I've been working on this post, off and on, all week. I'm not at the point of being sick of looking at it. Now, I just want to get the sucker done and move on.
My brief, non-spoilery thoughts about Falling Skies: It's not reinventing the genre, but handles the tropes of it well. The characters need a bit more fleshing out, but the cast is likable. And if the premiere failed in one respect, it was in depicting humanity as it's own worst enemy. Like most post-apocalyptic films and series before it, people who were bad prior to the cataclysmic event will likely remain bad. But as The Walking Dead showed, it doesn't mean those bad guys have to be one dimensional.
Last Sunday, I watched the season finales of Game of Thrones and The Killing. While the former I felt had some pacing issues, it was a masterful piece of storytelling compared to the latter. I'm sure you are all well aware of the vitriol unleashed by both critics and fans (and a fair share of actors and writers on my Twitter feed) as soon as The Killing ended. The two best insta-reactions were Maureen Ryan's review and NY Magazine's hilarious and spot on recap.
I've tried to recall a finale that pissed me off as much as The Killing's did and I'm not coming up with anything. I would have thought I'd be more upset by disappointing finale for a show I loved rather than one I casually viewed. The X-Files is probably my biggest fannish disappointment, yet I wasn't angry about how it ended. Maybe it was because I had divorced myself from it emotionally and pretty much quit watching long before the finale. My expectations were set so low I was able to tell myself it could have been worse. It probably also helped that I still loved Mulder and Scully. If my favorite characters are given a few good moments, I can be somewhat forgiving. And maybe that's why I'm having such a problem with The Killing finale. I not only never had a character to care about or root for, by the end I couldn't stand any of them. All that was left to keep my tuning in was a resolution to the season long arc.....which we didn't get.
The AMC marketing campaign was "Who killed Rosie Larsen?", with an implicit promise to the audience the killer would be revealed by season's end. When we weren't shown who killed Rosie (for a variety of reasons, it can't be Richmond), it was a final insult to the viewers after weeks of countless, pointless detours (Muslim terrorists? Really?) and enough red-herrings to choke a factory canning line. To add insult to injury, Holder, a character that managed to evolve from intolerable to sympathetic in a totally plausible manner, was in the closing moments revealed to be, at worst, a cop on the take or, at best, a cop willing to falsify evidence because he's convinced they have the right man.
But Holder wasn't the only character destroyed in a matter of moments. Two weeks before I would have awarded Lindon the award for worst mother of the year, but now I'd have to name Mitch the 'winner'. I understand it's only been thirteen days since her daughter died and that her grief is immense and will be for a very long time. But she has two other children. Instead of focusing on them (or at least giving them a thought one in awhile) and what she still has, she decides she can't handle being there anymore and walks out on them. The kicker? Their father will soon be on his way to prison. So the boys, who have yet to be allowed to deal with the loss of their sister, are now faced with losing both parents. But, hey, there's still their aunt, right? She can just take on a few more 'clients' in order to try and support them. O_o
Because I don't wish to devote to much energy to a series I will no longer be watching, I'll just quickly run through some of the numerous other WTFs:
Stan and Bennet's wife 'meet cute' at the vending machine. We're supposed to believe she had no idea what the man who put her husband in a coma looked like? And even if we can accept that bit of ludicrousness, we're left to imagine how she'll feel when she eventually sees him in court.
The police search with dogs nearly two weeks later. How much evidence has been washed away by the Seattle monsoons???
And in another great piece of detective work, it took them two weeks to check the mileage on the car.
Which is more inexplicable: The gas station owner recalling the details of the car from two weeks before? Ignoring a girls screams at the time? Or not bothering to report any of it to the police?
Linden confronting Richmond alone. Twice.
Richmond's string of mistresses/prostitutes, never even hinted at before, suddenly being revealed, en masse.
You know what would have been a good time for Stan to FINALLY tell Mitch about the house? When she mentioned she could no longer stay at the apartment. Seriously, I cannot believe he never said anything.
I'm going to lump my thoughts about the last two White Collar episodes together. It's probably a good thing I held off posting about 'Where There's a Will' since 'Deadline' helped to alleviate some of my concerns and make me feel a bit better the season to date.
On initial viewing of 'Where There's a Will', I was not in the best of moods. On second viewing, I did look at the episode more favorably, but I still felt as if there was something off. Most of it I can pin on Neal. While, in the past I've enjoyed seeing some darkness in Neal - his pain and anger at being separated from Kate, followed by his rage and need for vengeance for her murder - what we're seeing right now is a self-centered and manipulative Neal. That's not dark, that's unflattering.
Maybe the Neal seen in the first two episodes of the season is Neal Caffrey before he went to prison. The problem is it's a side of him we've never seen before, not even in the flashback episode. To suddenly introduce this aspect of his character, without foundation, in the third season, is disconcerting. And while I can deal with Neal playing a mark, seeing him play his friends, which Peter and Elizabeth have become, is troublesome for me.
