Top 5 Episodes of Chuck

Well, this is it folks. After five improbable years, Chuck is saying farewell.

The show managed to reach deep into the psyche of pop culture and pay lasting tributes, while at the same exposing viewers to great indie bands through the song selection during emotional moments. Not to mention all the cameos, Zachary Levi getting buff and Yvonne Strahovski in all manner of outfits. Come on. She made a gourmet hot dog cook outfit sexy.

Fans of the show are sincere and while some will say seasons four and five strayed a little from the working formula, I'll give them a pass. Why? Because they were always "on the bubble" so to speak, twice doing a 13 episode season only to find out they had nine more episodes.

Without including tonight's two hour finale, it's time to take a bittersweet look back at the five best episodes of Chuck. Instead of ranking the episodes overall, we decided to pick the best episode from each season. This, of course, works out well since there's five seasons.

Season 5
Chuck Versus the Hack Off (December 9, 2011)

Chuck Versus the Hack Off was the third episode Zachary Levi directed and it was an episode that took us back to Chuck's roots. That is, he got to let his hacker flag fly as The Piranha. What fans didn't know is that Chuck's weapon of choice for extensive hacking was chardonnay. The great thing is that Chuck came off as confident-- but not cocky--in demonstrating his hacking prowess.

He's forced into the hacking situation as a result of Agent Decker, the villain at the time. Decker was looking for a virus that had the potential to cripple the world and Chuck is the one chosen to get it. The leverage is Casey's release in exchange for the Omen, a computer supervirus.

Meanwhile, Casey is in prison with Lester (for different reasons obviously). While it's presume that Casey is the man to be feared, Lester is actually the one who's running the show in prison. Lester is in for trying to poison Jeff again, fresh off his discovery that carbon monoxide poisoning isn't good for you. And he manages to run the show through setting everyone up with free cable.

The great thing about this episode was the Danny Pudi and Yvette Nicole Brown cameos, tapping into the Community Zeitgeist of the time. Pudi was lobbying as a replacement for Lester at the Buy More (even with a stirring rendtion of "Oh, Canada"). Two great cameos from a vastly underappreciated show (in this case Community, although Chuck is underappreciated as well).

There was also the relatively gruesome ending Decker faced. It was almost out of character when it comes to Chuck, but at the very least it rid viewers of his smarminess. Seeing someone get blown up by a bomb at that proximity is a little intense, no matter what show it's on.

Overall, the episode was one of the more solid ones in Season 5. Of course, it doesn't hurt either that Chuck and Sarah get naked in the name of spying. It's pixelated, but still appreciated for both male and female viewers. Season 5 ends tonight (which also ends the series) and this one has been slightly more outlandish than the rest. As I mentioned earlier, I still give it something of a free pass, considering it was only 13 episodes and they had to cram in so much to so few episodes.

We didn't really get to enjoy Morgan as the Intersect as much as we should have. The middle of the season was a little disjointed, especially with Sarah's previously unmentioned child. The ending build-up to the finale was well done though, giving the group a new villain and pitting Sarah against the others.

Season 4
Chuck Versus the Push Mix (Season 4, January 31, 2011)

Season 4 featured a delightful Timothy Dalton in fullout evil villain mode. Dalton will forever be remembered as James Bond, but his turn as Simon Skinner in Hot Fuzz proved that he could play a villain with a twisted sense of humor. There's one point in the episode where they're on The Contessa (a boat) and he offers everyone ice cream. Ice cream on a boat? Yes. Yes indeed. It is a floating fortress of fun afterall.

Sarah has infiltrated Volkoff Industries, where she was tasked with killing Casey. For a moment there, you were worried he was actually killed. He wasn't and his encounter let viewers know that Sarah (rocking it with black hair) working alongside Linda Hamilton to get the information from HYDRA.

Meanwhile, Chuck enlists Morgan in a mission to find the truth behind HYDRA, hoping to bring Sarah back sooner than later. We're given a great montage of postcards, yarn and pictures. Chuck and Morgan rendezvous with Sarah and Frost Queen (Mary) on The Contessa. Morgan does yoga, as evident by his deft maneuvering through a laser grid. Chuck invoked his father, Orion, using his reputation as a way of tricking Volkoff into getting the information he needed.

