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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Chuck: "Chuck Vs. The Ring"

Illustration for article titled Chuck: "Chuck Vs. The Ring"
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"Think with your heart. Brains only screw things up."—Chuck, to Morgan

Week after week, I've watched episodes of Chuck, enjoyed myself, then sat down at this very computer and tried to pick apart what I liked so much. Was it the endless barrage of pop culture witticisms? Chuck's ineptitude as a spy—nay, as a person? Sarah's incredible hotness? Casey's ability to make every conceivable facial expession funny? Jeff the pedophile?


But you know… I think it's all of those, though why try to figure it out? The quote says it best: Chuck is, simply, fun. The most fun TV experinece out there. No need to overthink.

So, with that in mind, dare I say that this was a fitting end to Chuck—if this was the final episode ever, I would be satisfied. It sounds almost cliché to say it, but "Chuck Vs. The Ring" had everything. First, the worlds of Buy More and Bartowski household collided—Ellie's worst nightmare—in the most glorious way possible. It starts when Chuck, free to wander around while Ellie freaks out, comes face to face with Ted Roark (notable not dead guy). The man wants his Intersect, and he'll kill Ellie if Chuck doesn't deliver. So dilligent Chuck heads back to the Castle, but runs into Bryce Larkin in the process, who offers himself up as a negotiation chip. The hand-off doesn't go smoothly, so Bryce, Chuck, and Sarah have it out with the big, bad catering guys, only to be saved at the last minute by recently deployed John Casey and his squadron of parachuting awesome soldiers. Crisis: averted. Reception room: destroyed.

But that's not the worst of it. In order to stall the wedding, Chuck asks Morgan to create a diversion. So who should he call? Jeffster, the incredible two-man band consisting of Jeff on keytar, and Lester on vocals. (Or, should I say, Sam Kinison and the Indian Lesbian? Yes, I shall, because that was an amazing line.) Their "Mr. Roboto" was one of the show's finest moments, ending in flares, even! And, inevitably, evacuation due to sprinklers going off. Ellie is, of course, pissed to all fuckin' hell, but Chuck is there to pick up the pieces. He cashes his very generous payout from the government, enlists Casey's team to handle logistics, and sets out to create an even better wedding for the future Mr. and Mrs. Awesome—on the beach, under the sukkah. This goes off without a hitch, and Bryce even manages to sneak a moment in with Sarah, in which she tells him she's staying behind. With Chuck. Cut to commercial.

It was at this moment that a friend of mine said, "Oh, there's still 20 more minutes? I thought that was the end." And, well, it did feel like a sort of culmination. Everything was in its rightful place in the non-spy world—but because Chuck is the kind of unexpected show I love, this wasn't enough, and there were still discoveries to be made.


It starts at the wedding reception (with surprisingly hip music choices). Bryce confronts Stephen Bartowski—see, they knew each other way back when, and Orion actually asked Bryce to watch over Chuck—and tells him he's about to head out. Oh, and that new Intersect is really freaky. Stephen doesn't want to have anything to do with this, but he catches a glimpse of Bryce's handler, flashes (!), and realizes the man was presumed to be dead. Two things with that: Orion has his own Intersect; Bryce is in serious trouble. Chuck, Sarah, and Casey rush off to save him, but not before Chuck receives Orion's (wrist) belt, that awesome iPhone type deal that can seemingly hack just about anything. (Now, even if Chuck has to wait in the car, he can still do stuff.)

In a flurry of activity, the team finds itself in a secret Intersect location—that's what it's really called, apparently—and battling it out with the guys trying to take down Bryce, who has locked himself in the room with the Intersect. (Oh, I forgot to mention that one of Casey's team members double crosses him, shooting Roark and taking out the entire unit. And no, he doesn't work for Fulcrum, but apparently someone else.) Chuck uses the arm calculator to find an entrance into the stark white room, and it's here he sees that Bryce has been shot—but before he goes, he hands Chuck a special key card that will destroy the Intersect. The old Chuck, from season one, would have immediately destroyed the thing. But Chuck has grown up a lot over the last year. He's no longer just a sideline player; he's the real deal, a legitimate spy in the making. And he truly understands that in order to take out these evildoers, he must step forth and retake the Intersect—this time, voluntarily.


What follows is, perhaps the greatest scene in Chuck history. After putting the Intersect back in his head, the evil agents burst in, with Sarah and Casey under their guns. Chuck flashes, but not the usual kind of flashing he does. This one is… black, and sort of empty. Turns out, he's downloading the ability to kick the bad guys' freakin' asses—which he does, almost immediately. Then, standing over his enemies, Sarah and Casey looking on in amazement, Chuck manages only to say: "I know kung fu." To be continued.

There's a part of me—okay, a very large part—that really hopes this show sticks around. I mean, just think of all the awesome stuff Chuck can do, now that he can download anything. (Also, the fumblings! Would someone think of the hilarious fumblings?!) This is also, presumably, the end of Chuck on the sidelines; he's all-in now. But, truly, this was all the resolution I needed. We've seen Chuck grow over this last season, for lack of better terminology, from a boy to a man. He's the kind of person now who is willing to accept the fact that he's got the spy's blood in him. And for the good of the world, he knows he must continue to fight—now as Orion as well. This was a conclusion the show built to over this entire season, and for a series rooted in fantasy, it certainly kept its characters grounded. This was high integrity storytelling, and I, for one, salute this season as one that will go down in the books. So I'm ready to let go.


But that doesn't mean I won't miss Chuckor that I want to go without a fight.

Grade: A

Stray observations:

  • Loved the two meanings of the title: Wedding ring, obviously, but also this new Ring organization. One Ring to rule them all…

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