I’m not going to do this countdown justice. I love “Chuck” too much to be able to do it with any real objectivity. It’s probably my favorite show of all time and I didn’t watch it until a few years after it ended. Yet, it still remains as my standard for what television, what entertainment, hell literature, should be. It’s smart, witty, doesn’t take it self to seriously, but always delivers the right kind of emotions when you need it.
It’s self-aware and unloads oodles of fan service. Hell, at one point they had Linda Hamilton from the “Terminator” series show up and actually say “Come with me if you want to live.”
It flipped the script on the standard action drama. Instead of the girlfriend being the one needing protecting, and the guy being emotionally distant, they flipped it. Sarah Walker was this amazing bad ass, super spy, who was constantly saving Chuck’s ass, while Chuck was the one helping Sarah open up her heart for new opportunities.
Fucking priceless. And now the truly devastating part, there is no such thing as “ten best” episodes of Chuck. What constitutes best? Action? Comedy? Drama? Romance? Sandwiches?! This show did it all. And there is no “bad” episode. There’s not even many “average”. Every episode is worth watching several times, and I know, I’ve done it.
So how do I pick just TEN? (I don’t, I hella-cheat.) I look at the episodes that did all the best things you want from “Chuck”. The best jokes, the best use of Jeffster, the best use of the Buymore, the best use of drama, action, hope and sadness. It wasn’t easy. It still isn’t. And yes, I do go into some spoilers, so head’s up, but I save a few that you just need to see with your own eyes to truly feel. Unfortunately you can’t just ‘Netflix’ this show, which is actually a major reason why I’m going to eventually cancel my subscription, but if you’re at all a little internet savvy, you can find it no problem.
Chuck vs. The Colonel –
– Chuck and Sarah are on the run, with Casey hot after both. The goal, arrest Sarah and throw Chuck in a bunker before he can rescue his father. However, the turning point of the episode is finding out why Casey would chase down his old team. It wasn’t that that Casey gets promoted to Colonel and sought another promotion, it was that he was upset for not being asked to join the off the books rescue attempt.
“You made three crucial mistakes, Bartowski. You didn’t know you were being tailed for the last half hour, you didn’t bring nearly enough firepower, and you didn’t ask me to join!”
Plus, there was a great, albeit short fight scene between Casey and Awesome, in which Casey acknowledges that Awesome has a good right hook, “…for a frat boy.”
Chuck vs. The Dream Job –
– What can be said about Chuck’s dad? Stephen Bartowski finally returns to Chuck’s life after years away, so Chuck can try and get him to come to Ellie’s wedding. This coincides with a Chuck going undercover at Ted Rork’s company. Throughout the events of the episode, Chuck believes Rork is creating another Intersect, and tries to stop him but runs into his father along the way. It’s the big revelation for season 2, Stephen Bartowski is the Intersect creator, Orion. And oh, what a heart breaking ending. Something this show did surprisingly ALWAYS.
Chuck vs. The Cubic Z
– In what was a de-facato sequel to episodes “Chuck vs. The Cougars”, and “Chuck vs. First Class”, both of the episodes villains, Nicole Richie and Stone Cold Steve Austin came back to the series to take on the spy-couple. It turns out Stone Cold’s Hugo Penzer was there to kill Richie’s Heather Chandler. A big brawl breaks out and WWE fans even get a special treat, as special guest star Stacey Kiebler popped by for an episode, and the two engaged in an awesome, albeit brief confrontation.
Chuck vs. the First Fight
– Oh my. Chuck and Sarah get into a fight over how to handle his returning mother, who is painted as a traitor. In order to prove her innocence Chuck finds her old handler, an MI-6 agent named Gregory Tuttle, played by former James Bond actor Timothy Dalton. In a great bit of fan-service, which this show loves to do, Dalton ends up being a bumbling secret agent, one who hates to be in the field. The episode, as previously stated, ends with a massive heartbreaking twist.
Chuck vs. the Left Overs
– Season four’s main villain Alexei Volkoff comes over for Thanksgiving. Yup. The main villain of the season stops by with Chuck’s mom for a post-Thanksgiving “leftover” meal. I can’t go into this episode much without spoiling heavily.
Heads up folks, after this, we get SSUUUUPPPERRRR SPOILEY.
– The series had to end, we don’t agree with that, but it did. In “..Goodbye”, Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) is dealing with the fact that she has none of her memories anymore. None. She no longer remembers how she feels about her husband anymore, and worse yet, the man who wrecked her life is trying to blow up everyone involved in the Intersect project. There’s only one device left, and either Chuck can give it to Sarah and restore her memory (but nullifying the effects of the Intersect), or use it on himself in order to gain the knowledge to disarm a massive bomb. Chuck, as always, does the right thing and uses it on himself so he could save the day again.
