One of my biggest failing of Season 3 (so far!) is that I’ve not found time to study the music in each episode as much as I’ve wanted. The music and lyrics in Chuck are just too important to be ignored. Lucky for me one of my favorite commentors – you know her as Faith – won’t let me get away with that!
With thanks, a guest post from Faith.
I’m sure we’re all agreed on this one pure fact: Chuck has good music. The words may not always be a window into the scene but it often tells a deeper story. And in most cases, it’s a story we don’t want to hear.
TPTB has a tendency to be far more real and in your face with their music than with the script itself but it is essential to the completeness of the story. The emotional punch of “Skinny Love,” the tongue in cheek-ness of “Do You Believe in Love,” the vulgar truth of “Keep Yourself Warm,” and the romantic plea of “Christmas Song.” All these serve a purpose and each of these purposes give the script and the story depth and meaning. In this post I’ll examine four specific songs (no, sorry not those mentioned*) and what they could mean for Chuck and thereby Chuck and Sarah’s future.
The season started off (at least what I consider to be the start lol) with Imogene Heap’s “Wait it Out.”
Upon inspection the lyrics, much like previous Chuck songs, has in it a strong and essential message:
Where do we go from here?
How do we carry on?
I can’t get beyond the questions.
Clambering for the scraps
In the shatter of us collapsed.
That cuts me with every could-have-been.
Pain on pain on play, repeating
With the backup makeshift life in waiting.
Everybody says: “Time heals everything.”
But what of the wretched hollow?
The endless in-between?
Are we just going to wait it out?
This is a message. A message of loss, of devastation and the question that requires no answer: “are we just going to wait it out?” The scene is set, Chuck and Sarah are in an emotive “will you run away with me?” scene, where we learn hearts are broken and dreams dashed. The music tells us this, the music expands on this. It foreshadows a future where “I can’t get beyond the questions,” Sarah couldn’t understand why Chuck wasn’t kissing her the way she expected, she couldn’t understand why he’s saying no to her very generous offer. All she can feel is the “wretched hollow and the endless in between.”
But the message is not just for Sarah, it’s for the fans as well. They acknowledge that this scene and these events are going to be upsetting and devastating (if not as much for us as it is for Sarah) and it’s their way of saying, “wait it out.” I found these lines to be most curious:
Are we just going to wait it out?
And sit here cold?
We’ll be long gone by then.
They know they’ll probably lose viewers and that the events succeeding this one will create chaos and “wretched hollow” but again the message, “For all we could and should be being. In the one life that we’ve got.” They know they’re on borrowed time and this is their plea to the fans and viewers to let the story be told and “wait it out.”
Minutes later we get Frightened Rabbit’s “My Backwards Walk.” Now this song needs no explanation with relation to the scene:
I’m working on drawing a straight line
and i’ll draw until i get one right
it’s bold and dark girl, can’t you see
I done drawn a line between you and me
We know now what they were preparing us for. It’s utter devastation, and it won’t stop here. Chuck turns down Sarah and it’s a plea from Sarah to Chuck, “Say Yes, before I change my mind” and for Chuck to Sarah, “it’s bold and dark girl, can’t you see I done drawn a line between you and me.” It’s a message of love and loss. When we love we hurt and that’s what’s happening here and what the song builds on. Chuck is going on a dark path and Sarah is pleading for him to stay with her, stay as the man she fell in love with.
For the fans it’s a declaration of the direction the show will be taking. They’re basically saying what you believed before will no longer be the truth, and that the characters and the story will be taking a “backwards walk:”
I’m working on my faults and cracks
filling in the blanks and gaps
and when i write them out they don’t make sense
I need you to pencil in the rest
They’re again pleading for us that what will be might not make sense, and that it’s going to lead us penciling in the rest, mostly incorrectly but there will be gaps and blanks, even metaphorical ones. But it’s a story they had to tell. It’s a direction and a “backwards walk” they needed to take. And with “wait it out” in mind, it’s a variation on the same message.
A couple of episodes later we get “Living a Lie” by Daniel Zott at the infamous, “friends” scene in Angel de la Muerte. Now it’s easy enough to see that although the words are spoken, and spoken NOT at the fountain, it’s a lie but it’s even deeper than that:
when I wake up with the morning light I can always breathe
somehow that never has meant much to me
and I can’t say i am thankful for the things I have
I’m a hell of a guy
living a hell of a lie
and if I gave it all way I’d expect something back
I’m never sure that I could tell you where my heart is at
These lines are the paint to the story’s canvas. Chuck is living a lie now. He’s given everything he had away and in essence so has Sarah, though in different ways. When once life was easy, and free, now it’s not and it’s more than just the lie they live, it’s the “never sure” aspect of that life and lie. The stakes are higher and the things that once gave comfort now restricts. The feelings that bubbled over and were once universal truths are now mired in lies and untruths. “Being friends” is so far beyond from where they are it’s almost a pun. Because these two can and will never be just “friends.”
The fans are to read into this scene what they may. The words probably should be taken at face value but the lyrics and the facial expressions suggest a truth contrary to the lie. The season builds onto this one concept: living a lie.
Finally comes Franz Ferdinand’s “Can’t Stop Feeling,” in Mask.
Soul boy, down and alone
And his soul is broken again
But you can’t stop moving
No you won’t stop moving along
Soul starts spinning again
I can’t stop feeling
No, I don’t stop feeling
And the word’s not ‘us’ anymore
I can’t stop feeling
No, I won’t stop feeling
By this time we know by now that whatever feeling they may have takes the back-burner to the spy situation, “the world is not ‘us’ anymore”. And we’re given a sliver of hope for the upcoming “moving on” speech: a message that says, “I can’t stop feeling.” It’s interesting that this specific song was playing as they enter the mission. It’s followed by the “jealous” speech and which in itself built on the “I can’t stop feeling” message. The scene is set and the players in position, Chuck with Hannah and Shaw with Sarah but through it all we’re reminded that “no, I won’t stop feeling.”
So what do these songs tell us about Chuck and Sarah’s future? That it will require some leap of faith for us to “wait it out.” That they will be taking a “backwards walk” and that they are “living a lie.” But through it all one essential truth remains: “can’t stop feeling” and that for the shippers is the carrot to the stick 🙂 I’m beyond interested in what songs they’ll use in the future. They’ve yet to channel the poignant fan favorite: Bon Iver and have yet to explore the depths of the National. But if and when they do, the fans will be listening, for more than just the tune.
-ChuckNewbie8 aka Jem
*I still don’t quite know what Skinny Love means, so I purposely didn’t explore that one lol.