Monday, February 27, 2012

White Collar - 3.16 - Judgment Day - Preview

White Collar airs the season 3 finale this Tuesday at 10/9 C on USA Network.

I love White Collar on a weekly basis but what really gets my excitement going is the finales. Whether they are midseason or end-of-season, White Collar always manages to raise the stakes high. SPOILER ALERT for previous seasons: After all, this is the series that in season 1 gave us the Peter wears "the" ring cliffhanger and Kate's death to ponder. In season 2, we had Mozzie shot and then the treasure that didn't blow up. Midseason 3 we were left with Elizabeth kidnapped. To say I went into this episode with high expectations is to master the understatement. Once again, the White Collar crew did not disappoint. At the episode's conclusion, I sat in stunned silence while my mind raced to catch up. Where in the world can they possibly go from here?

After a lengthy set of previouslies, the episode begins with Neal in front of the review board. He's charming and the head of the investigation is impressed with his research and paperwork. A 94% conviction rate is nothing to sneeze at and Keller was apparently big fish to catch. Still she's not going to be sucked in by a conman so she exposits the details for us. A list of witnesses will speak, then Neal, and ending with Peter. Neal will know in 2 days whether he's a free man or anklet-bound. Investigator: "This is impressive Mr. Caffrey. I hope the real you lives up to who you are on paper." Neal: "I hope to exceed your expectation." Pushing a bit hard there Neal.

Back at the loft, he joins Mozzie for a post-interview cocktail where he waxes nostalgic over New York and misses crucial details like Kramer speaking at his hearing. I know Neal has a lot on his mind lately, but seriously. Who doesn't carefully peruse the witness list when it will determine freedom or indentured servitude? I eye roll but move on because I adore Mozzie and his utter pessimism. Neal: "Isn't there a child whose balloon you need to pop somewhere?" Ha! Contrast that to Elizabeth's silver lining attitude and you know why I love Mozzie and her together. She makes 2 cakes - one for freedom and one for anklet.

Since all that was been released in sneak peeks, it shouldn't be a shock that the heart of the story comes in the next scene. In an episode of surprises, my first "Wow, didn't see that coming" happens right before the title card. Peter's as stunned as I am. It's a bit jarring to flip back to the hearing after that jaw dropping moment but June is fantastic in her defense of Neal. My biggest chuckle of the night is a June classic. Writers, please give this woman more airtime! That goes also for Elizabeth who instinctively recognizes the real problem and lays it all on the line for viewers. She also demonstrates the greatest understanding of the complicated relationship between Peter and Neal. It's a tossup whether I love Elizabeth or June more in this episode.

Things all go south when a kiss-up Neal gets suspicious and plays with his lock pick. Finding out Kramer broke the code in his Kate letters, Neal is backed into a corner. Peter knows Neal well and he's right to call Neal trapped a wild card. In a race against time to rectify old wrongs, the past comes to light leading to intriguing revelations and testing loyalties. In the end, it all comes down to what would you risk, for whom, and why. This finale is more understated than most, but it doesn't pull its punches and the Pandora's box it opens will have me questioning how the writers are going to get out of this one until the summer season begin.

Biggest shock: While there are 3 huge moments where I exclaimed "Didn't see that one coming," the biggest shock for me was Sara. Most are quite aware that I don't like this character. On my generous days I find her highly implausible and a distraction. On most days she's annoying and a screeching tire halt to any action. In this episode, I actually liked her, which is good because she is the linchpin to a large part of the story and she takes her stand at a crucial part. She's not the only one, as 2 other characters put their jobs on the line to help Neal too.

Best relationship: Mozzie and Neal. Again I adore Mozzie, but I know a lot of people were fed up with him over the treasure. I think those same people will come around to the pro-Mozzie side again. Mozzie has always been loyal but he is a rock in this episode, including in a "chase of the wild goose variety."

Best teaser of what could happen in season 4: In his attempt to rectify the past, Neal meets with a person he hasn't seen since he was 18 years old. He's needs to "open a door (he) didn't want to open." Young Neal is adorable; his story not so much. There's a lot of back history and we only see the smallest glimpse.

Best line: "You'll make it." / "It's not over yet."

Best moment (tie): Peter goes all big brother on Neal, complete with a "Wow" moment. It's these scenes that make the show. / The return of Lolana discussion. Again Mozzie rocks while my jaw drops!

Other great moments:

Peter the schemer
Neal's speech (both of them)
A product placement moment that actually works for me.

Things I Learned:

There are 19,364 Main Streets in America.
Neal has a multimillion dollar debt.
Sometimes what you don't say changes everything. (i.e. the shake)
Neal not lying is more entertaining than most stories.
Some bosses are awesome! (Bwah!!!)
There is a great need to suspend belief while watching this show. (Wait. I already knew that.)
The director has a fascination with fidgety body parts.
I hate Kramer more than I ever hated Fowler.

Don't forget to watch Judgment Day on USA Network this Tuesday at 10/9 C.

Pictures by USA Network, Defective Geeks, and SpoilerTV.

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