Everything they need.
The season wasn’t very old when the rumors started, and were quickly confirmed by TPTB. Chuck and Sarah would be together by the end of the season. Small details about the back 6 started to emerge. Casting calls started leaking plot points, shooting schedules showed up online, and all of the sudden there was a lot of talk about the destination and the payoff. This was the payoff episode. In the dark and angsty times it was our beacon, our hope. A light shippery piece of fluff we could just enjoy and go SQUEE! over. Chuck Versus The Honeymooners was that, but it was also more than just that. It was the reset of the show’s original premise. Let’s review and discuss, after the jump.
Chuck and Sarah are together. We knew it was coming and finally it is here. We can argue about how long it took, if the journey was worth it, how contrived it was, or how much angst is too much angst, but let’s not. For whatever reason the Central Relationship Misunderstanding (CRM) is resolved. Except it isn’t. Quite.
In Seasons one and two there was little doubt our two heroes wanted to be together, but they couldn’t. In the typical hollywood WT/WT there are two main scenarios. There is the classic Moonlighting, opposites attract where the “couple” duels for advantage, each aware of the other’s attraction and their own, but unwilling to give in lest the other “win”. The other is the Ross/Rachel where one loves in silence from afar while the other, unaware, moves through a relationship. Finally aware of their true feelings the clueless half breaks it off only to find the once devoted lover has moved on. In this scenario it’s always about the timing. With Chuck and Sarah in seasons one and especially two it became evident that they both wanted to be together. They were aware, they just couldn’t because of circumstances. Professional boundaries, constant surveillance, the 49B, all conspired to keep Chuck and Sarah apart. The question was not will they or won’t they, but can they? In season two, while on the run in Barstow our star-crossed lovers got their chance. And of course it was interrupted.
As the conceits of the show require that resolution, seemingly so evident and final was not to last. The question was flipped back to do they want to be together by seeming to force a choice upon them both. Give up everything for love or give up on love to make a difference in the world. Both Chuck and Sarah, now freed for the most part from what constrained them before, have had to ask Joe’s questions. Who are you? What do you want? Throughout the front 13 episodes Chuck and Sarah have come to terms with both questions. They are spies. They want to make a difference. They also want each other. This is where the work starts. Can they have it all? And if not what do they give up?
At first they seem afraid to ask the question. Tucked away in their own world, interrupted only for room service, they finally have what they’ve yearned for years. Each other. But such bliss can never last and Chuck and Sarah are faced with their first decision as a couple. Can we risk it? The same forces that came between them and pulled them apart again and again are still there, waiting for them in Burbank, and reaching out to bring them back in the visage of General Beckman and in the person of John Casey. The answer seems obvious at first. Don’t risk it. Don’t go back. Make a life together and none of the rest matters. Resolved to be together no matter what at last our honeymooning heroes can cross the threshold and rejoin the world on their terms.
They quickly find that though they’ve resolved to run away to be together they can’t change who they are. Chuck can’t help flashing and Sarah can’t stop looking for threats and protecting Chuck. They can’t run away from who they are and the spy in both of them needs to make sure nothing bad happens by finding out what a Basque terrorist is doing on their train. And here we arrive back at the CRM. As Chuck and Sarah have tried to figure out who they are, what they want and whether it is worth it they’ve occasionally been ready to do some seemingly contradictory things. Sarah wanted to run to be with Chuck and to protect him from the moral compromise she felt the spy world would force on him. Chuck wanted to be a spy and make a difference, he wanted to matter, so he couldn’t turn his back on his newfound calling. Later, when Chuck sees what Sarah wanted to protect him from, when he sees that being a spy might ask him or even force him to things he doesn’t want to do and force Sarah to ask of him things she can’t bear to ask, it’s Chuck who decides it isn’t worth it. And Sarah is ready to agree with him at that point. They were both so close to the same point, running away to be together, that it seems natural to both that this is what the other wants, and that each is willing to give up everything for the other. Chuck is willing to give up his calling and his family and Sarah is ready to give up “the one thing she’s good at” and the only home she’s ever known (even if it is Chuck’s). As is their well established pattern both Chuck and Sarah try to do what they think is best for the other and what the other wants without risking talking about it and letting their own desires slip out. It’s almost heartening, this time, that they feel the relationship so fragile and so precious that they won’t even risk talking about what they want out of life. Before it was just maddening but with some resolution in sight I can swallow it one more time. This time something is different.
