WhiteCollar-Peter with gun

The OTHER thing I've been thinking about lately ...

... during my recent anchorite periods of not socializing on the Internet ...

.... is how remarkably, hilariously bitter I still am about the way White Collar ended.

It's funny because, in the grand scheme of things, I have watched a ton of shows that ended WAY worse than this one did. Actually, it's tough to come up with many examples of shows with endings I actually liked, that I didn't lose interest in before they ever got to the end. There have been a few, but over time, most shows that run longer than a season or two end up disappointing me one way or another.

But it's been a really long time since a show made me feel betrayed the way this one did. I guess it's because, in the case of most of the shows I've watched (and comics I've read, book series, etc), I either quit caring that much by the end, or at the very least I had some inkling that it was probably not going to end in a way I was going to be super happy with. I mean, like, I am incredibly invested in "Saga" right now, but I also FULLY EXPECT that everything I love is going to be destroyed by the end, so at least I'm emotionally prepared for it.

I think the reason why White Collar did such a number on me is because I truly believed that it wasn't going to do that! Everything I'd seen from actor interviews to the early seasons of the show had made me feel like the writers of the show valued the same aspects of the show I did, that the actors were deeply invested in their characters, that everyone riding off into the sunset had to be where it was all going.

And then the way the stupid show ACTUALLY ended made me reassess everything that had gone before, and go "well shit". It's not just that it ended in a way I didn't like; it's that it ended in a way that jossed 90% of my fic, characterization-wise ... ugh, I dunno, it's not just that there's a million things about the ending I don't like (in addition to Kramer basically being right about Neal, the ending of the show also strips out nearly everything I loved most about Peter, too, and I'm STILL annoyed about the name of the stupid kid) -- it's that it made it difficult-to-impossible to ever again write the kind of fic that I used to like writing most, at least without ignoring canon.

And sure, it is entirely possible (and not even hard) to come up with fanwanky explanations that fit the evidence and my previous characterization, but the frustrating thing is, I know I'm doing it -- I'm rewriting it into my own head!AU because I hate what actually happened in canon so much, and I'm just not good at successfully carrying that through into fic. I know it's fake, is the problem. In a way I envy people who can just freeze canon at a certain point in their head and carry on from there. I can't; I've never been able to. (Well, except in the form of "what if" AUs, but there's still retroactive continuity/retcons to be dealt with; I can't just ignore everything that happened past a certain point in the show, at least not for ficcing purposes. I am a great deal better at compartmentalizing stuff I'm not fanfic-fannish about.)

My brain also tends to treat creator word of god, behind-the-scenes stuff, etc. as .... well, maybe not 100% equivalent to canon for characterization purposes, but definitely in there somewhere -- and I know for most people it's not (totally cool, totally fine), but for me it is. So it doesn't work to just say "well, I'm going to disagree with the creator on this point" because my brain will not do that, even if I want it to. (I may eventually be able to get it to do it; I'm not sure. It certainly doesn't happen easily, though.)

So yeah, I could totally write a long post-canon fic that gives everyone closure, and I kind of even want to, but it's going to have to deal with where the show LEFT everything, which is to say NOT HOW I WANTED IT TO END AND WITH EVERYONE TURNING OUT TO BE NOT AT ALL THE PEOPLE I THOUGHT THEY WERE, and I'm still deeply vexed by that.

Bleh. Stupid show. Stupid writers. :P

(I also realize I am being very silly to be this bothered by it. I've just had this stupid show in my head for a long time and it's not easy to rearrange the mental furniture, is all. There's a lot of heavy lifting involved.)

This entry is also posted at http://sholio.dreamwidth.org/999361.html with comment count unavailable comments.
Ah, I think the "word of creator" is the main problem here. The reason I am happy with the ending is because I just completely disregard anything JE says about the character development. If I were unable to do that, I feel I would be in the exact same spot as you :( And it's not that I throw away creator's word by default, it's just that all those interviews with JE, especially during earlier seasons, have almost always made me upset about some upcoming event on the show... only to find out later on that it was not even close to what actually happened in the episode...LOL. And if you add to that all those times when JE would contradict himself in different interviews... at some point I just told myself to hell with it :P :D :P

So when I saw the final scene, my mind just immediately went, OMG, Neal is in Paris consulting for the Louvre ♥

But I also know it's not easy to beat my own brain into submission if it gets stuck on something. So... {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}
Awwww, thank you. *huuuuugs*

... but .... yeah. For me it adds a layer or two, knowing things like: what did the writer mean in that scene when this character said that thing? Why did they have this character do that other thing? I'm interested in it; it helps me understand the thing better, especially in a visual medium like TV or a movie, where you don't actually get to hear the characters' thoughts (as you can in a book). But sometimes it means that I find out my preferred way of looking at the thing is "wrong". This is one of those times.

