Chuck Is A Naive Innocent

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?

Sarah: Ahem.
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?
Sarah: No.
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?

– joe


About joe

In my life I've been a professor, martial artist, rock 'n roller, rocket scientist, lover, poet and brain surgeon. I'm lying about the brain surgery.
This entry was posted in Inside Chuck, Inside Sarah, Observations, Season 5. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Chuck Is A Naive Innocent

  1. jason says:

    Joe – You don’t post enough here, you POV is always unique and gets me to thinking.

    One aspect of Chuck and Sarah’s characters is they seem to be written over the top in one direction or the other, often within seconds of each other individually or together. Joe, I will appeal to your engineering background for an analogy. Chuck and Sarah’s characters are like sine waves with a slope toward normal, only they started 180 degrees out of phase. And as the slope is approaching one another at the ‘normal’ line, the amplitude of the sin wave is diminishing too, such they might end up on a straight line together.

    How geeky is that?

    • joe says:

      Pretty geeky, Jason! 😉 I confess, I understand the analogy and agree! I noticed they spent most of S3 out of phase. (And yes, that makes me geeky too.)

      And thanks.

  2. atcDave says:

    I had almost the same exact thought about the Intersect when it was removed from Morgan (is that the last of it? Will I miss it?). After Chuck’s “I am the Master” performance versus Morgan in Frosted Tips I also find myself wondering just how much of the Intersect actually stuck with him. I would love some sort of answer to that.

    • armysfc says:

      Dave, i think it’s more of how much is leaking out. i hope i understood your post. i may be wrong but in the finale of 4 didn’t decker just suppress it not remove it? he still has it, just can’t use it. maybe because of his brain some of it is still accessible subconsciously, like he really learned it? that could be part of your answer.

    • joe says:

      I know! I also wondered if I’d feel the differently about Intersect being gone after some time had passed, and the answer is – no!

      Although it was a shock at first, I’m still thinking that really won’t miss it. And that’s the real surprise to me – I thought I would!

      • Aerox says:

        Not for me. I always knew I wouldn’t miss it, simply because it’s a plot device. The Intersect draws him in and becomes a part of him, it enables him to do the things that he does. But at the end of the day, it was the persona that everyone (or at least, most people) grew to care about. The Intersect didn’t form his persona, it gave his persona a confidence boost. And now, after 5 years and consistent reminders of the fact that he is in fact not a useless sap, Chuck has finally embraced his potential. There’s no more need for someone to become a hero, since we’ve already got three of them (although I thought they really pulled Sarah’s character down a notch in season 4, luckily they rectified that in Season 5 (with regards to how she’s perceived as an agent, e.g: she has trouble taking down an agent with an AK-47 while Chuck does it in one swipe, that bugged me)) and the rest of the cast is support for one of (or all of) the three.

        I don’t think we need another hero, which is why the Intersect as plot device has grown obsolete. I liked the Morgan arc, but that’s because I didn’t really care to see him as a hero or villain. I liked his character which is why I enjoyed the arc, but when it came to the actual plot device of using the Intersect, I found myself to be indifferent about it. So it didn’t come as a shock to me when I found myself not really caring about the entire thing being gone. But maybe that’s just me.

      • atcDave says:

        I would mostly agree with that Aerox. In particular, I was no fan of the 2.0. I always felt it was too much. The most important function of the Intersect was to bring an ordinary nerd into an exciting and dangerous life. The “I know Kung Fu” part always struck me as silly. The balance of responsibilities and abilities we now seem to have between Chuck and Sarah (and Casey) strikes me as perfect.

        But where I might miss it as a story hook and a part of the mythology. It ties back to Bryce Larkin, Stanford, the Omaha Project, and Orion. So much of the back story and history that I love relates to the Intersect. So something that ties back into that history might be a lot of fun. I could imagine Chuck and Ellie overseeing a new Intersect project that might provide financial security that would allow Chuck and Sarah to retire from active missions. That might be a fun way to end the show.

