White Collar series finale

And so White Collar is officially over. Last episode. No more.

I figured that, since a couple people on my flist have mentioned they were on the fence about watching the last season and wanted to know what I thought of the finale, I'd give you a nonspoilery reaction under a cut, and then do the spoilery, more in-depth discussion under another cut. So, emotional reaction with no direct spoilers under the first cut, then all the spoilers under the second one.

I hated that ending with every fiber of my heart and soul. That is basically the opposite of everything I wanted. Fuck you FOREVER, show. >_>


That is CRUEL. Peter and Mozzie and everyone who cares about Neal spend a whole year grieving? And Diana is out of White Collar and New York? And Neal is legally dead, can never go home, and furthermore is now robbing the Louvre, i.e. has clearly gone back to a life of crime? And we never even got to see a reunion after Peter FINALLY (after a year of MISERY) figured out that Neal faked his death. NO NO NO NO DO NOT WANT.

(On top of that, for some reason Peter and El naming their son after Neal irritates the hell out of me, because while it's sweet in theory, I always hated it when fanfic did it and, come to find out, I don't like it any better in actual canon! Plus having two characters with the same name is going to be really annoying to write, assuming I write anything that takes this as actual canon -- but I'm really, really not good at selectively ignoring canon.)


What really burns me up about it is that he had a legal way out. They didn't have to do this. The entire thing with the Panthers as a threat to force him to fake his death is a fucking narrative cheat, and I feel like the show came thisclose to giving me the ending that I wanted most -- Neal gets the anklet off legally, and can come and go as he likes; the whole world is wide open for him -- AND FUCKING GAVE ME THIS INSTEAD.

I had thought the reset-to-status-quo ending I would hate the most was Neal being stuck on the anklet forever, but instead the reset-to-status-quo they picked was Peter and Neal going back to Neal-as-criminal, Peter-as-FBI-agent-chasing-him WITH A YEAR OF MISERY IN THE MIDDLE THERE and turns out I hate that one at least as much if not more! Just. fucking. no.

The one thing I will give the show, regarding that ending, is that it's wide open for sequels and post-canon fixits. Unfortunately, because of the time jump, it's impossible to remove a lot of the elements I hated most without going AU (did I mention THE YEAR OF MISERY THAT NEAL DELIBERATELY INFLICTED ON HIS LOVED ONES and also I HATE WHAT THEY NAMED THE BABY) but hey, the fanfic potential is great! There are absolutely TONS of ficcing potential. I mean, if you look at canon as a springboard for fanfic, they left it in a pretty good place for it.

Unfortunately for me, fanfic is usually secondary and canon comes first, and I am really, really displeased where actual canon left it.

So anyway. Yes. There we are. Tons of fanfic potential, as soon as I actually get to a point where I want to write fanfic because I'm no longer feeling like capslocking about my feelings of annoyance and betrayal all over the place. >_>

ETA: Or maybe I'll just end up writing a long AU version of the finale in which Peter figures out the "faked his own death" thing 5 minutes after the orderly gives him the key (because Peter is not stupid; hell, I knew it was the key to the storage unit as soon as the guy handed it over) and EVERYTHING WITH THE PANTHERS GETS FIXED SOMEHOW and then I'll pretend it's actual canon. /o\

This entry is also posted at http://sholio.dreamwidth.org/987865.html with comment count unavailable comments.
Okay, now I really want to send you a condolences card! D: That's terrible, that's just...agggh I didn't watch it but I hate it with you, and I'm glad I disengaged from the show before it ended. As much as I love presumed dead, I hate it when it's deliberate on the "dead" person's part, because it's so cruel.

...well, okay, sometimes I'm okay with it, I liked it when Sherlock Holmes (original flavor) did it, but that's because he's a jackass who honestly doesn't realize anybody loves him enough to grieve. Neal certainly should not think that! And not even having a reunion scene to make up for it, WTF show?!

So yeah, much sympathies and some empathy as well, and may your other fandoms make up for this! (maybe some good Winter Soldier stuff in comics?)
I REALLY WANT A CONDOLENCE CARD. *clings to you* (but not as much as I want an ending I don't hate to what USED to be my favorite show >_>)

But yeah, the main saving grace here is that I've been largely multifannish -- much more so than usual! -- for the last few months; I can always retreat into I-Man for a while, or jump back over to Bucky & co. Not to mention my original stuff! WC is not my only happy place. It's just frustrating that I'm not sure if it'll ever be a happy place for me again, and I'm so pissed about that. This used to be one of the few shows I felt like I could trust not to really break my heart, and then it went and did it, even though admittedly it didn't do it in a way that was irrevocable and unfixable in fic.

