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Published on February 22nd, 2012 | by Ernie Estrella


White Collar Season 3 Episode 15 Review: I Go To Burke

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In the penultimate episode of Season 3 of White Collar, Neal (Matt Bomer) and Mozzie (Willie Garson) get scouted to help out Gordon Taylor, an elusive contract con man moved into New York City for his next job and always hires local. He never gets caught and all the men on his jobs get paid, handsomely. The target, Yankee Stadium, and more specifically, a piece of Yankee history, a home run ball hit by The Babe. But Neal has to be careful as his commutation hearing is coming up so he can’t do anything that could end up as ammunition used against him.

But this is White Collar, where everything auspiciously comes together to move the story along. The cons run sexy and smooth and no matter how great of a con man they target, in this case, Taylor, they never seems to be enough chatter amongst thieves that Neal is a C.I. for the White Collar Division of the FBI. Seriously, don’t criminals talk in prison? But honestly, why let that ruin our love for the show?

Against his wishes, Mozzie agreed to go undercover with Neal, but you could tell he had some serious inner conflict. Mozzie respected Taylor and reveled the opportunity to work with him on a job, so it pained him to contribute to his capture. Neal on the other hand saw this as another job to build his case for freedom, and it wasn’t a case of breaking the code between con men, as it was Neal seeing the finish line.

Much to my dismay, the art of forgery was not on center stage (I really do love watching those montages of criminals at work), aside from doctoring a baseball, but there was a very telling game of pool. Similar to poker and chess, one’s body can speak as loud as one’s mouth. Taylor was a great observer of non-verbal communication, and he used this skill, and perhaps Mozzie understood this to tip Taylor off in the dugout suite. My only problem with it is that it should have been a big clue to Taylor that Neal won with a trick shot. Even Taylor can be charmed.

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While the boys went to… um, “burke,” back at the offices, Agent Kramer’s (Beau Bridges) crack team was on the manhunt for someone who may or may not be around anymore. They found coded letters to Kate but when Neal joined Peter’s (Tim DeKay) team, he was driven to reunite with Kate and break away. Her murder and the work he’s done for White Collar has softened his position. Perhaps that’s all what Kramer has to go on. We all know that Neal spent a majority of this season not only seeing the light but walking towards it for the first time. Kramer believes that Neal’s charm has put a spell on everyone, including Peter. As an outsider, he may have a point. He knows how to make nice with everyone to earn that trust so that he can get the space to do whatever he pleases. Clinton (Sharif Atkins) and Diana (Marsha Thomason) are going to follow Peter’s lead, so it really does come down to what Peter decides to do.

So will Sara’s (Hilarie Burton) deposition really help Neal or hurt him? Kramer is looking for just enough evidence to keep the anklet on. So it all comes down to that Rafael painting, and if Kramer can prove he still has it, then he has a case. There’s still a spark between Neal and Sara too, and Peter’s right, her constant involvement could only help Neal if he truly wants to go straight for good.

For the most part, Neal was on good behavior. He did accept the check from Taylor, and showed interest in whatever other job he had in the future. Was that the fellow crook working or the guy working for White Collar?

Neal: Still think I’m a thief?
Taylor: Fish don’t do well out of water.

Is Neal the crook still here? I actually do, but at the same time we can see that he isn’t a bad guy. The friendships he built with Peter, Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen) and others are genuine, and tracking down Peter’s rookie card, and bringing him to Yankee stadium was something a friend would recognize to do. How did Neal arrange for it? I’m sure a check for $160,000 helped out.

Neal: I have my ways.

For Neal and Mozzie, running cons has been their lifestyle and like a bad habit, bad diet, or some other vice, what White Collar does well is show that it’s a continuous, daily struggle to suppress those urges, to turn down offers when the reputation as a top con man precedes all of the other qualities he offers. I think there’s still that con man in Neal that believes as long as no one is in danger of getting harmed or killed, and the operation is airtight, he’s willing to gamble and play both sides. That may drive some viewers mad, but I think it’s a much more honest approach at portraying a criminal of Neal’s stature under these same circumstances and given these types of opportunities. The U-Boat scandal was a big step for Neal, but that doesn’t mean he’s given up on his crooked ways for good.

