This episode of White Collar seems to be something out of the movie The Devil Wears Prada, but this is not Hollywood and the demanding boss-lady is no Meryl Streep. Enter Helen Anderson (guest star Jayne Atkinson), Executive Editor at Circumspect Examiner magazine. She has been receiving death threats from people from the news stories that she covers, yet she brushes it off as empty threats and refuses FBI protection, much to the chagrin of her boss, Leland Shelton, owner of Circumspect Examiner magazine. She also fired her personal assistant Melinda on top of it all. Real-world Miranda Priestly, anyone?
Even though Ms. Anderson refuses protection from the FBI, Agent Burke still finds a way to keep the stubborn Executive Editor safe by using the assistant angle to get Diana to go undercover as a potential new assistant. Suffice it to say, it works. I was impressed by Diana’s ability to master the English accent (Manchester, to be exact) and to do all those other random errands that Helen has her do, much like how Miranda was doing with Andy in the aforementioned film. What was also impressive was the fact that Agent Burke, Elizabeth, Neal, and the rest of the FBI team are able to pull off Helen’s son Charlie’s sixth birthday party to make it look like Diana was doing all the work, while Diana does a little digging of her own.
The case then leads to a drug recall that was covered up by Paul Sullivan, the head of New Product Development at Prager & Vaughn Pharmaceuticals, whom Helen is looking into with regards to one of the new products that P&V is creating. Agent Burke and Neal go undercover as agents from the FDA and Neal manages to recover a document that Sullivan was trying to hide as Agent Burke distracts Mr. Sullivan and his counsel, Mr. Carter.
Back at FBI headquarters, Neal and Agent Burke examine the document. Neal is able to split the document in two, given that most high-quality paper stock can be split in two, take some fingerprint powder, and dust one of the split pieces of the document to reveal the name of the drug that was being recalled: Zybax, a new antibiotic designed to combat drug-resistant infections. Sounds like the next big thing, but the pharmaceutical company wants to find out how much it costs to take Zybax off the market. But why?
It is revealed later in the episode that Helen has a source inside P&V Pharmaceuticals who knows something about the Zybax recall. Helen arranges a meeting with the source, taking Diana with her after pulling off the birthday party and all the other tasks that Helen asks her to do. The meeting goes south when Diana approaches Helen after seeing that the latter is being followed. Hello, medical conspiracy! Or a desperate attempt to sweep it under the rug and hope nobody finds out.
I enjoyed the dinner scene at Diana’s house. Neal gets to find out more about Diana, who has a doctor girlfriend named Christie; the two of them met in pottery class. We also got to see one of the pieces that Diana made, a uniquely shaped bowl that was supposed to be round. Diana also has Christie run the serial numbers from the flash drive that Helen got from her source, which reveals that it is for the Zybax drug. It may mean that Sullivan discovered that there was a bad batch of the drug out there on the market and did an undercover recall to remove the bad medication and replace it with the good ones. Yet there’s a possibility that all of the bad Zybax was recovered when Casey Mendell, the head of R&D and Helen’s source, was killed.
When Agent Burke figures out that the Zybax launch party was a setup, he calls Diana to let her know. She then rushes to Helen’s rescue when Carter, Sullivan’s counsel, is about to inject an undetectable drug into her system to kill her. In the end, both Carter and Sullivan are apprehended, and Diana can go back to her regular job.
We then see Helen Anderson show up at FBI headquarters, praising Diana for all her hard work, saying how she was the best assistant that she’d ever had. The Executive Editor then tries to up the ante by offering Diana more money, but the female agent turns Helen’s offer down, saying that she knows who she is and where she wants to be; she doesn’t need a byline, leaving Helen disappointed but impressed as she turns to leave. Well said, Diana, well said.
I really enjoyed watching this episode. It was interesting to see White Collar sort of take a page out of a movie’s book. I felt sorry for Neal when Mozzie called him, saying that the art manifest from the German U-boat was with Agent Matthews and is on the way to Washington, D.C., but perhaps it’s for his own good that he doesn’t get his hands on it because I don’t want to see the friendship that Neal has built with Agent Burke go up in smoke. Onward to Episode 4!
[Photo via USA Network]