gallery Chemistry Can Blind Us: A Foundation of Deception and Manipulation

While careful consideration and pondering if I should proceed with this article, it dawned on me what  the mindset of the Chuckaholic experience should be. While we all love Chuck and Sarah’s relationship and their epic journey. However, there was a glaring problem that exist that we should discuss from a philosophy point of view.

No, this won’t be a trip back to your days of falling asleep in your philosophy classes, but what needs to be explored is the brilliance of two actors help blind use to the ultimate problem that would be the demise of true love.

It is easy to cheer for Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski, two young, kind hearted individuals apart, but together the very definition of magic conjures what we love most about them. Make no mistake when they are together the stars align as we watch a couple that belong together not only on camera but off as well. The relationship’s foundation of the characters they depicted were two characters that would fall into the perils of relationship doom. hqdefaultThis is not a knock on Zachary or Yvonne nor is this a knock on Chuck and Sarah, but more a thinking outside the box reality on how and why Chuck and Sarah were not right for each other for the long haul.  Let’s begin from the start shall we,

When the series began, we have  a beautiful superagent in Burbank attempting to clean up the mess her former partner created. We know the story, but what we fail to forget is how Chuck and Sarah met.

We all love the ballerina scene, the moment set up for things to come. The starry eyed Chuck Bartowski starring into the eyes of the woman before him. On the other hand, Sarah shows confidence and spunk in knowing what she was doing and trying to accomplish. The converse effect that would help transform the two characters into a huge balancing act throughout the series.  Chuck101-00365However,  when you deconstruct the scene how was the foundation of the relationship formed? The cellphone may have indeed been broken, but it was done with purpose for Sarah to engage her mark. Insertion into Chuck’s world would’ve been tricky because his file said he was in an emotional rut.  Sarah’s move was to use that information and finagle her way into the graces of Bartowski. Chuck101-00367 Chuck101-00369Sarah shows no interest at this point, and it’s worth mentioning Sarah was hoping to be back on a plane awaiting her next mission, her words of a “piece of cake” would make one believe as much, but things would turn a muck after her witnessing the ballerina, but the lying and cajoling would continue.

Deception is a tactic spies needed to use in order to get a mark to respond. It was a lesson set forth by the writers of Chuck. Whether we agree with the premise isn’t open for debate here, but more of a guideline if you will. After all we are talking about someone else’s work.  The idea that Sarah used lies to have control over Bartowski was heavily influenced by her training and upbringing.

The lying may have been understandable from a professional level, but here is where the lines get blurry. Sarah’s default mode personally was lying especially when it came to every day situations. A cover of being one’s girlfriend will eventually turn into something real when you spend that much time together majority of the time. Work and play, Sarah and Chuck were together.

Think of this Chuckaholics, it took a lot longer for Casey to warm up to Chuck because even though Casey lived in the apartment complex. Work was work and as John said, “Agent Walker and I don’t do much fraternizing after hours.”  It took four years for John to even acknowledge he made friends.

It’s not the same assignment for Walker. Chuck and Sarah went on cover dates and Bartowski accepted her into his home. Sarah embraced it because at the time she step foot into the Buymore, she was at the crossroads of her life’s work. The baby situation, Bryce going rogue and being killed was a tremendous burden for Agent Walker. One can say Walker was in an emotional rut herself, but Walker didn’t have time to wallow in self pity because her country was calling.

Something that would occur multiple times during the series. After their first kiss, Chuck and Sarah couldn’t hash out the details of the kiss because the job and Bryce Larkin forced the discussion to the backburner. Something Sarah didn’t mind much to the angst of Chuck, but he understood the gravity of Bryce being back was priority because it had to do with him too. It still begs the question Was Chuck and Sarah’s relationship a healthy one?

