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White Collar – S03E13 – “Neighborhood Watch”

USA's White Collar

White Collar – S03E13 – “Neighborhood Watch”

White Collar meets Rear Window in this tale of suspicious neighbors. Elizabeth overhears something that makes her suspicious and after a little investigation she’s convinced her new neighbors are criminals. Enlisting the help of Mozzie and Neal, can Elizabeth prove that she’s not being paranoid since her experience with Keller… or is she really being paranoid? A fun, simple caper with a lot of laughs but not enough pizzazz.

Score: 3 1/2 of 5

>Spoilers<

Peter happens to leave some scanning devices at home and Elizabeth manages to overhear two men talking about what sounds like a heist. She tells Peter and he checks out the date, time and location of the supposed crime but nothing happens. Elizabeth is convinced she’s not being paranoid and enlists Mozzie and Neal to help prove her neighbor is up to something. (Nice though to see that Peter and Neal didn’t just completely write her off at the beginning as being paranoid.)

White Collar – S03E13 – “Neighborhood Watch”

Neal and Mozzie do recon for Elizabeth.

Casing the neighbor’s residence, Neal spies an illegal lock pick kit and while it’s against the law, it’s not solid proof of heinous wrong doings. Meanwhile, Jones and Diana do their due diligence in checking out Elizabeth’s lead but ultimately they admit that nothing is amiss and their own significant others have had their moments of paranoid delusion.

Tricking her way into a dinner with the neighbors, Ben (Joe Manganiello) and his wife, Elizabeth hopes to get Peter to see the lock picks. Instead she gets herself locked in a room with no way out. Neal has to talk her through picking a lock, another nod towards the blurring lines between the good guys and criminals. Neal is also having second thoughts about his impending freedom. In a ‘grass is always greener’ moment, Neal misses going on stakeouts with Peter, even if it’s nothing but potted meat and the game on the radio the whole time. As Neal leans towards good guy, the line is slowly disappearing.

Of course, Peter finds out what’s going on and he’s not happy, at all. However, when Elizabeth mentions a phone company uniform that she found, he’s able to put two and two together from an earlier report by Jones and Diana about phones going out during the time Elizabeth though a crime was going to occur. Ben and his partner went through a dry run.

Needing more evidence, and to find out who Ben’s partner is, Neal goes undercover as another ‘ex-con who is getting the shaft by the system’. It’s enough to get Ben to trust him to the point of Neal getting close enough to discover a clue that will later tell them exactly how the crime is going to go down, but not exactly where. They figure it out but get there in time to find a missing safe and the robbers getting out of Dodge via a hail of bullets.

White Collar – S03E13 – “Neighborhood Watch”

"Isn't impersonating a Federal Agent a crime?" "Spousal immunity?"

Elizabeth, who is keeping eyes on Ben’s wife, decides to follow her when she leaves and they all end up at a club where the money is being divvied up. Fearing the group will be scattered and gone before Peter can get there, Elizabeth and Mozzie storm in, pretending to be Feds. This is possibly the most awkwardly painful but hilariously awesome moment of the entire show.

Successfully stalled, Peter gets there in time to arrest the felons and all is right with the world. We get another ‘on the nose’ moment when Neal has this exchange with Ben.

Ben: I thought you were one of us.
Neal: I used to be.

Yeah, we get it, leading up to Neal going legit. But hey, at least it wasn’t a long speech so that’s something.

Overall an enjoyable episode and great to see more Mozzie and Elizabeth, but it was soft with no real twists. Definitely worth watching but you could literally stick it anywhere in the last three seasons and it would work. Still, let’s hope this is only the beginning of Mrs. Suit going slightly-rouge. It suits her. (pun intended)

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in Television

 

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White Collar – S04E12 – “Upper West Side Story”

USA's White Collar

White Collar – S04E12 – “Upper West Side Story”

A young but bright student brings his case of an embezzling endowment officer to Peter and Neal’s attention. Neal goes undercover as a poetry teacher and Peter a wealthy businessman looking to send his kid to the school. Meanwhile, Peter’s disposition for Keller’s trial looms near and will the proverbial boy scout tell the truth or only from a certain point of view? A wonderfully self-aware episode which will make you laugh from beginning to end.

Score: 4 of 5

>Spoiler<

It’s almost kind of sad that the Royal Pains/White Collar crossover ad upstaged the entire episode, but it was pretty darn funny. Although “Upper West Side Story” does score points for replay value.

White Collar – S04E12 – “Upper West Side Story”

Hot for teacher. Neal goes undercover as a substitue.

We start the story with the knowledge that Keller’s hearing is coming up and Peter has to testify to what happened. If he sticks to Keller’s story then Keller goes away for a long time and Neal gets a chance to get the anklet removed. If Peter tells the whole truth then Keller could get a commuted sentence and Neal will be thrown back in prison. It’s a case of doing what’s right and doing what’s the right thing to do.

They’re distracted when young student Evan (Graham Phillips) comes in well prepared to make a case against Andy Woods (Dylan Baker) for embezzlement. Turns out Andy is already under investigation for possible money laundering for the cartels.

Peter goes undercover as a wealthy Hong Kong businessman who wants to send his son to the preppy upper west side school while Neal plays the role of assistant. In one of the best scenes this season, Neal gives con man tips to a poor kid stuck outside the principle office when a lady runs up saying “World Poetry”. Neal of course rattles off something that sounded beautiful (Bryon maybe?) and so she thinks he’s the substitute teacher for the class. For what it’s worth Neal does try to correct the mistake but when he sees Andy’s daughter, Chloe, is in the class, well, doesn’t take a con man to see an opportunity waiting to happen.

Of course every girl in the class gains an instant crush on the new substitute. I think it would be shattering the suspension of disbelief if they didn’t!

