Chuck 4.13 Review (spoilers)

And that, right there, was everything that's great about Chuck.

Well, in the last ten minutes, at least.

Two weeks ago I said I thought Chuck had run its course and that it was time for me to accept that.  Last week I was so disappointed that I didn't even bother to write a review.  My expectations for this week, which had been promoted as the original season finale and which co-creator Josh Schwartz had said was the best episode of the year, were pretty low.

I disliked the proposal story.  I disliked the Sarah going bad story.  I really didn't see how the culmination of those two plots could, in any way, appeal to me.

I was wrong...more or less.

If I had one real problem with this episode, it was infiltration of Volkoff's ship.  Whenever they put Morgan in the field, I cringe.  There's no advantage to it and, in fact, only bad things can happen.  The idea that Chuck would take Morgan with him makes very little sense during a "season" in which the writers have constantly had characters do things that don't make sense for the sake of the plot.  I think Morgan is a great character, but they really need to stop doing this; it stretches the suspension of disbelief beyond its breaking point.

Thankfully, they limited the damage to believability done by the "Sarah has gone rogue" story.  I was relieved to see them quickly dispose of any notion that Chuck might actually be worried that Sarah was going bad.  As much as I dislike that story as it stands, it only would have been worse had we gotten scenes with Chuck wondering if Sarah had really switched sides.

Initially, I had a problem with the fact that Volkoff was able to untie himself so easily, but then I realized that this was also a part of Chuck's plan.  He needed to give Volkoff the upper hand to get certain words out of him.  That said, how long were his men going to wait for him outside?  I mean, he was knocked unconscious at one point.

Also, it's worth mentioning that Timothy Dalton has been fantastic this entire season.

The Last 10 Minutes

So why was the last ten minutes so great?  Well, allow me to break it down:

1) Chuck's Plan

There's nothing like a good reveal and it's even better when it ties together different aspects of the show.  And it's always great to see Chuck succeed at being a spy.  Honestly, I think this is part of the reason why this show can't bring in new viewers: Chuck pulling off this grand plan means a lot to those of us who have been with him from the beginning, but it would mean absolutely nothing to those new to the show.

Incorporating every member of his team in the plan and actually using Morgan in a way that's believable made it all but perfect.  Invoking his father was brilliant.

2) Jeffster

Sure, it could be argued that someone would have stopped them before security showed up.  And, sure, as always, there are more instruments in the song than they are actually playing, but who cares?  It's freaking Jeffster.  The song was great, although their reasons for performing it were even better.

But the absolute funniest moment was when Casey heard the music and knew who it was.  "Jeffster."  Classic.

3) Family

I have long maintained that the show's secret weapon is Ellie.  She is the heart of the show.  Without her, Chuck would be entertaining, but it wouldn't have the depth that it's capable of.  It makes me wish I had a sister.

It was also a nifty piece of symmetry to have the team rally around Chuck and then switch to having them rally around Ellie.  And the way they had the larger group break off into smaller groups was perfect.  We went from one large, extended family, to three smaller, just as important families.  It was just a fantastic bit of execution.

Tying the entire season with a bow in the shape of Chuck's father was exactly what this season has needed.

4) Emotion

I know the emphasis in the Chuck community lies in the very last scene, but I can't be the only one who got choked up when Mary Bartowski entered her daughter's hospital room.  Ellie's reaction is just so perfect it's giving me goosebumps just thinking about it.

Add to that Casey's grudging evolution as a father (and person) and, of course, the proposal, and the last few minutes of this week's Chuck had more emotion in it than the previous 12 episodes combined.

5) Balance

For the first time all season, Chuck achieved balance.  There has been so much emphasis placed on Sarah and Chuck that it has overwhelmed the show; it's become white noise, really, with no moment seeming any more important than any other.  The fact that we weren't beaten over the head with it all episode made the end all the more poignant.

In fact, if I have one real question about this episode, it's this: Would the ending have been better if we hadn't been bombarded with proposal talk all season long?  What if it had been introduced and went away?  Everyone watching the show was expecting this episode to end with a proposal, but imagine how great it would have been if we hadn't?  Would this past season have really lost anything?  Or would it maybe have been better, more balanced?

The only real flaws in this episode were a result of what had come before, so as it stands on its own, it's almost perfect.  Unfortunately, it doesn't stand on its own.

The Future

Really, the next 11 episodes of Chuck are a blank slate.  I would imagine that Mary Bartowski will be sent to D.C. to clear her name and report on her mission, so Linda Hamilton will be moved off screen, at least for a bit.  I would also expect to see her back periodically.

I really want Chuck to come clean to Ellie about being a spy again and I really want Ellie to tell him she already knew.

Obviously, we have a new baby and a wedding to plan, so I would imagine those two things will take up some screen time, although, again, I hope they try to maintain a better balance than they have so far.

I can't help but wonder if we'll see Volkoff again leading up to the season finale.  They brought Shaw back last year when they got a back order and they actually had to resurrect him.  Volkoff's just in jail.

I'm hoping this episode marks a turning point for Chuck.  I hope that the marriage and the baby will be handled a bit more smoothly than the proposal.  And I'm really hoping we get some spy related drama like we got in this episode.

Some more viewers would be nice, too.