Saving Sarah 5 – And the Story Goes On


By Kevin Rigdon (@pralix1138)

In the Beginning

“You, you need me.” – Chuck, Pilot Episode

Sarah Walker is everything that she has been trained to be. From running cons with her father as a child to her living lie upon lie as a spy, the Sarah Walker we first meet is broken, much as we all are, fractured into a myriad shards of pseudo-life, duct-taped together by a desperate force of will. Everything about her is compartmentalized, so that no single part of her existence can bleed into any other. She cannot tell anyone her real name, or tell anyone who she really is. Even her family cannot know who she is, what she is, or where she’s been. Her life up to this point has left her alone and closed off.

The great irony, of course, is that she, along with Casey, are the supposed heroes. They are the ones who are there to guide Chuck. They are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. They are the ones who swoop in to save the day, to protect Chuck and to save the world. Yet they are the ones who are in need of being saved.  Enter Charles Irving Bartowski, the soteriological hero.

A quick recap: In season 1 we witness the conversion of Sarah Walker. In season 2 we see her move from an idealized life as the symbol of salvation to the realization that her salvation is wrapped up in the person of Chuck Bartowski, the soteriological hero. Embracing her newfound salvation, Sarah’s world and her faith are shaken to their foundations in season 3. By the end of season 3, and on into season 4, Sarah has overcome her fears, has seen Chuck descend and rise again and remain himself, and has united herself to full participation in the life of Chuck when they get married.

What, then, is there left to talk about? Well, I think season 5 provides us with a glimpse at what the ultimate salvation of Sarah Walker looks like.

From the very beginning of this series of posts, I have attempted to explain philosophically that salvation is ontological.  This is a fancy way of saying that the entirety of the human person is saved (our whole being), and not just the “invisible” part of us.  Furthermore, salvation entails completeness, wholeness and perfection.  So salvation is the process by which a broken human person is made whole. Basically, there is no part of Sarah Walker that is not changed by her participation in the life of Chuck Bartowski.

How do we know Sarah has changed? There are numerous examples, but for brevity’s sake I will use only a couple from Season 5. The first is in “Chuck vs the Hack Off,” in which Sarah, acting very much like Chuck in earlier seasons, tries to get Verbansky to recognize, admit, and talk about her feelings for Casey. It’s an interesting juxtaposition to have Verbansky in the same place emotionally that Sarah was 5 years prior. But, just like Chuck, Sarah is able to pull Verbansky along and help her to grow just a little bit.

In “Chuck vs the Baby,” Sarah tries to go off on her own and deal with a loose end from her past, and her past, or rather her relying solely on herself the way she did in the past, gets her into trouble. As Ryker tells her when she’s tied up, “I bet no one even knows you’re here, do they? And that’s why you’re gonna die today.” Of course Chuck and Casey do find out where she is and come to her rescue, and she is reminded of just how much she has changed. She no longer has to face the world alone. She is being saved. This is a great episode which actually highlights part of the struggle we all share in our pursuit and acceptance of salvation. Often we try to do everything by ourselves. And, as with Sarah’s predicament, it usually falls apart.

“I’m different now. Things have changed; you’ve changed me. I don’t want to go back.”

-Sarah, “Chuck vs the Baby”

At the end of this particular episode, Sarah recognizes that she is different. She thinks differently, feels differently, has different priorities. She sees the world differently, as well as the people and places that populate the world. She has fully embraced the process of being made whole. And it is here that she voices her refusal to go back to the fractured life she lived before. Chuck has pulled her out of the lies, dangers, and moral compromises.

The Ending

So, Sarah is becoming a whole person, and over the rest of the season she becomes more and more so, that is until we come to the ending. (I don’t do endings well, and the ending to Chuck was particularly difficult.) Originally, I had thought that the ending produced an existential crisis in that Sarah is no longer Sarah. With her memories wiped by the faulty Intersect, I thought that unless there was a definitive resolution then the entire series would be a rip-off. After several viewings of the ending, and the dissatisfaction I felt with it, I thought it was most certainly a taking away of Sarah’s personhood, and if that is gone, who is left to be saved?  Even as I began writing this series on the soteriology in Chuck I felt the ending was lacking. It seemed to me that her wholeness is seemingly wiped away along with her memories.

