And Class Is In Session
Kristen Kreuk is cute. The sky also happens to be blue, grass is green and the sun rises in the east. Zac Levi is one enviable dude – he has as much chemistry with her as he did with Rachel Bilson, and that makes us want to find a way to distrust her character. But you can’t. Kreuk’s Hannah is sweet, innocent and perfect for Chuck. The old Chuck.
It’s really a shame that Chuck-the-world-class-spy is going to run roughshod over her, because we really liked that guy, the one that he was, and she’d be great for him. I mean, this spy-guy has his moments, for sure. It’s great to see Chuck get that determined look on his face, the one he gets just before he says “Let’s do this.” and then starts to cut loose. And Chuck still seems to be honest and well-meaning. But his priorities are just a bit – different – now. Old Chuck deserved someone like Hannah, who’s sweet, bright, straight-forward and even transparent, rather like him.
But this Chuck is on a mission and out to prove himself. Oh, he’s still like a colt, wobbly on his legs and he still uses that cell phone constantly to get information, guidance, help and even comfort. It’s very Chuck-like. In fact, we get to hear that girlish scream one last time.
Fortunately for him, Daniel Shaw recognizes that Chuck-the-world-class-spy doesn’t need that crutch, or wouldn’t if Sarah wasn’t always there to pick him up when he whines.
Daniel Shaw is telling Agent Walker one thing, to cut the cord, so that old Chuck can die. Of course, she doesn’t have to, but then she might just as well cut off one of Chuck’s legs. He’d be just as crippled and it would be quicker. Casey told her to “Put the lemon out of his misery.” in The Pink Slip. Same thing. It would be more humane.
Back at the Buy More, Morgan is facing the same problem as Chuck. He’s struggling to meet the requirements of his new position as Ass. Man., and he’s struggling to do it without Chuck’s hand-holding. Jeff and particularly Lester are actively resisting and even sabotaging his new-found authority, and Morgan is completely at a loss.
Morgan: How do you do it? How do you command respect?
Casey: I don’t. I take it.
It’s time for Morgan to evolve or to go back to what he was.
We joked about the spies/snakes on the plane. But “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Josie Davis are barely memorable as Hugo Panser and Serena, respectively. It’s not them, of course. It’s the story. The Ring is almost tangential, and they are not the real threat. It’s the Chuck and Sarah relationship we fear for and worry about. It’s facing a dire threat and that’s what the fans are paying attention to.
Let me describe the threat this way. For two seasons Chuck said over and over that he wanted a “normal” life. That means a quiet, low-stress, no-challenges existence brightened by simple, loyal friends like Morgan, supportive family like Ellie, and a sweet help-mate TBD. That would be Hannah (or Lou or Jill, once). Where does Sarah fit into that? She doesn’t. Sarah kicks that structure apart, and puts in its place excitement, danger, unpredictability, fun (on occasion) and – passion.
Sarah, on the other hand, hasn’t said what she wants, then or now. What we know (mostly from Carina and Bryce), is that she had been rather comfortable with the glamor, excitement, (her Porsche!), trips to Bogotá, San Tropez and Lisbon, and if Casey is to be believed, the hot romances too. Life with Chuck would take that away. But we notice every instant that Sarah spends wondering what it would be like to have a “real” life, stability, warmth, comfort, and above all, a real family. Those things have been out of her reach; she’s not been capable of having those relationships.
The bad news is that Sarah’s old life-style is just a lie. Chuck’s normal life is trivial, and he become a trivial person, “Like a patient, etherized upon a table”, when he returns to it.
Chuck and Sarah started out as exactly what the other wanted and needed, even if they were not aware of that fact. In First Class we see them quickly becoming the people they wanted to be, but no longer what the other hoped to find. Hannah appeals to the old Chuck, Shaw appeals to the Sarah that Carina and Bryce knew, and the fans were very right to be dismayed. They pose a very real threat, much more than Hugo Panser and Serena.
Shaw rightly convinces Sarah that she’s been crippling Chuck, and she had better let go. It was a mistake for both of them, he tells her, to fall in love with spies, her with Chuck, him with Evelyn. Find warmth, yes. But don’t give it all away. Chuck is gaining confidence as a spy, and wants to make a difference. But that does not mean he’s ready to leave quiet, comfortable and normal behind him, especially if that could include Hannah, who’s telling him that he’s quite good enough just the way he is. Since the end of Colonel Chuck and Sarah been asking if they can be who they want to be without losing what they once were.
At the end of First Class they may be deciding that the answer is no. Sarah is on the verge of settling for Shaw and her pre-Chuck life; Chuck is about to revert to Hannah and his pre-Sarah existence. Would that really be so bad? The only question remaining is, have they given up on the very things they found they needed when they had each other?
Oh, and have Casey and Morgan found the start of a beautiful friendship?
Now that we know the answers, First Class seems far more serious and poignant than it did the first time.
You see, Leonard and Penny had a major split this week, and their status was left as a cliff hanger. The fans are, needless to say, not happy about this and I don’t think anyone believes they won’t be together by the end of the next episode. Their story was well done, of course, but I’m not sure anyone will remember in two or three weeks. The story of Chuck and Sarah left a much bigger impression.