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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

White Collar: “Live Feed”

Illustration for article titled White Collar: “Live Feed”
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Well, not the most twisty twist. We’ve all been suspecting that Neal’s overeager apprentice-cum-lover Rebecca might be up to no good. Turns out she is in fact running game on Caffrey, but also engineering an elaborate long con that’s ensnared Hagen (RIP), Peter, and the entire White Collar division. The prize could be this elusive twin diamond from the eyes of Hindu deity Idol of Sita. Or merely a combination of the jewel and whatever money she can extort from Hagen. Or, possibly, both of the aforementioned in addition to whatever other major art crimes she can pull off before fleeing to the next electronically trip-wired studio nearby a bountiful wig outlet.

The not-that-surprising surprise ending didn’t necessarily deter from a crackling 42 minutes. Mozzie was on his game tonight baiting Hagen with insults about his stock thuggery and demonstrating his flawless “Rain Man” aptitude for committing inscrutable linguistic symbols to memory. He was more than Neal’s sideman or accomplice tonight. He was a confident ally and loyal advocate. And Neal, for his part, finally stood up for his dedicated, balding pal, threatening Hagen with purpose should he harm either Rebecca or the man they alternately know as Theodore Winters.

“Live Feed” is, ironically, a fascinating episode to unravel in reverse after all is said and cuffed. Suddenly, Hagen’s bristling at Mozz’s condescension, boldness with the FBI and carelessness in disclosing his location all make sense as the behavior of a man who’s back is against the wall. And as we know, Neal’s never seen through a clever minx’s ruse, hence his failure to decode just why the Dutchman was acting so irrationally.

It wasn’t absolutely predictable that Rebecca was destined as the Bureau’s number-one foil, but it’s for the best that her emergence makes Hagen disposable. (Although damn her for killing Siegel!) The Dutchman as a concept and character led the gang down some interesting roads, and the symmetry of his two recurring arcs ties the series narrative together tidily. But poor Mark Sheppard was a lame duck (and by any stock-thug genre precedent, quite literally so) sneering and spouting off about a “rush to judgment day” and “dreaming of…. payback,” which earned him a final few real-time head-slaps during “Live Feed.”

What this turn of events does solidify is that Peter’s not going anywhere, at least not in two weeks. But what if the he and Neal were both transplanted to D.C.? What’s stopping White Collar from a total location change to refresh Season 6? Sure, it’d be harder to scout for all those delectable nooks and crannies of industrial deco (although tonight, Neal and Rebecca’s intersecting corners after her “escape” didn’t really jibe with Peter’s tracking of Hagen to downtown Brooklyn. Did I miss something?). But on the bright side, you’d share shooting schedules with Homeland, which could lead to some superb paparazzi snaps of Matthew Bomer and Claire Danes (poor Brody) debating the relative implausibility of their shows’ storylines.

Of course, if Elizabeth had it her way, she and hubby would go wherever was necessary to keep advancing his career regardless of whatever criminal abetting he’d be shirking. This is no slight on Tiffani Thiessen herself, who’s obviously grown relaxed and natural in the role. But Mrs. Burke’s inconsistent moral radar and general good sense this season has been one of its hardest-to-figure developments. Exactly why she compelled Peter to rope Neal back in on his caseload despite his valid hesitations is fairly unclear, but so was the decision to tail her faithful beau during a separate investigation or her weird, secret lunchtime courtship with Mozzie. Forget Rebecca, Elizabeth’s the real mystery woman.


What’s for sure is that there’s no ambiguity any longer about how Peter and Jones feel toward Neal and his tendency to implicate others in wanton endeavors. Neal himself is now fully aware of their misgivings, thanks to a nifty earwig he used in the hopes of picking up Hagen’s whereabouts, not the latest office gossip. So the lingering question with three episodes remaining is: How do Peter and Neal bury the hatchet and combat a common enemy? We’ve been here before, but as referenced at this review’s outset, White Collar relies on hitting some familiar beats. It’s the measures taken between them that tend to—and in this instance, mostly did—make things interesting.

Stray observations:

  • That was a whole lotta post-midseason-hiatus exposition going on in those first few minutes. And thank you for it.
  • The guy playing Mr. Rawling must have been pretty bummed at his guest part’s fleeting utility.
  • In lieu of a shirtless Matthew Bomer this week, fans got dozens of topless men caught between the heaven’s gates and hell’s depths via Blake’s painting. Sexy, no?
  • More than any other, this show makes me wonder just what bad guys do in their downtime?
  • Well, Rebecca’s many guises at least explain how she gets changed so quickly (previous-episode callback. Hey-oh!).
  • They waited for their moment, and it came. Nice Where’s Waldo? reference.
  • Cool little dissolve from Neal peering into the fake Blake to Mozzie with the decoder glass.
  • Jeez, does Hagen want Neal and Mozz to figure out the puzzle or compete in a Real World/Road Rules Challenge?
  • Neal, Neal, Neal. How did you not know she was up to mischief? Mischief!