(Though I also know creators aren't infallible -- sometimes they fail to get their point across, or they change their mind, or they're just wrong. And in a collaborative medium like TV, you get a whole bunch of different layers of meaning in addition to whatever the writer and producer(s) had in there -- how the actors played it, and what the corporate owners wanted to do with it, and maybe even how they choose to spin it in interviews so as not to alienate advertisers or whatnot. It's a giant mess. :D)
Yeah, it is a mess :D Though I do wish it hadn't happened to White Collar because it's my most beloved show of all times and it is sad to know that there are so many potential land mines that can completely ruin it for people /o\

Oh sweetie I agree. But I totally bought your discussion with Frith after the finale. It made me feel better and gave me a reason to understand Neal. I think you should reread it and stick to it. I makes so much sense when you know Neal. I also believe that the key pivotal scene was the one with Keller telling Neal they were the same and calling him sweetheart ( you remember that scene I guess). Neal realizes he needs to protect the ones he loves. ( I mean just look at Neal's face in that scene. ...still breaks my heart). I think the baby was also a key factor in Neal's decision. God...I miss this show. And your fics are perfect the way they are. Dont change anything. Also....well it was Matt who came up with that ending and a part of me trusts this sweet man to craft something with good intentions on Neal's behalf.  I think I read in some old Matt interwiews that Neal always had good intentions when he misbehaved.  He is such an emo character....
Lots of hugs to you.

I'm definitely glad that the Frith theory is helpful to people. Totally adopt it for your headcanon if it helps! :D I just kind of go back and forth on how much I can believe in it myself ...
Hee I'm still on lunch break so..I realized I discussed the "Neal faking his death and breaking everyones heart" stuff but not the " Neal turing bad in the end"stuff which was maybe your point?

I agree with Kanarek though..I dont think Neal has gone back to the life. He is a security consultant in Paris and that's that.
I dont think he wants Peter to chase him again, especially after promising El he would never put Peter in danger again.
He just wanted Peter to know he was alive and well.
JE's rambles about the ending and Neal being born bad is a load of crap IMO.

ughhhh I KNOW RIGHT.

I mean, I don't have that hangup over Eastin, he can say what he wants to. Neal is not bad through and through. But he is so, so cruel. And that damned finale makes me want to beat Neal up emotionally and leave him that way.

I mean, I ship Neal and Sara, so hard, but I just cannot see them getting together again after that finale. Like, he left. Again. How are they supposed to move past that? And I don't know if this is my brain making up angst because I'm so mad at Neal or if it's what I really think happened and maybe I'll never know because ANGER. NEAL STOP.

I mean, I'm all for him being the 'big bad' of sorts of S6 because it means that for once, he's in control of his life but really? This is what he does with it? I HAD HIGHER HOPES FOR NEAL AS BIG BAD, DAMMIT. He was supposed to make everything sunshine and roses! And not just for himself!

And I have so many post finale fics that I want to write (am starting to write, thanks to Elr's promptfest) , but there's a lot of setup I haven't done and I haven't rewatched that damn episode since I first saw it because it makes my stomach turn. Like, I rewatched all the other episodes of S6 at least twice after they aired, but that one's just. NO STOP DOING THAT TO MY SHOW.


...This is basically even more finale rage. I'm sorry for throwing it all out here! I just... FEELINGS. That I did not know I still had in me.
Yes yes yes on Neal/Sara. I've read some S6 tags which reunited them, and they worked when I was reading them... but I still can't see them back together, not after this. And I would have been okay with Neal and Sara both moving on, but this - this just adds another layer to why the finalle hurts so badly.

And I LOVED the idea of Neal being more in control in Season 6... up to the point when his main goal turned out to be to fake his death. And yeah, the Panthers were evil, yada yada yada, I can rationalize it in ten million different ways and some of them even feel true, but - really? Why this? Thanks so much, show :(
What gets me is that I've heard Tim and Matt gave JE the idea of this ending. That JE had been intending to end with the anklet being removed, but liked their idea instead. Which disappoints me, because I thought the actors knew their fans better, and I really wish JE had stuck to his original idea instead.

