If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it was never meant to be.
In the first two seasons, Chuck and Sarah were thrown together by external forces and, although attracted to each other, they were ultimately forced to be together by their cover relationship and by Sarah’s sense of duty to protect Chuck and his innocence, which colored even her decision to run away with him in Prague. And were they really attracted to each other or were they attracted to their respective ideas of each other?
Season 3 is there to address all these issues.
What if Chuck and Sarah are no longer forced into a cover relationship and set each other free (3.01-03)? What if Chuck no longer needs Sarah’s protection (3.05-07) but it’s the other way around (3.06-13)? What if they are not only free but also have the opportunity to be with the best possible companion from their respective world, a perfect female Chuck in Hannah and a James Bond-type super spy in Shaw (3.07)?
Will Chuck and Sarah still love each other then? Yes, they will (3.09-10). Will Chuck and Sarah still freely choose each other then, based solely on love uncolored by duty (Sarah) or need (Chuck)? Yes. Yes, they will (3.11).
What if they fall from the idolized pedestal they put each other on (3.08-12)? What if Sarah is no longer a goddess who quells revolutions with a fork in Paraguay but is off her game and needs Chuck’s protection (3.12-13)? Will Chuck still freely choose her, with love uncolored by need? Yes. Yes. Yes, he will (3.12-13) and he’s rewarded with his usual formidable Sarah (3.14 on). What if Chuck is blemished and loses his innocence and, by executing the mole, falls from the soteriological pedestal Sarah put him on but asks her to show up and be with him? Will she still freely choose a fallen Chuck then? Will she accept him as he is and love the real Chuck rather than her ideal of Chuck? Will she take a chance on something with him, based on faith? Yes. Yes. Yes, she will (3.12 BC) and her faith is rewarded with Casey’s revelation of the resurrection of her savior, a Chuck who’s not only not fallen but is indeed supremely selfless and loving (3.12 AC).
But Chuck doesn’t know that since Sarah doesn’t show up at Union Station to meet him and leaves with Shaw instead. So, what if both Chuck and James Bond make the ultimate selfless gesture for her—Chuck by saving Shaw, Shaw by apparently forgiving her for killing Eve? Will she still freely choose Chuck then? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes, she will (3.13).
In a reversal from the end of season 2, when Chuck and Sarah were unequally yoked and Chuck saw Sarah as a goddess who could do anything while he saw himself as her boy-toy, Chuck and Sarah have now walked in each other’s shoes and are now equally yoked. Chuck is Sarah’s romantic and spy equal and she sees him as her new type and the best of both worlds, while Chuck sees her as a real woman who also lives on planet Earth and needs his protection and love just as much as he needs hers. In order for Chuck to be with Sarah, he needed to really believe he could be a hero worthy of her, not just believe it with his heart but also with his brain.1Chuck’s real nemesis was his own insecurity, which like a boggart in Harry Potter, took on different shapes and forms, from Bryce to Cole to Shaw to the loss of the Intersect. The whole show is basically Chuck vs Chuck. He needed to feel on par with James Bond. And this is the season when it happens.
At the end of season 2, he didn’t and asked Sarah for a vacation together. At the end of his hero’s journey in season 3, he does and asks her for a life together.
Season 3 in a nutshell: if you love something, set it free in Prague. It will come back to you in Paris because it was always meant to be.