‘Chuck’ Season 4 Finale Review & Discussion

Published 4 years ago by , Updated May 16th, 2011 at 10:38 pm,

chuck season 4 finale review discussion Chuck Season 4 Finale Review & Discussion

Chuck has been teetering on the verge of cancellation since its inception way back in 2007. Yet, despite so-so ratings (to put it mildly) and the shadow of death dogging it at every turn, the super-spy-comedy hour has managed to survive for – as of last Thursday’s renewal announcementfive seasons.  Pretty impressive, when you think about it.

Tonight’s season 4 finale, “Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger,” will see the titular main character join forces with arch-nemesis and the original intersect Alexei Volkoff (the awesome Timothy Dalton) against his daughter, Vivian Volkoff (Lauren Cohan of Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries fame), to save the life of Chuck’s fiance and spy partner, Sarah.

Whereas the entirety of season 1 and 2 as well as the majority of season 3 were about keeping Chuck and Sarah romantically apart – will they or won’t they times a billion – season 4 has been building toward the pair’s wedding.

Despite not being on par with the nearly flawless quality of season 2 (a perfect combination of eighties-esque action and comedy if there ever was one), season 4 has been far more consistent than season 3, and never anything less than damned entertaining. “Major props,” as the young people call them, should go to fantastic supporting cast members like Timothy Dalton (James Bond #4), Ray Wise, and Linda Hamilton (Terminator 1 and 2), among others.

chuck versus the last details Chuck Season 4 Finale Review & Discussion

Last week’s episode, “Chuck Versus the Last Details,” saw everything go right for Chuck (that’s a change). He stopped the bad guys, saved the good guys, and all in time to make it back for his rehearsal dinner. That is, until Vivian Volkoff remotely zapped his fiance with her Norseman weapon, rendering Sarah nothing more than a convulsive heap on the floor – and a barely alive one at that.

Will Sarah die in agony like everyone else who has ever been zapped by the Norseman? Probably not, but the only way to find out is to watch the season finale…


chuck versus the season finale chuck and sarah wedding vows Chuck Season 4 Finale Review & Discussion

As if there were ever any doubt, Chuck did it. Again. Despite suffering from continually declining ratings, the spy-comedy wrapped up every one of its plot threads from season 4 to deliver one of the better season finales – not to mention episodes, period – in the show’s history.

Everybody was on their A-game tonight, including Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Adam Baldwin, Timothy Dalton, Joshua Gomez, Linda Hamilton, the writers, the producers, and, heck, even show creator Josh Schwartz. The jokes were great, the action was packed, the emotions were intense, and the music was perfect. Save for a few issues here and there, “Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger” was pretty much a flawless experience all around.

From the jump, the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been for Charles Bartwoski. His bride-to-be is about to die a terrible, agonizing death and has the jaundiced face to prove it. Thus, Chuck is desperate and determined to do whatever it takes to save Sarah’s life – even breaking into a maximum security U.S. prison to retrieve and work with the “evil” Alexei Volkoff, the only man alive with the means to save Sarah.

Of course, this plan immediately goes south, as we’re introduced to a new villain named Clyde Decker – the CIA’s toughest son of a gun as played by Richard Burgi (Desperate Housewives) – who has already moved Volkoff and intends to imprison Chuck and Casey if they don’t cooperate. When Chuck begs Decker to let them save Sarah first, Decker says no. Needless to say, they do not cooperate.

chuck and hartley winterbottom aka timothy dalton aka james bond Chuck Season 4 Finale Review & Discussion

Seriously, so many things happened in this episode, one can scarcely keep track of them all (SPOILERS ABOUND):

  • After the intersect is stripped from him, Volkoff becomes plain, old Hartley Winterbottom, a kindly scientist from the eighties who was friends with Chuck’s dad
  • The intersect is ultimately stripped from Chuck, too, and we’re left with an intersect-less protagonist
  • Chuck and Hartley team-up to find Vivian Volkoff, who, it turns out, has the antidote
  • Thanks to Hartley, Chuck manages to turn Vivian back from her evil ways and she gives him the antidote
  • Chuck blackmails Decker into leaving him and his friends alone forever, then quits the C.I.A.
  • Chuck returns to Sarah just in time to give her the antidote
  • Chuck and Sarah get married; Hartley and Vivian’s wedding present to them is all of Volkoff’s assets ($877 million!)
  • Chuck and Sarah buy the Buy More
  • Decker reveals to Chuck that everything that has happened to him has been a part of someone’s plan — a conspiracy — but doesn’t expand further
  • Chuck, Sarah, Casey, and Morgan decide to start their own freelance spy agency
  • Morgan puts on a pair of sunglasses meant for Chuck containing the intersect, accidentally turning himself into the intersect

