White Collar – Episode 2-3 Review

White Collar: Copycat Caffrey

“Copycat Caffrey" -- Pictured: (l-r) Gloria Votsis as Alex Hunter, Matt Bomer as Neal Caffrey -- Photo by: Photo by: Eric Liebowitz/USA Network

“Copycat Caffrey” besides being the catchiest title yet for an episode of White Collar, is also the tightest plot of the season so far. It has a solid mystery and A/B stories that dovetail quite nicely. It’s the sort of episode you might use to introduce someone to the series. The episode provides a lot of exposition about the backstory that smoothly works into the plot of the week.

We don’t get much quality time with the box itself in the who-killed-Kate-and-what-the-heck-is-up-with-that-Russian-music-box© story arc until the end of the episode, but the story is integrated quite cleverly with the mystery of the week. A four million dollar piece of pop art goes missing Caffrey style, but he’s got an air tight FBI/anklet alibi. The investigation leads instead to a wily college criminology professor (Aidan Quinn) and his brightest students. (Well, he says they’re his brightest students, but I’m thinking not so much.)

Neal goes undercover as himself to infiltrate the crime ring and he brings in his former fence/sort-of-maybe-one-time-lover/girl with the music box cherub, Alex Hunter (Gloria Votsis) to help him with the sting. She reluctantly agrees because he promises to help with her little problem. Somebody is out to get her and the theory is it’s the same folks who blew up Kate. His plan is to set up Russell (Michael Boatman), a Detroit petty crook selling krugerrands who she’s figured out is setting her up, to be robbed by the college crowd and arrested by the FBI and framed as a snitch. Sure it’s a complex plan, but that’s how Neal rolls.

Guest star Aidan Quinn is a bona fide strikingly handsome movie actor. I’m impressed they got him for White Collar. It says a lot about the show and their casting directors that they can attract that kind of talent.

The performance of the regular cast was all top notch as well, but I was particularly pleased that Agent Jones (Sharif Atkins) got a bigger part to play in this one. He even gets to go briefly undercover; granted not as a hooker, but he acquitted himself well (“Jones deserves an Oscar.”) and he got a nice slo-mo shot.

My one quibble? I’m not really sold on Alex being a hard-bitten fence/con-artist/pickpocket. I’m just not. She doesn’t seem to have that edge to her. I know the show-runners would like Neal’s criminal friends to be less threatening than real life criminals, but since she was introduced I’ve thought she should have a little more underlying menace or passion or humor or something. Now she’s off to Venice with a lovely Matisse consolation prize. Problem solved.

My favorite part? Tim DeKay’s delivery in this episode was pitch perfect, but the best part was Mozzie (Willie Garson) guiding him through the “Peacemaker” dialogue.

I also really enjoyed the episode wrap-up in which Peter and Neal each hold a piece of the music box puzzle. It looks like all they have to do to solve it is trust each other and team up.

Favorite quote? “It helps when you’re friends with criminals.” — Peter Burke

The episode was dedicated “In memory of John Bolz”. According to Jeff Eastin on twitter he was a grip on the show who recently died. He’s got an eBay charity auction up with a few autographed pictures of Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay to benefit John’s children.

Next Week on White Collar: “By the Book”

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