10 20: CHARAH
And here it is, our final Top Ten post. That's right. We've wrapped up an entire week of happy, positive lists...and boy did that take a lot out of us. Thanks to everybody that tagged along for the ride and shared their thoughts. Today's list is special...but only because we couldn't keep it down to 10. Without further ado, we present, in descending order, our top twenty Charah moments! See you on the other side, homies.
20) Sarah is Willing to Run (Pink Slip)
I thought I’d start off with a nice controversial Charah moment, to really get the juices going. Don’t worry, it’s not “PRAGUE,” which I’m told is a lovely city with some great bridges and even better medieval architecture. No, instead, I’m going to start with what led to Prague: Sarah wanting to run away with Chuck. Granted, it’s coming right after Ring, where we know Sarah wasn’t going to go with Bryce on the Intersect project, so maybe it’s not that much of a leap, but to me, it’s a huge leap. Sarah is so scared for Chuck that she’s willing to give up everything. Maybe it’s not the right choice (I don’t think it’s the right choice), but damn, is that monumental or what? This is the spy that basically waited until Chuck was in a relationship and all but taken from her and, oh yeah, they were on the verge of dying, before she would kiss him, and now she’s like, “Let’s run away together.” I’m still puzzled as why Chuck turned her—you know what, I’m not going to talk about Prague. Prague was stupid. But Sarah being so terrified for Chuck that she wanted to run? That was heartwarming and awe-inspiring and I’m really sorry the whole thing was stomped into the dust so callously by Chuck and his weirdly-pointy-toed shoes in Pra—ARGH. I just said I wasn’t going to talk about Prague! Damn it!
19) Chuck and Sarah Dance (Ring)
I don’t remember this dance at all, really. In fact, I’ve wiped most of Chuck vs. the Ring from my memory, as it really was the pilot for the descent of Chuck into a show I didn’t like. But one thing stands out to me about this dance, and it’s Sarah telling Chuck that he is that hero. Too bad the fates got in the way before she could also add that, hey, she wasn’t leaving with that tool Bryce Larkin.
But you know, can’t have everything.
18) Sarah Runs Back (Gobbler)
Hold it, what’s a Season Four moment doing on Frea’s part of the list? We’re nowhere near April first and Frea has made it abundantly clear that she hates Season Four. Hell, this isn’t even in Phase Three. And it’s from Gobbler! What gives? Well, the truth is, I like Gobbler as a standalone episode, which is a really sad piece of commentary since it’s kind of supposed to be this lynchpin part of this “EPIC” arc, but really, nothing that happens in the episode has any consequences past the first two minutes of the next. Sarah being a double agent in Volkoff’s company had a lot of potential, I guess, but at no point was she dangled naked from the ceiling, so it was all wasted. It’s nice to see some yearning, however, and this scene had it in spades. After an oddly platonic Charah run during most of S4, and Sarah originally greeting Chuck in Castle with just a peck on the lips, seeing them run toward each other, almost like they were on a beach wearing a sundress and manpris, was just a nice switch-up. So we threw it on the list.
17) Chuck and Sarah sit on a Beach (Intersect/Pilot)
If I had my way and didn’t have to collaborate with that meanie mxpw, this would probably be in the top five of the list. The Pilot remains today one of my all-time favorite episodes of any TV show ever. Every time I hear A Comet Appears, I just stop and get this big, stupid grin on my face. Which is kind of sad because it’s about a guy finding out his life is in danger and he’s being thrust into this world he doesn’t understand and will have to lie to his family, but then Sarah smiles at him on the beach and there’s that SHOULDER BUMP and suddenly I can feel the sentence going past run-on and into Ulysses territory, but I don’t care because that moment right there is a wonderful moment. It sets up an entire season-long arc of trust and distrust and working together and under-the-cover of the cover relationship feelings that finally culminates in that awesome scene on the helipad in Marlin (which takes place right after dusk; the beach scene here takes place right after dawn. How’s that for a metaphorical day?). Plus, the cinematography is so quiet and subtle and the editing so wonderfully done that this scene just remains magical even on the 537th rewatch.
16) Chuck Tells Sarah He’s Her Friend (Best Friend)
Okay, who doesn’t love the end of Chuck vs. the Best Friend? If you just raised your hand, get out. GO. The end of Best Friend is perfection. Sure, Chuck got a little whiny talking about how Morgan was his best friend and the reasons why and refusing to get a little perspective, but I forgave it all on the spot during that wonderful, wonderful performance of Africa (words I never thought I’d say) because Chuck tells Sarah he is her friend and it is D’AW. Okay? It is D’AW. Sarah finally has a real friend, which means more to her than being a spy, and it is great because you can just see they have reasons for liking each other.
