Kansas Gone Bye-Bye

When Sarah was “poisoned” last year in Cliffhanger, my main complaint was that although she was in jeopardy, and there were all these stakes, I didn’t feel them. There was danger, but I didn’t feel it. That was not the case this time around. I felt this, boy did I.

Sarah has always been the emotional pulse of Chuck. Though we see the show through Chuck’s eyes, we often feel it through hers. When Chuck was breaking up with her in Break Up, we felt the devastation through her eyes (Zac Levi’s facial expression didn’t hurt). That pause in front of the door where she had to gather herself? Powerful stuff! We were heartbroken, like she was heartbroken. When Chuck blew up in Best Friend, her facial expression of shock and subsequent tearful relief, got to us. And when Chuck finally asked her out and she finally said yes in First Date, it’s like the sun shined just for her. We felt her feelings of pure joy and excitement in that moment just as strongly as she did. There are so many more like these, from finding Chuck in Thailand (Sarah’s smile), to Chuck giving her the ticket in Prague, every single one of these made us feel and feel deeply because she felt it. It’s a testament to Yvonne’s Strahovski’s talent that she can emote so much (often with so little) and sway our emotions and our hearts in the process. Bullet Train was just another episode to add to that list and it was magnificent.

The plotting itself was well done. They effectively set up that which they have to lose, that which we have to lose. In some ways it magnified the danger, just as the danger magnifies the ending. Chuck and Sarah sitting on the bed drawing doodles of their dream as if to reaffirm that it’s not slipping away, that they, and we will have our happy ending…that was fantastic. It showed so well just how much this all means, and in the process reminded us of how far they’ve come. Of course there were several callbacks (of win) specifically meant for that purpose, but in some ways that scene in bed meant more. Throughout the episode, they kept on saying, “we’re so close” and the romantic set up conveyed that adeptly: so close, but yet so far.

Then to have Sarah admit that she’s forgetting, and later on show that she is losing specific memories: her wedding, their first kiss, Chuck carving their initials on the door, memories that have made the last 5 years what they are burn to ashes, these all combined to make what was an already good episode into an emotionally powerful one. I was crying, I felt like I was losing the memories just as she was. Chuck was losing Sarah, we were losing Sarah. They were losing what they meant to each other. It was, for lack of a better phrase, emotionally devastating but delicious. And I couldn’t get enough. Of course I’m going on this train ride with hopes that it turns out well for our heroes–particularly for our favorite couple–but they sold me to this storyline, to this emotion and I’m glad. My thing has always been: make me buy into it, make me believe and they have. More, they made me feel it. Needless to say, for my money: the execution was superb.

Other notes: In typical Chuck fashion, I laughed as I cried. Lester’s reaction to Casey’s phone call, the Canadian gags, all hilarious stuff. Having Jeffster rescue the damsel just seems right.

It’s also nice to have the entire team–I’m including Ellie, Awesome, Alex and Morgan in that–face the current challenge. One of Chuck’s themes is that they’re not alone, not anymore and it shows. Casey is part of that, and for him to choose between his friends and his daughter, emotional gold. Fitting for an emotional ride of an episode.

Chuck’s series finale can’t come soon enough…oh wait, it can. That alone is cause for an emotional breakdown. On a night filled with tears, that one brings a flood. Only 2 hours left and…I don’t have enough tissues for this.

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About Faith

Eternally faith-ful at least as it relates to my beloved Los Angeles Lakers. Yes that's where the username comes from. Other than that self-professed Chuckaholic, Laker blogger and part time internet addict. Ok, full time.
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14 Responses to Kansas Gone Bye-Bye

  1. Faith says:

    I couldn’t find a way to put this in there but the song playing while Sarah was with Quinn was Crooked Fingers’ “She Tows the Line.” Beautiful and devastating song that like most songs on Chuck, enhances the scene so well.

