Contributor: Gregg Wright
This episode of “White Collar” is trying very hard to get everything back to normal. Peter and Neal are back, doing what they do best: working together to solve a crime. There is a bit of progression in the bigger story, but there’s a much bigger emphasis on the case-of-the-week, which is somehow simultaneously good and bad. Good, because the case is a fun one. And bad, because I was really hoping they’d work on improving the situation with Neal and the art collection.
I still think it’s a great idea to destroy the trust between Peter and Neal, at least for a while, so that Peter and Neal can be on opposite sides of the law again. But I also maintain that Neal’s desire to take the loot and leave with Mozzie is completely unbelievable, given the development of the character. Neal’s decision came out of left field because it wasn’t developed properly.
Another reviewer also made a good point about Neal, which I think is being ignored. Neal is a man who enjoys the art of the crime more than the actual profit. Sure, Neal likes having money and he likes art. But that’s never been Neal’s prime motivator. It’s all about the con game itself. It’s fun and interesting for him, which is why working with Peter is such a healthy outlet for him. Still, given the right circumstances, Neal’s current actions could make sense. But there’s just not enough there. As is, I still think that the current story arc is kind of underwhelming when compared to the second season’s more ambitious music box arc.
As I said, the case was fun, which is also why it feels a little out of place. I’m having trouble accepting that Neal and Peter would be back to their usual fun-loving banter so soon after that surprisingly dramatic face-off at the end of the second season finale. I wanted there to be a lot more fall-out from that. I get that a lot of the real fall-out could come later when Peter proves that Neal has the art collection, and I get that the nature of the show requires that Neal and Peter still be able to work together. But I think this episode would have fit better elsewhere. Still, completely on its own merits, I enjoyed it. Peter acting giddy as a schoolboy over the treasure hunt was hilarious. And it was good to see Elizabeth more involved in things this week. I also enjoyed seeing William Sadler in the bad guy guest role, brief as it was.
I liked that the treasure hunt so heavily utilized astronomy and a real historical figure (Tycho Brahe). It gave them the chance to set a scene in a planetarium, which allowed for a visually interesting scene in which Neal and Peter explore the stars to find the next clue in the treasure hunt. Then Neal and Mozzie, along with Sachmo (I believe that this is his first con job), have to con their way into getting a look at a book in the Planetarium, which should hold yet another clue. Of course, this ends a bit disastrously and humorously, but it works out for the best in the end. By the way, would they really have an automatic page-turner going on such an extremely old book that’s in a hermetically-sealed glass case? Seems kind of counter-intuitive, but what do I know?
I’m not the only one whose mentioned this, but isn’t Hilarie Burton supposed to be a regular now? She was barely in the season premiere, and she wasn’t in this episode at all. And on the other hand, Jones and Diana are in every single episode (if I’m not mistaken), and yet they don’t get regular status. I’ve said this plenty of times before, but I feel bad for Sharif Atkins and Marsha Thomason. They’re in every episode, and yet they have so little to do. It’s one of the show’s more irritating persisting flaws.
The biggest moment of the episode came when Neal discovered that Peter has one page of the manifest, after which he immediately begins trying to contact Mozzie to stop him from selling the Degas painting. My prediction is that Neal will be too late, but that they’ll get lucky and sell something that’s not on the manifest page. I’m curious if Agent Matthews is just a one-time guest character, or whether she’ll be around a while longer. She seemed likable enough.
This review wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the new intro. There’s no way to know actual numbers, but some fans seem to hate it, while others like it. Unfortunately, I think I’m in the camp that didn’t like it. I liked the art theme, but it felt cheap and tacky. The previous intro was very slick in comparison. I’m not against a new intro, but I’d rather they stuck with the old one in this case.
All in all, an enjoyable stand-alone episode, but not exactly what I was hoping for at this point in the season. The writers are going to have to work harder to convince me that this story direction can match the intrigue of the previous two seasons.