Neal isn’t oblivious and he and Mozzie put together a plan to turn Chloe’s affections towards a more age appropriate target, Evan. These two con men haven’t been this adorable in a long time, massive grins all around.

White Collar – S04E12 – “Upper West Side Story”

Peter's cover is blown.

The rest of the story is a bit average, your usual ‘undercover op goes bad, got to improvise’ plot but it’s the way the characters play it that makes it so much fun. When Mozzie comes across the Chemistry Lab, you know what’s going to happen but you tingle in anticipation anyway.

In the end the bad guy goes down, Evan gets the girl, and Peter does the right thing to do and only tells as much truth as required in order to put Keller away and keep Neal on the track to freedom. Oh, this is gonna get good.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Television

 

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Royal Pains – S03E11 – “A Farewell to Barnes”

USA's Royal Pains

Royal Pains – S03E11 – “A Farewell to Barnes”

Spoilers for previous episodes.

After leaving off with a patient dying due to Divya’s mistake and Hank’s relationship with Jill precariously perched, “A Farewell to Barnes” gives a satisfying conclusion to the plot points but is otherwise unremarkable as a mid-season premiere. The patient of the week is not exactly sympathetic (she is such a whiner) nor is the medical problem all that interesting. Even the return of Tom Cavanagh as golfer Jack O’Malley is not as fun as it could have been. Solid episode but lacking the punch to really push this last half of the season.

Score: 3 of 5

>Spoilers<

At the end of the mid-season, Divya made a horrible mistake and prescribed a patient the wrong medicine. Hank luckily discovers him but was it in time? Pretty much, as television goes. Poor Kassabian (Wilmer Valderrama) spends a chunk of the episode in a coma but wakes up in time have his say in what happened.

Royal Pains – S03E11 – “A Farewell to Barnes”

Hank confronts Van Dyke about the medication.

As Hank suffers déjà vu from his own mistakes (which landed him in position he is in the first place), neurotic party planner Lucy (Kathleen Rose Perkins) is suffering from her own anxiety (and apparently a gluten allergy). I must say though, the idea of the divorce party and how it played out was pretty fun.

Jill has issues about her leaving for Uruguay for her dream job. Divya is upset about her mistake. Evan and Paige go back and forth but eventually get engaged. It’s all taken care of, for the most part, but other than a cool party and a few snazzy lines of dialogue, there is just no meat on the bones of any of this. It’s all straight forward point A to point B stuff.

Most times shows try to go too far, but for once I think this one didn’t try to go far enough. The only reason this episode doesn’t get a 2 ½ score is because Hank’s argument with Van Dyke and the Divorce Party really are nice highlights in an otherwise blasé episode.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2012 in Television

 

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White Collar – S03E11 – “Checkmate”

USA's White Collar

White Collar – S03E11 – “Checkmate”

Spoilers for Previous Episodes

In the mid-season finale, Elizabeth Burke was kidnapped by Keller, the con man gone wrong. Peter is not happy and I was afraid he might go off on Neal to the point of another break up of their partnership. Instead, Peter holds his cool in a restrained calm which Tim DeKay plays very well and the group is able to do what needs to be done to find Elizabeth. What follows is Peter and Neal trying to stay ahead of Keller while restraining themselves from bashing his face in. Elizabeth, for her part, isn’t waiting to play the damsel in distress either. A solid episode which gives a satisfying conclusion to the Keller story while also leaving an opening for the possibility of a really interesting second half of the season.

Score: 4 of 5

>Spoilers<

Thank goodness, the old title screen is back! I just did not like the faux gallery title screen with the techno music. No, the swiping images and poppy beat embodied the tone of the show. So glad the powers that be realized this too!

White Collar – S03E11 – “Checkmate”

Peter is restrained from hurting Keller.

I’m also really glad that they didn’t take the opportunity in this story line to break apart Peter and Neal and spend the episode with yet another “I don’t trust you” skit. Once again Elizabeth shows herself to be the glue of the series and everyone bans together despite the fact that both Neal and Mozzie feel responsible for what has happened. It’s sad that it takes her kidnapping for the characters to get their act together but sometimes you need something as dramatic as this in order to do it.

Peter resists every urge to beat the crap out of Keller and while I would have liked to see more scenes of him having to show restraint, it’s nevertheless as satisfying to the viewer as to Peter when he gets the chance to, well, beat the living crap out of Keller.

Neal also gets to do his best Kurt Douglas impression with a shield, trying to defend/fight against Keller before Peter comes and saves his butt. Interesting scene with him shooting Keller in the leg. Apparently there is a long story to how Neal was able to make that shot despite bleeding from a head wound and otherwise having been laid out. I wonder if that was a throwaway line or if more examination of Neal’s past is going to come up later this season.

Elizabeth is of course not one to sit by idly when there is a daring escape to be made. She is able to manipulate the weak link and make herself an opening to escape. Kudos to Tiffany for playing this character so right, it could have been too easy to either make her overbearing or OTT, but she’s just the right mix of strong female and supportive wife.

The ending closes with Neal deciding to the right thing and protect Peter and Elizabeth from Keller forever by admitting to the treasure theft and Keller’s part in it all thereby ensuring the man’s sent away for a long long time. Turns out Keller beat Neal to the punch, using the treasure to ingratiate himself with the Russian mob he was running from. Hey, a bit too neat of a tidy package but this is White Collar, they don’t use grit and drama for cheap tricks, and we love them for it.

Lastly, Neal has been put up for early release, i.e., the anklet could be gone and he no longer has to report to Peter. Come on, we know he’ll find a way to stick around (there is a fourth season commissioned after all), but Peter, Elizabeth, Sarah and the FEDs are his family now… he’s not going to give them up.

Not if he’s smart and we both know he is.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2012 in Television

 

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