But more powerful than the plot developments (of which there were many) was the surprisingly emotional tone of the episode, thanks to exchanges like: Sarah’s brutal and poignant wedding vows to Chuck; Chuck’s somehow more brutal and poignant wedding vows to Sarah; Morgan’s hilarious yet sad retelling of the way in which Chuck protected him from bullies back in elementary school; et cetera.

However, my favorite exchange by far was the one between Chuck and Casey, after Chuck lost the intersect and was doubting his ability to save Sarah:

“But Casey, they took the intersect out of me!”

“Shut up. You’re Chuck Bartowski, the second best spy I’ve ever worked with. Now you’re gonna go save the best.”

Referring, of course, to Sarah. This is the kind of thing that made “Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger” so enjoyable. That exchange was four years of surprisingly extensive character development neatly packaged inside of just two lines of dialogue. Two simple, effortlessly-acted, and fantastic lines of dialogue. Way to go, Adam Baldwin.

Despite the glowing nature of this review, we still had a couple of problems with the finale — nothing too terrible, but they’re worth noting nonetheless.

chuck versus the cliffhanger clyde decker Chuck Season 4 Finale Review & Discussion

First, if Decker is such a terrible and scary bad guy, where has he been up until now? We only needed to see him (or even hear about him) once or twice earlier in the season to accept him as a major player in the C.I.A. As it is now, he felt more like a last-minute plot device thrown in to get the main characters from point A to point B to point C and so forth.

Second, we still don’t buy the massive, nearly overnight personality change for Vivian Volkoff seen earlier in the season – from kindly, horse-loving Vivian to evil daughter of Alexei Volkoff Vivian. As such, it’s even harder to be moved by her shift back to the light side of the force, so to speak. If not for the general awesomeness that is Timothy Dalton, this part of the episode would have fallen flat on its face. Thank heavens, then, for Timothy Dalton.

One can only speculate what season 5 might entail, but our best guess says it’ll be The A-Team meets Mission: Impossible meets, well, Chuck, as Chuck and his buddies are their own bosses now. Are Decker and the C.I.A. the new bad guys? Hopefully. “Chuck’s entire life has been one big government conspiracy!” will almost definitely be the main storyline. And while Chuck no longer has the intersect in his head — he’s “the second best spy” Casey’s ever worked with, so he doesn’t need it anymore — there will no doubt be plenty of intersect-related hijinks involving Morgan in his place.

chuck versus the cliffhanger morgan knows kung fu Chuck Season 4 Finale Review & Discussion

“Guys! I know Kung-fu!”

We can’t wait.


Chuck’s final season will return next year on Fridays @8pm on NBC.

Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.

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  1. It was everything I was hoping for, perfect. I can’t wait for season 5, and to see Morgan as the intersect.

  2. I agree. The sign at the church was a nice and cruel touch. Didn’t see Morgan getting the intersect though.

  3. When I saw Morgan pick up the glasses I said “No…don’t do it!” Cause I love seeing Chuck as the intersect. However, when the camera was looking down at him I said “Guys, I know Kung Fu”….within seconds Morgan said the exact same thing and my family looked at me like I was nuts. I had to explain it to them…silly family…lol

  4. did he marry or not!tell me

  5. Season 4 had its ups and downs. Last night’s finale left me somewhat disappointed and frustrated. What bothers me the most is that the Intersect can now be put into, or taken away from, anyone with the greatest of ease. You don’t have to be “special” anymore, as Chuck’s dad had told him. Does this mean Elly’s work with her father’s computer was all a waste of time?

