Chuck Vs. The Post Mortem: Show Bosses Spill Series Finale Secrets, Say There's More to Come
Well, Chuck me. It’s all over.
NBC’s beloved spy comedy wrapped up its five-year run on Friday night, with a first hour that was full of thrills and chills and a second episode that, in the very end, was full of heart. Which finale scene was set in stone a while back? What hidden “Easter eggs” might watchful fans have caught? And perhaps most critically, what should we make of that closing scene? Series creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak answer those questions and others. (But wait, there’s Buy More! The show bosses also reveal how fans can count on getting extra bits of the Chuck saga down the road.)
TVLINE | What did you always suspect would be in the series finale did in fact end up in the finale? Was it Sarah losing her memory, Chuck getting the Intersect back…?
CHRIS FEDAK | When we were working on this season of the show, we knew that the beach scene, which echoes the beach scene from the pilot, would be there. And we knew that in this case it would be Chuck trying to help Sarah. We were always heading in that direction.
JOSH SCHWARTZ | And the idea this year of taking the show back to basics – in the sense that it was going to be Chuck without the Intersect, and returning the show to its roots in that first season. That beach was the place where Chuck and Sarah first forged their bond, so it seemed like the perfect way to bookend the series.
TVLINE | After screening the finale, I made a point to rewatch the pilot, which of course brought so much stuff into focus. You had the callbacks to the Mexican restaurant, the Wienerlicious, the tango and “Irene Demova,” and you did a veritable shot-for-shot remake of the Bryce escape/fight sequence. Were there more-subtle callbacks that people maybe didn’t catch?
FEDAK | I didn’t even realize this, but when Sarah wears the Wienerlicious uniform, she actually has a little necklace with a hot dog on the end of it. I only now realize that it was there all this time.
SCHWARTZ | The score that plays when they’re at the Mexican restaurant together is the same score that played in the pilot.
FEDAK | Another thing is that throughout the run of the show, Chuck and Sarah have had a cue that [Chuck composer] Tim Jones created – a very emotional, kind of warm-hearted cue that we use in scenes where its just Chuck and Sarah talking about their relationship. It’s always been an open-ended cue, and in the final scene Tim closed it off. That’s a beautiful, delicate moment.
TVLINE | Was that the same beach?
FEDAK | Same beach, same spot. Everything was the same except the weather, which was bad [for the finals shoot]. [Laughs]
TVLINE | You did a really nice job with closure for all of the characters, including Ellie and Awesome. And you turned Jeffster! from the usual novelty into the most unlikely of heroes.
SCHWARTZ | I think that in their own mind, they’ve been heroes all along, so it’s just the rest of the world catching up to the potential that Jeffster! has. Them becoming a successful rock act in Germany feels pretty inevitable, doesn’t it?
FEDAK | Having Jeffster find out about the spy base and having them save the day was something we wanted to do. And once we knew that this would be the final episode, for our fans who love these characters so much, we wanted to give them closure. Act 5 was the one we really didn’t mess around with all that much. It was the one we knew that if we were going to have to take time out of the episode, you had had to keep Act 5 protected.
TVLINE | Any behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the finale shoot? I have to imagine landing a helicopter on a street can go sideways fast.
SCHWARTZ | [Laughs] Well, you don’t want to mess around with a helicopter. We did a lot of amazing stuff in those final two episodes, and one of the reasons this show is possible is because of the amazing production team we had. Robbie Duncan McNeil, who was our in-house directing producer, is featured in the episode — he is the other commando inside the helicopter with John Casey. Robbie was an actor on Star Trek: Voyager, and this is his first time on TV in many years, so it was great to see him up there.
TVLINE | If I gave you an extra hour for the finale, what would you have done with it?
SCHWARTZ | The original [cut] was almost an extra hour longer.
FEDAK | It’s true. Chuck episodes sometimes come in a little long — not this season as much, but this one came in quite a bit long. We actually got it a little bit of extra time from NBC for it.
SCHWARTZ | Some of the additional scenes will be on the DVD.
FEDAK | That’s right, we actually have a longer version coming out on the DVD.
TVLINE | Simply extended edits of scenes or also new entire scenes?
SCHWARTZ | You’ll have a couple of entire scenes. It will be eight minutes longer. And there are extended scenes within Act 5. It will be nice.
FEDAK | So even after tonight, there will still be the opportunity to see some new Chuck.
TVLINE | I was speculating that we’d see Steven J. Bartowski; I was never convinced he died. Was that one of the cameos you had to let fall by the wayside, just for time?
FEDAK | We have thought a lot about, “How can we bring him back?” But in the end it was so much more important that [his death] was a real moment in the show.
SCHWARTZ | We loved him — Scott Bakula was the best — but someone’s gotta stay dead on this show!
TVLINE | Or, boom — there’s your premise for a TV-movie a couple years from now.
SCHWARTZ | [Laughs] I like it!
TVLINE | Do you have a handshake agreement with everybody that one day you’ll all reconvene, when the time and idea is right?
SCHWARTZ | I think it’s an unspoken agreement. I think everybody would pick up their pocket protectors and Converse sneakers and come back to do it all again.
TVLINE | What do you hope the show’s legacy is?
SCHWARTZ | We’ve been thinking a lot about this. First of all, the relationship that the show had with its fans is something really unique. And I think, also, it was an original story. It was a show that combined a lot of different elements and genres into something that hadn’t been seen before, and that’s a harder and harder thing to get done in a world dependent on pre-sold titles and known quantities. So for us, the originality of the show clearly spoke to those individuals out there in the audience who also felt unique and original. And the final thing I’ll say is it was the story of a guy who felt he had all this potential but never lived up to it. A guy who felt he had the promise to be something better than he was when we first met him. This underdog, this nerd, who’s thrust into this life and lives up to it and becomes a hero spoke to people. A lot of people saw themselves in Chuck, and want to believe that if given their own opportunity they could also become a hero.
FEDAK | The only thing I would add is that this show was fun. It was designed as a cure-all for your Monday–
SCHWARTZ | Or your Friday
FEDAK | Or your Friday, for less people. But we tried to make the most fun piece of television you could imagine, and it was a pleasure to do it.
SCHWARTZ | We’d hear from so many people who said they could watch the show with their whole family, that it was something they could put on for an hour enjoy and smile.
TVLINE | Now the big question: Did Sarah get her memories back with that kiss? Or is that open to viewer interpretation?
SCHWARTZ | You gotta leave it open — right, Chris?
FEDAK | That’s the way I feel about it. I think it’s certainly a happy ending, but I also think that we like a little bit of ambiguity. Leave it up to the Chuck fans to take their own individual impression away.
TVLINE | But are you braced for any moans and groans from slightly disappointed diehards?
SCHWARTZ | They’re always out there, and we’re always ready for them.
FEDAK | But I do hope they feel very satisfied. I think the ending has a bit of magic to it. People should believe in how they wanted it to end.