And In Conclusion…
This is my forth attempt to write something meaningful about The American Hero episode. Each try became trial pretty quickly. And before that, I could only think to repeat the same ideas and express the same reactions that I’ve seen expressed in comments. You guys are that good.
The only difference is that I was thinking about your reactions to The Pink Slip and The Mask, you know, the lowest points of the season.
It seemed that most of you are pretty happy with (or at least, upbeat about) what you saw. I couldn’t find that in myself. When I see Sarah enjoying herself on a date with Shaw, and when I see her kissing him, the writers are telling me that she has real feelings for him. When Shaw tells Chuck to take care of her, the writers are telling me that he’s a paragon. There’s no deception, or mis-direction or anything except these are not the characters I thought I understood before, and this is not the story I thought I was seeing up to now.
And I find myself using your words and your ideas, you “crazy-shippers”, you, to understand what’s going on. You were right all along.
So I’ve felt pretty down-cast all week, not because I should be facing a ringing chorus of “I told you so!” (really!). I’ve been saddened to think that Sarah is not the person I thought she was. She’s much diminished in my mind. To be charitable about it, Sarah has a habit of trying guys on “for size” (just to see if they fit). She did it with Cole Barker too, I think.
Shaw: I’m sorry.
Sarah: What could you possibly be sorry for? This is amazing.
Shaw: I’m sorry that we haven’t done this sooner.
Sarah: This is nice.
Shaw: No! This is perfect, being here with you.
They clink glasses.
To a new life, and a fresh start. No Burbank, no baggage.
Imagine there’s a bruise on my arm. It’s the last place I want to be poked by anybody. The writers have jabbed me right on that bruise, now, consciously, deliberately, and yes, they told me all season that this was coming. It’s a shame that this is happening right at the very core of the show, right where I’m the most sensitive.
I call it a shame because the rest of episode was fantastic!
Casey-Awesome-Morgan (the CAM team) had me in stitches; Morgan has been incredible and getting better. And Ellie! I could watch a season of Ellie and be happy (or a season of Casey, or a season of Morgan or a season of Jeffster…). They were at the top of their game, and every second the support team was on screen was precious.
Ellie: Jail? Seriously jail? Morgan. I would have expected this from you or even Casey now that we’ve all been privy to your public indecency problem. But Devon! I never expected this from you.
Devon: Babe, I’m so sorry…
Ellie: You know what? Save the apology. Okay? I want answers. I want the truth. I want you guys to tell me everything.
Devon: The truth?
Devon: The truth is…
Casey: We were, uh helping Chuck.
Ellie: Chuck is in DC, guys.
Morgan: No, he was. But he’s back – to win back Sarah.
Ellie: Hold on for a minute. You guys expect me to believe that the three of you got my husband beat up and tossed in jail to save my brother’s love life?
Morgan: Yes we did.
Casey: We’re as shocked as you are.
Ellie: And what’s more Chuck came to you three for advice before me?
Why am I not surprised this ended in jail?
Chuck Bartowski himself has just crossed into a whole new realm. Let me put it this way; Chuck didn’t seem like Bond to me. Bond is now Chuck, sans humor and humanity, a lesser character. “I’m just a normal guy.” Sure. That true. And I want to be normal like that. Sarah wants That Normal Guy.
And wasn’t the phrase about James Bond always “Men want to be him; women want to be with him.”? Hah! Given the choice of James or Chuck, Morgan is quite right to pick Chuck in the first round. Even Chuck knows now that his old insecurities were just not necessary (“Huh, didn’t even need to flash.”), and that alone, my friends, is a big, big reason to like him. Chuck’s realization that he has been “good enough” all along, not to mention good enough for Sarah, once again mirrors our own experiences (and if it hasn’t yet, trust me on this, it will).
Mr. Everyman? Nice to see you again. Oh yes, Chuck has changed. But the only difference that means anything is that now Chuck knows what he wants.
Chuck: Listen. I know that you think I’m not that same guy you met the first day at the buy more. And you know what? You’re right, okay? You’re right. The guy that I was back then hated himself for not knowing what he wanted to do with the rest of his life or who he wanted to spend it with, but now, finally now, I know. I want to be a spy. And I want to be with you.
That leaves Sarah. Sarah, if I could talk to you, I’d have to ask – do you even know what the heck love is? Here. Let me help. M. Scott Peck said this:“Love is not a feeling. Love is an action, an activity. . .”. Forget the daddy-issues stuff and forget about the speeches. Think about what Chuck is doing. Think about what Shaw is doing. One of them has a mission to satisfy is own need to avenge and correct a painful past event. The other is taking every opportunity he has to help two people grow (and you are one of those two people). Here’s something else Peck said:
[L]ove is the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth….
Sarah, that’s not poetic, and it’s not even easy to comprehend. But it’s true none-the-less. Chuck has been extending himself. He’s been doing that for himself. And as amazing as you are, Sarah Walker, he’s been helping you to grow too. That’s why he won’t lie to you, that’s why he stands up for his friends (even when it costs him), and that’s why he won’t use a gun. So now tell me; what have you been doing?
Perhaps the answer is Sarah’s digging herself out of a hole, all while helping Chuck reach his goal. If that’s the case (and it remains to be seen that it is), then all of a sudden, my spirits are lifting. When I think this is still possible, then the last few minutes of American Hero shows me a Sarah whose smile is as radiant as the one we saw in a suburban kitchen.
Three things have happened in these past couple of days to make me anticipate the coming episodes with excitement. Faith’s marvellous post on the music we’ve heard said something key – that much of it applies to both Chuck and Sarah. Blitzen Trapper’s God and Suicide could have been playing in the immediate aftermath of Rafe holding a gun to Sarah’s head. I saw her relive her red test. Faith noted how the line “Take a chance on something.” from The Temper Trap’s Down River is what we hear when Chuck asks Sarah to run away with him. Those are the words we want her to hear. Chuck has already taken his chance – those are the words ringing in Sarah’s ears. The first thing that’s happened is that, like it often does, the music has made the story.
Second, we’ve seen promos for the upcoming episodes. ’nuff said.
Lastly, my friends, your optimism is showing. Over and over again I’ve seen signs that many of you seriously, honestly and truly believe that you’re going to enjoy what’s coming up next. Oh, there’s caution, and expectations have been appropriately tempered. But who’s been really deserving of the title “crazy”? Nobody I’ve seen lately. You – we! were asked to be patient and give everyone involved a fair chance, including show-runners and NBC. From where I sit, it looks like that’s exactly what happened. I can’t be sure that we’ll all be happy in these coming weeks, but just the fact that so many think it’s possible speaks volumes.
The seeds planted in the story have made that possible. It’s a coincidence, I’m sure that springtime warmth has come to my part of the country this week too. It’s been a long winter.