gallery Scenes can be deceiving Part 1 – Cherry Blossoms


My recent articles were either kind of long or multi-episode articles and although it was a lot of fun writing them, I would like to do something completely different this time.

I’d like to start a series of very short articles that focus just on one scene or a short sequence of related consecutive scenes in one episode. The intention of this series of articles is to take a closer look at some Chuck scenes that I believe didn’t get the full attention they deserve. By this I mean scenes in which certain important details were barely notice by most of the audience. The reasons for missing the details differ: Sometimes the details were outshone by the romantic part, the comedy, they had to be interpreted by considering past episodes to get the full meaning, etc.

So basically I want to talk about scenes that were more than they first appeared to be. I won’t talk much about the obvious part of the scenes; instead I will focus on the less obvious details.

At this moment I have five or six scenes in mind that I’d like to talk about, but I am pretty sure that this list will get longer if I give it some more time. I am going to publish the parts of this series of articles sporadically.


The scene for today is taken from Bullet Train. I don’t watch this episode very often because the end of it just breaks my heart.

The scene I’d like to talk about is the one where Chuck and Sarah were in their compartment sketching out their future life together. A scene that many viewers hold dear because of its romantic nature and the famous drawing.


But in my opinion some major details in this scene were simply missed by most viewers because they were focusing too much on the beauty of this scene. When Chuck and Sarah were talking about their future we already know that things will change for them. How do we know that? (Because we all here watched the episode already. No, kidding.) We know it because the show-writers have already told us in this episode that they will introduce a major change for Chuck and Sarah that will separate them.

To really understand the full meaning of this scene we also have to take the Casey scene before into account, because the scenes belong together.



Casey’s scene started with him sitting on the coffin that trapped Quinn. Casey was reading the Lonely Planet travel guide ‘Japan’ and that was no coincidence. I know that Lonely Planet is the most famous travel guide, used it myself quite often, but I believe it was chosen because of the brand name here, too. Books displayed in this show have always a meaning, well described in Unpacking Chuck 2.0, although G.W. Bush was more focusing on how book titles represent traits of the characters they belong to.

Casey sighed: ”Cherry blossoms”.



Cherry blossoms at the Tokyo Imperial Palace

In Japanese culture cherry blossoms represent impermanence and the transience of things as a metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life, which also includes the acceptance of destiny and fate.

‘Cherry blossoms’ was a statement that change was about to happen.

Quinn’s people had captured Casey’s daughter Alex. The first time I watched this episode I believed something really bad would happen to either Casey or Alex, not that I would have been ok with that, but as soon as the scene changed it was clear that this was about Chuck and Sarah.

When the compartment scene starts we see that it was all wrong. Sarah and Chuck were  on the wrong sides of the bed. In season 1 and 2, before they were together, Sarah was on the left side of the bed and Chuck was on the right. This can be observed in Truth and Lethal Weapon.


 Left: Truth; Right: Lethal Weapon

Their places changed when they decided for each other in Colonel. In Honeymoon they were really together and at the end of the episode we see them: Sarah on the right side, Chuck left side. In all following episodes they never changed their sides of the bed until this very moment.

Left: Colonel; Right: Honeymooners


That their positions were changed in this scene ultimately told us that soon they will not be together anymore.

At the end of this scene, when they were about to kiss, the buzzing cell phone interrupted them. This foretold that an external influence or event will keep them apart.

The whole scene just allowed us to watch one last beautiful moment while the characters didn’t know that ‘fate’ had already decided that their relationship was over (for now).

For me the first second of this compartment scene, was the 2nd most heart breaking moment of the whole series, 1st would be the flash card scene at end of this episode, 3rd the moment before they entered Ellie’s apartment in Break up (not when Chuck made his speech, the moment after they both looked at each other and faked a smile).

Next up will be a scene from vs. the Suitcase (if I don’t change my mind spontaneously).

And with this I’d like to end this article. You see, it was really a short one. As always, feel free to comment, disagree or tear it apart in the comment section.


  1. Chuck is chock full of these visual clues …most of us can’t even begin to catch them all. This is a good one, Michael !! Can’t really stand Bullet Train for a number of reasons, but I do like some of the scenes contained within !!

  2. Great observation Michael,

    Keep writing like this, we will generate new blood for sure. The same cast of characters are great, but stats are a booming brother.