But I don't really know, as I've not really looked into what JE is saying, nor do I really care too much atm either. As far as I'm concerned, Neal is working as a security consultant in Paris and that one day he'll be able to return to New York - and that's what I'm sticking to. *sticks fingers in ears and goes la, la, la*
What gets me is that I've heard Tim and Matt gave JE the idea of this ending. That JE had been intending to end with the anklet being removed, but liked their idea instead. Which disappoints me, because I thought the actors knew their fans better, and I really wish JE had stuck to his original idea instead.
Many actors should not be writers!

Seriously, this discussion here is the first I'm hearing all this. I had no idea. Why would they?
time, most shows that run longer than a season or two end up disappointing me one way or another.

This. Which doesn't mean that I can't still, fourteen years after the fact, get myself riled up into a froth about the ending of Xena: Warrior Princess. I know exactly how you feel.

It sucks that we can't trust them, but we can't trust them. If you can't trust Xena, you can't trust anybody.
All this, and I really get where you're coming from, because this was exactly the ending I DID NOT WANT.

I mostly managed to interpret it in a way that didn't made furious with Neal or anyone, but it still sucks. I mean, how exactly is Neal free when he is still living under a false identity and risks being exposed every day? Sure, the world believes him dead, but still... I wanted the happy ending for all of them and the show has let me down so spectacularly in that regard that it's not even funny. Also, same sapphire, I shipped Neal/Sara... and I was okay with her not coming back, but this basically ruined their chances for a future reunion.

So, Neal faking his death so he could become a thief again makes me want to walk away from the show. Neal faking his death to protect everyone is something I can reluctantly deal with, but it still makes me pretty much miserable.

And really - Tim, Matt, what were you thinking? I saw the whole faking death thing coming since the second or third episode of the season, but I clung to the hope that they said this would be a great conclusion. Well, short of killing someone, I can't really see how it could have been worse - but if they died, we could have been writing denial!survival!stories and AUs with happy endings.

So I guess you can say I'm one of the people who mostly got stuck in the earlier seasons of the show (for me, it's S3 and Judgment Day). So currently I'm mostly living in earlier season stories and AUs. I'm also working on some post-S6 stories, but I'm still really pissed off about how the show ended - and it could have been so easy. Why couldn't they have just given them the happy ending? They really earned it.

Stupid faking death makes me want to punch something. Thanks a lot, Eastin :/

EDIT: Though, about Kramer being right about Neal... Kramer says: Neal will always be a con; Peter says: Well he will never be anything else if we don't give him the chance... and in a way, the ending proves them both right. At the end of Season 5, we see Neal determined to go straight, right until the FBI withdraws his freedom from him once again, at which point Neal has just had enough. And I'm not saying if he deserved his freedom after all the crimes he committed in S5, but at the same time the FBI stabbed him in the back one time too many.

Also, I'm curious - what things you liked about Peter did the ending strip away?

Edited at 2015-02-23 03:58 pm (UTC)
Ha, yeah. I'm glad you've found a way to be okay with it -- I think I will, eventually (well, it's that or be resentful FOREVER), and there certainly are ways of explaining it away, but ... aargh. I just never thought this particular show wouldn't give us a happy ending. Though, yeah, you have a point about both Kramer and Peter being right about Neal, in the end.

Also, I'm curious - what things you liked about Peter did the ending strip away?

Well ... it's less dramatic with him than with Neal, I guess, but one of the biggest things that always appealed to me about Peter as a character was his curiosity and intelligence and drive, the way he throws himself 110% into solving cases for sheer delight in the puzzle-solving. But at the end of the series, he's just putting in his 9 to 5 and going home. It's just a job now. The thing is, it does make sense on a number of levels -- he wanted to focus on his family rather than his work, plus, having Neal's death happen in a way he can't possibly not feel responsible for (he was too slow; he didn't stop Keller in time) can't possibly have failed to strip out a lot of the pleasure he used to take in his job. Peter without that sense of dedication and delighted puzzle-solving is just ... not really Peter to me, I guess, or at least a depressed shadow of him. But even if he comes alive again a little after finding out that Neal's alive, there's really no way he can throw himself back into it because of having kids now; he's just going to end terribly torn in two. I don't really see his ending being that much happier than Neal's, honestly, given his general personality earlier in the series.
I think I remember JE saying that he was going to end it with Neal going back to jail and the boys said that would be a terrible ending.

