Saturday, 24 July 2010

White Collar 1.14 'Out of the Box'

For its season finale White Collar abandoned the ‘crime of the week’ formula that it had adopted for most of its debut year, instead the episode focussed entirely on the season’s long running arc of Neal’s plot to steal the show’s MacGuffin: the music box.

This made for a very strong episode, without the distractions of a weekly case to solve we got plenty of revelations about what had been going on most of the season, that said though I’m still pretty confused about who’s working for who and who is double crossing who.

The basic gist of the episode was that Alex finally revealed to Neal where the music box was, after some skinny-dipping of course – which I’m sure was just an excuse to get Matt Bomer naked.

Turns out it was at the Italian embassy, which led to a fun Ocean’s Eleven style caper involving Neal, Alex and Mozzie.

Whilst Neal went to great lengths to get past the numerous security systems, namely outing himself as a thief all it took for Mozzie to get through was a tray. As implausible as some of the plot contrivances were it was still nice to see the plan come together and our hero succeed in his mission.

The predictable Alex double-cross then happened but before you could start to even wonder if Neal’s chance had gone, Alex had a change of heart and brought Neal the music box… or did she? I have a hunch she’s still got the real one and the one she gave Neal is a fake.

Neal then said his goodbyes as he handed off the music box and prepared to be reunited with his beloved Kate – it turns out Operation Mentor had been about Neal all along; he and Kate were to get new identities and live free and peacefully.

The goodbye between Neal and Mozzie was surprisingly touching and even though his friendship with Peter’s wife Elizabeth still feels a little wrong it was nice to see him give her a goodbye as well.

Peter wasn’t lucky enough to get a goodbye though and chased Neal to the airport to try and talk him out of his plan to disappear. After the bromance was solidified the plane that Kate had been seen to be on board then exploded and we cut to the closing credits.

All in all a strong episode to end the first season of one of the most enjoyable shows on TV. The ending was a nice cliff-hanger to carry us over into the second season (currently airing in the US) and there are plenty of questions left to be answered.

Marsha Thomason’s return was very satisfying after she just disappeared after the pilot and she is back as a series regular next year which can only help improve the show because she is a much better actress than Natalie Morales.

There were enjoyable moments peppered throughout the episode, mainly involving Peter and the evil Fowler. First Peter punching the crooked agent after he had Peter’s wife arrested and then when Peter shot him and was asked by Diana how he knew Fowler was wearing a vest he replied “I didn’t”.

The dynamics and interplay between all the characters on the show really is excellent and you get a feeling that the show is as fun to make as it is to watch which really does enhance your enjoyment.

There was a lot to squeeze into this episode and at times it did feel rushed but none of the wit and charm that has made the show so popular was sacrificed. The interaction between Bomer, Tim DeKay and Willie Garson is what really makes the show and there was plenty of that here in the finale.

White Collar really grew stronger as the season progressed and if they can carry on that momentum into season 2 then the USA network could have another big hit on its hands.


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