This week’s installment of White Collar, entitled “Shoot the Moon”, was written by Matt Negrete and, with his first television writing credit, Bob DeRosa. Congratulations, Bob! Now you get to make things! (See Bob’s blog post, entitled “Making Stuff” here.)


White Collar Review – “Shoot the Moon”

This episode is all about romance. It makes me wonder whether it was meant for last week, when White Collar was bumped for the dog show. (Full disclosure: I love the dog show.) The opening scene is lovely: Neal and Sara walking through Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, talking and playfully mixing business with pleasure. There’s a gorgeous scene where Neal and Sara have a sweep-her-off-her-feet-kiss in front of the Unisphere – a huge steel globe surrounded by fountains. It has to be said: I don’t know another show that shows off a city quite as beautifully as White Collar shows off New York. If they’re not getting a grant from the tourism bureau there, someone should get on that immediately.

Peter and El are packing for a getaway, and Peter isn’t telling El where they’re going. It’s these kinds of playful plot points that really display the affection the Burkes have for each other, and show off the natural chemistry that Tim DeKay and Tiffani Thiessen have with each other. They’re a very believable and enjoyable couple to be around as they tease and taunt each other. Jones pops in to deliver news on the season’s continuing story: a tax return of Ellen’s which might help locate the evidence box – which might clear Neal’s father’s name and allow him to stop living life on the lam.

Before El and Peter leave for the Rusty Egret B&B in Vermont (I love this name), they stop by Sara’s client’s location to see Marie Antoinette’s perfume bottle, insured by Sara’s company and on display as part of the launch of a new perfume. After securing some dog-sitting from Neal and Sara, the Burke’s leave to get a quick cuppa before they get on the road. While Neal reviews the security system, the client is robbed. Sara smashes the glass on the security case with her wicked baton, allowing the robbers to take the perfume bottle and get out before they hurt someone. But in order to escape, they commandeer the Burke’s car, and the Burkes are along for a ride.

The criminal couple, Oz (played by Jackson Rathbone) and Penny (played by Jessica McNamee), do a nice job, and here I’ll note that it’s probably not particularly easy for the the character of Oz to keep going from love to rage, to love, and then back to rage again. The couple is fun to watch as they talk about the things they’ve stolen. Marilyn Monroe’s ring. The perfume. Bottles of the finest wine. As I watched Peter sitting on the couch, trying to talk sense into Oz, it reminded me of the early days of White Collar, when Peter was explaining the finer points of manhood and maturity to a young and incorrigible Neal. And it was interesting to contrast the younger Oz / Neal proxy (violence and gun wielding aside) with the wiser Neal, in his more mature relationship with Sara, and really looking at home in his life at the FBI.

Willie Garson’s Mozzie absolutely makes the scene at the Burke’s house, wanting to teach Peter Burke a lesson about trusting people like himself by planting a camera in the lampshade, and Matt Bomer and Willie Garson continue to have a really fun rapport. They pick up the evidence that Peter has (we later find out) planted for Neal to follow regarding the box of evidence, and as they leave, Mozzie tries once more to badger “the suit”. (Mozzie: “It’s not too late to hide that microcam.” Neal: “Not gonna happen.”)

El, meanwhile, finds a way to ingratiate herself with the kidnappers (is it me, or is she just getting more and more lovely in this role?) proving that she has every bit the amount of charm that Neal has.

Then, while talking together in the FBI office, Neal finds out that Sara is angling for a job in London, and the successful recovery of the perfume bottle will help her get that job. Matt Bomer does a terrific job looking like a guy who’s heartbroken without wanting to seem like he’s heartbroken. I think he actually turned pale. (Can a person do that, make themselves go pale?) Either way, it was a touching scene, and in an earlier episode we might be wondering if Neal would throw the case to keep the girl. But this is a new, selfless Neal, and even before he says it in a later scene we know the answer: he just wants her to be happy.

When Neal tells Mozzie about Sara’s possible exit from New York, Mozzie’s character, in my opinion, still completely fails to “get” this side of Neal, and is possibly even projecting onto Neal what Mozzie wants him to be. While Neal nods his head when Mozzie says, “For guys like us, the only regret is permanence,”
all evidence of knowing Neal through his previous self-sabotaging pursuit of (the now, absolutely, positively dead) Kate, and his fatal attraction and loyalty to women in general leads us to believe that Neal isn’t actually a guy like Mozzie at all. (And here, I’ll state that I’d love to see another visit from the wonderful Lena Headey, to see if we can find a romantic heart somewhere in the body of Mozzie.)