    Morgan made such a big deal about being Chuck’s Best Man, but it turns out that he actually married Chuck and Sarah. What’s this all about? Is Morgan an ordained Minister? Also, Chuck and Sarah’s relationship has been building up for four years. It’s what kept us all watching; will they get together, or not? But it seems that their wedding was more of an afterthought; “Oh, by the way, Chuck and Sarah got married.” Very disappointing that they did not spend a little more time on the wedding. Who walked Sarah down the isle? That was a big issue for her, but we will never know.

    Last week, the writers said that Morgan wanted to get out of the spy business, because of his relationship with Casey’s daughter. Now he is the Intersect. What’s up with that? Inconsistency.

    The Decker character was just an afterthought to tie everything together.

    Are they now going to bring Chuck’s dad back to life? Seems this is what Decker was insinuating.

    Vivian Volkoff turning all goody-two-shoes in an instant? Horrific writing. Come on guys…

    The finale did have some good points, but they were few and far between. I just hope the final 13 episodes are better thought out and written as in the first three seasons. And please, have the Intersect put back into Chuck’s head where it belongs!

    • I agree the Intersect needs to be in Chuck’s head and needs to be harder to remove or gain.

    • That was a truly epic season finale, carefully set up for either outcome regarding the renewal of the show. Had that been the last ever episode it would have been the perfect ending.

      Despite saying that, I am really pleased the show has been renewed. So long as when it does finally end it is as brilliantly finished as this season was.

      This is my opinion regarding to the comments made by GK3.

      Intersect being freely inserted/removed – maybe in an ideal world the only Intersect would belong to Chuck but it does make sense in the story arc. To begin with Chuck got the Intersect and they could do nothing about it, but over time this will change. Shaw managed to download the Intersect when part of the Ring so it makes sense that the CIA has the same capabilities. They allow it to remain in Chuck as it proves useful but when it he turns on them like he did in the last episode they take it away. Gives it a different angle rather than Chuck just being able to defeat anyone in his path. Chuck can still be seen as special, maybe his Dad knew about the greater plan mentioned in the last episode.

      Morgan being minister for the wedding was brilliant, and the scenario of a friend conducting the ceremony has been used in countless TV shows so does not seen ridiculous. The whole episode was about the wedding, glimpses of the practice as well as the ceremony towards the end. It’s not overly important who walked Sarah down the aisle and I would not want to watch a whole episode basically consisting of just the wedding.

      Yes Morgan said he was out the spy game but he didn’t knowingly put the Intersect into his brain. Could make for some good storylines next season so long as they avoid the nerd-turning-into-a-spy saga that we have already seen. Instead see him half-enjoy it but feel guilty at the same time. Likelihood is that Chuck won’t be without the Intersect for long. I imagine that Chuck will choose to not have the Intersect but for some reason (maybe in order to save someone’s life?) he will get it back. Although it could be taken from Morgan, I would like to see them both have it fighting side by side.

      The greater plan/conspiracy really intrigues me, maybe his Dad is still alive, maybe he just was aware of the conspiracy. Who knows – looking forward to finding out though.

      I agree with your view of Vivian taking over her father’s role. It was hardly believable at first when she turned bad but this was helped by the scenes showing her still reluctant to killing and having someone do it for her, coupled with the argument that it was in her DNA. It now is clear it is not in her DNA (in fact the opposite) making the whole saga ridiculous. But then sometimes you just have to go with it, like in the case that we all acceptable it is possible for information/abilities to be transferred into a person’s head.

    • I basically agree with what GK3 said. The writing this season totally sucked, IMO. There was no real drama or stakes, just Chuck and Sarah romance with some Dalton over the top villain in the mix. I doubt next season will be any better. Thank God for season 1-3.

  6. I wonder if we’ll get a spinoff “Morgan”

  7. Can’t wait till next year. I loved the finale and look forward to Morgan as the intersect. Great review.

  8. loved season finale!! morgan as the intersect is gonna funny lol cant wait till next season =))))

  9. Sigh… I both loved and hated the finale… For the most part, I really enjoyed it, but I think the whole Intersect being turned on/off/removed has gotten to be a REALLY tired plot point. I understand a couple of times to force the upgrade or move a particular story plot, but they have gone to the well one too many times on that one. And also, Morgan with the intersect? While he is a loveable character, it simply doesn’t work for me. In my opinion, it’s just a way to roll the show back to earlier days of the guy with the Intersect that is bumbling and lacks any confidence in himself which I think is a mistake. While that version of Chuck (the character) is gone now, that’s the whole point of character development… He’s walked that road, and become the man he is now… And I feel that they have just cheapened that by trying to roll it back via Morgan. If they are going to go forward with Morgan really being “the” Intersect, then I am kinda glad Season 5 will be the end. :(

