WC - Neal with Icepack

White Collar: What Happens in Burma

I always feel I should tack on a disclaimer when a show I love airs an episode I didn't like. I'm not a fair weather fan. Battlestar Galactica is my favorite series, but gods knows that show had some stinkers. And storylines I didn't agree with. And a character I ended up hating. I could go on. ;) My point is, I still love the show.

I think, as viewers, if we love a show, we want it to be awesome every single week. Some series have come close to doing that. The Wire jumps to mind. If not for the second season, Friday Night Lights would be a contender. But most series encounter mediocrity or flat out misses at points in their runs. Ultimately, because I consider myself a creative person (in theory, if not always in practice), I look at my own work, a mix of things to be proud of and.....not so much. TV series have deadlines and often a limited time to put out a product. So maybe 'Burma' was disappointing and I only watched it once (!!!), but I still love the characters and people who make the show.



Obviously, more of the episode didn't work than worked for me. Plotting has never been the series strong suit and I'm usually OK with that, but, in 'Burma', it's as if I could feel the writers struggling for a resolution to the plot. Neal's plan hinged on a smoking box put into a diplomatic pouch. REALLY??? And Peter's stalling at the car felt like a time killer. I don't recall ever getting antsy during an episode before.

Neal having issues with his father and it, perhaps, leading him down the criminal path - I've been expecting the revelation for awhile. It ended up being handled better than I expected. And dirty cop was a bit of a twist. I liked Neal knowing his mother lied about his father dying a hero in order to protect him (I also liked it implies Neal had at least one parent who cared about his well being). What I didn't care for was Neal's seeming belief he was born bad. That his father's blood tainted him and he had no choice. First of all, Neal is way too smart to believe that crap and he certainly doesn't need Peter to tell him he has free will and the ability to make the right choices. My other problem is, Neal has shown no remorse for his actions. The lack of remorse was not a result of 'I have no choice I was born this way', but that he found something he was good at, was having fun doing it, and would likely still be doing it if not for prison and the possibility of going back. I liked that Neal had made that choice, but, now, through Peter, was seeing he could use his skills for good instead of 'evil' and contemplating the man he wants to be once his parole is up. To suddenly throw in Neal believes he's fighting his nature, not only does that lack sense, but it's an element to his story we don't need.

And while White Collar will never be praised for it's subtly (again, I'm OK with this), the anvils were falling all around the characters as Neal's family history came to the fore. Maybe the diplomat's estrangement from his son could trigger something in Neal, even if the circumstances were vastly different, but we also had to have Mozzie's birth parents come up, Peter's dad and Diana's dad. It was Dadapalooza!

This all came right after the flashback episode, which seemed odd. Shouldn't backstory reveals be spread out? Unless, with only three more episodes until the seasons' end, Neal's father HAD to be discussed. Did Neal's mom tell him even a bigger lie? Could his dad still be alive?

As much as I love the banter on this show, it was excessive this week. In certain scenes, the walk and talk in the teaser for instance, it was as if they were trying to outdo each other with witty retorts rather than have a real conversation.

My final criticism, and I hope you are sitting down for this, enough with Neal taking off his shirt. Matt recently stated he'll take his clothes off when it's necessary for the story. So Neal had to change his shirt in front of Mozzie while talking about his father? They couldn't cut to the next scene and believe we'd accept Neal changed clothes before going off to work with Peter? Or, if you're going to gratuitously show some skin, at least be honest about it.

What I liked:

On a superficial level, the entire cast looked very pretty! In their clothes! ;) Neal's shirt/vest look is becoming a favorite. Clinton can work a scarf. And Diana can make ridiculous model hair not look quite so ridiculous.

The team coming together in the basement. They all knew it was a setup and were well prepared for it. It's the first time I didn't mind Neal having a gun drawn on him because he knew his life was in no danger. And I may have squeed a bit when Diana arrested the guy for attempted murder of an FBI agent. Now, I know that was, in part, to protect Neal's cover and also, if actual charges were to be filed, it would just be for attempted murder, but how Diana said it and the non-reaction to it by the rest of them made it feel like he was thought of as one of them. :)

Mozzie's glee at the FBI providing him with top of the line equipment to create fake gems. (Though, I find it hard to believe the FBI would allow him to keep said equipment as payment.)

