A Guest Post by KG
I’m more guilty than most of seeing the Chuck-Sarah romance as the most important element of Chuck. Frequent commenter KG set me straight!
It may be most important thing, but unlike Vince Lombardi’s famous dictum, it’s not the only thing.
Bartowski’s Strong Bonds Key to his Ultimate Success
“Friends and family make us vulnerable, make us unable to pull the the trigger. That puts everybody in greater danger.” Those words were uttered by one Daniel Shaw in Operation Awesome before he turned traitorous rogue. Frankly, then and now, I must disagree with the alleged super spy.
In fact, Shaw’s complete disregard for the benefits of real friendships even in the spy realm might have contributed to his eventual defeat. Conversely, Chuck’s warm and tender feelings for his friends and family, as well as his reliance, belief and trust in them often carried him through tough situations, undoubtedly never more evident after the aforementioned Shaw captured Chuck, Sarah and Casey in Subway.
A gravely earnest Chuck spells this out to Shaw in the above referenced Awesome episode. “There’s one thing you should know about me, Shaw,” he said. “There’s nothing in my life that I care about more than my friends and family.” And at this point, you as a fan know that Chuck is telling the truth. You can go back to almost any episode and find examples of Chuck backing up these words.
As you may recall, Chuck and Sarah at this juncture in the season are not together. They’re not even in a good place. They’ve agreed to be friends, but you can see and feel the tension between them. They’re not smiling, not having much fun, there’s no meaningful dialogue between them. Motives are unclear. There’s still evidence of hurt feelings and misunderstanding. Some trust I gather has been lost.
And during this exchange in castle, Shaw attempts to use Sarah to validate his point of view. And despite everything I outlined in the previous paragraph, Sarah is still unable to agree with Shaw. Despite all that has changed in the previous six or seven months since The Ring, despite what has come between she and Chuck, she totally gets and believes in this element of his personality and nature. “Sometimes it helps to know you’ve got something to lose.” After she stops Shaw with this line, she turns and stares at Chuck without saying a word, and he, with the same earnest look, makes eye contact, eventually nodding and appreciating his support.
To borrow a phrase often used in season three, this is evidence that Chuck is “Still Sarah’s Chuck.” And it’s also an admission by agent Walker that she herself no longer engages in missions merely because of duty. This powerful line strongly indicates why she remained in Burbank instead of leaving. She and Chuck are not in a good place, but she still cares enough where it is still important for her to protect him. She may not admit it openly, but she isn’t ready to lose him.
Shaw has captured the Big Three. They’re in a truck and on the road. Shaw is overconfident. His reliance is solely upon double agents, cutthroats and power mongers. Shaw’s plan is not to bunker them. He’s going to kill the Big Three. Chuck is feeling defeated. His dad has been murdered. Who’s going to save them now?
The answer: Ellie, Devon and Morgan. Friends and family. Three extremely important and essential people in Chuck’s world. Three unique people completely disregarded by Shaw. His mistake.
But then again, Shaw has never understood or given any credence to the special dynamic that makes Team Bartowski so effective. To him, the team was “dysfunctional.” Yeah, if you subscribed solely to the CIA/NSA playbook.
Jem absolutely correct in her post. Chuck has such a positive effect on people. He’s likable. He’s trustworthy. He’s loyal. He’s caring. People feel the need to impress and please Chuck. Bartowski feels the need to reciprocate.
Chuck completely grabbed my attention in Seduction when he admitted to Roan that Sarah was worth dying for. Then the next night he hurled himself off the Buy More roof in order to save her life. I was all in right there. And he continued to demonstrate his sincerity in revealing scenes from Cougars, Santa Claus, Graviton, DeLorean and Broken Heart.
Of course, look at the times Sarah risked her life to save Chuck, and seemingly committed treason for him – the most memorable moments captured in Intersect, Marlin, Broken Heart and Colonel. Casey’s loyalty to Chuck was mostly clear in Final Exam, American Hero, Other Guy and Tooth. He obviously fully appreciated Chuck and Sarah’s willingness to believe in him, risking their careers for him, and then their efforts to preserve his family.
Morgan merely needed Chuck to tell him the truth in Beard. There is no Chuck and Sarah without Morgan stepping up and proving Shaw a fraud. Chuck trusted Awesome enough in Colonel to the point he was eventually valuable in two missions. Ellie did a hellova job raising Chuck and reminding her brother that Sarah was special and fully worthy of his absolute best fight to the end.
Fast forward to the final showdown between Shaw and Chuck. In addition to having the ability to “fill out a pair of slacks,” Shaw has a distinct size and strength advantage over Chuck. He also has a fully operative intersect within his head. Chuck’s intersect is malfunctioning and seemingly killing him. Quite frankly, to use a bit of slang, Chuck has no business beating Shaw here.
Sarah, Casey, Awesome, Ellie and Morgan have helped Chuck to reach this point. A flashback to scenes with his late dad revealing Steven’s belief Chuck is special prompts a “reboot.” The rest is history and Chuck defeats Shaw. Predictably, the loser implores the hero to kill him. Chuck can’t/won’t.
“Did that once already,” Chuck says. “That’s what makes you weak,” Shaw interrupts. Sarah frees herself and knocks Shaw unconscious. “No,” the lovely and admiring blonde reminds him. “That’s what makes you great.”
Chuck’s sincere regard for his friends and family. It could be argued that quality had always made him great. Long before Bryce Larkin emailed him the intersect.
Ken George (KG)