The more I’ve written on Sarah’s salvation, however, the more it has become apparent to me that this is not the case. (Now, I do have to come clean about my belief in the “magical kiss” theory. I do happen to believe that Sarah does get her memories back from the last kiss, which actually holds true to the whole idea of salvation, and is the most internally consistent with the overall story. But that is another post.) After all, salvation as I have described it is ontological, and not simply existential.  In other words, the salvation Sarah participates in cannot be lost even though she loses her memory. Her entire being has been altered by her participation in the life of Chuck Bartowski, and this alteration, this change, is more than just her memories. It is real and part of her very being. It is somewhat like the explanation that Dumbledore gives Harry at the end of Philosopher’s Stone, where he tells Harry that Harry’s mother’s sacrifice marked him.  The mark is not visible, but it is part of his very being.  In this same way, Sarah has been marked by Chuck’s love. She is more human than she was 5 years ago, whether she remembers that or not.

There are certainly hints of Sarah regaining her memories, but more significant than this is the nuance of the moments that Sarah experiences with Chuck even though she doesn’t remember him. They are unexplainable, but she knows they’re there, whether she emotionally feels anything for Chuck or not. This connection to Chuck Bartowski is ontological, undeniable and cannot be erased. Intuitively, even though she is supposed to kill Chuck and the team, she doesn’t; she lives the change that has been wrought in her. Even though she doesn’t remember him, the impact of Chuck on her life has changed her very being.

“Chuck, tell me our story.”

-Sarah, “Chuck vs the Goodbye”

Sarah’s request for Chuck to tell her their story is the request of all humanity to know the source of our salvation. It’s a wonderful image we have: Chuck, the soteriological hero, has saved his bride and now he shows her by retelling their story. He goes through all of the little experiences that they shared together, and in the telling shows her how, time after time, he has saved her, has made her more human, complete and whole. Their story reminds her that a nerdy guy with a dead-end job, through his goodness and love, was able to change a trained assassin, and make her more of who she is supposed to be.

After hearing their story, Chuck tells her about Morgan’s theory of the magical kiss. Her response? Full participation in Chuck once more: she tells him to kiss her. Here, in this moment, we have a miniature telling of the entire story of the salvation of Sarah Walker. She is told the story and she accepts it. She is loved and she accepts it. She is offered communion in the form of a kiss, and she desires it. Once again, and for ever, Sarah Walker unites herself to Chuck Bartowski, the soteriological hero, and accepts her salvation.

And the story goes on.


  1. Shawn GlowackiOctober 19th, 2012 at 10:33 am

    That was beautifully and thoughtfully written. What a great show “Chuck” was and is.

  2. Mark LopaOctober 19th, 2012 at 10:34 am

    FANTASTIC! Everyone who feels ill feelings about the ending needs to read this. Great job! Now I want a movie even more.

  3. AmyOctober 19th, 2012 at 10:44 am

    WOW! What an amazing ending to this series of posts.

    This comment gave me chills and made me tear up a little bit because it hits the nail directly on the head-
    “It is somewhat like the explanation that Dumbledore gives Harry at the end of Philosopher’s Stone, where he tells Harry that Harry’s mother’s sacrifice marked him. The mark is not visible, but it is part of his very being. In this same way, Sarah has been marked by Chuck’s love. She is more human than she was 5 years ago, whether she remembers that or not.”

    I’ve really enjoyed the analysis of Sarah- thank you!!

  4. Diego AymarOctober 19th, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Make a new season!!!!!

  5. MikeOctober 19th, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Loved this show. Definitely needs a movie to have a perfect ending.

  6. KathyOctober 19th, 2012 at 11:02 am

    I got something in my eye. *sniffle*

  7. ShannonOctober 19th, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I have been thoroughly enjoying the deep dive into Sarah’s salvation. It makes me appreciate Christ’s sacrifice for my salvation much more! Thanks for taking the time to map it out.

  8. MadisonOctober 19th, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    So, when are we getting that Chuck movie?