Diana having an expanded AND integral role in the plot. Revealing earlier in the season that she was the child of a diplomat proved important. Her personal experience, along with knowing ranking people in other U.S. agencies, were of huge importance to this case. And while it probably should have been Elizabeth if Tiffani were not MIA due to her maternity leave, I really enjoyed watching Diana call Peter on not stopping Neal and his plan. Like he hasn't cuffed Neal to furniture before! ;)

Oh, and "Mr. Satchmo". Not only did I love Neal coming up with the alias (wanna bet he uses it again?), but Diana throwing it back at Peter for turning her into a model. :D
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Really? The episode is about dads? I couldn't tell....

Tim DeKay looked like he had a cold in most of this episode. Someone else (I forget who) suggested that maybe the over-acting by both Matt and Tim was because they had a crap script and they knew it.

The storyline was utter crap, and it seemed to drag on for forever.

Neal and Mozzie's slight snobbery towards Peter added a few fun moments: Neal's disappointment with the gem selection, and Mozzie and Peter's "plebian" exchange. When is Moz going to learn not to think of Peter as just a Suit? :-D

I really liked Peter's comment about how if he traveled he'd go to Sweden. He likes vikings. -giggle-

Mozzie's smoking jacket. Wheeeee. So. Much. Fun. As was Peter's response to it.

Ok, so while the heavy-handed father stuff was ridiculous, I did love, love, love the moment when Peter is practically begging Neal not to do anything stupid. Tim did so well with that scene, as did Matt.

And the ending line: "What about your mother? Did she like to wear hats too?"

It's lame. But I find it totally hilarious.

I do not buy that Peter would not have known that Neal's father was a cop, dirty or not. There's only two explanations: his mom went on the run with Neal and changed their names illegally and Neal doesn't know, or Neal and his mom were in Witness Protection and after he got out he kept his super secret name.

I could buy Peter maybe not knowing that Neal dropped out of high school. Not knowing about Neal's dad in some way? No.

Either Neal's not telling the whole truth (or he doesn't know it), or Peter isn't letting on how much he actually knows.

Five bucks says the season finale will be about Neal's dad and will be about:

His job/ Neal's real name/the dad is still alive. <----All three.
Someone else (I forget who) suggested that maybe the over-acting by both Matt and Tim was because they had a crap script and they knew it.

Heh. I actually wouldn't discount that. I've always been a firm believer that an actor is as good as the script and the people around them. Matt and Tim's natural chemistry can only go so far when the material isn't up to snuff.

You also reminded me this was the first episode I can recall looking at the clock to see how much time was left. :/

Neal's disappointment with the gem selection

That was funny. He was so excited! And then there were three not overly impressive stones. I was waiting for Neal to try and pocket the diamond and have Peter stop him as he got up to leave. A missed opportunity by the writers.

I'm not taking that bet! ;) I am suspecting Caffrey was not the last name Neal was born with. There could have been a remarriage or maybe Neal's mom simply opted to change it. I could also buy some government involvement since Peter is unable to find anything on Neal prior to him turning 18 - the age he'd be considered an adult. Maybe Neal's dad was a dirty cop and he's the one who entered witness protection so Neal truly believes he's dead (perhaps his mother does too) and he's about to get a big surprise.
I certainly am able to admire Matt's physique and I'd be lying if I said I didn't appreciate getting to see it, but I also believe less is more and I have a greater appreciation of Matt's torso when it makes infrequent appearances. I also appreciate honesty about showing skin on TV. Once you start watching BSG, you'll see Jamie had several opportunities to show off his assets and I can't recall it ever being important to the stories being told. But he knew why he was being asked to do it and never tried to spin it.

Up until this episode, I thought it would be Kate returning from the dead, but now I'm starting to think it will be Neal's father. I'm not against his dad coming back, but I have some concerns as to WHY.
I agree with all your points here! I liked the same parts you liked (Diana is just wonderful!), but had problems with all the same parts you did. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one tired of the gratuitous shirtlessness - yes, Matt is lovely, but blatant and unnecessary objectification is pretty gross no matter the gender of the person you're doing it to. I cannot stand the "Neal is a victim of circumstance/Adler/his past/his dad/whatever" theme, so I was really disappointed in "Certain things are in my blood" line.

