Before finding out that Chuck was renewed for a fifth and final season, I was worried that "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger" would live up to its title and leave us all upset when the show was canceled by NBC. Fortunately, we will get 13 more episodes to conclude the series in a way seen fit by creators Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz.
So when "The Cliffhanger" ended the way it did, with Team Bartowski all fired by the CIA, the group as freelance spies, Chuck being told all that has happened to him was an elaborate plan, and Morgan downloading a new intersect, I thanked my lucky stars that it didn't all end like this.
As a season-ending episode it was fantastic, but a series finale? It would have been disappointing. Never to see Morgan show off his kung fu skills, which he so perfectly uttered to the crew in Chuck season two finale fashion, would have been brutal. Now we will get to see our favorite spies go rogue, and they will do it with the help of an intersected Morgan Grimes.
On the other hand, if it all had ended around 8:50 p.m., I probably would have wished it had been axed. Immediately following Chuck and Sarah's wedding, everything was wrapped up quite nicely, and I was satisfied with it ending right then and there. Sarah was saved from the Norseman, the two love birds got their happy day, and the Volkoff story also came to a nice conclusion.
One of my main concerns was that they weren't going to be able finish the Volkoff/Hartley business before the end of the season, but stick a pair of sunglasses on him, and it makes things a lot easier. Having Clyde Decker* swoop in and take Volkoff away did two things: It sped up the "Chuck has to save the man his father ruined" story, and it also created a nice obstacle for Chuck and the gang to overcome in order to save Sarah before the end of the episode.
*Decker was played perfectly by Richard Burgi, who is a household name in the Forcella household because I was a big fan of his roles on past favorites Las Vegas, Harper's Island, Point Pleasant, and his infamous time as Kevin Carroll - aka Alan York - on the first season of 24.
And the fact that Chuck was trying with all his might to save the woman he loved was one of many reasons why "The Cliffhanger" was just a great episode in and of itself. It covered all of the bases of the Chuck Triple Threat, and for the first time managed to make me believe in Vivian Volkoff as a character.
The scene in which she is struggling to figure out who she is and what she should do next as Chuck and Hartley plead with her was very well done. Lauren Cohan played scared - but in desperate need to please her father, and yet also with a new found love of power - extremely well. I'm glad Vivian made the right decision and gave Chuck those 50 or so Russian spies, so she could leave this show on a high note.
That moment when all the Russians came down from the sky was momentous, but it was not as nerve racking as watching Sarah fight for her life in an ice cold tub at the emergency room. The honor for best action of the night was once again held for John Casey after he took care of Decker's men with the old table flip move.
Speaking of the Colonel: how funny was that Reagan bit? Here's a question. Who loves Reagan more? John Casey or Jack Donaghy of 30 Rock? Tough one. While they didn't try too hard to land a bunch of jokes, they didn't have to because Timothy Dalton playing an innocent scientist just episodes after seeing him as the ruthless Alexi Volkoff was comedy gold. Add a bunch of great Morganisms, like the fact that he likes to improvise his spy moves and getting choked up during Chuck and Sarah's ceremony, and it was a very funny episode.
Those flashbacks? Come on! That's why I kind of wish they ended it right there. How are they going to be able to top that from a chills stand point? It must have been much colder in my apartment than normal because the hairs on my arm started to stand up during those Chuck and Sarah moments. It was a very sweet wedding, but the memories of a simpler time, and a not so simpler time, were what made it that much better.
So where does the final 13 episodes go? It goes wherever Morgan Guillermo Grimes says it to go, thank you very much. Now that he is the intersect, he will lead the way. Are we all on board with the fact that Chuck should have no intersect in the final season? It will just be the perfect way to finish his evolution as a spy. Like Casey said, he's the second best spy that the Colonel ever worked with. He is a great spy now, so he doesn't need the help of the intersect. Morgan still does.
What did you all think of "Chuck Versus The Cliffhanger?" Did it satisfy you as a season finale? Would you have been upset if it was the series finale? And what do you expect to see next season?
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.