I finished watching this a while ago, even though Netflix doesn’t have the last season- Come on Netflix, 6 lousy episodes… I would love to know how this ends, but since I don’t, I will kindly remind all of you, that anyone who spoils the ending for me, will meet an untimely death somehow…
The first five seasons are pretty good, actually. For me, they vary a lot. Some episodes are awesome, all the way through, while some feels a little uninspired or farfetched. Some storylines are very weak, while some are truly fantastic.
This is a series that usually has a “one case pr episode” format, which means that it is a lot of cons and crimes we go through, and most of them works quite well. The underlying storylines make or break the story and the characters for me.
To be brief, we have a convicted conman, Neal, who is released on an electronic monitoring device. As long as he helps the FBI solve their cases, he can escape jail. And we have the FBI agent, Peter, who is in charge of Neal. Then we have Neal’s best friend Mozzie, who is mostly the awkward but strikingly intelligent guy behind the scenes and Peter’s wife, Elizabeth, who is an awesome female character.
I have to say, she made the series worth watching for me, to begin with. The way she is never jealous, and always trusts her husband, is a refreshingly new take on women in general. She too, is very fast to embrace Neal, when he enters their life, even if she sometimes makes him do things, he shouldn’t.
Peter is a great character as well. Most of the time, he is actually the best character of the show. He quickly grows fond of Neal, but he never trusts him, and whenever Neal does do things he isn’t supposed to do, Peter always suspects. He is a great counterpart to the conman, because he is so specialized in Neal that it is almost impossible for Neal to do illegal things as long as Peter is around.
Mozzie isn’t a great character for me. In many ways, he outsmarts Neal, and crowds his space and his character. If they are trying to “sell” Neal, as this highly intelligent conman, he falls short to his companion most of the time. That said, once you accept that Mozzie is simply more conning and more devious than Neal, you do start to like him after all.
Neal himself is a slightly pale character. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he gets a very long way by simply looking awesome and displaying his charming smile when need be, but the character itself isn’t as strong as the others. Neal lacks definition. He responds to pressure, in very different ways throughout the series, for instance. At first, he always fights back, and if someone is trying to blackmail him, he turns the table on them and makes sure that he gets what he wants, if he is to do anything. But through the series, he ends up being played all of a sudden, letting himself get caught in series of events that he is not in control of, which to me, is a huge character breach.
He could have been awesome, and most of the time, he sort of is, but I can’t help but feel that a guy like Neal could have had so much more potential and he has to be much harder to force to do anything, than he is, by the end of season 5.
I will admit, I did watch this series, mostly because I love the relationship between Peter and Neal. I love how they clearly love each other, but they can never trust of rely on each other. I love how Neal keeps doing stupid things, risking his own future, to keep Peter out of harm’s way, and I love how Peter has to make some really hard choices once in a while, about the system he believes in, vs the man he knows only broke the rules, with the best of intentions. And I love it that Neal is hardly ever that innocent. It may seem that he only breaks the rules when he has to, but he does usually have some ulterior motives that Peter never knows about. That dynamic is really good and makes the series worth watching.
The first underlying storyline, the Kate story, doesn’t work for me, and it nearly had me turn off the show before it got started. To be honest, if Matt Bomer, (Neal) had not been so cute, I may have not given it much of a chance, simply because of the schizophrenic way the show handles the Kate story. One episode, she is a good girl, being forced, one episode, she is not forced and totally working her own agenda, clearly not loving Neal at all, even ready to sacrifice him if need be, and then, in the end, the script writers saw no way out, so they killed her off. At least that is what I took away from that whole storyline.
The other underlying storylines are much better, especially with the lost Nazi submarine and the treasure that Mozzie steals and Neal gets blamed for… That is pretty cool, most of the time.
I am not a huge fan of the Curtis Hagen storyline in season 5. Again, I feel that Neal’s character suffers greatly from being forced into that story, but I do find if funny to meet the King of Hell (Supernatural,) everywhere. Mark Sheppard is a cool actor and I was slightly disappointed when he was in the very first episode and then was written out, so I was glad to see him again. If only the story had allowed Neal to fight back, much more than he does…
Still, I am looking for season 6, since Netflix doesn’t have it, and I have to know how this ends, even if I am afraid that come the final final, it will break up Neal and Peter. This doesn’t feel like a series that can end by Neal being released as a reformed man, and going on to live happily and law abidingly ever after.
Which is another great thing about it. This series manages to have a main character who isn’t a good guy, but who we all love anyway, and even if he once in a while decides to change and never commit crimes again, his past keeps pulling him back in. He simply cannot change, and he cannot walk away from what he did in the past, no matter how much he wants to, and over time, he stops trying, accepting that there can be no reformed life for him. That is a very sad storyline, if you think about it. One that may very well be more true, than we would all like to believe.
So should you watch it? Yeah. The only thing that gets really annoying over time, is the tiny suits and way too tight shirts, Neal is wearing. Imagine if he was wearing clothes that actually fit him… He might not look like he had bigger breasts than me, then…
I am sorry, that is irrelevant, I know. But it does bother me, when I am watching a show like this one. It is actually not based on sex, which is kind of refreshing for a change, there is hardly any kissing, nude, or sex scenes in it. Still, Neal hardly needs to be nude, with the shirts he is wearing. Especially in the last season, when he starts wearing tight t-shirts instead of suits half of the time. That kind of ruins some of the show for me. He is a white collar criminal. I get it, he doesn’t have to wear white collar’s all the time, but still, it feels a little like when the kids at Hogwards suddenly stopped wearing school uniforms in the third movie, and started wearing ordinary clothes. Wrong. Like it ruins some of the integrity of the set up of the story.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the “gay look,” (okay no diplomatic way of saying that, but I do instantly think gay, whenever someone is wearing suits like the ones Neal are wearing,) but not so much in a straight character… Not to mention the leather jacket…
It kind of bugs my eye instantly and makes Neal a harder character for me to relate to, because a small part of him doesn’t ring true.
One day though, it would be nice to have a guy like Neal, and let him be gay… But I guess not. Criminal, sure, we’ll forgive him that… No, I’ll be fair now. This show actually have a gay, female character, who is hands down, the coolest FBI agent of the team.
And maybe I am just damaged from working with problem horses all of my life, and only surviving by becoming obsessively good at reading body language. I just can’t help it, I am crazy like that. But I could have overlooked most of Neal’s body language, if it hadn’t been for his shirts… And to be fair, Matt doesn’t have an extremely feminine body language, even I, probably wouldn’t have noticed, if it hadn’t been for his clothes… As a straight character, he doesn’t work for me, in this show.
But then again, I can always hope that he runs off with Peter or Mozzie in the end… As long as I haven’t watched the last final, there is still hope, right?