But before we get to True Blood, White Collar wrapped it's wildly uneven (and disappointing) half season.
At least the show ended on a high. 'Countdown' was, for me, the strongest episode of the season and, throughout, it reminded me of why I loved the show in it's first two seasons. It also addressed some (if not all) of the issues that have been bothering me.
Neal finally made a choice. The only logical choice based on what we've seen of Neal and the life hes been living past two seasons. As Peter had pointed out, repeatedly, to him, Neal has established a life in New York. It's a life that may not always be easy for him, but it's one Neal enjoys and appreciates more often than not.
Moz continues to try and persuade Neal to leave ("We had a dream"), but Neal informs him dreams change. And while Moz can leave NYC and come back anytime he wishes, once Neal decides to run, he can't come back. Deep down, I think Neal Caffrey is tired of running. He wants friends, a family, and definitely roots. Ideally, he wants to try and fence some of the art, but have the life he's dreamed of where he is now. If he can't have it all, what is more important to him?
There were some great exchanges between Moz and Neal. While I still have some issues with Moz's unrelenting insistence he and Neal leave together, I suppose Moz is struggling with the fact he feels as if he's losing Neal, his partner in crime and his best friend. Neal isn't just choosing right over wrong and the FBI over a life of crime, he's telling Moz that Peter (and by extension, Elizabeth, Diana, etc) mean more to him then Moz does. That has to hurt. And perhaps that was why Moz was so hell bent on making Neal go. Moz parts by telling Neal, "You're fooling yourself if you think this is who you really are." I don't think that's necessarily true. Either Moz doesn't want Neal to be the man he is now or he doesn't want to acknowledge he never knew Neal as well as he thought he did.
For the first time this season, a guest star was put to very good use. Beau Bridges was terrific as Agent Kramer. I was a but worried he was going to be, as Neal put it, the devil on Peter's shoulder, but he had a great grasp of the complexities of Neal and Peter's relationship with Neal. Kramer is perhaps better able to compartmentalize his emotions and separate the CI from the friend (it can be argued he's had years more time to learn to do so), but I appreciated how he offered his opinion without judgment. And when Neal seemingly came through and proved him wrong, he shared with Peter that he couldn't say with conviction Neal's reformed yet, but it was clear he wanted to stay there. It's what Peter needed to hear.
Of course, moments later, Kramer announces the Degas forgery is the best he's ever seen. D'Oh!
I enjoyed the tension in the meeting regarding the Degas. I do wish the writers wouldn't telegraph Neal's guilt so much. If there are moments I can pick up on Neal's worry, then obviously Peter can. The writers need to trust the audience knows Peter suspects Neal and Neal is concerned he may be cornered.
While watching Neal's quick thinking with Melissa was entertaining (and I would SO rather see Melissa as a regular than Sara - the character is a better fit with the show's premise and there's more chemistry with Neal), I find it VERY hard to believe that while working with Kramer, who is well versed in Neal Caffrey, she had no idea who 'Chris' was when she met him.
I'm wasn't as big a fan of Neal's plan to replace the Degas as many seemed to be. Jumping a few stories into an awning is one thing, but parachuting off a building in NYC, with no one noticing, and having your hat practically be at your feet when you land....SERIOUSLY??? It was also troublesome that Neal's entire plan was contingent on Peter deciding to lock him in a closet because he found a lock pick kit on him. Given some of the situations they've been in, I would think Peter might actively encourage Neal to come prepared.
I probably should mention Keller. Honestly, I'm over him as a villain. Given the type of show White Collar is, he always struck me as too hardened (and violent) of a criminal. To make matters worse, between the trail of dead bodies he's leaving behind and his frequent escapes he's making the FBI look really bad.
And I'm not happy with El's kidnapping. Putting aside it's a lame cliffhanger (we know she'll be fine), I'm not happy about her being used to set up tension/a confrontation between Neal and Peter. Presumably, Neal will have to admit to at least some knowledge of the treasure and it's location and go along with a plan to exchange it for Elizabeth. And ALL of this could have been avoided if Peter had moved Elizabeth out of the house to safe location last week, when I pointed out staying in their home with Keller on the lose was a stupid thing to do. Sigh.
To end on an upbeat note, a few of my favorite lines:
"Gotham's Cop and Robber"
Neal: "Nailed the landing."
Moz: "I need a drink."
In related WC news, it seems Jeff Eastin has blocked me from following him on Twitter. O_o I don't know if I mentioned it before, but the man has, proudly, talked about blocking people on Twitter. Now, I support this for people who are being rude, vulgar or creepy. But what did I do?
I've been critical of Season 3. However, for the record, I can't even recall the last time I tweeted Jeff directly. For the past several episodes I've just done general tweets of my thoughts and only occasionally used the #WhiteCollar tag since I didn't wish to a) harsh anyone's squee or b) get into arguments with random people I don't know. So, the only way he could have known about my negativity is if he's trolling White Collar mentions on Tuesday nights. And if you know me (and I think you do), you know I'm not nasty or rude when being critical. Jeff Eastin used to welcome feedback in his early days on Twitter. Now, he only wants to hear from you if you're telling him how awesome his show is and, by extension, how awesome he is.
