A Kiss Is Still A Kiss
Wow. That was hard to watch. Four days later and I’m still thinking about what I saw and dwelling on all the emotions.
So I’ll tell you right from the start that I won’t be able to write a real review about Chuck vs. Sarah and Chuck vs. The Goodbye. I can’t be analytic about it. That’s probably for the best. All I can do is tell you that I’m still emotionally spent. Did I like it? I’m not sure – “like” seems to be the wrong word when I think about Sarah’s agony and Chuck’s anguish.
How about the question “Are you glad you saw it?, Buckley?” The answer to that is “More than I could have possibly imagined.” My feelings run from amazingly bitter to impossibly sweet and the old adage “Be careful what you wish for…” is ringing in my ears.
Let me take a moment to therapeutically give my $0.02 to the discussions we’ve been having in comments. (That’s for my therapy, not yours!) Of course, like Amy, Dave, Ernie, Faith and Thinkling, I have no desire to change anyone’s opinion. But I sure do have a need to put my thoughts to words. Please be forwarded, though. I may ramble.
This need we all seem to share now – to express ourselves about what we’ve seen – is to me a strong indication of the show’s success. I always said that the most important thing about Chuck was the way it made me feel something. Feeling something meant I was alive, and that “something” didn’t even have to be fun. Oddly, feeling sorrow, frustration and even anguish qualifies. In the finale, all of that came to be (so yes, be careful what you wish for), and I ran the gamut. Perhaps that’s not what television is for, and perhaps you don’t need that experience at this point in your life. Regardless, it is an example of powerful storytelling.
Chuck has made me feel alive for more than four years. Five seasons! There’s a catch, though. It could not go on indefinitely. We all know the story about how the show was almost canceled several times; We saw several endings. We saw Chuck&Sarah “get together” in a dingy motel room in Barstow – The End. We saw them honeymooning on a romantic train leaving Paris – The End. We saw Sarah finally say she loves Chuck and tell the insecure nerd exactly why he’s great (but we already knew why, ourselves) – Curtain Call! We saw Chuck&Sarah get engaged (several times!), we saw them save each other and get married – (sigh) The End. We saw them with extended family (including children) at dinner. Normalcy! The Perfect End! We saw them on the doorstep of the house with the red door and white picket fence, and we saw them with their baby, if only in a drawing. All these were wonderful, perfect endings.
What came after each of these was an encore. When I look back at the list, it looks to me exactly like what I – what we – were clamoring for. We wanted to see them together, married, happy, starting out as a “power-couple”, and we got all that. I will always see S5 as the story of Chuck&Sarah, Power-couple.
The floods is threat’ning
My very life today
Gimme, gimme shelter
Or I’m gonna fade away
Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones
What next for Chuck&Sarah? Grandchildren? More of the same (please)? No. Sad to say, it had to end, if not today, tomorrow. The only choice was about how the story was to end, and only one of those many possibilities was never an acceptable option.
How To End
To that, let me explain something particular and peculiar to my generation. We had one fear (well, two, counting the H-bomb). It was the fear of just fading away into nothingness and meaninglessness. “Just fading away” was never right for this show and watching Chuck&Sarah leading their perfect “normal” life, the one they dreamed about, was not meant for us. As much as I wanted to have more stories about them and about their life together, more stories would have been about them still getting to “normal”, not being normal. It would have been more of the same and the beginning of an inexorable fading until the inevitable network cancellation. No one wanted that. At least, I didn’t.
There was a lot of confusion and maybe even contrasting interpretations (guilty!) about what we saw in those last three minutes. We got an ending of sorts, and a surprising amount that was left to our imaginations. But like I insist on saying, we already had several endings. This was not one of them – it was a good-bye.
A personal story: I have a very vivid memory from my early childhood. The state was still building parts of Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System, and one section was being constructed within walking distance to my parent’s first house. What I remember was the large mounds of dirt and sod left by the bulldozers when they cleared the area. I remember my dad taking my brother, my sister and I sledding down that mountain (which, if memory serves, was taller than Mt. Everest) when winter came to Buffalo. We had a great time on those saucer-shaped sleds.
Oh, wait. What I put in parentheses is my memory, but obviously, the child saw the mound of dirt much bigger than it was. Oh, wait again. I actually have no memories of sledding down that hill and I don’t remember my mother there at all.
But she was there. You see, my mother had taken “Super-8 Movies” of her brood, movies I saw several times, years later. That’s what I remember – the home movies. You can see where I’m going. My memories are very real and very manufactured. The older I get, the more I realize how much I’ve forgotten and how much my memories are re-created daily from the mementos and artifacts of my life.
[I had a terrible example of this "forgetting" laid in front of me just last week. Mrs. Joe and I had an "old married couple"'s argument; she criticized something I had done carelessly, I took offense, wondering aloud if she really thought I was a complete idiot (or something). I momentarily felt disrespected and she felt ignored; we both felt abused. What we both forgot was a tiny bit of our history, the kindness, love and support we've shown each other over the years. The anger was gone by the evening. But I sadly wonder if we lost a bit of our history together too, replacing it with a moment of anger. I'm even more sad to realize that forgetting the good times is too much a normal part of life for everyone.]
My friends, the idea that Chuck telling Sarah their story will restore (or rather, create) her memories and that is a proper ending is not the point I’m trying to make, although it is something to bear in mind. What is important is that what we saw was a plea from the characters, the actors, the writers and the producers (everyone involved!) to not let the story fade from our memories. They were not giving us another ending, but asking us to retell the story, if only to ourselves, so that something would live on. It was a tearful goodbye to us.
What we had was by no means an extended middle digit to the fans, and it did not wipe away five seasons of our memories and growth. It asked us – begged us – to keep that alive.
One of our long-time commenter, KG, wrote us this about two weeks ago. It rings true.
These two characters specifically, and the show in general, has made me a better person. Investing time and emotion into this show for five years I believe has allowed me to feel better about myself. Has forced me to aspire to be a better person. To be and act more like Chuck and Sarah.
I know I changed – a lot – because of what I saw. I revisited much of my own past and wondered (seriously, for the first time!) if I would do things differently. Whether the answer was yes or no, the difference is that from now on, I’m more concerned about doing things right the first time. I’m more conscious about failing to do that. Second chances come, but aren’t guaranteed. Indeed, Love comes to all, but there’s no guarantee we recognize it or can even return it. Because of this show I’m more determined to not waste the opportunity to do the right thing when it presents itself and to hang onto love, when I see it, the best I can. That goes for friends and family, too.
Chuck didn’t leave me only with that one thing. It doesn’t even begin to account for what I’ve taken away from this blog, all of you and the friends I’ve made. But if it had turned out that way the show still would have been the best ever, merely because of the way it made me feel every time I heard the theme song.
Don’t Overthink It – Our Heads Just Get In The Way
Did you care about what happened to Sarah at the end? Of course you did! Chuck and especially Sarah have been beloved characters and important in our lives, but it says something about us, that we should care. They are not real. Despite ourselves, there’s no need to feel sad for them, even for a moment, because they are in our imaginations. They’ll remain there, perfect as ever.
What is important and very real is the love we saw on the screen, thanks to the talents of Chris Fedak, Josh Schwartz, Zac, Yvonne, Adam, Josh G. and all the others. There’s no getting around it – we’ve been touched and changed by what we saw. We’ve been affected, and as much as we hated the mis-steps and as much as we wish this could go on longer, it’s a tribute to them, TPTB.
They have heart. It also takes a heart to receive the gift they left us 91 times over five seasons. That we’ve allowed ourselves to be affected for so long is a tribute to us, the fans.