Kelly Dean Jolley has an excellent post on Prague (3.01 Pink Slip) in terms of music. Why Does Chuck Refuse to Run? Or, The Man Who Walked Backwards. Chuck sees Sarah, smiles weakly, and walks towards her in order to walk away from her. It’s a heart-breaking scene, with a background song that perfectly highlights Chuck’s inner turmoil. The whole post is well worth reading but here’s a snippet:

But let me say this by way of framing the investigation: the singer presents himself as breaking with a lover, but the singer’s actual point is that he cannot manage to do it, that he does not want to do it. This makes the dominant image of the song so powerful. The singer presents himself as leaving, as walking away from his lover, and yet he is walking backwards:  he is moving away, or trying to, but he remains fixated on her, oriented upon her. He is steering by her even as he tries to leave her. He is not simply sneaking a backwards glance, like Lot’s wife at Sodom–he is, as paradoxical as it sounds, walking away toward her. It is not the best strategy for leaving; but, then, he doesn’t really want to leave.

Here are the lyrics of the song “My Backwards Walk” as Chuck walks away towards Sarah:

I’m working on my backwards walk
walking with no shoes or socks
and the time rewinds to the end of may
I wish we’d never met then met today

I’m working on my faults and cracks
filling in the blanks and gaps
and when I write them out they don’t make sense
I need you to pencil in the rest

In Prague, Chuck is a hero in search of an identity, and the song speaks of his state of mind.

In contrast, in 3.12 American Hero, Chuck’s spy initiation is complete. He has tried to become a spy according to the old spy code (3.05-3.08), has rejected that code and decided to become his own kind of spy (3.09-12). Just as Luke Skywalker rejected the old Jedi code (no love) and allowed himself to love, Chuck rejects the old spy code (no feelings) and allows himself to love Sarah, no longer as her boy-toy but as an equal. And the song that plays in the background during Chuck’s love declaration speaks of this journey and of Sarah’s state of mind.

In contrast to “My Backwards Walk” during Chuck and Sarah’s split in Prague, notice the upbeat tempo of the song “Down River” in American Hero. Notice the lyrics that play in the background and speak of a couple who has overcome the storm and takes a leap of faith together towards the uncertain future.

Finally
We have seen some things
Some awfully nice
Some dreadfully bad

But we will sing
Wash the blood off our knees
‘Cause our love breaks
Through rough seas, our ship will sail it

I don’t understand
How this world will work
‘Cause time will tell us nothing
I’ll take a chance on something

Fill them up
Fill them
This time take you

Down river
Down river
Down river
Down…

Walk these stairs
Put the pieces back together

Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Now go…

These lyrics speak of faith in each other, of taking a chance together in spite of uncertainty. After Casey’s confession about the mole, we have the final chorus with lyrics that now speak of certainty and determination:

Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Now go…

Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop

Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Now go…

Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Now go…

The tempo and the lyrics of the song speak of the joyful conclusion of this journey, along with the fact that the love declaration scene in American Hero is structured as a reversal of the one in Prague. The two scenes bookend Chuck and Sarah’s season-3 journey, from separation to reconciliation. Lost and found.

Chuck 3.01 and 3.12 Love Scene Counterpoint

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