Ernie’s fantastic summary and excellent explanation of Fear of Death made me think about our heroes, their actions and reactions, the balance and complementarity of their relationship.
Do they still have some issues about being a spy couple. Oh yeah, but they’re real and dramatic, and show us both the tragic and heroic parts of our heroes while keeping them both who they are, and people we can root for. ~ Ernie Davis
This is great drama … genuine conflict that comes from the heart of our heroes. It doesn’t diminish them or demean them. It makes them real.
I think sometimes the tragic and heroic are two sides of the same coin. The best and most heroic aspects of Chuck & Sarah and their love for each other must work in harmony or things turn tragic, and their relationship and partnership are compromised … like trying to use half a pair of scissors.
Protector Sarah. Her love for Chuck and her desire to protect him go to together. Protecting him was at first just a part of her job (Helicopter, for example). As she fell in love with him, it became an acceptable expression of a forbidden love and later went well beyond the call of duty (Marlin, Santa Claus, Colonel). Now it is a constitutional part of her love for him, quite apart from her duty as his CIA partner. Chuck interprets her protection as a lack of belief in him. Rather it is her belief in him, her love for him, and her need for him that manifests itself in trying to protect him. Chuck needs to recognize it as such, because refusing her protection is living with only part of her love.
What about Hero Chuck? Sarah inspired both his love and his inner hero. At some point they became integrally bound. (If I had to pick a moment, I would say at the end of Ring when he uploaded the 2.0.) It’s interesting that the picture she focused on in the last scene was the one from Sandworm. That mission gave us the emerging, unlikely hero with a dangerous capacity for trust and self-sacrifice … the hero Sarah was falling for, the one she described to Ellie, “He probably wouldn’t admit it, but your brother is kind of a hero.” It’s a real catch 22 for her. She cannot separate the hero from the man, not even to keep him safe, because then he wouldn’t be the man she fell for, the one who began rescuing her the moment he rescued a certain ballerina. She needs Chuck the Hero, but she needs him alive.
So, why does she ask him not to be a hero; and why does he refuse her protection? This episode shows us. Most couples have His & Hers matching T-shirts or coffee mugs. Not our Chuck & Sarah. They have His & Hers matching Fear-of-Death. The one fear that trumps all others, the fear they cannot and will not face is death … each of the other. So, rather than allowing each other to risk death, they each resist the part of the other that puts him or her at risk. She says, “Chuck, don’t. Don’t be a hero. Just come home safe to me.” In going with Rye, he eschews her protection, “Let’s be heroes”. It’s a blind spot that prevents each of them from the full enjoyment of the other’s love and the benefit of their complementary strengths. The Hero needs the Protector. The Woman needs the Hero.
Season 4 has explored these themes in Anniversary, Suitcase, Couch Lock, Aisle of Terror, and First Fight; but with the Intersect AWOL, these back-burner issues became the focus in the quest to restore the Intersect.
So, what’s the solution? Well, we all know what it’s not. It’s not a team of scientists, a bucket of water, and a Video marathon. It’s not a CIA, Psy-ops PhD with a penchant for pain, fear, and danger. It’s not dangling 200 feet above rocky death with a lunatic all but dancing on your fingers and crowing, “Flash or die!”
In truth, the Intersect solution is probably in a ’68 Mustang with blue leather seats, but no one could have known that.
So Chuck & Sarah were pushed … pushed by loss … pushed by emotion … pushed by circumstances … pushed by other people. They were pushed to the point of breaking, pushed beyond their limits. There they will be tested as never before. I predict that there, beyond their limits, our heroes will draw new strength from the untapped reserves of their love and return stronger than before with a greater understanding of what it means to give and receive love.
The solution to many problems isn’t a new lesson, but a deeper understanding of a lesson we’ve learned before. Like a cone intersecting a plain, as our understanding of a lesson deepens, its application in our life broadens. So we will be better prepared tomorrow than we were yesterday to face life’s challenges.
It is the same for Chuck …
Well, I’m glad I have you. Chuck, Gravitron
But I do need her! I love her, and I’d rather love Sarah than have the Intersect. Chuck, Fear of Death
and Sarah …
Yeah, we’re better as a team. Sarah, Gravitron
I need him to be OK. I love him. Sarah, Tooth
I’m gonna go find Chuck. Sarah, Fear of Death
I’m different without Chuck – and I don’t like it. Sarah, Phase Three Promo #2 (added after the initial post)