Chuck season 4 episode 24 review: Chuck Versus The Cliffhanger: season finale

Will bad spies and super-villains stop Chuck from making it to the church on time in the season 4 finale?

Until very recently, this episode could have so easily been the last ever Chuck, but now a fifth season beckons. I mention this, because, quite clearly, the thumbs up for another season caused this Chuck to get rather heavily altered in post-production.

As such, it ended up, in parts, something of a mess, where the main storyline ends five minutes early, before a bolt-on ending sets up the next season.

I also can’t hide more than a slight disappointment that so little was actually made of the wedding itself, as the potential for that event was enormous. Subsequently, none of the peripheral Buy More characters got any real part in this ending, and considering how much fun their characters have given to the show, this seemed a major omission and possibly a slight insult to those characters.

Yet, even if I was generally dissatisfied with the content of this story, it wasn’t without the sort of moments only Chuck can deliver. The homage to Street Hawk was charming, even if at the end of that sequence the idea that Chuck would make his getaway with Hartley Winterbottom on a 250mph motorbike without a helmet was pretty stupid.

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The reappearance of the CATs was a pleasant surprise, if a little superfluous, but who else would Sarah ask to be bridesmaids?

Richard Burgi was inserted as a suitably cunning Agent Clyde Decker, but why was it necessary to introduce a new baddy for the final story? It may be that he’ll be a nemesis for the coming season is the only answer that makes any sense to me.

If that’s not the case, then surely Chuck’s upset enough people in four seasons to find one that wants revenge, other than Vivian Volkoff. I’d have loved to have seen the return of Harry Tang, but I guess Dexter has C.S. Lee all to itself these days.

As has happened very often lately, it came down to Joshua Gomez to pull this one out of the fire, and his comic timing was uncompromised. Timothy Dalton was also great, and easily the best guest star the show has contracted over the past four years. He should get more TV work from this, because he’s an excellent actor and knows when to apply the ham thick.

But despite the lack of references, no reception performance by Jeffster, the non-appearance of Sarah’s father, and a dozen other things I’d seriously expected to be here, they succeeded in turning it around for me in the five minutes before the credits rolled.

The trick here was actually how they managed to change everything, while leaving all the critical parts of the Chuck motif intact. Okay, so the hook they introduced that the past four years were just parts of a plan, and the hint that Chuck’s father was still alive were a little cheesy. But the emergence of a fully independent Team Bartowski was pretty amusing, as was the location in which the intersect ultimately ends up.

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How this all plays out come October is anybody’s guess, but we’ll get at least another half season of Buy More special offers at the very least.

The only blot on the horizon is that NBC has effectively limited the future of Chuck by moving it to Friday night, like Fox does with shows it doesn’t like. However, the ability of shows like Fringe to survive the death slot shows that it’s not a guaranteed end for those that go there.

Season 4 hasn’t been the best Chuck season yet, but it’s had enough classic moments to keep this reviewer watching, and for me to be keen to see it return.

Read our review of episode 23, Chuck Versus The Last Details, here.

You’ll find all our season 4 Chuck reviews here.