I woke up and for one happy moment forgot that last night's episode was actually the last Chuck ep of all time. And, even more than that, that it had let me down.
But more on that in a minute. First, let me say a little about the things that I loved about the finale... Then I'll tell you what I didn't.
♥ I loved the homage to Bryce in Team Bartowski's infiltration of the DARFA installation.
♥ I loved Casey's "I'm not losing you both"* and, of course, the hug!
I'm praphrasing in each of the 'quotes' in this.
♥ I loved Morgan's geek-out over the invisibility cloak (you know he swiped that!) and Sarah's freak out over that back rub :P
♥ I loved that Ellie saved herself and the way she did it and her reasoning for doing it. "Sarah, if you were still you and you remembered, you'd want me to do everything I had to do to save Chuck."
♥ I loved every moment with "Mimi" Bartowski :p
♥ I loved Chuck and Sarah's dance, Chuck in his and Sarah's dream home, Chuck's sacrifice, which is ultimately the sacrifice he always makes when the opportunity is presented... Given the choice between accepting the Intersect and saving the world... and saving himself, the way he wants to be (in this case, Sarah's husband, just as she remembers him) Chuck will choose the Intersect every time.
♥ I loved the idea of the keys, the Jeffster performance (and subsequent job offer :) and that Morgan watches too many Disney movies with Baby Clara.
♥ And I loved: "Chuck! Did you just shoot me out of the sky... With my own gun?!" :p
I loved a lot about the last two eps of Chuck, ever. So believe me when I say that it surprises no one so much as it surprises me (who has loved pretty much every ep of the show up until this point with a near blindness - even the episodes that everyone else seemed to hate) that I would almost just as soon not have had these two episodes as had them. I would almost rather have stopped the show on that bullet train. Because, yes, ...Goodbye ends with a question that you can more or less answer in the positive for yourself. ("Will Chuck and Sarah fall in love again?") But then, so did the bullet train. ("Will Chuck save Sarah?") Only ...Bullet Train's question is arguably more hopeful because, by the time Chuck and Sarah are sitting (again) on that beach, the damage has been done. It isn't "Chuck's" Sarah that we're wondering about. Wienerlicious cups and computer viruses aside, she is - as everyone says - gone. The show effectively killed her, and in a diabolical way so that Chuck can't even really mourn her. It would almost have been more satisfying if she had literally died, because at least then we would get Chuck grieving at her graveside and maybe re-energized towards hunting down the bad guys who killed her instead of just sort of drifting as far as 'What do I do next?' and 'Who have I become?'
I suppose it's fair to say that no ending would have truly made me happy because I wanted so badly for this show not to end, but I really think my reaction is more than that. The show has had a lot of potential endings, a lot of could-have-been finales. And this is the first one to leave me unsatisfied. To make me think that the plotline would have worked if only they'd had a few more episodes to set things right. Ironically, out of the maybe six finales Chuck's had, the final one is the only one that I feel doesn't do the characters full justice :p
And I think it's because the finale did just what everyone said: it took our heroes back to the beginning. Only I thought it would take them there and then do something. Instead it just dumps us all back at the beginning - Chuck is post-disaster and lingering on the cusp of doing something new with his life; Sarah is the consummate spy and afraid of being anything else - and more or less asks us to pretend that having the last five years erased from the head of a pivotal character (on a show that only ran for five years) isn't just "slightly, slightly tragic"... It's- What did that one article call series finales like Roseanne's? Soul-crushing. Not to get too melodramatic about it :p
Some say it is "uplifting", but I don't get that. Some say it reminds us of why we loved Chuck in the beginning, but here's the thing: I didn't need to be reminded! I've loved Chuck all along... What he was and what he's become. I didn't need to be reminded that he can save the day without shooting people or that he will save the day even when he has to sacrifice his own chance at happiness to do it. I didn't need to be reminded that Casey is at his best when he's with his team or that villains like Quinn see Chuck's personal style of spying to be inferior, even as it conquers them. I didn't need to be reminded of Season 1 Sarah. I didn't like Season 1 Sarah all that much. Not like I loved Mrs. Sarah Bartowski, whatever they called her overseas during her campaign to get Chuck back during ...Phase Three :p I wanted to see Chuck as he's become face off against the bad guy and do his thing like in Chuck vs the Santa Suit and then go home to the family that he's been building for the last five years. I knew I would see that family threatened, but I didn't know that I would see that threat essentially become reality.
We can agree to disagree if you loved this episode, but as for me, I think the writing of Chuck's ...Goodbye is too painfully an instance of art imitating life. Chuck, the show, didn't beat the odds this time when it came to staying alive and so Chuck, the character, wasn't allowed to beat the odds one last time either. I was looking for better than that and I'm sad that I didn't find it :( I'll probably be sad for a while that such a novel show full of such amazing characters isn't going to be there for me anymore. And that, in some ways, when the camera panned back for the last time from a beachside near Burbank, those characters weren't there for each other either, facing oblivion as they've faced everything else for the last half a decade. Together.