When is a Love Interest More Than a Love Interest? (SPOILERS)

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.

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  1. As long as I don’t have to endure the same gut wrenching feelings I had during the Beefcake episode, I’m all for having Supes joining the cast. Brandon Routh is a great actor and should really fit into the Chuck Style of comedy/action really well. As for Hannah, I’m starting to feel like we’re turning Chuck into a bit of a jerk.

    How many girls can a guy blow Sarah off for and then still claim to love her? Chuckles needs to focus! If Sarah get’s blown off too many times, she fools around with a Bryce/Cole character, and then I get visually upset and get these horrible feelings in my gut. No more dancing around the obvious, gotta get Chuck and Sarah together for good!

    • I think its funny… Don’t you think superman looks like brice larkin???
      Plzzzzzzz dont make sarah falls for that other douche bag

      • Well, Bryce Larkin was almost Superman. So it makes sense that they look a little alike.

      • It not the point that im trying to make…

        Bryce is dead and he is not coming back – josh schwarz

        They only put another bryce larkin i guess, im pretty sure the role of Brandon Routh will be similar to bryce.

      • Check out the photo by Jeremiah C. Brandon Routh looks way more like Chuck than Bryce. Twins separated at birth?

  2. Quite true happy.

    I would also add that Hannah and Shaw could serve a dual purpose. Not only are they markers for Chuck dramatizing where he has come from and is heading to; they also apply to Sarah. The nifty thing is the directions for Chuck and Sarah are ones that will bring them closer together as they both search for the sweet spot between those markers.

    This, to me, is the real purpose of these characters. The potential love interest label is the exterior of a Trojan Horse.

  3. Yeah this article concentrated on Chuck PLI, Hannah. I could see how she could represent that. You missed a huge part of the trapezoid. Shaw and Sarah. You describe Shaw here as someone Chuck wants to be. Yet no where in this article does it say about Sarah having a love interest. Shaw will like Sarah so where does that leave her. It’s pretty telling when they say that he will be a rival for Sarah’s affections. How can you explain that as a trojan horse.

    Since Sarah is my favorite character and she is the one I fear the most about in S3 a little more description about how these two PLI’s affect her would have been great.

    One of these two PLI’s will be a real love interest. These writers are the king of angst and you can bet that these outsiders will be driving the angst factor pretty high in season 3.

    I wonder myself at where I draw the line. If Shaw kisses Sarah or they have some kind of fling and vice versa with Chuck and Hannah, I may have to part my ways with the show.

    I am ok and will hang in there as long as the PLI’s stay PLI’s. But the minute one becomes real, is the minute I lose interest. I hope you are right about the PLI’s being smoke screens. Because if they are not then contrary to your opinion they are being used to keep Chuck and Sarah apart.

    I am so looking forward to watching this unfold. Rolls Eyes.

    • Totally agree with you. Leading line in this show is Chuck and Sarah “love story” and if this will be broken then whole show is ruined.

  4. Good article Happy. As long as the show is called CHUCK, even though I am a fan of Sarah’s and she has her own journey to deal with, I feel the focus needs to be on Chuck’s journey. I want to see how Chuck deals with the new intersect. The Charah relationship to me is on a slightly higher level than the Buy More activities and shouldn’t be the focus of the show. Unfortunately it seems the showrunners keep throwing out the “love interest” comments bringing the W/T/W/T to the fore front. Just think how less adjitated the forum would be if there was never mention of “love interests”.

  5. Great post, Happy. Between this and OldDarth’s thesis (on which he’s expanded in the forums), you’ve uncovered a whole new level of analysis about these characters.

    As Darth Vadar would say, most impressive.
    As Stephan B. would say, it makes me happy.

    In preparation for tonight’s CMM I’ve already re-watched vs. Santa Claus. It’s hard to escape the notion that early in S3 Chuck is going to face the same crises Sarah did, when she faced Mauser. Only this time, Jill is over his shoulder saying “Don’t let them change you, Chuck.” I’m willing to bet that Shaw and Hannah are going to try to do just that.

    Even disregarding Casey’s most annoying couple for a moment, S3 is going to be very – intense.

  6. Mattchu12 and WhatAboutSarah, I can understand having concerns, but what I was trying to point out here is that there can be (and likely are) reasons for the PLI’s that do not necessarily extend to romance. So many folks are having knee jerk reactions to the words “love interests” that they aren’t taking time to consider a deeper intent. I did try to keep this more to what they represent for Chuck’s growth, mainly because Sarah hasn’t even been mentioned much in the spoilers we’ve gotten so far regarding the PLI’s. As WhatAboutSarah mentioned, we have heard that Shaw is Chuck’s rival for her affections…but not once has anyone stated that Sarah has any actual interest in him. People make assumptions because of the words “potential love interest”, and that clouds how they perceive every new detail that comes our way. Pretty much any new character who graces our screens has the potential to be a new love interest, that doesn’t mean that they actually will attract romantic attentions from our hero or heroine.

