Pfft. I don't know. I don't really see it. ;p Of course, she shall now mock me for spending time tracking down, editing and mashing up photos.
Now, for the less superficial. Far too long thoughts on the show.
‘The Portrait’ was a mixed episode for me. There were small moments and attention to detail that continue to impress me, even more so on second viewing, but I found the plot to be the weakest of the five episodes to air thus far. And Kate….well, I’ll get to Kate.
But first I want to talk a bit about Neal and Peter. I swear I’m not looking for it, but could the show get any slashier? Here are a few highlights from the discussion in the car:
Neal: “I can handle temptation.”
Peter: “I’m keeping my eyes on you.”
Neal: “You checked my anklet?”
Peter: “I always check your anklet. I pull a map up on you everyday so I can see exactly where you’ve been.”
Peter to Neal: “Are you gonna sulk now?”
Obsessing much Peter? I know you can track a person with those anklets, that’s the point. And it makes perfect sense the FBI would choose to see where Neal goes when he’s not working. He has paintings, cash and bonds stashed somewhere and he could lead them to them. But why is Peter spending his weekends reviewing where Neal’s been. They have clerks for that. ;)
Beyond what I create in my imagination, there are two canonical reasons for Peter having such a keen interest in Neal’s every move. First, he sees Neal as his responsibility. He vouched for him to get him paroled and he seems to have a genuine belief that, to steal John’s line to Aeryn in Farscape, Neal can be more. He’s smart, resourceful and talented. He just needs to stop taking shortcuts.
Second, Peter’s fate is tied to Neal’s. If Neal ends up back in jail or, worse, escapes from under Peter’s supervision, Peter’s FBI career could be over. I still feel Peter wants to trust Neal, and does on some levels, but Neal admits temptation still exists and he remains on a quest to find Kate. Those impulses could override more reasoned judgment, even if he doesn’t wish it to.
And Neal did steal the painting, though he was playing Robin Hood rather than attempting to profit from his crime. Unfortunately, Peter won’t allow Neal to share the details with him as to why he did what he did. Thus Peter is left wondering if he would have ever known the truth had Terran’s life not been at risk.
I am now perplexed by Neal’s deal with the FBI. Peter tells Elizabeth that if they don’t recover the painting and money, Neal is going back on the inside. Really? There is no proof that Neal was in the possession of the either (I was at a loss as to why Peter was convinced Neal had the painting when Dorsett had cleaned out the room. Are we missing a scene?) and do they have to have a 100% success rate with their cases for Neal to remain semi-free?
I’m also questioning playing up Neal’s looks every week. They laid it on especially thick in this episode. Yes, Matt/Neal is very, very pretty and I would find it crazy if they didn’t acknowledge that Neal is well aware of his looks and charms and that both are assets in whatever line of work he’s currently in. But perhaps they could have Neal be in a scene with a woman who is not a lesbian and not have her be taken in by his looks? And will see Terran again? She just disappeared in the middle of the episode.
Of course, it seems Neal will flirt, but not do anything more as long as he believes he can reunite with Kate. I have to say the allusion and mystery of Kate fell apart for me upon ‘meeting’ her. My two biggest problems are the actress, who looks like she’s just out of her teens and thus way to young to have a long term relationship with Neal (Matt Bomer is 32 and given Neal’s time spent in prison, the years Peter chased him, and having to work his way to being the con man he is, I’d say Neal is roughly the same age). And I know we only had one scene with her, but she didn’t strike me as a very good actress. Her line delivery was too flat given what was supposed to be an intense and emotional scene.
Plot wise, Kate asking Neal to reveal where he hid everything to the man who ‘took’ her so they can be together left me going, “Hmmmmm”. It screams she’s been playing him, but I hope it’s not that simple. And Neal’s refusal to do as she asked sets up intriguing possibilities. It seems clear it’s not just Peter with some trust issues. Neal may be madly in love with Kate, but he’s never trusted her with the whereabouts of the fruits of his work.
Mozzie is becoming a very interesting character. Is it just me, or did we see the first clear indication that Mozzie is not Kate’s biggest fan? He seems like a good friend to Neal who doesn’t want to see him get hurt again and is becoming frustrated by Kate’s “bipolar’ behavior. He’s was on to something with Kate’s note. It could have been left three days or three months ago. How could Kate have left the note for Neal to meet her there on that particular Friday when she had no idea when he’d figure out the map on the bottle? Is she showing up every Friday at Noon? Or is Neal being watched?
There were, once again, several small things I really enjoyed about the episode. Neal enticing Peter with June’s Italian roast coffee. Neal’s alias being George Devore. Neal’s habit of raising his hand in the FBI meetings when he has a question (Peter can’t say he’s not polite!). The origami, which is new, but it’ struck me that it’s something to keep his hands busy. I’ve noticed Neal, when he walks or is standing, frequently has his hands in his pockets. It may just be Matt letting his own habit bleed into the character (check out photos of him and you’ll see what I mean), but it also made me think of “Idle hands” and if they are busy with something innocuous or buried in his pockets he’s less likely to be doing something that will get him into trouble.
Then there’s Neal’s gold card. At first I thought it was really dumb of Neal to get a credit card in his own name and use it at the restaurant, which allowed Dorsett to track him down. But both turned out to be smart moves by Neal. In the restaurant, when Neal is going through the three credit cards he has, only the gold card says “Neal Caffrey”. The moment passes too quickly to really catch it, but on frame by frame advance (don’t judge me!), I believe one of the cards has the last name “Newton”. So Neal assumed, rightfully, it wouldn’t take long for Peter to discover he had a credit card. In fact, he wanted him to know so Peter could track the expenses Neal wants him to know about. As for using the Caffrey card in the restaurant that led Dorsett to him, he had to since Peter knew he was there and would be using the card. It all made sense!
And, yes, Neal, you are very much a romantic. You wouldn’t have faced giving up four more years of your life to go chasing after Kate. You wouldn’t have confessed to Peter about the painting if Terran’s welfare wasn’t at stake. And you wouldn’t have returned the painting to Julianna. You’re a really a big sap, Neal. :)
Here's a nice little interview USA Today did with Tim and Matt before the series launched. Tim has a nice handle on Peter and Neal's relationship. And I appreciated Matt's thoughts on shooting in New York City. It does make a difference.
Oh, dementedsiren, I read that June is supposed to return. :)