(I think one of the most deeply frustrating things about it is that I AGREE WITH YOU about Neal putting his loved ones through this. It's a cold, ruthless thing to do, even if he did it for noble reasons -- I mean, fuck, no matter his intentions, there's no reason to keep the charade going for a year while he's off living the high life on a bunch of stolen money in Paris. I've always felt like fandom wrote a softer, less sharp-edged Neal than canon gave us, but even I never saw him as this sharp-edged. And it's going to influence the way I write him; it can't not.)

.... oh dear god, on top of everything I just got an AO3 notif that this Winter Soldier/The Ring fusion I've been following (YES I'M NOT KIDDING) has posted an update. I'm not sure if this is what I need in my present frame of mind.
I'm sorry you were so disappointed by the end. I've been there.

At the moment I'm just full of emotions about the show ending to really have any proper thoughts. And I've never felt that way about the end of a series before. I'm going to miss the characters. For me I guess it's not that there was anything I didn't really like per se. It's just a desire for more of certain things.
My emotions are less negative than they were last night, but I'm still a giant emotion-ball.
Wow. Au version would be really balm for us. Personally, I don't think Neal is going to back-as-criminal because I would never believe him accidentally "forget" key. He left it to Peter, so it was not just key to the whole con, but his new location too. It's looking a lot like this for me. But one year for Peter Burke to understand that? Never! I know, they wanted baby to the show (and he is cute), but still... one year??? Definitely requires good long AU from my favorite author: -)

Edited at 2014-12-19 06:58 am (UTC)
Oh wow, that's a really good point about Neal leaving the key behind -- he's way too detail-oriented to have done it accidentally! Heh, and now I'm imagining Neal in Paris wondering what on earth is taking Peter so long, not realizing that Peter would be too lost in grief to even think about figuring out what the key goes to, until finally Neal had to send him another clue to get him on the right track again. :D
I don't think Neal is back to a life of crime. I think he is consulting with the places he (allegedly) robbed to upgrade their security. As for the key, I think Peter may have been too overcome by grief to notice it before. At first I thought Mozzie left the wine (and no way would Peter just drink from a random bottle left on his steps) but I just rewatched that part and Mozzie still seems upset. It does seem odd that he would come to the house the same day Peter spoke to him and even odder if Neal was watching them to leave the wine or have someone leave it for him and it just happened to be on that same night but I don't care. It leaves the whole thing open to follow ups if the show is ever picked up again or does a special. And once all the Pink Panther perish in prison Neal can come out of hiding. Baby Neal was a given but I still liked it and if needs be and the Pink Panthers don't conveniently die off Neal Jr can go study at the Sorbonne and they'll all be reunited!
I still think it looks a lot more like Neal's back to a life of crime, or at least is trying to, though Frith and I were tossing around the theory that Neal TRIES going back to a life of crime but doesn't find it satisfying anymore (which is a big part of my longstanding post-show headcanon for Neal anyway).

I assumed that Neal had contacted Mozzie at some point after Mozzie's conversation with Peter -- either that, or talking to Peter about the card game jogged loose something in Mozzie's brain and he figured out about the storage unit before Peter did. In any case, by the time Peter got to the storage unit I assume Mozzie had already been and gone, based on the card being there.
Yeah so. I have NOT watched any episodes this season yet, and I don't know what happens except for the ending -- Neal fakes his own death.

And your comments, which I've only skimmed so I'm not totally spoiled, confirm that my fears were justified. This is exactly why I have decided not to watch the last season until it's over and I'm emotionally prepared for it to give me something like this. Something that I also deeply truly DO NOT WANT. The very opposite of what I wanted was to have Neal going back to a life of crime (basically resetting to pre-season 1???) cut off from the people who care about him.

