Forbidden Bro-mance. So what is the deal with Chuck and Casey?

So what is Casey’s deal?  We’re all asking lately how we can reconcile Casey’s heading off to kill Chuck with that lovable gruff bear of a man who always seems to know the score with Chuck and Sarah, and covers for both more than once.  How can we love Casey when he was a few steps away from killing Chuck.  I have a theory.  Shocking, I know.

Forget what you know about season 1 Casey.  He wasn’t a good guy.  He was another version of Beckman and Graham.  Protect the intersect and the secrets.  Not Chuck.  With Sarah it was always about Chuck.  With Casey, not so much.

It might help to do a little history here.  For those of you not familiar with Firefly, the Joss Wedon space western featuring Adam Baldwin, Nate Fillon and many other talented actors, RENT IT NOW.  Sorry.  But really, rent it.  Or buy it.  Trust me.  OK, minor rant over.  There probably isn’t anyone here that isn’t familiar with Firefly, after all our exquisite taste is evident.  But just in case…

On Firefly Baldwin played Jayne Cobb, an amoral mercenary whose loyalties were up for bids at all times and who seemed ready to turn on anyone at any time given half a reason.  Kind of like having a pet grizzly bear.  Fans loved him.  Somehow Adam Baldwin infused this character with attributes that made you want to like him regardless of how likable he was.  My take is something similar happened with John Casey.

I think we may all be familiar with the initial ideas of how Captain Awesome was going to develop in season 1.  The initial idea was that as the season progressed he’d turn more sinister, and end up being a Fulcrum agent.  People liked him too much so they changed his character.  If you remember John Casey in season 1 he knew from the beginning he was going to kill Chuck as soon as the new intersect was ready.  The entire season he kept his distance, or at least tried to.  Even after Undercover Lover he resisted starting a friendship with Chuck.  In the First Date we saw the last of that John Casey, a holdover from season 1.  Just as Sarah has evolved under Chuck’s influence Casey is now getting all mushy inside and having warm fuzzy feelings about Chuck.

OK, maybe not, but you can see Casey’s attitude toward the rest of Team B change as they share dangers and come to rely on each other.  Casey’s loyalty has to be earned.  Sarah does it First, then Chuck.

With Sarah it’s easy to see.  She’s a competent professional, she does her job, she’s doing her best to fix the mess Larkin made of things while protecting a civilian who just happened to get caught in the middle.  He can respect that.  He knows that Chuck’s days are numbered,  he knows things he can’t tell Sarah, but this is war.  Casualties and secrets are a part of the cost, even civilian casualties.  It’s not great when innocents get caught in the crossfire, but you can’t hold your fire if it endangers your team or your mission.  You grit your teeth and fire away.  Deal with your lady feelings later soldier.

Speaking of lady feelings, looks like all those rumors about Walker are true.  There she goes, falling for the geek.  It’s a bit unprofessional.  It always complicates things, but then she’s his partner, you cut your partner some slack, the team comes first.  This job isn’t easy and if dipping her chocolate in Bartowski’s peanut butter makes her happy for a while…

Hell, might as well let the geek enjoy it too.  It’s not like he has a lot to look forward to.  Too bad.  For a draftee with no training he actually shows some promise.  He’s brave, he thinks on his feet, and he’s loyal.  He’d take a bullet for any of his friends or family.  He’d even take one for the team.  It’s a shame he’ll have to in the end.  Larkin really screwed this guy.

