Wednesday, January 30, 2013

First Thoughts: Brass Tacks


Neal can even fake being an architect . . .
There were so many good individual elements in this episode—but that doesn’t excuse the jaw-dropping plot hole in the middle of it.

We all know this show likes to drive a wedge between Peter and Neal periodically. I think it’s high time for the show to grow out of that; Peter and Neal have been through too much together. But this episode almost—almost—came up with a legitimate reason for the wedge.

After someone tampers with the brakes in Peter’s car and lands him in the hospital, Elizabeth is terrified for her husband's life. She figures out that this attack is connected to the corrupt senator Peter and Neal are investigating and the key to Ellen’s evidence box. (Both investigations are tied to Ellen’s murder and the framing of Neal’s father for cop-killing.) There’s nothing Elizabeth can do to stop Peter from charging ahead with the investigation into the senator, but she orders Neal to keep Peter away from the key and whatever evidence it unlocks.

Neal protests that he can’t lie to Peter—it’s good to see him come back to that ideal, even if he’s never quite lived up to it—but El doesn’t care. She tells him to lie to Peter’s face if he has to.

Ok. Wow. That’s a fascinating side of El. And I can see her point.

But here’s the problem: Mozzie and Neal plot to keep any real information about the key away from Jones, who has been investigating the key with Moz. But Jones figures out their plot and tells Peter. So when Neal follows El’s orders and lies to Peter’s face, Peter turns to El right afterward and lets her know what happened—he lets her know that Neal lied. It’s obvious that Peter is devastated.   

Now it’s time for El to say, “Honey, I wanted to keep you from investigating the key. It’s too dangerous. I told Neal to lie.” The whole lie-to-Peter’s-face thing, after all, only works if Peter isn’t aware of the lie. But she doesn’t! She keeps silent.

This makes no sense.  Once Peter knows that Neal is lying, the lie doesn’t protect him. Peter is going to keep investigating the key—and he and Jones have all the same information that Neal and Moz have.

It isn’t clear how much Peter tells Elizabeth about continuing this investigation. But that doesn’t matter. Elizabeth is smart—Peter likes smart—and she knows her husband.  She knows he won’t let this go. And if he has enough information to know that Neal’s lying, he has enough info to keep on digging.

So now the lie isn’t protecting Peter. In fact, it serves no purpose—except, of course, the show’s mantra that ‘we must drive a wedge between Peter and Neal at all costs. Even when it makes no sense.’

And the really painful thing? This would have all made sense, if only Peter had stayed in the dark; if only he had accepted Neal’s lie. (Jones was just too awesome for this episode’s own good—see below.)

On top of that, this episode deserves another mini-rant. We needed to see Neal and Peter have a ‘moment’ at the hospital, however briefly. It never happened. We were robbed.  

Ok, the rants are off my chest. Here’s some of the good stuff:

1. Hughes was back! Unfortunately, I’m not sure when we’ll see him again. His departure presumably makes way for Emily Procter’s character. (I guess we'll find out next week.)

2. Jones was seriously awesome in this ep. The fact that he outsmarted Moz caused a major plot hole (see above)—but he was still brilliant.

3. We saw Moz use a conspiracy theory on the fly to help foil the evil senator (even though said senator remained unfoiled at the end of the ep.)

4. There are some clever pop culture and biblical references (even though Moses does not mean son in ancient Hebrew. Per Wikipedia, there is a theory that it might mean something like ‘child’ or ‘born’ in ancient Egyptian, however. )

All right, Collars, those are my thoughts. How about you? Are you ranting about this ep, raving about it, or something in between?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I understand Elle's decision to tell Neal to lie if it protects Peter; however, since almost the very beginning of the series she's also cared about Neal's well-being... where did that go? Does she suddenly not even care enough to advise him to stop looking into the key?

Also, I see what you mean about the plot hole, but it really was just caused by Jones being sneaky. Even if Elle told Peter she really didn't want him to look into it, I think he would've found some way to anyway.