When Sarah and Chuck met the foundation of a strong future was already shaky with a simple broken phone. Chuck’s morale fiber would clash with deception. It makes for a balancing act for Sarah as a result. A lesson Sarah never really understood because deception would follow into their marriage. Chuck101-01169

Deception is a selfish act. A way to clear one from any wrongdoing. Deception also gives way to manipulation. The words “Trust me, Chuck.” is a line used to hook one that is scared or is worried about the future, which later Sarah would reiterate for him to trust her, but not to believe in her. However, I disagree with the notion of trust and belief being separate.

The clash of belief and trust is something that can be proven to be anything but when it came to Mauser vs The Red Test Two very similar situations in which a lie became too much of a burden for the love struck couple. If one simply trust’s someone then when Chuck asks Sarah what happen to Mauser. She elects to break that trust by lying.

Everything would’ve of been fine for Sarah not revealing the truth about her decision to kill Mauser. The problem with the lie was unbeknownst to her Chuck saw her kill Mauser. We will discuss this more in our discussion when we shift to season two analysis. For now, we will leave you with this mind set. This kind of lie wouldn’t be the first time Sarah was caught lying.



Scottish Philosopher David Hume once said, “Belief is nothing but a more vivid, lively, forcible, firm, steady conception of an object, than what the imagination alone is ever able to attain.” Chuck’s idea of trust coincides with belief. This would be the case for most normal human relationships, but in the realm of espionage and spying there needs to be a distinguishing factor.

In Chuck’s world, a spy needs to be able to make a mark trust them enough to believe what they are saying is true, but what seems like a dark way to operate is essential in Sarah’s world because of the lies and tricky the bad guy will try to use against her. It’s tit for tat,

When the question of Bryce comes to life, Sarah had to tread lightly on the subject, but again the concept of trust and belief become convoluted when lying becomes the only choice she had. The results of Chuck finding out the truth caused a rift between the two, but its not the lie that was the issue. Chuck104-00089 Chuck104-00092Everything was going right for Sarah until Carina spilled the beans on the relationship of Sarah and Bryce. Something Chuck took exception too, but I have always believed that Sarah didn’t owe any explanation to Chuck at this point in the story. She was just his handler and after hearing how much of a hot topic Bryce was to Bartowski? Would it be wise to tell the truth in this aspect?  So, Chuck becomes bitter towards her sooner rather then take Sarah’s approach by keeping Chuck’s emotions in check.

Parents don’t tell their children know the whole truth to protect them foom realities. Sarah needs Chuck to perform because of the Intersect, and here is where Shaw was a benefit for  season three. As great as Chuck and Sarah were, those emotions they had for each other caused Beckman to send Shaw to train Chuck. They needed the Intersect 2.0 to work and Sarah’s hold on Chuck emotions cause Chuck to break down. Enter Shaw.

When Carina let the cat out of the bag about Bryce Chuck became moody and started taking liberties something Sarah was avoiding, but this problem we saw all Chuck vs Wookie was negated when we see Chuck deliver an oliverless pizza.



Chuck104-00584 Chuck104-00586


I think its more egregious of Sarah to withhold truth about the baby from her then husband. Again, trust and belief clash because a few episode prior to Chuck vs The Baby, Mrs. Bartowski lectured Chuck about going off on his own. Its situations like this that boggles the mind on how Sarah’s controlling of Chuck was apart of this relationship from the get go.

Chuck508-00903 Chuck508-00899

Chuck506-01128 Chuck506-01060 Chuck506-01061

Is this how a healthy relationship should operate?

Fans will state they were right for each because it’s what they both needed. It would be a fair  assessment except they never learned anything from each experience. In fact, Chuck and Sarah put themselves in predicaments that would ultimately lead to even worse unhealthy situations. Chuck102-00925

However, we fall victim to the chemistry in which Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski displayed. Intense scenes like this one, Chuck201-00470

Conversely, when Brandon Routh and Yvonne Strahovski had their moment in the sun. The chemistry was not there, and it was easier for fans to turn on Brandon as a result. Something I feel was unfair to Brandon because Shaw offered a great deal to the spy portion of the story, but all everyone will remember is how terrible Yvonne and Brandon looked on screen. A testament on how great Zachary and Yvonne performance was.