Yeah, pretty much. Veleda_k has a more optimistic take on it in the DW comments (depending on how spoiled you want to get) but, I dunno, I kinda just feel like I'm done for now. I think the last time I had this sudden a flip in my feelings on a show, from squee to NOPE in the span of one episode, was Torchwood. I don't think this is quite THAT bad, but ... this is not where I wanted the show to go, and knowing that it's going there colors how I view the entire character arcs from the last five seasons.

I didn't hate the ending quite as much, but I do have a separate gripe. I really am bothered by Eastin's interview with TVLine - that Neal's still that conman at heart, once a con always a con. Neal was annoyed at Moz's comment of people being incapable of change / they are who they are; he's said it himself that he's capable of going on the straight and narrow. It'd have been nice if they left the newspaper headline up to interpretation (eg Neal's now working as a security consultant for the Louvre) but Eastin pretty much ruled out these interpretations. Why??? Wonder what Matt and Tim thinks.

I'm really sorry that you hated the ending :( The fanfics that you've written over the years really are incredible, thank you so much for all of them. Thank you.
Thank you! (Aargh, Eastin. It's frustrating that the story he thinks he's been telling us over all these years apparently is not the story we've been seeing, and then when he gives us the ending for his version of the story, it's suddenly, weirdly out of place with the one we've been seeing in our heads. nnngggghhhh. Although I think I would've hated the open-ended ending that he describes in the article even more ...)
I don't think Neal went back to the life of crime; I think he's consulting at Louvre and other places. Other than that, I get where you're coming from.

Will be writing my own post on this later today.
Apparently creator word of god is that he's back to being a criminal -- as re: above comment -- but it's true that the show doesn't state it outright, so there's definitely room for interpretation!
I haven't seen it yet, but as someone's whose first major fandom had the biggest and baddest gutpunch ending EVERRRRRRRR (it took me something like 18 years to forgive everyone concerned!) I understand the feeling, and can safely say it'll probably take a while for us all to settle where we feel...
Did you see the end as Neal going back to a life of crime? I thought it was him getting a security consulting job.

And I pretty much saw through the faked death, but dear god did it wring sobs out of me. Though, TBH, there was really no need for all this drama. If the FBI had slapped on additional years to his sentence and generally been mean and cruel, maybe, yeah.

But mostly, this ep seems to me like a fanfic that was great till the middle. I want to rewrite it so that Keller's dead but Neal doesn't fake-die and instead gets rid of the bloodied shirt and gets out there and hugs Peter and trusts him to get him out of the FBI, because I get having to fake his death for Keller and the- oh god, please don't tell me that canon Neal is justifying his actions with the whole "the panthers will destroy your life" thing. He still didn't have to leave them alone for that long!!

And yeah, no. The Burkes' kid cannot be Neal. Just no.

But I am ALL for the Peter and Mozzie friendship! That is the only saving grace of this episode.

One more thing I hate - how consciously last episode this episode was. Callbacks to the beginning, goodbyes, I love yous - goddamn it, I've got one hour of my favourite show left, I want some new goddamned content, not to be reminded of things I've already seen!!! Because I can go back and rewatch those. This is the last hour of White Collar ever and you want to waste it on callbacks?!? No. Just no.

And really? After six seasons of brilliance, you expect Peter to conveniently forget the key for a year? Like, Peter is smarter than that, damn you. Stupid canon.

I have an advent fic (already a day late, dear god) to finish writing and other things to do but I really just want to rewrite this stupid finale. And no, I'm not going for a post-canon fixit. I'll start fixing things in the middle of the episode, because the presumed dead thing REALLY is not okay. Or believable. And, considering that this is TV, could never have been real.

But I have to say, I quite liked Neal's scene at the Burkes' house. Except the cappuccino in the clouds callback. Death to all callbacks.

(edited to add spaces and make this more readable - it was basically this ocean of text that even i didn't want to look at :P)

Edited at 2014-12-19 11:15 am (UTC)
(also, if Neal did all this to keep himself safe from the Panthers, what about Peter? Peter eventually became a member of the Panthers, and therefore a mole too. Why aren't hey ruining Peter's life? Oh, right, because this is a plot device that SUCKS MONKEY BALLS. The more I think about it, the more I hate it. UGHHH.)
I hate the ending too. I had a horrible feeling that this was where the season was ending and so, no, I didn't cry at Neal's body in the morgue because I KNEW it was faked. And hated it, completely and utterly!

