Chardonnay And Memories

The Way We Were

I hope you’ll pardon my lateness in getting this out. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to watch Chuck vs. The Hack Off for only the second time, and I haven’t found it yet and I feel slightly uninformed! Fully realizing that my impressions of episodes often change dramatically on re-watch, I’ve decided to risk displaying my ignorance, press ahead, and tell you what I’ve been thinking.


Oh, isn’t that a sappy song? It’s a classic! My college girlfriend and I saw that movie when it came out in 1973, staring Robert Redford and Barbara Streisand, and as quaint as it seems now, the movie did have it’s charms. Something in this episode made me think of it, and I know what it was. It was that look Sarah gave Chuck. You know the one – The “Awwww – isn’t he cute?” look?

That was the look Streisand gave Redford when they met again. It was something I was lucky enough to see in 1973 also. [insert blush here :)] The distance makes that time look pretty good to me now.

I think Chuck and Sarah had a twinge of that same nostalgia for a moment, too. Chuck had it when he sat down at the computer, took a swig of that Chardonnay and started to pour over someone else’s code. Hey! I recognize that! I used to read code like that too. Didn’t we all? You can trust me when I say it would take a bottle of Chardonnay to get me to do that again! It’s like trying to read somebody’s mind.

Chuck may feel differently. He rather enjoyed digging into the bytes and bits of the machine code and seemed rather pleased that he could still do it. In fact, he can still do it well, and it felt comfortable to him. Of course it did! That’s what he knows, and has, ever since he coded a version of Zork for his Apple IIe.

Sarah had her nostalgic moment too, and it wasn’t so different from Chuck’s. For her, the moment Gertrude mentioned that, since the age of 16, the spy-life was all she knew, Sarah turned 16 again. Perhaps it was the time Langston Graham introduced himself. Sarah realized that being a spy was just about the only thing she had been doing since, she’s been doing it well and it feels comfortable to her, somehow. She’s been very good at that.

Lest you think Chuck&Sarah are alone in their nostalgia, Casey seems to be enjoying his memories of Minsk too.

But things are different now, in a big way.

There’s a cast member who’s gone missing, who hasn’t been mourned even as much as Emmett or Harry. Did you miss The Intersect? Fact is, it wasn’t even mentioned in the episode. Chuck’s been asking who he is without The Intersect, and although he got his answer from Sarah, it doesn’t mean he feels up to the task. Chuck’s been failing, both as a spy (Taking assignments from Decker, indeed!) and as a businessman. He’s off balance and he knows it.

Sarah’s a married woman now who wants to have a normal life, mostly. But that’s not comfortable to her, and she knew it the moment Gertrude brought it up. Like Chuck, she’s been off balance. It’s not that they are aren’t doing what they want to do. It’s not that they haven’t succeeded. They did.

It’s that now, they must do more. It’s hard to get comfortable, the way we were, when pushing against the comfort zone.

– joe

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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 Analysis, No Spoilers, Observations, Season 5. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Chardonnay And Memories

  1. lappers84 says:

    I think that’s what the final main arc will be about for Chuck and Sarah, finding their niche once and for all as a normal couple (well as normal as they can be). Also something I thought, that whole hacking scene in Castle, did anyone think that’s what Chuck was probably like before the whole Stamford deboucle?

    • joe says:

      That’s exactly what I thought, Lappers! Before he “discovered” (scare quotes intended) that Bryce had stolen Jill, Chuck was a gamer and a programmer and one heck of a D&D in the Library Stacks player. We saw in Alma Mater his “slide into third” move to evade Bryce, and we saw it one more time when Chuck faced down Shaw in the Buy More. He had something back then, if only potential.

      Found it again with Sarah, too. But what that something was, I think, was a love of life, a kind of joy in everyday things. Chuck didn’t have to find it again by being a spy, but it didn’t hurt!

      Played that way, it’s a universal message, yes?

      I think you’re right too about C&S finding their niche as a normal-extraordinary couple.

    • thinkling says:

      Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought, too. It was fun to see that Chuck. And I loved Sarah’s look of adoration.

    • herder says:

      What was it he said that he wanted to be in Ex, Bill Gates with more style? Maybe the story this season is he and Sarah becoming Bill and Melinda Gates with more style. Chuck discovering that he is special without the intersect and Sarah rediscovering that she can be happy as a real person and not a spy.

      • thinkling says:

        I like that Herder. I can’t wait to watch them free themselves and find their niches. I think Sarah knows that she can be happy as that real person, but there’s the practical question of what she will DO. Her identity isn’t as bound up in being a spy, but there are 24 hrs in the day, and she needs a useful purpose. Once she figures that out … well, who doesn’t want to see that Sarah?

  2. thinkling says:

    Thanks for the post, Joe. You made me smile. You keyed in on one of the sweet parts of a great episode.

  3. Ernie Davis says:

    Interesting connection Joe. As I recall from the movie Redford was the anti-Chuck, or essentially Bryce, the guy who seemed to have it all and acomplish everything effortlessly, but it was Babs who saw he was really capable of so much more, but sort of happy to coast along on his talents without putting in the hard work to achieve true greatness.

    Casey and Verbanski make a great and slightly disturbing couple and getting some of the season 1 comedy back by having Gertrude stand in as Casey was a ton of fun. It also allowed Chuck to revert to type (trying to impress and hiding his screwups) “I hid it, inside of him.” “He swallowed the chip didn’t he?”

    Aside from that it was wonderful to see a peek back at the confident, even slightly cocky Chuck of his Standford days, the guy who was going to conquer the computer world and race in America’s Cup, and it was fun to see Sarah thoroughly revel in how adorable she found his enthusiasm and nerdiness.

