“You wouldn’t have believed me.” – Neal
“You should have given me the chance.” – Peter

Over the last four years, the friendship between Neal and Peter has seen its ups and downs for sure, but it seemed like we were now at a point where they trusted each other implicitly. Peter, in particular, has laid his job on the line multiple times for Neal in the last year or so, because he felt that Neal had earned that trust.

But Neal throws it all away in tonight’s episode. And I don’t believe it. As in, I feel the producers are asking us to make a huge leap, and it just doesn’t make sense from a story/character perspective.

In tonight’s episode, Neal is blackmailed by Abigail, a female art thief who suspects he now works with the FBI, but isn’t 100% sure. She frames Neal by stealing his DNA and putting it in a local federal marshal’s office, a place Neal considered breaking into to steal a file on Sam, the one person who could potentially lead Neal to Ellen’s killer. Abigail steals that file, but will only provide it to Neal if he steals a piece of art for her.

Neal steals the painting and calls Peter immediately after the hand-off–not knowing that Peter is only a few steps away. He doesn’t take the file Abigail had stolen, refusing to profit from the blackmail. But he winds up with it anyway because once it goes to evidence lockup, Peter is able to get his hands on it. Peter then makes two copies: one for him and one for Neal, showing that he no longer trusts him.

Now that you know the set-up and the pay-off, here’s how I would have constructed the episode:

– Having Neal go to Peter right away would have been the smartest solution, but might not have made for interesting television.

– Instead, Neal should have made a forgery.

– Mozzie, who steals the garbage can containing the real artwork Neal steals, never actually takes it off-site. He takes a decoy can, and the real one stays behind, meaning the artwork, while away from its dispaly, doesn’t actually ever leave the building.

– When Neal goes to the hand-off location, he hands Abigail the forgery and knows Peter would have been following him. He doesn’t even bother calling him as he does in the episode. He’s counting on this instead.

– He tells Peter afterward that he considered bringing him in, but he thought it would be easier to sell the story if Peter wasn’t in on it.

– Peter takes the file off Abigail and hands it to Neal–saying he earned it. And he’ll make up a story with the marshals for how they acquired it. Then, and this is the key–they read through it together, instead of Peter making a secret copy for himself and hoping Neal shares it with him.

This story direction still would have been a surprise to the audience. They might have totally believed that Neal would throw away all his earned trust with Peter, only to discover in the episode’s final minutes that he actually hadn’t.

And more importantly, this episode wouldn’t have taken a 180-degree turn on the Peter/Neal friendship in a way that was not believable. Wrecking their friendship over that file wasn’t earned, and it impacted the overall strength of their friendship that we started the season with.

Really not a good episode, at least from my perspective. Hopefully what we find on the file will be worth it.

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Are you as frustrated with the direction the show is taking with the Neal/Peter friendship as I am? Leave a comment!

Alan Danzis
Contributing Writer

(Image courtesy of USA)

Alan Danzis

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV