December 4, 2009

fall finale: white collar

A few shows have been backed up on my DVR for the past few weeks, and sick day combined with an expectedly heavy-ish snowstorm has given me the time to catch up. So, I'll be writing a few blogs about my impressions of fall seasons as we enter the deep, dark abyss of hiatus (not actually true).

White Collar has gone under the radar on this blog, but it's becoming one of my favorite shows. This week, Monk ended it's final season on USA. I didn't watch Monk religiously, but did catch episodes here and there. When Monk first started in 2002, virtually no one was watching basic cable shows. Now we have Monk's success to thank for USA's quirky crime dramas like Burn Notice, Psych, and Royal Pains. Crime procedurals can get stale (The Forgotten comes to mind...or doesn't), but with strong characters and good writing, these shows have garnered great ratings for a cable network. Their "Characters Welcome" tagline pretty much sums it up.

White Collar is the new kid on the block and already earned a spot at the top. I would argue that Matt Bomer and Tom DeKay have some of the best chemistry of any partnership on television. Here's the premise in a nutshell: Neal Caffrey (Bomer) is a successful conman of the Frank Abagnale persuasion. Peter Burke is the FBI agent who finally caught and jailed him. Through the years, their cat and mouse game turned them into unlikely friends, and Peter agrees to give Neal a four year ankle-monitored sentence of FBI work. They're now working as partners solving white collar crime. If you haven't seen it, you should stop reading and catch reruns on USA (or Comcast OnDemand) before the midseason premiere in January.

If you have seen it, here's my take on the fall finale, which presented quite a twist. All season, we've watched two stories progress - the story of Peter and Neal's partnership and the side story of Neal searching for his wife Kate, who we've known is being held against her will by a mysterious bad guy wearing a pinky ring.

The Neal/Peter story has been a series of cases filled with both dramatic and comedic moments between Neal, the smooth criminal genius who has a soft spot for his nemesis-turned-partner, even befriending Peter's lovely wife (Tiffani Theissen), and Peter, a bit of a bumbling, awkward, but obviously talented and dedicated FBI agent. Together, the two seem formed a dream team of sorts playing off of each other's strengths and building a tentatively trustworthy bond.

Before I get to the surprise twist, just a word about the supporting cast. I've said it before, but shows like these are made by the strong secondary characters. Some of the best scenes involve Tiffani Theissen as Peter's wife Elizabeth, and Willie Garson as Neal's old friend and fellow con artist Mozzie (you know him as Sanford from Sex & the City). These two bring something special and fun to the show, and fit easily into each episode without feeling forced. They also bring important depth to Neal - showing the loyalty of a best friend and colleague through years of well-orchestrated criminal activity, and Peter - showing that this awkward, but well-intentioned workaholic has a great woman who loves and believes in him (and in his friendship with Neal).

In this week's fall finale, the case involves a rare diamond gone missing. FBI internal investigator Agent Fowler (played by Noah Emmerich from my favorite movie Beautiful Girls) suspects Neal's involvement. A conflicted Peter tracks down proof that Neal was involved - in the form of Neal's microscopic initials carved into the fake diamond. With Neal in jail, and Peter feeling unsure about his guilt, Neal and Mozzie begin investigating Agent Fowler and the other members of the FBI believing Neal has been set up. We know from last week's episode that Neal believes Kate is being held by a member of the FBI.

With Mozzie and Peter's help, Neal is able to prove his innocence, but not before raising questions about Agent Fowler's motives. He believes Fowler has something to do with Kate's disappearance and manages to track him down in a local hotel room. Here, Neal discovers that Fowler is in fact conducting an investigation called "Mentor" but Neal is not the subject, Peter is.

In the last scene, we see Kate entering a hotel room to speak with her pinky-ring-wearing captor, who is none other than... Peter. Gasp. So, we're lead to believe that Peter set Neal up for the diamond crime in order to throw off Fowler and his crew.

Revealing Peter as a villain changes the entire dynamic of the show, and also undermines the character we have come to know and love. There are really two possible scenarios:

1. The Peter we have been watching is a sham. He's actually getting revenge for all the times Neal eluded him by using Kate to uncover one of Neal's bigger crimes. But wouldn't it be easier to allow Kate to be revealed and keep working his friendship angle with Neal? Chasing after Kate has been the biggest threat to Neal's successful captivity.

2. Peter is acting undercover as Kate's captor for a larger purpose. This is the theory that I'm leaning toward. I just can't see this man willingly wearing a pinky ring. He's pretending to keep Kate captive for her safety in the wake of some larger threat.

But what about Elizabeth? Is he also keeping this a secret from her? Does Elizabeth really know her husband or is she a pawn in the game? Or an accomplice?

We'll have the answers in January!


Tall-boy said...

Monk was one of the very best shows on TV!!

Post a Comment