And we were DEFINITELY robbed of our hospital scene.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree about El telling Neal to lie to Peter NOT being a good idea. As Peter himself has said, lying to him is never protecting him. And now we're back to Neal and Peter having competing investigations in secret... again. Kind of a broken record. El really needs to come clean to Peter on this. I agree with the post point that there were a lot of good points to this ep - but El demanding that Neal lie to Peter is just a clunker.

CJ

Anonymous said...

I just found it really not-believeable that Elizabeth would react the way she did. I get that she wants to keep Peter safe, but both she and Neal are smart people. Smart enough to know that keeping Peter in the dark is not the way to protect him! I mean, why does Elizabeth think the car sabotage had anything to do with Peter helping Neal? It just doesn't make sense on so many levels. Plus, it hadn't even occurred to me until you pointed it out, but it is pretty callous of El to not care about Neal's safety as he pursues the key.

Also, the car accident itself... I know Neal constantly twits Peter about his driving, but seriously, the man's a federal agent! I haven't been behind the wheel of a car in a couple years, and even *I* can think of several other things Peter should have done to prevent/avoid/minimize the accident. Gah!

For the record, I absolutely believe that Neal would lie if El asked him to. It's actually a fairly clever way to re-introduce some of the dis-trust that the writers think is essential to the show. I just wish they'd done it in a way that didn't seem so contrived.

There were a lot of things to love about this epi (Jones and Mozzie together, Diana undercover, how freakishly alike the Keymaster and the Swiss Army Baby looked), but overall I'm just left feeling frustrated with how contrived and unbelievable it felt to me. Of course, I'm also dealing with a lot of stress and frustration in my real life, so it's possible I'm unfairly projecting it a bit onto WC. Ah well, still love the show; always looking forward to next week's epi. --m

Anonymous said...

Maybe somewhere in Elizabeth's mind the shock of seeing her husband hurt, knowing that someone meant to kill him, has shaken her into seeing Neal as the root cause of all of this and she's reaching for a way to protect Peter from Neal's influence. It's probably why there was no chance for that hospital room scene we all dream about. She had to be in the room to protect Peter, to make sure Neal kept his promise to her.

Or maybe it's just her turn to make the stupid mistake that drives the two of them apart. Anyway, it's good that it's not Peter's fault this time -- I get so tired of that. Maybe next time it could be Diana's cluelessness, or June's.

Anonymous said...

I might have bought that El pulls the brakes this time around...I mean since her husband started hanging around Neal, he has been suspended, has been under review a couple of times, he has been kidnapped, she has been kidnapped - it's a wonder she didn't reach her breaking point earlier. But what I don't get that even if she decides that keeping Peter in the dark is a good thing and worth him being hurt about Neal's betrayal, why doesn't she warn Neal that Peter is onto him? (Unless they have in the next episodes Neal and El conspiring together....than I might excuse this....)

Anonymous said...

I couldn't see this epi so I want to say thank you for your review. I think that El just try to protect Peter - I love how the series shows the wife/husband love- and of course this give the drama and angst for the Peter/Neal relationship, so, in certain way it works. But what have me in distress is the fact that Hughes reappears...and goes?? THIS really brokes my heart, because we know that the show is Peter/Neal so even with fights, they always will be togheter -I hope!!- but, what happened with Hughes??? Please tell me!

J. Rosemary Moss said...

@ Anon 8:56 My issue is not that El tried to protect Peter--it's that she didn't tell Peter the truth once Neal's lie failed to protect him. (Nor, as Anon 7:45 points out, did she tell Neal that the lie didn't work.)

I don't mind El being protective, but I do mind her behaving so foolishly. Neal lying is not protecting Peter now. Come on, show--she's smarter than this!

Re Hughes: the corrupt senator pulled some strings to force him into retirement. I hope it's not the last we see of him!

Anonymous said...