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Gordon Taylor’s methods and an offer to join him, maybe Mozzie, (maybe Alex?!) in a caper in France in a couple of months is another, tempting offer. It’s got the wheels spinning and a check for $160,000 sure beats the allowance that Neal gets from the U.S. Government. Just remember, like any other addiction, all it takes is for one con to go right to fall off that wagon.

There’s a wonderful subplot in “Stealing Home” about Peter’s past as a baseball player who worked in the Minnesota Twins’ minor league system as a big league closing pitcher before he blew out his rotator cuff. Peter’s mantra has always been to turn negatives into positives and realized that his past was his past, and that it’s best to live in the moment and within his means. Can Neal do the same? Can Neal Swing for the fences and believe anything is possible?

Neal: Some of the things we’ve done are pretty hard to forget.

Hanging Threads
• “Stealing Home” was Tim DeKay’s directorial debut and chose a subject that was close to his heart, baseball, and did a terrific job capturing some different shots of Yankee Stadium and the city, coordinating complex scenes like the heist while capturing some very poignant conversations between Neal and Sara, Peter and Neal, Peter and Diana, and the pool game. It would have been easy for creator Jeff Eastin to give him a stand-alone episode that focused on one of the side characters but this was a classic, multi-layered episode and did a fine job.

• It often goes understated but whenever Peter tells a story from the past, it feels so genuine. His fond memory of him drinking root beer and his father drinking ale as they took in the Yankees on TV comes off so real. That’s either a testament to the writers, Mark Goffman, Jim Campolongo, and DeKay.

• One also had to respect Peter sticking up for baseball history in comparing DiMaggio to Pollack. How often do art snobs and sports geeks disagree? A lot when it comes to what’s more important in the context of culture, yet if they were open to each other’s interests, they’d find out they have more in common than they think.

• Lord Byron and June (Diahann Carroll) assisted Neal out with an antique pool stick to use to play Taylor.

June: Every great con man has to master the game of pool.
Neal: I was nine years old.

• Neal’s khaki suit was… not his best wardrobe choice. Maybe that’s one thing Lord Byron looked better in than Neal.

• Seeing six guys roll out of a place in sharp suits and strutting is a little suspicious. We’ve all seen Reservoir Dogs, we know what’s up.

• I find it a bit hard to believe that there wasn’t a security camera already on the Babe Ruth ball display to see if someone made the switch.

• Who else caught that Neal walked into a morning afterglow of the Burke’s post-coitus breakfast.

Peter: Elizabeth, you’re a tigress! Neal, you’re early. Grab some breakfast?
Neal: Not hungry any more.

• Peter’s conversation with Jones in the surveillance van about walk out music had me in stitches. I never pegged Peter Burke to walk out to a Kool Moe Dee. I had the cassette (yes I said cassette) tape of that album, so I couldn’t help but laugh along with Jones. To my surprise, they played the song at the end as the closing song, and they got Kool Moe Dee to come in and change the song to “I go to Burke,” – a cute ending to say the least and another “cool” feather in Peter’s cap.

As Peter said, enjoy the moment because next week’s season 3 finale of White Collar does not look like it will be a fun hearing for Neal. Tune in Tuesday on USA at 10pm ET/PT for “Judgement Day”. Neal is carrying a poster tube and Peter asks him, “Do I want to know what’s in that?” Could it be… the Rafael?

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  • Pooky0110

    Who plays Taylor ?? He looks super familiar and it’s driving me nuts!?!?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OFC7KHYZMDVKX2GXVDQPZRMBYU Michele

    Great review! I loved this episode :)

  • summer edwards

    hal ozsan. he played cassidy in kyle xy

    • http://littlebrotherlives.tumblr.com LBrotherL

      Thank you! All I had to do was hear his voice, hadn’t even seen him yet and I knew he was familiar. Man, I miss Kyle XY. That cliff hanger sucked.

