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TV Review: White Collar – “Free Fall”

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Ever since it premiered back in October, White Collar has shown USA a good return on its investment. While there have been a few bumps and bruises along the way, this isn't uncommon in a show's first year. Perhaps the holiday hiatus will help get rid of the kinks.

The mid-season finale is nothing short of amazing. One gigantic twist lies inside, which I'll get to a bit later. The impact is enough, though, to keep viewers considering various theories until the show returns on January 19. The show's new timeslot will be Tuesday at 10pm. Only time will tell whether the move is a good one.

Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) has always managed not to be the prime suspect in any case he assists the FBI on. There is, however, the small matter of his tracking device. Only twice has it been removed, due to his working undercover. Each time, it is replaced once the arrest is made. Obviously, becoming an agent is impossible for Neal. The bureau does not trust him and nobody knows this more than Peter Burke (Tim DeKay). He is the first to check and make sure Neal isn't on the wrong side of the law. After all, he's under Peter's supervision.

After a call comes in from the most expensive clothing store in town, Peter gets Neal to determine whether or not a necklace with a huge diamond is the genuine article or not. Want to guess the answer? Yep, it's fake! Only a limited number of people know the security system, but it doesn't help in figuring who stole the real one, or how.

This case only gets trickier. Agent Fowler from OPR, the FBI's internal affairs department, gets wind of information suggesting Neal took the necklace! He gets some help from Peter checking into a story Neal once told him about verifying authenticity. Peter has the unhappy task of making the arrest.

Bomer and DeKay have always made a decent team, and their skills are solid here. DeKay channels disappointment and hurt at the thought of someone he cares about, in his words, letting him down. Bomer's Caffrey is indignant at the thought of not being trusted when he protests his innocence. He's going to prove himself on the side of right, and, get back on his partner's good side in process.

Mozzie (Willie Garson) is another story. Shady is being polite when it comes to description. Being the friend he is, he happily offers Neal the service of a fence for the necklace! How thoughtful (not to mention funny). Mozzie imitating a lawyer also brings forth smile-worthy lines. He also gathers dirt on various persons in FBI employment just in case someone can help lead Neal to Kate.

Ah yes, Kate — the longtime girlfriend who seems to have vanished at the hands of someone who wants something from Neal. What that might be, nobody knows. A certain Interpol agent once told Neal the person (presumed male) who has Kate in his clutches is FBI ("All In")! This source, though, is not exactly trustworthy herself. I wouldn't put it past her to say anything which could throw Neal off the track. The thought of Kate conning Neal does not occur to him, which seems incongruous for someone with his intelligence. He merely believes she is being forced to help the other side by a person hoping to hurt him.

A certain undercover operation named Mentor is looking for a potential bad egg. This is what OPR does. Shades of Chuck, which turned ORION into a must-watch mystery, and the same concept is used here. Exactly who is being sought has yet to be revealed. Director Hughes (James Rebhorn) appears clean. Fowler more than likely would not investigate himself. Keep watching…

Every time I see Bomer and DeKay together, there is a hint of Bryce Larkin, who Bomer played on Chuck (although Bomer was much smarmier then), and a lighter version of John Casey, who was played by Adam Baldwin. Yes, I know, two different actors, but still. Any Chuck fan should find White Collar a delightful romp.

The twist comes at the very end of the episode. It has to do with one person entering a room, and someone sitting in a chair. Okay, not very exciting. Where it gets shockworthy is WHO sits. I am not about to mention the person here. However, I will offer a couple of suggestions. The entry is made by a person who strongly resembles someone else. On purpose? Maybe. The reason would be a trust issue. Now, once the light next to the chair is turned on, the visual effect is startling. Considering the season is not yet over, keep an open mind. This is probably not what it looks like. Rewatching the pilot will help.

Some lighter moments exist this week. The reference to Michael Jackson when Neal is in disguise is quite clever. I enjoyed the jump out of a judge's private residence. The landing is a fun touch, even though I recognize this has to be the work of a stuntman. The scenes at Home Burke remind me of Chuck, the last series Bomer was a part of. Tiffani Thiessen, who plays Elizabeth, Peter's wife, shines when she has to hide Neal from the Feds temporarily.

Did you know Agent Jones (Sharif Atkins) is named Clinton? Insert your joke here. Peter just might be considered a Republican with his job and military service. Patriotism can mean a lot. Mozzie, on the other hand, would easily be thought of as an anarchist. He doesn't trust the government, and likes nothing more than to live as he likes.

Since Monk just aired its series finale (a bit lackluster in terms of resolving the death of Monk's wife), look for plenty of reruns of whatnot on Friday nights for a while. It won't be long before USA has original programming again. Psych and White Collar start airing the rest of their seasons a week apart in January. Burn Notice returns the same month.

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  • Larry

    I have loved this show from the “teasers” before it aired. I do not like “Psych”. But I do love “The Closer”, “Burn Notice” and the show about witness protection. Yeah! That one….LOL!

  • In Plain Sight? To me, Psych is the one to watch along with White Collar.