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Nov 02 2013

Eating Peter’s Cake. Retrospective: White Collar – “One Last Stakeout”

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Season 5, Episode 3

Air Date: Thursday, October 31, 2013, 9/8c on USA

Rating:

“You and I aren’t partners anymore.” – Neal

WARNING: Spoilers for those who haven’t watched this episode.

White Collar - Season 5Thanks to Neal (Matt Bomer), Hagen (Mark Sheppard), aka The Dutchman, is a free man. But Hagen isn’t about to give up the choke hold he has over Neal. Unfortunately, Neal is quick to learn this is only the beginning.

I really enjoyed “One Last Stakeout,” which is one of the best written White Collar episodes yet due to the complexity of the episode and how it impacts everything around it. A few weeks ago, I did a conference call with Matt Bomer and Tim Dekay, during which Matt told us, “This season for Neal is about best intentions going awry.” That comment resonated with me throughout “One Last Stakeout” as every decision Neal makes—regardless of the reason behind it—has consequences for him. We also see some of the biggest character growth in the series this season, which affects the relationship between Peter (Tim Dekay) and Neal.

I was concerned about the Neal and Peter’s split, given that the show is really about their relationship. But White Collar has created some interesting dynamics, especially for Peter who, in many ways, finds himself wanting to have his cake and eat it too. This proverb seems to be an underlying theme this season as Peter adjusts to his new job while reminiscing about the good times with Neal that got him there. This sets up an interesting conversation between the two as Peter talks fondly about how far they have come. Neal is quick to point out that while everyone else’s lives are changing, he’s still the criminal wearing a tracking anklet.

It’s fascinating to watch as Peter get restless sitting on the sidelines, particularly when it comes to keeping an eye on Neal. This plays out in a scene where Jones (Sharif Atkins) confronts Peter about it.

Jones: “When was the last time you checked Caffrey’s anklet.”

Peter:  (mumbles)

Jones: “Peter?”

Peter: “Ten minutes ago. He’s home probably painting something he shouldn’t be.”

Things come to a head when Peter shows up unexpectedly during a stakeout. It’s heartbreaking to watch as Neal tells Peter things are no longer what they used to be. But does Neal really mean this, or does he use it just as a ruse to get rid of Peter?

White Collar - Season 5I am holding back judgment for now on what I think about Neal’s new love interest, Rebecca Lowe (Bridget Regan). While she is easy on the eyes, she doesn’t seem to fit the mold of the women in Neal’s past. It will be interesting to see how she will acclimate/gel into the rest of the season. There is an odd librarian type awkwardness about her that is cute but I have yet to see real chemistry between them, other than when Neal flirts in order to get something from her. The one thing I am curious to know is whether the relationship was formed out of love or guilt after Neal’s actions all but ruined her life.

One of the things I like about this season of White Collar is how the writers have focused more on character development and less on big things, like a music box, u-boat or treasure as they did in past seasons. Instead, characters are being put in different positions than we are used to seeing them in; as Peter says, “There are a lot of changes going on around here.”

The dichotomy of the ramifications resulting from Seigel’s (Warren Kole) death are fascinating. Sometimes, a show introduces a character for the express purpose of killing them in order to dramatize the peril the main characters are facing  While I think the introduction of Seigel is part of that, the writers did such a good job of introducing Seigel, it felt like he had been on the show longer than two episodes and I did not see Seigel’s demise coming at all. After Ellen (Judith Ivey), this  is only the second death of a main White Collar character other than Kate (Alexandra Daddario), who I didn’t view as a main character anyway. In the past, Neal’s actions may have allowed a criminal to get away or be arrested—depending on what worked out best for Neal—but there have never really been any serious repercussions as a result of Neal’s cons while working for the FBI.

How will Seigel’s death impact Neal, who put all the pieces in motion that indirectly led to Seigel’s murder? Will this cause Neal to open up to Peter and tell him everything, including the deal with Hagen? Not to mention whether Hagen even is the killer. We assume he is but Mozzie (Willie Garson) was there as well, although he left before the meet. Could he have gotten curious and returned, only to be confronted by Seigel? The last time Mozzie saw Seigel was when Seigel had a gun aimed at him. What would Mozzie do if he were confronted by a non-friendly “suit?” What do you think?

I had a chance to ask White Collar’s Co-Executive Producer, Joe Henderson, who coincidentally wrote “One Last Stakeout,” a few questions. He told me about his two favorite scenes to write. “The stakeout with Warren Kole and Matt Bomer was a fun bit of character that I think the actors nailed, and the scene where Tim and Matt figure out how to catch Zev. Classic White Collar scene with great performances.”  And I totally agree. This season has really gone back to the season one feel that made fans fall in love with White Collar in the first place, while mixing things up at the same time.

Random thoughts

How fun was it to see Peter get to do the famous two-finger point?

Will we learn more about Mozzie’s apparent list of people who wronged him in some

way?

After taking some time off to have the baby, how will Diana (Marsha Thomason) react

to Jones’ promotion? If she hadn’t had the baby, could she be in Jones’ shoes?

