White Collar was poised to deliver a nail-biting and unbelievable season finale in "Under the Radar," but it quickly turned into a rather disappointing cliffhanger, with storytelling that left much to be desired.
Even so, it was still a pretty solid episode with some moments that were worth noting.
First, with the not-so-notable/praiseworthy content: I was all about pursuing Adler and finally getting the closure on the music box that fans so very much deserved, but not the way this episode went about it.
I found I was largely unimpressed by the reveal of the priceless art encased in the explosive-laced U-boat. While they added a rather interesting element of having Neal and Peter unlock the boat hatch, especially with the wire cutting attempt that tripped a timer, I was unimpressed by Alex’s last minute save.
Similarly, I thought Adler’s attempt to drown them was less dramatic than I was expecting, so I wondered why Alex and Neal, in a far from apparent life and death situation, thought it necessary to kiss? I understand that they needed to put the brakes on Sara and Neal just to keep the relationship development organic... but I was hoping the writers would be clever enough to do it some other way.
The most unbelievable part of this whole episode, though, was the cliffhanger that left viewers to believe that maybe Neal had been running a long con on Peter the whole time. It’s logistically impossible.
First of all, the minute they were retrieved from the docks, Neal, Peter and Alex were taken back to the FBI where they came up with a game plan. Alex left before anyone else; she’s obviously the one that did it. From there, Neal ended up at Peter’s for at least some part of the evening, and I simply have a hard time believing that he would have gone and wasted all of that trust building with Peter and all that internal self-reflection on Adler’s treasure.
He didn’t have enough time to even really covet the U-boat’s contents, nor could he have known where it was at the time. If anything, Alex was better poised to have been playing Adler, or at least I would think so. Second, Neal had to be given a key and an address to the storage facility. He didn’t even know where the stuff was.
Developmentally, I was not a fan of Peter and Neal’s little tiff at the end, where Neal walked off. It felt forced and too sudden. I get that Peter probably felt betrayed, but I thought they had developed more trust over this last half of the season. It just didn’t feel right.
Now the good stuff:
I have to say, as shallow as some of it was, I liked that they went ahead and addressed Sara and Neal’s moment at the end of “Power Play.” I think if they had waited to address it, that part of the plot might have taken away from what was happening on the Adler front, so I’m glad that Sara and Neal addressed it right away. They were cute, and I think it was fitting that there were a few moments where it was hinted at by Jones , Diana, Peter and Mozzie that they thought something was going on.
On that note, I also kind of liked that Peter invited them both to dinner with him and Elizabeth, but I think they were uncharacteristically overstating their relationship. It’s usually more subtle, but the writers kind of threw it out there awkwardly as if Sara and Neal would want a relationship where Sara affectionately patted Neal on the rear end. Don’t think it’s their style...
I did find it intriguing that Sara let Neal reveal he wasn’t completely over Alex, but still kissed him. It was like she took what Elizabeth said about loving Peter as he is to heart. As lame as it might sound, it gave me a little bit of hope for them; even though I’m hoping next season they don’t immediately have them making out like they did in “Power Play.”
If they could back it up with a little courting, I’d be into that. Similarly, I’m surprised Alex just up and left without really trying to put up any kind of fight for Neal, not that it was expected in this episode, but she just kind of disappeared to steal the U-boat treasure no doubt.
On another front, I loved Mozzie’s little moments. He was entertaining in his hesitance to get into the van and in his call for motion sickness medicine. I also liked his little speech to Sara about getting involved with con men.
Overall, this was not the kind of finale that will have me wondering a week from now what happened, nor do I have a distinct idea where the show will go now that the Kate's story is wrapped up. No doubt this show will continue to be impressive, as they have a great writing staff that’s awed and entertained us for two seasons. But this was finale I’ll probably forget about until the show comes back again.
What everyone else think?
C. Charles is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.