Finally the new intersect was close, just one key piece left.  Casey delayed as much as he could but Chuck came through and recovered the cipher.  The new intersect was complete and the order came down.  Would Casey have done it?  Most seem to think he would have.  I’m not as sure.  If Casey wanted to he could have easily walked in the front door the moment Ellie left and ended it there.  Instead he decides to sneak in slowly.  You could make the case he wanted to spare Chuck by making it a quick headshot from behind, Chuck would never feel a thing.  Plausible.  And here we get to a fuzzy area.  Suspension of disbelief.  What are we supposed to suspend our disbelief about?  Are we supposed to believe that with all the surveillance that Sarah and Casey  have on Chuck, Casey is unaware Chuck is cooking for Sarah and she’ll be there any moment?  Or are we supposed to believe as Dave points out that Casey, the dedicated soldier would follow an obviously illegal order?  I tried to make that case above, seeing this as part of a secret war and Chuck as a necessary sacrifice, since my guess is where the producers and writers want us to go.  Within the premises of the show the spy world is largely lawless, and once you enter there is essentially no way out. You also have as much to fear from your own people as the enemy.  CIA and NSA are portrayed as at the very least hostile toward each other, and both toward the FBI.  My take is that within these parameters the runners have asked us to accept Casey would have been capable of doing it, assassinating a civilian who got mixed up in the spy world to protect secrets and intel.  I think he wasn’t capable of doing it to Chuck anymore.  I think he was counting on Sarah showing up in time to make the attempt fail.  Then what?  I dunno.  Sarah had shown willingness to grab Chuck from the extraction, probably a career ending move.  Maybe Casey was counting on warning Sarah to take chuck and run, with a possible staged battle and/or wound to himself for cover.  Maybe he was counting on Sarah being able to stop him, kind of giving Chuck a fighting chance.  We’ll never know, and I think that was the point, we’re still supposed to doubt Casey, at least a little at this point, but see that he has changed from the initial cold-school killer who shoots then shouts don’t move.

Now this is usually the part where I lay out a theory in some detail, 1,000 some words supported with quotes and pictures and all that.  Sorry, it’s the scientist in me.  I’m going to spare you some of that and cut to the chase.  In the Jill arc what is Casey doing?  Pushing Sarah to fight for Chuck.  In the Cole arc what is Casey doing?  Pushing Chuck to fight for Sarah.  Tell me I’m wrong.  I’ve got quotes and pictures and another 1,000 words.  Casey is rooting for Charah.

OK, he’s not all warm and fuzzy, he has some, duties?  Issues?  Or perhaps there is something about the fact that Casey has been a deadly spy since these two were potty trained.  Maybe, just maybe, Casey is walking a fine line of loyalty like Sarah.  Just at a very different level.  For this argument I will offer a very few quotes, and perspective.

We never saw Casey kill Chuck, obviously.  We never saw Casey tranq Chuck and hand him over to an extraction team either.  Casey went to Barstow on orders.  His orders were to bring Chuck and Sarah back dead or alive.  If he wanted Chuck dead, it was a done deal.  Sarah, OK, a bit tougher, but he did have the chance when Sarah’s weapon went dry.  We know Casey didn’t want to kill them, we know he’s changed and evolved.  But one thing hit me like a ton of bricks the last time I watched the Colonel.  Chuck wouldn’t leave Casey so Sarah went back to save him.  Chuck wouldn’t leave Sarah, so he drove the car through a crowd of Fulcrum agents.  Sarah and Casey are faced off.

Casey: (to Sarah after they’ve both grabbed guns and faced off) “Drop it!” [oddly he didn’t shoot first and say don’t move later this time]

Sarah: “I can’t do that John” [Not Casey, John]

Chuck: “Guys, guys guys, guys guys, lets just take a break here and remember we are a team.”

Sarah and Casey (in unison): “Stay in the car!”

Chuck: “Technically I still have one foot in the car.”

Casey: “How far do you think you’re gonna get?” [Wait, did he just use the future tense?]

Sarah: “Until we rescue Chuck’s dad?” [That was framed as a question, wasn’t it?  Are we witnessing a negotiation?]

Here’s the thing I saw in Casey more than once.  He wants to help.  He has his own way, more by the book.  Look at Fat Lady where Jill is held captive and Chuck asks Casey for help EXCHANGING THE GOVERNMENT SECRETS FOR JILL.  Casey said no, to giving up the secrets, not to saving Jill.  He was reporting in.  He felt Chuck had already screwed things up enough, perhaps not without reason.  Before he had a chance to come up with any alternative Chuck was gone.  Could it be that Casey sees himself as the only adult keeping these two in control?  Trying to protect them from their superiors and themselves at the same time?  A thought, for your consideration…

Think of Casey’s feeling of betrayal in Colonel “you betrayed me!”  His team didn’t trust him enough to level with him, to include him.  An interesting proposition to be sure.