  9. JeanneOctober 19th, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    WOW is right!! this was A Great Story. I will miss Chuck Alot. I Thank you SO much for this. looking back has been Great no AWESOME!! oh just one more thing the Harry potter. story. it’s The Sorcerer’s Stone. not Philosopher’s Stone Sorry Kevin Rigdon. But I will say Thank you very much for this Artical.

  10. Kevin RigdonOctober 19th, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I’m working on more Chuck posts for the future, so stay tuned. Jeanne, you’re right, of course, in the States it is “Sorcerer’s Stone,” but the UK (and original) title is ‘Philosopher’s Stone. Even though I live in the States, I prefer the UK editions.

  11. Awch2387October 19th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Best show ever! Going to miss Chuck a lot. 🙂 Is there a Season 6 or Chuck movie?

  12. PatrickOctober 19th, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Wow, i really didnt need to read this, cause i understood that this is the implied way it ended… makes me feel like i know this show and the writers well…

  13. Googeth1793October 19th, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    This has definitely summarised the whole sarah-chuck relationship perfectly! 😀 I have to admit I was slightly unsattisfied with the ending, purely because for probably selfish reasons as I was whole-hearterdly willing chuck and sarah to be together since the first season and just wanted it to be a massively happy ending for them if not for everyone else but this has made me look at it from a different perspective and believe that it was probably a happier ending than originally percieved 🙂

    Bring on chuck the movie! :D:D

  14. jeffOctober 20th, 2012 at 12:55 am

    You can twist and turn the ending into a more positive one, but it was still far too ambiguous and depressing for a show like Chuck.

    Destroying 5 years of character growth from the most changed lead character of the series was a bad idea, and it totally killed off any desire to rewatch the series for me.

  15. el-sidOctober 20th, 2012 at 3:15 am least my grudge’s a little loosened

  16. SomanithOctober 20th, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Well, it seems the story end up by the magical kiss, but more importantly people would love to see the happy ending of the series. Quite frankly, I want to see how their spy life will be if Sarah and Chuck have a baby, a house just like what they have dreamed to be. My suggestion is Chuck should continue the next season. People in the world will feel appriciated.

  17. francesOctober 20th, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Oh man, this saddening feeling sucks! I so miss the show! though i have been rewatching the series from season 1 for a couple of times now since it released its last episode. I so agree that they have made up a new relationship after that kiss at the beach. Though I have always wondered how would it be to see Sarah walker pregnant with Chuck Jr., she never see herself having kids til Chuck made her wish for it. and Chuck on the other hand have always been open in seeing a normal family life built with Sarah Walker, with the acceptance of having it not so normal at all because they are spies but Sarah insisted to leave the spy life and make a perfectly normal family with Chuck.
    The ending is kind of unsatisfying for the characters have been seeing themselves with kids with capes since the ending of season 4 wedding and the last few episodes of season 5 where they picture having family in a house with picket fence. and those were not to find at the ending opposite of what all have wanted to see.
    I would want to compare it to the ending of movie “The Vow” perfectly. They have the same story where the wife loss her memories from an accident and cant remember anything since the day she had met her husband, just like when Sarah forgot everything about Chuck from the time she had met him. Her last memory was with Bryce. Like in the said movie her last memory was with her ex-boyfriend too. So they separated ways and the man who love them so much let them go to make them happy but everything conspires to make up with the lost memory, both female heroes had this bits of memories,questions and more importantly feelings to desire what happened then and know that person who love them the most.
    So, for the finale, in that movie “the Vow” the girl went looking for the man who claims to be her husband and decided to catch up, be friends and fall in love all over again, they got married again, have 2 kids and she havent remember the loss memories ever again but the feeling, the “marked’ love was already there all along. As to Chuck and Sarah, she might not gain her memories back but she trusted Chuck, and trusted herself to be with him and in time as she recalls from their stories she will make new memories with Chuck, because Chuck’s love has marked her already and her love for him was there all along, then she’ll just unknowingly be back to normalcy that Chuck has gave her all along…the end, with tears!