This was BY FAR one of my least favorite episodes in a long time. I felt Elizabeth was out of character and the whole thing was contrived to keep tension between Peter and Neal. It's rare for me to walk away from White Collar saying, "That was dumb," but that's exactly what I did with this episode. Dumb dumb dumb. Hoping next week makes up for it, but not hopeful, unless El fesses up.

Anonymous said...

As much as I disagreed with what El did, there is precedent for it (when she told Neal to ignore Hughes and do whatever he had to get Peter back in "Payback")so it didn't seem OOC. That and then not copping to having instigated the lie make her more human...she was the only character seemingly without flaws. I just hope that, when the truth comes out, Peter gives her the "you don't lie to protect me" speech he has given Neal in the past. Plus, it sets us up for a major "make up" scene with the boys later on, g.

Can't even talk about the possible loss of Rebhorn. *wails* REBHORN! Sorry. Love that man.

Good episode.

Nero

Anonymous said...

I agree this episode had great moments, but as a whole was disappointing. It just didn't hold together. Elizabeth was totally out of character. I know she was afraid for Peter, but Having Neal lie to him was just cruel to Neal. It wasn't going to make Peter any safer. Anon 11:07 said Peter should give her the "don't lie to me" speech, but she already gave it to him in "On the Fence" when Peter didn't tell her Keller was back.

I thought the Peter Scolari character was fun, but wasted too much time. I'd so much rather see Neal and Mozzie working together.

Anne said...

I know that a lot of you guys don't like when there is distrust between Neal and Peter. I however, happen to agree with the writers that the show works best when there is tension between the two. That is what makes this show different from all the other 'buddy-shows' on TV. And I think the writers managed to create some new distrust in a believable way this week.

I did not find El to be out of character in the least. Yes, she likes Neal a lot, but, she loves Peter more than anything and I find it completely believable that keeping him safe would be her top priority. Even if that means asking Neal to lie (to be honest I don't think this was particularly 'cruel' to Neal - Neal may prefer not to lie to Peter but he has done it before). I also don't find it strange that she did not advice Neal to stop investigating the key and looking for the evidence box - she knows that won't happen so what would be the point!

In regards to whether it was a smart move to ask Neal to lie... Well, in hindsight it obviously wasn't as Peter (or rather, Jones) was not fooled. But El couldn't know that it would not work when she told Neal to lie. Plus, while El is undeniably smart, it is natural that she would act out of fear in that situation and thus not completely think things through.

When Peter told El that he knew Neal was lying, I did wonder for a second whether she might tell him that it was because she asked Neal to. However, Peter does not (at least not that we hear) tell El that he knows anything more about the key (i.e. what Jones has told him) only that he knows Neal is lying. My assumption, when watching, was that El only though Peter realized Neal was lying because of his 'gut-detector' not because he knew what Mozzie had actually found out about the key. Thus, she thinks Peter will still be safe since she assumes that while Peter knows Neal is lying, Peter will still be out of the loop.

Overall, I thought it was a nice episode. Not up there among the top ten ones but still very entertaining.
- I am really excited about how this whole Pratt thing is going to go down. I think we are going to see some awesome 'slingshooting' going down.
- Loved Jones in this episode. I am especially glad that Jones got to outsmart Mozzie - he is an underutilized character in my opinion.
- Hughes was awesome, but I really hope this does not mean goodbye forever.
- Whether you like the way El was written here or not, I think Tiffany Thiessen did some great acting in this episode.
- I am really glad that we got some clarifications about the key. It has been bugging me why Neal was looking for the key and not for the evidence locker (I mean, Neal doesn't generally need a key to get past a lock). It makes a bit more sense now that the key is the 'map' I guess...

A couple of things about this episode that could have been better: First of all, they could definitely have milked the accident for some more drama and hurt/comfort. I agree with the rest of you that a nice hospital scene with hurt Peter and worried Neal would have been awesome. Second of all, I think too much time was spent on the key story-line which meant that the Pratt-Edwards corruption case and Neal going undercover as an architect part of the story felt kind of skimmed over...

