Just as I was extolling the virtues of the Christmas Special Episode, it turned out one of my favorite television series currently on the air was prepping one hell of a holiday themed blowout.

Chuck Versus Santa Clause had everything a holiday episode cliffhanger should: every cast member stuck together (thanks to a robbery/hostage situation at the Buy More) and every important cast member being brought to some sort of new point in their character arc. This has to be one of the best plotted Chucks in recent history, as well as being an all around enjoyable and awesome episode.

I didn’t find the twists and turns of this episode particularly surprising (because, hell, on Chuck aren’t ALL new characters FULCRUM agents?), but I did find the finale a bit of a shocker. Chuck episodes have, up until this point, always ended on a pretty happy note. But let’s take tally at the end of this one, shall we? Chuck’s lost faith in Sarah, Morgan’s lost faith in Anna, Sarah’s compromised her soul for the relationship that’s pretty impossible between her and Chuck, and John Casey is sans one toe. Not exactly candy canes and sugarplums.

This is the episode that has officially cemented Chuck as my favorite hour-long program currently on Network TV. As well as being funny, touching, and full of interesting characters (all of whom have come so far this season it’s almost absurd), it puts us right on the edge of another half season of awesomeness.

For those of you yet to crack the Chuck code, the show’s coming back in February, which gives you about a month and a half to make up for your failings. Most of the episodes are on Hulu or NBC.com (which all you lucky Americans can access, and which I will once more be able to access come tomorrow night), and are well worth the effort. Although I’ll be the first to admit it took a good portion of the first season for the show to grow into its promise, have some faith in Josh Schwartz and Co. (or just in me, as a reviewer and avid television consumer) and stick around. It only gets better.

And if that doesn’t work, who doesn’t need a weekly dose of Adam Baldwin (Jayne, from Firefly, although I suppose if I have to explain that to you, it’s not liable to convince you anyways)?