Here is a moment between Shaw and Sarah compared to Charah. There is no question why its easier to forget Shaw and Sarah’s kiss because it wasn’t presented well enough. chuck308_00998Chuck109-01090We ignore the fundamentals of building a relationship.  Forced to kiss means a lot if you think about it. If you are interested in someone are you really forcing yourself to kiss them? or was kissing Sarah the reason behind it? When the moment was presented for Sarah to make her move she didn’t look forced does she? Chuck109-01086 I never felt forced to kiss my wife when we were dating nor should one feel forced to kiss someone.  Did Chuck feel forced in kissing Jill?  It makes one think if Chuck was questioning his commitment for Sarah or could it be never thought there was a possibility of them being together. Chuck206-00664Chuck103-01288

Chuck didn’t look forced in these two scenes,



However, we are to believe that kissing Sarah would be forced? The actions of Chuck or Sarah would manipulate the other’s best intentions when it came to real life situations. Stressful situations that would ultimately lead to break up speeches or impulsiveness

A relationship that wasn’t real generates real emotions. The emotions created by not establishing the rules from the start. Furthermore, Sarah not letting Chuck know she didn’t want him to be spy and her interest on romantic capacity could happen , but Sarah changed the rules as they went on from a selfish perspective in order to keep her job and stay in Burbank, and Sarah didn’t need to worry until Lou came around which would cause Walker to question her own feelings and finally act on them.

The parallels of Lou and Sarah are well done by the writers because they tried to establish how both Lou and Sarah entered the life of Chuck the same way, but with different intentions. It was enough for Chuck to question what was happening between his fake relationship with that of a potential real one with Lou or later Hannah.  Both women would affect Sarah differently, but the same result would occur Sarah would end up on top because of what choice did Chuck have. Sarah never was going to let another woman date Chuck because they would have to endure a rigorous screening process before they could even pursue anything with Bartowski. Doesn’t seem fair for Chuck at all if you think about it. A foundation seemed to have a lot of cracks in so far.


When a potential relationship is organically born, the feeling of interest is harmonic. There is a greeting, minor flirting, and the old cliche a smile while walking away. I never forget Clint Eastwood’s line in In a Line of Fire, “If she looks back, she’s interested.” Lou looks back,  Sarah had all these features only after the Ballerina came and went, but what is the biggest of observations that came from these two scenes is the phone. The phone is really broken and Lou didn’t have a pre agenda behind this meeting.

Lou didn’t have any inkling she would become attracted to Chuck’s charms, but after one moment Lou was hooked on him. Chuck  didn’t miss the clues either. However, He did miss Sarah’s hints of interest and how could he not? Everything was just for cover when it came to Sarah. However, Lou was as I mentioned organically done.

There was no covers or going over details for a double date with Ellie and Awesome. There wasn’t a fake comic con picture that had a bug in it. When Lou returns to the store, she rewards Chuck with a sandwich. A present from the heart. Sarah’s real photo comes only after Chuck pointed out the picture she gave was fugazi. The result of this comes when the two women cross paths. A losing situation for Chuck because his handler now knows the cover isn’t a cover anymore. A problem for any future prospect.Chuck108-00349

There is no secret there is a flow between Lou and Chuck. Lou has her eyes locked in on Bartowski. The organic feelings were percolating enough for Lou to flirt, but when Sarah arrives on the scene we have confusion from both Chuck and Lou’s point of view. One could assume Chuck would of moved on from Sarah at this point, but the  chemistry between Zac and Yvonne was great to watch and easy to ignore the prison Chuck Bartowski was in.