Anonymous said...

But here’s the problem: Mozzie and Neal plot to keep any real information about the key away from Jones, who has been investigating the key with Moz. But Jones figures out their plot and tells Peter. So when Neal follows El’s orders and lies to Peter’s face, Peter turns to El right afterward and lets her know what happened—he lets her know that Neal lied. It’s obvious that Peter is devastated.


Now it’s time for El to say, “Honey, I wanted to keep you from investigating the key. It’s too dangerous. I told Neal to lie.” The whole lie-to-Peter’s-face thing, after all, only works if Peter isn’t aware of the lie. But she doesn’t! She keeps silent.


I'm glad that you at least could see El's point of view. I don't agree with her actions, but I can understand them.

My own suspicion regarding what you see as a 'plot hole' (and I have nothing to back this up...I hope it really does happen) is that maybe El is going to try to encourage and/or distract Peter from the key. When she's unsuccessful, maybe she'll fess up.

As of the end of this episode, she's probably just coming down off the emotional rollercoaster of almost losing Peter -- again. This would be the second time in two or three years where he was injured enough to be hospitalized, and she's nearly lost him to kidnappings several other times over the past few years.

I think it's ok for her to have a breakdown, and to be imperfect...

Which brings me to my next point: My distaste for fandom reaction to El.

She has used Neal in the past. Someone said she has been ruthless...she's demanded that Neal put himself on the line for Peter in the past, regardless of the consequences to himself. She has pointed out that he owes Peter. This demand that came from her was not OOC.

It's strange and uncomfortable because we like El and how awesome she is normally. And normally she's all about helping Neal out.

But as she proved last night, she is more than a quiet, supportive wife who gallantly steps aside in favor of the bromance. She is Peter's wife and chosen lifemate, and she would do anything in her power to protect him, because (in a way that is endearingly similar to Neal), Peter is not always cautious when it comes to dealing with Neal.

So I see El's actions as similar to what Peter does whenever he tries to step in the way of Neal's sometimes destructive actions. She may be wrong to do so (as Peter often is), but she has legitimate reasons for doing it.

And finally, I find it very frustrating that fans are complaining about El's disregard for Neal's feelings, while they basically write off El's emotions as unimportant. Just because she happens to be female does not mean that she has to be forgiving and kind and generous to Neal (and to everyone else) at all times. She's tough and smart, and she's allowed to feel pain and to make mistakes.

Everyone on the show has made them. Neal has made plenty that people are willing to excuse. I think El deserves at least a little of that same regard.

As a totally unrelated note, Tim DeKay, despite being in very little of this episode, was pretty amazing, especially from the moment Peter woke up in the hospital till the end scene. He played Peter so well after Neal lied to him that it nearly made me cry. -pets him- Poor Peter. :-(

~Surreal

Anonymous said...

Wow I loved this episode! Stakes! There is actually a big bad who scares me. As much as the Neal/El thing hurt I was so pleased to see her portrayed as flawed and human. Even if Peter saw through the law, she doesn't know Jones put him on the same path as Neal. For all she knows Peter is following a completely different line of investigation. Not totally logical, but given her fear? Understandable.

The resolution of this all is going to be so emotional! I cannot wait.

I would seriously follow Hughes into battle, awesome. I also adore him because he was one of the few characters not enamoured of Neal, and yet he was never mean to him. I've always thought Hughes didn't buy Neal's commitment to the FBI but that he did buy and accept Neal's loyalty to Peter. He recognized that bond, even if he didn't understand it (or particularly like or understand Neal).

Jones and Mozzie were unbelievably cute!

Anonymous said...

My favorite part of this episode was Neal in the blue blazer!

Anonymous said...

