There has been some online chatter about “What Happens In Burma”. I’ve noticed that many people were upset by a few things (racefail, daddy issues trope). I’m only going to discuss the Daddy issues part.
I have to say that I was actually really happy with this episode. I enjoyed it immensely. It was great for me to see Peter and Neal trusting each other a lot more and working together across the spectrum of gray area of the law. I really loved the way Peter asked about Neal’s dad until he told him. It built off of what we saw in the “Forging Bonds”, when Neal and Peter started asking each other questions about the past that didn’t actually concern Adler (Neal’s interest in Peter’s search for him, Peter’s interest in Neal’s relationship with Kate). Peter asking about Neal’s dad, and then Neal telling him and saying “Now you know”... I love that Peter’s response was “Glad I do”. He pretty much just stated that he’s happy that he’s getting to know Neal more, and that Neal is trusting him and talking to him – he enjoys being friends.
As far as the concern regarding bringing in Daddy issues, after reading other posts, I can kind of see where people are coming from. It is a subject which has been overdone, and it does have the potential to ruin character development to an extent. But I just wasn’t looking at things the same way I guess. To my mind, this is what happened:
Neal grows up without a father.
Neal’s mother tells him his father was a cop, a hero who was killed taking down bad guys.
Neal grows up wanting to be like his dad, he learns how to use guns and is really talented.
Someone who either has enough evidence to make it plausible, or who Neal trusts enough to believe, reveals to Neal that his father was actually a dirty cop.
Neal goes though a rough patch, he doesn’t know who he is anymore; he doesn’t know if he can trust himself. Guns, the weapon he thought his dad protected people with, his dad probably actually used to harm good people, and Neal no longer likes them.
Neal moves to New York. He is very talented at conning, forging, art. He commits crimes but only against people who can afford it or deserve it, and quits carrying a weapon because he doesn’t want to hurt people like his dad did.
Now, people have mentioned that the daddy issues are used in a cookie-cutter like manner to negate or explain away Neal’s criminal life. However, I don’t believe that he is a forger and a con artist because his “dad was a criminal and, well, he must be one too”. No. I think that he’s worked very hard ever since he found out about his dad to never become like him. Every case he’s worked, he’s never wanted to hurt anyone. He is always trying to help out people, even while working with Peter and having to go behind the FBI’s back to do it (“The Portrait” for example). In my mind, finding out that his dad was a dirty cop didn’t make him into a criminal. He steals from the rich bureaucrats who his dad probably was being bribed by. And he has been trying his hardest to never let anyone down and never let anyone get hurt.
Anyways, I don’t know if that makes anyone feel any better about Show, but it’s how I see things, and I’m still loving White Collar :)