When characters in “Chuck” rearrange items, the action may well accent an interior, emotional rearrangement occurring simultaneously within that character. Near the start of “Santa Claus”, the camera focuses on Sarah, alone while opening the Orange Orange, as she pointedly takes a stack of yogurt cups and redistributes them along the fixture (as well as placing tongs in the display) just before pausing to ponder the “Take Home Some Family Holiday Spirit” ad on the far wall. Together, these actions foreshadow not only Sarah’s coming reversal re: celebrating a Bartowski Family Christmas but also her readiness to accept Chuck’s bracelet (signifying a real relationship promising a future home/family) and then shoot Mauser to hold on to that dream (think tongs).
This technique repeats itself in the series finale when Sarah rearranges the cups and straws at the Berlin Wienerlicious. On the surface level, it signals that amnesiac Sarah’s memory may be returning. But it also implies something deeper: since the scene coincides with the softening of her emotional defenses, as observed in her warming interaction with Chuck at the El Compadre and Russian consulate gala, it suggests the ebbing of her fear and cynicism as she considers reassuming her identity as Sarah Bartowski.
Ellie displays the method, too. Though angry with her absentee mother when Frost reenters her life, Ellie still yearns for a relationship, setting up a struggle with how to rearrange her feelings without getting hurt. Thus, when Ellie offers lemonade for the bittersweet reunion she fumbles with where to place the coasters on the coffee table, which she doesn’t want to get stained.