I can't say I was thrilled with the ending but I am 100% convinced that Neal did what he did to protect those he loved from the long reach of the Panthers. The fact that he made his presence known after the lst won was sentenced and there was no longer a reason for them to threaten any of Neal's people supports my belief.

I do believe that Neal will not return to a life of crime like before but instead will use his powers for good. He would not be reaching out to Peter otherwise because he would not want to put peter or his new family at risk.

I think the ending is vague enough that you can spin it whatever way you want and still be right. I'm not even sure the writers knew which way Neal went and left it that way on purpose.

Whatever you do, please don't change you fic and please don't stop writing them.
Okay, yes, Neal going back to jail would have been a pretty terrible ending, that's definitely true. Nrrgghhh, stupid show. Why couldn't they just have given us a happy ending to go forward with?
The interview I read with JE had two endings, one with Neal chosing to go straight and one with him going back to a life of crime and the final scene being a coin toss. I thought that was perfect, leaving it open-ended. I don't care so much about how Neal came off in the actual ending as I was never as invested in him as a character. He was a very pretty thief and whether he was a genius/deeply troubled/had the best ass in Hollywood, bottom line - he took stuff that belonged to other people or was intended to be available to the public at large. What I hated about the ending was that Peter went from incorruptible to "LOL Mozzie got away with millions so I won't look into that part of the biggest case of my career as he's Neal's pal." And I agree with you, if JE is saying that the Louvre story meant Neal was at it again, then Kramer was right not just about Neal but also about his corrupting Peter, which is truely awful.

Edited at 2015-02-23 04:33 pm (UTC)
Peter letting Mozzie get away with the money didn't bother me that much (at least not compared to everything else) but yeah ... I think a lot of the problems with the ending were just that they had to cram a ton of stuff into one episode, so they had to gloss over a bunch of stuff that really should have been dealt with. It might have been better as a 2-hour movie (maybe that way we would've had time for a reunion scene, among other things). Of course, that might just have given us TWO hours of misery and suck instead of one. :P
I find it easy to ignore Word of God, but like you, utterly impossible to ignore canon. It can be a pain - I really feel you on that. *hugs*
Yeah, at the very least canon is just THERE, and has to be dealt with. I've never been able to write it out in my head. *hugs back*
I found the post interview stuff more upsetting that JE insisting that Neal was born bad. It almost supports people like Kramer who wanted Neal on his anklet for ever. Peter would be heart broken if he had chase Neal and put him in the slammer, he named his son after him. It is rare for series to be end on a note which satisfies everyone I wish the last season was longer 6 epsiodes was too little and some parts were rushed. In my head space Neal becomes a security consultant cum art restorer. Peter and Neal meet occasionally.
Yeah, a lot of the problems with the ending were probably because of so much having to be wrapped up so quickly (though based on the interviews and the way it ended, I still feel that a longer season wouldn't have resolved things happily; it might have tied everything up better, though).

... and yeah, re: the "Neal was born bad" aspect of the interviews -- then why did we get an entire six-season series about Neal struggling with his conscience? GAAAAHHHHH
I don't think it's stupid to feel betrayed (not least because I felt it also). But the difference between me and you is that I sensed this coming. After S5 aired, I felt that exact feeling that you're describing now -- complete betrayal. I had thought Neal and Peter were certain kind of people up to that point, and then the 5th season showed me that no, Neal really is a criminal at heart, you are "born bad" and all those things that I refuse to accept in real life. And so after s5 ended I wrote a little note about feeling betrayed and decided that I'll watch season 6 after it's aired to prepare myself. No regrets about that decision. And nothing in s6 suprised me, really, so although I wasn't happy about Neal running off and most importantly lying to Peter AND MOZZIE for a year, I could deal with it.