Sarah Walker had a bit of a breakthrough in Chuck Versus The Other Guy. Once again her silence and her reticence to open up to Chuck had left Chuck, poor neurotic insecure Chuck, her Chuck, to draw his own conclusions, much to Morgan’s misfortune. This time however something was different. Sarah had made the decision to be with Chuck, so this time, when she saw the consequences of her silence and watched everything come crashing down for Chuck she did something amazing. She spoke up. She interrupted Chuck and told him how she felt. And the sky didn’t fall. And she got her Chuck. And he saved her. And she got her Chuck. Maybe there is something to this whole talking about your feelings thing of Chuck’s after all?
Sarah decided she couldn’t lie to Chuck. Sort of. She’s still holding back, but we’ll get to that. Sarah tells Chuck the reason for her late night craving was to gather some intel, only to find that Chuck has done the same. Are they starting to get an inkling that maybe they do want the same things after all? Sharing their spy adventure and plans clearly awakens something in them. Their (ahem) mutual admiration seems rather evident. And Sarah even makes terrorist groups sound sexy. The next morning their plan comes together.
Chuck and Sarah make quite a team, and as an aside so do Zach and Yvonne. I can’t describe the feeling I got watching Zach and Yvonne play Chuck and Sarah playing the Charles (the Charles’s?). Part of what I felt was anger. They spent 13 episodes with Sarah looking sad when Yvonne can play this kind of comedy? We knew Zach could, he get’s the chance a lot more often. Part of it was joy, something I’m sure even Zach and Yvonne felt as they got to play something other than emotionally constipated angst for a change. Some of it was just relief. It was still my Chuck after all. They hadn’t given up on the comedy and the lightness I loved so much. The scene still plays well as Chuck and Sarah as a spy team. Partners in every sense of the word, both in love and doing what they love together. Too bad they decided to give it all up.
Back to the matter at hand. With their plans in motion Chuck and Sarah are confronted with the other part of their decision to run. Somebody found them. Namely Casey, much to his disgust. He can’t seem to catch a break. If it isn’t the bearded troll it’s these two letting their lady feelings cloud their judgement again. One re-captured terrorist later it’s time to sit down for a talk about what Chuck and Sarah want out of life and what their decision might cost them.
Chuck and Sarah talk? Who ever heard of something so absurd. No, time for Sarah and Casey to talk and Chuck and Morgan to talk. Gotta milk that CRM for all it’s worth one last time, because it’s almost over. But at least we get to see both of them being honest about their decision, as does one Basque terrorist. They really should have had some nut-cake before they left.
Sarah Walker has changed. So has Chuck Bartowski. Before they’re so rudely interrupted they actually start to talk. Chuck actually asks Sarah what she wants, and then lets her answer. And Sarah actually starts to answer. Sorry, too easy, we’ve got a spectacular fight scene to get in first. So good to see Team B 2.0 kicking some butt. Chuck and Sarah in particular. In a call back to Nemesis we get to see just how great a team they make (with an assist from Casey and Morgan in a call back to Undercover Lover). Day saved, and now they can get on with their lives, their real lives. Juan Diego refuses to be interrupted, thank goodness, and Chuck and Sarah finally finish that conversation. Thank goodness.
Back to Burbank to face the music. Chuck and Sarah make a great team. Everyone knows that. And as we’ve seen along with the rest of the world, they make a great couple. Even Beckman sees it (though officially disapproving). That seemed way too easy. But then maybe it wasn’t ever that hard to begin with. All it took was some time alone and a real conversation. Too bad they never found the time till now. 😉
So the Honeymoon is over. Not in the bad way, in the good way. While locking yourself away or running from the world can have it’s advantages, it’s no way to live. Chuck and Sarah finally have their shot at having it all. Sarah can still be a spy, but have Chuck and that home and family she’s wanted for so long. Chuck can have Sarah, and not give up his calling, or his friends and family. And we have the nearly perfect ending to the nearly perfect episode of Chuck. Sarah Walker sits in a pair of Chuck’s borrowed boxers in Chuck’s room on Chuck’s bed, listening to music, and it isn’t cover. It’s a new day for them, a new show for us, and a ton of new possibilities we’ve all been waiting for. Oh, and it is real.
