Entertainment Magazine

Review #3229: White Collar 3.11: “Checkmate”

Posted on the 19 January 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Gregg Wright

This episode is all about dealing with the current threat, getting things back to normal, and establishing a new direction for the show. The episode hits all the expected notes. Neal, Peter, and Mozzie (with Diana and Jones backing them up) must match wits with Keller to get Elizabeth back. And in the usual “White Collar” fashion, this means conning Keller into working with the three of them to steal the treasure right out from under the cops’ noses.

Review #3229: White Collar 3.11: “Checkmate”

But before all this can happen, the episode deals with the fallout from Peter’s discovery of Neal’s secret: that he’s had the treasure all along. And as expected, he is seriously pissed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Peter more visibly upset. Obviously, this is “White Collar”, so Peter does calm down. I might have liked to have seen Peter remain at odds with Neal a while longer before forgiving him, but his initial reaction is extremely believable. And I suppose it’s kind of refreshing that the characters in “White Collar” generally don’t overreact to everything and behave more like adults.

Peter is upset with Neal, but he knows better than to needlessly continue to direct his anger at Neal or let it interfere with their mutual goal of getting Elizabeth back, especially now that Neal was ready to give up the treasure and even go to jail for a very long time to keep Keller in check for good. Still, Keller’s attempt to get a rise out of Peter I might also have liked to have seen a bit more of a gradual reconciliation between Neal and Mozzie, but I did appreciate seeing Mozzie back in the game with everyone else.

As I’ve repeatedly said in previous reviews, one of the things I most enjoy about “White Collar” is the role-reversal theme that seems to play its way into quite a few of the episodes. I especially like seeing Peter forced into channeling his inner con man; a role that he’s never particularly comfortable with, despite the fact that he can be surprisingly good at it when the situation calls for it. The role-reversal concept never really gets developed as much as I’d like, but it does seem to be appearing more and more often.

The timing for Neal finally gaining his freedom couldn’t be more perfect. Now that he’s made the decision stay in New York of his own free will, the anklet is no longer required as the story device that keeps Neal from leaving. If Neal continues to help Peter catch bad guys, even when he’s no longer doing so just to get out of jail time, then this too plays into the role reversal theme. Neal is becoming more like a cop/fed all the time.

This is a great step forward for the show, but is it enough to drive the narrative for the remaining five episodes of the season? Surely, there are bound to be some unforeseen complications getting in the way of Neal’s freedom. Whatever happens, the Neal/Peter dynamic is what “White Collar” is all about, so I don’t see that ever changing. But the treasure has been, more or less, at the heart of the show from the very start. Something new will have to take its place.

A few notes. I enjoyed the fact that Elizabeth was so proactive about dealing with her captors, and that she actually succeeded (sort of) in escaping all on her own. The matter of Neal’s well-aimed gunshot is another interesting point. It seems to serve as further evidence that Neal is secretly good with guns (though he obviously prefers to not use them). And finally, I liked the low-tech appeal of carrier pigeons as a means of contacting Mozzie. It’s so “White Collar”, and it’s so Mozzie.

Yes, “White Collar” is back, at least for a little while, and the final leg of season 3 is off to a good start. But with so few episodes left in the season, any straightforward procedural episodes are going to feel a bit bland without something interesting going on in the background. And whatever myth-arc story-lines are introduced have to take into account the already-confirmed fourth season. As is so often the case, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Rating: 8/10

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