Orbiting Two Suns

Kayla Hart and the Chuck That Almost Was

(An updated revision of an article that originally ran on ChuckTV.net in September of 2009)

It is an unassailable fact that, in the “Chuckverse”, no topic generates more impassioned debate than the relationship between Chuck and Sarah.  This can be witnessed empirically by simply counting the number of posts in forum topics dedicated to alternate characters and their relationships.  Nothing else even comes close.

But many people have forgotten, or maybe never knew, that Sarah was only one of Chuck’s original love interests.  There was someone else, someone close by, that Chuck would be secretly pining for from day one.  That’s right, geometry haters – the show nearly launched with Chuck embroiled in a love triangle.  Who was the vixen who would further complicate the sweet but fragile dawning of affection between our star-crossed lovers?

Her name was Kayla Hart.

Kayla was Chuck’s next door neighbor.  Single, twenty-five and heavily into the indie music scene, Kayla worked at the ticket counter of Spaceland, the very same club Chuck took Sarah to in the pilot.  The original script for this episode describes Kayla as “…one of the world’s most beautiful fuckups…”, stylish but frugal by necessity.

Kayla was played by Natalie Martinez, a Cuban-American actress and model most famously known for her portrayal of Elizabeth Case in Paul W.S. Anderson’s big budget smash ‘em up, ‘Death Race.’  She brought a raw, visceral sex appeal to that role and judging from the publicity photos for the pilot, she would have evinced a similar quality in her Chuck character.

So what else can we learn from the pilot script?  Kayla likes Chuck, in a casually friendly way, but doesn’t really see him as boyfriend material.  She’s drawn to musicians, and due to her job she has ample opportunities to hook up with them – and demonstrates it, much to Chuck’s chagrin.  She’s a little flighty (“Who knew driving under the influence included pot?”), disorganized (she’s lost her keys) and desirous of opportunities in life that haven’t yet been opened for her (she’d like to travel ‘anywhere James Bond has been’).

Chuck, for his part, is clearly attracted to Kayla.  In a telling moment, he watches from the garbage cans as she returns home, oblivious to his attention.  His hesitant greeting is too late and too quiet to catch her, and the pitiable performance is witnessed and critiqued by Ellie and Morgan.  It’s yet another reminder of how far Chuck’s confidence has fallen after Jill.

Morgan has his back, however, and after Sarah invites Chuck to show her around Morgan calls Kayla to tell her Chuck’s coming to the club with a date.   As he advises Chuck, “nothing turns a girl on like jealousy.”  And while Chuck thinks it’s a bad idea, things go surprisingly well – Kayla is impressed by Chuck’s companion and secretly roots for him, while Sarah notices something between Kayla and Chuck that she files away for future reference.

So that’s what was going to happen.  But what happens next?  How might the first season have unfolded with Kayla in the mix?

First we have to consider what Kayla represents.  In some ways, she’s the antithesis of Sarah.  Where Sarah is disciplined and precise, Kayla is disorganized and informal.  Where Sarah is aloof and evasive, Kayla is open and unguarded.  But in one way, Sarah and Kayla are the same:  they both symbolize worlds that are alien to Chuck.

While Sarah is a poster child for the cold and ruthless spy world, a study in dispassionate, duplicitous lethality, Kayla represents the gritty, underground music scene  – cliquish, mysterious and gangland dangerous.  In both of these environments, Chuck is a ‘fish out of water’, ill at ease and conspicuously awkward.

It is around these two disparate stars that Chuck would be hurled in the first season, on a trajectory to orbit first one woman and then the other.  Just as viewers might begin to think he was captured irrevocably by one’s gravity, events would conspire to thrust him back towards the other.  Too close to Sarah?  There’s always Bryce or the “it wouldn’t be professional” rejection.  Too close to Kayla?  There could be a violent ex-boyfriend, or a criminal involvement conflict of interest.

A perfect, revolving angst generation machine.  Oh, joy.

Want a quick vision of what that might have been like?  Just replace ‘Lou/Deli’ with ‘Kayla/Spaceland’ and stir vigorously.  With every scene in that arc, you could make a few adjustments for character and location and have a plausible replacement.  But instead of two episodes, think thirteen.

How would it have worked out in the end?  Hard to say.  But I personally believe that the show would’ve been ultimately unsatisfying if Chuck and Sarah’s intertwined journeys hadn’t led them to a more committed future together.  And for them to have that future, Kayla would have to become a part of Chuck’s past, like Lou, Jill and Hannah.

When would that have happened?  By the end of the first season, I would hope.  One thing seems certain, though.  Kayla’s inclusion would have meant reduced time (or even exclusion) of other characters and possibly even the elimination of scenes that are now enshrined in our memories.  Going back through these in my mind, I’m having a hard time imagining that it would have been worth it.  So for this choice, I have to say to Josh and Chris:  Good call.


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11 Responses to Orbiting Two Suns

  1. JC says:

    Has anyone ever asked Fedak about what they planned for her character? Depending how long they planned ahead I wonder if she would’ve filled the Jill role in season 2.

    • aardvark7734 says:

      Not that I know of, JC.