15) Chuck comforts Sarah (Delorean)
Can I just say that one thing I love about Chuck is that he didn’t used to be the macho action hero? He used to be that guy, the one that may not have been able to punch somebody, but he was able to be there emotionally for the people in his life. This was the Chuck that always defied the computer nerd stereotype because even though he’s depicted as a loser, you just had to take one look at him and see this great network of people he’s gathered around him, people that all care for him. And this scene in Delorean, when Chuck brings Sarah chocolate croissants, is a perfect example of that. Sarah’s a hard character to work with sometimes—she doesn’t talk—but Chuck knowing exactly what to say and just being supportive is one of the greatest character beats on the planet. This is a scene I can watch over and over again.
14) Sarah Carves Their Names into the Doorjamb (Baby)
This scene meant a lot of things. It was kind of a retcon in my opinion because I don’t really see the Bartowskis as functional enough (they used to celebrate a mother’s day that involved their mother leaving and making them celebrate their independence, and their dad abandoned them to go be a spy) to have a traditional size chart, but I’ll go with it if it means Sarah’s willing to leave the spy game and have a set future with Chuck. I’ll even try not to cringe too hard at the vandalism of property that isn’t theirs (yet). Yes, I’m that person that cringes as seeing names and hearts carved into trees. Deal with it.
13) Suburbs - Chuck keeps Sarah's brain from melting (Suburbs)
I’ll confess. I gave mxpw more of the schmoopy moments. Not that I don’t like them, but I’m a very big fan of actions speaking louder than words (I think he might be the opposite) and this scene in Suburbs is just one of my favorite Chuck Stands Up and Saves Sarah moments on the show. Okay, granted, it’s Sarah strapped to a chair and HOLY FREAKING HELL am I tired of that now, but back then? The cinematography, the companionship (amusingly, this is an episode where Sarah slaps Chuck, but also that wonderful scene happens where Sarah cooks Chuck breakfast and he teasingly calls her a real girl and OH THE FLANTERING, IT’S WONDERFUL), the Charahness, the desperation, the EVERYTHING…guys, I love this scene.
12) Chuck Gives Sarah a Speech (Lethal Weapon)
Look, I’ll be honest: I hate Beefcake. To me, it falls into the same category as Ex, which means we see our mostly-in-love main characters turn on a dime and decide they’re in love with somebody else because it automatically adds angst. This is a common thing I see in Schwartz shows, so I won’t be screaming FEDAAAAAAK like I normally do. Lethal Weapon is a completely different kettle of fish: I actually liked Cole Barker in this episode because he was supportive of Chuck and I liked Chuck himself. But the thing I love, love, LOVE the most is the speech Chuck gives at the end of Lethal Weapon. If anything, this best showcases the choice Chuck will have to make at the end of the season about whether or not he is that hero and that spy. Here, though, we see Chuck at his most honest: he’s going to get the Intersect out of his head. He’s going to have that normal life. And he’s going to have that life with the woman he loves.
Can you say SWOON? For one thing, the look on Sarah’s face—shell-shocked, impressed—is amazing, but even more than that, the whole speech is nothing short of amazing. Chuck having a spine is sexy as hell. Wish we saw more of that as the show progressed.
11) Chuck and Sarah practice their wedding vows (Cliffhanger)
I love this scene. Unabashedly so. My feelings on Cliffhanger itself are not so positive, but this scene, it’s amazing. The reason it’s so amazing is due to, once again, Yvonne and Sarah Walker. Sarah was adorable with the doily on her head substituting for her veil. The twisty ties the two used in place of rings were unexpected, but cute and very Chuck and Sarah. But what really brings this moment home is Sarah’s reading of her vows. We’ve never heard her speak so eloquently and personally about her feelings before. And what she said was wonderful and showcased just how far Sarah has come as a character. She actually said to Chuck that he was the kind of man she deserved. Look at that growth! Look at her being self-confident and believing in herself and them as a couple. The Sarah from the first season would have never been able to say that. Maybe the best part is that she actually rendered Chuck speechless for once. I could relate, for that scene made me speechless too. Then her “Talky?” made me laugh and I couldn’t help but love the whole scene. It blew the wedding away, I think, and made me quite happy as a fan of Sarah Walker and Chuck/Sarah.
