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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

White Collar: “Diamond Exchange”

Illustration for article titled White Collar: “Diamond Exchange”
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No show loves a kidnapping quite like White Collar. Elizabeth’s been snatched, Peter’s gotten grabbed, Rebachel staged her own involuntary holding, and now, Neal finds himself smothered and thrown in the back of a van. The last words he hears come from a shady, bearded gentleman who’s been tailing him and assures, “I’m about to become the last person on earth who knows where you are.”

It’s a rather literal fine point on an episode that otherwise continued philosophically mulling the quandary of just who Neal Caffrey is: career criminal or mere lover of fine things with wayward tendencies that, much like the twin diamond evolved from some historic piece of coal, are capable of being smoothed out.

Moments prior to being taken, it appeared the former. He and Mozzie had all but pinky sworn to resume their life of elusive duplicity once the verdict came down from FBI brass that Neal’s sentence wouldn’t be lifted (Peter’s really got to stop making promises he can’t keep). The guy doesn’t exactly demonstrate conviction, but it’s hard not to see things from Neal’s point of view. If it’s all a game and your past will remain a tether, then what choice do you have but to cut ties and run? Besides, there’s so much fun stuff that waits in places like Paris, especially if it’s been five whole years since setting foot on European soil (cry me an Yser).

White Collar continues to struggle with finality and its annual dilemma of whether to wrap up one season’s biggest manhunt/mystery or apportion time to set the next dozen chapters in motion. A show can have it all, but “Diamond Exchange” started to drag toward its final minutes, ironically echoing Neal’s sentiments to Rebachel about knowing when it’s over. We knew something might hold Peter back from fleeing to D.C., and it was fair to assume things wouldn’t cut to black on Peter and Elizabeth enjoying the bells and whistles of BMW and Pandora’s fair union. But there was potentially more intrigue in just how WC would create stories that suit Neal’s newfound freedom. The FBI director’s naysay feels like a copout, but not purely tossed off like Peter’s speedy deduction that the agency is all bureaucracy (it is a Bureau, after all) and he best stay where he belongs at White Collar. Elizabeth’s rush to support, and Peter’s apparent willingness to sacrifice the ease of their marriage in order to follow his anger, makes a viewer ponder whether Neal should have warned his boss not to do anything crazy, as opposed to the other way around.

Despite all that, there are questions that now demand answers, like who these Neal-nappers are, if they’re in any way associated with this scoundrel FBI director or Rebachel, and just how badly farmer-tanned Neal’s ankle must be. Perfectly satisfying as a happy ending might have been, that doesn’t really give much reason to tune in come fall. Although if these latest Caffrey-connivers do have anything to do with a certain redheaded (now brunette, apparently the “real” Rachel) minx who got put behind bars tonight, it would be one welcomed ploy.

Aside from some classic criminal gaffes−how could you cuff them behind a door that they could possibly kick out?−the seeming resolution of Rebachel and the Hope gem was executed better than the crime itself. Bridget Regan can flit between playful and punitive with the ease that her character alternates makeup, and she brought the best out of Matt Bomer all season. Tonight was no exception. After Neal found the diamond inside Queens landmark Fort Totten, duped Rebecca with a decoy brick and cornered her atop the structure without a safety net, they shared a great little minute of closure that was one of this series’ purest moments of non-dialogue-driven feeling.


The pursuit of the diamond (not to mention race against the quickening poison Rebachel injected in Mozzie’s arm as collateral) itself was like lasing through the last pages of a short story. Or, for a more contemporary analog, watching Raylan Givens get to the center of things on Justified (complete with Peter and Neal’s own Constable Bob in the form of Ranger Hopper). Off-angle, noir-style shots of our crime-stoppers decoding their way through Mosconi’s Fort Totten scavenger hunt spoke volumes for the urgency overtaking the “paranoid bald man” following behind in rapidly decreasing condition.

It was messy at times, but all that business with the Dutchman, Rebachel, Mosconi, ancient numerals and Hindu goddesses paid off with the hat trick White Collar always shoots for: rich history, the awe of “fine things” and a bedrock of cool lawman tactics. Once that Hope Diamond was unsheathed, we truly understood Neal’s attraction. And even though it was sad to see Rebachel go (for now), there really was nowhere left for her to leap. Some critics might attest the same about White Collar heading into season six, but it’s conned and seduced us into watching for this long, so maybe it’s time to come to terms with the kind of TV lovers we are.


Stray observations:

  • Was Mozzie making a Public Enemy reference?
  • If only the guys on Prison Break knew it was that easy.
  • Always seems like criminals in TV shows find the only public bathrooms without Xcelerator hand dryers installed.
  • Neal, you just heard your friend’s gonna die: Don’t stare at Peter. Act! (Like Diana does.) And to think you want to have your freedom.
  • Shades of Dexter/Hannah there with all the flower-poisoning stuff, eh? And maybe Breaking Bad with the ricin?
  • Man, Neal really is hard on Peter sometimes. I’m sure he doesn’t purely view Mozz as an asset. Not when he’s dying at least.
  • Mozzie’s theory about freemasons and MJ’s Dangerous album may have been his most inspired yet.
  • Well, it ain’t like Mosconi had a safety-deposit box in 1886.
  • Rebachel: “Your friend will have a slow, painful death. Can’t wait to see you.” She was a great psycho.
  • Also, Rebachel totes doesn’t even appreciate that diamond.
  • Man, that doctor caved quick to Elizabeth.
  • Louis XIV “had grotesquely large fingers.” Mozz on fia!
  • Nice touch having Neal and Mozz staring off into an “End” construction sign.
  • Speaking of ends, it’s time to split. But thank you for another season. You guys are the best and I’m truly appreciative. Hope you enjoyed!