Chuck: I think I found the one.
Sarah: I like this.
Chuck: That’s a good start.
Ernie: What? You though that was about music?
So on the open post we’ve had some fun. Merve has made a few good posts (gross understatement alert) and he highlights an interesting topic, one that consumes a lot of time on this board, not that there’s anything wrong with that. So, a lot of things seemed to be pushed a notch too far. But the discussion seemed to settle on a favorite topic. Sarah Walker. Wow, what a surprise. But more specifically her state of mind. Now there is an angels dancing on pinheads argument. But one worth having. What are you thinking Sarah Walker?
We’ve had a great discussion about a lot of things in the open post, but a lot of it, once again, came down to season three and how it treated Sarah Walker. I think I might be guilty of creating the self-loathing, hating the spy life theme, or I at least contributed to it. But I think it might have been misunderstood. At the beginning of Pink Slip when Sarah asks Chuck to run away I believe we and Chuck are SUPPOSED to think she hates the spy life. The way she phrases things in castle and then again in Prague she pretty much says it’s no way to live and that she wants to live a normal life with Chuck. Chuck puts the emphasis on She doesn’t want to live that way anymore, propelling the CRM (Central Relationship Misunderstanding) forward. We find out soon enough that Sarah, taking Chuck’s breakup speech to heart, felt she couldn’t ever be with Chuck if she were a spy. But without Chuck to leave for, she had no reason to leave. We also find out Sarah’s desire to run was more about keeping Chuck out of the spy life so they could be together, neither a spy. She didn’t think they could have anything together if either was a spy. When Chuck entered spy life voluntarily it certainly created some conflicting emotions. but she clearly didn’t hate herself or spy life, except perhaps once, which we can deal with later. I think it was perfectly plausible then to bring in a new mentor. Clearly Sarah couldn’t train Chuck effectively. Casey probably could have, but I understand the theory. The other notable thing we see is starting in Fake Name, Sarah in the van first asking where the job ends, thinking about her part in making Chuck a spy and losing who she is (actually who she’d become with Chuck). Now I really do believe she experiences a lot of self doubt about being a spy and what she is doing to Chuck, and I think part of that can be seen as a convoluted reason for turning to Shaw, give up the last vestiges of thoughts of being real with someone like Chuck and just be a spy. Sarah thinks it’s an either/or proposition. Love or career. Chuck chose career, so does she. But being a spy does end up bothering her, as mentioned above.
Sarah wants to be a spy, but on her terms. Clearly this has been a factor others have seen. Sarah won’t cross certain lines, like sleeping with Chuck to control him or abandoning Chuck to a bunker. Or killing Chuck. Casey or Carina, at least at first, would have done any of those in a second. (Except for Casey sleeping with Chuck. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. … No there’s something seriously wrong with that.) Clearly both Beckman and Graham knew this about Sarah. If they wanted Chuck dead, Sarah was the obvious choice to kill him. She had his trust, her proximity was much more easily explained, and she had the trust of all his friends and family. Sarah Walker would come under virtually no suspicion had she and Chuck run afoul of muggers. And yet it wasn’t even considered by Beckman and Graham. What Sarah fears is that in becoming a spy, Chuck will become not like her, she has a Chuck-like streak of empathy that I believe is what she comes to fear is the real she’s losing, but that Chuck will become a spy like Casey or Carina, or Shaw. She respects all of them, and clearly can form friendships with them, but she also constantly comes into conflict with all of them over their willingness to use and discard innocents. Enter Hannah. “I can handle Hannah”. “Meet you back at castle, I just have to smooth things over with Hannah.” Chuck doesn’t seem overly concerned with her feelings and what he’s done to her, does he? He just seeks to make the conflict go away, to handle her. Hannah is pouring out her heart to Chuck, again and again, and he’s handling her. Sarah’s first low point comes at the meet Hannah dinner. Sarah watches how easily Chuck replaced her. Just weeks ago it wouldn’t be the same without her, now, a woman Chuck handles has taken her place. This is not Chuck.
