Last night’s White Collar was a strong episode highlighted by five major key points, pun intended.
The Key to Season 4
Plenty points of our Season 4 Wish List were checked off in this episode thanks to Ellen’s key. Mozzie’s (Willie Garson) stunt with the key and Neal’s (Matt Bomer) little white lie (more on that below) put Peter’s (Tim DeKay) trust in Neal back in doubt, which we saw coming and both of them figured out on their own that the ridges on the key were silhouettes to the New York City skyline. Match them up correctly, then they’ll find out where Ellen’s secret hiding place is for her files on James (Treat Williams). What a fun way to get the silent character of the city involved in the storyline; it also brings back an enjoyable competitive element to the series, which has been missing in answering all of Neal’s questions about his past. And now we’ll see who gets to the files first, Peter or Neal.
The Man in Black
Titus Welliver guest starred as Senator Pratt who has ties to James and therefore becomes public enemy No. 1. Lost’s Man in Black may be the big bad guy for the rest of Season 4, and this could be enough to cool the scent on James Bennett being a bad guy, for now. We’ll reserve letting him off the hook though until at least the end of the season. And since there’s a treasure hunt for Ellen’s files on James, his character will remain in question until those files are exposed. Does anyone else find it curious that many of the “bad guys” are people in the system? In addition to Pratt, there was Agent Kramer (Beau Bridges), Garrettt Fowler (Noah Emmerich) and to a lesser degree FBI Agent Kyle Collins (Mekhi Phifer). Should Peter and Neal put Pratt away, then that does elevate the work being done at White Collar and the potential score for getting justice. It raises the stakes but also the risk.
A change in management
Reese Hughes (James Rebhorn) was forced to step down as director of White Collar as a result of going after Senator Pratt’s biggest donor (Reed Diamond). This holds Peter directly accountable for White Collar from here on out, a position he’s qualified for, but probably not under these circumstances. Reese and Peter caught shrapnel for all the good of Neal has done, digging into his past. Just imagine if it happens again, Peter will be forced to resign. So the team has to tread lightly and get enough of a case built against Pratt so that he can’t use his authority and power to bully Peter out, and send Neal back to prison. They lost a big guy in their corner with Hughes who was a firm director, but knew the value of Caffrey and the work that his team did. While he did factor into many of the episodes to a minor degree–more than a dozen–Hughes has some nice moments over the last three and a half seasons, with Neal and Peter separately, but the way he walked out of the office made the weight of this loss feel very heavy.
Elizabeth Burke gets desperate
Up until now Elle (Tiffani Thiessen) was more than happy to sit back, let the boys do their work and be there should either Neal, Peter, and Mozzie needs a helping hand. But telling Neal to flat out lie to her husband so he won’t be so relentless to go to the grave helping Neal with his burning desires. This is a case of what she doesn’t know won’t hurt Elle, but it’s a hard argument to make when your husband gets his brakes cut from his car and is lying on a hospital bed. We know that Peter and Neal butted heads in the past but because Neal was asked to lie by Elle, we don’t think this anger towards Neal will stick around too long. Peter can’t stay angry at her when he does find out, especially when she was just looking out for his livelihood. Still it’s an interesting move by Elle, as she doesn’t want to see the person that means the world to her gone and she may have stepped over the line this time.
As we had hoped, with Peter out of commission, Agents Jones and Barrigan were given some more time on the stage, and surprisingly not together. They split up putting Diana with Neal and we’ve seen on a few occasions (in the surveillance van and on a few cases last year) that they compliment each other. Diana is Agent Burke’s best and most trusted team member basically a younger version of Peter, professionally speaking of course. So it’s no surprise her and Neal working well independently and running an operation. As for Jones, his loyalty to Peter wound up screwing Neal (who again was just following Elle’s request) and he had to deal with Mozzie who predictably gave him a hard time. We’re glad to see Diana and Clinton get more story, let’s hope they keep it up and it’s not just a novelty.
Other great moments included:
• Peter again living through Neal’s taste for personal grooming.
• Peter Scolari playing Mozzie’s keymaster friend who offered his help only after answering sphinx-like questions.
• Elle describing Peter as some hot-Deepak Chopra
• Neal finding out that Edwards’s construction change approvals were falsified by quick testing the age of stamp ink – the subtle nod to the craft of the con game was a nice contrast to the spectacular leap of faith in “A Family Business.”
Catch the new episode of White Collar, “Empire City” on Tuesday at 10pm on the USA Network. Peter and Neal work a forgery and laundering case, while the hunt for what the key opens begins. and Diana looks like she could be the next one to catch shrapnel, as her cover gets blown.