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.