|Matt Bomer as Neal Caffrey|
“I spent the last decade of my life hiding from the truth; I’m finally ready to face it.”
~Neal to Sam
Wow. I didn’t think anything would beat Diminishing Returns for me this season, but Compromising Positions is at least as good. This is one of those episodes that gets everything right—yes, including the tension between Peter and Neal. This tension was tempered with bromantic banter and affection, and it didn’t feel false or tacked on. On the contrary, it grew out of legitimate differences between Peter and Neal, and it was possible to see where both men were coming from.
The episode begins with the elusive Sam making contact with Neal (who, we learn, was initially named Neal Bennett). Without giving Neal much to go on, Sam leaves him with the impression that the men who killed Ellen have somehow infiltrated the FBI.
Mozzie advises Neal to tell the Suit everything. Yes, you read that correctly. He is the voice of reason here; he doesn’t trust this Sam, but he does trust Peter. He almost makes up for so often being the devil—excuse me, imp—on Neal’s shoulder.
Neal approaches Peter about Sam, but he knows that anything above board—i.e., anything involving the Bureau—will scare Sam off. Peter, meanwhile, is not the black-and-white guy he was in the Pilot, but neither is he willing to go completely unofficial where this Sam is concerned.
This puts Neal in a tight spot. He wants to meet Sam again. Moreover, he doesn’t want to put Peter in a position that might endanger his career. And that’s the source of the tension in this episode. It works.
But why does Neal put his faith in Sam when he knows next to nothing about the guy? Presumably because Ellen told him, with her dying breath, to trust him. All right. I guess Neal gets a pass on this one. But I wonder what his naiveté will cost him.
And one thing confuses me. Have we learned that Neal’s father is dead? I’m under the impression that he confessed to a murder and is currently rotting in prison. If he is still alive, why isn’t Peter arranging for Neal to see him? Or, if that’s not possible because of Neal’s radius, arranging to see the man himself? Or, heck, they could send Sara or Mozzie to visit him. Can anyone straighten me out on this point?
Unless Neal’s father is also somehow under witness protection.
(I have heard fans speculate that Sam is Neal’s father. This cannot be, for clearly only Pierce Brosnan can play that part. We’re all agreed on this, right?)
But back to the episode. The non-mythology part involves an “executive consultant” named Shepard or—as Mozzie coins her—“Lady Fixer.” This woman is sharp; she pegs Jones as “seeking daddy’s approval through over-achievement.”
Shepard has ties to Sara; ties that Sara is willing to sever when she discovers that Shepherd is blackmailing a prosecutor and jeopardizing one of Peter’s cases. This leads to some zany and delightful scenes, one of which involves photographs of Peter and Sara in compromising positions together. The pictures are staged, of course, with Elizabeth directing and Neal shooting.
Meanwhile, Neal gets to fulfill a dream of testifying for the prosecution! And he’s good! Better yet, his testimony brings some early-episode banter between Peter and Neal full circle, showing us more about each character in the process.
And as for Sam—well, Peter’s no fool. He has a strong inkling of what Neal is up to by the end of the episode; we’ll see how that plays out next week.
So what did you think, Collars? Did the tension between Peter and Neal work this time? Did you enjoy the episode as much as I did? Let us know!