In recent months there has been much ado regarding select comments made by Chuck showrunners and cast members in a number of interviews. Most of the furor centers around the introduction of new potential love interests for Chuck and Sarah in season three. Speaking for myself, the interest these new characters hold is not due to their potential for wreaking havoc in the relationship between Chuck and Sarah, because who wants that? There has to be more involved in their story than merely interfering with our lead couple to keep them apart over a multi-episode arc. What I am interested in seeing is what these characters might represent symbolically for Chuck on his journey to the realization of his inevitable hero status.
Descriptions of Hannah thus far make her sound like a female version of Chuck. He meets her on a flight from Paris. She, having recently lost her job, ends up working at the Buy More. Very reminiscent of Chuck’s choices in the aftermath of his expulsion from Stanford. He spent the next five years lacking the drive to move forward from the safe path of just not trying. Shaw is to be Chuck’s mentor. He sounds as though he could be the type of agent Chuck aspires to be. He is an expert on the Ring, and will be the team leader of Operation Bartowski. He is also supposedly a good guy.
After two years of being the Intersect and working with Casey and Sarah, Chuck has become a much different person than the Chuck we first met in season one. He has accomplished a lot. He is finding more confidence in his abilities. As we saw in last season’s finale, he is also ready to step up and embrace his destiny. The journey to get there is not without difficulties, however, and Chuck is bound to meet with many conflicts between what is expected of him as a spy and what his moral base will allow him to do in the name of duty.
Chuck could be facing a crossroad in his life this season. He wants to be a spy, but will likely struggle with how to do so without losing touch with his humanity. Hannah and Shaw are clear examples to Chuck of both who he was before this journey began, and where the journey can ultimately lead if he can overcome his stumbling blocks.
Separate for a moment any fears or apprehensions that these interlopers are there to steal Chuck and/or Sarah’s affections from the other. Picture instead who these people are, what they represent, and what qualities Chuck may recognize in them that can help to move him forward. Just because a character is referred to as a “love interest”, it doesn’t mean that is all the character is bringing to the table. It’s a journey. Chuck and Sarah both have things to learn. Chuck’s burden is to find a way to navigate the path to becoming a hero without losing touch with his caring and compassion for others. This is a lesson to be learned from the people he meets along the way.