And It Has Me Worried
Or, at least something does. It’s the thought that Chuck, especially in the character of James Rye (Rob Riddle) had taken a turn for the silly. I mean, with Jeff and Lester, occasionally with Fernando and Skip and even more occasionally with Morgan, haven’t we seen enough silly for a while? After all, what I like is something much more akin to what we saw in Season 1, when Sarah was slowly reaching for her gun, and fellow CIA agent Longshore was about to be her target. Protect “your guy,” Sarah. What had my heart pounding in Season 2 was Chuck in the clutches of yet another evil petite brunette, who seemed to be giving him everything he ever wanted, at least until a horrified Casey and Walker saw her dossier come up on a list of Fulcrum agents. You’re in a hole, Chuck. What scared me was Agent Walker assassinating an unarmed Fulcrum agent and later, Chuck deciding on his own that nothing – not the CIA, not Orion, not Ellie and not even Sarah was going to stop him from trying to rescue his father. Pray for a monsoon.
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
– William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 2.2
These are not trivial moments. In fact these are precisely the moments when Chuck or Sarah have decided what is important and exactly when they’ve had the hardest time knowing right from wrong, good from bad. In some large sense it’s always been hard for them because right and wrong always been mixed together. Silent Night plays during Sarah’s coldest decision. There’s a wedding and Christmas TV while Miles (Tug Coker) murders Roark in his cell. Chuck is making love to his college sweetheart while the song’s lyric reminds us You won’t find love in a hole. And when Chuck is telling Sarah by the fountain that, for now, he’s going to pursue something other than her, that he’s giving up at least temporarily, the Signs are pointing elsewhere. But it all becomes stark and very real when we realize how high the stakes are and how important it is to them.
Certainty was never a part of this show. Indeed, Chuck has second-guessed himself so many times I lose count. He made his judgements on Bryce, on Jill, on Cole, on Shaw… and each had to be revised. There’s nothing surprising in his turn-around about Mary Elizabeth; we were meant to question our judgement, too. Seldom do we know from beginning to end that a given character is good like Stephen, or evil like Vincent.
One thing happens when I see Chuck’s attempts to distinguish the good from the evil, though. I forget about every trace of silliness that ever existed in the show. It just hits too close to home, you know? And that has a tendency to make it very serious indeed. Gee! I even need Jeff and Lester (and Skip and Fernando) to lighten the mood, or I’d really be in a funk! Ernie’s taken to shouting his new mantra “Season 4 is GENIUS” all over the place, and he’s right. But my version is that I’ve been saved from the dark pit I fell into in Season 3 this time because of the balance that we’ve had between the serious and the silly. Generally, they’re hitting my buttons just right.
What I’ve been experiencing routinely has been a whole lot of a whole lot, in fact. We had the high adventure of The Anniversary (I still love Sarah and Casey jumping off of that building!) and the warm humor of Costa Gravas (ditto Armand Assante). Morgan and Alex have been delightful, and we had a good time with Casey meeting up with his old pals from his days in the service in Couch Lock. The Buy More shenanigans still make me laugh, especially when they’re pitted against Terminators. Jeff and Lester have continued to be the (ahem) “stick that gently stirs the Buy More drink.”
“They have a plentiful lack of wit.”
– William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 2.2
What about the drama?
Every time Sarah Lancaster appears on screen I get all sorts of amazed at Ellie’s now completely un-naive trust in her brother and her mature handling of some deeply innate and ingrained emotional forces. Morgan has been charming, heroic, conflicted and still resolute while being all the while grounded in his essential good nature. That’s drama at it’s best. Well, that’s the best except when Linda Hamilton has been on stage. THEN I’m seeing drama at it’s best. Not to make too much of it, but young Prince Hamlet has already seen the treachery of his mother, and may have been blinded by his love for Ophelia, if not into madness, then into foolishness.
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. – Thinkling
I enjoyed it, but I was glad the silliness in the Rye character took a dive with him out the gondola. So what worries me? It’s that in Chuck, silly is almost always followed by heart wrenching drama. Rye’s dive was not it. The promos and stills strongly hint at what’s coming; Sarah would say that we’re about to be hit with a tank.
And just like the moment when a horrified Sarah and Casey run silently up the Castle stairs to save Chuck from his mistaken judgement about Jill, and just like the instant an unprepared Chuck slaps two pistols together without knowing who the enemy is or even who his friends are, I am worried once again for a fictional character and for those who love him.
“When sorrows come, they come not single spies,
But in battalions.”
– William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 4.5
Once again we’re at that point in the arc when Chuck and Sarah have decided what’s important. That’s always been my favorite part of the story.