Summer Finale — White Collar, “Point Blank”

White Collar‘s second season has been fantastic from start to finish, but I found myself dreading the summer finale anyway.

Why you ask? USA cliffhanger dread, of course.

I’ve discussed ad nauseam my issues with how USA series organize their arcs and right after that post, Burn Notice turned in a mid-season finale that proved my point. It appeared to raise the stakes yet again while introducing yet another evil person up the ladder of evil baddies who never stick around. I was really hoping that White Collar would avoid this approach because the series has been better this season than Burn Notice, but I should have known.

After stringing us along with the Kate nonsense that most people seem not to care about (or at least that’s the vibe I got at Comic-Con when everyone booed when her name was mentioned) and passing the music box back and forth for nine episodes (seriously, how many times did that thing change hands?), it all comes to a head in “Point Blank.” We’ve been told for a very long time that Fowler is a bad man and even seen instances of that. But guess what? There is someone…who is badder than Fowler! And he’s the one who is actually pulling the strings! GASP! Turns out Fowler was just acting evil because someone killed his wife, then a mystery person helped him find the killer and then said mystery person taped Fowler killing the killer and used it to blackmail him into getting the music box. Does that sound convoluted? Yeah, it does. To make matters worse, the mystery man (named Larson) actually shows up and shoots Mozzie, leaving him left for dead!

I’m shocked.

Oh wait, no I am not. We know that Mozzie isn’t dead. We know that Larson will disappear or die after the first episode back, revealing another layer of the conspiracy. And in Burn Notice, the multi-layer conspiracy angle makes more sense. Here, are we really going to have to watch seasons of story unravel that suggest someone really, really, really evil wants Neal Caffrey, who admittedly is a famous thief, dead? Sigh. I’m hoping that Larson is someone very crucial to Neal’s past instead of just another faceless killer coming after him or trying to frame him. We’ll see.

On a positive note, the 38 minutes leading up to the Fowler confession were very well-executed. I’ve been frustrated with Neal and Peter’s lack of trust with one another, but I do think Fowler’s reappearance warrants a little off-the-book deception from both of them because it’s such an intense, person situation for both of them. The two of them plotting against one another (particularly Neal’s genius plan to get the silver thief file into Peter’s lap) worked tremendously. Matt Bomer is usually just required to smile and be charming, but it was great to see that when called upon to do some dramatic heavy lifting, he can handle it. The scene with Fowler showed us an unhinged Neal that we haven’t ever really seen before, but I actually preferred the solo scene in the loft where he had to go through confusion, frustration and rage all in 35 seconds and he nailed it.

Moving to January, I’m ready to get past the first episode back and this Larson nonsense. If the series isn’t going to execute quality arcs that really have much weight and aren’t just there for shock value or false stakes, just give me the procedural episodes that require Peter, Neal and Mozzie going undercover please.

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