“Saved the best for last.”
– Chuck

Indeed you did, Chuck. The third season concludes with its most solidly entertaining hour. Like “Predator” and “Dream Job” before it, “Ring: Part II” plays like a comic book brought to life. All the elements are there: a David-vs.-Goliath battle between good and evil, a clever plan aimed at dismantling an enemy organization, an epic final battle between the hero and his nemesis, and a cool twist at the end. Our favourite characters have been put through an emotional wringer. Now, it’s time for them to fight back.

If you haven’t already, make sure to read the disclaimer.

After Morgan, Devon, and Ellie successfully rescue Chuck, Sarah, and Casey (by accident), our favourite characters are faced with a choice: live a life on the run or stay and face the consequences. Running away has been a persistent theme throughout this season, and it seems as if that’s is exactly what our favourite characters intend to do. However, as she usually does, Ellie brings everyone back to reality:

“Devon, what are you talking about? This is not us. We don’t live off grids, okay? We are regular people; we live on planet Earth, and my father was murdered today! Our father, Chuck. I’m calling the police; it’s what regular people do.”
– Ellie

Casey prevents Ellie from making the foolish mistake of using a phone while being pursued by the authorities, and Ellie still doesn’t want to accept what is happening to her. So Chuck explains everything to her: his spy life, who Sarah and Casey are, and what their father did. Ellie can accept all of that – she can even accept that Chuck is going to try to take down the Ring – under one condition: after this mission, Chuck leaves the spy life. Chuck reluctantly agrees.

“Chuck, I made a promise to protect you, and I can’t do it, not from this.”
– Ellie

It may seem a little extreme for an older sister to ask her younger brother to quit his job, but consider this: Ellie has seen nothing but the negative side of the spy world. She was poisoned by an enemy agent, a series of lies caused tension in her marriage, she was manipulated by a rogue CIA agent, and another rogue CIA agent murdered her father. She hasn’t seen her brother decrypting weapons codes or apprehending arms dealers; she isn’t aware of the good that spies can do.

But Chuck must set aside that concern for the moment. Our favourite characters are ready to fight. They infiltrate the espionage conference where Shaw is making a presentation, and using his trademark geek skills, Chuck leads his team through a risky plan, tricking Shaw into revealing his allegiances and the identities of the Five Elders. But whereas the Chuck of the past would have been frantic in such a situation, our current Chuck stays calm and composed, ready for a fight.

Unfortunately, the Intersect isn’t. It’s on the fritz, and only a timely intervention from Sarah can save Chuck from dying at Shaw’s hands. Chuck and Sarah have become an incredible duo. Part of the reason is that they’ve finally learned how to compartmentalize. Earlier in the episode, when Sarah sees the severity of Chuck’s condition, she wants to abort the mission. Chuck convinces her not to, and she agrees. The Sarah of old wouldn’t have. But Sarah is now confident enough to set aside her feelings for a moment, think rationally, and realize that the best way to save Chuck’s life is to send him back into danger temporarily.

Sarah has also become more proactive. As Chuck rests in Castle after his near-lethal bout with Shaw, she vows that she will get the Governor back from Shaw. Remember the old, passive Sarah from season 1, the one who ran out the clock on deciding whether to run off with Bryce or stay in Burbank? She’s gone. Sarah is now a woman of action. So when Shaw captures Morgan at the Buy More, she readies herself for a fight.

Unluckily for Sarah, the Buy Morons have other plans. In order to escape from the Buy More, Jeff sets off a “Pineapple” situation. (Tee hee!) In the ensuing chaos, Shaw takes Sarah captive. However, Sarah isn’t a damsel in distress. When Chuck walks into the Buy More, he’s there not to rescue Sarah, but to face off with Shaw. What follows is an Intersect-vs.-Intersect battle (set to the most ridiculous music video on the planet, courtesy of Jeffster!) Shaw clearly has the upper hand, and when Chuck hits the floor after what looks like a knockout blow, it looks like the evil mastermind has won.

“You’re special, son.”
– Stephen

Chuck, however, is having some weird visions of his past. He remembers his father’s dying words before flashing back to his childhood. Without going into detail, the gist of the flashback is this: Chuck uploaded an Intersect as a kid. (OMG! LOLWUT? WTF? BBQ!)  Who knows (or cares) what that means? The point is that Chuck has some sort of flash reserves or something…I don’t know.

“Just had to reboot.”
– Chuck

And like that, Chuck is back on his feet, ready to face Shaw with a clear head. Chuck triumphs this time, holding Shaw by the neck. Killing the evil bastard might be justifiable – after all, he killed Stephen, tried to take over the CIA, and attempted to kill the members of Team Bartowski – but Chuck doesn’t do it. He won’t sink to that level. Sarah admires him for it. She knocks Shaw out cold, grabs the Governor from his wrist, and embraces Chuck, relieved that their troubles are finally over. (It’s probably a good thing that Chuck didn’t kill Shaw. Without the Governor, Shaw will succumb to insanity. Maybe Merlin could be his roommate at the CIA psychiatric ward.)

“There’s nothing more important than family.”
– Chuck

After the events at the Buy More, our favourite characters gather together for a dinner to celebrate the life of Stephen J. Bartowski. The five people about whom Chuck cares the most – Ellie, Morgan, Devon, Sarah, and Casey – have become a sort of family. They’re a wacky family of doctors and spies, but they’re a family nonetheless. (Doctors and spies, eh? That reminds me of this.)

If Chuck had ended at that moment, it would have been a suitable series finale. The entire extended Bartowski clan was together, a romance between Morgan and Alex was blossoming, and everyone was relatively happy. But then what would we have to look forward to for next season? It turns out that Stephen had left a video will to be delivered to Chuck posthumously. Apparently, Orion wasn’t just a cover identity; it was Stephen’s life. Orion was an independent spy, a vigilante superhero of sorts. Below his childhood home, Chuck finds his father’s secret spy cave, filled with strange-looking devices and shelves of spy dossiers. At the centre of the room, Chuck finds an old, broken necklace sitting on a desk. He recognizes the piece of jewelry, and as Chuck says the word, “Mom?” the camera pans to a case file labelled: “MARY ELIZABETH BARTOWSKI: MISSING.”

Wow, what a closer to a great season of television! And that concludes my Chuck rewatch. Rambling on about my favourite current TV show has been fun, and it has helped me see some aspects of the show in a whole new light. I’m looking forward to season 4, which premieres on Monday, September 20th at 8 PM on NBC. If you’re not watching it, you’re probably a loser.