Our summer rewatch of Chuck Versus the Truth got me to thinking about Lou, and therefore Bryce, and by extension Jill. Well you get the idea.
My thanks (I think?) to those of you who love Chuck Versus the Truth and have inspired (maybe not quite the word I’m looking for) me to look at the OLI’s of Chuck. I owe you. That has two meanings … 😉
All this geometry is giving me a headache, and I was a math teacher … oh, wrong geometry.
As I look at Chuck geometry in its totality (minus S3), I see that Sarah is the one whose story benefits most from them, and she is the one who grows through them. The geometry is for her benefit, story wise.
So, this time around I’ve looked at the geometry a little differently than I did before … more like a fly over, rather than a hike through.
Two Points. Aha. The geometry goes back to the two worlds (I guess that’s my June theme). Chuck inhabits and belongs to the real world. We come to see in S1, as Sarah does, that Chuck really does belong in the hero world and is/was destined to be a part of it … the job he didn’t ask for but was meant to have. But he has to be dragged into that role and world inch by stubborn inch, mission by miserable mission, resisting and kicking and screaming … and pouting and whining. The missions and Sarah raise his awareness of what it means to be a hero and increase his desire for something more than the Buymore. I would site Wookie, First Date, Tom Sawyer, 3D, and Ring as watershed episodes, mission wise, for Chuck.
Sarah inhabits and belongs to the spy world. She has never had what Chuck always had. Like Sarah, Chuck’s family life was far from idyllic. Unlike Sarah’s experience, however, from the dysfunctional situation their parents left them, Chuck and Ellie created a warm, loving family and took care of each other. Chuck also has friends and a best friend. Above all, everything about Chuck and his world are real.
In the spy world, Sarah has had to stuff her desires for a normal life (family, children) … bury them in a place deep inside. She had some real feelings for Bryce, but they were always in the context of the spy world, always subordinate to the mission, and at the bottom of it all … still a cover.
Sarah has lived her life on the spy plain, dipping into the real world only long enough to take care of marks and missions … until the Buymore. Piece of cake. Not. Here’s a real guy who is every bit a match for the spy guys she has known, noble and heroic … and more. He’s kind and caring, funny and charming, guileless in his motives and clueless about his charms. Somewhere inside, she’s already fallen for him, and for the first time, there’s something —someone — to attract her to the real world.
The more she sees of Chuck, the farther she falls. The more she sees of his world, the more those buried desires claw their way to the surface.
This is a huge problem for her. Desire wars with duty, and for the moment they are paradoxically intertwined. She can’t have both, nor can she have one without the other.
Because she cares for Chuck so much, protecting him — being his handler — is much more than duty. In that way her desires fuel her duty. Hence her protective warnings to both Lou and Jill.
If she acts on her real feelings in the real way Chuck wants, she will be reassigned and lose her connection to this man she wants. In that way her duty frames her desires.
The only way for Sarah to have Chuck is through their cover, by keeping him in her world. But ultimately that’s not the way to really have him. She can live with it, though, because a) it’s all she knows, and b) it’s better than nothing. The way to really have him would be to step into his world, but she can’t do that because a) she would lose her assignment, and b) she wouldn’t know how to live in his world. Thus her tragic paradox: she can’t have both, but she can’t have one without the other.
Chuck is clueless in Burbank. He has no idea how Sarah feels or how much those feelings complicate her life.
Connecting the Two Points. Every geometric figure contributes to one end … that of raising Sarah’s real-life awareness and increasing her desire to be a real person in the real world, with Chuck.
Lou. Sarah learned the hard way that Chuck won’t play in her sandbox. He won’t take fake for an answer. She is crushed. She’s on the outside looking in. She’s jealous and petty. When they’re about to die, it seems safe to unleash her real feelings. Or maybe not.
Bryce. Everytime Sarah has to choose between Bryce and Chuck, she is also choosing between fake and real. In Nemesis, she agonizes over the decision. She tells herself she is choosing duty. We all know better. In Nemesis her desires are still strongly framed by duty.
Bryce again. This time she chooses easily. She is doing her duty, but choosing her desire. When she tells Bryce that Mr and Mrs Anderson should be only a cover … when she goes to protect Chuck instead of following Bryce to retrieve the chip … and when she can’t pull the trigger. This time her duty is fueled by her desire.
Jill. Sarah watches Chuck in a real relationship and sees how happy he is with normal. Sarah is still crushed, still on the outside looking in, and still jealous. But she is not petty. Her real-life awareness has been raised to the point that she knows Chuck needs and deserves a real girlfriend. As much as it kills her, she protects his right to have it.
All through S2 their love is palpable. They love each other and know that they love each other … and know that they know that they love each other. That’s why Chuck’s pursuit of Jill seems dishonest. But they did it anyway, and Sarah learned some things. Santa Claus and Best Friend highlight their love and the bond of their relationship. The end of Suburbs highlights the challenge of their relationship … real v. fake, normal life v. spy life, desire v. duty.
Cole. Post Suburbs. Because Chuck wants real, and because the threats against his life are raised, duty has gone from framing Sarah’s desires to thwarting them completely. Cole is a chance for her to have … something. Affection, passion, a break from duty and from the ever-present, six-foot reminder that she can’t have real love and a real life with the man she really wants. Sarah crosses over. She can’t be satisfied with fake any more. Sarah chooses real, even though she thinks it’s out of reach. And just like that, Cole Barker loses the girl to Chuck Bartowski.
Chuck takes fake off the table, “I’m not gonna move in with you,” but offers solid hope for real. “I AM gonna get this thing out of my head one day. I will. And when I do, I’m gonna live the life that I want with the girl that I love. Because I’m not gonna let this thing rob me of that. I won’t.”
Bryce. Again?! Maybe it’s just a coincidence *cough*, but Bryce’s timing is uncanny. He always seems to show up right after Chuck and Sarah have made a major break-through in their relationship (the Hard Salami I’m-not-gonna-die-without-kissing-you kiss, the seduction tall-dark-and-caring-combo kiss, and the Colonel almost-more-than-a-kiss kiss). Come to think of it, Bryce is really good practice for when they have kids.
In Nemesis, choosing Chuck (real) over Bryce (fake) had been difficult. In Ring, having to leave Chuck (and the real life he represented) under orders and go with Bryce (back undercover in a fake world) was unbearable and ultimately unacceptable. The wedding tipped the scale. Her desire for a real life with the man she loved finally outweighed everything else. She cut the cord between duty and desire. She chose Chuck and a real life with him.
At this point the OLI’s have served their purpose for the story, and the geometry requirement is satisfied. All future OLI’s are superfluous. Any further geometry lessons are remedial.
QED. That’s my theorum and I’m sticking to it.