For me, the season started out rather 'meh' and has progressed to, at times, downright awful. My biggest gripe is I often don't recognize (or like) these people anymore. Where once there were consistent characterizations, Neal, Peter, et al are now being written to suit poorly thought out stories of the week.
I think the characters really began to confuse me in 'Scott Free'. Everyone knew Neal and Sara were dating, yet Peter had to annoy Neal (and me in the process) with his detective work. His behavior was neither cute nor funny; it was silly and stupid. And why did Sara need to explain her 'relationship' with Neal before fleeing? She should have stayed and had her breakfast! These are adults. Why are they acting like pre-teens?
Then there's Neal's whiplash inducing changes of heart. We had two seasons of 'should I stay or should I go?', followed by several episodes of contemplating how fast he can get out of town. Yet, in another reversal, he's unsure if he can be "Victor" and telling a young man to choose prison time (?!) and starting over rather than running. What caused this sudden change of heart? I have no clue.
Then came 'Taking Account' and my chants of "I will not become a bitter fan. I will not become a bitter fan..." I thought I had a handle on the Neal/Sarah relationship. It was shown to be something casual. They were having fun. This I was OK with this. But, suddenly and inexplicably, Neal is contemplating sharing his life with Sara. And, perhaps more shockingly, he comes close to revealing he has the art in his possession. Because they had fun on a shopping spree? It's a HUGE risk to take with a woman he barely knows. Keeping in mind, as open as he was with Kate, he was never completely truthful with her. Or did the writers forget they established early in Season 1 Neal lied to Kate and Moz as to where he hid his ill gotten gains?
I will say my WTF abated, a bit, on second viewing. I believe Kate was with Neal during his magical time in Italy. He was convinced he had everything back then – a beautiful place to live, all the wealth he needed and a woman to love and share it with. Now, he has the money, the means to return there so all he needs is the gal (::refrains from breaking out into song::) to make his dream complete. In other words, Sara is convenient. Give them six months together and I'm sure the romantic bubble would burst.
Still, Neal's carelessness of late has been hard to believe. He left the wall safe open, allowing Sara to find the passport (isn't the alias worthless now?). He considered revealing he had the treasure (without consulting Moz). And he left the laptop out allowing Sara the opportunity to snoop. Neal may be reckless, but I never considered him careless.
And more perplexing matchmaking by Peter! He claims Sara is good for Neal, yet we haven't actually seen her be a positive influence on Neal. She even admits she (often) comes close to crossing the line and we see her feed into Neal's worse instincts and tendencies (the shopping spree).
The conversation with Jones even seemed to flip a switch with Neal. Neal may still have been working to get his hands on the ship's manifest – and plotting behind Peter's back to do so – but like Season 1 & 2 Neal, he was obviously torn about what he was doing. And in the final scene, Peter's concern for Neal's happiness, a photo of Neal surrounded by his FBI co-workers, his friends, led Neal to do something once inconceivable - he lied to Moz about the manifest.
But then the good will gained went poof Tuesday night. :/
Who is this Moz and what did they do with the real one??? His constant, obsessive push to get Neal to flee has been annoying, but I actively wanted to tell him to SHUT UP at the start of the episode. Neal's conflict (stay or go) is nothing new and if Neal wants to stay and Moz wants to go, couldn't they split the treasure? Do they have to be joined at the hip forever?
And did IQ's collectively drop? Did Jeff Eastin really decide to make his beloved characters this stupid? Sara didn't leave Keller and immediately check out his Interpol story? No one clued her into Keller's existence in case he showed up again? And Neal actually bought into the fake feed?!?! As soon as Keller showed it to him I went, "fake". Of course he would try forcing Neal to lead him to the art. And after Mozzie blew the FBI's capture of Keller (which pissed me off to no end), shouldn't Peter be moving El, as well as himself, to another less easy to be Googled location until he's caught?
While I agree Keller is extremely dangerous, hard to stop and out to kill them, I still don't accept the Moz we've known hiring hitmen and turning into a killer. I really thought the writers were trying to convince us that's what he was doing, only to have it revealed that he took the Degas to set up Keller.
The only redeeming moment of the episode was the final scene between Neal and Moz. It was interesting to see their relationship fracture and Moz's realization he had been lied to, much as he's actively encouraged Neal to lie to Peter. And Bomer did a fabulous job of conveying Neal's fear and anger.
