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.