Portrayed by: Yvonne Strahovski
Show: NBC’s Chuck
Sarah Walker’s growth as a character was one of the strongest pieces of the puzzle that made Chuck a revolution as a dramedy. Where the series started framing her as a generic spy whose only mission was the assignment in front of her, Yvonne Strahovski took it to another level by ensuring that the audience was given glimpses into the layers within Sarah from day one. We knew her story would have a tremendously telling arc no matter how long it took and surely, by the end of the season one, it started to deliver.
Sarah wasn’t just tough because of her job, but Sarah Walker was tough because deep down in her core was the little girl she was always fighting to protect. She was tough because she was scared, she was tough because she open, and by the end even, she was willing to risk it all while the world proved to be too cruel in its treatment of her.
Sarah’s heart might not have been what anchored her home in the beginning, she didn’t wear it on her sleeves the same way Chuck or Ellie Bartowski did, but by the end, it became the very thing she could trust most. And it’s fitting considering the type of growth that was demanded from her required sacrifices of all sorts.
Sarah Walker, The Lost Girl
While we know very little about Sarah’s mother, knowing that her father was a con artist and his attention is something she desperately desired at a child, we can decipher the notion that Sarah Walker hadn’t known true, steadfast loyalty until she met the Bartowski family. In the world of espionage, there is no trust and there is no lifelong friendship.
The lack of trust and stability in Sarah’s life evidently not only wounded her, but it led to the resistance of hope and the essential distrust of normalcy. It’s not something she’d ever know or ultimately even, wanted to know. And when she lost her partner, Bryce Larkin, it thus solidified that attachments led to sadness, and sadness ultimately led to aches without medicine.
It forced her then to close off her heart and in doing so, the lost girl underneath started making appearances only sporadically, if ever. She started fighting then to continue protecting her, but she stopped fighting for the happiness she deserved.
Somewhere along the way, the line started to blur until she began cracking again when she finally believed that she had others fighting for her too. She didn’t have to break so hard to shield herself because there were people in her corner who would be there for her too. So much of Sarah Walker’s journey was learning that not only did she have strength all along, but the point that the strength came from the love in her heart.
She loved so deeply that when she opened her heart, she had no idea what to do with it all, how to spread it, and in what ways. It came with such intensity that through everything she experienced, it started to pour through almost immediately. It is why someone as warm as Ellie Bartowski was able to find a kindred spirit in her so quickly because the women are similar in that way.
For so long, they have both been in survival mode, but today they can live. Where it was once all about a job, a way to ensure she would never be like her father, never need to depend on another, it grew into understanding the value of family along with the importance of finding a home. Fear clouded Sarah’s being so intensely that the idea of home became but a mere easy escape—bags packed and ready for a mission sure, but in the same way that her father ran, she believed it would be in the cards for her too.
Fear became the one thing she would not confront, but the very thing she tried to rid herself from as opposed to understanding its reasonings.
Sarah Walker finding home and a place to belong went hand in hand with the realization that she deserved to be loved and chosen. She deserved to confront her demons. She deserved to be the woman for whom people would give up anything for and for whom possibilities were endless.
Strength In Hope
Sarah’s arc is the most tragic part of Chuck because when it is all finally great for her—when she is fully fleshed out and the audience knows her as well she knows herself, her memory is completely wiped, leaving her loveless, stoic, and starting from the bottom once more. Sarah Walker went is a lost girl once again, but Sarah’s strength this time is found in her hope.
When she looks through the videos she had recorded when the mission was first assigned, and we watch her react to everything she once said, that is the face of a woman wanting everything that she once believed she could never have. We are looking into the eyes of a woman whose heart is so completely broken, but whose desires are so boldly reflected, it touches on the very idea of what hope actually is.
The belief that perhaps she can have it all, and thus, she chooses to believe Chuck. She chooses to believe in the version of herself that she sees because that version is also still inside of her just waiting to push through.
In the final moment when she tells Chuck to tell her their story, that is the very hope that Sarah Walker has worked tirelessly through to keep with steadfast certainty within her. It is proof of how far she has come because the lost girl’s belief in the possibility of something good is enough to showcase that the world of espionage did not destroy her, it armored her.
And yet, where she felt safe, armor was no longer necessary because her strength came from her perseverance.
Sarah Walker was bold, she was fun, she was brave, and when she loved, she loved so deeply the world around her benefited from knowing her. Where Chuck was once a mission, he became the very hope she needed to heal herself in the process. Where the possibility of a family was but a mere aftermath, it became the very thing she would do anything for.
Yvonne Strahovski made sure Sarah was never resorted into a anything less than a woman with colossal depth who was always fighting through something within herself. She layered her brilliantly with a kind of warmth that is seldom present in such genres, and she mastered her emotional breakthroughs from beginning to end to exhibit impeccable growth during the seasons.