So Right and So Wrong
Way back in the dark ages, when I was an Astronomy student, I was taught there was something wrong with galaxies. You know – those beautiful spiral shaped thingies in the sky that you can see only with telescopes hanging like filmy ghosts, even though they’re actually made up of <voice type=”Carl Sagan”>billions and billions of stars</voice>? We thought we understood them, but the more we looked, the more things didn’t add up, I learned.
Long story short, the laws of physics pretty convincingly indicated their amazing spiral shapes weren’t possible. They couldn’t happen unless 1) the laws of physics (as we knew them) were wrong or 2) something else major was going on, something we didn’t know about.
An it happens, astronomers weren’t exactly wrong and #2 was the right answer. Back then we actually understood pretty well what was happening inside those galaxies, with their beautiful and frail spiral arms spinning around impossibly long in an impossibly orderly manner. But we didn’t have a clue about the forces on the outside that were exerting their influence. Today astronomers talk about invisible dark matter and dark energy that completely surrounds and envelops these galaxies like a blanket. Not that they know much about it. They just know that everything – but everything – is influenced by stuff they can not see.
Just like Sarah.
Me, when I saw Sarah’s cold eyes during Chuck’s first flash on her (way back in the Pilot), and when I saw her permanently take out eleven assassins in this episode, I thought I knew something about her. I thought that, before she met Chuck, Sarah was a loner super hero type, straight out of the classic Batman, Superman, Captain America and Lara Croft mold. That was wrong. Gloriously wrong.
I was thinking about those galaxies when I saw how Sarah Walker had been influenced by events in Chuck vs. The Baby. Oh, I knew all about her father and her con-artist upbringing, and I knew about her CIA training, of course. I didn’t know about the other influences that shaped Agent Walker. There was no way to know about all the other stuff happening around her before she met Chuck.
And it was an amazing story.
If I may recap briefly, the answer to the question “whose baby is it?” turns out to be relatively unimportant. She’s an orphan, but she’s an heir to a large fortune. And for that, Kieran Ryker (White Collar‘s Tim Dekay) will kidnap her.
To accomplish that job he makes use of Langston Graham’s other wild-card enforcer, a deadly and mostly unquestioning Sarah Walker. He’ll need her to take out the eleven assassins who have just slaughtered the baby’s family. She’ll do it, he knows, because she’s cold and follows orders well.
Sarah was trained to be unfeeling and independent and was made reflexively distrusting by both her father and the CIA. But now we know that the job was not. Quite. Finished. You can’t see it as she’s acrobatically blasting automatic fire and throwing knives, but there actually was a heart beating in there still. Yet, it’s encased in carbonite by the time we met her.
Sarah was the agent who was quite willing to find and fill any hole Chuck needed to be filled (so long as it helped her fulfil the mission), the agent who could lie under pentathol, and shoot Mauser, the agent who could give him a hundred reason why they should not go out on a date. Indeed. Remember how upset she became when Chuck began to get through her shields? She screamed at him that “the kiss” (as the bomb failed to explode) was a mistake. Sarah let Chuck know in a hundred little ways that there could be nothing between them. It was inexplicable at times, and we called it “angst” and a mistake caused by central relationship misunderstandings.
No mistake and now I understand. Sarah made a choice, and Sarah’s choice was exactly like Chuck’s.
She chose to run to protect those she loved, just like he would. Despite what I thought I knew, she did think about something besides the mission and Sarah did have a heart to do the right thing. The phone conversation she had in Hungary with her mother proved it. Emma had not abandoned her; Sarah was always welcome in her mother’s life and Sarah was not alone unless she wanted to be. Sarah was strong and independent from the start, but she wasn’t cold-hearted by nature. Her history and training may have been intended to kill all that off, but it failed. Sarah’s heart had been broken by a crying baby.
That’s the thing. It’s not Jack Burton or Langston Graham. It’s Sarah’s desire to keep that baby safe (along with her mother) that made her who she was.
There is a small difference between Chuck and Sarah. When it came time to run, Agent Walker sold it to herself as a matter of tactics and strategy, not fear or desperation. It was the smart move. It was the caring move. Staying away and hiding from any relationship at all with her mother (the baby’s guardian) and Molly was the right thing to do, and closing off her emotions was the only way to go about it. Ryker proved it, and Emma supported it. That’s what she thought.
Don’t call it a curse. It was a decision she made.
Wrong and So Right
Know what was the most fun about this episode? It was how everybody made their decisions and admitted they were wrong! Devon was mistaken about the Calla Lillies, and Chuck said he was wrong to trust Sarah when she went on her own this time. Morgan’s been saying for weeks that he was an idiot not because the Intersect was melting his brain, but because he didn’t stick to the promise he made to Alex about quitting the spy-life.
[Hey wait! Casey wasn’t wrong about the waiter – he knew exactly what was going on with Ryker (and go Casey!). However, I was wrong about Casey’s intuition! 😉 ]
Most of all, Sarah came to understand she was wrong to isolate herself the way she did, all those years ago – not about the tactics, but about closing off her heart.
Today I can think about the episode and have a smile on my face because every single one of those decisions, which were so right and even necessary at the time, were redeemed. Ellie made Devon’s Calla Lillies a special memory. Alex saw in Morgan someone who was good. Chuck, who always fears Sarah’s reaction, has learned to trust his own judgement. Sarah, once worried that she had to be alone is surrounded by friends and family that she can depend on.
For everyone, the decisions they made were not proved to be wrong, but were redeemed instead.
That, my friends, is akin to a miracle.
Now, like you, I can wonder about the time line and I will have to go back to the very beginning to see what that looks like now. We still don’t know if Emma (played perfectly by Cheryl Ladd) called her Jenny or Katie or Rebecca back then, and I don’t know how Sarah had time for Omaha, Cabo and The Cat Squad. But really, that feels like very minor stuff for my imagination to take care of, and hardly seems worth mentioning. This episode, after half a season of triples and home runs, felt like a homer that went way into the upper deck of the stadium after the bases were loaded.
Watching everyone around the table, it was more than just decisions made right that seemed so joyous. Oh yeah, the bad-guy was dispatched and the heroes were victorious long before the end of the hour, but this went beyond that expected happy ending. This was special, because it was the characters we love who were redeemed and made whole. Ellie and Devon are enjoying all parts of their life together. Morgan and Alex have found what they were looking for – each other. Chuck has found that he does not (and never did) need the Intersect, and Sarah has discovered she has never been alone.
Together, Chuck and Sarah will have their home and their normal life, but I can guarantee their life together will also be extraordinary and full of adventure.
Most of all everyone there, especially Sarah, has found their family, and discovered it was larger than they ever thought.
Now, given all that, did anyone miss The Buy More or even the Intersect? Not I. We got all that and Tony Todd too.
Have the best New Year ever!