Review – White Collar 2.04 “By the Book”

Last week’s revelation: Diane Farr is dating Mozzie. Really. (Hey, if she dated Larry on Numb3rs…) Also, she may have been kidnapped, so it’s Neal to the rescue! Admit it, Matt Bomer would make a great superhero.

He tracks down Mozzie’s alleged girlfriend Gina’s home address, and he and Mozzie arrive to find out the place has been trashed. Neal reluctantly agrees to go in and investigate, and then Peter gets tipped off by the new agent that Neal is poking around. Elizabeth helpfully informs her husband that’s Mozzie’s new girlfriend, and the lightbulb goes on over Agent Burke’s head. While Mozzie is leading Neal on his apparent rescue attempt, Peter rallies the team to figure out just what the heck is going on. Jones hands Peter a file that says Gina’s boyfriend knows some bad people. In fact, he knows a guy that was a vigilante on Third Watch, but who here is a Colombian bad guy named Christopher Navarro. This is bad news, and now Peter has to go rescue Neal.

Mozzie just barely alerts Neal to the fact that Navarro has goons with guns that are headed his way. Neal looks downright freaked about it, as one would when confronted with people that might want to shoot you in the face. The only thing that saves him is Peter and Diana arriving. Mozzie, of course, is busy hiding in the bushes. Peter is ticked off, and drags both Neal and Mozzie back to the FBI office, the latter very, very reluctantly. He explains they’ve poked a horrible guy, and forces them to spill their hunch. (Peter: ‘Is he stalking her?’Neal: ‘I’d have to look up the legal definition.’) Neal connects the dots, and figures out Gina’s real boyfriend Tommy is probably the guy who stole Navarro’s money.

Though the park they track Gina to has no cameras, Peter has the great idea to confiscate the tapes from tourists’camcorders to look at their footage and see if they can find her. This leads to a lot of painful tape watching, until they finally see her on a park bench waiting for someone: her boyfriend. She’s being used as bait in Navarro’s trap, but she warns him off. He drops a phone on his way out, the voicemail on which proves that Navarro really has kidnapped Gina and she’ll be killed tomorrow if Tommy doesn’t show up with the money. Wow, she really knows how to pick her boyfriends, doesn’t she?

The team brainstorms to figure out where Tommy might be. Peter deduces he may have been paying cash for taxi fare, and it’s a start. However, he also kicks Neal and Peter off the team, and sends Jones to keep them out of trouble. Back at the apartment, Neal wonders aloud if his situation with Kate mirrors Tommy’s situation with Gina. This brings him and Mozzie to Tommy’s old neighborhood and a fake ID guy named Devlin, dragging Jones along and pretending he works for Navarro. Sharif Atkins does a great tough-guy impression while he gets Devlin to squeal Tommy’s new name.

Meanwhile, at the FBI, Diana deduces that Tommy is using sequential bills the money he stole, which can therefore be traced back to Navarro and dismantle his operation. It’s easy to hunt him down with his new name and that information in hand. Peter has to tell Tommy that Navarro has Gina. Their only solution is to set up a meeting between the two, complete with a circus full of tactical agents with really big guns. It would be a great plan if Mozzie didn’t open his mouth and spook Tommy. He’d rather be the one to make the drop himself…and squeal about the FBI presence while he’s at it. While Peter contemplates shooting him, Mozzie gets held at gunpoint and led to where Gina is being held. She does not really look that happy to see him.

Peter has figured out that Mozzie has a plan, and comes to confront Neal about it. Neal lets him in on what Mozzie is thinking: an unarmed exchange in a neutral location, in this case the rooftop of a local library during business hours. Navarro agrees to the plan, and Peter agrees to stake out the library with Neal. He knows Navarro will send a scout and they can follow the scout back to where Mozzie is. They snark each other in the car, before realizing that Mozzie is about to become expendable once the meeting is set. Peter shoves a gun against the scout’s head instead. Change of plans. I have to love Peter Burke: plays by the rules, but isn’t afraid to get tough when he needs to.

This paves the way for Peter to show up just as Mozzie is about to get shot. Peter brings about a dozen of his closest friends along while he’s at it. Neal rescues Mozzie, who is ready to faint after all that drama. As if that wasn’t enough for him to go through, he doesn’t even get the girl: Gina dumps Tommy, but she decides to move to California. Outside on the street, Neal suddenly feels bad about all the times he’s kept Peter away from Elizabeth. How sweet. Of course, he’s back to his old tricks: he stole Peter’s pen
while he was at it.

Another solid episode of White Collar. Make no mistake, this is Willie Garson’s episode and everyone else is there just to help him, but he acquits himself admirably. He’s been doing this a long time, after all. Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay slide well into supporting roles, and we learn a little bit more about the show’s most enigmatic character. It’s not the most complex case of the week, but it’s a fun hour of TV, and that’s what it all comes down to that it was enjoyable.

Next week’s even better: Neal has to pretend to be an assassin. Complete with Matt
Bomer rocking the leather jacket. My fangirl heart can’t wait.

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