10) Chuck turns down Sarah’s offer to ask one question (Cougars)
Chuck had the perfect opportunity to learn something true and real about Sarah and her past. And he passed it up. This scene would really set the pattern the Chuck and Sarah relationship would follow for the rest of the series. On my more cynical days, I kind of hate this scene, because it seems obvious (in my opinion) that they established this pattern so they could be lazy and never have to get too deep into Sarah’s past. But on my more optimistic days, I love this scene because it really does speak to one of the greater themes of the series, and that is second chances and redemption. Chuck believes he knows who Sarah Walker really is, so why does he need to ask her a question about her past? He sees the kind of person she is in their daily interactions, when she saves the day and him, when she’s sweet, and caring, and just plain awesome. Plus, the wonder and surprise on Sarah’s face…well, you can see that it just endeared Chuck to her forever.
9) Chuck and Sarah kiss (Seduction)
As mentioned later, this is tied with the kiss in Hard Salami for favorite of the series. The build up to the kiss is one of the reasons why this kiss is so great. We get to see how charming and funny Chuck can be. He gets to be goofy without being made to look like a buffoon. And perhaps most importantly, we get to see Sarah defend Chuck. When Roan Montgomery starts to disparage Chuck and his abilities to seduce a woman, Sarah seems genuinely put out. She rushes to Chuck’s defense and there’s probably a lot more truth to her statement that Chuck’s charming nature worked on her than she’d like to admit, at least out loud. So when a confident Chuck just grabs her and kisses the hell out of Sarah, well, it was freaking awesome. And Sarah, well, she looked more than a little overwhelmed and very affected by what happened, which really helped sell the moment. Not to mention her line about fixing her makeup and then rushing out of there was the perfect cap to a wonderful scene.
8) Sarah pleads with Chuck (Phase Three)
Yvonne had a lot of amazing acting moments in this episode, but none of them were quite as fantastic as this. This is one of those scenes I think you really have to watch to truly get the emotion behind it. But Sarah leaning over Chuck’s semi-conscious body, tears running down her face, as she pleads for Chuck to come back to her because she has so much she still wants to tell him about herself, because she wants to be open with him and share herself with him like she’s never wanted with anyone else, because she wants to marry him (and that confession, as certain as it is from her, is maybe the most amazing part of the whole scene), is wonderful. Watching that scene, I want Chuck to be okay as much as Sarah does because I can see how much he means to Sarah, how much it would devastate her if he’s not. Sarah saves Chuck then, she pulls him back into reality, and she doesn’t do it with her fists (well, she kind of does), but with her words and her emotions. It was an awesome reversal of the norm and why this scene is so powerful.
7) Chuck gives Sarah his mother’s charm bracelet (Santa Claus)
The show tends to focus on Sarah’s reactions in these kinds of moments, but I like to think that’s because Yvonne is so amazing at conveying so much emotion while barely saying anything. And this moment is a good example why. When Chuck tells Sarah that the charm bracelet is his mother’s, you knew that Mauser’s fate was sealed (you know, if you could see the future). You can just tell by looking at Sarah’s face as Chuck tells her that he knows that giving Sarah this bracelet is the kind of gift that a boyfriend gives to a real girlfriend, that she’s gone. From that point on, she’ll do anything to protect Chuck. It’s maybe the first time anybody has given her such a sentimentally valuable gift before, and it kind of overwhelms her. But Yvonne plays Sarah’s appreciation and awe and yes, love, so well. This was back when the Chuck and Sarah moments were more understated and heartfelt, with the awesome Charah theme playing in the background, and you could really connect to both characters. Chuck lightly rubbing Sarah’s wrist with his thumb, Sarah trying to downplay her relief and pleasure at Chuck calling her over, and her smiles, oh her smiles, they were beautiful. This scene had it all.
6) Barstow and “It’s real” (Colonel)
What more can one say about the Barstow hotel scene other than hand!porn! Actually, there’s a surprising amount of nuance in this scene. Chuck’s pullback after he and Sarah have been kissing and rolling around for a while was a brilliant touch. It had just the right amount of “This is the happiest moment of my life because holy crap I am making out with Sarah Walker!” Sarah’s reaction was even better; in fact, thanks to Yvonne’s acting in this scene, I’ve always thought Sarah wanted the sexytimes to happen even more than Chuck. She initiates the hand!porn!, she makes Chuck pull her closer, she turns over to face him, she constantly leans forward trying to get closer when Chuck pulls away, and when Chuck leaves to get a condom, the happiness and relief on her face is palpable. You can almost hear the thoughts going through her head: “YAY, I AM FINALLY HAVING SEX AGAIN. And it’s with Chuck. That makes it EVEN BETTER.”
Of course, the Barstow moment wouldn’t really be complete without the end of Colonel, because Sarah’s confirmation that “It’s real” is really a confirmation that everything that happened in that dirty hotel room wasn’t a fluke. Sarah really did want to be on the verge of having sex with Chuck. Chuck’s feelings were reciprocated. Everything that Chuck thought was going on between them actually was going on between them. And there wasn’t going to be anymore trying to run away from their feelings. Things were real, and sexytimes were bound to soon happen again. Oh how wrong that statement turned out to be.
