Bound for 4 days at my in-laws after Christmas, with little access to the television or reliable internet, I sought to have a little Chuck fix in a manner unfamiliar to me….I downloaded “Unpacking Chuck” by G. Walter Bush from Amazon. I had been aware of the eBook for a while, but thought it would provide little new insight into the series. However, after reading many of Sean’s (Wireplay) posts before Christmas, I quickly understood that there were some people who possess a different level of analysis. These people I refer to as the ” Illuminati”, because they seem to be able to peel back all the layers of the series and shine a light on things that I was completely unaware of. This book falls into that category.
I have to confess…this book was an easy read for me. It was well written, with wonderfully descriptive prose and a beautiful flow to the narrative. The chapters were kept to a reasonable length, without any meandering thoughts. But what made it a real joy was that it DIDN’T introduce any ideas into the story that challenged how I interpreted the series. Thus, there is a certain confirmation bias to my review…. I saw the series pretty much the same way that Mr. Bush saw the series. Our recent discussion around The Other Guy has shown me that some may not see the characters and their complex issues in that light.
First, the book does not dissect the series as a whole. Instead it takes certain scenes and dialogue and fleshes out what they contribute to the overall story. The most enjoyable parts of the book deal with metaphors that are interspersed throughout the series, especially notable are the early episodes where we get a glimpse of the main protagonists through the lens of simple props added to a scene. For instance, Bush relates Chuck’s situation and subsequent journey (metaphorically) to the Water Lillies (sic) painting from Tango. Sarah’s present situation and future conflicts are linked to the solitary goldfish in her hotel room, which suffers an unfortunate occurrence when the bowl is knocked over during Sarah and Carina’s sparring session ( Wookie). The metaphor of a “Fish out of water” is then expertly woven into the fabric of Sarah’s life in Burbank as she struggles to understand the normal life that Chuck may offer, but that she has no experience with.
The author states in the preface that the book will be focused mainly on Chuck and Sarah (and, as usual, it ends up being very Sarah-centric), but other characters are explored as well. The minutia that Bush is able to detect in order to provide excellent insights to the characters is quite eye opening. Bryce is dealt with by an early covert operation “Sand Wall” …and the idea of a barrier that is shifting and not well structured is intriguing as it relates to Chuck and Sarah’s evolving relationship. Mama B is introduced through the code name “Isis”. The author even tries to relate early Season 3 to the biblical reference of being cast out into the desert and does a nice job of relating that story to the struggles of Chuck and Sarah. Morgan, Casey and Ellie are also dealt with in the book.
Another interesting chapter is on the ironies and inversions that the series brings us. While it didn’t mention my favourite irony ( Prague, when Sarah mentions that the spy world isn’t real, while what she was offering was…and at the same time giving Chuck his fake passport and name), it provides plenty more that are given some context within the story.
If you are open minded, this is a very good read. For many of us, it will not conflict with the story that we have watched ( many times) but gives some added incentive to pay close attention to the details of certain scenes. Reflections in mirrors or windows become a sign that there is conflict between the 2 worlds that Sarah and Chuck each find themselves in. Watches and clocks signify a time to make a decision or a deadline. The placement of the characters in the scenes, the placement of the objects in the scene are all given added significance.
A warning, however, based on the recent discussions on the site. One of the underlying themes that Bush deals with, (and I thought was so obvious that it went without saying), is the conflict Sarah goes through in the series, but especially in the first 2 seasons. This is the conflict of how does she reconcile her desire to be a spy with her desire to live a normal life with Chuck. It delves into her original thinking that she must chose one over the other, but also explores the many instances where she also toys with the idea that she can bring Chuck over to her world as well. It wasn’t until Sheena mentioned that such a revelation would change how she saw the series, that I decided to throw in that little caveat.
As a Chuckaholic, I think this is a great eBook to download and read, if, for no other reason, that we continue to support anyone who is as committed to Chuck as we are. Mr. Bush is currently working on “Unpacking Chuck 2”, and I, for one, will be looking forward to its publication.
“Unpacking Chuck” by G. Walter Bush is available at Amazon.com for digital download OR now in softcover version.
Get ’em while they’re hot !!