    OD, I like your comment about the label…that is the crux of the problem, imo. Framing these new characters as “potential love interests” basically ensures that there is so much uproar and worry over possible romances that no one stops to consider what else might be going on. There is simply no way, in my thinking, that these two characters are being introduced merely as romantic angst. There must be a bigger plan. It’s where one needs to place trust in the writers who have made the characters of Chuck and Sarah into something we care about and pull for. Obviously they’ve done their jobs well, or we wouldn’t care so much.

    • I get that Happy.

      Yvonne just had an interview where she states Chuck and Sarah will have other love interests. She did not say Potential.

      So as a fan what am I supposed to think about that?

      • I did read that interview with Yvonne. Again, there was no mention of Sarah actually having romantic feelings. The words “love interest” were used, yes, and not “potential love interest”. I feel that’s just basically quibbling over semantics though. Basically, I think you are kind of proving my original point…which was that getting bogged down in the words “love interest” is preventing many from seeing the greater potential these characters offer.

      • Thanks,

        Yeah I do tend to get bogged down in words, but that is all we have to go off of. They keep throwing it out there for a reason. If it is to irritate the base, that is not smart marketing.

        Hopefully you are right. I really don’t need to see anymore love interests that are reciproacted. Hannah and Shaw can pine all they want just leave it at that.

      • Well, the thing is, there are more than just the words “love interest” that we have been given that could be considered, and I touched on some of that in the article….Chuck’s journey. If all you want to look at is that these two characters are to be love interests, if that is the only angle you wish to focus on, then that is all that you will see. Take a broader approach and you might see the greater potential.

      • The term” love intrests” does not mean the characters are head over heals in love with those people. They may be attracted or they can think of them as good friends but thats it. They can also be used by characters to make someone they actually care about jelous. My opnion is that Sarah will flirt with Shaw but only to make Chuck jelous (Yvonne did say in an interview that Sarah would be pissed off at Chuck for the whole reuploading the intersect thing). That will probably be her way of getting back at him. Chuck will probably flirt with Hannah because he jelous and wants to get back at Sarah by making her jelous in return. Its like in Elementry School. Their was a guy that liked me but kept pulling my hair and driving me absolutly insane so I and no one else would know he liked me. The same could go for Chuck and Sarah. These love intrests are simply there to help them with their journeys and are used to make the other jelous. It does not mean they are going to try sleep with them the first chance they get.

    • While the PLI might serve as PLI I feel they will be responsible for brining a whole lot of Romantic angst to the show.

      Chuck and Hannah getting friendly so Sarah sees this she is lonely then Shaw comes in and catches at just the right time. She makes a mistake with him. Chuck finds out thinks Sarah has moved on. He falls on his sword and feels that this is what Sarah wants. He is lonely so he tries to date Hannah.

      Sound familiar. Yeah every show has done somehting like this and it seems Chuck has gone to desperate lengths to keep C&S apart. It couldn’t just be the intersect keeping them apart. They had to bring in new actors to stir the pot. Color me unimpressed so far. Chuck just told his dad he loved Sarah in the Ring and now they are talking about some new girl for him. Yaawn.

      I will give them the benefit of the doubt but those pairing have zero interest for me. If this goes on for 3-4 episodes then I will be avoiding Chuck for this time.

      I really appreciate the articles on this site but you guys have way too much trust in these guys. I tursted that Colonel Chuck and Sarah would finally make Love instead we got one lame condom joke. Then in the Ring they did not end up in bed with each other the night of the rehearsal.

      So you see I have little reason to trust the writers. If I learned anything from this show and the deleted scenes is that they will just omit stuff or create contrivances to cause angst. This season will be no different.

      • chukme2, you need to decide whether to post under this name or as WhataboutSarah, but not both. (Or post under your forum username.) Posting under 2 names is a violation of our comment policy and will lead to your IP address being put on moderation.