    “She tows the line
    Up the river
    Through the low lands
    Hanging out on the levy
    By the arcade
    Getting high

    See it’s so clear in her eyes
    She won’t be bringing it up again
    So she rises and goes
    They don’t even know
    If she even came here at all

    Come in
    Count the times,
    We believe in
    Just for going
    Walking the banks of the levy
    Where the old hopes
    All get thrown
    Soon as we drift from this side
    They won’t dare bring our names up again
    And we’ll rise and we’ll hope
    They’ll never know
    We came here at all”

    It’s a song about losing oneself and so appropriate.

  2. armysfc says:

    faith, good write up. for me the big difference in the 2 endings and why my emotions were higher is reality. not the reality they have on the show but the reality of real life. last season the show had a chance to be renewed when it was written. they couldn’t kill her off or do any real damage. there were no actors saying it was a slightly tragic ending. for the show to continue in it’s current state she had to live. knowing that lessened they chances of something bad happening by a lot.

    this year they can do what they want because it’s over. this year an actor tells us it’s slightly tragic, they were on the edge of their seats. they helped instill the idea of a bad outcome in fact they hyped it. i went in with the idea that they may carry out the threat, last year not at all. that’s the biggest thing for me.

    • Faith says:

      Good point. It also helped that she wasn’t in a coma in this one, we can actually see (and again feel) every pain the intersect brought to her flashes and that added to the devastation. Made losing “her” more visual rather than cerebral.

      • lappers84 says:

        Let’s not forget those beautiful memories aren’t gone gone – yes she was starting to forget things – but the images we saw at the end were almost certainly suppressed memories (there still there – it just needs a trigger for them to be unlocked) and I believe that’s what we’ll see in the next episode. I’m glad you mentioned the Jeffster moment – absolutely hilarious when they both confronted BBs character with Oh Canada playing in the background. I’m kind of hoping that now they know about it all that they will help in the end (shame big mike is still in the dark.)

    • esardi says:

      I guess that the most devastating thing for me in last night’s episode was when Quinn showed her a picture of Chuck and she did not know who he was. The tragic thing would be for her to succeed not knowing that was her husband and love of her life. What a tragic ending indeed if they came so close to having it all only to be the one to destroy it. That is just pure fan-fiction.

      Of course we all know that is not going to happen. I guess that is what Yvonne meant by slightly tragic. Instead now that Dave and others have stated it, there might be something brewing from their little tryst on the train. Kind of fitting if you come to think about. Honeymooners is when they really come together and Bullet train when they start their family.

      • lappers84 says:

        Funny you mention that Esardi – didn’t one of Yvonnes interviews ask the question of the baby storyline? And I think her reply was likely to be something for season 6. But of course we all knew before it started season 5 was the last – what’s to say the end we do get a little surprise like that.

      • armysfc says:

        unless they do a flash forward of a few months sometime during the finale i don’t see her pregnant.

  3. beti says:

    OMG can you imagine giant she male trying killing chuck ? This is heartbreaking !
    How can chuck show sarah their drawing ?
    Will jeff and lester be part of bartowsky team?

    Oh the end is so close.. OMG

  4. Katsumaro says:

    Nicely reviewed, Jemalicious. Hit the nail on the head as always. I feel you when you say it’s like we’re losing memories just like Sarah did. I actually tend to forget *some* things in the show myself until I refresh my own memory. I don’t think anyone’s intersected me, though! I can’t do any of that cool..flipping, kicking and punching stuff. =[

    But either way.. it’s definitely an emotional ride, and now we wait a week until we finish that ride with a bang. I can’t wait, and I’m so glad I get to watch it along all of you. 😀

  5. sd says:

    Great review, Faith. It wasn’t until you wrote the differences between Poisoned Sarah and No Memory Sarah that I realized why I am feeling there is more “at stake” during these last episodes.
    While the show is Chuck, I have always felt more empathy toward Sarah–reason being– before Chuck her whole life had been pretty tragic. I mean, sure Chuck was a slacker with no direction who early on found himself manipulated and then placed in dangerous situations. But Sarah was actually the one who had been manipulated her whole life, I would even go as far to say emotionally abused and trapped in a role as hard core CIA agent/assassin that she felt she would never be allowed to leave. While Chuck has spent many of the last five seasons being chased and captured and threatened, etc. I think Sarah’s journey has always been the most uplifting and yes, heartbreaking.