    Thank you so much sorry for a blog-like post, ill repost this to my blog thank you again so much, will look forward for your more posts!

  18. ikablissOctober 21st, 2012 at 8:21 am

    wow. i love these.

  19. JorgepereOctober 21st, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Damn, yesterday I saw the entire 5th season and although there were some definitely “awesome” moments I couldn’t help but feel at the end I wanted something more… A more epic ending to the epic relationship of “Chuck and Sarah”. The story of Chuck and Sarah definitely resonated in my heart throughout all this years the series was on air but, I really felt that was not the conclusion the roller-coaster relationship deserved. I couldn’t help but feel they deserved something better, WE deserved something better. The series finale ultimately left a bitter taste and I guess I’m going to need to find closure imagining Sarah would “flash” back to her senses after that one kiss. Sadly I’m still coping with the ending.

    Chuck series was packed full of emotion, action and had a great love story behind all of it’s characters and the “Chuck” series will remain for my as one of my all time favorites or maybe even my #1. Thank you Zachary and Yvonne for making one heck of a series and love story (and all the other characters including big mike!).

    Hope there is a movie coming up!

  20. Sara SleegersOctober 21st, 2012 at 11:57 am

    I so love the journey that Chuck and Sarah took together.
    But I need the movie, I mean Zac and Yvonne are the most precious people, and the things they do for their fans is just awesome, so yeah a movie would be the topping of the cake 😉

  21. Daniel SemsenOctober 23rd, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Sarah definitely gets her memories back when they kiss. I want to believe. I have to believe.

  22. TimOctober 23rd, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Thank you Kevin! This was great and I’m really looking forward to more analysis on “Chuck.” As for the ending, at the time it was bittersweet but after watching it again, it seems pretty clear that Sarah is, as you say, “marked” by Chuck. It is why her plans change from “disappearing” at the end of “Chuck vs. Sarah” to “finding herself” toward the end of “Chuck vs the Goodbye”–and she finds herself on the beach that had so many meanings for them. In your first post you talk about conversion being a decision–and by seeking that kiss, Sarah is making that decision once again. She wants to remember. Finally, there is no doubt that “Chuck” will get a movie–if “Growing Pains” can get a couple of movies then “Chuck vs the Reuniion” is sure to happen…let’s keep bugging Warner Brothers!

  23. MarcusOctober 24th, 2012 at 1:46 am

    I have really enjoyed this series of aricles. You captured Sarah so well, would love to see your take on other characters from the show and other shows as well. Very nice and wonderfuly written.

  24. garnetOctober 24th, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Very nicely done, I appreciate your difficulty with the ending, and if truth be told would have liked a little more reassurance that all will be well, but I find that your analysis does help more than TPTB’s “Is there any universe where Chuck doesn’t end up with Sarah?”

    I recognize as well that there is the more traditional Chuck centered analysis that can be done, and there is a lot of growing and being saved that is Chuck focused. After all, when we met him he was a nerd working at the BuyMore for about $11.25 an hour and, in his own way, was as lost and broken as Sarah. I wonder if you would consider looking at this as well.

    If Zach can convince the powers above to run with his Webisode/Movie ideas, I’ll be watching in a flash.

    Miss you later.

  25. joeOctober 24th, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Amazing series, Kevin. All the kudos in the comments are deserved.

    You’ve been writing about something from which I’ve been shying away in in my own blog, and that’s the very (large C) Catholic ideas that permeate the show. I’ve recognized others – the idea of doing what is right, sacrifice for family and friends, communion and redemption. But I missed the idea of salvation. Reading your words got me to slap my forehead with the realization that you saw what was obviously put there for us to see. Salvation. Sarah’s.

    It was easy to watch Chuck the first time around and see it only from his point of view. Chuck does not see himself as a savior. In fact, he’s just trying to do “the right thing,” and can’t understand why he’s always been penalized for it.

    Sarah is harder for most of us to understand, because she’s a perfect hero. She’s a perfect woman. But that makes her not human. And you got it exactly right – Chuck is the one who shows her humanity. She’s the hero, but he saves her. Amazing.

    It’s such an fantastical story. But in it, we find truth.