  10. Parts of this episode were awesome and parts kanda let me down but i guess its hard for the writers to end the season when they habe no idea if its the finale ever or if there will be another season

  11. I for one am not a fan of Morgan now being the Intersect. We’ve already spent a couple seasons watching an awkward geek learn how to use the Intersect and be a spy, we don’t need to go through that all over again. Morgan is better in small doeses and not as a field agent, he shined when he was working support from Castle.

  12. It was a good episode, but please please please put the Intersect back in Chuck- I love him as it! And I agree that I don’t really want to watch a replay of what happened to Chuck, happen to Morgan. He’s better as the clumsy nerd. Not too happy, but loved the first 3/4!

  13. jeez , do you all really think Morgan is going to keep the intersect in him, there is now way and lets remember there is something in chucks dads computer that down loaded into ELI also.

  14. CHUCK as Intersect please!

    And just a thought, since Chuck’s mom had the Intersect removal sequence and knew about Agent X, why didn’t she already try it on Volkoff, well Hartley, sooner if it is as easy as watching the removal sequence?

  15. Love it until the part about Morgan being the Intersect. If that’s the schtick of season 5… hmmm… maybe they are running out of ideas!

  16. I agree with some of the comments. The show was good until that point. Morgan as the intersect is not good. Right now I am loosing the battle to get myself to watch the next season

  17. i for one loved it brings something different to the show we seen chuck be the intersect for 4 seasons now lets switch the roles around and make morgan the intersect and chuck the no 2

  18. I rewatched the episode and come to think of it Morgan probably will only last a couple episodes with the Intersect, and that will be hilarious, and Season 5 could be pretty good! Keep watching and who knows maybe the ratings will go up and budget increase ;) Not disappointed anymore!

  19. This show really needs to wrap up. Has gotten to boring, Chuck and Sarah go through the same thing every day, telling us all how much they love each other. Boring.

    They should give jeffster their own spin off show.

  20. I have to agree with one thing…….they have pretty much destroyed the original premise of the show, that being how “special” being the intersect is (was). THAT was the whole basis on which this show was built; Chuck accidentally gets the power and it starts him down the spy road. So if all they had to do was flash him, why the hell didn’t they remove it in the beginning? Giving and taking the Intersect has now become as simple as changing ones socks which is just wrong imho.

    I’m also not too sure about the whole “spy for hire” thing either. Do you really risk your life now that you are filthy rich? idk.

    That aside I did like them bringing in Richard Burgi. I haven’t really seen him since The Sentinel (yes I KNOW he was in Desperate Housewives) ……and Morgan being the Intersect could be a lot of fun (for a while)

  21. I hate that ending with a burning passion. I love Morgan as a side character, but him with the Intersect would be an awful story line, as he isn’t complex enough of a character and will never draw the same emotional connections that Chuck did. If the Intersect is simply taken out of Morgan and put into Chuck, which is probably what will end up happening, then the season finale will have been completely pointless and irrelevant. Either way, the writers dug themselves a hole with that ending. In my opinion, the only way the plot could be salvaged is if the next season starts off with Morgan attempting to fight Casey and Casey beating him up, because Morgan wasn’t “special” enough for the Intersect. Then either Chuck could get the Intersect back from the glasses (I don’t know if that would work, is it a one usage kind of thing???) or there could be a few episodes about Chuck trying to get the Intersect back. Ugh. Not a fan at all of that ending.

    • @nop : the intersect files are erased after uploading.