Despite not having her memories of Chuck and her time with him, she finds herself on the same beach from the pilot, where she told Chuck to trust her. In a twist of events, Chuck is there to comfort Sarah. He even proposes to her an idea where they kiss, to see if it helped her jog her memory. Despite all the things going on, she feels something about Chuck to go ahead and try the kiss. Does it re-jog her memory? Does it start a new five-year journey where Chuck woo’s Sarah all over again? We don’t know, but most of us want to believe that Sarah “came back” in that final moment of the show.
Like I said, this show kicks you in the heart-balls all the time.
– Season five was supposed to build up to and bring back Daniel Shaw (Brandon Routh), easily the biggest villain of the series, but due to scheduling issues with “Dylan Dog” and his new series (which got cancelled), he was only available for one episode. The original series finale would of gone down the same way I’m told but with Shaw being the guy that costs Sarah her memories and not the lack-luster Quinn. In this return episode we get some real hilarity. From a General hitting on Santa, to Beckmen making out with Chuck. However, Shaw spent most of the episode conversing with Sarah, as he held her in the team’s spy bunker. Shaw ends up taking on Chuck in a rematch from season 3, only with Chuck lacking the same device he relied on to defeat him the first time. Will he succeed? Watch and find out.
– Why did Bryce Larkin (Matthew Bomer) send the Intersect to Chuck? Why did Bryce lie and get Chuck kicked out for cheating? Can Chuck deal with the memories of his past? It’s a trip down memory lane and god, the knife gets shoved in just a little bit.
The team arrives at Stanford due to a teacher, who was recruiting students for the C.I.A’s. Intersect Project, getting attacked for having private information on his person. It turns out that the teacher that got attacked was at one time, going to recruit Chuck into the C.I.A., something Bryce was trying to stop, in order to keep Chuck safe (more on that later).
At the end, we find out why Bryce got Chuck kicked out of Stanford all those years ago. In a scene that I watched several times, mostly with tears in my eyes, Bryce pleads with the professor to leave Chuck alone, and let him live a normal life. When the professor tells Bryce there’s nothing he can do, Bryce ponders if Chuck would still be perused if it was believed he cheated.
And in that moment it all clicked. Chuck realizes Bryce framed him to protect him, and keep him out of the reach of the Intersect Project, something he wouldn’t fully be able to do.
– Vivian Volkoff (Lauren Cohan) is fed up with people using her, and seeks to cause some serious harm. Using a device her father Alexei created, she attacks Sarah from a distance, resulting in Chuck and Sarah’s wedding being halted. Eventually the team realizes they need Alexei in order to save Sarah before it’s too late.
Chuck is forced to either be a good agent or save the love of his life. He chooses the latter, obviously. In betraying the CIA, Chuck is left out on a proverbial island with only Team Chuck, and Sarah’s ex teammates to aid him in a stand off with the villainous Clyde Decker (Richards Burgi). With no way into the hospital to save Sarah, Clyde moves in to arrest Chuck for treason until private Russian mitary paratroopers land and take up arms against the CIA.
John Casey made this scene so damn funny.
The ending, with that classic Chuck-gut-punch, swerves you one last time for the “LOLZ”.
It was the culmination of four years of “will they, can they”, that ended in a moment of blissful exuberance. It easily could of served as the series finale but thank god it didn’t, because even “bad-Chuck” is still better than 99% of other t.v.’s “good-anything”.
– Ellie’s wedding to Awesome is at hand, and Chuck, Sarah, Casey and Stephen are there to support their friends and family. However Ted Rorke (Chevy Chase) isn’t quite dead yet, and is there to screw things up.
The wedding is ruined, but Chuck, again, does the heroic thing and not only saves the day, but gives Ellie her dream wedding. Fun fact, Captain Awesome was supposed to be a sleeper agent but they changed it because fans loved him so much, and in the last few episodes of season two, we really see why.
It wasn’t just the wedding that made this episode, but the bigger reveal of a far reaching villainous agency working in the back ground, the death of a major character, and the sad yet sweet moment when Bryce asks Sarah if she was going with him or staying with Chuck that compounded into a very bitter-sweet episode.
The true moment though came in the early part of the episode when Bryce reveals he was protecting Chuck at Stanford at Stephen Bartowski’s (Scott Bakula) request. Bryce did everything he could for the Bartowski’s. Everything.
– This episode will make you ball. This is the saddest episode ever. You’ll cry. There is no hope for you. There is no way out. This is it. Crying. Tears. Shaw proves he’s king-douche, and Routh establishes himself as a damn fine actor.
THAT IS ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW!
4) Chuck vs. The Sandworm – (Season 1, Episode 6 – October 29th, 2007)
– Oh this episode, what a sweet sweet, yet horrifying episode. Chuck helps an escaped asset named Laszlo Manhovski (“Young and Hungry’s Jonathan Sadowski) when Chuck spots him on the board walk. The two quickly ‘bond’, with Laszlo relating heavily to Chuck’s ultra guarded and surveillance life, and Chuck getting an idea what it must be like for someone who has no true freedom; a reality that Chuck is constantly plagued with in the early seasons.