  • http://twitter.com/AfsanaNoor Afsana N.

    Neal in that tan-colored suit was one of the best moments in the history of White Collar. He looked like a delicious milk chocolate. The wardrobe dept. took a risk and it totally paid off. While I loved this episode, I hated how Peter didn’t give Neal a heads-up about Kramer & didn’t tell anything about the letters. It’s just another example of the above-board Burke being less-than-honest with a man he considers his friend. 

  • Eeds

    As you say for Mozzie and Neal the lure of the con lifestyle is always going to be there. For both of them but especially Neal I think the temptation is in the beauty of a perfect heist, not for the sake of the treasure but because it is a challenge. Like a puzzle. Maybe he should take up crossword puzzles like Peter.

  • http://twitter.com/DreamCougar Helen Callahan

    Loved your review and loved this show!  It was so nice to see Neal and Peter happy again and together.  I think Peter would have told Neal about the letters, but Neal was in such a happy mood, Peter didn’t want to ruin it.  As was said at the end, forget about the past and the future, enjoy the moment!  Tim DeKay is such a genuinely, believable actor, as is Matt Bomer.  And any script that Jim Campolongo is involved in always has a warm quality to it and makes you feel good.  All in all, Stealing Home was great.  I wish this was the Finale instead of next week!!

  • http://twitter.com/DreamCougar Helen Callahan

    Loved your review and loved this show!  It was so nice to see Neal and Peter happy again and together.  I think Peter would have told Neal about the letters, but Neal was in such a happy mood, Peter didn’t want to ruin it.  As was said at the end, forget about the past and the future, enjoy the moment!  Tim DeKay is such a genuinely, believable actor, as is Matt Bomer.  And any script that Jim Campolongo is involved in always has a warm quality to it and makes you feel good.  All in all, Stealing Home was great.  I wish this was the Finale instead of next week!!

  • Anonymous

    So many good bits in this episode – and it really sets up the hearing next week. Some of the highlights for me:

    * Loved the scene between Neal and Sara. Doing the whole “honest” thing doesn’t necessarily come easily to Neal… but their conversation really had a genuine, honest feel to it. (Really would have liked to have heard more of it though!!!)

    * The pool game interview was fun. Neal’s confidence almost bordered on being cocky – but he backed it up. And we got one more clue about his background. A 9 year old pool hustler in St. Louis, huh???

    * Even after all of their cases together, Peter still has his doubts about which side Neal is on. That’s why it was nice to hear him say “Thank you, Neal” when he found the clue under the fake baseball covering.

    * The whole “tigress” exchange at the Burke residence was hilarious. Neal’s “Not hungry… anymore” was perfectly timed. And, of course, it led to the revelation of some of Peter’s background. (That Peter’s love of baseball coincides with Tim DeKay’s was pretty evident – all of the stadium shots were a wonderful homage to the sport.)

    * Maybe this isn’t really a “highlight” but Kramer’s interest in Neal’s hearing is intriguing – and a little worrying. Can’t figure what could possibly be so incriminating in old prison letters that would override everything Neal has done since he was released. (Leads to the question of whether Kramer’s goal is to keep Neal on the anklet – or if he wants to go farther to “Protect” Petey.)

    * That scene at the end with Neal and Peter at Neal’s apartment was both happy and sad. Neal is so excited about giving Peter the rookie card, and sharing his other surprise for Peter – and Peter, once again, hides something from Neal.

    * Neal arranging for the time on the field at Yankee stadium was perfect. Tim mentioned in the chat that no acting was required – he was genuinely thrilled to be there. Still, it was kind of bittersweet. I felt really bad for Neal when he asked if he had ANY chance at commutation… and Peter not only wouldn’t answer, but didn’t even really look at him.

    I’m sure next week’s finale will have all sorts of twists and turns – and leave us hanging big-time until next summer. My Tuesday nights already feel barren :-(

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