    • Well said, happydayz. I agree with everything you said. Also, I find it so intriguing that this Shaw guy, who is obviously a very attractive and successful guy, will probably be taken by our Sarah, and who wouldn’t be?? It will be very interesting to see HOW Sarah reacts to it. It will be a great way to show just how much deeply she cares for Chuck. Yeah, as a newbie in this universe, I trust the writers/producers to come up with stories more complex than some of us given credit for. After all, I became this big Chuck fan because of the writing, which is better than a lot of stuff out there. Here is hoping for the best for the show and our beloved characters. 🙂

  7. Chuck, Sarah, whomever. The whole Chuck/Shara (Chara) thing is getting old. Hopefully, they can come up with something more interesting than will he/won’t he/will she/won’t she. After 2 season it’s getting to be old had…and don’t give me that whole Ross/Rachel thing. I’m not buying it.

    However, White Collar is all New Friday Nights!!!
    By the time Chuck airs…all the shows will be in the can as they say and we’ll be left with a bunch of stale subway spoilers. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Chuck, just hard to get excited about episodes that are months away from airing and no one on the set can say anything about anything.

  8. Uuuuaaa as you can not stand jajjajayo but I can not stand the 3rd season already!
    however much the series is named Chuck … no denying that Sarah has the same inportancia chuck in the series, or, if you look at it differently than it did without sarah chuck??
    do not believe!

    the best … charah!


  9. Nice article happy.

    I am slowly coming around to the idea of PLI’s being used for more than romantic angst. However if it looks like a duck, talks like a duck most likely it’s a duck. I hope these writers are extremely creative and they spare us the romantic angle all together. Give us something better than Chuck or Sarah having to make a choice between love interests.

  10. I enjoyed Happydayz’ article. Very insightful. I think he’s correct. These caliber of actors were not inserted merely to keep Chuck and Sarah apart. Chuck is a likeable guy. He endears himself to both men and women. And it could be as simple as using the term “love interst” because the writers know that this specific term riles up the fans. I think they get a certain kick, if you will, out of our “angst.”

    Not for nothing, I also have to agree with Mattchu12 and others. I have to admit that within the framework of the first two seasons it was Chuck, and not necessarily Sarah, who more often succumbed to the temptations of distracting characters of the opposite sex.

    Chuck is special and unique because he’s a spy/agent who cares about people. He enjoys helping people. Chuck is an emotional guy who wears those emotions on his sleave. Sometimes that is a plus. Many times it is a train wreck.

    Chuck told Montgomery that not only was Sarah’s life worth dying for, but he himself admitted he would lie down for her. He gave Sarah his mother’s charm bracelet. He promised Jack Burton he would do his best to look out for her. He told his father that he loved her.

    I believe that Chuck and Sarah are both heroes. But Chuck has to step up and be a man in season three. He has to stop falling for every pretty face that is thrown in front of him. He can’t freak out emotionally every time a handsome guy is placed in front of Sarah. He can’t lose all hope because Sarah rationalizes her feelings for him by calling their relationship a “cover.” Their relationship is real. All the characters and fans see it. Everybody but the two of them. Yes, jerk is an apt description. Chuck has to start backing up his words alluded to in the previous paragraph. Both Sarah and Chuck often talk about trust. Well, it’s time they truly trust each other. Quit using the obstacles as an excuse. They save the world every week. It’s time they start saving each other. Call me soft it you will, but yeah, I think these characters can help, not hinder.

    I give them each a pass for Jill and Bryce. Those were love interests before we knew them. Sarah was obviously attracted to Cole, but if you recall she said, “I’m not the type of girl who cheats on her cover boyfriend.” Chuck, on the other hand, was pretty much all in for Lou.

  11. Love interests have always managed to seduce Chuck and Sarah easily.Chuck and Sarah have never rejected them because there isn’t a strong love between Chuck and Sarah.There won’t be any difference between Shaw and Cole.Sarah will fall for him.Hannah will be the second Lou.If there is a fourth season,writers will just change the names of love interests.

    • I think kg’s point was that Chuck, not Sarah, falls too easily. Sarah is very guarded in all her relationships because of her fear that she will be let down again. Chuck falls not because he doesn’t love Sarah but because he wears his heart on his sleeve. He told his father he loved Sarah and accepted being a spy for her. He didn’t know that she was going to give up the spy life for him. Have you ever read “Gift of the Magi” by O’Henry? I’d recommend reading (or googling) it; the twist at the end is that each spouse gave up something for the other which turned out to be exactly the wrong thing to give up. That seems to be the way Versus The Ring went.

      • Yes. Thank you. I’m not alleging Sarah isn’t tempted, but obviously she’s a lot more savvy than Chuck. In addition to letting Cole down easily, I recall her line to Chuck in the Buy More after he first broke up with Sarah in Season One. “I never once thought of our time together as work.” Very revealing. That was the best he was going to get from her at that point. That was her way of saying, “Chuck I care for you more than you know.”

