For weeks, plenty of White Collar faithful have asserted two likelihoods: That James is up to something, and that season four, like those before it, would end on a cliffhanger. Those viewers look damn intuitive after “In The Wind.” Then again, White Collar has become increasingly self-referential of late, and tonight’s finale in particular leaves a trail of intimations that history might repeat itself.
There’s Mozzie’s cheeky condition of “no base jumping” while securing the evidence box (a callback to season three’s “Countdown”), not to mention Neal reminding Peter that casing the Empire State Building necessitates “no U-boats” followed by Peter’s reassurance that, “from Kate to the evidence room, it’s all about justice.” Hell, even good ol’ Caffrey alias Nick Holden makes his dashing return for a diversionary faux-proposal to Sara.
In actuality, that was all misdirection, lulling us into a sense of eminent closure more befitting of a series-ender. But, of course, White Collar will be back for round five, meaning that while one journey-Neal coming into his own under Peter’s mentorship and severing ties with his criminal legacy-is wrapping up, an entirely new imperative will drive future episodes. Now, the onus is on Neal to embody and pursue justice. It’s a symbolically super-heroic transition, not that far-fetched when one recalls the show’s admiration of comic books in season one’s “Hard Sell” or how closely the themes of paternal betrayal and wrongful blame figure into so much Marvel and DC lore.
It was only a matter of time until Peter’s Harvey Dent-esque crusade to thwart corrupt Agent Calloway (a returning, still underwhelming Emily Procter) and murderous Senator Pratt (the certainly not-coming-back Titus Welliver) landed him in hot water. Which, at least, is better than acid in the face. Plus, Collar’s unlikely to approach The Dark Knight’s bleaker characterizations, so it’s safe to assume Peter won’t become a hardened villain after his false imprisonment for allegedly killing Pratt.
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