Ellie: Dreams change.
With Shaw in DC, Team Bartowski is tasked to complete a trace cell mission. Casey commits treason in order to protect his old fiancée from the Ring. Chuck and Sarah come to the rescue. Devon and Ellie model the perfect couple for Chuck and Sarah. Devon was the one who told Chuck that having a double life is not worth it if that means giving up half of one’s real life. Ellie is now the one who brings it full circle for Chuck. “Dreams change,” she says to a receptive Chuck, “and if there is one thing I know for sure is that I want to be with Devon. And it might require some sacrifice from both of us but he’s the best choice I’ve ever made.” Time for Chuck to rethink his priorities.
Romantic Reversal. Casey pokes Chuck by mentioning Sarah’s upcoming personal trip to Washington to meet Shaw, just as he poked Sarah about Chuck’s intimate time with Hannah in 3.08 Fake Name. Chuck, who was oblivious to the emotional pain he had caused Sarah then, now experiences that same pain.
Chuck tries to talk to Sarah but she cuts him off with a broken voice. She’s still trying to not be in love with him, still sacrificing her heart’s desire so that Chuck can realize his dream of becoming the perfect spy without her standing in his way. She hasn’t had her epiphany yet; Sarah is an introvert with no friends and no Morgan to help her realize she’s fooling herself. Her epiphany will come during her trip to Washington, DC and the reality of her new life and assignment there; the conflict Sarah shows at Beckman’s offer and later in the taxi is her dawning realization she may be unable to leave her home (Chuck), as she couldn’t in 2.22 Ring. Chuck and Sarah’s emotionally intimate moment is interrupted by Sarah, just as their physically intimate moment in 2.21 Colonel was interrupted by Chuck (Morgan is involved in both moments).
Spy Reversal. This episode is the reversal of 2.21 Colonel. Casey commits treason, just as Chuck and Sarah committed treason in 2.21. Chuck and Sarah are ordered by Beckman to bring back Casey dead or alive, just as Casey was ordered by Beckman to bring back Chuck and Sarah dead or alive. Chuck and Sarah end up helping Casey, just as Casey ended up helping Chuck and Sarah. Chuck and Sarah help Casey save Kathleen, just as Casey helped Chuck and Sarah save Orion. As Chuck was ordered by Sarah and Casey to stay in the car while he and Sarah saved Orion (and Sarah rolled her eyes when Chuck asked to go with her), Sarah herself now volunteers Chuck to go save Kathleen from the Ring agents. It’s no longer Chuck-stay-in-the-car Sarah. This is the first episode in which Chuck and Sarah work together as fully equal spy partners. At the end of 3.10, Team B loses Casey (stripped of his rank), just as at the end of 2.21, Team B lost Chuck (stripped of the Intersect).
The scene between Sarah and Chuck about deciding to save Casey is in contrast to the one in the previous episode between Sarah and Shaw about deciding to sacrifice Chuck. Contrary to Shaw, who put the mission first and was ready to sacrifice people for the job, Chuck puts people first and is ready to sacrifice the job for people. And Sarah was hoping he’d say that because that was always the defining characteristic of her Chuck (and also what she’d done for him since the pilot episode).
Love vs Duty. Chuck makes a timid attempt to talk to Sarah about them (love) while they prepare to save Casey but Sarah cuts him off (duty). Chuck deals with the situation much more professionally (duty) than he did in 3.02, when he let his feelings for Sarah compromise the mission at Karl’s house. Together, they are as professional as Shaw and Sarah were during the mission at the resort in 3.09. The hero is learning to balance love and duty.
Feelings as a liability. Chuck is attuned to his feelings for Casey when he decides to help him even if this can cost him his badge and freedom. Feelings can be a liability (arrest, treason charge) but also a strength (honor, inner duty, greater cause). Chuck’s ability to reign in his feelings in the emotionally intimate moment with Sarah is of fundamental importance because it shows he’s learning to use feelings as an asset and not as a liability.
Red Test. Under the effect of Laudanol, Chuck almost kills a Ring goon but Sarah, who’s just witnessed an identical scenario with Casey and Keller, brings him back from the brink. (Cool fight, though. Would have made Neo proud.)
Hero’s Journey. The road back. As Sarah emphasizes, Chuck has to choose between his journey of the heart (becoming a spy) and the journey of a higher cause (helping Casey). By choosing the higher cause, Chuck is back and regains Sarah’s trust but must deal with the fact she’s with Shaw (the consequences of the hero’s actions in Act 2) and must figure out how to win her back.