Not unlike its central character, Chuck is a show that has faced death on many occasions, only to stroll away smiling after a last-minute save. Despite low ratings, the show has skirted cancellation every year due, in most part, to a loyal group of fans (with some help from NBC's across-the-board ratings struggles). But now the end has finally come, as the spy comedy unveils its final thirteen episodes.
The last minutes of Chuck's fourth season rolled out several game-changing elements that force the show to re-organize a bit and some get a little bit more pay-off than others. Operation Bartowski was terminated by the CIA and now Chuck and his buddies have broken out on their own, using the Volkoff fortune that was left to him to start up their own independent spy company, Carmichael Industries. What's more, Morgan now has The Intersect software in his head, due to some accidental posturing with a pair of special sunglasses intended for Chuck.
The first few episodes of season five struggle with pacing and a few of the bombs dropped in last season's finale are quickly dispensed with as if the writers just got bored with them. Still, while things get of to a bumpy beginning, there are some definite high points. Carrie-Anne Moss pops up in the second episode as a former rival and love interest of Casey's, as well as the owner of a competing spy company. She's a wonderful addition to the show and the chemistry between her and Adam Baldwin is incredibly fun and refreshing after season four's continuous sidelining of John Casey. Also, it's really great to see Chuck's struggle to define his new role as the head of Carmichael Industries, without The Intersect. I'm still not crazy about the continued involvement of Clyde Decker (Richard Burgi) and his claims that Chuck and Operation Bartowski were a small piece in some big conspiratorial puzzle, but the Big Bad's of Chuck seasons have never really been the show's strong suit. Still, despite its flaws, it's nice to have a farewell romp with Chuck, Sarah, Casey and Morgan before they leave us behind for good.
Season five of Chuck premieres Friday 7pm on NBC.