White Collar Premiere: At What Price

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Last season left us off at a hell of a cliffhanger; FBI agent Peter Burke was arrested for a murder he did not commit.  A murder that was in fact committed by the father of his best friend and CI Neal Caffery.  It was self defense, but the slimy conman ran still ran off, leaving the innocent man to take the fall.

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This season opens exactly where the last left off.  In a mirror image of a scene from the first episode, Neal and Peter meet in the visitors section of the prison, but this time it’s Peter wearing the orange jumpsuit.  A few weeks pass in the form of various supporting characters visiting Peter as well.  The only new information we learn during this sequence is that awesome lesbian FBI agent Diana Barrigan is pregnant (actress Marsha Thomason gave birth to a daughter in June), and going it alone, having broken it off with long-time girlfriend last season.

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Neal is, of course, guilt-ridden over the entire affair, and has been trying to find a way to rectify his father’s malfeasance.  He’s been stymied, however, by Peter’s refusal to consider escaping jail, resolute that ‘justice will prevail’.

The meat of the episode comes when Neal gets a mysterious text with an address and promises of help.  It turns out still-imprisoned Curtis Hagen aka the Dutchman(played by Mark Sheppard, who is always welcome on my screen), baddy from the very first episode is back with promises of being able to free Peter Burke through legal channels.

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Well, maybe semi-legal.  He needs Neal to steal several million dollars worth of gold coin from a heavily-secured vault.  Peter and Mozzie do their usual Oceans 11 mumbo jumbo and manage to secure the gold (involving the lovely image of Matt Bomer in a fareman’s uniform).  This is helped by a magic box whipped up by the eccentric genius of Mozzie which fools Neal’s tracking anklet into reporting that he is in the loft the entire time.

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Meanwhile, after being released from jail (through convoluted means including a faked confession from Peter’s father), Peter is offered the big boss position at the white collar office.  He accepts, but has the time to work one more case with the team.  The case of the theft several million dollars worth of gold coin from a heavily-secured vault.

Getting the coins to the drop point right under Peter’s nose is a challenge, but Neal manages it by the skin of his teeth (and a well-timed grease fire).  However, because he’s not stupid, Peter senses than something’s up.  This leaves him with some tough choices.  As the head of the office, Peter cannot be Neal’s handler, but he fells that anyone from within the office family will give Neal too much leeway to get away with the kind of thing he got away with that day.  Peter decides to hire a new agent from outside to keep Neal in check.

This would be all well-and-good if Neal could be trusted not to pull any more shenanigans, but that won’t be the case.  Turns out, the Dutchman used the coins as an excuse to get Neal on tape committing the crime.  Holding this over his head, Hagen promises Neal that there will be much more crime ahead.

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(Hopefully this means there will be much more Mark Sheppard as well)

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We leave off with an uneasy silence between Peter and Neal that should be familiar to fans.  Peter thinks he got out of the murder charge legally, that ‘justice prevailed’, as he says.  Neal did what he had to do to save the man who has turned out to be more of a father than his own ever was, and who has given him more of a family than he ever thought he would have.  I have no doubt there will be a lot more tension as the season continues.

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I was hoping the hacked anklet would have given us a new dimension to the show, but that was remedied almost immediately after it served it’s purpose with Peter giving Neal an updated model.  Maybe Mozzie, having figured one out, can hack this one faster, but I’m not holding my breath.

Author: Lady Malchav



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