    I am not a fan of S5 for a multiple of reasons, but I have deemed this scene as the last time any mention of love and happiness between Chuck and Sarah was to take place before the kiss in Goodbye. As I am typing this comment, it’s going to be really hard to write S5 articles lol.

  3. Thanx guys.

    Gary, you are right, there are so many scene that are full of different details that no-one can catch the first time watching. That is also why it is so much fun to watch the series again and again…

    Chris, yes I saw the stats, awesome. It would be great to recruit some of them as writers. The question is just how to get them to commit.

    I don’t envy you about writing episode articles for s5. The first half requires perseverance the second half Kleenex…

    • I think the S3 articles will be difficult, but for different reasons that S5 ( at left, the last few episodes of S5). My thinking is the same as Michael’s …it may require some perseverance . However, I think that the S3 articles will generate discussion. But will it generate any NEW discussion ??? LOL I don’t think I’ll ever accept the Misery Arc in any way, shape or form.

      BUT …. If Michael can give us some of these little nuggets that we may have missed, that would be OK fro the S3 perspective. I hardly ever watched those episodes, so I’m sure I missed a ton of stuff !!!

      • I have some ideas but you shouldn’t expect too much. Like all of us I am just human. If Bush can’t make s3 look good then probably can,,,,
        And there we have it…old discussion

  4. Good catch on the shift of positions; I hadn’t noticed that before. I wonder if it is both backwards looking (to the earlier episodes you mentioned) and also forwards looking to the final scene on the beach? I guess the idea would be that not only will their relationship be set back but also that its internal structure when it is resumed (say, after the kiss) will change. One thing I think S5 is trying to do is to work out a way for Chuck to overcome the last of his codependency on Sarah, so that they can be truly equal–that is what I take to be the ‘logic’ of the memory loss and of Chuck’s particular response to it. Anyway, just speculating. What I have said, if true, is consistent with your understanding of the shift of positions–it is just a way of extending the symbolism you caught all the way to the end.

    • Concerning the positions in the final scene I’d like to agree with G. W. Bush in Unpacking Chuck: He compares the positions they have there and in the pilot with the driver position in the car. In pilot Sarah was the driver (she knew the way) in the final episode at the beach it was Chuck

      • Yes, I agree with Walter. And that change could be prefigured in the scene you are commenting on. (That is the kind of thing I had in mind by a change in the internal structure of the relationship.)

      • The positions on the beach and the driver / passenger analogy were quite enlightening, given what was actually going on.

        The bed positions were interesting ….. if Chuck and Sarah are anything like my wife and I, we switch positions in bed to make sure she’s closer to the bathroom !! LOL Other than that, I don’t know what the bed positions signify, other than the fact that they changed !! ( and Sarah would have been closer to the bathroom in the Bullet Train !)

      • LOL …. I would have clarified the question if it drew out an answer.

        First …a scene or a season are not generally a McGuffin, IMHO. I’m not even sure if Chuck ( the series ) has ever used a McGuffin, but it’s usually a “thing” which the protagonist and (perhaps) the antagonist desire or chase after. It is usually interchangeable with any other object….and the McGuffin is never attained. Don’t know how it applies to a series or a scene. Perhaps he was referring to the most likely “McGuffin” in Chuck, which would be a so-called”normal life” ????? Seems to me that is what the protagonist(s) seem to be chasing, but never achieving. Just not sure what it could be interchanged with ……

    • Normal life, house, family, life away from the spy life, etc. All things we were shown in S5 that Chuck and Sarah desired but never attained.


      • Captain,

        Aside from the fact that I completely agree with Gary’s definition of a McGuffin and that what you mention is most likely none:

        Sarah already kind of mentioned her desire for a ‘normal life’ in Crown Vic. So if you really consider this a McGuffin than you should probably point out that for you it is a problem of the whole series that you don’t like. I know, s05-bashing is easier…

      • I agree in a way, with both of you. I can see “normal” being the McGuffin…..but it seems silly to categorize it as such. Plus, as Michael points out, both Chuck and Sarah express the desire for “normal” in Season 1, so if it IS a problem, then we have the problem all the way through the series and not just in S5 ( or this particular scene). I’m kind of interested, then, in why this ( the McGuffin) is a problem for you, Captain, in S5, but not in S1 or S2 ?

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