When we last met, we got to know Sarah a bit deeper. Joe’s Reader’s Digest Review of Cougars and Delorean was superb, not just in reflection of two favorites, but also in setting up these next three: Santa Claus, 3D and Best Friend. Let me take a moment and fangirl: SANTA CLAUS! 3D! AND BEST FRIEND! Gah. Okay I’m done. Though 3D likely falls short of top 15 lists, the other two are sure favorites. They’re definitely mine. I often rewatch Best Friend when I’m in need of uplifting and the other two aren’t bad either. So prepare to be heartwarmed, after the jump.
Ernie called this arc “The Who Are These People Arc” (though personally I’m partial to “The Bracelet Arc”). On the surface you might be wondering, huh? “Who Are These People?” It is aptly labeled. These three, illustrates a crisis of identity. Actually I wouldn’t call it a crisis, more like an epiphany. Previously, we learned a lot more about Agent Walker through the “Getting To Know Her Arc (GTKHA),” we got to know more about Chuck’s romantic history with Jill, we even got a taste of Casey’s calm center (anger). We’ve seen how they’ve become the people they are, and we see the incremental growth that comes with falling in love. Now we meet at the precipice.
In both Cougar and Delorean, Chuck showed Sarah something she’s unaccustomed to: a friend. Someone who is there for her, without strings, without lies, and without a cover. In doing so, he made a difference in her life; changed her for the better, much in the same way she has done for him. The Sarah Walker that committed Mauser did so because of her feelings for Chuck, because of how much he has come to mean to her.
Think back to the extraction attempt in the locker room:
Sarah: “There are rules Chuck and we have to follow them.”
Chuck: “I understand that there are rules but when it comes to family and friends, it’s the time to break them.”
Agent Walker is the best the CIA had to offer. Why? Because she can follow rules, she never lets her emotions get in the way, and she always gets the job done, until Chuck. See Chuck taught her more than just what it means to care for someone, by being there for her, by being her friend, he taught her about life and what really matters. In Mauser, she broke the rules, and she did so because Chuck matters, because just moments ago in giving her the bracelet he showed her what she means to him, because she would do anything for him. She would do nothing less than what her heart has told her to do.
There are a handful of scenes that stick with me long past Chuck, obviously the bracelet scene is easily one of the sweetest and most poignant scenes in the entire series, but more than that, what stands out most to me from Santa Claus is the moment when Sarah had to gather herself and fake a smile before hugging him at the end. That scene is powerful. It shows without lines and fanfare what it took for her to commit Mauser and it showed just how much Chuck has come to matter. In some ways it shows the division of the worlds they lived in, but more on that later.
Bryce said it best in Break Up, she’s compromised. We’ve seen her protective instincts, we’ve even seen her show in a myriad of ways just how much she cares about him but it wasn’t until then, it wasn’t until this arc that we come to see just how far she would go to keep him safe. This is of course, just a step; the landslide comes in the next arc when she commits treason to run away with him. Before this we saw her almost execute Longshore to keep Chuck, but that was just an attempt, this is an act. This is the moment when Sarah Walker dropped kicked Agent Walker (metaphorically). This is the moment when the “real girl” began to emerge from her cocoon.
Santa Claus | Sarah: “Trust me Chuck, I’ll never let anyone hurt you.”
A bit on the nose for foreshadowing but it works, and it’s significant.
3D | Chuck: I saw you kill that Fulcrum agent. And when I asked you about it…
Sarah: I lied. Chuck I have to protect you.
What Chuck didn’t realize was Sarah wasn’t just doing her job; she was acting out of love. On first watch I was angrier at Chuck than I was amazed at her growth, well no longer. I’ve come to see things from his perspective but more than that I’m floored at how unapologetic she was, and how in her world of black and white (friend and foes), emerges grays. Chuck taught her that.
Chuck was going through his own existential crisis. Just when he thought he finally understood who Sarah Walker really is (remember what came before: GTKHA), he gets blindsided. Unlike the viewers, Chuck couldn’t see what we see, he couldn’t appreciate the precipice that we saw, he couldn’t glimpse that crisis in identity in Sarah, he can only react and feel.
Honestly it’s quite a shock to see someone he’s come to care about take a life. Though it’s mostly angst for angst sake, it was still an important event, an illustration of the lines that cannot be crossed and what Chuck himself will have to face much, much later. It also ties into what takes place in Best Friend and the great divide.
Chuck and Sarah still (at this point) live in two different worlds. Hers is more pragmatic, more rational, his…not so much. She inhabits a world of black and white and his is far more colorful. Together they come to embrace the grays.
Best Friend | Chuck: “You don’t get who he is to me.”
Sarah: “No, I get it, he’s your best friend.”
Chuck: “You say that but I don’t think you have a clue what it means.”
And she doesn’t, not yet.
Chuck: “Look Sarah, I don’t have parents. I mean not really. (P.S. Watch Sarah play with the charm bracelet SQUEE!) I don’t talk about it because that’s just the way things are now but it wasn’t always this way. Morgan was there the first day my mom took off. He didn’t say much because honestly what is a fifth grader supposed to say but we sat there and split a cherry cheesecake and played Legend of Zelda all night long. And my dad, well that’s a whole other story but Morgan was there for that too. Morgan is more than just my best friend, he’s my family. Before you got here and long after you’ve gone (if you only knew Chuck! heh), Morgan is my family.”
Sarah: “Last night we failed to learn the contents of the Triad’s container and now we don’t know what kind of drugs or weapons are floating around in the city and while I appreciate your friendship with Morgan, losing sight of that container endangers many people’s best friends. Not just yours, Chuck.”
Though she’s come to learn the things that matter in life, she still struggles through the decisions she has to make/he has to make selfishly. When it’s a question between life and love, which do you choose? It’s clearer when it’s Chuck, less so when it’s everything and everyone else. In this, Sarah Walker would need more than Chuck, she needs his family. We don’t actually see Sarah appreciate Morgan and Ellie until much, much later but again, it builds here. She comes to see the world through his eyes, and want that world for herself.
Best Friend | Sarah: I wanted to apologize, I could have been more sensitive before about your friendship with Morgan. It’s just-it’s difficult, I don’t really have anyone in my life like that who-who cares about me.
Chuck: Yeah, you do.
Don’t underestimate what that moment meant for Sarah and for her growth, her identity, theirs (collectively as a couple). Getting back to those handfuls of moments, here’s another one. Holding hands, almost involuntarily, they both look down and up. Things have definitely changed and they acknowledge it in that moment (which is why it was so awkward for them in Suburbs–continuity!). It’s quite powerful, a powerful moment for Chuck to verbalize caring and for Sarah to hear it and embrace it. She begins to believe, she begins to dream. And she’s not alone.
Looking back, I’m amazed at how often Chuck would state and repeat what he is not–he is not a spy, he is not in love with Sarah, he is not a hero, he is not this or that–it took her for him to see what he is. “You’re a good guy and you want to help people.” He is not normal; he is and always has been a hero. He was a hero with Ned (side note: as a Pushing Daisies fan, I was tickled pink at having a Ned and Chuck), against Fulcrum, and even at the end of 3D when he found himself joining the team in a mission. Because that is who he is, and he needed her to shine a light on the part of himself he didn’t and couldn’t see. In much the same way, they needed this arc to see what they have come to mean to one another and just how far they were willing to go.
“Gonna take a lot to drag me away from you.”