    • Can you believe how much the show has changed though? Season 1 & 2, were about Chuck liking Sarah and him not knowing if she liked him back. It was also about Sarah and Casey always having to protect Chuck, and Casey hated Chuck. Season 3, Chuck evolves into an intersect who can handle himself, and Casey becomes backup. Chuck starts dating Sarah and at the end of Season 3, Morgan, Devin, and Elly are all involved in Chuck’s spy life. Season 4 was about Chuck proposing to Sarah and them getting married and also Casey and Morgan becoming good friends and Morgan joining the crew for missions. The writers know exactly what they are doing and all their changes seem to be for the better. This has got to be my favorite show ever

  22. I am a massive fan of chuck which i only actually started watchin about a month or 2 ago and watched almost all episdoes in about a week or 2 because i was hooked on it but unfortunately i found the finale to be a rather rushed episode as if the writers thought they hadnt done alot so they had too suddenly magic all the bad guys into good guys without actually doing anything and as for Morgan being the intersect im not overly fond of the idea even though he is by far my favourite character of the show he was always better as a side character rather then the main character

  23. I was out of town ahd had to wait 6 days to see this!!! It was killing me!!!

    My reactions, the show was PERFECT. It put things back on track from the Season 2 end. When Chucks father sent the text with the house and lab location, and the whole family was now aware of the SPY stuff, it looked like Elly was going to become the matriarch and they would all continue the fathers work as a team. Then the story line just fell apart.

    Now Elly, and Awesome know all the Chuck details. They have the medical background to figure out part of the Intersect, and Chuck has the technical background. They have the funds, they have some underground support, and they have the Buy More and Castle.

    Next, you have Morgan. Right back to the innocence of Chuck V1.0 As for his personal life, its a full circle back to Chuck in season 1. I think it give the show a chance to COMPLETELY REINVENT itself, and possibly pull in a whole new set of fans.

    A-Team meats M.I. Not sure, more like Si-Fi Channels version of Burn Notice. Hope that the writers can get enough of a strong story arc in 13 shows to pull a crowd in. I can see so many great new episodes being spawned by this!

  24. Many dont like the idea of morgan sporting the intersect, but i think youre expecting the wrong formula next season. morgan will not be the main character even with the intersect, it will always be chuck. and probably unlikely but this could actually be the chance for chuck to really learn skills for himself, instead of the intersect carrying him. as well, i think morgan’s intersect gain will only be a novalty storyline sported atleast for a third of the season. as for chuck trying to get the intersect back, im not sure he’ll want it back. chucks always been the guy that just wanted to live a normal life and rid the intersect. although later on he accepted the fact that he was destined for the spy life, but i still dont think he actually TRY to get it back. maybe if at some point the opportunity presents itself and he downloads it for the sake of his responsibility to; as well, chuck might teach morgan how to balance his life with the intersect, as this is finally an opportunity to show inner conflict within morgan. season three brought out a three-dimensional version of morgan, and one that can be played with now. again, however, i think morgan’s situation will be far from the focus of the season.

  25. Morgan with the intersect ? its totaly out of picture. if Chuck doesn’t want the intersect anymore, why he doesn’t destroy it ? ow no don’t !! or the series will over, give it to Morgan? wow, Morgan become a super spy, and chuck…just an ordinary spy who was the intersect. the main story line will change totaly, first time i watch this series its about Chuck and the intersect, and how the intersect has change his life. if Morgan become the new intersect, its totaly strange becuz who is the super spy and who is the sidekick?, first the intersect was actually made by his father to Chuck, and so its totaly not make any sense if morgan could handle the power of the intersect, we all knew that the intersect could cause insanity of its host if its not match except the intersect for Shaw, the intersect was made for him by Ring but still no Intersect will match the power of Chuck’s Intersect. And finally, Morgan will be the super spy and Chuck, just a spy name Chuck. and what next ? the three will protect Morgan? what the heck? congrats now the series title will be Morgans instead of Chuck anymore. it will totaly change the course of the story. and i will lost interest of this series. But, above all, its just the closure of season 4th where Morgan can taste the powerful intersect even just for minutes before he freeze out and then they have to strip out the Intersect again before Morgan become insane. i think that will happen on next season. Morgan will be just morgan, its lucky for him just to be the sidekick, please don’t make him the super spy. the audience will lost interests. Including me. next time give it to Sarah, its still acceptable.

  26. Hi i personally hate that ending because Chuck has always been the intersect and with morgan its becoming very repetitive i think thats stupid so what chuck doesn’t get his intersect back and morgan becomes the new Chuck no WORST ending ever!

  27. i LOVED this show until morgan got the intersect… no point in watching it now… change the title to morgan please.. its no longer chuck