Nothing is Real.
Most of us have experienced, when obsessively re-watching Chuck, the occasional nugget that doesn’t quite scan. I’ll usually file them away until there are enough collected that they start to connect or form patterns in my mind. My own version of the intersect. The most fun of this warped little hobby of mine is when you can pull off a perfect prediction with just one or two of these little nuggets. For those of you into computers and math it would be like modeling a 3D surface with 2 points as a reference and finding it an exact match. More often than not you’re way off or missing something crucial. My recent speculation on something between Shaw and Sarah is a good example, but when you’re right… Almost magic. The problem is that to really know you’ve managed you need to record your wildly speculative model a priori to the reveal that can confirm or deny that you are in fact, a magician. If you are interested I attempt to pull an elephant out of a top hat after the jump.
So we’ve had a few discussions about things that didn’t seem to fit in Pink Slip or Three Words. Some seem to be settled or dropped, but a few things have floated around in my head for a while and I am starting to get a slow motion flash. At the beginning of Pink Slip we see Chuck flunk out of spy school, or more exactly a special school designed just for him. Beckman sends him packing. The problem isn’t the intersect Chuck, it’s you. An LA field team will monitor you until we can determine your final status. Final Status, an ominous term considering what we saw at the beginning of season 2. So here is a question someone asked. Sarah was put in charge of the intersect 2.0 project at the beginning of the Ring. Why wasn’t she in charge in Pink Slip? Well we see she planned to run away, maybe she’d turned down the assignment, maybe she’d taken vacation while Chuck was learning to use the 2.0. We just don’t know, but my wild guess is we soon will. Sarah was put in charge of the 2.0 project in the Ring because she was the only agent to ever run an intersect agent, her insights would be critical to the new experimental project. So why wasn’t she called in for the 2.0 project when it started to go wrong. The answer is she still is in charge of the 2.0 and making it work. Let’s indulge ourselves.
So imagine you are Beckman, who apparently gets to know Chuck somewhat in Prague while he is training. Things are going great for a while, perhaps, but eventually it seems Chuck just isn’t working out. Chuck can’t seem to figure it out, he’s enthusiastic, committed, he’s just not able to flash at will the way he’s supposed to, and he can’t seem to pull the trigger. So, with everything on the line with this project who would you turn to? Well the only agent in the CIA to ever run either Bartowski, or an intersect agent. Whether she’s still involved in the project or not, you call in Sarah Walker to try and diagnose the problem.
Sarah Walker, who may have even retired for all we know is called in to consult. She seems less than enthusiastic to talk to Chuck or even see him. Something has happened between them. Walker has a history with Bartowski, that much Beckman knows, and a reputation for personal entanglements on the job. Sarah Walker broke Bartowski. Now what? Well Walker probably gets a serious dressing down for starters, then the questions start. Maybe some of the story comes out, maybe not, but in the end one thing becomes clear. If 2.0 is ever going to work Walker is going to have to help fix it.
So why can’t Chuck flash? No matter how many simulations they run, no matter how real they make them, Chuck can’t seem to flash when it counts. Sarah speaks up. General, its because Chuck knows it doesn’t count. Chuck has been an avid gamer for years. He loves the games, but he knows they are just games. He plays Call of Duty till his fingers are raw, but he’d never even handle a real gun in real life, or he wouldn’t, until someone he cared about needed him, when something real was on the line. Chuck isn’t by nature an offensive weapon, but he is the guy who will do whatever it takes to save the day when it matters. She’s seen it countless times. When the mission or lives are on the line, Chuck Bartowski is that guy.
So how do we make this work? You know if we can’t it’s a bunker for Chuck, we can’t have him out there with the intersect, especially this new one. How do we make it work? Walker is less than enthusiastic about making Chuck into the weapon the 2.0 was designed to be, but she seems willing to do just about anything to keep him out of a bunker. A plan is hatched. We’ll test Walker’s theory. Send Chuck back home. From what Sarah knows of him he’ll likely need time to feel sorry for himself, and a reason to pull himself out of the funk. All the surveillance and facilities they need are already in place in LA. Monitor him, and when the time comes, give him a reason to flash. Try to put him in a situation where someone is counting on him. It will have to be well controlled, carefully monitored, and safe, Walker insists that Chuck not be put at any more risk than absolutely necessary, but he needs to feel necessary for this to work. And one more request, she wants her old partner Casey back.
