This Week on TV, Dec. 20, 2014

Only two shows this week. The holiday drought has begun! 😉

Once Upon a Time

Well, well, well now! For not having any end-of-the-world business to attend to (wait, I amend that, a fully-powered Dark One loose in the world would be an end-of-the-world thing), this episode had plenty of conflict, but it was all on a personal level. It was very gripping.

Regina, Robin, and Marian all display a great level of maturity and nobility in this episode. Quite different from the triangle of the first season with Snow, Charming, and Katherine (I think that was her name, right?), but, then again, they were all twisted versions of themselves, while this trio retains all of their senses. Marian is willing to give Robin up because she’d prefer being alone instead having him only of his obligations (granted those obligations deserve to be taken very seriously). Meanwhile, Regina is willing to give Robin up so his family may remain intact. But Robin follows his heart, knowing it will lead to a complicated situation, but he is going in with his eyes open, intent on working things out.

And then Marian relapses to a trace of the Snow Queen’s curse, and the only way to save her is for her to leave Storybrooke, and that’s a one-way trip. They can’t send her out alone into a strange world, or, rather, they refuse to even consider it (further proof of Regina’s redemption). She and Robin make the selfless sacrifice to part ways forever.

Meanwhile, Rumplestiltskin learns the hard way that the rules apply to him as much as anyone else. We see, in the flashbacks, that Belle was kidnapped by the three upcoming villains, Cruella, Maleficent, and Ursula (he makes a comment that leads me to suspect they were his students once, so add Cora, Regina, and Zalina to the list, and it’s an impressive repertoire of witches he’s taught). They demand he exchange a certain gauntlet from Camelot (I’m guessing he had something to do with its fall) for Belle’s life. (love the line “Demanding a ransom from the Dark One is not a deal, it’s a death wish.”) This is important because A) it introduces the three Queens of Darkness (they poof away in black clouds, I notice) and B) Belle finds the gauntlet in the shop, and it leads her to the real dagger. The lie falls apart.

It also falls apart when Anna realizes that Rumplestiltskin is in Storybrooke, exposing another deception. It seems too little, too late, though, as he is engaging in the final sacrifice of Hook’s life and everyone trapped in the magical hat, to cleave himself from the dagger. Emma and Snow show up, but he immobilizes them with a thought. He squeezes Hook’s heart… but he can’t do it. Why not? Because an angry, heart-broken Belle has his dagger and forbids him. Under her command, as he wilts before her uncompromising strength, even as tears fill her eyes, she exiles him from Storybrooke, ripping his powers from him. He even needs his cane again.

A big cheer for Belle! That was not an easy thing to do, but she did it anyway. What’s the biggest mistake the Dark One made in all of this? He lied to Belle and broke her heart. The next time the Dark One meets his wife, which you know is going to happen eventually, it promises to be epic.

And then, the big curve ball, it’s Rumplestilktskin who goes to recruit the three Queens of Darkness, in an effort to find the Author/Sorcerer and force him to give them happy endings. So, next adventure, we are dealing with at least four villains at the same time. Which, I notice a contrast between Rumple, the Queens, and Regina. Rumple changed, but then changed back, and tried to steal a “happy ending” when he already had one in his lap. The Queens, so far as we know, have never tried to turn away from their evil, and have been miserable for a very long time. Regina, on the other hand, held to the good, to love and self-sacrifice, and is finally on her way to redemption, to a real happy ending.

Other tidbits: Anna and Elsa take back Arendelle, Anna and Krisotff get married, Emma becomes Regina’s drinking partner, Henry finds a hidden room of unwritten books confirming that the Sorcerer and the Author are one and the same, and Emma joins Operation Mongoose to help Regina get her happy ending.

White Collar

Ah, the bittersweet song of “good-bye.”

Or the more literal translation of “au revoir,” which is “till seeing again.” See you when I see you. Cya later.

I am going to miss this show.

We knew Peter was calm under pressure, but he was never better than this, infiltrating the Pink Panthers with calm words and a steady gaze even while a gun was at his head. Elle was understandably afraid for her husband’s life, but Neal was able to make her a promise. And there was something else, we knew, going through Neal’s mind when he said he would stop at nothing to protect Peter, Elle, and their baby. His family.

They ended the Pink Panther storyline, complete with a robbery involving two hearses (poetic) and Neal’s usual charm, all without a hitch. Which, of course, just meant the inevitable hitch was going to be that much worse. They held us in suspense for a moment, there, after the successful caper ends with the FBI surrounding the Panthers, guns drawn. Woodford could have gone down fighting, but he’d still have gone down, so he surrendered. Panthers all go to prison for life. (assuming they don’t escape, of course)

That still left Keller, and Neal set him up in the one trap that slippery rat could never escape.

Neal, Keller, and Mozzie siphoned twenty or thirty million away from the Panthers’ half-a-billion score, and it was poetic, for the series as a whole, to see Mozzie being showered with money. I doubt he minded much, but it was a bit off-plan, so he had to scramble and stop the siphoning before it got ridiculous, and obvious. Thus, the bait: money for Keller to steal.

Neal was ready, though, armed with a gun, which got Mozzie out of danger with ten to twenty million. A little going away present from one friend to another. But that still left Keller, who displayed no hesitation in taking Neal’s gun and shooting him with it. But Neal had his anklet on, drawing Peter on their trail. Keller got nowhere near far enough away to escape the justice of Peter Burke.

That bullet in his head was a long time coming.

And then, to end the series, they killed off Neal.

Yes, I know, he’s not really dead, but they devoted a good ten minutes to showing the characters moving on after his death. Mozzie has had to accept it, and he never simply accepts anything. He’s in Stage 4, Depression, while Peter is in Stage 3, Bargaining. Mozzie had his retirement fund as he went back to basic cons, like the trick with the cards that brought him and Neal together. He even describes how he wanted it to be Neal Caffrey’s greatest con, faking his death.

And it was.

So Peter is a father (he and Elle named their son Neal, of course), Mozzie hustles people on the street, and Neal, whom Peter realizes is alive, walks the earth unseen, a master thief.

It’s sort of a happy ending. And sort of not. Neal gave up everything to a solitary life, alone. Perhaps that was the only way he could see to bring down Keller, so he could never threaten anyone, especially the Burkes, ever again. Or perhaps he simply took the surest way to gain his freedom, by “dying.” Or perhaps he simply chose the life of a thief. We don’t know for certain.

All we know is, this is good-bye.

Au revoir.

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