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TV Review: White Collar – “By the Book”

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Ever since Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) decided to earn his living as a con artist, his life has taken a series of twists and turns he probably would not have considered as possibilities. Getting caught by the FBI would be one of them. Good thing Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), one of the top agents, gets to be the guy who catches Neal. Twice, actually. Long time love Kate leaving him, though, is more than Neal’s heart is prepared to handle.

At the moment, I do not have too much trouble believing Kate is dead. The plane she is in blows pretty much to kingdom come, and chances of her survival are slim. The bigger question is who would go to such lengths. Revenge? It’s a reasonable assumption. The tactic sends Neal a message of just how high the stakes are. Especially if someone close to him is no longer around.

No wonder Neal is willing to help Mozzie (Willie Garson), when Gina (Diane Farr, Numb3rs), whom Mozzie has an affection for, goes missing. This is merely a crush, but the chances of real trouble are a possibility. When they discover Gina’s place has been trashed, both realize action has got to be taken. There’s only one problem – the issue of asking the FBI for help.

Garson just might be one of the greatest character actors out there. He brings an over the top wit to the show which adds special moments to each episode. Viewers have gotten to see just how complex Mozzie is, which says something about the talent Garson has. For starters, Mozzie is a nickname Neal uses, and even Peter does not know who the bespectacled short dude really is. In fairness, there is perhaps only one thing “Mozzie” could be short for, which doesn’t make sense with his lactose intolerance. A certain adjective, though, might work better.

Watching Garson enter the FBI bureau is movie magic. Not only does Mozzie shuffle his feet, indicating his high level of discomfort, the tune “Flight of the Bumblebees” is a brilliant touch. Matt Bomer could have come off a bit more sympathetic, as he appears to blow off Garson’s distress. I thought Garson just might faint on the way up to Peter’s office, but that would probably have been a bit over the top.

Of course, the episode would not be worthy of White Collar if there was not a chance for an undercover sting. Under ordinary circumstances, the job would fall to Neal with the Feds close behind. Seeing Bomer in the humidor of the cigar bar early on is reminiscent of “Pilot”, and DeKay gets to set up the scene for the final showdown later. By the time it happens, the viewer is left on edge as to how things will turn out, which heightens the tension factor.

Elizabeth is almost back. Tiffani Theissen has been absent for several episodes after giving birth earlier this year. However, the scene between her and Peter at lunch reminds folks just how good the chemistry between DeKay and Thiessen is.

For now, the music box storyline is left aside. There will be plenty of time down the road for things to come to fruition. Less than a month of episodes remain before the summer finale, but the series will continue its run come January or so after the fall premieres have had time to air and get cut due to low ratings.

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