Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Chuck series finale: memories and love

I've mentioned that I'm rewatching Chuck. I'm at the end of the series where Sarah loses her memory of Chuck because of the intersect. If you're unfamiliar with the show, Chuck was a computer geek who worked at the show's equivalent of the Geek Squad. He was implanted with a dataset (the intersect) of all the government's intel and secrets by an old friend as a way to keep the intersect out of the wrong hands. Sarah, a CIA agent, was sent to watch over Chuck. Long story short, they had chemistry right away and after a few seasons of well-handled will they, won't they stuff, they fell in love and got married.

Stuff happens in the final season that brings Sarah to the moment that she has to install the intersect (this version equips the person with combat skills and intel) in her mind so that she can save Chuck. But this version of the intersect is faulty and it causes Sarah to lose the memories of the last five years. She has no idea what happened or who Chuck is. My initial reaction to this was slightly negative. I understood why they would go this route. It made for compelling tv. But it also seemed to be a bit harsh for characters I had grown to love. Losing your memory is losing a part of yourself. Aside from your body, your memories are you. Being deprived of them is akin to have never lived that part of your life. The series ends with Sarah starting to remember a few things and with a hopeful tone. So we are meant to think that eventually everything will work out and Sarah and Chuck will go back to being the same.

But watching it for the second time got me thinking about what would happen if Sarah never got her memories back. She would obviously feel very confused. But since she doesn't remember feeling love for Chuck she can't feel the loss of having loved him before and not loving him now. In a way, she is spared. I think it's Chuck that would suffer a lot from knowing that Sarah no longer shares the same feelings he does. I don't think that would change the fact that Chuck loves her. But I think it could change the nature of that love.

There seems to be two different kinds of love; the unconditional love and romantic love. The difference as I see it is that the latter is more conditioned on the other person reciprocating the same feelings you have for them. In other words, I think it would be very difficult to love someone romantically if they don't love you back. In a way, part of why you love a person romantically is that you know they love you in the same way. You don't need that to love a family member. Your kid or sibling could deal meth and be a complete asshole that doesn't want anything to do with you. But you'd probably still care for them. If your wife or husband all of the sudden decided they hated you and wanted to deal meth you would probably still care for them on some level, but you probably wouldn't want to continue the romantic relationship.

As I said, this doesn't seem to be a problem for Chuck. Sarah seems to be getting her memories back at a fairly quick rate. So while Sarah can't fully reciprocate the same love Chuck has for her, Chuck can at least hold on to the hope that one day soon she will. But if she couldn't and there was no hope, I don't think he could continue to feel the same way he had before she lost her memory. And Chuck having the memories of that love would make not having them hurt even more. I think that's why myself and a lot of fans had a negative reaction to the finale at first. We just felt horrible for Chuck. I actually haven't rewatched the last episode yet. After thinking about it some more I'll probably have a better reaction the second time. I'm already hopeful after seeing the great scene where Sarah watches the diary she made of her days as Chuck's handler and her admitting to herself that she loves Chuck. So I'm hoping that the memory I'm left with after finishing the show is of Sarah and Chuck being in love and living happily ever after.

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