My personal take for season 2 is that Casey has become something of a throwback authority figure for Chuck.  A little of an older Hollywood standard.  Casey is the coach(or drill sergeant).  He cares, he doesn’t sugar coat it or coddle.  He knows that he isn’t doing Chuck (or Sarah) any favors if he does.  He’s been out there and knows both what they are going through and what they will.  But like the drill sergeant or coach, he can’t let them see softness or sympathy.  It comes through, on rare occasions.  In Beefcake Casey tried to take the earwig from Chuck.  Like a coach watching a hurt player try to keep going, knowing he needs to walk it off, but like a good coach when Chuck waved him off, letting him work through the pain and find his limits.

So take a second look at Casey.  I have a feeling he’s going to get a lot more interesting.  I think he’s going to need team B, and I hope that Chuck will step up and be the friend to Casey that Casey has been to him.

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About Ernie Davis

I was born in 1998, the illegitimate brain child and pen name of a surly and reclusive misanthrope with a penchant for anonymity. My offline alter ego is a convicted bibliophile and causes rampant pognophobia whenever he goes out in public. He wants to be James Lileks when he grows up or Dave Barry if he doesn’t.  His hobbies are mopery, curling and watching and writing about Chuck.  Obsessively.  Really, the dude needs serious help.
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15 Responses to Forbidden Bro-mance. So what is the deal with Chuck and Casey?

  1. joe says:

    Shorter Ernie Davis: “How can we love Casey when he was a few steps away from killing Chuck?” “Casey is rooting for Charah.”

    There!!!

    Just kidding, ED. You need to start a master class on these characters. When you note “That was framed as a question, wasn’t it? Are we witnessing a negotiation?”, you caught the deeper meaning in something we all heard several times.

    Confession time. Although I’ve been advised to watch it many times by many friends, I’ve never seen an episode of Firefly. Oddly, it was out of fear. I missed the first few episodes and didn’t want to get so invested in a new show so quickly after Babylon 5. And maybe i didn’t until Chuck came along…

    Needless to say, Adam Baldwin came as a surprise to me. Now I see his face everywhere, on reruns of NCIS, two nights ago on a rerun of Bones. Have you noticed? Between Sarah and Brennen, the poor guy is always getting beaten up by the strong women characters. I expect if he saw what I just typed, Baldwin would smirk and say “Yeah, but what a way to go!”

  2. Ernie Davis says:

    Rent Firefly. That is all. (Ernie, abbreviated.)

  3. Gord says:

    Great article. I don’t think you need to worry about Chuck being the loyal friend to Casey.

    I loved the ending of Colonel, when Chuck invites him to the rehearsal dinner.
    Casey “You don’t need me anymore”
    Chuck “I’m asking you as a friend”
    Then as he comes out the door, Sarah shows up and Casey gives them a moment to themselves. “I’ll go warm up the crown vic” (Like a car needs warming up in LA).
    We saw at the end of S2 there was real friendship between Casey and Chuck.

    Casey first saving Chuck at Ellie’s first wedding and then getting his special forces team to help arrange Ellie’s wedding was priceless – not to mention very funny.

    I am really looking forward to Casey in S3. We know that there is going to be a Casey-centric episode near the end of the season, and I really expect Chuck and Sarah will be there to help him out just like he was there for them at the end of Colonel. I also think that there should be some pretty good tension between Shaw and Casey.

    I also think that Casey is probably one of the biggest supporters of the Chuck/Sarah romance. After all without the Chuck and Sarah romance, he would not have all those great one-liners.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      My biggest worry with Chuck is that as Shaw comes in and shows more confidence in him than team B ever did Chuck will replace Team B with Shaw and forget how much he owes both Sarah and Casey. In addition there is a spoilerish bit about Casey’s future that I think is going to go on through a lot of the season, meaning Casey may not be as much a part of team B as in the past or as we’d like.

  4. OldDarth says:

    FireFly viewing is a must. And Serenity.

    I enjoy Casey more than Jayne because Casey is smarter and hence has more range as a character.