Este episodio fue interesante para mi gusto, desde la semana anterior lo esperaba ( el accidente de Peter!! casi me da un yeyo).
Ahora el nuevo villano es un personaje que me da mucha curiosidad, se ve que tiene poder e influencias poderosas tanto que consiguió sacar a Hughes del camino y dada la historia este personaje siento que afecta a Neal más de lo que él quiere reconocer y ahora que va a ir a espaldas de Peter creo que se puede meter en muchos líos, lo que me lleva a la escena con Elizabeth en el hospital en lo personal entiendo el accionar de ella ya que aunque le cae bien Neal y le tiene aprecio desde el primer capítulo ella dijo que llevaba años compitiendo con él y desde que empezó a formar parte de la vida cotidiana de ellos ha sufrido: secuestros de su marido y ella, se han metido en su casa y puesto micrófonos , Peter ha sido investigado y casi despedido y por ultimo han intentado matarlo , ahora que aparece el padre de Neal y con él un montón de líos muy pero muy peligrosos ella tiene miedo de perderlo y aunque siempre se muestra dulce se ha podido observar en varios capítulos que ella tiene un carácter fuerte y decidido y lo va a usar para proteger al amor de su vida.
Tiene mucho sentido para mí el que ella no le confesara a Peter que ella le pidió a Neal que le mintiera a la cara si fuera necesario cuando él descubre la mentira de Neal , porque bueno después de todo está haciendo lo que ella le pidió y sería ilógico que le digiera a la primera cuando ella piensa que es lo mejor para Peter, creo que se lo dirá pero me preocupa que sea cuando la relación de Peter con Neal este muy deteriorada y ella se dé cuenta de la relación tan profunda que hay entre ellos ( entiéndase como tipo: padre/hijo mi favorito, hermanos, FAMILIA) y sienta culpa por causar mella entre ellos, también pienso que Peter podría sentirse traicionado por ella , aunque la perdonaría por que la ama y entenderá que ella tenía miedo de perderlo.
Los momentos que épicos fueron ver a Mozz y jones juntos me encanta ver a Mozz forzado a trabajar con los trajeados debo confesar que este personaje es buenísimo su paranoilla e inteligencia son una mezcla maravillosa.
La tica

J. Rosemary Moss said...

@La tica:

Hi La tica! ¡Gracias por tus palabras! Pero no estoy de acuerdo con vos, lol.

Comprendo por qué Elizabeth Neal quiere mentir. Pero sólo a primera. Más tarde, no creo que ayude. Elizabeth debe saber que Peter todavía está en peligro, porque él no cree que Neal. Peter todavía quiere investigar.

Para mí, Elizabeth debe confesar. (Porque la mentira no protege a Peter ahora.)

“. . . También pienso que Peter podría sentirse traicionado por ella , aunque la perdonaría por que la ama y entenderá que ella tenía miedo de perderlo.”

Sí. Aquí estoy de acuerdo con vos.

Y me gusta Jones y Mozzie también. :D

Anonymous said...

Happy to read in spanish!! Pero debo confesar que extrañaré a Hughes mas que a nada, ojalá no se vaya!!!

J. Rosemary Moss said...

@ Anon 7:54 !Hughes debe volver! ¡Por favor, White Collar!

Anonymous said...

Ugh, I'm sorry but this whole El driving a wedge between Peter and Neal is going to get old fast. I guess I could understand her rationale, but it really doesn't make sense in the context of the character. She's always been the force encouraging Peter to have faith in Neal, and now she's letting their relationship suffer at her hands? Clearly Peter was hurt that Neal had lied, and she just sat there and kept her mouth shut.

Anonymous said...

I can see the El-telling-Neal-to-lie plot line blowing up one of two ways: 1. Neal ends up in danger because of the key; Peter laments the fact that if Neal hadn't lied, he wouldn't be in danger; Elizabeth tearfully admits her force behind Neal keeping Peter out of the loop. 2. Peter ends up in danger because of the key; Elizabeth flips out on Neal for not keeping Peter safe; Neal adamantly denies involving Peter.

Anonymous said...

Moses doesn't mean "son." It means "drawn from the water." I am still trying to figure out why they didn't just use a name that made sense.