  26. Kevin RigdonOctober 25th, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Joe, while I have put forth Chuck being the soteriological hero is the basis of Sarah’s salvation, I have to disagree that Sarah is not human. She’s not perfect, that’s really the whole point of this series. She’s an incredibly broken human person–like most of us, though we may not wish to admit it. She bears a pseudo-perfection, but is desperately seeking true perfection and wholeness (i.e. perfection and wholeness are the same word in Greek: “telos”). The process of salvation as I have described it isn’t about changing natures (i.e. Sarah as something ‘other’ than is being transformed into human). Rather, it is about the fulfillment of the human nature. Our look into Sarah’s salvation–again, as I describe it–entails the full restoration of her humanity via the soteriological hero.

    Tim, very good observations about the last 2 episodes. Sarah definitely lives the change wrought in her without even realizing it.

    Afterword: Well what I’ve learned from writing this series is that people still love this show and still love talking about it. I have been asked a few times if there are more “Chuck” posts coming. The answer is yes, though they may not be as regular. As long as there are people who want to read and contribute, the more posts we’ll see. I’ve submitted another one already which will hopefully run soon.

    If anyone has any questions about some theological perspectives of “Chuck,” feel free to email me at

  27. Ananda KareninaOctober 31st, 2012 at 9:15 am

    that was a great post!! and ow yes I believe in the magical kiss!! It was an extremely bittersweet ending and took me some time to be super okey with it!!but then I think if you don’t believe that, that kiss brought them back together then you just missed the whole point of the series!!
    I still miss it , hope the movie gets made eventually!!

  28. LunaJanuary 21st, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Thank you for this nicely written article. It really helped me get over my ill feelings about the ending. I really don’t know why I’m so sad abou this show though.. thanks again!

  29. David MeadowsAugust 21st, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Just found this and because I love the love story aspect of Chuck, I re-watched the series with the ideas you expressed. And while I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with the entirety of the salvation concept as it relates to Sarah, I can accept it. It rings true that Sarah’s salvation is part of her entirety, and that the loss of one part does not mean loss of her whole. With that in mind, I now find the ending utterly satisfying.

    I am a romantic and when I have always watched the ending, like most Chuck fans, I hoped she regained her memories and her love for Chuck. Otherwise, it is too heartbreaking and the show ends up a tragedy. But after re-watching it with the ontological insight, I don’t think she regained her memories in the final episode and that is ok. I think in the ending, we got to see the transformation from “I don’t feel it” to Sarah feeling Chuck’s love and hers for Chuck.

    At the end of Chuck vs. Sarah, she say’s “Everything you told in our story I . . . I don’t feel it”. Even though she finally recognizes the truth, her life has always emphasized not feeling. Yet, by the final scene of Chuck vs. The End, she asks “Chuck, tell me our story”, I think because she wants to feel it. And as he tells their story, we see in her expressions of joy and sadness that she now “feels it”. When she tells Chuck to “kiss me”, she is letting Chuck know that she feels it. It no longer matters if she remembers everything now or how much of her memories she will regain. All that matter is that she now knows she loves Chuck and that he knows she “feels it” now.

  30. Rachel Smith CobleighApril 21st, 2017 at 11:44 am

    New Chuck fan here! I just discovered and binge-watched the show in January.

    Thanks for such a thoughtful and excellent blog post! You’ve shared great character insights, you taught me a new word (“soteriological” :), and you hit the nail on the head in terms of the spiritual/emotional dynamics of our lead trio. Seeing these kinds of themes in the show was a big part of why I fell in love with the characters so hard, so it’s great to run across a fellow fan who saw those themes, too.

    I wanted to explore their time on the beach in the series finale, and the rest of their evening directly afterwards, in more depth than what we got in the TV show. So I wrote a novel, Sarah vs. The Caveat Emptor, that picks up on exactly the kinds of details that you’re discussing here and runs with them.

    I always welcome feedback, including critique and suggestions for improvement, so if you check my story out, feel free to speak up! As demonstrated by this blog post, you’ve got the insight to have valuable things to say, and I’d love to engage with you on these topics more!

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