Though I also interpreted the newpaper article as Neal was being a consultant, not that he'd gone back to crime. If I can ever bring myself to rewatch this, I'll have to check that more closely. And ignore what Eastin says about it. He's lost all credibility to me. He must have known this was NOT what the fans wanted, but did it anyway. Thank goodness I decided that Graceland was going downhill and stopped watching it - hate to think how he'd end that show whenever it gets cancelled.

I suppose I'll get used to the idea eventually, in some way, but this is one of those few exceptions to my normal dislike of 'fix it' fics. I want them. Lots of them. Like when I was a Blake's 7 fan.
Yeah; I've come around on the episode somewhat after discussing it with Frith today (see my other post for that -- it's much more cheerful!) but I still wish they'd given us a happier, less ambiguous ending, one that didn't involve Peter and Mozzie grieving for a YEAR (still not over that!) and Neal being separated from everyone he cares about.

On the other hand, I think a big part of my unhappiness with this episode is just that this is the end and we're never going to get closure for a lot of it. I mean, ending the series at the end of season three would've been just as bad (this is similar, actually, come to think of it) but I don't have bad feelings about that episode because we got resolution, reunions, and hugs afterwards. I think we really needed that this time, but didn't get it.

Oh well, I guess there's always fanfic, and right now I just want a ton of post-canon reunion fluff to get the bad taste out of my mouth.
Wooooow, so YEAH, this post (and all of the discussion below which I've also read) just drives home how glad I am I gave up the show when I did!

But ouch, so sooo much sympathy as yeah, bad finales, that are so wrong as to taint the rest of the show are the WORST!! *big big sympathy huggles*

Without even watching the ending, I feel neechan and I will have to add another room to that nice house boat we keep on that river in Egypt ^___-. Ah fan denial and fix-it-fic, where would we be with out it?

I was pondering it last night in bed and realized that this might end up being one of those shows where canon for me just stops at a certain point. Even though, unlike a lot of people, I loved season five, it was super depressing, and I had already almost broken up with the show in season four (which was, I guess, the season when I started realizing that the writers never intended Neal to go straight or learn from his mistakes, even though I kept hoping all the way to the end!). So, although there were individual moments and even whole episodes throughout the next three seasons that I loved, I'm thinking my personal White Collar might just stop in late season three.

Too bad the show was cancelled after three seasons; you never know what they might have done if they'd had more seasons to work with. XD

But yes, the hugs are most appreciated! It's the danger of fanning on an open canon, I guess. (They really SHOULD make condolence cards for this!) *hugs you back a bunch*

Well, I'm glad I clicked on your emotional reaction, because I thought I knew how this was going to end, and you'd probably have heard my screams from your home thousands of miles away if I'd watched that without warning. In my head, it has a happy ending. And maybe I will write it.

I haven't read all your spoilers, but I got as far a couple of paragraphs in and just NOOOOOOOO to everything, from what Neal did to naming the baby. My eyes keep jumping back up to see more, but I think it will only make me more upset. I had better absorb what I've already seen and come back later.

This is the kind of occasion where I need spoilers: when I'm looking forward to something that I think will be great and a lot of fun and someone warns me it will not be. I will probably watch at some point, but I'm sure as heck not going to be in a hurry, and it's not going to be the last thing I do before bed any night, and argh.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. I will be disappointed when I watch, but you have saved my throat from harm and my husband's eardrums from permanent damage and probably Daughter and several of the neighbors. I had been planning to watch as soon as possible, and you have saved me from a fate worse than a cliffhanger. Far worse. I went into the most recent episode of Sherlock unwarned, and I'm still angry about that.


Yeah; I'm feeling a bit better about it now -- I had a long internet-chat with Frith-in-Thorns this afternoon that helped me work through some of my unhappiness and find a way to think about the finale that didn't make me hate the show and everyone associated with it. This is really NOT the ending I wanted, but I think I can work with it, at least enough to write post-canon reunion fic to make me happy.

It's not the ending I wanted, but at least they didn't kill anyone off for real or end the show with everyone hating each other forever. So there's that.

(I think it's hilarious how the fluff-angst balance of what I want out of fanfic seems to change inversely with what the show gives me. Winter Soldier: ALL THE ANGST AND DARKNESS in canon, and I just want a million fanfics about people hugging Bucky. White Collar: sweet fluffy show, and I write terribly angsty fic right up until canon gives me a dark/angsty ending, so now I just want all the fluff and fixits forever.)

