On a sunny day at the North Hollywood Medical Center, Chuck is shooting its Season 4 finale (airing Monday at 8/7c on NBC), in which spy and bride-to-be Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) is hospitalized — near death — after an attack by Vivian Volkoff (Lauren Cohan). Despite the subject matter, the mood on the set is anything but grim.
"It's a crazy roller coaster of love, and I'm gonna stand on that," star Zachary Levi tells reporters, describing the show's genre-spanning style. He might as well be referring to the cast and crew's camaraderie though.
Throughout the long day, everyone enjoys each other's company behind the scenes. Levi and Joshua Gomez play up their on- and off-screen bromance, Ryan McPartlin interview-bombs Sarah Lancaster while we're asking her questions, Adam Baldwin teases Gomez, and Levi rides through the hallways on a skateboard, while his TV mom played by Linda Hamilton playfully yells after him, "You're going to hurt yourself! Get off of that!"
It's a reflection of how tight the team is on the show also, especially when one of their own could die. In the previous episode, Vivian had activated the "Norseman" — which identifies a specific person's DNA — and targeted Sarah in the middle of her and Chuck's rehearsal dinner. "Sarah's fighting for her life, which throws a major kink in everything: our relationship, our wedding plans," Levi explains. "So everyone is having to work together in order to save the day. Like we often do on the show."
"My character has sort of been poisoned in a way, so Chuck has to find the antidote," Strahovski adds. Today, the lithe actress looks particularly fetching in a gown ... a hospital gown that is. "I'm unconscious for the whole day. It's my favorite day of the week," she says. "I get to sleep all day in a hospital bed, which I've never done before. Usually I'm fighting, doing something or other. It's good, it's relaxing."
There's only one problem with being too comfortable, however. "I kind of started falling asleep [for real] which is bad," she says. "I need to be in a coma, so if I start twitching it's not good."
Morgan Grimes (Gomez) might be able to help. This season, Chuck's best friend has been splitting his time between the Buy More and helping out on missions. "As part of this silly, ragtag team now, I'm here to try to help in whatever way I can help get Sarah back up on her feet and to the aisle," Gomez says. "'Cause I want nothing more than these two crazy kids to marry. I'm keeping a watchful eye over Sarah at her bedside, telling her stories of our youth. I have a good bedside manner."
Earlier that day, we saw Gomez walk through the hospital set and approach a man who looks like a CIA agent. Before Gomez can jump into action, McPartlin, who plays Chuck's brother-in-law Devon "Captain Awesome" Woodcomb, knocks the guy out. "He steals my thunder," says Gomez. "I was on my way over there, debating whether to sweep the leg, or karate kick, or judo chop, roundhouse punch."
"Awesome is called off the bench and gets into the spy game a little," McPartlin says. "You get to see him actually applying some of his knowledge in L.A. and trying to save the day. And let's be honest, my character is more suited for it even though Morgan is now a staple of the spy world. I think Captain Awesome is very jealous and very angry. But when Awesome and Morgan are together, I think it just brings up the pace and the level of excitement and laughs."
Chuck has also exploited another fine bromance this season: the relationship between Morgan and Agent John Casey (Baldwin). Not only is Casey mentoring him in the spy world, but also overseeing the romance between his daughter Alex (Mekenna Melvin) and Morgan. "In the finale, Casey is protecting Chuck and this one [Morgan]," says Baldwin. "This one's coming along. He's a lot smarter, and his technical attributes are improving episode by episode. Casey clearly understands he's a good guy. So he wishes [Alex and Morgan] the best ... so long as they don't kiss in front of Casey too often."
It's not that Casey is against romance, but he's never been terribly demonstrative with his affection in his own relationships. Although Baldwin thinks that a new love interest could be in Casey's future, he's not sure if the viewing audience would be ready for it. "What if it were Chuck's mom?" he muses. "A Casey love interest at 8 o'clock? Nah, he needs 10 o'clock -- or Showtime. But that's down the road, obviously."
Down the road will need to be soon, considering Chuck was renewed for a fifth — and final — 13-episode season. At the time, the actors didn't know if Chuck would be returning, but that didn't stop several cast members from sounding off on how they'd like to see their characters develop.
Recurring guest star Hamilton just wants a regular gig on the show. "I want to come back every episode," she says. "It's very hard to sit and wait [between episodes]. Conflict is good, it's what drives us. If there's no conflict with my character, then they could kill me. So as long as there's conflict, I'm good. Keep it alive, that's how I feel."
As the responsible new dad to baby Clara on the show, McPartlin keeps his expectations in the domestic realm. "It's a tricky situation for the writers because we have the kid at home now," he says. "As adventurous as I am, we have a real responsibility and you can't take that lightly. However, I think that there is a lot of family drama to play out at home that they can tap into more next season ... but I like it when Awesome and Ellie are brought into the spy world by necessity instead of by choice."
Lancaster, who plays his on-screen spouse Ellie, isn't hampered by those feelings of parental responsibility. "Give me a gun. More spy stuff. Yeah, put me in some black leather," she says. "Mom can watch [Clara]. Awesome can watch her. The Buy More guys can watch her."
Gomez also wants in on more action. "Always more sniper rifles, and I'd like to continue to have more scenes with Adam and Zac, more funny spy stuff," he says. "Also, The Buy More is fun, and it's where most of the comedy really stems from."
"But we're sick of the color scheme," adds Baldwin.
Do you think Chuck and Sarah will make it to the altar? What would you like to see in Season 5?