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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

White Collar: “Taking Stock”

Illustration for article titled White Collar: “Taking Stock”
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There’s not a whole lot that White Collar has in common with edgy neo-Western Justified, except for one emphatic pattern: Disparate pockets of criminals doing stupid things and/or acting needlessly selfish, only to either sabotage their own plans or find themselves in unwelcome crosshairs. And far as greedy, dopey villains go, tonight’s White Collar baddie, Conrad Worth (Steven Pasquale, bouncing back from the now-bittersweetly titled Do No Harm), is particularly audacious. His exclusive area of illegal expertise is developing algorithms that can manipulate the stock market. It’s what got him sacrificially axed by his collusive boss Ian when the SEC came knocking, and it’s why Worth is looking to steal the thumb drive containing said algorithm and get his money’s… assayed value?

That thirst for riches and revenge led him via referral to Rachel née Rebecca (Rebachel?), whose phone goes off while Peter and Neal are bagging evidence (how serendipitous all around). However, Worth entered the underworld of aggressive thievery lacking two essential skills: steadiness with a gun and the confidence to discern between a leggy redhead and spunky biracial women still carrying a bit of baby weight.

Yes, hooray and hoorah, Diana is back, and none to soon. When your leads are circling the wagons, time to saddle up with a long-absent, newly fresh face. And when Agent Barrigan brazenly accepts the assignment to go undercover as Rebachel to nail Worth, it’s the proverbial “We’re getting the band back together” reunion. Sans poor baby Theo, whom Diana leaves behind with the nanny, who eventually gets supplanted by Mozzie after he connives his way in under the guise of a utilities worker beckoning Diana off duty to deal with a gas leak.

That last bit is initially all high jinks, and it actually stretches credibility that Diana wasn’t more upset with Mozz, given that she left the scene of a stakeout on her first major case back. But as fate demands, all comical set pieces can lead to discovery, and with the help of Theo’s educational mobile, Mozz at last decodes that the Mosconi symbols each correlate to a number (and do we yet have any idea why he never at least scribbled the images down?). That, in turn, gets him and Neal in big trouble. Scurrying into Neal’s apartment with victorious glee, Mozzie leaves his partner-in-twin-diamond-pursuit an explicit voice mail about his revelation, not realizing that Rebachel—just escaped from prison and under a transformed guise—is literally lurking in the shadows ready to pounce.

Mozzie’s always had a curious lack of discretion at crucial times for a serial con man, but the way this played out also highlights how his desire to orchestrate a network of clandestine peers makes him the target of many stalkers. He’s certainly a much brighter and more experienced perp than some small-time putz like Worth—à la Justified’s Boyd Crowder to, say, Dewey Crowe—but his unrelenting yen for independent wealth and autonomy from the law leads to errors in judgment.

Miscalculation of character is one thing Peter can speak to all too well. His weakness for Neal’s goodness and potential has long overwhelmed any ethical quandary Caffrey’s forced him into. The fact they’re even back to buddy banter, with Burke playing the role of supportive friend during Neal’s heartbreak over Rebachel, feels a tad too forgiving. But now his anklet-bound CI has asked for a recommendation to end his sentence, and Peter’s forced to make one last decision before heading to D.C. that requires objectivity. Of course, that’s harder to obtain when Elizabeth, whose instincts he holds in the highest esteem (despite their consistent record of failure this season), is once again persuading him to give Neal benefit of the doubt.


That, and what’s to come of Rebachel being on the lam and clued into the Mosconi mystery, are the dramas being played out that will presumably resume in season six (and postpone the Burkes’ move?). And next week’s finale is sure to set some of that in motion and answer essential questions about whether Neal will remain tethered to his device. Until then, “Take Stock” tides us over with some of the show’s most LOL-deserving bits and asides. Who can overlook nanny Karen’s “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”-esque fit, not to mention the genuinely hilarious screwball mixup forcing Neal to pose as a hunky younger companion to Ian’s wife when Ian’s own mistress almost spoils the stakeout (“We both have so much in common beyond looking great in silk,” the lingerie-clad floozy coos). Now if only Mozzie had some clever improvisation to deceive the obsessive criminal mastermind feet away.

Stray observations:

  • Rebachel got quite the dramatic dead-woman-walking entrance into the FBI.
  • Conrad Worth is a pretty nosed-on name for a hedge-fund manipulator, isn’t it?
  • That whole plot to undermine Worth and Ian may have come straight out Trading Places. Writers?
  • Neal’s not always best with the threatening comebacks.
  • But also, Rebecca’s great at initiating the intimidation (and she leeeeervvve him).
  • Neal had mentioned Kate, which begs mentioning that actress Alexandra Daddario is now on True Detective.
  • Man, does Neal bristle when he’s called a snitch.
  • So, how exactly did Peter not overhear Rebachel and Neal talking about the diamond? Was he distracted with Diana stuff at that moment? Did I miss something?
  • Neal Caffrey: Woody Allen fan.