  12. Ditto. I totally agree. Nice post.

  13. only after Sarah turned him down repeatedly and told him in “The Truth” they don’t have a future together.
    It’s understandable he tried Lou, a thing he would have NEVER do if Sarah was slightly more accommodating.

    • I was replying to KG as well, don’t know why the WORD PRESS delayed that.

      • To be truthful, I think your right Alex. If he had an inkling or some assurance from Sarah and not all the doubt, he would never look at another woman.

  14. I would like to give the writers some credit for being clever and not using the same material season after season. What if these potential love interests stay as just that? What if the reason that they are here in this season is to show the level of devotion that Chuck and Sarah have for each other? I believe that Hannah will come onto Chuck, and that Shaw will come onto Sarah, but that both will turn them down because they both know what’s right and that Chuck and Sarah are meant to be. Or maybe I’m just the eternal optimist?

    • S2 was very different from S1. Whether it was better or worse can be debated, but it was definitely different.
      So why are there those who think they are rehashing the same material every season?
      Again if it will turn out better or worse than the previous seasons is a big question right now, but my faith is that S3 will be amazing.
      I can understand those who are upset right now, but let’s not get upset over rumour and innuendo.
      I have yet to see a Chuck episode that I have hated. I have a few that are least favourites, but even the worst Chuck episodes to me were better than just about any other show out there.

      • Yeah Gord, we have to believe that season three will be awesome.

        I’m sure there will be challenges and obstacles for Chuck and Sarah, and on some level she will be upset with him for downloading Intersect 2.0, but on the other hand she’ll be proud of him for saving the day. But I cannot believe F & S will completely alienate the loyal fan base and keep them apart.

        They always found a way back to each other. It may not happen overnight, but I just think these two are destined to be together. We’ll all get what we want. Eventually.

        I have heard that by the end of season three Chuck and Sarah will both cease to have romantic feelings for each other. I know this upsets a lot of folks. It upsets me. I can’t believe that will happen, though. F & S can throw obstacles, road blocks, hotties and beef cakes in the way, but fans need more faith that these two will stay true.

        I guess the only positive should Sarah and Chuck fall out of love is that it would send a clear message that season four is coming. There’s no way they can kill the show with them apart. I think the only way this show ends is with them together. We’ll know it, of course, but never see it on film. It will be left to the imagination and we’ll be left to assume they live happily ever after.

  15. I agree with the main article. Chuck’s ‘normal’ life is turning into something totally different from what he expected. He’s making the classic hero’s journey. At least in part, season 3 should be about his further training and honing his skills. With the latest version of the Intersect proving variable in its delivery of skills to Chuck, this should also prove funny!

    At a slight tangent…what about Casey’s journey? He’s becoming less and less the out and out bad-ass towards Chuck. Casey’s past has fallen apart twice, once with Ilsa and the second time with his Sensei. Heck, finding out he was fraternising with agents from the Ring must also have been a wake-up call.

  16. I agree with article. These “love intrestes” are just there to help Chuck on his journey to becoming the hero we know can be. Very good article. 🙂
    However, I would have liked to learn how these “love intrestes” will affect Sarah.

    • I think in the same way. Sarah has a lot of issues to deal with too. I think they will be helping her to become more “normal”.
      Chuck has always seemed to have a part of him that is holding back from Sarah because she is not “normal”. Now that Chuck is becoming a spy, and Sarah wants a real life, they will meet eventually in the middle. When that happens I think the shippers will become ecstatic, because it will take things through the roof.

      That being said, I don’t think this will happen anytime soon, and perhaps not until a later season (being positive we will see later seasons, but I’m confident it will happen and it will be spectacular.

  17. Following in the same vein as your article (which was quite good, btw) but looking at the darker half, it’s possible that these two characters’ (Hannah and Shaw) romantic possibilities are just offshoots of their main purpose.

    Perhaps they’re there to give Chuck a further object lesson on how vulnerable his innate tendency to trust people makes him. If Hannah and Shaw are actually conspiring to undermine him and his team, and Chuck finds out quite late that this is the case, it will be yet another betrayal that he didn’t see coming (Laszlo, Jill, Ned Rhyerson, etc…).

    While it’s clear that Chuck’s willingness to trust is one of his endearing qualities, it’s not particularly suited for his circumstances. Maybe this is the lesson he needs to learn. Of all the people he’s encountered in the spy world, only one has proven to always have his back when push comes to shove.

    • I think you might be on to something here. Very interesting take and I feel we may actually see this play out.

    • Big Point. Hot or not, Sarah is the only one to truly have his back. Big issues and small. Because as we know, all issues are big with Chuck.

    • Interesting theory Aardie but pretty confident Hannah is not of the spy world.

