That was a quick reversal, wasn’t it? The episode starts with Sarah in the hospital, covered in ice, and a second later, Chuck and Casey are outlaws after failing to break Volkoff out of prison. None of this makes any sort of sense, but it positions out heroes in the perfect place for an epic episode. It’s representative of what Chuck has become. Plot is one of the lowest priorities, and contrivances are expected in large doses and the season finale contends for the most in series history. I’m sure most people who have problems with that stopped watching already, and it’s only a small inch that doesn’t bother me that much, so I guess it’s okay. Would I like to see better plots? Yes. Will that happen? Probably not.
The best part about “Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger” is that Chuck was reviewed. If the series were canceled, that would be a messy way to end the series, with another huge game changer and no resolution. Luckily, we still get a fifth and final 13-episode season, though I wonder if another year of NBC ratings failure could bring about more episodes (wishful thinking, perhaps). Morgan is now the Intersect with kung fu while Chuck no longer has the Intersect but instead has all of Volkoff’s money and is the boss of their private spy operation. With a new plot on the horizon about someone shaping all their lives (at this point, I’ll assume it’s not as big in magnitude as it sounds), Decker, a completely new structure, Chuck still has room to grow and have a final season.
As far as the season finale itself, “Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger” had those exemplar moments that the current Chuck lives off, heavy doses of pathos. Looking past the plot, there are some fascinating dynamics going on. Volkoff, now Hartley, comes to terms with what he did, who he is, and what he has the potential to do. These factors swirl around as he tries to make sense of the world around him and more importantly, make a decision about what to do. Similarly, Vivian Volkoff is going through an identity crisis and when faced with her father, now not a criminal mastermind, and Chuck, she struggles with her next move. Ultimately, it’s a happy day as Hartley and his daughter use Chuck’s blank identities to get away and Chuck gets the identity.
I liked, above all, was the team effort. All the characters, minus the Buy More ones and including the Cat Squad, helped in their own way and get a little scene to show how much they care about the group. Even Casey puts aside his dislike of Russians! At the end of the day, I could poke holes to death if I felt like it. But why would I? The episode was touching, it had funny moments, and had a cool ending to lead into the next season.