This idea that Chuck and Sarah couldn’t come up with a “cover” to sell to his friends and family could’ve been done. The first half of Season Three proved they could.  Especially since they knew Walker worked in the Wienerlicious, but Sarah’s inner desire for Chuck was sparked. The idea of sitting back while someone else swooped Chuck would not work for her. Sarah also knew instantly what was going on because of her expression while looking at trouble standing before her. Chuck108-00378 (1)

While Lou’s presence was troubling at the start, it gets worse when Sarah sees Chuck run across a parking lot for her.  This would cause Walker to act The only one succumbing to pressure of the cover is Chuck Chuck108-00379

You can feel for Bartowski as result because he looks miserabl and with that comes falling in love with someone that would make it difficult for him to date otherwise.  I will  ask the question again,  Is this how a relationship’s foundation supposed begin or would you prefer Lou and Chuck’s organic approach?

Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski sure made it easy to ignore the cracks in the foundation from the start despite those cracks Chuck and Sarah tried to build a house on it.

The next part of this article will discuss Season Two glaring relationship problem as we continue discussing how chemistry between two actors could overshadow unhealthy relationship patterns between Chuck and Sarah.

Until next time Chuckaholics, I will be opening up a forum discussion on this topic over at Buymore Chuck. Click this link to take part in the discussion.

Remember Chuckaholics is your site so play, engage and most of all it’s hard to say goodbye because we didn’t




  1. I disagree completely with just about your entire assessment of Chuck and Sarah. In looking only at the chemistry between the actors you have completely overlooked the background of the characters – who they were before they met, which the series went to great pains to outline for its audience.

    Sarah Walker – a woman without a name. Used to a life with a con man for a father, growing up on the grift, pretty much without a family (they never explain where her mother was this entire time, but even if Sam grew up with her mom she was very clearly a daddy’s girl, as she preferred to spend time with him), taught from a very young age that all people do is take from you. The life of a spy was an obvious choice for her as a *teenager.* Let’s not forget that she was recruited to the CIA while she was still in freakin’ high school. Not even emotionally mature yet, she opts for a life where she will, like her father, always be on the grift, but can at least use what she learned to help people. Despite having Jack Burton as a father, she is a good person at heart. That heart, however, has been badly damaged by a father who was constantly on the run, constantly disappearing, and eventually in jail. All while she was learning how to using her knowledge of manipulation to get what she wants out of people, cut off her emotions (which must have been appealing after how often she’d been hurt by her father and her peers growing up) and being desensitized until she is able to kill without hesitation. When her father was arrested and thrown in jail, what she most needed was a sense of stability; a family, someone trustworthy and loving, who would never abandon her and could show her there were people who are decent and good. What she got was the CIA. This is why it is so important in Season 2 that her father, mister “don’t trust anyone,” tells her that Chuck would never betray her. That is what she needs in her life more than anything else – someone she can trust, regardless of whether she knows how to trust fully or not. Trusting someone and being honest with them is not something that is going to happen overnight, not after years of CIA programming on how to lie. This does not make their relationship any less genuine. Additionally, the lies she tells Chuck are, for the most part, to protect either him (like when she doesn’t tell him about the baby) or her. She doesn’t want to tell Chuck she shot Mauser in cold blood because she doesn’t want to tarnish his image of her. Can she be blamed for this? For having found a decent, honest person in a career filled with all manner of criminals, including terrorists and murderers, and not wanting him to look at her differently? Chuck is one of the few normal people in her very abnormal world. She wants to keep him that way, but at the same time has been trained to guard and hide her emotions, because emotions get you killed. Never forget, Chuck and Sarah meet in their mid-20s, and most people in their mid-20s are just figuring out who the heck they are. Until this point, Sarah has been a spy. A solid decade of it, trained not to feel, not to get attached, not to get involved, so what does she do when she meets Chuck? Gets attached. Almost immediately. Because he’s a good, decent, sweet person who is funny and genuine and has no ulterior motive aside from starting up a romance (he can’t be faulted for that). She can be anyone with him, he has no preconceived notions about her, and she realizes that he is honestly just a guy who got caught up in something he didn’t ask for and doesn’t know about. Quite the change from the kind of reprobates she’s usually sent after. The fact that it took, practically speaking, three and a half years for Chuck and Sarah to become an actual couple is proof of how solid their foundation is, not how many cracks it has, as there was no way Sarah was moving to a real relationship unless she was 100% sure of Chuck. It’s just not a risk she could ever take from a character standpoint.