I was thinking of working up to watching the finale (I am a few episodes into season six) but your unspoiled reaction makes me think I should skip the finale....  I don't think I've seen such a reaction from you before.

I feel a lot better about it today, after talking it over with frith-in-thorns and finding a way of viewing the finale that makes me less unhappy. Some people liked it and some people didn't ... I'd say it's up to you! But I do feel better, more accepting about it and less inclined to let the finale taint the whole series for me, if that makes any sense. I'm not going to be watching it again anytime soon, but feeling I'm a little more okay about it.
ETA: Oops, just've seen your other post. Putting most of my comment under the cut now in case you don't want to wallow in misery again, because mine reaction is very similar to this post.

[Spoiler (click to open)]Agreed, worst ending they could’ve done. :(

FWIW, Matt said repeteadly that he wanted finale to be open to interpretation, so people can imagine whatever they want. So, screw Eastin’s interview. (“Once a con, always a con”, really? So people like Kramer and Keller were right all along, and no matter how you want to change you destined to stay who you are, there’s no hope – it’s the point of the show? And Neal being a thief is “more fun” than giving him a happy ending? No, screw that. All first seasons were about how people CAN change.)

But even without Eastin’s interview, it just not the fun show about unlikely partnership it once was. “Neal fleeing NY forever and not looking back, P&N never see each other again” was the ending I’d hated the most, and that’s exactly what we get… And I really hated how we saw Neal at the end, jaunty music and that con-smile. No real emotions, zero indications that he ever misses NY and his friends, that he feel bad for making them grieve… Could they at least had him looking at Peter and El’s picture or something? Also I fail to see why people think that “Neal is finally free”. He can never go back to NY and see his friends again – how the hell this is freedom? It’s no better than island escape in 3x16. It is still running.

Open ending with a coin would be better. At least there Neal gets real freedom, and we won’t really see P&N separated forever, which is a worst thing you can do in a show about *partnership*?

It’s like last two seasons tainted and declared a delusion everything they’ve build in first four. Like, “Doing something meaningful, being surrounded by people I care about and respect” and “I have a life here” is too painful to rewatch, knowing that none of that would matter at the end. What’s real upsetting it will gonna change the way people view and write Peter and Neal...

So, my White Collar had ended at season 4, and I refuse to accept S5-S6 as canon, period.

What I really want is a fic where this episode – scratch that, the last two seasons - was just someone's, Neal's or Peter's or both’s, nightmare, and when told, Neal’s reaction would be shocked ”God, it’s awful, I would never done this to you!”, and Peter’s equally shocked “I would’ve never done this to you too! Good thing it was just a dream. “ And then they go on back to the office to catch another bad guy, the end. *clings to that*.

*hugs* It sucks.

Edited at 2014-12-20 05:27 am (UTC)
*hugs back*!

I was thinking last night about going back to a point in the show's history and just deciding "nope, nothing from here to the end ever happened". XD Although for me, that point would be somewhere near the end of season three, because while there were individual moments and episodes in season four that I liked, I really hated a lot of it. (It was season four that convinced me Neal didn't really want to go straight and was probably never going to. Which I guess turned out to be true ...)

Anyway, yeah, I've found a way of looking at this episode and this season that makes me happy, but it's truly not the ending I would have chosen for them. I think in time, I can be okay with it (especially with all the fluffy reunion fic in the world!) but I still wish the show had rewarded us for our faithful viewership with a more unambiguously happy ending.
I'm still confused over what Mozzie knew and when. And why did the wine cork make Peter think to run upstairs and get the box? And why did it take brilliant detective Peter a whole year to realize that the key meant something? Was I just not paying close attention? (a very real possibility) I was happy enough with the ending (or at least not UNhappy), but I look forward to a lot of good fanfiction that will fix things up.
The wine cork had a number on it that was the same as the number on the storage unit key.

But yeah -- I think the thing about Peter not figuring it out for a year is that he was so deep in grief that he just didn't want to think about Neal at all, and it's possible that Neal thought he'd figure it out a lot sooner and sent the cork because Peter was CLEARLY NOT GETTING IT. Still, I wish he'd thought of it sooner rather than going through a year of grief first.