Everything comes together in what was originally the 'Chuck' season finale
Last spring, when "Chuck" had no reasonable assurance of a future on NBC, Chris Fedak and Allison Adler wrote a season finale that turned the show upside down. "Chuck vs. the Ring" was a great episode and a terrific season finale, but had it been a series finale? Oh, there would have been grumbling.
Last winter, with no reasonable assurance of any more than 13 episodes for the show's third season, Fedak wrote "Chuck vs. the Other Guy," with some expectation that it would be the season finale and some strong possibility it might be the series finale.
With Monday's (April 5) episode, "Chuck" delivered a near-perfect finale. Leaving aside your feelings on the mechanics which got us to Monday's episode, the 44 minutes that aired on NBC wrapped up the 13-episode semi-season perfectly, delivering both laughs aplenty, but also action, romance and drama. You can look at nearly everything that happened in "Chuck vs. the Other Guy" and see how it flowed organically from the things that happened since the premiere. It wrapped up most major arcs, but also set the ball gently rolling for plenty of adventures to come. But it wasn't a cliffhanger finale or a "gamechanger" finale or any of the things we've come to expect from bubble shows looking to force a network hand.
"Chuck vs. the Other Guy" would probably have served as the kind of series finale most shows only dream about. It didn't complete the journey that the main characters were going on, but it set them down, however temporarily, at a pausing point along that road. If "Chuck" didn't come back, after seeing "Other Guy," you'd have felt as if the mission instigated in the pilot had been fairly executed (with one exception) and that the characters were going to go forth in their adventures on their own.
Of course, a funny thing happened on the way to "Chuck vs. the Other Guy" being either a series or a season finale. That funny thing was NBC's utter disaster of a fall, which somehow added six episodes to the third season. But "Chuck vs. the Other Guy" is such a satisfying ending that it'll be plenty tempting to call the next six episodes the start Season Four ("Look Ma, 'Chuck' got a Fourth Season... kinda!") or the launch of a bridging micro-season (like the "Saved by the Bell" beach season).
[Let's talk a little more about "Chuck vs. the Other Guy" (with spoilers, of course), after the break...]