I'm totally like you in one sense that I treat canon as "truth". I've had experiences where I froze frames or ret-conned things in my head (Richie's death in HL is one of those things that I am capable of "ignoring" if I want to, but that partly relies on the magical universe that show is set in). But 99% of the time I can't ignore characterization that I don't like. There are some moments that make me think, "blah, I wish that had gone differently" but I can't help but accept that it has happened and incorporate the new ideas into my notion of the characterization of these folks. So I perfectly understand where you're coming from there. It's not that I think creators are infaliable it's that these are the characters and I can't divorce myself from that. (In fact, it frustrates me sometimes to hear people talk about how they don't accept that some episode happened because it was OOC for the person to act that way...to me it happened, and therefore must be IC, and whatever notions we had in our heads about it that lead us to think it's OOC are incorrect. That's just how my brain works.)

But on the subject of White Collar though. I think that maybe if you looked at it not as a final step in their journey it might help. This isn't a "they rode off into the sunset" or "lived happily ever after" ending, and yes, the show kind of made it seem like it would deliver that, for the first 3 seasons at least. But then it didn't, and if I squint and look at it as a middle point, I can still find some happiness in canon. As long as I picture that Neal is working for a security consulting firm in Paris and NOT casing Louvre and that after all Peter knew in his heart that Neal would find a way out, even if he couldn't logically think it...as long as I make myself believe that in my head (and this is in no way disproved by canon, btw) then I'm okay?

Anyway, I know how you feel.
*sends hugs*

ETA: I did not read any interviews, so I know only canon and from stuff I accidentally overheard I don't want to know what the creators think about it. I am very good about ignoring stuff people say outside of canon, so that's never been a problem for me. All my thoughts are based purely on the episodes themselves and that's how I prefer it.

Edited at 2015-02-23 06:00 pm (UTC)
awwww. *hugs back*

Yeah, I think you're right that ... okay, as a happy ending this basically sucks, but as just another step along their journey, it's not too bad. It helps to think that they'll both have other adventures out there, maybe not together, but heck, the show didn't kill anyone off for real, so all the possibilities are still open. :D
I totally understand the whole issue with JE. I'm still rather newish to the WC online fandom, but I've watched the whole series multiple times and interviews, and... yeah, all that stuff. And I absolutely agree w/Kanarek on some of this: I love JE for creating these characters and this show, but I just don't think that what he envisioned for Neal and Peter is just, somehow (probably for a wide variety of reasons), what actually ended up on screen. Whether it's b/c of the interaction of the actors, or how the actors (and/or directors) interpreted the scripts -- whatever. Somehow, I just think JE reallllllly bought into the whole "born bad" scenario for Neal, especially, and he never wavered on that, but that's *not* what the show depicted on-screen. And yeah, it's far easier to *say* "forget what JE says" than it is to *believe* it, but... I happened across a quote from Matt the other day that I hadn't seen before, where he was talking about the finale, and how he hates those endings that lock in every character's story/ending, and leaves no room for imagination. And what he *liked* about WC's ending was that it *did* leave the ending open to interpretation. And that, to me, was like a lightbulb moment. JE's version of what happened w/Neal and Peter is but *one* interpretation, and it's one he's had locked into his head since he conceived the show. Yes, his original version of how it would end was fairly open-ended, but it's obvious from things he's said that he *always* envisioned Neal going right back to being a criminal, no matter what happened with the show. But, for me, Matt's comment meant that **other interpretations were equally valid**. (I can look up the exact quote if anyone wants it.) I honestly don't think that Matt or Tim would have thought that Jeff's interpretation was the same thing they'd envision, at least not from what I've heard/read them saying. But that may be wishful thinking on my part, as well. Still, Matt's comment gave me some hope/a way to cope w/JE's version of things that I really hadn't had the same way before.

My other (small) hope at this point, though? That there'll be something on the DVDs that might help somehow, and maybe give us back at least our ability to interpret what *we* want to think, if nothing else ;-)

And geez, no, you're not the only one still thinking/talking about this, that's for sure!!
From interviews with Matt and or Tim prior to the finale I too understood that the end was going to be open ended. That was my interpretation with the end and I was cool with that. I must admit I missed the article about the Louvre the first time I watched the last episode. But even with that I would have interpreted it as open to different interpretations. Then I read or heard things from Jeff Eastin saying Neal definitely returned to a life of crime and all I could think is, "What?". And I can't say how annoying his insistence that Neal was born bad.

I also really agree with you that Jeff had a very different idea of Neal going into the show and somehow what JE saw and what came through to us were very different things. I could even see what Jeff Eastin may have intended early on to some degree especially in the pilot, but that wasn't how Neal ended up being.