As far as epic Chuck episodes go, last night’s action-packed hour certainly ranks near the top (if not at the top). To recap: Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) gave birth to a mini-Awesome, Big Bad Volkoff (Timothy Dalton) went directly to jail, Casey (Adam Baldwin) cheated death for the millionth time, Jeffster held an entire hospital hostage with their vocals, and, oh yeah, Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) got engaged! Or did they? Read on as exec producers Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz answer that burning question (among others), tease the remaining 11 episodes (wedding?!) and weigh in on a possible fifth season.
TVLINE | You really must’ve thought last night’s episode was going to be the season finale. You practically left no stone unturned.
CHRIS FEDAK : [NBC originally] only ordered 13 episodes, so we broke the season accordingly. We knew that Episode 13 needed to be designed in a way so that we could [resolve] a lot of the story. We knew we wanted to end Episode 13 with Ellie giving birth and Chuck and Sarah getting engaged. But much like last season, 13 now becomes a launching pad for the second half of the season.
TVLINE | The episode could’ve easily been a series finale.
JOSH SCHWARTZ : Luckily, Chris didn’t listen to me. Because I was like, “Throw it all in there. Weddings, babies — it all needs to happen in this episode.”
FEDAK : It’s true. I held back the [Chuck/Sarah] wedding. We had a lot of conversations about literally getting to the wedding in episode 13.
SCHWARTZ : We felt grateful to be back this season with 13 episodes. You go into it saying, “Let’s play the hand that we’re dealt — make the best 13 episodes possible but don’t expect more than that.” That’s the exact mentality that’s gotten us through the past four years.
TVLINE | So Chris, what was the argument you made to Josh about not having a wedding in Episode 13?
FEDAK : There was so much story to tell — with [Mama B] and Chuck and Sarah and their relationship — [the wedding] was the one thing that we knew we could push. And in the end, if episode 13 had been our series finale I think the engagement was a strong enough moment that it still would’ve worked. Now we have the opportunity to build toward perhaps maybe a wedding at the end of this season — if Chuck and Sarah are so lucky to survive that long.
TVLINE | Are you saying “maybe” because you haven’t made the decision yet, or because you don’t want to spoil it?
FEDAK : I’m saying “maybe” because we’re working on that part of the season now. Things can happen between engagement and wedding. The Chuck/Sarah relationship is the cornerstone of the show and we’re not looking to break them up or throw too many problems at them. But you never know when cliffhangers are going to happen.
TVLINE | Talk to me about the decision to drown out the dialogue from the proposal with the vacuum.
FEDAK : We essentially did the proposal scene in Episode 11. It was a great proposal scene. It was in France, it was romantic, and Chuck essentially said everything he was going to say. So since we felt like we had done the big epic romantic proposal scene, we thought this one should be simple and in a very common place. Still super-romantic but different than what we had done.
TVLINE | Can you put fans’ minds at ease and confirm that Sarah did in fact say yes?
SCHWARTZ : She hugged him right before it faded to black.
TVLINE | But did she say yes?
FEDAK : [Laughs] She said yes.
TVLINE| What happens to Mama B now?
FEDAK : She’s still part of the show.
SCHWARTZ : And you haven’t seen the last of Volkoff either.
TVLINE | Really? Will they be a major presence in the final 11?
FEDAK : They’ll both be in multi-episode arcs.
TVLINE | Can you confirm that Lauren Cohan’s character will turn out to be Volkoff’s daughter?
FEDAK : Lauren is joining the show and maybe she folds into the mythology.
SCHWARTZ : When you have somebody as good as Timothy Dalton you figure out a way to keep him in the show.
TVLINE | Will she figure into a love triangle with Chuck and Sarah?
FEDAK : We’ve done the triangle a couple of times. That’s a very exciting character and that’s a very exciting story that we’re telling but I think you’ll quickly see that we’re going down a different road — something we haven’t done before.
TVLINE | Is Papa Bartowski really dead?
FEDAK : He’s still dead.
SCHWARTZ : We were grateful we got Scott Bakula back to do the voice of Stephen Bartowksi this season.
TVLINE | How will Robin Givens’ character figure into things? I hear she makes Casey an offer he can’t refuse.
FEDAK : She does. She comes into our story in episode 16 and she very much speaks to the mythology of the show. After episode 14 and 15, which are both really fun standalone episodes, we bring back the mythology and what’s happening inside the bigger Volkolff arc — and Robin’s character factors into that. She plays a kind of a foil of sorts to Chuck. But she also knows a lot of things that Chuck doesn’t know. She also has a lot of secrets that are even kept from Gen. Beckman. So it’s an interesting deepening of the spy world.
TVLINE | How are you feeling about your chances for a fifth season?
SCHWARTZ : It’s a nail-biter. Chuck fans are going to have to dig down deep and rally once again.
TVLINE | Will you write the season finale as a series finale?
SCHWARTZ : Luckily this is a path we’ve been down before. We will leave nothing behind, but the door will still be left open for the future.
Want more Chuck scoop? Check out this week’s Ask Ausiello. (You didn’t think I used everything here, did you?)