This episode needed to include a warning: Do Not Drink While Viewing. In the four years White Collar’s been entertaining us, I don’t believe there has been a funnier scene than the one in tonight’s episode, superbly written by Matt Negrete. The entire episode is a perfect blend of serious and hilarious.
Hilarious: Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) and Sara Ellis (Hilarie Burton) engaged in a “torrid love scene” directed by Mrs. Burke (Tiffani Thiessen) and captured on camera by Sara’s ex-boyfriend, Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer). Think the Marx Brothers, only much more attractive. On a side note, Jeff Easton tweeted that many of Matt Bomer’s and Tiffini Thiessen’s lines were ad-libbed in this scene, including Neal munching on the chocolate-covered strawberry.
The plot: Peter is the key witness in a case against a man named Delancy (Nicholas Tuturro) who tried to poison soil with Benzene in order to commit real estate fraud. Delancy hires a “fixer”, Landon Shepard (Perrey Reeves) who proceeds to blackmail the prosecuting attorney into throwing the case. From there we move on to the White Collar unit working with Sara Ellis in an attempt to get Shepard to back off, hopefully arrested, the trial saved and the bad guy sentenced. What follows is a very convoluted, but brilliant con involving almost everyone in some kind of compromising position.
Serious: Peter’s face as assistant DA Josh Bryson (Michael Torpey) throws the trial by asking the wrong question, twice.
According to Jeff Eastin this is the first time they’ve done a courtroom scene; they’ve wanted to have Neal testify since season one. It’s easy to see why; Bomer did an excellent job showing Neal in his proud con-man persona.
Hilarious: Neal, while demonstrating for the jury how benzene can take the ink off a check within five seconds, counts down said seconds only to find the ink still on the check. Pause for another second or two while Neal holds his breath and exchanges “oh shit” looks with the ADA. Then, finally, the ink fades away. You can almost hear the sigh of relief.
Weaving its way through the main plot is the on-going mythology arc with Neal’s father, the invisible Sam (Treat Williams), and the ping-ponging trust/no-trust situation between Neal and Peter. We do finally get to meet Sam face-to-face in this episode and he shows up as a jerk to end all jerks, making demands of Neal and giving nothing in return.
Serious: Neal finds Sam who won’t do anything unless Neal promises no FBI. Neal, who wants desperately to follow Peter’s lead and bring him in on the hunt, receives a very strong “no more working off book” from Peter when he feels him out about the Sam situation. This was a nice roll-over from last week’s episode when Peter told Neal he should have asked first and given Peter a chance to choose. Well, Peter, Neal asked this time and you shot him down. I hope you remember that when things start to heat up.
I have to wonder just how Neal has managed to keep his brain from totally exploding with all that’s happened to him, especially in the past couple of years. He keeps losing the people he loves, the ones he trusts continue to shoot down that trust, Peter yells at him no matter what choices he makes; honestly, with Peter he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. I can understand why Peter has trouble trusting Neal completely, but don’t get angry at him because he doesn’t ask your “permission” for something, and then when he does ask you shoot him down and get angry when he goes behind your back again.
Picking a nit with Peter: dear Agent Burke, you don’t want to work off book anymore, yet you put on those headphones and let Mozzie do his shady, gray-area, law-breaking bits in order to get Landon Shepard. You may not have know “what” he was doing, but you surely knew it was something on the wrong page of your book. I’m just sayin’, sir.
I’m thrilled to see two very strong, well-written and played women villains two weeks in a row. Easton called Shepard a “female Hannibel Lector” and he couldn’t be closer to the truth. She chewed up and spit out everyone she ran into, and Perrey Reeves looked like she was enjoying every bite. I hope we see more of her in future episodes.
I’m very, very curious about Neal’s father. Where is he? Is he dead or alive? I can’t see him in prison because then Peter could just look him up and solve the mystery. Maybe Neal’s dad is a good guy after all and he’s in witness protection, too? We did get a couple tiny little clues in the conversations between Neal and Sam tonight. Did anybody else catch them?
A few good White Collar quotes:
Neal, after Mozzie suggests he tell Peter about Sam: “You realize somewhere pigs are flying right now.”
Mozzie: “Yes, and that is the sound of hell freezing over.”
Jones, re Neal: “He doesn’t have a dark and sordid past as a con man.”
Diana: “Or an off again, on again relationship with the whole truth.”
Peter: “You’re more than welcome to sit in the gallery and watch me testify.”
Neal: “Oh, I’d love to, but I should probably stay here and sharpen pencils.”
Peter to Mozzie: “Where did you come from?”
Mozzie: “45 years ago, an enigma gave a paradox a very special hug.”
Neal: “…I know a thing or two about avoiding blackmail.”
Peter: “You mean proving blackmail.”
Neal: “That’s…not what I said.”
El t o Peter: “Honey, move your hand down…down…THERE you go.”
Neal to Sara: “Sara, do that thing with your leg.”
Sara: “NEAL! I got it.”
Dana Jeanne Norris is a former travel agent, now a returning college student, and writer living on the central coast of California. She’s an active advocate for LGBT civil rights, same-sex marriage, and anything that keeps our children safe.
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