I watched what was to be the original third season finale of Chuck
last night.  I say “was to be”, because NBC greenlit six more episodes
during production of the initial thirteen.  Already deep enough into
the season’s run when the announcement was made, the show runners were
unable to alter the storyline they had already plotted out so they
could stretch it out over the six extra episodes they now had at their

So, what we’ve gotten instead is a season finale with a side order of
season 3.5.

As much as I like the show, I have to be honest – after watching last
night’s episode I’m not sure if I really want to see the upcoming six
still on the docket.  Since the latest installment was written to
function as a season finale, it pretty much served its purpose.  In
fact, it did its job too well; “Chuck vs. the Other Guy” worked
perfectly as a series finale.  I mean, the writers literally tied up
every hanging plot thread into a nice, neat, little bow:  Chuck is
officially a spy, he got the girl, Casey has his job back, Morgan knows
Chuck’s secret and he is now an official member of “Team Chuck”.  You
couldn’t ask for a tidier and happier cap to a fun three seasons of
off-the-wall spy comedy.

And that’s the main reason why I’m wary about watching the six episode
mini-arc coming up.  Anything they do from here on out will feel like
it undoes or spoils everything the show has already worked hard to
achieve.  And at this point, if the writers throw any more romantic
entanglements at Chuck and Sarah, it will feel like it was done just
for the sake of creating more conflict between the two characters.  
This would undermine anything else that the storyline is trying to
convey, leaving me wondering if maybe it wouldn’t be better if the
show stopped now, with its note held high.  Maybe this is the perfect
place to ground Chuck for good.

But, despite my hesitations, I’m still very much eager to see what 3.5
has to offer.  Already a couple of nuggets have been revealed to
sweeten the pot – mainly in regards to guest stars.  Throwing in Fred
Willard and Swoozie Kurtz as a Heart to Heart-style spy couple and
Christopher Lloyd as Chuck’s therapist is practically enough to get me
back without a second thought.

Because really, at the heart of it all, the real reason why I’ve stuck
with this show for three seasons is the characters and how the actors
play them.  It can certainly be debated that the show itself isn’t that
good.  I will even agree that the show has dipped in quality over the
past three years.  The already wobbly premise that drives Chuck has
been whipped around hard over the course of the show’s run, leading to
episodes that require you to suspend more than just your belief.  But
despite the hard-to-swallow plots of a lot of the episodes, it always
comes back to the characters for me.  Chuck has a rich tapestry of
colorful characters, and each one of them is entertaining as hell.  I
enjoy watching how each character handles the outlandish situations
more than I do watching the situation itself play out.

That said, I suppose that is the only saving grace I’ll have when the
rest of the extended season (and possibly the series, if NBC doesn’t
renew due to the constant drops in ratings) airs in three weeks.  It
really won’t matter whether or not Chuck manages to take the air
right out of the proverbial balloon with the next six episodes.  I’ll
be too busy enjoying how the main cast handles it.