I apologize. Things have been just a little slow around here lately, and even to me it seems like forever since I penned a substantial post. To you, it must seem like I’ve become a bit bored with writing or even worse, bored with Chuck. I assure you, I’m no where near that with either.
Fact of the matter is, I’ve never been more fantastically inundated with Chuck-stuff. In the vernacular of the Jersey Shore, lemme tell ya what’s doin’ wid me.
First and foremost I started my summer Chuck marathon viewing a couple of weeks ago, watching one or two episodes a day as time permits, and I’m about half way through. The original intent was to watch them in order, but Hulu and NBC-U had the first episodes of season 3 available only through last week. I decided to watch S1 and parts of S3 in parallel. I’ll pick up with the last 10 of S3 starting Sept 8 or 9 (right?) which leaves me comfortably watching one a day until the new season starts.
But that’s not what’s taking my time! I also wanted to learn more about some of those newfangled computer thingies, so I learned to spell XML and XSLT and CSS and started on a browsable database of episode information. As I watch, I note the guest stars, director, key dialog, music, A, B and C plots, my own impressions and points of interest. You see, I need this computer-enhanced, artificial aid just to keep up with you guys and your encyclopedic knowledge of the show’s details. It may never get “published” (sadly, WordPress doesn’t have that facility), but it helps me to stay organized, and it’s been a fun learning exercise. Of course, all that means it takes me about 27 hours to go through one episode… Oh, okay. I lied. It’s only 26 hours. 🙂
There’s been a side benefit. The effort has really helped me to understand the clever details in, and general wonderfulness of, Frea O’Scanlin’s epic What Fates Impose, which, oh by the way, takes up another 48 hours a day THAT I DON’T HAVE (huff-huff). It’s worth every second. So if you haven’t read it already, do it. DO IT. DOIT-DOIT-DOIT!!! But I digress.
More? Sure. Thanks to Amy’s music post I’ve also spent considerable time of late re-organizing my play-lists. I bought the latest from Band of Horses to add to my collection, and both my wife and I are enjoying that immensely. Recommend! +1 Amazing!
In addition to all that, I’ve been compelled to watch each and every episode of Firefly. I have to. It’s an addiction. I blame Ernie. My wife blames me and is suing for custody of the cats. The cats in turn blame George Bush.
The rest of my time is actually taken up with, you know, personal stuff that I like to do, like eat…
For all this Chuck immersion, you’d think I’d learn something, wouldn’t you? Well, you’d be right. I learned that I really didn’t like Chuck all that much at first. He was a schmuck.
Oh, of course Chuck was every bit as charming as Sarah told Beckman, told him and told us on occasion. You couldn’t help but like the guy, eventually. But Chuck was indeed unmotivated, whiny, docile, lethargic and immature when we first met him. Just like for Ford MoCo when “Quality (was) job #1”, Chuck’s reaction #1 to danger was to scream like a little girl. His first reaction to Sarah was something akin to “She’s too good to be true, so don’t bother,” a reaction on which he fell back every chance he could. Does that sound like one of your friends? Not mine either. As much fun as it was to see Chuck land a helicopter using only his “flight-sim” skills (and to see him prance around trying to high-five everybody in sight), Sarah was quite right to read him the riot act for his first reactions to just about everything. His instinct (but definitely not his heart) was in the wrong place.
The good news is that we got to see Chuck’s second reactions too. I may have stuck around for Sarah, but I had to give Chuck a second chance in order to do that. And sometime between fixing her phone and defusing a bomb with a computer virus…
Well, you know what I mean. The reality is a bit more complex, but the truth is still that Chuck, the character at the end of season three, is very far removed from Chuck the character who would rather skip his own birthday party. Watching S3 and S1 together has thrown this into stark relief.
Just like a certain middle aged rock-‘n-rollin’ ex-rocket scientist and martial artist who does not do brain surgery on the side, Chuck had to grow into being someone I like, someone who could take what he had learned and not throw it away out of naïveté or for fear of losing. Chuck may have thought he was being brave by deliberately walking into a fight or just getting out of the car, and he was, in a way. But taking a punch, even to show someone you’re not afraid when you are, is easy; you just stand there. It’s also dumb and it’s next to giving up.
Throwing a real punch – being effective at anything – is much harder than that, especially when you’re really fighting to win. It’s much harder than taking a hit because you can’t be naive about it. You cannot be unmotivated, whiny, docile, lethargic and immature, because that punch – effectiveness in anything – doesn’t come out of nowhere. It starts with that same bravery it takes to face a bully, but continues with hard work and painful experience. Chuck may have thought that being honest with Sarah about his feelings was going to be enough too. But like walking stupidly into danger, he was just being brave and foolish, exactly like Casey said.
Chuck started season 3 apologizing to Sarah for Prague, for what he had done and for who he was. It took the wrenching experience of being tossed into the deep end by one Daniel Shaw, but when he emerged Chuck was a schmuck no longer. He (and we) learned he had nothing to apologize for.
So what changed? Why, nothing. In the course of S3, Chuck became a fully realized person who acts on his own behalf with deep consideration of everybody around him. But that’s not a change; he always was that person. The difference is now Chuck knows that about himself too and he’s no longer naive. If there was something a little silly about Chuck before, it’s been replaced with conviction. Chuck knows what he wants. He doesn’t react out of (bad) instincts, but acts out of mature, hard won conviction.
I can’t help but think Chuck would still help ballerinas and their fathers in the Buy More if the need arose and I really hope we get to see something like that again. But he’s certainly not running away from his own birthday parties any more. Chuck is not running stupidly into danger anymore either, in need of Sarah to rescue him and Casey to catch him when he falls. He’s carrying a ton of weight on his shoulders, and I like this guy. I like him much more than I did before precisely because he is an adult, completely different, and at the same time completely familiar. He’s someone I can relate to, even if he’s no longer that 26 year old man-boy I knew so well from the beginning.
Perhaps you can tell. As I watch all 55 episodes of Chuck, I find that they’re telling a story I still find intensely personal and rich, even after three years of more than casual viewing. That’s amazing. No one needs to apologize to me for that.