White Collar holds a very dear place in my heart. It’s the show about which I first wrote for AfterEllen. So I love it in a perfect, first love, kind of way. That will probably never change but it doesn’t mean I don’t think they should use Agent Diana Berrigan a whole lot more. Because she hasn’t been featured heavily in the three episodes so far, I’m lumping them together to get you caught up on the show.
Family Business (4.11)
When last we left our heroes Neal had just discovered that mystery man “Sam” is actually his dad. We begin this part of the season with Neal confronting “Sam” about being his Papa. It turns out that “Sam” is actually James Bennett, who was once a corrupt cop in Washington, D.C. but who, in spite of confessing to the crime, did not kill another police officer. Apparently there is a huge difference between working for the Irish mob and pocketing buckets of cash and actually knocking off another cop. James confessed to the crime because, while in jail, he received a phone call threatening his wife and young Neal.
Neal and Peter aren’t sure if they buy James’ story. Peter has big feelings about Neal’s father being back in his life. The good guy part of him is happy that Neal is getting to know his dad while the other part of him is pouting because he sort of thought that he was a father figure to Neal. So he sits around listening to George Michael records and writing in his feelings journal.
The case this week involves the son of the head of the Flynn family mob James used to work for. young Flynn is trying to revive the family’s whiskey business. Neal suggests that the team can get in with Flynn (oh, like I wasn’t going to make that joke) by marketing Neal as a bootlegger that can match the flavor of fancy pants whiskey (and whisky). Diana, ever the voice of our thoughts, quips that of course Neal knows how to counterfeit whiskey.
The best scene of the episode is when Neal and Mozzie get blitzed trying to match the flavor of a bottle of Shackleton whisky. The line of the episode is when Mozzie says “Gaelic” and Neal, played by out actor Matt Bomer, channels his inner 12-year-old and titters “you said Gaelic” and almost falls off his chair laughing. They get so bombed that Neal is hungover the next day and Peter offers him a nasty looking cure that involves pickle juice. Yikes.
In the end, they get Flynn and find the gun he used to kill Ellen. Now that Ellen’s murder has been solved the U.S. Marshalls will be able to release Ellen’s belongings to Neal and they can get started on the next mystery. Unfortunately, Flynn gets shanked while he’s being transferred. Someone powerful is involved in this clusterfuck and Neal and Peter need to figure out who it is. Until then, it’s not safe for James to be around so Neal has to say goodbye to his Pop again. Neal’s crying face is almost as heartbreaking as Tim Riggins’ cry face.
Brass Tacks (4.12)
Neal opens the box from the Marshalls and finds Ellen’s locket and inside is a two piece key. Not even Mozzie has seen anything like it before but he’s got a “key guy” who will be able to help. Peter sticks Jones with Mozzie which is one of the greatest odd couple pairing this show has ever done and the two of them head off to the zany land of the key guy.
Meanwhile, Neal and Peter figure out that the most likely candidate to be the bad guy is a Senator who used to be a cop in D.C. when Neal’s dad was a detective. He’s going to be in New York and they arrange to meet with the guy. He’s a classic politician, creepy and smarmy , and talks without giving any helpful information.
He is, however, running a scam with a contractor who builds skyscrapers in Manhattan. They propose buildings with top notch materials and then substitute for cheaper stuff without telling the city and pocket the difference. In order to get access to the Senator they stake out the barber shop where he’s going to get a shave. Diana is undercover and looking smoking hot in a red dress. She gets access to the Senator’s phone and Neal and Peter hide out in the back room, and put a secret camera in his briefcase.
As they get closer to making the link to the Senator, Peter gets into a car accident when his brakes fail and he’s hit by a car at an intersection. While he’s in the hospital Elizabeth Burke asks Neal to lie to Peter and makes him promise that he will continue the search into the key on his own. Neal doesn’t want to lie to Peter but promises El that he’ll hide the truth to keep Peter safe. Of course, Peter knows Neal’s lying right away and is hurt. El’s scared of losing her husband and if she’s got to break up a bromance to keep him safe, so be it.
Meanwhile Mozzie gives Jones the slip and gets the help he needs from the key master. Unbeknownst to Mozzie and Neal, Jones doubles back and to get the same information. Neal and Mozzie and Peter and Jones are now working on the key in parallel. Silly El, Peter won’t give up even if his boyfriend lied to his face.
They get the developer on the materials switcheroo but he won’t give them the Senator. The Senator is as obnoxious, and self-confident as any villain on this show and we simultaneously hate him and rejoice at having a new person to hate. As if that’s not bad enough, Senator Villain pulls strings and forces Hughes to retire. James Rebhorn plays Hughes and he’ll always be Atticus Finch to me. You don’t force Atticus to do anything, Senator. If the FBI doesn’t get you, I will.
The key, it turns out is not a regular sort of key, but a key that’s edge is actually the skyline of New York, from a very specific vantage point. Now it’s time to find the right spot and see what the key unlocks. Another mystery, that’s weird for this show.
Empire City (4.13)
Our episode begins with Mozzie driving Neal around in his taxi. Yeah, Moz has a taxi so he can pick up fares and troll them for secrets (so far he’s discovered where he can steal a bunch of copper pipe, but is still trying to find out if Ryan Murphy has an clue what the term “endgame” means). While he’s driving Neal around trying to find the skyline to match the key, Mozzie spots another cab with his medallion number and starts chasing it down. Of course he gets caught and big brother Peter has to come bail him out. The big twist is that Mozzie is doing something legal. His medallion is legit and the other guy has a counterfeit.
So they investigate and all signs point to two brothers, one of whom is Bill Bellamy. Yes, Bill Bellamy from MTV. Those of you who don’t get the reference make me feel like a dinosaur. Anyway. The Brothers Thief are reopening The Cotton Club and Peter and his crack team need to figure out if both brothers are involved in the shady dealings or if they need to concoct an elaborate scheme to catch the one who is.
Neal and Peter go undercover as music reps and they are repping June, which is awesome because Diahann Carroll is amazing and she sings in this episode. Meanwhile, Diana goes undercover as a cigar girl. Yeah, she’s wearing a ridiculous wig and that’s about it (thank you White Collar costume department). She snoops around and figures out that the safe in Bill’s office works on voice recognition Neal and Mozzie figure out a way to forge a record of June singing the right song and smuggle it in.
Diana nearly gets caught snooping my the former VJ but is able to talk her way out of it in classic Barrigan fashion. I think Diana’s main superpower is her lesbianism. All the guys who try to charm her or menace her or whatever their stupid game is just bounce of her Shield of Sappho. The only time we’ve seen her remotely flustered on an undercover gig was when she got caught checking out hottie thief Abigail. A sexy lady con might be the only thing that could trip her up. God, let’s hope they throw another sexy lady at her.
Anyway, Neal makes a melting taxi medallion that catches the bad guy and which is fairly cool, even in the world of Neal Caffrey, Swiss army knife of con men. The episode ends with Neal finding the right spot in the city and Peter, of course knows right what he’s looking at because he’s tracking Neal’s anklet. The key shows the skyline with the Empire State Building missing. Guess where they’re going next?
The preview for the next episode, airing February 19, promises that Diana is in charge as the team tries to spring Peter and Elizabeth from the clutches of an evil doer. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Are you watching the show? What do you think of this part of season four so far?