Heroes are tested. Some tests they pass, some they fail, but pass or fail, this is where we finally get some answers. Will Chuck pull the trigger? Will Sarah put the gun in his hand? Can Sarah love a killer, can Chuck still be a normal guy and a naked spy? Yes, our heroes are put to the various tests. But some of these tests aren’t about scores, they’re about choices. The test is the choice, and if you really have one. Some choices negate others, and some choices require more choices along the path you’re set upon. If you choose to read on maybe we’ll get some answers, after the jump.
Chuck: Look, you were put in an impossible position, okay? You had no choice.
Casey: It’s America, Chuck. Everyone has a choice.
Remember those words. They inform the entire episode and every character’s actions. Right from the beginning Casey is laying down some truth. Yes, he was in an impossible situation, but the choice was still his to make. He’d made one choice years ago, to serve his country and let go of the woman he loved. But that wasn’t the end of it, he had to make it again every day, and one day he wavered. For whatever reason, the man who at one point was apparently ready to put a bullet into Chuck’s brain to protect the nation was given the same choice he thought he’d made, your country or the woman you love. While with the help of his team he was able to save both he understood the consequences.
Casey: Listen up, Chuck. I disobeyed orders. I put my team and my country in danger. This is my job now. I made my bunk, and I’ll lie in it.
And for Casey the consequences are apparent, he has to learn to live by a whole new set of rules. Me, I’ll miss Casey bashing Buy Morons around. Especially Jeff and Lester.
Sarah: Chuck, if you fail to complete the mission, which you’ll undertake by yourself, then you’ll go back to your old life.
Beckman: But if you succeed, you will be promoted. No more Buy More, no more handlers. Just real missions for a real spy.
Chuck and Sarah alone. There’s a recipe for disaster. Those two gab like little schoolgirls. Sarah is at Chuck’s apartment to observe and report on his first mission, but Chuck and Sarah being Chuck and Sarah, well, there’s bound to be some reminiscing and longing for the past involved. For two years they’ve been the most important people in each others lives. Good times and bad, they always had each other, outside a brief separation. While they seem to have reconnected on some level it’s clear they are both looking at the end of the most important relationship of their adult lives. Chuck of course needs to commemorate the occasion.
Chuck has style. Chuck has charm. Chuck has game. What does this Shaw guy have? Sarah apparently. At their last stake out Chuck has prepared not just a walk down memory lane, but a perfect date that reminds Sarah of everything she loved about Chuck. He’s competent and can rise to the challenge, but he still has that wide eyed innocence that lets making a date out of a stake out somehow appropriate. And he has charm and style. Sarah has very little resistance, and Chuck is breaking what little there is quickly. Is it serious with Shaw? Well, it’s not like with you. What if we didn’t have to choose? Sure, we couldn’t be together before, but what about now?
He couldn’t turn his back on the world with his talents, and he thought that cost him Sarah. But now, what if they could have both, duty and love. Maybe some choices are false choices. Maybe they need to be revisited every so often. Shaw manages to be enough of a wet blanket through the usual interruptions to keep things from getting out of hand. Oh, yeah, and there is that whole national security thing going on. But Chuck has made a decision. This is not over.
The things a spy has to do. A Hundred dollars in spa fees? He can expense that, right? And sanitation turns out to be the least of his steamroom worries, but two Russian thugs and a Rocky IV/Eastern Promises hat tip later Chuck is a bit underdressed for scaling tall buildings to identify CIA moles. One untimely breeze later Chuck is a naked spy, or so he thinks.
Sarah is in an impossible situation, but she still has a choice. How could Sarah agree to do this? This is Sarah who has obsessed over every change and lie that Chuck has told as a sign that Chuck is disappearing before her eyes. And now she’s going to push him over the edge? She’s going to give him the order? She knows he listens to her and respects her above all others. She knows he wanted to be a spy because of her, and now she wants no part of making him a killer. But she does take part. Shaw tells her it’s not about her, it’s about Chuck, and so she agrees.
Sarah: Please don’t say that.
Chuck: But it’s true.
So here we are at the big quandary. Sarah tells Chuck to kill Perry. That’s the mission. Sarah puts the gun in Chuck’s hand and tells him he has a choice. Be a spy, or go back to being Chuck. Chuck has re-evaluated his choices. He wants to be with Sarah, and he wants to be a spy. He doesn’t see it as either or. Sarah tells him it’s unlikely the other way, them together and him not a spy will happen, but the choice is his and there is no going back once you make your decision. And then Sarah leaves, waits and watches. How can Sarah do that to Chuck?
Sarah is a spy again. Sarah chose to give up what she loved to serve something greater. At the end of Three Words, Sarah sees Chuck’s reason for becoming a spy, and sees that he couldn’t turn his back on duty to be with her. And she sees that her sense of duty, her willingness to serve a higher purpose was part of what he loved about her. She threw that part of herself away when she asked Chuck to run. And she never said she loved him. Sarah Walker made Chuck realize he was “that guy” and then asked him to turn his back on it all. How could he and still be “that guy”? And how could she ask him? And how could she blame him?