  5. OldDarth says:

    Not meaning to steal any thunder from Ernie’s excellent article so apologies and I hope no one minds that I post a link to my latest ChuckTV article here:

    http://tinyurl.com/ydy3eeo

  6. atcdave says:

    I like your take on the kill order in First Date; I can’t say I saw it that way, but it is encouraging to think he was dragging his feet on purpose.
    One other thought on the legality of the order; I’m fairly sure the writers just have no idea about these things. Its a common device on TV and movies to see completely immoral orders issued by overbearing COs with the expectation they will be instantly obeyed. I think that is mostly the paranoid anti-military mindset of Hollywood. In American military history, going back to the Civil War (specifically the Andersonville war crimes trial), it has been established that following orders is never a legal excuse for an immoral action. German and Japanese war criminals were prosecuted after WWII on exactly that principle. Obviously, disobeying orders is never an easy thing for a soldier. Some movies (anyone see the 1990 Memphis Belle?) go way too far the other way, and make it look like a soldier might disobey on a whim. But the bottom line is, a soldier receiving an illegal order should be severely conflicted over it.
    Casey was, at least, a little conflicted. We have seen a lot of growth from him since. I would expect a very different response from him if the situation came up again.
    Anyone want me to write a post on what the governments response and responsibilities ought to be? Sorry, I do get a little fired up over this stuff.

    • weaselone says:

      Well technically the ability of the CIA and military(including the NSA) to take actions within the US are heavily constrained by law. The FBI is the domestic intelligence agency, the CIA and NSA are supposed to be externally focused. Sarah, Casey and Beckman are violating US law when they serve independently as domestic intelligence and law enforcement.

      I’m also fairly certain that killing an innocent US citizen to cover up a government screw up is illegal under any circumstances, but I’m not so naive as to believe it would never happen.

      The use of this device and similar devices by Hollywood likely has less to do with some paranoid anti-military agenda on the part of the liberal Hollywood elite, and more to do with pure unadulterated laziness. Of course, if it does they have some decent company. A good chunk of the founders weren’t particularly fond of standing armies.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah, they’re obviously working outside their charter; and the killing an innocent civilian is exactly what we were discussing. I agree there’s a bit of laziness involved, but I think it starts with not really caring. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a conspiracy, again I think just not caring is the core issue; but I think that starts with a culture (or sub-culture) that doesn’t really respect the military. I understand they aren’t likely to become expert on every profession or industry portrayed on screen, but it does bother me when they have a fairly substantial military presence on screen (Beckman and Casey in every episode) and both characters are so often shown in a negative light. Casey has shown some growth, but even that often puts him at odds with the authority figure. It also bothers me some that they don’t know the actual mission of the F-22, which branch operates the F-117, or that the next step up Major is Lieutenant Colonel; but none of those quite give the same emotional charge.

        I think the bottom line on all this is just that its a fantasy/alternate reality. Its more of a James Bond sort of world than anything else. Which is fine, except it will always irk me if they really think government officials in this country are ordering hits on American civilians. A real military or government official who tries such a thing would get the needle if they were ever caught.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        They can’t even seem to decide if Casey is Army or a Marine, let alone explain why he’d be flying an F117 as either.

  7. herder says:

    I don’t think so, Chuck doesn’t give up old loyalties when new ones come along, he just rebalances them. Sarah, Morgan, Ellie, Casey, Orion, Buy More guys, ect no matter how many new people come into his life he still feels the same obligations and responsibilities for the people who came before. Besides, how can you replace the old guy with the new one who is trying to steal your girl, it makes him like Woody and that French guy in Cheers.

    • herder says:

      Whoops was trying to reply to ernie’s comment of January 8 @ 9:30am.

      • joe says:

        Don’t you hate when that happens?

        Know what you mean about Chuck’s loyalty. But there’s a fly in that Chardonnay. Chuck has decided to become a spy. On the surface, we know that this already means he’s leaving the Buy More, he thinks he’s leaving Morgan (as S2 ends, he’s gone) and Ellie & Devon are off to live their lives without him. Or with him, differently.

        So what does loyalty mean to Chuck now?

        This was one of the things we know Sarah loves about him. But now, does his loyalty extend beyond Team B? I don’t know. I have a funny feeling that this might be one of the things that come between Chuck & Sarah, when that “traumatic event” happens.

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