      Precious little is known about Kayla – if it hadn’t been for the original script leaked to the Internet I wouldn’t have even been able to do this article, for all practical purposes. After three seasons, it’s mostly academic anyway. Based on what I read, I think she would have mostly made Lou unnecessary, as I alluded in the article. Jill, I think, was always going to return. Would Kayla have been gone before Jill returned? If not, Chuck would be trying to orbit three suns!

      • JC says:

        No Lou means no Rachel Bilson. Season 1 ruined

        And I didn’t mention it before but great article. I wonder how many of these dropped arcs there are. I know about Awesome being a Russian spy and Hannah the stalker. I wish Fedak would spill more on these What if type things.

  2. OldDarth says:

    Great article Aardie.

    This line, ‘A perfect, revolving angst generation machine. Oh, joy.’ made me chuckle. Yes having Kayla around would have definitely pushed the angst level to an 11 and beyond most fan’s threshold.

    • aardvark7734 says:

      Thank you for reviewing – TWICE!

      Yes, it’s true, I still remember your review from last year, where my words of support for Chuck’s illustrious leaders prompted your mock surprise! 🙂 Quite generous of you to take the time, and I appreciate it.

      At times, I find speculation about alternate history fascinating. The downstream ramifications to this show we love way too much are very hard to pin down across three seasons worth of plot. Maybe, all the storylines would have converged back to the one we know today, but maybe not. I’m betting there never would have been a Lou, but if that’s all that really changed then we’d be in the same place today. I mean, how often does Lou come up today?

      Harder to predict is the effect on Chuck and Sarah’s relationship, although it is my presumption that it would have slowed things considerably in S1 – maybe S2 would have been the season where the possibility of things going further with Sarah were first explored (further than just hints and flirting). But who knows, really?

  3. amyabn says:

    It would be interesting if they brought Kayla back around the complex for a party, one at which Chuck ends up singing. Yes, I’m combining elements of what I would like to see, but it would be a nice moving out party (Chuck and Sarah move into the house), Zach gets to sing (Chuck sings to Sarah) and we could get some exposition on how much Chuck has changed for the better. Could be funny for Sarah to be jealous for a nano-second.
    Great article too! Sorry, didn’t want to leave that out!

    • aardvark7734 says:

      Amy, I’ve seen Zach sing on at least a couple of videos now, and both times it struck me that he was playing himself – not Chuck! When I think about Chuck singing, I get kind of a disconnect with the character, somehow. Maybe if he was really, really drunk. Or, it was karaoke night at Casa Bartowski. But if he started singing as well as Zach can sing, it’s going to be a bit jarring, don’t you think? He’s too good.

      Likewise, without having introduced Kayla earlier, I’m scratching my head trying to figure out how she could be significant at the going away party, although I have no particular issues with it. The way things worked out in canon, it might be more relevant to bring Lou back for an encore and say something pithy about Chuck being with Sarah again (“I knew you weren’t really over her!”) 😉

      • amyabn says:

        Or, bring back Jill. There still isn’t much closure there. It would be good to hear Jill comment that he really hasn’t changed. Really, he is still Sarah’s Chuck, but with more confidence. Those core values and sweetness are still there. I like your Lou idea.

        As for Zach singing, yes, he’s very good. We know Chuck played Perchik in Fiddler, but we could find out he was a nervous wreck. Maybe he doesn’t want to do it, but finds his courage in something Sarah says and he’s inspired. It would be another step, that’s all.

  4. Crumby says:

    Great article! It’s really hard to know what it would have looked like but Chuck and Sarah would not have been the same, that’s for sure. I’m glad the idea was dropped.

    Can you tell me where I can find this original script?

  5. Baylink says:

    Well, *here’s* something you didn’t know, that I just this minute tripped over at TVTropes:

    Kayla’s dialogue? Mostly went to Sarah, which gave some people pause:

    “Chuck was originally intended to have an extra character in the main cast, a love interest for the titular hero. After it was decided she overcomplicated things, she was cut, and all her important lines given to Chuck’s sister. The slightly flirty dialogue, coupled with the siblings’ chemistry, made this stand out to more than one fan.”

    • aardvark7734 says:

      Okay, two replies in one:

      1. Stop thinking!? You sound just like my girlfriend! I think she believes she wants a stupid boyfriend, but I’m pretty sure that would bore her silly. That’s right, I live with this contradiction every day. 🙂 Also, as an aside, if you want to know what I would aspire to, all you have to do is go back and read what ne71 has written in the Chuckverse. The tone? The dialogue? The humor? In most every case, perfect. It is for me, at least. (And then there’s Sharp, but that’s another story altogether).

      2. Soooo confusing. You said “Kayla’s” dialogue, so when you said “Sarah” I thought you meant the *character* Sarah. Later, when you note the lines went to “Chuck’s sister”, it took me a minute to connect Ellie with Sarah Lancaster. Now I’m sitting here pondering (as, apparently, others have) how disturbing it is that dialogue originally intended to be flirtation between potential dating partners seems to work wonderfully between siblings. Eeeek.

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