Ellie gave birth, without the Rusted Root free Push Mix promised by Chuck. The Push Mix doesn't make it to the actual event, leading instead to a special performance by Jeffster! performing Salt N' Pepa's "Push It."

And Chuck finally did it. After struggling to find the best way to do it all season to that point, he proposed to Sarah against the romantic backdrop of a hospital hallway, complete with janitor and all. It was a perfect way for Chuck and Sarah to finally, officially be together

This was THE episode of Season 4. It was the one that made you think the show was actually done and it featured two of the biggest moments in the lives of the characters. You might say it was unlucky number 13, but it turns out it was just the second false ending. It would've been a great series finale if it came to it, but thankfully we were treated to a whole other season of Chuck.

Season 4 was sort of two seasons. The first 13 episodes were all about Volkoff while the latter nine were about Vivian Volkoff. Vivian took over the reigns and showed what happens when power is guided by others less scrupulous than Sarah and Casey. Vivian was sort of an evil Chuck in a sense and Chuck felt guilty for "creating" her. The two seasons evened out in the end, with Chuck Versus the Push Mix being one of the most powerful episodes of the entire series.

By the way, the use of The Naked and the Famous "Young Blood" as the ending song for this episode was perfect.

Honorable Mention: Chuck Versus the Balcony (Season 4, January 14, 2011)

Season 3
Chuck Versus the Honeymooners (Season 3, April 26, 2010)

Season 3 was probably the strongest of all the seasons and Chuck Versus the Honeymooners was no different. It was the series' first train episode and it opened somehwat steamily with Chuck and Sarah ordering days of food service to their car. The two of them off duty and running away, determined to make a go of it without the spy life.

The lack of a spy life lasts for all of five minutes, as Chuck flashes and realizes that also on their train is Diego, a Spanish terrorist. The two of them decide to tackle the terrorists singlehandedly, both denying to tell the other in the interest of keeping out of the spy life. Clearly both are a little reluctant to give up the life they've lived for so long.

Ellie and Awesome were (at the time) en route to Africa, leaving a newly reinstated Casey to start his memorable team-up with Morgan. The team-up started with Casey explaining to Morgan what Chuck and Sarah were probably doing off-grid. It's a humorous explanation. They manage to find their colleagues just in the nick of time, helping them fight the true Russian spies who used to work with Diego and are now hunting him and the undercover Interpol agents guarding him.

And of course, like so many other events, Chuck manages to miss Ellie's going away party. The two reconcile and Chuck and Sarah manage to be spared being reprimanded as Morgan pours his heart out to General Beckman. And don't forget Sarah breaking out the Texas twang.

Again, Season 3 was the strongest of all the seasons and was the first 13/9 set-up (13 episodes in the can and then another nine added after the fact). Brandon Routh as Shaw was phenomenal and his past with Sarah made it even more memorable. This was the season where it all came together and really made you confident that Chuck was hitting its stride.

And Shaw was just downright evil. He constantly got into Chuck's head, either through his past relationship with Sarah or by just being manipulative. Making him an operative of the Ring was a clever way to extend the season and keep him relevant at the same time. This was my favorite season of all of them and you could even it say it represented the apex of Chuck as a show.

Honorable Mentions: Chuck Versus the Final Exam (Season 3, March 22, 2010) & Chuck Versus the Subway (Season 3, May 24, 2010)

Season 2
Chuck Versus the Ring (Season 2, April 27, 2009)
The season finale of season 2. The end of Chuck's innocence and initial loss of the Intersect. This is where the series started to get real and was the first instance of it possibly not coming back.

Morgan peaced out, going to be a benihana chef in Hawaii. Chuck got the intersect removed and quit the Buy More (along with Casey). He's offered the chance to officially join the new team as an official analyst, ending Project Bartowski. He does get a hefty severance though for his help, which will come in handy later in the episode. So what about Sarah?

She's just leading up the new Intersect project, only this time it's going into a not-dead Bryce Larkin. This is of course ill-timed, as Chuck finally gets up the courage to ask Sarah out for reals on a vacation date. Bryce offers some truths that corrected Chuck's version of the past, namely that Bryce was entrusted by Orion (Stephen Bartowski) to protect Chuck.

