Best TV Episodes Ever – CHUCK: Chuck Versus the Ring
For my second post in the “Best TV Episodes Ever” series I turn to Chuck. Another American TV series, although this time a little calmer and tongue-in-cheek on the drama front and out there with the comedy. Chuck is a dramedy centring on the life of nerd and computer wiz Chuck Bartowski who, up until the series began, worked in the Buy More (a parody of Best Buy type stores in the US, think Curry’s in the UK) as a computer fixer until he inadvertently uploaded all the Governments secrets in to his head via “The Intersect” – effectively a super computer full of confidential information, and as such, a great asset to the US Government.
Chuck is currently in its fifth and last season and has evolved over time to become a great story of Chuck himself growing from computer geek to super CIA spy, with or without The Intersect. Chuck has had fairly low ratings for the last few seasons but has survived muchly thanks to the network that carries the show (NBC) having such terrible ratings overall that Chuck looks pretty good in comparison.
This brings me on to “Chuck Versus the Ring”, a fantastic episode and a great turning point for the series. “Chuck Versus the Ring” is the finale to the second season of Chuck and is absolutely full of action from start to finish. So much so that the 42 minute episode contains two full-scale weddings (one attempted and cancelled, then one proper one), a number of full on gun fights, along with story strands relating to the main antagonist of the season and a complete overhaul introducing a new enemy in the form of “The Ring”.
In many ways, up until the final scene of the episode this could have been a full on series ending finale, with much comedy in the episode and many story arcs coming to a close, along with a feeling of nostalgia during portions. Chuck even says to one of the main characters “…And thanks for saving my life at least once a week”, breaking that fourth wall in TV land with the viewer momentarily.
The episode begins with Chuck quitting the Buy More, looking forward to his new life free of the Intersect that he had been trying to remove from his brain for the past two seasons. The main characters are all jubilant with Casey looking forward to having some proper spy action out on the field once again and others looking forward to the upcoming wedding of Devon and Ellie (Chucks sister). Chuck is asked by the CIA if he would like to join them to be part of the new Intersect project, the details of which are classified. He declines, he is done with his spy life and just wants to be a normal guy.
Sarah however is the only one that doesn’t seem happy. It is revealed that she will be heading up the new Intersect project along with Bryce (Chucks old best friend from College who is also a spy and Sarah’s ex), and will be leaving after the wedding. Chuck finds this out midway through the episode and it’s safe to say he’s heartbroken. In the episodes preceding, Chuck and Sarah had begun to form a romantic relationship together finally and Chuck was finally looking forward to breaking away from the spy life and being with her.
All of this is pushed to the side when the main antagonist of the season Ted comes in the wedding and forces Chuck to bring him the Intersect that had been taken or he would kill Ellie. This began what is one of the best moments of Chuck. Chuck asked his friends to stall the wedding, but being geeks themselves they obviously couldn’t do this as normal people would! Jeff and Lester, two others that work in the Buy More and members of their aspiring (and horrific) band Jeffster! took to the front of the chapel and started playing “Mr Roboto” to a shocked crowd, while Chuck, Sarah and Bryce fought off Ted and his men in an epic battle where the reception was to be held, destroying all of the reception with a mix of great action and comedy with the situation as a whole. Chuck and Co were about to lose when Casey came flying in from the roof-top with his troop of marines making the epic battle even more so!
After the battle Jeffster concluded their set by setting off fireworks and in turn, the fire alarm, completely ruining the wedding finally, causing Ellie to cancel everything.
Chuck had received a large payment from the CIA for his services earlier in the episode so in a heart-warming moment held a beautiful ceremony on the beach with the help of his money and the CI. Devon and Ellie finally wed and Bryce asked Sarah if she would still go with him. Sarah said no, obviously happy with the life she could have with Chuck and his family, leaving Bryce to go off to the Intersect project alone.
With the main enemy gone and the wedding done all looked happy and well. But it was revealed that one of Casey’s marines was rogue. He killed Ted, then killed all of Casey’s marines before knocking Casey out and leaving him locked up in the CIA base. (He did not kill Casey because Casey had saved his life earlier).
Meanwhile, at the wedding reception Bryce left to go to the Intersect project after being picked up by the CIA. However, it was revealed that the person picking him up was not CIA, leaving Chuck, Sarah and Casey to head to the Intersect project to save Bryce and the new Intersect.
When Bryce realised what was going on it was too late, he did his best to escape but was shot just as he did manage to escape. Chuck and Co entered the CIA building and fought off the enemies and Chuck managed to find a vent which would get him in to the locked Intersect room (thanks to Bryce securing the building). Chuck and Bryce had a conversation together where Bryce succumbed to his wound and left Chuck alone in the Intersect room. Against all willingness Chuck uploaded the Intersect once again and then destroyed it. At this point the enemies entered along with Sarah and Casey captured.
It was revealed that these enemies were completely new and very dangerous, rogue spies part of a collective group called “The Ring”. As Chuck was about to be killed he “flashed” thanks to the Intersect and immediately fought off all of the enemies with amazing Kung-Fu, completely shocking the viewer, Sarah and Casey. With the ending dialogue famous with Chuck fans… “Guys… I know Kung-Fu”.
Along with the great writing in this episode I also loved the music that added so much, including Christmas TV by Slow Club, Looking At the Sun by Gramery Arms, 3 Rounds and a Sound by Blind Pilot, Mr. Roboto by Styx, Now We Can See by The Thermals and Friday I’m In Love by The Cure.
“Chuck Versus the Ring” is, in my opinion, the shining jewel in Chuck and head writer Chris Fedak’s crown and always gives me a smile whenever I watch it. So much happens in the episode that one scene can’t show you the whole range, but see below for the final moments in the episode and the first scene of the episode which I find quite uplifting!