Entertainment Magazine

Review #3263: White Collar 3.13: “Neighborhood Watch”

Posted on the 03 February 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Gregg Wright

If nothing else, I was pleased by the intent behind this episode. Elizabeth Burke generally plays the role of the supportive spouse or, more recently, someone a villain can leverage against the heroes. Considering recent events, it only seems fair to give Elizabeth an episode where she takes a more active role in a case-of-the-week. But to make it work, the writers needed to find a way to play to Elizabeth’s existing strengths and giver her a believable role in the plot. An earlier episode from this season (“Veiled Threat”) cleverly used Elizabeth’s profession as an event planner to justify her presence. Could “Neighborhood Watch” do something similar?

Review #3263: White Collar 3.13: “Neighborhood Watch”

Overall, the episode isn’t quite as Elizabeth-centric as I was expecting it to be, which is probably for the best. Even as is, her level of involvement is already stretching believability. The fact that the crooks in question live next door is what sparks off Elizabeth’s involvement, which is believable enough by itself. She tips off Peter, and he and Neal take it from there. But when her tip amounts to nothing, she takes on the role of amateur sleuth, gaining a bit of assistance from the slightly less scrupulous Neal and Mozzie.

Up until Liz and her accomplices convince Peter that something criminal is going on, it makes enough sense for Liz to be still involved. But she always feels a bit out of her depth. It’s only a minor concern at this point in the episode, though. Once Peter takes on the case, there’s really not much for Liz to do until the episode’s climax. Liz is never really presented as someone with something useful to bring to the table (as she was in “Veiled Threat”), other than her tenacity.

This is especially true in the episode’s climax, where Liz goes after the robbers with Mozzie in tow. To be fair, it’s still somewhat believable that Liz would choose to tail the robbers, since failing to act could have easily resulted in the robbers successfully hiding the cash before anyone could catch them with it. But again, the way Liz is thrust into this role feels overly unnatural. It’s one of those occasions where it’s difficult to ignore the contrivances that needed to be created to give Liz this role in the story. I think she deserves better.

Aside from this complaint (and in all honesty, an argument could be made that Elizabeth was integrated into the story about as well as anyone should expect), the writing and acting meets the “White Collar” standard. The jokes are great, and the sense of fun is as infectious as ever. Neal, Peter, Mozzie, and Liz all get to play a significant role in the case. There’s a brief, but appreciated reference to the possibility of Neal getting his freedom in the near future. My personal feeling is that the episode stumbles a bit in its integration of Elizabeth, but it still gets more right than it gets wrong.

Rating: 7/10

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