      • Aerox says:

        Oh, definitely Dave. But I feel that the Intersect has run its course when it comes to being the alpha and omega of Chuck’s character. I’d be fine with them working on it, but I don’t mind it not being in someones head at all.

      • joe says:

        I can definitely understand not missing the Intersect. But up to now I’ve had a funny view of the thing. It’s been sorta, kinda like a cast member.

        But that doesn’t quite capture the idea either. It’s more like the icon you used to see for The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the little green thing laughing it’s head off. I believe that was supposed to be the universe or fate or karma being capricious, and I’ve thought of The Intersect in the same way. It’s an agent of chaos.

        But it certainly is a plot device at the same time, one that’s served its purpose.

      • andyt says:

        Hey Joe,
        I don’t believe that the Intersect is gone from Chuck at all. Remember the last episode of S3 we discovered that Chuck downloaded the original Intersect. I believe that Chuck is now “the Intersect” the one and only one. It is like the original base programing in his brain. Its why he is so good with computers and seems to know all of the stuff from the V2 fight instructions. This is why the bad guys are so concerned about Chuck, Stephen probably told someone that his son had been exposed to the “beta” version. Before the end Chuck’s super-powers will reappear. Remember this is a geek show, run by a big geek, the super-hero always gets his powers back in the end.

      • joe says:

        Yeah, I’m not sure at all that it’s completely gone, Andy. I was really thinking in a “what if???” sort of way about the possibility.

        When I saw the episode for the first time, I have to admit that the feeling it was gone was overwhelming. I’m wondering what I saw, and if “they’ wanted me to see that.

      • Aerox, re: “she has trouble taking down an agent with an AK-47 while Chuck does it in one swipe, that bugged me”
        That initially bugged me too, but after watching it a half dozen times it made more sense. Part of it was specifically to make Chuck look more impressive to Ellie. From a practical standpoint, Sarah was limited to what she could do wearing that dress on the stairs. Chuck meanwhile took out a guy who was not expecting resistance and then ambushed a guy who was fighting Sarah.
        TPTB have been careful about not making anyone, even with the Intersect, into someone who always wins, like Walker Texas Ranger or Kung Fu the Legend Continues. S4 Sarah was plenty tough enough for me in Cubic Z (against Casey), Phase 3, Gobbler, and Push Mix.

  3. SarahSam says:

    Nice one joe. I’ve always been a fan of Nacho Sampler, in particular that great ending with that awesome song by Edward Sharpe. The journey to converge spy/normal initiated in late S3, slowly came closer in S4 and finally after Business Trip is the melding is complete ? All that is left now is to plot the future course and I agree with most, the intersect doesn’t necessarily have to be a part of that future. It served it’s purpose. As much as we hated the direction of S3, Chuck certainly got his “big boy” pants and Nacho was a critical part of it.

    • joe says:

      There’s one aspect of Nacho Sampler that we never stressed enough, ya know? It’s that the seeming normal (if intelligent) Manoosh was able to be a human Intersect too. It was a harbinger of what happened to Morgan, and it showed us that many more were possible. Unless there’s an obstacle put in the way, there’s no limit to the number of Intersects.

      Hence, we need an obstacle. The GRETAs comment that it was a terrible burden is certainly something in the way of universal intersection (intersectionalism??? Did I just coin a new word???). The story might need more, something other than “It’s dangerous.”

      There’s still lots of other loose ends to consider too, SS. Decker, among them. The survival of Carmichael Industries is something I start to care about too, in the sense that it represents the future for the characters. Right now it’s survival is iffy, and that’s going to loom large I think.

      And the elephant in the room has not even been hinted at yet. Sarah’s mother.

      • Manoosh’s Intersect was also a temporary download of limited skills, not the full Intersect. What it shows is that the technology has evolved. “Computer” can mean a laptop, a desktop, a cell phone, or even components in a car. “Intersect” can mean different types of related technology as well.