And on a final side note of sorts, Jeff's all too frequent tweets that a scene or moment being “inspired by” another TV show or film or even another writer is less a tribute and more a prime example of not being able to come up with anything on your own. So, yeah, not really happy with the show or the people behind the show right now.
So, now that I'm severely underwhelmed by White Collar, what do I have to look forward to? Gods help me, True Blood. Yeah, it's still ridiculous, but it's managed after three seasons to go from laughably "Why am I watching this crap???" bad to sort-of good. Well, once that Hotshot story was wrapped up...I hope.
I've come to the conclusion that any storyline involving a were of some sort does not interest me. I don't care much about the shapeshifting either. However, I do like Alcide and Sam (sidenote: Sam Trammell playing Tommy playing Sam? AWESOME job.) so I wish I had more of an interest in their arcs.
The witch story has grown on me. I like that Marnie is not inherently evil and has become sucked in by the power Antonia provides her. Marnie was meek when we first met her. Few took her seriously and those that had any respect for her abilities didn't really see them as any big deal. But now? Looks like just about everyone in town is going to have reason to fear her.
I'm also very curious about Antonia and her story. Could Eric have crossed paths with her?
But I remain a vampire girl at heart. Unless they are in high school and sparkle. ;p Hey, I didn't even get into Buffy until Season 4 when they were in college. I could digress here.....moving on!
I've never been a Bill fan, but he's actually mildly interesting this season! His triple(?) agent background has given him depth. He's tortured doing a job he has to do, but really doesn't want to. And I've enjoyed the brooding being separated from the woman he loves.....whose now living with and sleeping with the man he hates. Hee!
I spent most of the episode saying, "You're lying!", at the TV whenever Bill was on screen. Noooo, his personal feelings weren't affecting his judgment at all. And Nan ordered Eric's death, did she? But I loved that it was the selflessness of the man he loathes - Eric putting Sookie's happiness above all else - that forced Bill to do the right thing. Though, even with a smidge of my good will gained, I immensely enjoyed him standing alone while he had a pretty clear idea of what was going on between Eric and Sookie. :D
Speaking of Eric, I've always been Team Eric. Short hand as to why: Bill and Sookie reminded me of Angel and Buffy, whereas Eric and Sookie were Spike and Buffy. So, yes, THRILLED Eric and Sookie are finally together. I know it won't last. At least not this version of them as a couple. As gentle, sweet and endearing as Amnesiac Eric is, I wouldn't want him to stay this way forever. Ideally, I want Old Eric with a bit of New Eric to remain and then see Eric and Sookie as a couple once more. (I'm assuming they split after he gets his memory back, but I'd be OK if they didn't. :)
The most interesting part of the Eric/Sookie relationship is that Sookie, as much as she may claim it's New Eric she's drawn to, wouldn't have become romantically involved with him within days if she wasn't attracted to who he was before. She had fantasized about being with him and returned his kiss last season when he kissed her. So, New Eric just allowed her to drop her defenses and have what she wanted.
I saw some fans were not pleased with the final scene in which Sookie and Eric consummated their relationship. I guess people were expecting something rougher, dirtier and more...energetic? I thought it was pretty hot and it was also what I expected. It was more about two people connecting on an emotional level rather than just being about finally having sex. And Eric has been so concerned with hurting Sookie, I can easily believe he'd be especially gentle with her. At least the first time. ;)
In other couples news, I am SO TORN regarding the likely Jason/Jessica/Hoyt triangle. Ok, first, YAY! Jason didn't turn into a werepanther! I don't know if I could have dealt with that. My hatred of the Hotshot arc runs deep. But I appreciated how his fears led to the conversation with Jessica in the woods and allowed us to see her joy at coming to his rescue. Jessica is so adorable and I want her to be happy. I thought Hoyt would make her happy. I like Hoyt, but he has been sort of an ass thus far this season. I do wonder if it's intentional so if/when Jessica and Jason become involved we will be more sympathetic towards them. I wish Jessica would just be honest and break it off, but this is True Blood so I'm expecting ugliness to ensue.
I've neglected to talk about Pam and her awesomeness! The poor dear has lost the two things that mean the most to her - her identity and Eric. I think the latter hurt her more. Also, she had the best damn line of the episode: "Let me tell you a little something about King Bill. He’s a self-loathing, power-hungry, pompous little dork. And you hate his guts.” HEE!
That the White Collar portion of this post took four days and the True Blood portion about thirty minutes....um, yeah, I think you can see where my enjoyment is coming from these days. Well, there may also be a BSG post after BBCA wraps up Season 1. ;-)