Perhaps as a hat tilt to that, Mozzie is a “wine-drinking speed-reader” holed up in Neal’s apartment with Neal and Sara, poring over hundreds of love letters between the kidnappers while Oz was in prison. Mozzie is exasperated by the number of ways that people can express love, while Sara and Neal totally get it. what follows is another nice scene between Burton and Bomer, and I’ll maintain that Hilarie Burton not only fits in perfectly with this cast, but she brings depth and interest to every scene she’s in. The couple, though, really does seem to shine, and it is my hope of hopes (though I know there are those who wish otherwise) that S5 will find us following Neal following Sara to London. She’s too much of a gem to let go, both as an actor and a character.

The kidnappers are bent on getting one last object, a moonrock from the New York Hall of Science in Queens (Another. Stunning. Backdrop. Both inside and out.) before they hit the road. They bring the Burkes along and Neal and Sara figure out the kidnappers’ next move while they’re en route. They break in while the kidnappers release the alarm from the moonrock case, but Neal and Sara are there first. Neal manages to get Peter freed in exchange for the moonrock, but of course Peter has to go back for Elizabeth. Elizabeth, meanwhile, manages to not only disabuse Penny of the idea that she and Peter are boring (“This is not even my first kidnapping.”) but also puts an FBI-grade move on Penny, taking her gun. (Elizabeth Burke: secret ninja? Discuss.)

Penny escapes, Peter finds Elizabeth, but Elizabeth – being the superego of all the characters on the series – says they have to save Oz and Penny, since they’re about to go out, guns a-blazin’ with the FBI. It’s certain not to end well. The whole conflict ends with a Peter Burke Treatise on Love (very touching…where can I get my husband signed up for the Tim DeKay School of Romance, again?) and everyone leaves the building, still alive, still in love.

In the last scenes of the episode, Sara and Neal meet at the FBI office. She thanks him, invites him to the party later that evening and leaves. We can tell that he’s trying to be casual, but the look on his face as she leaves tells us that she has him totally hooked. Peter and El are back at their house, and El finally tells Peter that she’d asked Neal to lie to him. This is huge for the Peter-Neal Bromance lovers out there: Peter can trust Neal again, though we never really saw Peter seriously distrust Neal in these past few eps. One wonders if that particular relationship stress is finally gone between the two men. If so, I’m a little sad to see it go, since it did bring such wonderful tension to the series. Still, I suppose you can only walk that path for so long.

And finally, Neal and Mozzie crack the code that tells them where the evidence box might be: on the 50th floor of the Empire State Building. Good luck to them. I love a good hunt.

Random Observations

– Kidnapped? Again? Someone needs a personal Lojack.

– Diana and Jones co-running the case is fun. Best mini power struggle ever.

– Nice hair, Diana! New girlfriend?

– “Amis amant” is French for “friends with benefits”. Thanks, White Collar!

– Neal asking for a ballistics report sounds about as natural as me asking for a atom smasher.

– And while we’re on Things That Don’t Sound Like Neal…I know the guy is smart, but why on earth does he know what’s in article 6 of the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty? I get why he knows everything about art, jewelry and culture, but I’m beginning to think he’s got some sort of condition.

– I wonder what Tim DeKay was doing for most of this episode with his hands behind his back. I’m pretending he learned how to play behind-the-back handheld electronic games.

– “Mugshot Monthly”. This is a horrible, funny, horrible idea. I spent a really long time online seeing if something like this existed, because I just had to know. I didn’t find a magazine, but there’s this website…

– Sara and her kickass baton will be one of my favorite things about any character, ever.

– We hear about Sara’s lost sister again. Hello, future plot?

– During dinner with the kidnappers, do I see a Lolanna lamp in the background? Thank you, Duke Scoppa, Propmaster.

– Ok, the kidnappers ditched the Burke’s car, but thought to save the EZ Pass…because Oz has a pathological fear of toll booth operators? Hmm.

– Where does Neal get the balls to negotiate for Peter with a gun to his head like that? Wow. And I don’t think negotiating with a moon rock is in the FBI hostage situation handbook. Nice work, Neal.

– Maybe Elizabeth “never wanted to be good at this [crime and investigation].” But she sure is.

– I missed Satchmo. (See my earlier comment, re: last week’s dog show.)

– This show was so romantic…you might even say it was “snuggly”.

Favorite White Collar Quotes from “Shoot the Moon”

Mozzie: “Seriously, boxed wine? We gotta get outta here.”

Peter: “You kidnapped me, you don’t get to judge me.”

Sara: “It’s not like I’m running away to an island or something.”
Neal: “Well, technically, Britain is an island.”

Sara: “I’ve never actually seen you steal anything before.”
Neal: “Well that is one of the perks of being my plus one.”

Ceil Kessler is a writer of blogs, reviews, advice columns, flash fiction, regular-plain-old-long fiction, textbooks, and if she hasn’t written it, she wants to. In her spare time, she’s a social media and marketing consultant. She prioritizes most things by taste. Wine, high priority. Cleaning bathrooms, low priority. Follow her on Twitter at @ceilck