I have been giving a lot of thought to the concept of identity lately. Thinkling’s excellent article, Layers, furthered some of my insights. I think most of us can agree that Season 3 was a hot mess. Out of character (OOC) moments galore! I take most of that as the exception to the rule of what I’ve come to know (or think I know) about our favorite characters. I want to go a little more in depth on a few characters-after the break!
Alright, let’s start with Mary Elizabeth Bartowski, AKA Agent Frost. She left her children and husband behind 20 years ago to presumably pursue justice by infiltrating the Volkoff organization. What are her motivations? She says it was to keep her children safe, yet I got no sense that Volkoff ever thought Stephen/Orion was a threat. Stephen J. Bartowski stayed off the radar, also claiming to protect his children. Were they working in conjunction, to keep Volkoff at bay? Was Mary feeding Stephen information so that he could act as that outside force to thwart whatever evil was looming? Mary returns, ruthless and calculating. She does, as another reader (sorry-not sure who to credit for this) points out, always tells the truth. Ok, she leave a LOT out, but in essence, she hasn’t lied.
Mary’s perspective or approach with Chuck is that of a spy peer. She knows all about Agent Carmichael after all. Sarah has held her own and the two woman have seemingly developed a begrudging understanding of the other. And let’s face it, they both fell for the nerd 🙂
But with Ellie, it is different. The softer motherly side managed to peek out just a bit during that moving scene at Ellie’s apartment. There was a quick glimpse of mom when she passed the torch of protection to Sarah as they were tied up, and she was looking at Chuck and Sarah as she stated that they needed to finish this. Volkoff surely though she was talking to him, but I felt it was a plea to Team Bartowski to help her end the mission. My question for Mary is will she manage to balance both? Returning to the family after a 20 year mission will be a joy and a strain on everyone. How will she fit in everyone’s lives again? Who will she choose to be? Can she take the lessons learned of a long spy career and help Chuck and Sarah avoid the mistakes she has made or is she so committed to the mission that she doesn’t see that she had any choice? How does she teach Ellie to be a mother when she was absent for most of her children’s lives? I would dare say Ellie may have some mothering tips for Mary as she raised Chuck. What balance will Mary take on as this story unfolds?
Sarah. Morgan G. Grimes said it best, “Your woman is a hot mystery.” Sarah gets a lot of attention here on our blog, and I think rightly so. Yvonne’s portrayal of Sarah is amazing as she adds layers of unspoken emotion and thought to Sarah. Sarah has struggled between being the woman and being the agent. She has struggled between duty and love. She is struggling now with her head and her heart. Sarah loves Chuck. I know, duh! Sarah is learning what it is to be in a real relationship and their mini-fight and subsequent squabbling in the bank were really well done, imho. Each was able to get their perspective out and a quick resolution was found. (Maybe TPTB really have learned something). Sarah handed over the hand cuff key and gave in to her heart. She will question herself and Mary’s motives. Does Mary need their help or was she talking to Volkfoff? Did Mary provide a way out because she really is good or because she is a mother not wanting to kill her son? Now Sarah potentially faces a test to her identity once again as Chuck doubts himself over the apparent loss or loss of ability to utilize the Intersect. How does Sarah, the woman and lover, square off against the instinctual need of the agent to protect Chuck?
And finally to Chuck. I see shades of the old Chuck-you know, the insecure, hand-wringing guy we fell for back in the pilot. He had me at the ballerina and baggage handler line, too, Sarah! We hadn’t really seen a lot of him lately. Charles Carmichael, the dashing, confident spy was merging with Chuck as he gained more confidence in himself. Alas, Charles Carmichael was zapped by a super PSP and all immediate traces of Carmichael seem to have gone, along with Chuck’s Intersect abilities. And now we have self doubt. In the preview, Chuck states that he hasn’t been a spy without the Intersect before. I don’t agree with his assessment and it will take Sarah, the girlfriend, to snap him out of it, all while trying not to over do it with her own fears of him getting hurt and her need to protect him.
In all three cases, we see characters at a cross road. Who are you going to be? Do you find that balance or do you careen wildly to the familiar-Mary the spy, Sarah the protector, and Chuck the bumbling Nerd Herder? Familiar is easy. Do you suborn your own fears, as Sarah did for Chuck at the bank, and meet in the middle? What identity wins or is it a balance of all elements that make you who you are? What road would you choose if you were them?