I think I should write down my thoughts on the ending and everything right now. Warning, there's some profanity ahead. This isn't replacing mxpw vs. Frea, either. These are just my thoughts. After the break.
I get that a lot of people hated the finale, and trust me, I understand why, and I certainly don’t begrudge them that. You come into a novel or a movie or a TV show with certain expectations and it’s the writers’ job to either keep to those expectations or keep you around with THEIR expectations.
The writers changed the gears on us, guys. For five seasons, we’ve always had epic build-ups that basically led to neutered resets. The one time anything was lost was when they pulled the trigger on Orion, and you could argue that every single person on the show has come back from the dead at some point, so you can’t even trust that. Therefore, the writers have set up this expectation in their fans, unwittingly, that they’re going to build up epic stakes (I’m trying to use the real word for epic here, not Fedak’s) but we all know it’s going to be a ride into the sunset.
This didn’t happen here. They actually pulled the trigger and they made the mistake of pulling the trigger on the fan-favorite character of Sarah Walker. They didn’t shoot her and kill her; they did something that’s arguably much worse. They killed what made us fall in love with her and teased us that that quality might be there or might not be.
So three episodes before the end of the show, the writers changed up their game. I watched Angel, though I hated David Boreanaz with a passion. Two episodes before the finale, Spike and Angel took off to Rome to try and woo Buffy. It was kind of a closure episode, I guess? Anyway, I hated it. I loathed it. They were building toward a finale, so what the F*#! are they doing, wasting time in Rome? I want all my characters to get their closure, dammit. The funny thing about that episode is that it’s hysterical. It brings back Andrew in a way that made me giggle (hi, Tom Lenk!), Spike and Angel were riding a moped, so on and so forth. But the fact that it was so close to the finale, when I felt they should be focusing on other things, means that I hated it. And I see a lot of the same thing happening here. The fact that Sarah’s losing her memories right before the finale? Who besides Jeff has a flame-thrower? This is not a story you tell at the end of the run; it’s something that goes at the beginning of a season if you’re going to do it at all.
In addition, I’m going to get personal here. I lost somebody in my life who had Alzheimer’s. It is all kinds of devastating for everybody. There’s nothing that can really match the feeling of being forgotten by somebody you love. In my situation, a stroke took him before he truly forgot everything, but it’s still hard. It was hard on my mother, and it was hard to watch.
SO FUCK YOU, FEDAK. FUCK YOU.
That said, once I put the fact that they robbed Sarah of her memories aside, I actually enjoyed the series finale. My friend Ayefah said that it was like watching Sarah completely rebuild herself in two hours, and honestly, I agree and I enjoyed that. I loved the fact that the memories were there somewhere (how could they not be?), I loved watching Sarah analyze her life and make decisions on what information she had and be smart about it. I loved watching Sarah kick ass in ways we haven’t seen in awhile (she didn’t need an Intersect). There were some great call-backs to the Pilot and Helicopter, Tango, all of the early stuff. Do I wish they hadn’t had to cannibalize their own show to make a great finale? Yes. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying it.
Now, we get to the end. The open-ended “Did the kiss fix everything or not?” Everybody’s arguing because they want a concrete happy ending rather than just the possibility of a happy ending, nobody’s happy because they wanted the book happily closed on Charah rather than left open to write a new chapter they’re not going to get on the screen.
And that’s exactly why I love it.
I’m going to be straight with everybody. I hate the Charah relationship. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love the idea of Chuck and Sarah together. Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski have chemistry that I’m amazed hasn’t melted TV sets. But the Charah relationship for me has been fundamentally flawed since Pink Slip. There’s a reason mxpw was the one to write about most of the later Charah moments because honestly for me, the relationship was soured and it never regained its momentum for me. I hated the “Do you love me?” in Other Guy. Honeymooners was a chore to get through because it was like un-earned fluffy Charah fanfic. My favorite moments are actually Chuck and Sarah just working together because that’s when I could see more of the relationship that I loved rather than these big schmoopy Charah moments. And yes, I turned to fanfiction mostly because I wanted to see a Chuck and Sarah that actually wanted to be together and would be without being walloped without the stupid stick.
Most of the time, I’m left wondering, Why do you two even want to be together? I don’t get it. And that’s not coming out of the PLIs of Season Three or anything. If the person you’re in love with has said no, I think you have a right to try and move on and ensure your own happiness. It’s just a general feeling of “Wow. Chuck is lame. Wow. Sarah’s passive and dismissive again.” Simply put, they were not Mr. and Mrs. Darcy.
And then... in this episode they were. It was amazing. We finally got a mature Chuck that was awesome and I could see why they wanted to be together. We got a rapid evolution of Sarah remembering things and slowly coming back to the Sarah Walker I love (still kickass, still smart, not hamstrung by the idiotic Sarah of seasons 4 and 5), and Chuck actually having a spine. It was fantastic. And even better, they left me with characters I could care about again, and they left me this great story just waiting to happen. If they’d gone the picket fence/golden retriever angle, I could have walked away from the showing going, “That was fine. Kind of lame, but whatever.”
Here, though? I felt like there was going to be more to the story, and I loved it. I know a lot of people don’t, that they wanted to see it all neatly put into its own capsule, from start to finish. But I’ve never felt that relationships have an end, and the picket fence/golden retriever would have been a definite end. Here, it was a beginning, and I loved that.
Look, we can argue until we’re blue in the face about whether or not Sarah’s memories are going to come back completely. Here’s the thing: nobody’s ever going to be right in that argument. Nobody’s wrong, nobody’s right. For me, personally, I’m going to assume the memories will come back. They laid enough out throughout canon and season 5 that I don’t think the Sarah Walker everybody loves is gone forever (I don’t think she was even gone in the episode, even). I’m genuinely sad for Yvonne that she didn’t get the victory lap that others like Josh, Adam, Sarah, and Ryan got, of course. But the story could have been much, much worse, and I’m glad it wasn’t.