Joe adds –
You probably know by now that I’ve been having a hard time criticizing anything about Chuck, especially those last six episodes, starting with Chuck vs. The Honeymooners. Wait – I lied. I can’t get myself to start there. I have to watch Chuck vs. The Other Guy to see Paris, and even more, to see Sarah answer Chuck’s direct question. “Sarah, do you love me?”. Hearing her answer “yes” four times isn’t enough – I’m too much of a romantic.
But I can’t pick it up there, either. I want to see the expression on Sarah’s face when she learns that Chuck didn’t – couldn’t – pull the trigger, and she realizes that he’s still “her Chuck”. That’s in Chuck vs. The American Hero. I want to see their stake-date again! I want to see Chuck tell Sarah positively, definitely, that he chooses to help Casey even if it means treason, and I want to see her be happy to have him join her in that. I want to (forgive me) laugh when she punches out Fitzroy in Tic Tac.
And on and on it goes, until I’m back to the beginning. I don’t have the time I fear, but in my mind, I really do seem to replay so much of this show from the beginning. I love the memories, and I’m sure you do too. They all take us to one place, Paris and that train ride.
Ernie’s done a great job reviving the details of that episode in my brain. Hey, it’s only been 4 days since I last watched it! What jumps out at me is how carefully, gingerly and deliberately Chuck and Sarah work to communicate now. Back in their room after discovering the “ETA terrorist” in their midst, both realize that there’s a mission. Both realize that there is a decision to be made, that there is a right and a wrong choice, and they remember that they made a vow to each other to give up the spy life. That’s important, right? What will they do?
They talk, of course. It’s as surprising to real couples as it is to fictional ones, but most of the time the fears that keep you from saying something important to your loved ones are way overblown, and often they’re the wrong fears entirely. Trust me on this; your loved ones want to be included in the bad news as much as they do the good.
If Chuck and Sarah are being careful and deliberate now, they should be. It’s a sign of newness of their relationship – its not a time to take anything for grated. Perhaps that time is coming, when their fears are forgotten and the focus they have on each other become habitual – a “mere” habit – and melts into the background. That’s a danger. It’s what happened to too many couples after a few years. Attention strays, and it’s not necessarily to other relationships. Sometimes it’s work, hobbies that get too serious and sometimes it’s other family, like children or parents that need attention. Without getting ahead of ourselves, the start Chuck and Sarah make with their vows and then by reconsidering them is a good one. You see, mistakes can and will be made. They can be corrected though, and it’s a lot easier when that’s done together – especially when it’s Chuck and Sarah we’re talking about.
What’s wonderful isn’t that they break their vow to each other, but that they make a new and stronger one.
Dave’s Two Bits
The main thing I want to add to the discussion is just the pure joy of this episode. Of course we can pick holes with the plot or continuity, there was even some trace amounts of angst; but the overwhelming feeling to me was just how much absolute fun it was. I think Chuck smiles more than he had all season; and Sarah beats her season long tally by the opening credits! And those smiles are infectious. I laughed hard in almost every scene and grinned from beginning to end. This was a pay-off episode to end all pay-offs. I understand the theme of the show ensures there will be danger, risk, and dark drama on occasion. That can’t be avoided unless Chuck and Sarah decide to leave the spy business to run the yogurt shop full time. But it sure is good to have fun from beginning to end of an episode every now and then. Going forward, I do hope we’ll get more of the “Hart to Hart” sort of moments; but I don’t expect them to do too many more full episodes like this (maybe an engagement or wedding episode?).
I’m a little surprised neither Ernie nor Joe really addressed the end scene. Okay, maybe I’m not so surprised, we are all guys after all. But to my horribly unqualified mind, that was possibly the most romantic scene I’ve ever seen on television. A stunningly beautiful end to what is officially my favorite episode of Chuck ever.