I’ll tell you something about me: I’ve never been in love. At least not the once in a lifetime, you’re forever changed kind of love. I’ve had relationships, but none with that. And it’s because I believe I’ve never chosen to be. I’ve yet to really open myself up to be open to love of any form. I’m not ready yet. Now I’m sure some have felt the kind of love that blindsides you (one you didn’t feel you had a choice but to follow through), but I’ve never had that either…and I truly believe somewhere in there is a choice, if for just to embrace it or deny it.
Now this full disclosure isn’t meant to make you feel bad for me, or any other emotion relevant to the matter, but to illustrate that I believe, even in love there are choices. For me the choice starts with wanting to be in love, to opening myself up to be vulnerable to someone else, to letting love in. For “Chuck,” thereby Chuck and Sarah, that choice is and has always been what to do about it. Do they, choose love? Fight for it? Or set it aside? From the very beginning, and up to the very end that choice is paramount.
Let’s start at the beginning shall we?
Sarah: “Do you, ever want to have a normal life, have a family? Children?”
Casey: “The choices we made to something bigger than ourselves is the right choice. Hard as that is for you to remember sometimes.”
That was Crown Vic, a long, long, long time ago. Back then, Sarah was just a day (or week) removed from staying for the “job.” A week removed from not running off with Bryce as to no longer face what she feels for Chuck. I thought then, and I do to this day that in Crown Vic, and in all of season 1, Sarah didn’t choose Bryce, and she didn’t choose Chuck. She couldn’t. So instead she reverted to what is essentially the non-choice, what she knows: her job. She had all these feelings, which the alarm clock felt the brunt off, but she didn’t yet know the extent of them, or what she could possibly do about it. And I’d argue, she also didn’t know if she even wanted to do something about them, just that they were there. Maybe they’ve been there since the beginning, who knows. But Sarah of season 1, wasn’t ready. She wasn’t ready to acknowledge feelings, and she wasn’t ready to open herself up to him, so she didn’t. Even in her most vulnerable moment, when he pleaded simply to get to know her, she couldn’t bring herself to open herself up for him. She couldn’t bring herself to tell him, “Lisa, my middle name is Lisa,” she had to whisper it to herself, as if it were something wanting to burst free but couldn’t. Not yet.
Fast forward to season 2, and the now infamous log (granted the log didn’t come into our collective consciousness until season 5 but for the sake of this illustration, I’m including it in this (season 2) timeline.)…
Sarah: “Day 564. Things are calm for once, no mission, nothing really to report. Except, I still find myself sitting here, talking to myself because…because I love him. I love Chuck Bartowski and I don’t know what to do about it.”
Somewhere in between not making a choice in Crown Vic, almost shooting Longshore in Marlin, going on their second first date, going with Chuck to her high school reunion, shooting Mauser to save Chuck and his family, Jack Burton, Jill, Suburbs and the 49-B (wow that was a mouthful), Sarah made a choice. No, not “what to do about it,” but a choice to acknowledge what she’s long since felt for Chuck. “I love Chuck Bartowski.” Sarah, of the “never good at this, saying your feelings part (Nemesis)” Walker just acknowledged in a video message what she feels. If pressed, I would point to that moment in Break Up when Chuck “broke up” with her–and her facial expression of shock, awe, and devastation–to be that moment when she made that choice. Caught in between Ellie and Devon, she glances back at Chuck who looks at her with his heart in his eyes, gulps and she looks back. She looks back at him with an intense look that conveys a semblance of shock, awe, love and an epiphany that she didn’t quite know what to do with. But there can be arguments made for every single episode from season 2 to be that moment. Per Jeff, the timeline of the log seems to indicate post 49-B’s Broken Heart, that works just as well as any, especially being titled broken “heart.” Nevertheless, the choice has gone from accepting what she feels, to not knowing what to do about it. More, wanting to do something about it.
In season 2 as in 1, though Sarah had her own set of choices to make, it was always Chuck that acted, it was always Chuck who made his choices and she’s always sort of just gone along with it. He broke up with her in Truth, he told her they couldn’t ever have a future together in Break Up, and when faced with his past, he turned to Jill who was familiar, easier in some ways for his heart, and didn’t entail as much risk as Sarah. All of this because Chuck never really saw himself with her, he knew she felt something, he even dreamed of them together but he didn’t believe. In some ways this is the same situation he found himself in, in Phase Three when he wouldn’t and couldn’t ask Sarah to marry him because she’s a big fish, and he’s…well he’s a nerd without a supercomputer in his brain. In all of these, and ones before, Sarah was Chuck’s for the taking but he never really claimed her. That is until Colonel.
Chuck made a choice long ago to fight for her, but there was that pesky intersect to get past first.
Chuck: “I am going to get this thing out of my head, and I will live the life that I want with the girl that I love.”
There can be no doubt as to whom he was referring to in that moment, and she had no doubt either if that look and that shake she had to give herself after his speech was any indication.
In any case, Chuck, sans intersect (even before that, on the run for his father) claimed the girl in Colonel. Sarah made her own choice in Colonel, not the “I don’t know what to do about it” choice per say, but it was her choice not to be separated from him. A choice to be the person he believed her to be, and to fight for what he wanted even at risk to herself and her freedom.
Chuck: “Why are you doing this…why are you here? Risking everything you’ve worked so hard for?”
Sarah: “Because after everything you’ve done for this country, you deserve to find your father. To get the intersect out of your head and to have a chance at a normal life.”