Rourke (played by Chevy chase) has brought Fulcrum to threaten Ellie's wedding. Her wedding that's essentially ruined by the impromptu Jeffster! performance. We also got a bit of backstory on Casey and his past, as he's preparing his team to move on to the next mission. It's while they're watching a newly captured Roarke that Casey learns one of his own is working against him.

Chuck uses his newfound wealth to give Ellie the simple, beachside wedding she actually wanted. With Roarke captured, Bryce set to be the new Intersect and Chuck is spy-free. And Bryce realizes that it's Chuck Sarah wants not him, prompting Bryce to be ok with being the Intersect.

The episode (and season) ends with Sarah and Casey engaged in a firefight while Chuck enters the Intersect room. Here, he finds a wounded Bryce who advises Chuck to destroy the Intersect, but not before putting it back in his head. Chuck now knows Kung Fu.

Season 2 was a full season, with no false endings or fear of being canceled. It brought in Scott Bakula as Chuck's dad and gave viewers a slightly more confident Chuck, on a mission to remove the Intersect. His feelings for Sarah really started to blossom for real into something more in this season, with even Sarah starting to take an interest in Chuck.

Honorable Mention: Chuck Versus the Colonel (Season 2, April 20, 2009) & Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer (Season 2, October 27, 2008)

Some will say that Chuck Versus the Colonel is the best episode of the entire series and it's hard to argue that fact. Chuck and Sarah kiss for real and almost round all the bases and Casey is hot on their trail. And this episode featured the perfect Bon Iver's "Creature Fear" in one of the episode's more poignant moments. I have to give the slight nod though to Chuck Versus the Ring as the best episode of the season. Honestly though, Chuck Versus the Colonel is right there. It's like 1 and 1A.

Season 1
Chuck Versus the Nemesis (Season 1, November 26, 2007)

One word: pineapple.

You thought Bryce was dead? Think again. It turns out he wasn't killed by Casey and is currently under surveillance at a CIA detention facility. He wakes up and demands to speak to Chuck, which will lead to an interesting encounter later on. And Chuck wants to talk to him too.

Chuck learns a lot about Bryce's history, including that Bryce actually wasn't a rogue agent and that him and Sarah still have that agent chemistry. For a young man like Chuck, seeing his ultra-hot handler interact with an equally attractive partner is a little disheartening.

This is also an episode where Morgan gets a little more time to shine, as he's in charge of the Buy More on Black Friday while Chuck is predisposed with his other life. As anyone who's worked in retail on Black Friday before knows, it's pretty insane. And it provides the perfect cover for a group of baddies to attempt to grab Chuck and Casey.

The first season was short but good. It gave us Chuck, Sarah, Casey and Morgan for starters and laid the groundwork for show's entire five season run. It started gaining steam towards the end, with all the characters a bit more confident in their roles and their relationships fleshing out. Chuck's pining for Sarah for real would also create a foundation for their relationship throughout the course of the show, making the episode where the nerd gets the girl that much more satisfying.

There are so many other fantastic episodes and moments in Chuck that aren't listed above and shouldn't be ignored. I just took the arduous task of forcing myself to choose--in my mind at least--the single best episode from each season. By all means, feel free to sound off in the comments if there's a moment or episode that you feel is worth mentioning.

Having said that, Chuck was a show that successfully blended action and humor. There were tons of pop culture references, genuinely funny moments and some intense action scenes. Some of the plots were a little outlandish at times, but the rock of the show was Chuck and Sarah, a duo that never really sold out in their relationship for the sake of viewers. It's one of the rare instances where an onscreen relationship between characters organically evolved, bringing with it the emotional investment of the viewers.

Ultimately, Chuck is all about how anyone can really do anything. Chuck was a downtrodden nerd, clinging to his one college girlfriend and with no real direction in life. By the show's end, Chuck became a confident, capable spy with the girl of his dreams and a more defined future. It was captivating that it rallied fans like few other shows actually have. It's sad, but it's usually a death knell for a show when it has such a rabid fanbase.

After tonight, there's no more Subway campaigns, no more petitions and no more Buy More. This is the end of Chuck and, for someone who's been along for the ride since the beginning, a night that will definitely be bittersweet. Omnicomic would like to think everyone at Chuck for making such a great show for five years. We'll miss you guys.