chuck getting Morgan into a villainous mindset by humming "The Imperial March," which soon had Morgan (and probably half the audience) joining in while Sarah sat by and probably thought to herself, "Oh, Chuck, I love you," just as he had said after the Chewie remark.
Casey. Adam Baldwin has carried a lot of the emotional weight of the show lately, and he's done really well with it. That played out again tonight as Casey struggled to keep his promise to Alex that he wouldn't let anything happen to Morgan. It also fueled the episode's best action sequence, with Casey using Morgan's glasses-cam to take out four goons even though he couldn't see them firsthand.
"Chuck vs. the Last Details" also got contributions from Ellie, whose hyper-efficient rehearsal dinner organization provided several good laughs, and the Buy Morons -- who would've known Jeff was such a big softie at heart? But we're left with Sarah collapsing and just one episode for Chuck and Co. to sort it out and get to the altar, wherever that may be. We can't wait to see it.
We'll know by next Monday whether the ominously named "Chuck vs. the Cliffhanger" is a season finale or a series finale; NBC announces its 2011-12 schedule earlier that day. In this corner, we're pulling pretty hard for it only being a season finale; we'd really like to see Chuck and Sarah get to follow through on Mary's toast to many more adventures. But whatever the verdict ends up being, it looks from here like "Chuck" has the pieces in place to go out this season with a bang.
What did you think of "Chuck vs. the Last Details"?