This past TV season, there were a few shows that ended with some noteworthy episodes. Now that I’ve caught up on Chuck, Nikita, The Good Wife, Hawaii Five-O, and The Office, here’s my season and finale comments.
Chuck does not get enough respect. The scripts are usually clever and frequently brilliant. The season ender was the capper – and partly because there was uncertainty if the show would be renewed for next season (it was). So Chuck is the Intersect which is a silly name for a guy who gets images downloaded into his brain that he can access when he needs to which gives him knowledge and skills he wouldn’t normally have. This past season, he got the Intersect abilities under control, got engaged to his hot spy partner, Sarah, and grew up a little by moving in with her and out from the place he shared with his roommate Morgan. It’s always nice to see character progression in a TV show – those that don’t stagnate and get boring. Meanwhile, Chuck encountered a new bad guy named Alexei Volkoff who happened to be shtupping Chuck’s mom (an undercover spy). They got Volkoff but only discovered later that Volkoff was actually a former associate of Chuck’s late father that had been an early prototype of the Intersect which also changed his identity! It’s like a series of Bond movies only clever and amusing!
If you hadn’t seen the finale episode and I recommend you do, here it is. Stop reading and watch the show, then continue with the post below!
With Volkoff’s intersect removed, he returns to being the nice British agent he was originally and helps Chuck. Chuck’s intersect is also removed and yet he still manages to be brave and smart to help save Sarah from a poison. Chuck and Sarah get married and, as a wedding gift, the former Volkoff gives them the fortune he created as the evil Volkoff. But the CIA has shut down Chuck’s team and emptied out the base of operations. So Chuck and Sarah decide that they want to go into business as freelancers and find the real bad guys using the Volkoff money to finance their work. John Casey and Morgan agree to be part of it. And then Morgan finds some sunglasses left for him by their friend in the CIA… vwump! Morgan is now the Intersect! Just brilliant. It is an amazing setup for another season of Chuck. And I’m sure that had a lot to do with why Chuck got renewed for another season.
Nikita also had a good season finale. A very different action show than Chuck, Nikita takes itself much too seriously. The tone and even the lighting are much darker, literally, than in Chuck’s sunny SoCal setting. There were a few Nikita episodes where I wondered why I was still watching this season, and in fact, it was the lowest priority on my DVR. But the writing did come through a few times – not in dialogue which is usually unintentionally silly, but in the key plot points. “Division” is the secret government organization that has gone rogue and has a former agent that has gone rogue from it (effectively a double negative that makes her a good agent). She gets help from her woman on the inside so she can foil Division’s plans. And, again showing TV-show progression, she gradually gains the trust of another Division agent and the three of them think they have Division where they want them. Except Division’s leader Percy had actually set a trap and all 3 of our heroes are on the ropes. In the penultimate season episode, it looks like Alex shoots Nikita dead. But in one of the most clever reveals, we discover that Alex only did that for Percy’s camera and was able to fake Nikita’s death. The episode ends with Nikita and Michael getting away in a little compact heading for the country while Alex is now recruited by a newly formed secret government force that hopes to dismantle Division. Again, a brilliant setup for the next season. And for a show that I was about to remove from the DVR altogether, it definitely makes me interested to see what happens next season.
The Good Wife continues its stellar writing this season. I love that I need to think while watching this show. And that not everything is spelled out for the viewer. The characters are still vivid and mostly realistic. The show gets to explore, law, politics, investigations, and family life all at once. (And yet they stick with the lame title of “The Good Wife”?) Unlike the other shows above, I didn’t particularly like where this show ended. I’ll accept a certain amount of flirtatious tension between Will and Alecia since they did have an interest in college. But I wanted that part of the plot to go away and instead, the last scene of the last episode seems to indicate that they were finally able to consumate the relationship. I also wasn’t crazy about the fact that Eli is going to be in the law firm. I love the Eli character and I want to keep him in the show, but I don’t like having him in the firm; I like that having him in a different world gives the show more breadth. I also didn’t buy him being romantically interested in America Ferrera’s character but I think they could have had him interested in her as a friend with whom he was trying to fix a wrong.
And then there’s Kalinda. I’ve written before about TV characters hooking up – how I find it lazy writing when characters have show-incestuous relationships. I think characters should venture out and meet new people. So I was not initially a fan of discovering that Kalinda and Peter had had a fling before. But I’ve kind of gotten used to the idea and the fact that it happened before the first episode of the show makes it better – it’s history, not new stuff. And it does fit with who Kalinda was then and who Peter was then. And I really liked when Kalinda discovered that the person she was in bed with was married and she bolted – learning from her recent pain that sleeping with married people is not good. So yeah, I’ve had some complaints about the choice made. But even there, the execution is brillant. Including that final scene where roadblock after roadblock seems to be telling Will and Alicia that hooking up is a bad idea and yet they persevere. And that it is a collaborative effort, not just horndog Will on his own.
The Hawaii Five-O season ender also was a game changer. The show had mostly lolled along with little TV-show progression this season, it’s first. Basically, it was a cop procedural set in Hawaii and frankly, I was only watching it because Hawaii is a really nice backdrop and if you are going to watch one police procedural, it might as well be one with pretty scenes. Many episodes featured a scrap of a plot about McGarrett and his father’s backstory and there were one or two that focused on it. But the season ender was heavy on that and turned other stuff inside out. The biggest bad guy we’ve met so far, Wo Fat, turns out to be in collusion with the Governor who is the one responsible for forming the Five-O task force in the first place. I didn’t find a whole lot of cause for that plot turn other than the one seed planted a few episodes prior where she (the Governor) was meeting with a known associate of Wo Fat. It’s hard to buy this reveal considering that the Governor had been so tough on crime previously and such a model politician. It’ll be interesting to see how they justify it next season. But it’s also cool that the writers managed to blow-up other comfortable story elements too. Like now Chin is back with the police. And Danny’s wife is leaving the island feeling like Danny abandoned her. Again, clever stuff and worthy of me leaving on the DVR for a little longer. Especially with the news that Terry O’Quinn will be joining the cast.
And then there’s the Office. It isn’t a drama but it did have a big season with a big change when Michael (Steve Carrell) left the show. I was not an Office fan from the beginning but I’ve been watching the last couple years as the show got to me more about character growth than just cringe-comedy. The introduction of Holly was brilliant because suddenly Michael had a genuine passion and not just manufactured. And the comedy handled the details pretty well. Michael taking off his microphone was a particularly sweet scene. And I like that the season didn’t end with that moment. I’ve never been much a fan of Will Farrell and his episodes were, I think, somewhat weak. But I guess it was good to have a comic foil overlap with Michael as his presumed replacement. Still, it’s better with him gone. One of the funniest lines, and best delivered line, was when Pam asks Jim “what did you do!?” when he declines Jo’s invitation to be acting manager. And I really liked the scene with Creed as the new boss which was the cold open to the finale. The rest of the finale was cool with the stunt casting (Warren Buffet!) but not the funniest. And of course it didn’t resolve who the new boss will be which leaves some feeling of a lack of resolution. I know it’s a cliffhanger to make you watch next season, but really, does that change who watches The Office?
Ratings: (out of 10)
Chuck season: 8 Chuck season finale: 9
Nikita season: 4 last two Nikita season episodes: 8
The Good Wife season: 8 The Good Wife season finale: 8
Hawaii Five-O season: 5 Hawaii Five-O season finale: 7
The Office season: 7 The Office season ending episodes: 8