      • Yes I recall in the podcast interview with Chuck producer Robert Duncan McNeil, he made a comment that some guests will have absolutelty nothing to do with the spy world, and my impression was he was talking about Hannah.
        Also from the casting call I also got that impression. Then again this is Chuck and anything can happen.

  18. First off, great piece Happy. Very insightful. I’m going to remain hopeful and agree that there is a very good chance these characters are going to help Chuck refine his skill set, add to it and advance him through his journey.

    I believe the writers and producers like to tweak the fans with terms like “love interest.” They must know that it and geometric “love shapes” rile up the hard-core fans.

    Chuck and Sarah have always survived. I want to believe they’ll find a way in season 3 and beyond. The irony is that through two seasons, in my mind, they are a “real” couple. It just isn’t clearly defined in Chuck’s “normal” terms.

    In retrospect, check out all the available episodes on ChuckMeOut and clips on You Tube. Chuck and Sarah have shared dozens of intimate, tender moments, memorable scenes, and saved each other’s lives. These two have shared more in their “cover” relationship, more as mere friends, than “real” couples have shared in a lifetime.

    Still, Mattchu12 raises an important point. Chuck has to man up now. He can’t panic, lose hope and run into the arms of every pretty face each time a handsome guy is presented to Sarah. We know he loves Sarah. He promised Jack Burton he’d do his best to look out for her. Gave her his mom’s charm bracelet. Admitted to Montgomery that he would die for her if forced to. It is simply time for Chuck to walk the walk. Yeah, Chuck needs to focus. I, too, would be discouraged if he continued to pursue other women. I agree. It’s cheesy. Jerk is an apt description.

    Sarah feels the same way. It’s not as verbally obvious. She’s just more guarded than Chuck. Recall her reactions when 1) Colt dropped Chuck off the roof. 2) When it appeared as if Chuck was in the NerdHerder during the explosion. 3) Risking everything in the Colonel 4)Shook off Bryce in the Ring. I even recall her telling Cole that “I’m just not the type of girl who cheats on her cover boyfriend.”

    There is a light humorous aspect to their relationship in that it is obvious to all the characters (permanent and part-time) and fans that they are a real couple. Obvious to all except each other.

    We have to be patient and let things play out. I’ve read some folks will stop tuning in should the storyline not meet expectations. That’s foolish.

    • I apologize if my second post reeks of redundancy. I logged out yesterday, checked back later and my submission was not visible and only 16 comments were present.

      LOL. So I tried again.

    • Actually KG, it’s not so foolish.
      I can understand the people who just doesn’t want to get frustrated all over again…after all ,you don’t watch TV(especially a show that you like) to get those kind of feelings of dismay and anger.
      Me, I’m going to try and give them the benefit of the doubt…at least at first, but IMO patience has run it’s course after two seasons.

      • That’s fair Alex. I’m getting the impression that some have already given up. At least you’re giving season three a chance. You have an open mind.

        I would love Sarah and Chuck’s relationship to be more defined, but I absolutely love this show no matter what direction it goes. It offers so much more that just Chuck and Sarah.

        Like I’ve alluded, I think they’ll end up together. I may take some time and it may not conform to what we and/or Chuck consider normal. Chuck has more than once taken the attitude, “OK Sarah, I get it. Nothing’s ever going to happen,” and yet he never gives up on her or them.

        This show for me is like Get Smart in contemporary times. It’s Get Smart squared or even cubed. I can’t give up on it.

      • Alex I completely agree with you. Season 3 is on a very short leash with me.

  19. I hate to put a damper on things but I really want to see the comedy and adventure in Series 3 and I will not enjoy them with Brandon Routh challenging Chuck for Sarah. Sounds like Routh and Bryce came from the same litter. I am already looking forward to Routh’s exit–he is just not good enough to merit 6 episodes–no one is. Love triangles, trapezoids or whatever soap opera characteristics are used are not F&S teasers they are generators of negative angst. It is fine for people to disagree with me but we all have our own reasons to view the show. I hope F&S use the extra 6 episodes wisely which would include no expansion of Routh’s episodes or any other love conflicts. If Routh is successful in his quest for Sarah and beds her down that would certainly end the show for me. I would hope F&S would not do that to the fans that worked so hard to keep the show on the air.

    • Which is what the article was showing you that there is more than meets the eye going on with those characters. You will get the adventure, the comedy, the romance,the thrills, and emotional investment.

      As you pointed out yourself no guest star needs 6 episodes simply to play a potential love interest so they must be there for other story purposes.

      Lose the gloom, strike up a light, and get ready to enjoy a kickass season of Chuck!

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