Certainly the most discussed story element for the last several months has been the impact of Shaw on the story and characters. We’ve seen interviews, clips, and spoilers of every sort telling us how much we’re going to hate this character. Well, finally we’ve had our first glimpse of the man, so I thought it would be in order to start a discussion on how things actually will play out. We will use whatever mix of show history, interviews and spoilers fit the purpose. No one will be moderated for guessing too close. Obviously, as the weeks go by we’ll be able to get more precise.
We’ve been told Shaw is the foremost expert on The Ring and is there to lead the battle against them. But it already seems his real purpose to help Chuck gain control of his emotions, and make him more capable of independent action. We don’t know exactly how much information about Team Bartowski group dynamics he started with, but he seems to have formed certain opinions quickly. He obviously believes Casey and Sarah are over-protective and stifling Chuck’s growth. On a related note, he may think they are a little too chummy (my conclusion, based on him viewing the dinner party at the end). He may have been surprised by Sarah’s comment about knowing what you have to loose; but surprised or no, he clearly doesn’t agree or approve. The wedding ring he put on the end strikes me as particularly ominous; he has presumably lost his wife, possibly by base betrayal, maybe even by his own hand (hence the dislike of guns). We can expect he will show no mercy or tolerance of Chuck and Sarah’s affection for each other; in his eyes it is pure weakness.
We know next week Hannah makes her first appearance. We’ve been told little about how she will really fit into the story, except that Chuck, Morgan, and the Nerd Herders will all like her; and Chuck will have an intimate moment with her in the home theater room. My thought is, she’s a CIA agent who will be under Shaw’s orders to start driving a wedge between Chuck and Sarah. Shaw may tell Chuck he thinks she’s a Ring agent (or has critical info or some such) and Chuck needs to get close to her to find out what she knows. Now I might enjoy seeing Chuck try every variation of friendly approach, short of seduction, to accomplish his mission; to Shaw’s growing frustration. Until Chuck finds out Morgan is interested in this “bad” girl. Then Chuck will heroically prove she is no darn good for Morgan’s benefit. Of course this finally gives Shaw the bit of video footage he can accidentally let Walker see. If I’m right on more than one element of this I will claim a major victory and be generally insufferable for weeks!
Next up, we know Shaw will be making a move for Sarah. I doubt he will actually care about her in any real way, his objective is purely to shake Chuck loose from her influence. This ties back to his view the relationship is a weakness for Chuck. We know from previews and spoilers ad nauseum that he will have some success. Its way too early to be sure, but my guess would be Sarah is on to him all the way; she may lead him on in her own attempt to get information, or find out his agenda; but I really can’t see the Sarah Walker we’ve all known for two seasons, the same woman who won’t get involved with Chuck because its unprofessional, or feelings get you killed, or spies don’t fall in love; suddenly falling for the new spy stud. I think we will see a game, or battle of wills between them. Of course, Chuck may know nothing about this. I would love to see Chuck and Sarah working Shaw for information, but I’m pretty sure Chuck will have to suffer in ignorance for a while. When he finally learns the truth will be an epic moment near the end of the arc.
The last element I have no idea about the timing on. But most spoilers indicate Casey will be suspended or fired at some point. I’m sure Chuck won’t be happy about it, but it won’t cause the sort of shut down/melt down just dismissing Sarah would have; so I think Shaw will feel he can act more boldly with Casey. Naturally, Casey won’t leave Burbank, he may make more of a nuisance of himself at the Buy More. I’m sure he will try to provide distant (um, “unsanctioned”) cover for Team B; I’m sure most of us have seen the stills of Casey in spy garb with Devon and Morgan. This could actually be the most entertaining consequence of Shaw’s plan, Casey being forced to rely on even less capable associates than Chuck.
What will the final fallout be? I think the easy answer is “good things”. Somehow, Chuck will come out of this with more control than he started with. And Chuck, Sarah and Casey will all learn how much they can count on each other. Shaw may turn out to be a villain; but I strongly suspect he won’t be. At some point, he will be forced to admit Team Bartowsky (especially Chuck and Sarah) is stronger because of their attachment, not in spite of it. That’s right, I think the lasting epic lesson will be Broken Heart revisited.
Update: 1/21: I just wanted to add a comment based on the spoiler Sarah’s real name will be revealed in 3.08. There’s any number of ways it could be brought up, but I think the most likely scenario is she tells Chuck. This could accomplish two obvious things:
1) Causes Chuck to flash. Chuck has flashed on tidbits of her in the past, but he may suddenly learn a lot about how she came to be Sarah Walker.
2) Sarah uses it to prove her sincerity to Chuck. If Chuck is having problems or doubting Sarah is manipulating Shaw, but has real feelings for Chuck; a reveal of this nature could convince Chuck that he’s the one who truly has her heart. (Oh, that and the flash that confirms she’s telling the truth about her name).