When it comes to the final season of NBC's Chuck, executive producer and co-creator Chris Fedak likes to say things like "if Chuck survives." Considering that he's killed off a couple significant characters in the past, including Chuck's father, it's hard to put anything past the cagey producer. "You never know how cruel a writer I could be," said Fedak.
"I'm always a little gun-shy about killing off characters, but then again it is the final season of this show. Everything will change by the end of the season," he said.
"We've built this season to be a final chapter. To take our characters to a really exciting end point. Comic. Tragic. Exciting. And that's the great thing. It's the best of both worlds to be able to take a fifth season of the show and to tell that final story on it. I couldn't be more excited."
This season so far, Morgan is the Intersect, Chuck and Sarah have started their own spy company, and some really nasty government guys are out to get our favorite nerd. Unfortunately, those nasty government types threated not only Chuck's new spy company but also his plans to buy the perfect house for his new bride, Sarah, by freezing millions in Chuck and Sarah's spy assets. That means the Buy More actually has to make money to support the spy company and, perhaps, help Chuck and Sarah get that dream home.
"We essentially set ourselves up for a really big change for season five. So it's certainly a different show. We have a different dynamic in regard to how the team gets missions and who we're meeting in the world of espionage. We're going to be meeting Gertrude Verbanski, who has her own private spy company."
The Matrix's Carrie-Anne Moss will play Gertrude, who turns out to be a love interest for John Casey (Adam Baldwin). Moss' character will recurring, and we'll get our first glimpse at her tonight in "Chuck vs. The Bearded Bandit."
Her spy company "is the competition to Carmichael Industries, Chuck's new private spy company. And we have a lot of fun with that intermingling of these two companies, the competition between these two companies," said Fedak.
"Carrie-Anne is wonderful. She's funny and she's scary, and she has the most amazing relationship with John Casey and Adam Baldwin. It's like the chemistry in between Adam and Carrie-Anne is amazing. In our third episode we have a fight between the two of them which is the most erotically charged thing we've ever done on the show."
"I think that one of the things that we looked at and that we were thinking about last season was Chuck with the Intersect. It was a little bit too easy. And I think that we wanted to have more fun this season going back to the season one and season two Chuck, where things were difficult and complicated and he had to come up with his own Chuck solutions to problems," said Fedak.
"So I'm not going to tell you if he gets [the Intersect] back or not," he said. "I think one of the unique changes for this season is that Chuck doesn't have it. And that the spy world is going to be getting a lot more difficult."
In the first couple of episodes "of the season we're going to have a lot of fun with going back to Chuck as being the amazing computer guy. ... Zachary Levi directed an episode, episode five of this season, which is called 'Chuck vs. the Hack Off' and it's probably one of the nerdier episodes we've ever done, but it's got some amazing hacking sequences," said Fedak. "And it's a really, really fun episode, and we get back into who Chuck was," he said.
"The show has very much become Sarah and Chuck's new emotion journey, because when you get married you start sharing your dreams with your wife and your husband. So this season of the show is about those intermingling of dreams. About Sarah and Chuck wanting that house, thinking about their future. Wanting this company to work," said Fedak.
We'll also find out more about Sarah's past and her mom, who is played by Charlie's Angels' Cheryl Ladd. Fedak said they'll also spend plenty of time with the gang at the Buy More, as well as Chuck's sister, Ellie, and her husband, Awesome.
And like every season on Chuck, we can expect a host of guest stars, including Mark Hamill, Justin Hartley, Jeff Fahey, Angus Macfadyen, Cheryl Ladd, Time DeKay, Bo Derek and Stan Lee.
"Our team is also considering their future from a family perspective. And I think that's the neat thing about this season, is how that family perspective affects the spy team and the missions that they're going to go on and what they want to do and who they want to be. So it's very much about Chuck and Sarah and their dreams," he said.
"The second half of the season really drives us into the Chuck finale, and it's some big, emotional epic things, and we still have mysteries we're going to learn about Sarah and Casey and Chuck. And that last episode, we're really looking to blow it out in a way that we've never done before. So there's a number of stories that are currently in play. But if I had my druthers I'd would try to do everything, and that's what I think I'm going to try to do," said Fedak.
"It's a really kind of big, epic corner that we're painting ourselves into. And I think that's been an amazing opportunity, being given a final season. Being given a chance to take the story to a big, epic conclusion. And to design it that way," he said.
These 13 episodes this season of Chuck are "heading toward that final chapter, and we knew that from the get-go. ... In the past I've always been a person who enjoys an ending that feels more like a prologue than an epilogue. I love those endings, and I think that that's what we've always done in each season of the show."
According to Fedak, "The real question right now is 'Will we do that for the finale?', and I have to be honest with you, that's what we're working on at the moment up on the board in the writers' room," he said. "I know I have to go in there, and I know I have to work on that episode, and I know we need to do it, but it's quite an emotional thing to try to find that perfect ending, and we have a number of them right now," said Fedak.
"I have a natural inclination to love those moments of thinking, 'What's the exciting story that's going to happen next that we can imagine?' But we also have a unique opportunity to actually do a proper epilogue ending here at the end of season five. So you've found a man in debate with himself at this moment."
Here's a look at tonight's episode, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on NBC:
How big and epic do you think Chuck's finale should be?