There’s always a message in the song, and as John Sebastian sang, there’s magic in the music. I’ve been struggling to understand Sarah in particular all season, and the music is the one thing that can keep me on track. Jem, aka Faith and ChuckNewbie8, knows this better than anybody, and expresses it better than I!
Once again, a guest post from Jem.
When we first examined the lyrics together we came upon the realization that the “journey” will be fraught with puzzlement, darkness and “backwards walk” but we learned that we would have to “Wait it Out.” We also learned that the songs contained within it a message both for the fans (from TPTB) and for the characters, one that often more real and more meaningful than what is seen at first glance. That was during the dog-days of the Mask. It seems so far removed from where we are now, and not just because we’ve had 3 weeks of Olympic Break to contend with but because 5 episodes later we’re at an entirely different place.
I said back then that it would be beyond interesting what music TPTB will come up with to enhance the story in the coming weeks (after the first seven episodes) and they didn’t disappoint. We can argue and discuss all other aspects of the story: plot points, expressions, even props but one true thing remains: Chuck’s songs give the viewers something more. More than just a lyric, more than just a tune, but an understanding. Today I’ll examine 3 more songs that came about in the last few episodes that do as good a job of conveying the emotion of the scene/event as Sarah Walker’s famous emotive facial expressions. And maybe as we scrutinize them together we’ll find our way through the maze and see a future, one we can all look forward to.
Swim Until You Can’t See Land, by Frightened Rabbit. This song was playing during a fountain scene. Fountain scenes are sacred here in ChuckThis, they come with it, its own significance (at least in our POVs) and this was no different. Just examine the lyrics:
Dip the toe in the ocean. Oh how it hardens and it numbs.
The rest of me is a version of man, built to collapse into crumbs.
And if I hadn’t come down to the coast to disappear
I may have died in a land-slide of the rocks, the hopes and fears.
So swim until you can’t see land.
Swim until you can’t see land.
I’ll set the scene: Ellie is talking to Chuck, about choices, about life, about love.
Ellie: “I know, I know. But dreams change. And if there’s one thing I know is I want to be with Devon. It may require some sacrifice for us but one thing I know, he’s the best decision I’ve ever made”
Message sent, message received. “The rest is a version of man, built to collapse into crumbs” That was Chuck, not that long ago. Already knowing and feeling he’s lost Sarah, and unable to flash just an episode ago, the job became secondary but life and love frontmost. So Ellie talking about choices and Devon, just added to the question: what will Chuck choose? Will he “swim, until you can’t see land”?
I found these lines most notable:
Up to my knees now, do I wait? Do I dive?
The sea has seen my like before though it’s my first and perhaps last time.
Casey: “I made my decision between love and love of country a long time ago. And it was the right decision for me. You have to make a decision whether that’s the right one for you. Walker’s a good woman.”
So if Ellie’s speech wasn’t enough, Casey added to it. Time’s running out for Chuck, the end scene is Sarah in a taxi-cab in DC, “I’m thinking of moving here” so Chuck, swim until you can’t see land. “Do I wait, do I dive…perhaps last time.”
For the fans, well just like Pink Slip’s wait it out, this is a message, a message that Chuck and this arc hasn’t been the most enjoyable. In fact it felt kind of like drowning so it’s fitting. It’s been a very long spell of angst and distaste (for some), and there are those that can’t see land but yet they’re telling us to swim. That we have to keep swimming. A variation on keep the faith perhaps?
Next comes, In My Sleep by Austin Hartley-Leonard & Kendall Jane Meade. Unlike most songs this song wasn’t in Chuck’s POV, but rather Sarah’s. Although I suppose it’s interchangeable like all of them.
I know you were never mine to keep
But I know that I’ll see you in my sleep
But time has been unkind and kept me far from you
But I know you will be holding me In my sleep
I’ve been hanging on scraping by all my life
And I know you will be holding me In my sleep
This song is a message of goodbye. A goodbye from Sarah to the old Chuck. She said it herself: “but then you’ll be Chuck and there’s nothing wrong with that…the decision is yours Chuck but please know that there is no turning back.” Believing that he’s all but fully left his past behind, including her…her only comfort is “I know you will be holding me in my sleep.” Interesting side-note she turns to look at him one last time to the tune of, “I know I’ll see you in my sleep.” Powerful words and a powerful song for a powerful message.
The fans are left to interpret this message what they may. To me it’s a goodbye to the rock-bottom depth of darkness; granted we weren’t exactly angst free in the coming epis, but it was, they were at least paired with some good. Some fun, some believability. Masks, and all that, a thing of the past. I’ll only see it in my nightmares 😉
The last song in this very long (ha) review is Down River by The Temper Trap. I’ve already kind of delved into the significance of its lyrics and message a little bit in my posts but I’ll expand. When the season was just beginning we were given a message with Imogene Heap’s Wait it Out. With that message we were given devastation, pain, anguish but urged to stick around and be patient. Fast forward to American Hero’s Down River and the message coincides. Except this one came with it joy:
We have seen some things
Some awfully nice
Some dreadfully bad
But we will sing
Wash the blood, off our knees
Cause our love breaks
Through ruff seas, our ship will sail it…
(Walk these stairs
Put, the pieces, back together)
Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Go don’t stop
I have to admit I had a little chuckle with “we have seen some things, some awfully nice, some DREADFULLY bad” because a better statement cannot be made about the season. Some were awfully good, some vomit-worthy bad. But “through ruff seas” our ship has sailed and the pieces “back together” —well on the mend at least—FINALLY it’s go, don’t stop. Go, don’t stop has so many meanings not the least of which is the return of the fun we’ve all been missing. The joy, the heart, the soul.
From a storyline standpoint this song contains with it an even stronger message. From Swim Until You Can’t See Land‘s: “up to my knees now, do I wait? do I dive?” to Down River‘s: “go, don’t’ stop” and “wait it out” to “finally.” Chuck has made a decision and just like Ellie has told him, “You’re a Bartowski, act like one,” “If you love her, if she’s the one then you don’t stop, you don’t quit, you never give up,” he doesn’t give up on Sarah. He puts it all on the line, bluntly and honestly:
Chuck: “I love you. One more time because it feels really nice to say…
Chuck: “I want to spend the rest of my life with you…”
Chuck: “don’t go don’t do it, leave with me instead. I don’t want to have to convince you, I just want you to show up”
Interesting side-note the song lyrics playing right after that last line? “take a chance on something.”
The scene ends with Sarah and Casey talking, decision made, she too adds to the “go, don’t stop” message except on several levels. If only Casey hadn’t stopped her, she’d probably be away from Shaw’s clutches at present time. If she’d have gone and not stopped, Chuck and Sarah would probably be in some paradise somewhere together. And finally this is it for both of them. We talk all the time about the point of no return being in Colonel, well this is definitely a point of no return. Go, don’t stop for both Chuck and Sarah.