Chuck eventually realizes that Laszlo is mad, and tries to stop him, but in doing so almost ruins his career advancement opportunity with the Buy More. Morgan though steps up and tries to prevent it. Despite Morgan going to bat for his friend, he fails and Chuck loses out on the promotion. All of this, despite Morgan feeling neglected from his best friend. The episode, which is a Halloween episode (there by the best kind of episode), culminates with the two best friends making up and celebrating Halloween in their classic “Dune” sand-worm costume.
This episode really did a lot of subtle things, like showing Sarah’s level of affection for Chuck, beyond just as his handler, Morgan and Chuck’s unwavering brotherly bond, and the subtle realization that one small mistake could get Chuck thrown into the same kind of hole that Laszlo was in.
– Where it all starts. Buy More (basically a green Best Buy) employee Chuck Bartowski is living with his sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and her fiance Devon a.k.a Captain Awesome(Ryan McPartlin), working as a “Nerd Herd” specialist (Geek Squad), with his best friend Morgan Grimes (Joshua Gomez) until one day his old friend from college, the very one who got him kicked out, Bryce Larkin sends Chuck a data file with an old video game. That game is a cover for the Intersect, a device that gives Chuck the ability to “flash” on secret government data that exists togther no place else, and is instantly recalled up on viewing a trigger.
Chuck is unsure who to trust, CIA’s Sarah Walker, or NSA’s John Casey (Adam Baldwin). It’s the episode that set the standard. Chuck, a geeky goofball nerd, who needs Sarah to protect him, begins his journey into a world of lies and spies, while trying to keep his every day life intact.
To think this series started nearly ten years ago makes me oh so upset. While there are more exciting and more emotional episodes, you have to include any series premiere that launched such an amazing show. Plus, Chuck shuts down a bomb with the help of a porn star virus called the “Irene Demova Virus”, which, is just amazing.
– If I said “Season three was my favorite!”, I’d be dramatically underselling season three to you. Season three of “Chuck” was perfect. We get the introduction of Daniel Shaw, Casey loses his rank, Morgan finds out about Chuck’s double life, we find out more about Sarah, it’s a thrill ride.
Yet the season finale really ups the ante. Chuck is dealing with the effects of the Intersect malfunctioning on him, the gang is on the run, and they’re all still reeling from Shaw’s devious murder of one of their own. Everyone is fleeing, from Beckmen, to Ellie and Awesome, to even Casey’s newly discovered daughter, whom Morgan instantly gravitates to. (Oh, that’ll pay off in season four, trust me).
But the end showed Chuck taking on Shaw in the best boss-fight for a non-“Arrow” series I’ve ever seen. The drama, the hatred, the acting, the backstory, it was truly perfect.
Beyond that though, we get Chuck interacting and having great scenes with his sister and girlfriend, The Ring meet a bitter end, and Jeffster was creepy. I haven’t mentioned Jeffster, but they’re awesome. Fuck it, they’re all awesome.
– Sarah saves Chuck, that is practically every episode up until this point. And why shouldn’t it be that way? Sarah’s too good at what she does to need saving. Even as Chuck believes Shaw had gone rogue (…um…yeah), he flies in with a full unit of soldiers to save Sarah (he even brings a tank). It’s all for not as Shaw is apparently forgiven Sarah (watch the season for why!) and isn’t as intent on killing Sarah as previously thought. (Phew!)
Chuck, having hoped to save Sarah and prove to her he’s a real spy, so that they can be together, gets demoted, and mopes in his apartment quoting John Hughes movies after tying up Morgan. The drunk and sugar filled Chuck only snaps out of it when Sarah comes by. After three seasons of false-starts, dramatic and emotional break ups, the moment finally comes. The moment we all were waiting for…Sarah tells Chuck how she really feels about him. The good vibes weren’t long though as Shaw then abducts Sarah and plans on killing her in the same spot she passed her ‘Red Test’ at(again, just watch the season for more details!).
Chuck arrives in time, with Casey in tow, and begin a battle throughout Paris. The end of the battle sees Chuck apparently kill his first person ever (a point of contention for Sarah and Chuck earlier), to save Sarah. Sarah, worried that Chuck wouldn’t be “…my Chuck” anymore if he killed someone, is overwhelmed by the love he has for her, resulting in them finally becoming a couple in the one city Chuck has always wanted to visit. Oh the emotions!
Besides the official launch of both Chuck’s relationship with Sarah, and his rivalry with Shaw, this episode was riddled with just amazing moments. From Morgan being the one to point out Shaw’s treachery, to Mark Sheppard appearing as a head Ring official, to Morgan and Chuck’s not-so-fight, this episode had it all and really highlighted the amazing depth this show can showcase in a single episode. Nothing was rushed, everything was given time, the pacing was perfect and the payoff was well earned.