Throughout Three Words Sarah is beating up on Chuck. She was convinced it was about them, about him wanting to be together again after the spy thing didn’t work out the way he planned. It was why she was good “for now”. She’d endure as long as necessary, but Chuck was paying the price for what Sarah perceived as his selfishness. And then in the end, watching the video she realized it wasn’t about her, it was about Chuck committing to his calling, the job he never asked for but was meant to have and the one she showed him, despite the fact that she was all he ever wanted from life.
Get over yourself Sarah Walker. You’ve worked with the greatest spies in the world, and none of them can do what Chuck can do. Chuck wants to help change the world, and you’re pouting over a broken heart. Sarah Walker used to understand that sometimes what you want has to take a backseat, but Chuck reminded her. It was time to be a spy again and to give up what she wanted, Chuck, and give the world what it needed. Chuck.
Was she necessarily happy about it? Probably not. Did she fear what it would do to Chuck? Most definitely. To Sarah the best part of Chuck, and part of what made him “that guy” was that he wasn’t an emotionless cold blooded spy. “Don’t give up on the things that make you great.” She wants to make him a spy. Chuck has dedicated himself to his calling and accepted the sacrifices continually but she hopes he can remain Chuck and not become just another cold blooded ruthless spy. But her hopes aside he’s not her Chuck anymore. He’s going to be the Chuck he decides to be.
Chuck is in an impossible situation. He wants to be a spy, and he wants to be the guy he thinks Sarah wants him to be so that they can finally be together, but what he has to do goes against every fiber of his being. Just because he’s in an impossible situation doesn’t mean he still doesn’t have to choose. Everybody has a choice. Casey understands that. Chuck does soon.
After subduing Perry in the men’s room, Chuck makes his choice. He’ll never be like them. He’ll never gun down a man in cold blood, but he will take him in. Even in the train yard you get the feeling Chuck is ready to try to take Perry in. This is what the fan in me wanted to see. Chuck to march Perry into castle, cuff him to a chair, and in front of Sarah put the gun in Shaw’s hand, and walk away. It would have been epic. Chuck a spy on his terms, not Shaw’s, but it wasn’t to be. Perry was of course not an unarmed man, and Casey, fearing that a no-win situation for Chuck was in the making makes his choice. He may be a civilian, but it doesn’t mean he’ll abandon his team member when he needs him. Casey takes the shot because Chuck isn’t a man who can gun someone down in cold blood, but he is a spy. Casey knows the difference, as does Sarah. Shaw is clueless. Could Chuck have shot Perry had he seen Perry draw his gun? It appears he was ready to. Once again Chuck looks at his gun, almost believing that on instinct he did shoot. Once again he finds out the shot came from elsewhere. Who knows, he might have shot on time, or not. Chuck’s red test isn’t canceled, just deferred by his real mentor, Casey. Casey and Sarah in the end can train Chuck better than Shaw. Shaw pushed Chuck, but he didn’t know Chuck, and didn’t know his strengths. Shaw only saw Chuck’s perceived weaknesses and did his best to force Chuck to confront them. In Shaw’s mind Chuck will never be a good spy unless he’s willing to shoot someone in the back. In Sarah’s mind he’s a good spy because he isn’t willing, and in Casey’s mind, well, Chuck just isn’t a killer. He’s a spy. He has other strengths.
To Sarah, her Chuck is gone. She feared what Chuck was willing to do in Tic Tac to be a perfect spy, and thought he’d done it in Final Exam. Chuck was a spy, but the Chuck she loved, her Chuck, was gone. Was she still in love with Chuck? What was the point? No. Not this Chuck, not the man he’d decided to be. Why would she love him? He’d become just another soulless Shaw clone, willing to lie and use people and blindly follow orders, as she’d done, and willing to engage in the casual brutality of the spy world, that wasn’t Chuck. It wasn’t even Bryce. That was Shaw. Chuck would be a good spy, but he wasn’t her Chuck anymore. Sarah had done her duty, again. She gave up what she loved and did her duty, just like she’d taught Chuck.
Is Sarah hating herself right about now? Yep. She just repeated her red test. She killed her Chuck. If she felt like she’d finally burned Chuck in Nacho Sampler by seeing him go where she’d inadvertently encouraged him to get what she needed all those years ago, she’d just pulled the trigger herself by putting him in that impossible situation where he had to pull the trigger. It isn’t surprising she couldn’t bear to hear his voice on the phone and to hear how much he needed and wanted to see her.
Chuck? He needed his Sarah, the one he’d known for years and could be counted on to help him come to grips with the hardships he had to face as a spy, even if an unwitting or unwilling one. He needed Sarah to tell him he could still be “that guy”. But sadly, Chuck’s Sarah is as dead as Sarah thinks her Chuck is. They’ll meet again, but for now Chuck is a spy, and Sarah is at rock bottom.