In season 3, Chuck and Sarah walk in each other’s shoes. Chuck becomes a handler (of Devon, Hannah, Manoosh) while Sarah becomes Shaw’s asset. Chuck wants to become a spy. Sarah wants a real life.
If an image is worth a thousand words…
First, the theme of season 3.
The reason behind Hannah and Shaw—to prove that even the on-paper ideal partners from their original world, everything Chuck and Sarah were once looking for, are no longer enough and that Chuck and Sarah are perfect for each other because only together can they have a full double life.
Now, for the role reversals. From handler to asset and vice versa. 3.05 First Class is a reversal of 1.02 Helicopter. Just as a panicked Chuck flew a helicopter under Sarah’s calm and collected instructions, a panicked (for Chuck) Sarah flies an airplane under Shaw’s calm and collected instructions. In 1.08 Truth, Sarah takes advantage of her cover to kiss Chuck on the neck. In 3.07 Mask, Shaw takes advantage of his cover to kiss Sarah on the neck. In 2.07 Fat Lady, Chuck and Jill drive off the grid while Sarah knows the truth about Jill’s intentions. In 3.12 American Hero, Shaw and Sarah drive off the grid while Chuck knows the truth about Shaw’s intentions.
In season 3, Devon, Hannah, and Manoosh are all partial representations of season-1 Chuck. Devon is spy Chuck. Hannah is normal Chuck. Manoosh is asset Chuck. Chuck becomes their handler, their Sarah. Casey to Chuck in 3.04 Operation Awesome, “On this mission, Devon is you and you’re her [pointing to Sarah]. So, be her, Chuck, huh?”
What goes around comes around.
Excluded from a real life. Chuck looking at the Eiffel Tower and Paris through the plane’s window is a symbolic reversal of 1.13 Marlin—just as Sarah was on the outside looking in, cut off from love and a real life, Chuck is now on the inside looking out, cut off from love and a real life.
Role reversal. From dude in distress (seasons 1 and 2) to damsel in distress (season 3).
Leading the dance.
Sacrifices. At the end of 2.03 Break-Up, Chuck pulled back to protect Sarah physically, psychologically, and professionally. At the end of 3.02 Three Words, Sarah does the same for Chuck.
Technically and objectively attractive.
And the anger.
A full double life. Together.