We Missed Something
There’s a big hole in our discussions here, I realize. The hole is approximately Jayne size. Compared to Chuck and Sarah – especially Sarah – we’ve been absolutely remiss in our attempts to understand John Casey.
So what’s to understand? Simple and direct (like a lead pipe to the head is simple and direct), Casey has been a rock from beginning to end, and a pretty despicable rock at that.
I’m sure you remember our introduction to Casey. He was dressed in a suit, moving calmly and efficiently (for the sake of the suit, I’m sure) in direct contrast to the man he was chasing, who athletically and desperately was trying to avoid the confrontation. [Bang!] Don’t move. And just like that, Bryce Larkin, not an accountant, was dead.
If she interfered in the slightest with his plans, Sarah wasn’t going to be too far behind. He advised his NSA partner that “You can shoot the CIA skirt,” you recall. And on the roof of the parking structure he was most interested in having pancakes after killing both “the skirt” and the poor schmuck who had intercepted the agency secrets sent by Bryce. Can’t have them interfering with his efficiency, you know, and they certainly weren’t friends.
Ah, those were the good ol’ days! Since then, Casey has mellowed. He’s now quite willing to make allowances for his best partners.
Casey: Bang up job, Walker. And I’m gonna give you one last chance to come clean. Did you or did you not compromise yourself with the Intersect?
Sarah: Do you ever just want to have a normal life? – have a family? Children?
Casey: The choice we made to protect something bigger than ourselves is the right choice, hard as that is for you to remember sometimes.
See? He gave her one last chance. Apparently, Casey thought about family not at all.
I called Casey despicable. That’s because he sees only one thing. His over-arching motivator is duty and obeying orders without question; that’s what his moral blinders allow him to see. He lectured Agent Walker on their calling, especially when she tried to shift the focus of the topic, because that’s what he understands of right and wrong. That’s where he draws his line.
That line is very bright in his mind, even if it sometime surprises us with nuances and subtleties.
Casey: ‘Cause the only thing I hate more than hippies and neo-liberal fascists and anarchists are the hypocrite fat-cat suits they eventually grow up to become.
It’s a moral line drawn in the sand, which seems an odd thing for him to do, when you think about it. Chuck himself called Casey a “frickin’ robot!” in anger. He shouted a line from the movie Young Frankenstein in jest – It’s ALIVE!!! – when Casey actually showed a hint of emotion in Undercover Lover.
We know, and Chuck knows, Casey had a soft, gooey interior. Chuck saw it when Casey explained himself while enjoying his little corner of heaven. That would be Hot Pockets washed down by some Johnny Walker, Black.
Casey: Here’s to John Casey dodging another bullet. It’s not like I want the wife and kids and the Little League practice and the minivan and the Costco runs.
Chuck: Heh – heh … Yeah, really? You don’t? ‘Cause I – it seems to me that you’d kind of be into the whole American Dream.
Casey: Nah. I do what I do so all those other slobs out there can have it.
Well, maybe not so gooey after all. Those blinders of his won’t even let Casey feel sorry for himself, much less consider that someone might need him personally. We saw in Undercover Lover that his past with the ladies is not exactly all business. We learned in Tic Tac that before there was John Casey, there was Alex Cobern. His gooey center didn’t stop him from leaving the women he loved for that “higher calling.”
John Casey is always looking at the (real) big picture, and that has been to serve a large part of humanity – his country – even at the expense of friends, family and himself. I’ll ask, despite his moral code, is John Casey a complete human being? I mean, it’s nice and noble and all that to be concerned with duty and honor, but isn’t a complete human being also concerned with those that rely on him, and really, with himself too? Casey stood in stark contrast to Chuck and Sarah.
Oh, wait, he didn’t.
A just snuck one in there. In Chuck we had a character who cared about friends and family all right, but had other blinders. He thought of himself as a pretty mediocre person. No dates in five years? With his self image, we were not surprised. He didn’t think much about his obligations to something bigger than family either. Chuck barely wanted to be burdened with the obligations that fall on the Buy More’s Assistant Manager when we first met him, much less a far off duty to his country. To him, that’s was vague notion.
Putting this as gently as I can, pre-Chuck Sarah could barely see beyond her own nose. If we believe her in Best Friend, Sarah seems to have had no friends and only one relative when all this started. But think of Carina’s description of her! Sarah liked the high-octane adventures in exotic locations, and was quite capable of staying emotionally un-involved …because you might have to leave them in five minutes, or shoot them in the head. Bryce told her that she wasn’t good with relationships for a reason. She wasn’t. On her mission to retrieve The Intersect Sarah was determined to “fix it” and said so angrily to Graham, like it was personal. When Bryce seemingly went rogue, Sarah took it as a personal affront. Forget duty; this mission with the nerd behind the desk was about her. Unlike John Casey’s approach to missions, she was glad she poisoned the French assassins, not because it was her duty or for some “higher calling”, but because they were her adversaries. And of course, we learned about Jack Burton and the annual Salvation Army Con. So much for family. Sarah had her blinders too.
We all recognize the changes in those two. Sarah is now concerned with family, and thanks to Chuck, is certainly considering things that are larger, like Chuck’s quest to find his mother. Chuck himself started to realize before Prague that some very important people thought he could do good things, and most of all, Sarah thought he (He! Chuck Bartowski, a normal guy!) was important. The area where they have to do right, their moral universe, is much less restricted now.
I described Casey the way we found him above, but I’m sure you noticed how much he’s changed. He wears a suit less! No, the big difference is, the moral blinders that prevented him from seeing anything besides duty to country are off now. When Casey was ordered to terminate Chuck Bartowski back at the beginning of season 2, he discovered that he could no longer do that “without a second thought.” He has a friend. When Col. James Keller reappears in Tic Tac, the dead Alex Cobern is resurrected, Alex McHugh is discovered and Casey has family to worry about. That’s a change at least as big as the changes we’ve noted in Chuck and Sarah.
I never expected that the change we saw would be a moral growth, especially in Casey. But that’s exactly what we have.