  6. kg says:

    The episode is everything Faith has alluded and then some. I found the ending obviously tragic, but what I personally felt was actual….sadness.

    After all Sarah’s been through between Bryce, the baby, the horrifying red test, Shaw, the ups and downs with Chuck, the several layers of growth; bottom line: a very special, beautiful, capable, talented, smart, loving, loyal, considerate, kind and trusting woman was systematically reduced to a pawn – an unwitting solider used for the whims of a madman/loser. Sarah’s new lease on life, her precious memories of her feelings for Chuck and inclusion in a warm family setting were painfully suppressed and washed out by Quinn.

    Sadness and despair take hold as you witness a helpless Sarah unable to defend herself against the evil flash cards. The reality is hammered home when her five-year journey comes full circle and she awakes in her old hotel room with an empty head void of any positive memories. Quinn pretending to be her handler and ordering her to execute Chuck. Sad quickly turns to chilling.

    Well done. Took very little to buy-in.

    Anyway, I think Sarah not knowing who he is and what they mean to each other will devastate Chuck more than her desire to kill him.

    And this ending called me back to Phase Three. “Chuck without you I’m nothing. Nothing but a spy.” But this is worse and sinister. Because she had found a life. She IS somebody. But that identity was wrongfully stolen. Sarah is now, for lack of a better term, a robot spy. A robot assassin controlled and ordered around by the maniacal Quinn.

    The intersect legacy continues to haunt CB. He can’t escape from its far-reaching tentacles. Now, it takes from him the single most precious and important “package” in his world – Sarah.

  7. herder says:

    Lovely review Faith, so much emotion in this one: the joy at being reunited in the train, the gentle post-ahem talk and drawing, the concern at losing some memories, the slow drawing away of the train cars, Sarah’s pain at losing her memories and Chuck’s hiding his in his work. I wasn’t too keen about the memory loss plot when I first considered it but in this episode, the loss of it was well done, showing the pain of the two of them.

  8. thinkling says:

    First, wonderful review, Faith. This was the most emotional of all the scenes you listed. No other Chuck moment to me has been this gut wrenching. It is unwatchable, but you can’t turn away. Kudos as always to Yvonne. As you said so much of the emotion of Chuck is thanks to her.

    KG, great description of the sadness and despair, turned chilling.

    Herder, I agree that the episode was really well done. I have hopes that the rest of the arc will be handled as well.

  9. Gord says:

    Great review Faith.
    A few things I noticed on rewatch.

    1. When Chuck and Casey go to rescue Sarah at the warehouse, Chuck isn’t carrying a tranq gun he is carrying an automatic assault rifle. The man who doesn’t like guns will do whatever it takes to get the love of his life back.

    2. When Chuck says that Jeff and Lester are loyal – I was thinking Jeff has always been loyal, but Lester has always looked out for himself and has turned on his friend at every opportunity.
    eg – Alma Matter Lester betrayed the Buy Morons to Harry Tang
    – Fat Lady – willing to betray everyone to Emmett
    – Beard – spills on the rest of the Buy More staff for immunity
    and most recently he tried to poison Jeff.

    Of course I’m willing to overlook this because Jeffster were so awesome in this episode and of course being a Canadian, I loved the Canada gags.

    I think the big foreshadowing that was done was
    1. The sketch that Chuck drew – I think that is going to be what saves his life when Sarah comes after him.

    2. Ellie and Awesome working together on the memory problem – I think this is how Sarah will get her memories back – the Dr.’s Woodcomb will save the day.

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