I love how Neal tells Peter he is getting his morning coffee at coffee trucks parked

outside of banks and museums just to mess with Seigel and make him think he was

casing the joint.

What was your favorite Mozzie wig?

Will we ever learn what Seigel was about to ask Neal?

While we are only three episodes into the season, I have to say this is one of the strongest seasons yet. I can’t wait to see what else Jeff Eastin and the writers have in store for us next.

Tweet me @staffaroadtrip or leave a comment below to let me know what you think about “One Last Stakeout.”

 

For more on the show, visit the official website at http://www.usanetwork.com/series/whitecollar/.

Follow the show on Twitter @WhiteCollarUSA.

LIKE White Collar on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/whitecollar

All photos © 2013 USA Network, a division of NBC Universal, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 


© 2013, Greg Staffa. All rights reserved.

Greg Staffa

I provide testosterone to the site. You won’t be reading about how nice a actress looks in a dress or how much of a hunk Matt Bomer is in my reviews. I describe colors using words like brown, not taupe. My twitter name is @staffaroadtrip because I love road trips and have done two different 48-state road trips since 2008. My favorite show is White Collar.

About the author

Greg Staffa

I provide testosterone to the site. You won’t be reading about how nice a actress looks in a dress or how much of a hunk Matt Bomer is in my reviews. I describe colors using words like brown, not taupe. My twitter name is @staffaroadtrip because I love road trips and have done two different 48-state road trips since 2008. My favorite show is White Collar.

4 comments

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  1. Amanda

    I am several days delayed when watching, so just getting to your review. I was really curious how you were viewing this season as I know this is one of your favorite shows. I agree with the above commenters and yourself that this is thus far a really strong season of WC, bringing in a new dynamic and anxiety level, but I have to say that up until the very end of this episode, I was a bit annoyed with Peter.

    The way he capped off the premier by walking into Neal’s with a new anklet and a reminder to a man who’s supposed to be his friend that he’s a criminal had me head tilting. Now, it doesn’t help that Neal actually did break the law — explicitly to free Peter, but none-the-less — throwing me into conflict about wanting Peter to trust Neal as he has before, be friends with him as he was just last season, and knowing that Neal is (as he has throughout) lying to Peter and acting like the criminal Peter accuses him of being.

    I get that Peter can’t fully ever trust Neal, but to go from “you’re a criminal and don’t you forget it” to this most recent episode’s “you’re a valuable member of the team” had me yelling, “Make up your mind!” at the TV. Maybe it was Peter still trying to find his feet in this new role, struggling with being sidelined, but his actions toward Neal just didn’t sit right with me until he confessed to thinking *he’d* screwed up the case and needed to fix it to make it up to Seigel. THAT was the Peter I know and love. I hope we see more of him because I’m not a fan of two-finger-pointing Peter.

    Now, Seigel…him I liked right off. He was genuine and eager and had just the right amount of balance between suspicion and trust with Neal. I think they could have been a good team, too, and I was shocked when they killed him off. I know that’s going to have some significant ramifications for Neal to come — some of which you’ve alluded to. Serves me right for liking the guy. I would sooner suspect Hagen than Mozzie, though. I am with your first commenter — Mozzie isn’t a killer. And Hagen…well, on another channel he’s the King of Hell, so…there you go. 😉

    As for Rebecca, that is all guilt on Neal’s part. Sure, she’s pretty, but he used her as a mark and she took a hefty hit for it. Neal’s biggest speed bump along the Confidence Man Road is his big heart. He couldn’t let her take the fall. Now, whether something real develops out of that is anyone’s guess. But I didn’t feel a bit of heat between them; just Neal needing her for a singular purpose. She’s no Sarah.

    And I see what you mean about Diana, but I think that Jones earned this promotion. He didn’t get it by default, and I think Diana will accept and appreciate that.

    Thanks for the great review. I’m looking forward to seeing how or if the truth comes out next episode.

  2. nina

    I don’t like your allusion that Mozzie may have killed Siegel. Moz isn’t a killer, well except maybe for someone like Keller. Maybe Siegel was somehow involved with Hagen?

    I agree this is turning out to be a strong season.

    I loved Rebecca though. I liked that her intelligence shone thru despite her awkwardness. She seemed to come across as a interesting character that both Neal and us the audience would love to know more about. Glad she’s staying.

    1. Greg Staffa

      Believe me I do not like the idea either I just wanted to toss it out there. All signs point to Hagen and they might as well put a huge Neon sign aimed at Hagen saying “He didi it” It’s almost too easy. Earlier Siegel pulled a gun on Mozzie and Mozzie got away. Mozzie was going out of his way to change his look so Siegel would not see him. As far as Moz not being a killer, Had it been Siegel instead of Diana who found Mozzies hideout would Mozzie have gone quietly? I wasn’t saying Mozzie went out with the intention to do it, I was tossing out would would happen if Mozzie was put in that position. While I assume it was Hagen I think it could have made for some interesting episodes had it been Mozzie.

  3. james

    I agree, this season shows great promise. So far it looks like the best season yet, giving us one great episode after the other.

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