5) Chuck asks Sarah out on a real date (First Date)
Everybody knows I’m a sucker when it comes to Sarah Walker. I can’t help it, the woman is stupendously awesome, kickass, and super hot. Know what else she is? Disgustingly adorable. This scene is a good example why. Her shy, bashful, hesitant, quiet acceptance of Chuck’s request for a date is played to absolute perfection by Yvonne. Sarah Walker was pure real girl there, saying yes to going on a date with the boy she really likes. Her enthusiasm may be restrained, but it’s as plain as day. She may be worried about whether or not it’s a good decision, but you can tell she really wants to say yes. She may be scared about opening herself to Chuck, letting him in, but she does it anyway, because she just can’t help herself. And as for Chuck, well, he’s sweet and earnest and confident about what he wants. This is the version of Chuck that makes it easy to understand why Sarah fell for him.
4) Save you later (Marlin)
This moment is really the culmination of a sequence of amazing events. From Sarah rushing against time to get to Chuck before he’s taken away from her forever, to her almost drawing her gun on a fellow agent, to calling Chuck “Her guy”, and finally to Sarah making a tearful last promise to Chuck. I had been a Chuck/Sarah fan before this moment in Marlin, but this scene on the rooftop is what made me a shipper for good. They sold me on the desperation, the caring, the trust that existed between these two very different, yet oddly well matched people. I believed Sarah really would save him later. I loved that Chuck was worried about how his sister would take his absence and how Sarah losing him would affect her. This was a Chuck and Sarah I believed in and wanted to see succeed.
3) Chuck and Sarah’s first kiss (Imported Hard Salami)
I’ll be honest, this is only tied for my all-time favorite Chuck and Sarah kiss in the series. The other kiss being the kiss in Seduction. However, what puts this kiss ahead of all others is this: the kiss is explosive. Oh yeah, I went there. It’s passionate. It’s rough and angry and sloppy and uncoordinated and yes, even a bit awkward. It’s not the typical first kiss you see in most movies or TV. Chuck and Sarah are all over the place, pulling each other roughly against each other, kissing hungrily, basically trying to express months of obvious sexual tension in one intense, insane, last second kiss. Because they think they’re about to die and all they want to do for their last moments together is be with each other and express how they feel. And they do. You get the sense after watching this kiss that the Chuck and Sarah relationship as we know it is dead, and something new has taken its place. Things will never quite be the same after that kiss on the docks, and that’s why this kiss takes the top spot over all the rest.
2) Sarah tells Chuck he’s her home (Suitcase)
Okay, yes, the idea that Chuck and Sarah had been living together for something like eight or nine months and Sarah was still living out of a (single) suitcase was ridiculous. And yes, Sarah’s issues were a bit of a tired retread. But this episode did confirm something many people had thought was true for a long time: Chuck is Sarah’s home. The picture taken during Seduction being the photograph Sarah takes with her everywhere so that her home is always with her was an excellent touch. Seeing Sarah freely admit to Chuck being her home was a wonderful moment in not just the development of the Chuck and Sarah relationship, but in Sarah’s character as well. And it may have very well led to me going “D’awww” at the scene. Add to Sarah’s heartfelt confession and the awesome, though depressingly tame, cuddling and kissing between Chuck and Sarah, and you get a caring and sweet scene. From this moment on, you know Chuck and Sarah are in it for the long haul.
1) Chuck and Sarah listen to Nina Simone (Honeymooners)
Honeymooners had to do a lot as an episode. It needed to soothe the angst from the previous thirteen episodes, bring back the lightheartedness to the show, and justify to us why we stuck around and waited for the PTB to finally put Chuck and Sarah together in a real relationship. Say what you will about Season 3, about whether or not this episode was successful in making up for what happened before, but the concluding scene, where Chuck helps Sarah discover music by playing Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good”, is probably the most quietly romantic moment of the whole series. And I think that’s the key to the scene: it’s quiet. Chuck and Sarah aren’t talking, they’re barely doing anything, they’re just cuddling on their bed, listening to the music. I remember watching the scene multiple times, because the intimacy was just pitch perfect, and I had to see it again. The way Sarah kind of buried herself into Chuck, the way Chuck held her close, the way they were just…together in a way the show had never let them be before, it was all awesome. It was probably the best attempt by the program to show just how much Chuck and Sarah really cared for each other, instead of telling us. Chuck and Sarah holding each other spoke for itself.