The kicker is, blocking his tweets from appearing on my feed, does not block me from seeing what he tweets. I can still visit his page and, if you happen to have another account that's also following him, well... ;) So, yeah, it's just so sad and silly. Especially since all the other writers, actors, and directors involved with the show who I follow seem to have no problem with me. :p
Another True Blood episode I really enjoyed. WTF? ;) It hit me the other day as to why I think I've finally become wrapped up in the series: Eric and Sookie. I liked both characters well enough before (more so Eric) and Sookie/Bill bored me so, yes, I was a supporter of Sookie and Eric getting together. But not since Spike and Buffy (the vampire/human pairing theme is purely coincidental, really), have two characters I wanted to see together not only had a chance of being together, but are, in fact, together. As much as I adored - and still adore - Lee/Laura, I knew deep down I wasn't going to see what I wanted to on screen. For the first time in a quite some time I'm seeing what I want to see. A lot of it! In graphic detail! ;) So, yes, my enthusiasm for getting what I want has sucked me in.
Overall though, I do feel this is the strongest - or least terrible - of the series four seasons. The only storyline that repulsed me was Hotshot/Jason being raped, which seems to be (I hope) over. The rather quick wrap up makes me wonder if the writers, in breaking the stories for the season, realized it was a mistake and decided to move on as quickly as possible.
There also seems to be more restraint in every aspect of the show (well, maybe not the sex). Less crazy. Less gore. Fewer new characters introduced and more time spent developing those we know and care about. And instead of having everyone split up and all over the map, everyone is in the same local crossing paths more often than not. Though, Jesus and Layfette's rapid return trip could use some explaining.
My main areas of interest continue to be: the burgeoning, yet potentially doomed, Sookie/Eric romance. Bill finally becoming an interesting character as he deals with the politics, power and pitfalls of being king. The familial relationship between he and Jessica. Pam! And the apparent Stackhouse family tradition of becoming attracted to and involved with vampires. ;)
I was discussing with molly_may, in her LJ, some of the problematic issues of the Eric/Sookie relationship. She had some excellent reasons as to why the relationship could be seen as kind of creepy. Eric can come across as childlike rather than merely innocent, but, credit to Alex, I feel every time the writers have come close to the squicky line he's pulled Eric back.
I loved the conversation Eric and Sookie had in bed. Sookie, swept up in the moment, hadn't considered what would become of them when Eric gets his memories back. It was a very adult thing to do - address the "What if?" - and something I'm not sure the old Eric would have done. Eric's worried about what he will become, what they will become, if he reverts to the man he once was. It's entirely possible some of this 'new' Eric will remain, but will it be enough for Sookie?
I also think my enjoyment of E/S is helped by watching this season in a bubble. I never paid close attention to the previous seasons. I'm sure I missed episodes. And I've forgotten much of what I did see. I even had to look up clips on YouTube to help me recall the development of Eric and Sookie's relationship (such as it was) and what they did, or didn't, feel for each other.
I don't feel Sookie has finally fallen for Eric's charms now he's a changed man. Rather, she had fallen for his charms, but, knowing what he had done and what he was capable of doing, built up a defense to help her resist. As much as she may have wanted him, Sookie would not allow herself to fall into bed with him. But presented with a new and improved Eric, one she has more than a little control over, she allowed her defenses to fall and to give into feelings she had and didn't want to face. In that context, I don't have a problem with the relationship as it is now.
Another Eric/Sookie moment I loved was Sookie telling him she had seen him silvered before and that he had been willing to sacrifice himself for her and Godric. His response of, "And still you didn't love me", was quite telling. Eric hasn't actually said the words, "I love you", to Sookie, yet we know it, he knows it and she knows it. His "And you still didn't love me" becomes an implicit acknowledgment of his feelings for her as well as his assumption that she, too, loves him. While not stated in the cocky, boastful way 'old' Eric might have, the confidence expressed as to how she feels about him now struck me as indicator that this Eric is not completely removed from the man he was before.
In other TV news, who has watched Misfits? After hearing Emilia di Girolamo (head writer for L&O:UK) go on and on about how fabulous the show was, and with Hulu posting Series 1, I decided to give it a try. I have to admit I was not impressed by the first episode and by the second episode I wanted one character to die a horrible, painful death. Emilia assured me I would come to love this character. Series one got better and now I'm three episodes into Series 2 and.....OMG, SO MUCH LOVE! The character I hated? OK, still not feeling LOVE, but I like him a lot! And I do love one character and his incredibly complex storyline! I can see why a writer would be so drawn to the show. Wonderfully developed characters and some intriguing plotting. I also love it when a show has a clear plan and things you largely overlooked before come back to play out in a big way. So, yeah, if you haven't yet seen this show, do check it out. It's like nothing you'll see on US TV.