    Chuck Bartowski – a kid whose mom abandoned him in sixth grade, and whose dad left when he was a teenager. He also happens to pretty clearly be a borderline genius. However, with no one really in his corner besides his sister and best friend, his self confidence is shaky at best and understandably so. It took years of therapy just for him to accept that his parents didn’t leave because of anything he did. Still, his innate hero tendencies have always been relegated to “defense of Morgan” and not much else. While Morgan, Ellie, and Sarah fully believe that Chuck could be *anything* he wanted, getting kicked out of Stanford 12 credits shy of his degree and how badly his first serious relationship ended have done serious damage to his self esteem. The fact that his fraternity all pretty much turned on him as well and he was betrayed by his roommate certainly didn’t help. Then he ends up with a computer in his head, and this beautiful woman enters his life whose job it is to do the one thing his parents never did: protect him. From everything. That guy who stuffed him in a trunk? History. The people trying to kidnap him in a helicopter? She’ll talk him down so he doesn’t crash and die. Unlike his experience as a child with spies for parents, he is *always* her priority. She’s in a funk because Bryce is back in town? That’s okay, she’ll kill an alarm clock and then get to work. He’s broken her heart into a *thousand* tiny little pieces by refusing to run away with her after uploading the Intersect 2.0? She’ll get over it to help teach him how to use it. Someone kidnaps him and takes him off to the middle of the Southeast Asian jungle? She’ll literally fight thugs and killers to get him back. She is a constant he has never had, and he can rely on her to be there in ways that his parents never were. Heck, she uses CIA resources to help him find his dad for Ellie’s wedding, even though she could get in serious trouble for doing so, but it is important to Chuck, so Sarah makes it happen. She sees the best in him and makes him want to be the man she sees. She doesn’t change him, but inspires him to change himself, to see himself as the hero that everyone else has always known he was but couldn’t get him to embrace. She believes in him, so he believes in himself, but is still unwilling to change who he is at heart – a decent person who believes in the good in people and in helping those around him. Sarah is still trying to protect him when he uploads the Intersect 2.0 and she wants them to run away together. She knows what becoming a real spy entails, and she wants to spare him that. She doesn’t want him to become a cold blooded killer. It’s the same fate Bryce tried to save him from at Stanford until he was given no choice but to send the Intersect to basically the only decent human being he knew could be trusted with it. Chuck allows his emotions for Sarah to show not because they aren’t real or aren’t built on a firm base, but because he has never needed to hide his feelings before meeting her. She may not be able to tell him the truth about everything, but that really comes with the territory when you’re involved with a spy. It’s not because she wants to lie to him. Those are the rules of her job. Despite her inability to be honest with him, he still knows he can always trust her to be there when he needs her, even if he’s interested in someone else. Comparing Sarah to Lou in terms of who had a more organic relationship within the constructs of the show is a little silly, as is comparing Sarah and Hannah (who was nice, but VERY clearly just a rebound). Until Chuck was able to get the Intersect out of his head, he would *never* be able to have a real relationship, and that is 100% not Sarah’s fault. That she exploits this fact to keep him from falling for another woman is not really anything she can be blamed for, either.

