White Collar: Need To Know

Still looking into the plane explosion that killed Kate, Diana and Peter stake out the secret meeting that Fowler had scheduled. An unidentified man shows up at the meeting point, but scurries away when Peter runs toward him, waving his badge around and identifying himself as a Federal agent. Imagine that. I have no doubt that Peter is an excellent FBI man, but perhaps he should work on his sneaky, stealth approach a bit.

Meanwhile, Peter and Neal investigate a corrupt State Senator, Gary Jennings, who has been illegally funneling money into his reelection campaign. One of his staffers has provided Peter with an account of mysterious meetings, unaccounted-for donations, and two sets of books. Neal comes up with a plan to bring Jennings down: After Peter makes a big public commotion about wanting to dig up dirt on Jennings while investigating an old scandal, Neal swoops in, with a carefully-crafted alias, and tries to get hired by Jennings to smooth over the scandal and get the FBI off his trail. Neal accomplishes this by talking a bunch of nonsense and looking super-pretty. This works surprisingly well.

(There’s a lot of time devoted to Neal’s madcap scheme, which involves creating a scandal about a prospective stadium to deflect attention from the real scandal. It’s not the best scheme Neal has ever concocted, frankly, and if I wanted to watch Wag the Dog, I would have rented Wag the Dog.)

Elizabeth is out of town on business in San Francisco. Like last week, there’s only one scene featuring her, which, like last week’s Rockefeller Center scene, is shot in front of a green screen. This time, she’s standing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge while chatting on the phone to Peter. I realize this is probably due to Tiffani Thiessen’s advanced pregnancy/reduced mobility during filming, but it’s still weird -- and yet strangely hilarious. I sort of hope this trend continues, with the locations becoming more and more exotic with each passing episode. Maybe next week she’ll be standing in front of the Great Wall of China, or the Kremlin, or the Taj Mahal.

Anyway, since Elizabeth is out of the picture, Neal offers to take Peter out drinking to keep him company. Peter lies about having to go on a stakeout instead. He’s actually meeting secretly with Diana to look through surveillance photos of the mystery man. Diana is in possession of the music box, and while Peter knows she has it, he doesn’t know where she’s hiding it. Still worried about Neal’s fragile mental state, they’re keeping their investigation into Kate’s death a secret from him. All these secrets will no doubt lead to horrible problems and misunderstandings down the road.

Neal snoops around Jennings’s office and finds a matchbook from a high-class escort service, with the (totally obnoxious) password “CiNNaMoN212” scrawled inside it. Jennings presents Neal with the surveillance photos of Peter and Diana -- he thinks Neal could use this alleged proof of Peter’s infidelity to discredit the FBI investigation into his campaign. Neal, for some reason that only makes sense inside his beautiful head, claims that Diana is not just Peter’s girlfriend -- she’s a prostitute.

Neal, by the way, is terribly miffed at this proof that Peter and Diana are having fun without him, and even more miffed that Peter lied to him about the stakeout. Mozzie reassures him that Peter is only trying to protect him.

Thinking Diana can give them dirt on Peter, Jennings arranges for her to get in touch with a man named Barrow, who launders Jennings’s dirty money through his escort service. Diana, dressed in a slinky dress and hooker-appropriate heels, meets with Barrow at a fancy party hosted by his escort service. He offers to let her work for him, providing she’s willing to go through an audition: She has to pick one of the men at the party, spend the night with him, and receive ten thousand dollars in cash for it. Just as Diana is trying to figure out what to do about this, Neal shows up at the party, posing as her prospective client. They head off to a lavish hotel suite together, where they loll in bed in bathrobes and share anecdotes about their pasts while waiting for Peter to come up with the ten grand.

At Neal’s suggestion, Peter heads off to meet with Mozzie to get the money. It really does seem like the FBI should have a better way of coming up with quick cash, doesn’t it? I don’t want to cast aspersions, but sometimes this show seems something less than grittily realistic. Anyway, Mozzie and Peter go through an elaborate rigmarole involving magnets and shoelaces and secret storage lockers, and eventually produce the cash, which Mozzie secretly delivers to Diana and Neal.

Anxious to bring Peter down any way he can, Jennings asks Barrow to rough up Diana to get information out of her. Peter rushes to Diana’s rescue, and finds that she’s already got the situation well under control, having shot Barrow in the shoulder when he pulled a gun on her. Barrow confesses everything about his shady dealings and money-laundering, which gives Peter and Neal enough evidence to arrest Jennings.

And… that’s pretty much it. Once again, much like last week, this is an okay episode, but nothing more. It feels like the season is off to a bit of a sluggish start, which hopefully won’t last long; Neal and Peter are adorable enough to keep my interest even when the plot sags a little, but this show is capable of much more.

Comments

Rosey said…
I liked the scenes with Neal and Diana LOL. They made me laugh. :)
Morgan Richter said…
Diana and Neal were plenty adorable together. I loved Diana plunking herself in Neal's lap and somewhat grumpily hand-feeding him strawberries. Good to see her back on the show as a regular cast member.
levitatethis said…
I'm happy to see Diana back as a regular. Her scenes with Neal were great.

This show had a pretty good panel at Comic Con. It was nice to hear the actors note the different, yet always spot on, dynamic between the characters and how that's what really gives the show that something extra.
Morgan Richter said…
Belated response to this... LevitateThis, I'm glad the Comic Con panel was a good time. I recently watched the Season One DVDs, and the cast members seemed like a thoroughly likable bunch on the episode commentaries.

I'm still watching and enjoying the show, though I think my recaps are on hold for the time being. With Covert Affairs on immediately afterward, my Tuesdays are getting a little overloaded.

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