And Sarah is Sam Spade… NOT!!
Morgan: Why wouldn’t you call this girl?
Chuck: Oh, I don’t know. Did you *see* her???
Morgan: Yes. Oh, man, yes. Which is why I repeat the question, Why wouldn’t you call this girl?
Chuck: Because I live on planet Earth, Morgan.
Oh, how far we’ve come. Because of what we saw in Chuck vs. The Business Trip, I’m reconsidering much of what I thought I knew about Chuck (the character) and Sarah too. I mean, was he really so naive and innocent? And was Sarah so cold? Really?
You can see from the quote above that when it came to Sarah, Chuck knew to be cautious, even early in the pilot episode. He knew it was “too good to be true,” and he was absolutely right about that. It was.
Ironically (and a little ingeniously), he was also wrong, but he wasn’t naive.
I’ve been reconsidering Sarah in the same way. Sarah’s comfortable now with married life, but the agent used to be as hard-boiled as Sam Spade. Walker was the one who knew all the cons and was bound and determined to never be the mark. As for romance, Agent Walker was ready to list off all the reasons why she should not go on a date with her asset. She had counted them. That is hard-boiled!
Even after Paris, when she finally admitted to herself that she was in love with someone who was not James Bond, it still didn’t come easy to Sarah. Remember her reaction to Chuck asking her to move in?
Chuck: Hi. I was going to surprise you, take you out to a nice dinner and give you your own key. But how would you like to move in?
Sarah: Why would we do that?
Old habits die hard, apparently. I was surprised when Sarah seemed comfortable at the farmer’s market sharing strawberries and creme, because then, that just didn’t seem like the Sarah we knew. Now I have to reconsider.
The Middle Ground
We know now that naive Chuck wasn’t so naive, and hard-boiled Agent Walker did have feelings. In those important ways, Chuck&Sarah have not changed at all.
I bring this up because of a great song used in Nacho Sampler that I happened to hear again – 40 Day Dream by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. The lyrics to the chorus are an homage to the loss of innocence:
Ooooh, oooooh It’s the magical mystery kind
Ooooh, oooooh Must be a lie
Bye bye to the too good to be true kind of love
Oooooh I could die
Oooooh now, I could die
You remember the end of the episode; the song is played when Chuck has just given “free” tickets to Paris to Ellie and Devon. He’s about to get drunk on Johnny Walker Black for the lie and for what he’s done to Manoosh. Sarah elects to let him drown in his sorrows.
Casey: The boy’s growing up, huh. When you first met him, did you ever think he’d be able to burn an asset?
Casey: He’s turning into a spy. That’s a good thing.
Sarah: Is it?
Oh it hurt. Chuck’s had his supposed naiveté ripped away, Sarah is remembering what that was like and we didn’t want to see them this way. Despite the fact that Chuck has just gotten what he wanted he’s miserable and Sarah is about to lose him to the spy’s life. She’s also on the verge of losing herself. Really, she’s realizing that she lost herself a long time ago.
If that’s the middle-ground I was hoping they’d find at first, the place where they could be both spies and “normal”, it turns out that the sacrifice to be there was huge. That middle ground was nothing but a void, a big, blank nothing. In those dark days, what they were after really was “too good to be true.”
With Edward Sharpe’s song ringing in my ears, I realize what made me so happy with Chuck vs. The Business Trip. Chuck&Sarah can be a normal married couple on a business trip, having a drink and a laugh with other normal people at the pool and they can be a happily married couple at home, being playfully intimate on the couch. It doesn’t end there, however.
Chuck was the one who realized capturing “The Viper” was just too easy. Sarah was the one reaching out to find a new friend. We might have worried, once upon a time, about Chuck without his naiveté. We might have worried about Sarah as a normal girl. The characters we loved had changed! Would we, the fans, have lost something, something that made the show so magical in the beginning if that happened?
We shouldn’t have worried. Chuck, without his naiveté, runs to save Sarah from the bomb under her feet, disarming it without the aid of Irene Demova, fruit juice or The Intersect. Sarah, reduced to being a “normal” girl, lays out a top CIA operative (and her henchman and a masher) with one punch.
Without? Reduced? Not at all. It’s true – Chuck was never naive and Sarah always had feelings, The middle ground never had to be a place where they gave up something that they were before.
Bye Bye To The Too Good To Be True Kind Of Toy
When Morgan had the Intersect removed, the thought struck me that we have seen the last of it. At the time, it hit me hard, actually. I’ll miss the thing!
Now I’m reconsidering that, too. If it turns out the Intersect is gone for good then I wonder what we’ve lost. It may not be much. Chuck hasn’t forgotten the things the computer put in his mind (“without learning”, as Ellie put it). He still remembers Kung-Fu (and fencing and acrobatics) the way my fingers remember how to play Stairway To Heaven on the guitar. Better, since I haven’t practiced that song in years! Perhaps Casey’s training will just let him do what he knows effectively.
The point remains, without the Intersect and even without Volkoff’s money, Chuck and Sarah never lacked the things they needed to become whole; they had them all along, I think. The growth we’ve been talking about so much seems to me now to be things that were just revealed to everyone late. They were revealed to be there all along, not given to them.
So now I ask; when you look at Jeff Barnes, your children, your friends, or even when you look at yourself, isn’t that what you see – something of value that was always there?