Chuck: “Thank you.”
Sarah: “You don’t have to thank me, it’s my job to protect you.”
Chuck: “What about when it’s not your job? What happens to us then?”
Sarah: “One mission at a time Chuck.”
You’ll notice when pressed, she still wouldn’t commit to a future. “One mission at a time,” she says. Why? Because though her feelings are cemented, the future is still uncertain. That pesky, “I don’t know what to do about it,” remains a roadblock.
So we enter Ring (pt 1) and Sarah leaving to join a team with Bryce. As in Crown Vic, when faced with a decision about her future, the job seems to be her fallback. There needn’t be hurt, vulnerability, heartbreak and risk taken when choosing the job; she can be who she’s always been. But staying? Being with Chuck, in that “normal” life he dreams of and talks so much about? That’s scary. So she told him, “I’m leaving.” And though she breaks his heart, hers is broken just as much. Until the dance, “Chuck… I don’t want to save the world, I want…”
Stephen Bartowski, shipper-block the world over. What was she going to say? Was she going to tell him, “I want to be with you?” “I want to live a normal life with you?” Well in essence we got our answer in Pink Slip:
Sarah: “We could run. Together. You and me. We go now and we never look back.”
Chuck: “Are you serious?”
Sarah: “I have some money saved up, I’d have to get us some new identities, create an escape route. For now go to the training facility in Prague, meet me at train station in 3 weeks time at 7 o’clock and we can figure out the rest later.”
Chuck: “What are you saying?”
Sarah: “I’m saying I want to be a real person again, with you. This is what you want right? I mean this is it, Chuck. Will you run away with me?”
Unfortunately for us, and unfortunately for Sarah, the world intervened. When Chuck made the choice to download the intersect in Ring, he essentially made the choice to save the world, over Sarah. Now I’m not going to get into whether that’s a choice he makes time and again, but in some ways that’s no different than him choosing to download the intersect in Goodbye to defuse the bomb, over using it to return Sarah’s memories. The point is, he chose the world. Chuck is a hero, he’s not a traditional hero but he’s a hero and he will always choose to save others over what he himself desires. It goes back to what was in seasons past… although Sarah has her own set of choices, in the end the choice that matters is always Chuck’s. In essence, Sarah is and has been reactive instead of proactive. And in this one, though Chuck claimed her in Colonel, he didn’t choose her or them when it was all said and done. So she’s had to react.
Chuck: “Look you were right in Prague. You and I–we’re perfect for each other, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you, away from everyone else and away from this spy life.”
Chuck acknowledged before that, that he made the wrong choice. He should have chosen her, chosen to be with her and he, in his own way in American Hero, was trying to fix that. He was trying to fight for her, for them. In this, just like in others, Sarah was his for the taking. She may have needed convincing but for her there wasn’t really a choice. Not really. So she packs, with the photo of the two of them on the side table, draw your own conclusions. Personally I believe that she was going with Chuck even before Casey intervened.
In Honeymooners, “I don’t know what to do about it,” came into play all over again. Though their commitment to each other is unshakeable, the future and what it entails is not. Do they continue to be spies, or do they run away together like they originally intended? And in Role Models, can she really see herself living a settled, uncomplicated, moving-in-with-her-nerd-boyfriend-life…uncharted territory if there ever was one? So it’s only right that her fears causes her to regress momentarily. “Why would we do that,” indeed. It seemed for a time, that “one day at a time” is returning. But bumps and volleys aside, Chuck and Sarah made a choice together, to be together,
Chuck: “no matter where we go, or what we do”
Sarah: “As long as we’re together.”
Even when Chuck proposed, it was already a given, “when I asked you to marry me, you didn’t even have to say yes because we both knew-we both knew that we would spend the rest of our lives together.” From then on Chuck and Sarah got married and what was his choice or her choice, became their choice. Until Sarah lost her memories.
You’ll notice that I’ve emphasized the number of times that the choice to be together, the choice to do something about their love, has always fallen into Chuck’s hands. Well, no more.
More and more I’m convinced that we (including myself) are looking at the last scene, the last episode incorrectly. It was and is never about her getting her memories back (as stated, that’s partly a given with the objective facts shown to us scattered throughout the episode). It’s not even about when she gets it, or if she gets it back at all, it’s about love. It’s about choosing love, trusting love and embracing love. It’s about, “what to do about it.”
Sarah made, in the only time it mattered, her choice. She chose Chuck. Though in years past, Chuck’s choices were the emphasis, in this there can be none better, none other than hers, her choice. She wasn’t reactive in this one, finally; she was proactive. She decided their fate. She chose to fall in love again with him, she chose to stick around Burbank, she chose to hear their story. She chose love.
“Chuck, tell me our story,” was her moment. Her making the decision she couldn’t make in Colonel with “one day at a time.” Her deciding to embrace what she herself turned down not long ago in the eerily familiar Mexican restaurant. It was her embracing an uncertain, scary and unimagined future that she’s been living for the past 5 years…something she never, ever imagined before Chuck. And if that wasn’t enough, she chose his kiss.
Sarah: “One magical kiss? (chuckles)”
Chuck: “I know…it’s…”
Sarah: “Chuck, kiss me.”
Look at her face, feel the yearning. Feel the hope, the dreams, the magic. It’s not about whether she regains her memories, or whether the life and dreams they have are regained or gone forever. It’s about love. It’s about choices. It’s about the choice she made to embrace love and do something about it. For now and forever.