Chuck basically said he gave Sarah up to be a spy, more than once, so I doubt there were thoughts of rekindling anything on either of their minds, even though there were still feelings. Sarah was more concerned about Chuck losing himself than she was about losing the man she loved. As far as Sarah was concerned he was gone, and so was her desire for a normal life. But was she still a good spy? How much of what was happening to Chuck was what he wanted, and how much was because of her? Was she back to using him? Burning him? She thought she’d protected him, but she started to see Chuck think like Bryce, or Casey, or even worse, Carina, and it worried her. Had she crossed a line? Find the hole in their life and fill it. Sarah did. It wasn’t a girlfriend Chuck needed, though that may have been the initial impression, and the first mistake. What Chuck needed was a sense of purpose. A feeling he mattered, and could make a difference. And the illusion he could do it on his own terms.
Now, I think some took the self loathing and hating the spy life too far, but I think it was there. I think Sarah’s absolute nadir was the end of Final Test, and I think we now have the clues to see it again. Sarah seems to have had the idea that she could never have anything real or normal as long as she was a spy. When Chuck left her, to become a spy of all things, she gave up on real or normal and went back to being a spy. But it gets worse. She is stuck in the position of making Chuck into something she doesn’t want HIM to become, because she fears he’d lose what was best about him. She says so in Tic Tac. So while she is fearful and conflicted, and without her emotional anchor, Chuck, she doesn’t really hate herself or being a spy, except, and I’m still convinced, for one scene at the end of Final Exam.
Here’s the thing I think people miss about the red test. It isn’t about the ability to kill, it’s about assassinating a complete stranger on orders. That was what upset Sarah about hers. Also I don’t think it is a coincidence that Sarah recounts the worst night of her life on what I believe we are basically told is the new worst night of her life. Once again on orders she basically killed off a person, Chuck, her Chuck, or so she thought. Shaw told her, Chuck told her, she knew it, Chuck would NEVER have been in that position, except for her. She’d delivered her asset at last to the tender mercies of the CIA, and he’d become exactly what they wanted, a man willing to kill on an order. Her order.
I thought and still think that it was very clear Sarah wasn’t very happy with herself or being a spy at the end of Final Test because of what thought she had done to Chuck. She says she didn’t want to believe he could do it, but what she is really thinking is if it weren’t for me he wouldn’t have done it. Shaw told her, he’ll do it if you tell him to. Chuck told her, “Sarah, I don’t know if I can do this” Sarah told him that if he wanted to be a spy, he had to do it on their terms. Terms she’d never accepted, despite one panicked lapse and one very hard decision to protect Chuck. Terms she never wanted to believe Chuck could accept, but terms Chuck apparently was fine with. He was no longer the guy she fell for, and it was because of her. Hell for Sarah walker.
Rebirth? Well she tried. Chuck wasn’t the guy she fell for. It wasn’t her fault he was capable beyond her idealized opinion, but he was just another spy. Aside from the feelings of guilt mixed with love she still felt. Chuck was over. A mistake. Whose, she’d deal with later.
But he was still Chuck. It was practically inevitable he’d throw her for a loop. First, the jab, what you think you know isn’t truth. Harkening back to Sarah’s speech. Nothing is real. Second, Chuck is not OK with being a spy on their terms, and Sarah is a big part of that. Third? He’s willing to give it all up for her, just like she was for him. American Hero, despite my quibbles, throws Sarah for a loop. Who was she leaving for? We don’t know, till after Casey, but we do know this. Chuck told Sarah she was right. This was no way to live a life. Had he been corrupted? Lost? No, Chuck may have lapsed, but he was still Chuck. Casey’s revelation was gravy.
And Sarah Walker was saved. She didn’t cross that line. She put Chuck into a situation, one she thought he’s pass, and the reality was he did. Just with a different outcome. She didn’t kill Chuck. She didn’t con an honest man. She filled the hole in his life, and he emerged a better man. She saved him. He saved her.
That’s a good start. A talk would help.
Both during and after the Honeymoon.