    A thoroughly enjoyabe episode all around, and definitely setting up Sarah for something big. Doesn’t she seem to be tempting fate a bit acting as everyone’s relationship and communication expert? Just speculating… which I shouldn’t do since I’m trying to stay unspoiled till I can watch 507 and 508 (And thanks a bunch NBC promos…really? You have to spoil twists two weeks ahead of time?)

    • joe says:

      That’s what I remember of the movie too, Ernie. It was Bab’s character who was the dreamer, and the Redford character who was the doer.

      But that just made me think. Between Chuck and Sarah now, who’s the dreamer and who’s the doer? There wasn’t a question at first. But right now both of them are sharing both duties, yes?

      Oh, btw. The word you’re fighting for has been decided by an on-line vote of the entire world (or, at least, the twitterverse). It’s “Adorkable”. 😉

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Well Joe I was going more for the mirror image. Chuck appeared the slacker coasting through life while he was secretly a hero, and it eventually brought Chuck and Sarah together. With Babs and Redford he appeared the hero, but only Babs could see what he really was, and it drove them apart.

      As for who is the dreamer, I think Chuck taught Sarah to dream, and Sarah taught (and is teaching) Chuck that big dreams aren’t the only good dreams.

      • thinkling says:

        As for who is the dreamer, I think Chuck taught Sarah to dream, and Sarah taught (and is teaching) Chuck that big dreams aren’t the only good dreams.

        I really like that Ernie. Very true.

  4. jason says:

    Nice job per usual Joe.

    You could have titled this ‘Sugar and spice and everything nice’. For some reason, I am not so sure we will get many more chances to enjoy those kinds of Norman Rockwell feelings in Chuck, but I am going to appreciate any and all warm sentiment Fedak is willing to throw at us the rest of the way & hope that writers like Think, you & the others will find ways to keep us remembering the good, when the miserable stuff starts.

    • joe says:

      Thanks, Jason. But don’t forget, TPTB love their twists. They may just decide to prove you wrong and leave you miserable by leaving you happy. Wouldn’t that be mean? 😉

      • jason says:

        JOe – I am actually not too worried, if you haven’t noticed, I have been somewhat optimistic and even intrigued about the season, even while fully realizing dreadful is coming. I still think the show was not cast, or configured, or writers hired to go serious, but it is what it is, bring it on, lets see what Fedak’s got.

        It’s his legacy we are talking about, he deserves whatever he gets, as you said, it might be lots of praise. But, wouldn’t you agree, he really needs to tell a good story this time that makes sense to most of the polarized factions of fans, not just one segment or the other? And maybe too he needs to throw some bits and pieces of payoff in along the way, rather than just drum up 6 or 7 straight miserable eps, then payoff everything in the last 5 or 10 minutes?

      • atcDave says:

        Jason I’ll be very cynical here and say I don’t believe it matters what story they come up with. Certain segments of the fan-base are simply going to be unhappy if certain other segments of the fan-base are happy. Quality of the product doesn’t actually enter into it.

        I also think the quality of Chuck, and the dedication of a rabid fan-base, is already enough for Fedak to land another job (it seems to me I’ve heard he already has one lined up). His legacy will be the product of more than just Chuck.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Wow Dave, you’re starting to sound like me. 😉

      • joe says:

        Jason, I’m going to agree with my co-bloggers here. The fan base chose up sides and has been enjoying their feudin’ and fightin’ for years now. That’s the fans legacy.

        What would be interesting to me would be a thoughtful look-back at the show after a cooling-off period of about ten years. I’m not big on academic approaches to critiques, mostly because the theatrical arts speak more to the heart and soul than to the mind when they’re done right. But a perspective on the show (and on Fedak) that’s well considered and enduring would be interesting to read.

      • jason says:

        I agree perspective has a wonderful way of finding its way to the truth Joe. I do think Chuck will be the yardstick that is used to critique Fedak’s subsequent projects, much like the OC is Schwartz’s, hence this last part is going to be a part of Fedak’s career for quite a while, hence I used the word legacy.

        I still think the fan base will come much more together than you guys think. But I must admit, that may be wishful thinking, we’ll know soon enough. I have to tell you guys, almost none of what I have read about the eps starting with the Santa suit sounds good to me, I dislike nearly everything I read, all of it, so that has to be good news for some portion of the fan base – right?

      • atcDave says:

        Interesting thought Joe. I know I’d love to see a look at the influence of the fans both on renewal and on actual story-telling at some point. But yeah, a few years to help the perspective is probably a good thing.

        Jason you probably are right that whatever Fedak does next will likely be compared to Chuck. It will be interesting to see what the context ends up being.

        I’m not too worried about anything we’ve heard. It makes sense to me to explore some slightly darker themes when they go up against the vast conspiracy. And we’ll likely see one or two episodes that end in a pretty dark place; but it sounds like the roughest episode may be the first of our finale two-parter. That’s the perfect way to do it for me!

      • ArmySFC says:

        as for fedaks future projects i think there will be a large difference from chuck. the dark personal themes were js baby not cf’s. remember fedak wanted a more mythology based story and js wanted the relationship part. my guess would be fedak would want to explore that area more in his next project if possible. thats what i would do anyway.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree with Dave in that I’m not worried … or if I start listing that direction, I just refuse to go there. Some drama will be good (though I wouldn’t want 7 straight heavy episodes). And the drama that’s coming up seems like natural drama to explore. The conspiracy adds danger and tension, in a good way, and I’m still hooked to see where it goes. I still think it will be a Chuck-and-Sarah-against-the-world story, and that most of the drama will be around them and not between them. However, we can probably expect some shared drama, but that’s OK. I’m expecting more of a series of dramatic events that get resolved as we go. I also expect plenty of heart and laughter and fun along the way.

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