White Collar – Episode 2-2 Review

Need to Know

“Need to Know

White Collar continues its second season with “Need to Know”. It’s a very solid episode with some breezy character interplay that kicks it up a notch from last season. As much as I’ve enjoyed the developing relationship of Peter (Tim DeKay) and Neal (Matt Bomer), the decision to play up the supporting characters Mozzie (Willie Garson) and Diana (Marsha Thomason), and further mesh the F.B.I. world with the con-man world gives the show a much richer feel.

There’s still an awful lot of exposition required to kick off an episode of White Collar (another characteristic it shares with network sister show Burn Notice) but so far it seems to be going pretty smoothly this season.

They’ve only devoted a few scenes in this episode to the who-killed-Kate-and-what-the-heck-is-up-with-that-Russian-music-box© season-long arc. The scenes frame the episode and introduce the new mystery man. He’s the guy who was supposed to show up for an appointment with Agent Fowler. Fowler, of course, can’t make it, but Peter and Diana are staking out the meeting site. They think the guy might know something about Kate’s murder, but they only catch a glimpse of him before he slips away. All they get out of the encounter if a Picasso-esque and unrecognizable composite of the man’s face from the area’s security cameras.

The story of the week is devoted to bringing down a corrupt politician. This involves a bad cop/good consultant ploy, a Mozzie style scavenger hunt, a high class “escort service” and the Timmy Nolan Memorial Park. Diana gets a lot of tender loving character development in this one, including an intriguing back story and the obligatory opportunity to impersonate a prostitute that every female TV detective since Pepper Anderson has enjoyed, (with the possible exception of Jessica Fletcher.) She also outdraws a pimp while sporting a pair of impossibly stylish high heels. Yes, I admit it: I was cheering her on.

David Alan Basche plays the target of the sting, smarmy State Senator Gary Jennings. USA viewers may remember him as Kenny Kagan in the series version of The Starter Wife, one of the few series in recent memory that didn’t really take off for USA. He’s made a number of TV guest appearances, but I first heard of him when he was cast as Wilbur in the pilot episode for the remake of Mister Ed a few years ago. Naturally I’ve never seen it, since it was never aired, (apparently I was the only one with any interest in seeing it) but just the fact that he was cast in that part and in this one speaks well for his acting range I suppose. He’s pretty good in this crooked politician role. So good, in fact, I’d say he’s found his niche.

I also liked Jason Jurman as the Senator’s whistle blowing assistant, Dylan. Not a big role, but he had nice screen presence and good timing.

My one quibble? I’m really enjoying the dynamic of the four leads this season including the reintroduction and emphasis on the character of Diana. However, I’m wondering why Agent Jones (Sharif Atkins) is getting such short shrift so far. His contribution in “Need to Know” is limited to a few stuck-in-the-van, shot-in-a-half-a-day exposition scenes and a very brief mention of the character’s Harvard background. On top of that, if I’m not mistaken, Sharif’s been in every episode of the series and yet he’s still listed as “guest starring”. What is up with that? He should at least get a bump up in the credits. No, I’m not his agent, but I thought he was excellent in a couple of pivotal guest appearances on Numb3rs (yes, he was on ER for a few seasons, but I never watched that show) and he’s put in his time on White Collar. Even if his character hasn’t done a whole lot yet, you’d think they’d be giving him a little more respect.

My favorite part? As interesting and well done as the Neal-Diana interlude was, the Peter-Mozzie pairing is golden: every line, every look, every last moment kept me thoroughly entertained. I’d watch a whole episode with just the two of them. In fact I hope that’s what they’re working up to.

Favorite quote? “All of your quotes are getting on my nerves. Peter Burke.” — Peter Burke

Next Week on White Collar: “Copy Caffrey”

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