Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Sneaky Pete goes out with a bang, some heart, and one final mystery

Illustration for article titled Sneaky Pete goes out with a bang, some heart, and one final mystery

Sneaky Pete‘s finale wastes absolutely no time getting to the action, picking up right where the previous episode left off. A car horn blares insistently, a nice bit of sound design that amps up the anxiety of the situation. Is Audrey alive or dead? And what about Winslow? As the camera takes us inside the car, we see Audrey gasp for air. She’s alive. Winslow, folded up against the steering wheel, has a bullet hole in his head. It’s heartening to see Audrey still alive, and yet we know this is only the beginning of the Bernhardts’ struggle to comprehend what’s happened, what they’ve done, and how their grandson “Pete” plays into all of this. Plus, Dockery is still missing his money, and that guy isn’t one to just let $150,000 slide.

Even though “The Longest Day” begins with Audrey, as Taylor and Otto show up, the former proving quite adept at covering up what really happened to Winslow, the season finale is really focused on the long con Marius is pulling on Vince. It’s a complicated one that involves every single bit player from this season, and the result is an episode that’s admirably paced, and yet perhaps a little too overstuffed—so it goes with Sneaky Pete. Basically, from the moment Marius shows up at Vince’s poker game, the con is on, but it’s the execution of a plan that’s been in place for awhile.

As Marjorie so wonderfully explains in a clunky block of exposition, Mukherjee is just a tech billionaire/FBI informant that the crew was using to get into Vince’s place. The fact that his bodyguard was FBI was a bonus, as they’re incredibly protective of their assets, meaning he could be trusted to pull his gun on Vince when needed. So, the plan is to get caught conning Vince, only to then reveal the real con, which involves The FBI agent shooting Vince after he threatens Mukherjee, and the crew taking off and getting picked up by Marjorie.

It’s a tense scene, as everyone’s motivations are unclear and it really seems like Vince has them backed into a corner, but I’d argue it’s also too clean in its follow through. What I mean is that the “get caught pulling a con only to reveal that getting caught is all part of the longer con” story is awfully convoluted, especially when it’s jammed into a single episode. All the reveals, from Marjorie being married to Charlie to the phone con pulled off by Porter from a previous episode, feel rushed. The crew all giving Marjorie Charlie’s cut of the cash is a nice emotional gracenote, but it’s also lost in the wave of reveals. It isn’t long before “The Longest Day” is hurtling forward again, with Marius looking to make things right with the Bernhardts.

So while “The Longest Day” does boast quite a few charms—it’s certainly a lot of fun watching the con go down, especially when Vince loses a thumb and his money—it also feels like a hurried end to an otherwise patiently told story. The necessary plot points are hit in rapid succession, from Julia working out a deal with Dockery when the Bernhardts don’t think they’re getting the money back, to Otto coming clean to Audrey about the hitman, meaning that some of those moments don’t land the way they should. They’re still rewarding in their own way—Audrey’s pained cry of how much she needs Otto had me welling up real quick—but they also struggle to stand out in such a crowded episode.

With that said, “The Longest Day” manages to close out the season with some needed emotional revelations, and one giant cliffhanger. The final stretch of the finale is a near-perfect balance of the show’s best qualities. There’s humor in Marius’ critiquing of Carly’s shoddy pickpocket attempt, but also genuine care in his gentle plea with her to avoid that life. “This is not a life. That’s a life,” he says as he points to the farmhouse. It’s a touching moment, one underscored by the fact that Marius did all of this for his brother. He understands the importance of family, and the Bernhardts have shown him just how necessary that bond is, even if it’s messy from time to time.


“The Longest Day” could end there and it would be satisfying, tying up the loose ends of Marius’ feud with Vince while also leaving a little mystery intact for next season, as the Bernhardts still don’t know that Marius isn’t Pete. Instead, the show swerves hard. As Marius walks off into the sunset—it’s a sunrise, technically, but that’s not the idiom!—he’s kidnapped, a hood placed over his head before he’s stuffed into the trunk of a car. He’s been here before, so he’s not too worried, screaming for Taylor to let him go.

Unfortunately for Marius, this isn’t Taylor. Instead, it’s two guys looking for Pete (the real one). They say they didn’t understand why he robbed the gun range before, but now they know. Furthermore, they want “Pete” to bring them to his mother and the $11 million they’re hiding. If he doesn’t, they’ll burn down the farm and kill the Bernhardts. That’s a huge cliffhanger to leave on, but it fits in with the tone and themes of Sneaky Pete’s first season, where trouble, revealed secrets, and bad guys with guns are always just one slip-up away.


Stray observations

  • Julia’s thinly veiled disdain for Lance results in a great line when Lance tries to stand up to Dockery with some faux-macho posturing: “Put that fucking thing down or I’ll punch you in the dick.” I really wish she would have punched him in the dick.
  • I still wish Julia’s character arc was more fully explored. There’s a lot for her to digest, and I don’t think the season goes far enough when digging into her emotional state. Guess that’ll have to wait for season two, and the laundering of Dockery’s money.
  • It makes me happy to know that Audrey punched Sam in the face when he started hitting on her after Otto’s stroke.
  • Giovanni Ribisi has been nailing the facial expressions all season long, but the exasperation and fatigue he displays at the end of the episode, when Marius realizes he’s going to have to keep the “Pete” facade going, is a thing of beauty.
  • I also quite enjoyed Taylor’s season-long arc. Shane McRae’s empathetic performance really drives home the idea that Taylor is a former buffoon just trying to grow up and do the right thing, even as he stumbles along the way.
  • Marius and Audrey get a sweet moment near the episode’s end. Audrey: “Thank you for saving my life.” Marius: “I was going to say the same thing to you.” Man, this show has a way of being sneakily (sorry) heartfelt.
  • That’s it, folks! Thanks for sticking around and engaging with what turned out to be a low-key moving, compelling season.