Things are taking longer than they thought. Chuck isn’t responding and time is running out. While waiting for Chuck to snap out of it Sarah and Casey have kept busy with relatively minor jobs. Exchanges, courier drops, some intel, things that can be put into play to test Chuck without too much danger when the time comes. But cripes, the guy has really sunk. Even Morgan can’t seem to snap him out of it. Speculative aside. We know that another of Chuck’s friends or family finds out about his spy life. I think it’s Morgan. Is it possible that Morgan was called in by Sarah in an effort to snap Chuck out of it? I think probably not, it would be tough to do without jumping the shark, but it is an intriguing possibility.
Finally the time comes. Chuck has ventured out and plans can be set in motion. Casey makes sure Chuck knows where to be. The mission is a fairly simple one, and the area will be well controlled. Chuck arrives. It’s go time. “Sarah this isn’t about us…” Now Sarah has her own bit of intel to gather. “Kiss me now!” Yes, it is about them, there is still something there in the kiss, but he broke her heart and the stupid SOB wanted to be a spy, now he’s one step away from the padded cell. The slap is real, and a little harder than she intended. Back in the kitchen Chuck gets evaluated quickly.
I see two possibilities here. One that Sarah’s “Get him out of here.” was real, she judged that Chuck wasn’t ready. She’d put him down with a slap, he’s been living on cheese balls, not sleeping well, he’s not ready. The other, I think more likely, was that it was part of the plan. As was Casey’s naming the courier for Chuck to flash on. Start the test with Chuck outside. Can he get back in to a controlled facility. Well he can.
“Give him a second.” That doesn’t quite fit with “Get him out of here.”, does it? Yes it does. Get him out of here was for Chuck’s benefit. Give him a second was for Casey’s. Sarah knows what is in the 2.0. It’s her project. See if he can flash. He can and does. First test passed. Now stress him a bit. This is a bonus for Sarah. She’s never had a problem with taking a bit of revenge on Chuck while on a mission if the opportunity presents itself, kind of like the “I don’t like nice guys” in Beefcake. The dance is not really to protect Chuck from Gilles and his men, that is well under control. Half the bar is undercover. No, the dance is for Chuck’s benefit. Can he keep his mind on the mission? Well, sort of. Casey was ready to call it, but Chuck manages to pull it together. For a bit. Chuck blows it. All he had to do was flash on the assassin and ID him and he’d have his second chance, but he blows it, and Sarah is pissed. “You don’t work anymore! It’s over!”
We know he didn’t, sort of. He was supposed to flash on an assassin and ID him, but unfortunately its the assassin that IDs Chuck.
Back at the castle Casey and Sarah are packing up. The intersect doesn’t work. It’s the bunker for Chuck after all. Despite the heartbreak and anger Sarah still cares. She still hates to see Chuck lose everything, but she did everything she could to prevent this, and he wanted to be a spy.
“Poor guy.” Casey knows Chuck is headed for the bunker. They tried, but at least Walker could break the news to him and let him know she still cared enough to try and keep him out. “Just doing my job.” “Job’s over.” Really? I thought it was over long ago? Nope, it just ended that night when Chuck failed his last test. Sarah goes to break the news to him when the fates intervene. It seems Chuck will get one last chance to prove himself, for real this time.
Sarah couldn’t pick the lock? Please… Sarah Walker could have the two of them out of there in seconds, but she knows a godsend when she sees it. Chuck can do this, she knows he can, and if he can he gets another chance. Something awesome happens and Chuck, as he always does, comes through when someone needs him to. And Sarah needed Chuck to come through so that she gets a second chance too. They’re both broken and the only way they get fixed is together.
So Chuck can work after all. They’ll do it Sarah’s way for now. Put him in familiar circumstances, keep him surrounded by the people that matter to him, train him in the field. But Sarah? Well, she’s still hurting, but that doesn’t mean she still doesn’t feel the duty to protect Chuck. He’s let her down, like so many other men in her life, but he deserves a second chance. Just not with her. She’ll stay and work with him and protect him to try and give him that second chance. For now.
Remember, this is wild speculation, so lets have some fun with the possibilities while I write up the clues from other episodes.