I sense that Neal's dad will turn out to be a person of some criminal importance who they will need to work with in S3 (though I don't think he'll be behind the music box plot - that's a bit pulpy even for this show, lol). I'm mostly thinking of Moz's "He could help" line - I took that to mean Neal's dad is either in prison or WitSec (or, perhaps more likely, his dad went to prison and Neal and his mom went into WitSec - explains why Peter doesn't know anything about Neal's family and why Neal Caffrey doesn't exist prior to his 18th birthday) and Peter could be helpful in finding him or in helping Neal figure out exactly how dirty he was. (Sorry, I know I'm rambling...typing while I think...a WC/In Plain Sight crossover would be epic, though!)
Heh. Before I got to the end of your last paragraph I was thinking WC/IPS crossover. ;p I guess I need to rewatch the scene with Moz, because, yes, his "he could help" could indicate Neal's dad is out there somewhere and Peter could help find him. Though, I got the impression Neal believed his father was dead or at least believed what his mother had told him so he'd have no reason to go looking for him. But even if he believes he's dead, perhaps Neal expressed a desire to Moz to know more about his father's past and Moz was acknowledging Peter could access the information he wants.

Neal could have been put in WitSec, which explains the first 18 years of his life being a blank slate, but I can also believe Neal's mother took off with Neal and changed their name for their protection. Instead of the "bad blood" theory, it would be interesting to discover Neal learned how to create new identities and con people because his mother was forced to do it to survive.
I would forgive White Collar for all its sins if it gave me Tim DeKay and Mary McCormack onscreen together being all snarky and sexy. And oh my god, Diana and Marshall would be the most epic badass friendship of all time.

Though, I got the impression Neal believed his father was dead or at least believed what his mother had told him so he'd have no reason to go looking for him. But even if he believes he's dead, perhaps Neal expressed a desire to Moz to know more about his father's past and Moz was acknowledging Peter could access the information he wants.
That makes sense! And, yeah, most people seem to have gotten the impression that Neal's dad was really dead, so perhaps I'm missing something, lol. I can believe that Neal's mom said he was dead, and that Neal believed it at some point, but Neal is clearly holding a lot back so I didn't really take it as the gospel truth that he's *actually* dead.

Instead of the "bad blood" theory, it would be interesting to discover Neal learned how to create new identities and con people because his mother was forced to do it to survive.
Oooooh, intriguing. Though I would still prefer a backstory for Neal that doesn't lay the blame for his criminal tendencies at the feet of his parent(s), that scenario is 1) actually interesting and 2) makes him drawing Kate into a life of crime marginally less "incredibly selfish and short-sighted" and more "the only way he knows how to create a family."
I actually didn't have the feeling that the shirtless scene was whithout purpose...I mean, we really got to see Neal slipping into one of his aliases, from changing the clothes to something slightly dorky (because the combination is overdone), over organizing a family photo to putting on the glasses. He was even moving different. Normally Neal simply turns up with some alias and some sort of slightly arrogant personality. This time around his cover was more sophisticated and we were every step with him during the change. A real winner in my eyes (and even worse that Peter so carelessly burned the alias - but again, the "my method against your method"-theme was nicely done...that's white collar at its best).
As soon as he picked up the photo and put on the glasses I knew Neal was slipping into a character. I didn't really need to see him change into the clothes. And if they felt it was necessary to show him getting dressed, it could have been framed differently or done off camera. I'm as shallow as the next gal and can admire Matt's physique, but there is a point where it can become a distraction.
I agree with you about too much shirtless matt (gawds i can't believe i'm saying that) but i liked those daddy issues. I'm a sucker for stuff like that and i like to know more about Neal. Maybe it was a little too forced i don't care. they gave me a toy to play with.

But did i get that wrong? I thought Neal said his dad was a cop only to stop Peter from asking more. The way he talked with Mossie after that left me to believe he lied and his dad wasn't a dirty cop.

As for Neal's belief that he tainted by his father's shadow i think it needs to be explored more. It doesn't matter how smart neal is right now if that was the impression he believed when he was young he couldn't see how ridiculous it sounds hence he used to believe i it and doesn't analyse it now.
I'm one of the very few Jamie Bamber fans who wasn't thrilled with the infamous towel scene on BSG. ;)

I don't have a huge problem with the daddy issues, I do think they can help explain why Neal is who he is, but I felt the manner in which the reveal was made was excessively heavy-handed.

I got the impression that Neal believed his father was a dirty cop (whether or not that is true is another story). And that the 'bad blood' he shared with his father caused him to make the choices he did and there was no escaping his nature. But now you have me thinking I missed something and need to watch again!
I think, as viewers, if we love a show, we want it to be awesome every single week.

I think that was part of the problem you-know-where.

Of course there were other problems. Namely insanity. :D