Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review - White Collar Season 3 Episode 9 On the Fence

There's something about recurring characters on the USA network that makes them not memorable.  Last week's Burn Notice episode had a slew of recurring, of which I only remembered one well, two vaguely, and had no clue about the last guy (apparently he was briefly in a first season episode, which then brings up the question why he was brought back). This week's White Collar episode brings back Matthew Keller, who's caused trouble in the past. While I somewhat remember the generalities of those episodes, there's not endearing imprint left on my brain about him. To me, he was just one of the many suited villains that gets busted week in and week out. When everyone started talking up him at the beginning of the episode, I just rolled with it, assuming he was actually a major badass worthy of fear.

This speaks to the format of White Collar--the necessity for all the villains to be in New York, be rich, and wear a suit. No matter how menacing one can be, there will be another and another and another, waiting to be busted by Peter and Neal. And no matter how villainous one can be, even one who can kidnap Peter, there is little residual effect, as it was business as usual the next week. Sure, Elizabeth is very worried and upset at the end of the episode, but that was only after we'd seen once again what Keller is capable of. There is little urgency before the episode to deal with Keller, cheapening his reappearance in the episode a great deal when the dialogue indicates he's a huge threat.

Aside from that, "On the Fence" is a damn good episode, taking the deceit that has been building since the season premiere and focusing it with only one episode left this summer. This recurring theme throughout the season strikes much harder than Keller's return for the simple reason because the viewers see it each week and the impact is amplified as the plot progresses.

Mozzie has always been the lovable character with a mistrust for the government. He was in illegal activity, but so was Neal, and he seemed like a good person. But we in these episodes, when everything is on the line, that Mozzie has no boundaries. He puts a $6 million hit on Keller to keep him quiet, crossing a line which makes he seem awfully different. And we know that the hit isn't entirely to keep Neal and Sara safe. Mozzie is definitely in it for the money and ready to part company with all the art.

Now that Mozzie has sold the Degas and Neal revealed that he has in fact stolen the list, this is perhaps the most precarious situation Neal has been in. With literally everything hanging in the balance--his relationship with Peter, his deal with the FBI, Sara, Mozzie--Neal no longer has the luxury of waiting. He must act and handle all his problems straight on.

Score: 8.8/10
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