But Neal's characterization isn't the only problem. It's like the writers (or should I pin the blame on Jeff Eastin?) are trying too hard now. Last season, it was established Elizabeth had such a successful and in demand event planning business that she would travel across country for events. Yet, we're now to believe she has time to be a consultant at an art gallery? And what is there to consult about at the gallery? My assumption is Elizabeth is being positioned to play a role when it's discovered Neal has the art, but it's already feeling very contrived.
That's only one obvious set ep. Would Peter really meet with Melissa at the FBI, with Neal around? He knows how relatively easy it is for Neal to find out information. And would Neal, in turn, meet Melissa with a fake identity when she could a) ask around about 'Chris Gates' or b) make a return trip to the white collar unit and be introduced to him? That said, I did love Anna Chlumsky and Melissa and hope to see her again.
It also seems the boundaries of what the white collar unit investigates are being expanded. While there is fraud and theft involved with a forged will, it seems like more of a case for lawyers, police and prosecutors than the FBI. And making a point of having Neal called in to authenticate the will is, well, pointless once Peter announces they would need to have it looked at by experts. (I'd also argue having Peter state in 'Deadline' he was called in to investigate the death threats because the owner of the magazine is friends with the head of the white collar unit only makes it slightly more plausible they'd be involved. Are the writers running out of actual white collar crimes already?)
Two weeks ago, meret and I had a discussion as to whether Neal Caffrey was Neal's real name. She was questioning it; I didn't think the writers would go that far. Now, I'm not so sure. My first doubt was raised when Neal, discussing creating a new identity, said to Mozzie, "I might have to live with this next one to the end. I want to make sure it feels as good as Neal Caffrey." Further doubt arose after I watched the S2 deleted scenes. While still somewhat vague, there was a flashback scene filmed between Peter and Sara in which Peter tells Sara, that after investigating all Neal's aliases, he's confidant Neal Caffrey is his real name.
I have to admit I would have mixed feelings if Neal was not, in fact, Neal. My perception of and affection for Neal is very much based on what I think I know of the man and I would have spent two years analyzing a man who doesn't exist. However, there's something intriguing about the thought of Neal being just another creation. It then begs the question, "Who is 'Neal Caffrey'"? And has Neal created so many fake identities that he no longer know himself?
On a final (not necessarily writing related) note about the first two episodes of the season, I felt like I was watching everyone act. In particular, the exchanges between Matt and Tim seemed less natural. And Tiffani's talking to Satchmo struck me as very stagey. I was reminded of Shakespeare in Love and the insistence on a bit with a dog within the play.
So after a disappointing start to the season, I went into 'Deadline' feeling somewhat ill at ease with the series. After finding the first two episodes of the season problematic, If I felt the same about the third, then what did that mean for my continued enjoyment of the series?
Fortunately, I found 'Deadline' very enjoyable. That's not to say it was without problems. The briefcase swap at the beginning didn't make much sense. How would Neal know well in advance that Diana would be taking the list home to translate? And would she really not spot Mozzie coming up behind her to make the switch? But once I got past that, I was OK. At least up until the very end. More on that later.
Surprisingly, I'm dealing well with the Neal/Sara not-really-a-relationship at this point. It's obviously a very casual thing between the two. Referring to their trysts as a series of 'booty calls' wouldn't be an oversimplification. She leaves his place in the middle of the night; he can drop by hers any time he wants. Neal went five(?) years without being with anyone. As Matt so eloquently put it in an interview, Neal needed to get laid. ;)
If either has any hopes of having a serious, long term relationship, I don't see how that's possible. It was quickly established that the two not only fail miserably at the trivial (small talk), but because of their chosen career paths are completely unable to share their lives with each other (compare their chatting over coffee to Peter and Elizabeth doing the same). That really doesn't leave anything but sex between the two. And while I'm not sure it's in Neal to be completely open and honest with anyone, he certainly was able to share much more of himself with Kate. Even Moz knows more about Neal than Sara ever could.
As long as the writers and I are on the same page - that Neal and Sara, for the practical reasons I just mentioned, as well as his current intent to skip town, cannot enter into a long term, serious relationship - I'm OK with what's happening right now. If I see and sign the writers believe they are actually setting up something serious between the two, then we have a problem.
Random things I enjoyed about the episode:
Everyone working together as a team. Even Blake!
Neal and Jones texting each other and Jones assisting Neal remotely.
The bewildered pharmaceutical execs trying to figure out who Neal was and what he was doing there.
The dinner party was very cute! I loved Christie's reaction to a) realizing how Neal and Sara would have met and b) contemplating how strange it is the would embark on some sort of relationship. And Neal's, "She's been after me for a loooong time," cracked me up.
It was also interesting that Sara brought up the Raphael, again. If she can't let it go and finds out he has it, then what?
When Peter mentioned to Neal his knowledge of how Diana and Christie met meant he was officially "part of the family", Neal was visibly touched - and torn. In the previous two episodes, we've seen Neal preoccupied with formulating a plan to run. It was as if the writer's had forgotten about the strong attachments Neal had formed over the past two seasons and that, at times, he was conflicted as to what he wanted out of life.
Unfortunately, the moment was short lived. Cut to Neal and Peter, once again, plotting against each other. And I found Peter's 'I'm on to you' smirk not only off-putting, but a blatant acknowledgment of the two playing each other and both knowing it.