  4. Wow Joe, great post! It’s been a long time since you’ve posted and you pick a song as the focal point of your post. Naturally, I have an affinity to that type of story 😉
    Great insights – and some thought provoking comments. Well done!

  5. Sandra says:

    I must say i’m surprised how dead this site seems now even though new episodes of Chuck are still to air. I thought this site was the last bastion of hardcore posters but it seems no longer. Looks like a reflection of the shows abysmal ratings. It looks like the end will be very quick here after jan 27 😦

    • There are more posts here than the NBC boards. But right now there is not a lot of new things to say until the next episode. I think the (I think unfairly overly) negative posters after Zoom scared a lot of people away. Also, people post more right after an episode, but less often on weekends, so Friday episodes are not helping.

      Plus on this thread, most people agree with Joe, so what else it there to say.

      • joe says:

        Hum… Gee! I’m persuasive! I have to add that to my résumé!

        Actually, I think it means that what I said really isn’t so insightful or controversial, Jeff. That’s not a bad thing, really. I tend to describe those “slap your forehead and say ‘Duh!'” moments I have. They’re not always deep, but I hope they make people smile with recognition at least. 😉

  6. thinkling says:

    Hey, Joe, nice post. Sorry I’m so late to comment, but I enjoyed reading it. I’m with you on loving the growth. It’s one of the things that sets Chuck apart from other TV. I agree that their middle ground isn’t new territory. It’s like Chuck and Sarah were the magnets that drew out the buried treasure in the other, all the qualities and pieces of themselves that had been robbed or stifled by people or events in their lives. It’s what makes their relationship so special and why I invest in it … why I root for them. In the beginning they complemented each other in a rather black and white fashion. As their relationship has grown they have developed different nuances and shades in their personalities and abilities. In this new dynamic the complementary nature of their relationship is less blockish, more nuanced … less black and white, more shades. Their complementarity has always been a strength and caused them to work well together. Now, however, it’s tempered and their working together is almost fluid. So much fun to watch.

    The Intersect. Lots of fun discussion. The Intersect has sort of been the raison d’être of the show and of TeamB. So it feels a little odd without it. It’s the thing around which TeamB coalesced, what made them a spy team. It made Chuck an intelligence asset and gave him super human abilities. It (and Sarah) awakened him to his hero-destiny. And it forced Chuck and Sarah to be together for 2.5 years.

    On many levels the Intersect has served its purpose and is no longer needed, like training wheels (or Mary Poppins). TeamB IS a team, and Chuck IS their leader. Incredibly cool. Chuck and Sarah are as together as two people can be, and the Intersect has nothing to do with it one way or the other. Chuck’s abilities aren’t automatic any more, but he is developing replacement abilities. He has found his bomb defusing, parachuting, diamond steeling, building jumping abilities without the Intersect. In that way it’s satisfying to me that it is gone.

    That said, it’s such a cool tool, not to mention the Intelligence aspect that comes in so handy in espionage. For that I will miss it.

    I like Andy’s suggestion that in some way it’s not really gone, because of the alpha Intersect that Chuck downloaded as a child. That could be key, so it will be interesting to see what leaks out from all the stuff Chuck has absorbed and downloaded through the years. I think we may all be surprised, Chuck and Sarah included, at what’s in that head of his.

    • joe says:

      Thanks, Thinkling!

      It’s like Chuck and Sarah were the magnets that drew out the buried treasure in the other, all the qualities and pieces of themselves that had been robbed or stifled by people or events in their lives.

      I suspect that’s not a minor thing! The writers and creative talent seem to stress this in a few different ways.

      We all remember Morgan describing Chuck to Ellie in Beefcake:

      When Chuck is around Sarah, he is the Chuck that we always dreamed of, alright? The Chuck that has the potential to do anything in the world.

      But Chuck and Sarah had other thoughts about that; they accuse each other of bringing out the worst in them. Best, worst; somehow, that always seemed to be the same thing.

      How often do we get to plumb the depths of characters like that? 😉

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