White Collar Season 3 Episode 1 Review: “On Guard”

White Collar

Over the course of the next few months, many of us at TVOvermind will be participating in our summer rewatch project and reviewing some of our favorite series of all-time that have left a major stamp on television and pop culture in general. Tiffany C. Lockhart will be taking a look back at the third season of “White Collar,” which ran from 2009-2014 on USA Network.

It has been almost one year since White Collar ended in its six-season run. After watching many reruns of old episodes of this great series on The CW, I thought that I would add it to my summer rewatch list. For these summer reviews, however, instead of starting at the very beginning of the series, I will start in the middle, Season 3, to be precise, because that’s where the action really begins.

The episode starts with a chase on the tarmac. Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) and Mozzie (Willie Garson) are trying to get away in a 400 series twin otter plane with Special Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) and his team hot on their tail. Diana (Marsha Thomason) calls the rest of the FBI team to box the plane in to prevent it from taking off.

Flashing back four days, we see Agent Burke interrogating Neal by having the latter take a lie detector test. When I watched the scene unfold, I was thinking to myself, Neal Caffrey is a skilled con artist who can get away with anything (except getting caught, of course), so he might have lied his way through the lie detector without it putting up the metaphorical red flag.

“On Guard” doesn’t reveal whether or not Neal cheated on the lie detector test, but at least we know that he has a good heart. He just does the wrong things for the right reasons,  as stated by Elizabeth Burke (Tiffani Thiessen), Peter’s wife, later in the episode when Neal goes to Peter’s house to speak with her and to take a picture of the book that contained information on the Chrysler Building painting.

We also see at the very beginning of the episode that the warehouse where a German U-boat containing all the paintings and valuable treasures stolen by the Nazis is blown up in flames. The culprit is later revealed to be Mozzie, who was attempting to move the target off of Neal when Agent Burke was suspecting him of taking all of the stolen art and treasures from the warehouse, which Mozzie moved to a discreet location somewhere in New York.

I enjoy watching this cat and mouse chase between Agent Burke and Neal Caffrey. I especially enjoyed the scene where Neal pulled off a Magritte (aka his famous Son of Man painting) after seeing a bowl of green apples and his fedora on a table. He uses them to create a diversion so that he, Mozzie, and Cindy (Neal’s landlady June’s granddaughter) can switch out the burnt Chrysler Building painting found on the U-boat at the warehouse with an authentic-like copy created by Neal,  after finding out that Elizabeth was using her art gallery connections to run a test on the burnt fragment of the painting. The whole thing was flawless, and Neal even managed, somehow, to get back to his apartment in time before Agent Jones arrived to keep an eye on him per Agent Burke’s orders.

“On Guard” then circles back to the events that we saw at the beginning of the hour, with Neal and Mozzie trying to get away in the plane, but this time, they have two more passengers: Agent Jones and a man named David Lawrence (guest star Neil Jackson, who, side note, also plays Abraham Van Brunt/Headless Horseman on FOX’s Sleepy Hollow). Lawrence was trying to move the 60 million dollars that he stole from the Federal Reserve out of the United States when the FBI stepped in to stop him.

Neal, as instructed by Agent Burke, uses one of his many aliases to convince David to let him help him move the money. The scene where David reveals to Neal that he stored the money in two of the air ducts at the Gramercy Fencing Club was ingenious. After David tweaks the cables that control the air ducts, money comes pouring out like a green waterfall. Now that is what I call making it rain.

In the end, David Lawrence is caught by Agent Burke and his team, and Burke calls a truce between himself and Neal. The former is called back to the office, and once Burke arrives, Diana tells him that the E.R.T (Evidence Recovery Team) crew found part of the original German U-boat manifest containing 22 of the paintings that were on board.

Agent Burke then asks her who else knows about the manifest, and she says two members of the E.R.T, Jones and herself, to which Agent Burke replies that he wants to keep it that way for the time being. This episode of White Collar ends with Neal and Mozzie trying to figure out a way to obtain the necessary funds for their second grand escape, and Neal seems to have figured out a way as the ending credits appeared.

Just what is Neal planning? Will he get away with it or will Special Agent Peter Burke stand in his way? Onward to Episode 2!

[Photo via USA Network]


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