Chucks finds Shaw and Sarah, and as the sound of a firefight breaks out in the background, we know Casey has found the director of The Ring (one of the happiest casting surprises of the season!) and his operatives. It isn’t a flash of the intersect that led Chuck to Shaw, but his natural propensity for puzzles, his ability to understand data and patterns- the things that got him into Stanford, the things that make him Chuck. And it isn’t an experimental government pill or zen-warrior training downloaded into his brain that enables him to shoot, and kill, Agent Daniel Shaw. It is sheer emotion- his love for Sarah, the realization that promising you would do anything for someone, and then stepping up and doing it, cannot be two separate things. Indeed, true to his nature, Chuck brings it down to the wire, trying with desperate earnestness to talk Shaw out of crossing this line, to save his career and life and give Daniel a chance for redemption. It is only once this has failed and Shaw cannot turn back that Chuck himself presses forward, doing that one thing that in three seasons he has been unwilling and unable to do.
‘Chuck vs the Other Guy’ is not just about Chuck taking on Shaw. It’s about Chuck taking on Chuck and becoming a real spy. He assembles his team, he takes necessary actions, he does it all for the right reasons. He finally puts to bed the panic and indecision that has plagued his graduation from playing at being a secret agent- and adult- and really being one. And he does it knowing that the act of saving Sarah may lose her to him- since it took passing his Red Test for Sarah to truly give up on him. Killing another person was Sarah’s bottom line, the act that signified the Chuck she’d fallen for was gone forever. Learning it had been a hoax, that Casey had completed Chuck’s Red Test for him, was visibly one of the greatest reliefs of her life, a beautiful moment from Yvonne Strahovski. We all know that these events can’t possibly go over well when he recounts them to her, although we also know that somehow they must, since the pair can’t come out of this with any remaining doubts about their love or need for each other.
We’re not disappointed. Neither is Sarah, who sees Chuck’s actions for what they are- the attainment of maturity motivated by love, not the attainment of rank motivated by the nagging self-doubt of boyhood.
It would have been a brilliant end to the season, and possibly the series, and for Chuck fans will stand as a landmark episode. The quality of the storytelling here is unsurpassed by any previous episodes. and the entire cast and crew should be extremely proud. Fans should be excited, also, as Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz said after the episode that, being given a further six episodes to film for the season, they had no recourse but to step up their game and meet the new standard they had set for themselves.
Fans of John “How Did I Get To Be This Good Looking” Casey (I can come up with these aaall day) have a lot to look forward to, as we’ll be seeing follow up on the matter of his family in these six new episodes, as well as Casey back in uniform. It was a gratified and enthusiastic crowd that greeted the Chuck cast and creators as they ascended the stage at Wonder Con, just as I’m sure it will be a similar viewing audience tonight who rallies for a fourth season. Zachary Levi besought the fans to watch it live, and tell their friends to watch it live, especially the ones with a Nielsen box. Or just hack Nielsen. If they’re going to give us more episodes like ‘Chuck vs the Other Guy’, or just maintain the level at which Chuck has been operating for the past three years, I’d say it’s the least we can do.