    As for Casey, we see the effect Chuck has had on him right at the beginning of Season 2 when Beckman tells Casey he’s going to have to kill Chuck once the Intersect is up and running. Casey asks if there isn’t something else Chuck could do, because he’s proven himself to be useful and is told that he has served his country with honor, and now he’ll die with honor. Casey even tries to convince Chuck that he shouldn’t be in such a rush to get the Intersect out of his head, but Chuck brushes it off, completely unaware of the hit order on him. Again, in Chuck vs. the Best Friend, Casey is visibly upset when he thinks Chuck has blown up in the Nerd Herd. He is not as shaken as Sarah (for obvious reasons), but he is in no way unmoved. He is upset Chuck and Sarah ran off to find Chuck’s dad after knowing Beckman is going to blow up the site because he feels left out of the rescue mission. At the end of season 2 he gives Chuck his personal phone number in case he gets in trouble and needs help. Are we to believe he would do this for anyone he didn’t consider a friend?

    This is why the show is called ‘Chuck.’ Not ‘Chuck and Sarah,’ or ‘Chuck and Casey,’ or ‘The Adventures of Chuck and Morgan.’ The whole point of the show is how Chuck Bartowski changes two hardened spies for the better, while in return those spies help him reach his full potential, and that sometimes it is entirely possible for the nerd to land the girl. There are no cracks in their base from my perspective, and their coupling makes complete sense when looking at who their characters are.

    Bottom line, it is not merely the chemistry of the actors that make Sarah and Chuck a rock solid couple. It is the characters themselves. They are what the other person needs more than anything.

    • Mer,
      First, welcome to Chuckaholics. I hope you enjoy ur stay and will return.

      When assessing Chuck and Sarah, I am taking them away from there fictional worlds because what Chuck and Sarah went through happens to real life couples all the time. The concept of being an asset and handler is not apart of this equation because the emotions they share were real ones, and if Beckman and co found out there was something going on between them Sarah said “they would either terminate her or reassign her outright. So, the balancing act Sarah had to perform was great to watch, but what Chuck and Sarah did to each other emotionally was something that puzzled my mind. Hannah came from Paris to work at a Buymore to be with Chuck. A move that clearly was so she could be closer to Chuck.

      But unlike Sarah, Hannah didn’t have a motive other than wanting to be with Chuck. Sarah’s moves in the beginning was premeditated and for Bartowski it was like damn why is this hot woman smiling and making me. Sarah was out of Chuck’s league in his mind and why not. Sarah shows interest but retracts once Chuck acts on those feelings. Everyone at one time or another dealt with that kind of person. What I find interesting in the great educational tool these two had with Devon and Ellie on how a true relationship is supposed to perform, but it didn’t rub off on Charah.

      As far as the chemistry goes, Shaw and Sarah had terrible on screen chemistry and it show in their performance and angered many fans as a result. They were happy when Shaw was killed off the show because Chuck and Sarah were together again. BRandon’s chemistry with Yvonne proves that chemistry does matter in the delivery of the roles. I will tell you this Matt Bomer and Yvonne STRahovski had better chemistry than Brandon Routh and it shows. If Chemistry doesn’t matter then 90210 chemistry in the later years was not one of the reasons the show ended.

    • I think your premise has merit, but by the time of the end of Baby, I think they have a pretty siolid foundation. Whatever cracks and weaknesses were there they are working through them in an adult way. I know you haven’t gone that far yet, but no relationship is perfect. My ex and I were good friends before we married and had a solid foundation of communication. Still (to my great sorrow) didn’t last because we couldn’t work out our problems. I find it fascinating that at least 2 people on this sight preach doom and gloom for Chuck and Sarah and Sarah seems to get most of the blame. Hmm.

      • Lonny,

        First, Welcome to Chuck vs Arrow. Hope you enjoyed the content we have here.

        A foundation of a relationship can be very hard to build on when a relationship is born on manipulation and distrust, and I believe despite all of that Chuck and Sarah were meant to be together, but let’s be fair. Sarah and Chuck still showed distrust when Chuck couldn’t trust his wife to convince the general and Casey to perform a fake switch

        and Sarah didn’t trust her Husband enough to tell him about the money she had stored in case her father was arrested again or with the baby. Is this a healthy relationship??

        In part two of this series, I dig a little in the relationship itself so stay tune….

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