karaokegal (karaokegal) wrote,

White Collar Babble for By The Book

I hate to start getting picky with a show that I’ve truly come to love, but I have to say that this episode was a big letdown, especially following the three exemplary episodes that have kicked off the new season.

I’ve generally tried to keep my White Collar Babbles free of comparisons to other shows I follow, such as House MD and Torchwood, but today, I feel the need to mention a show which I honestly hadn’t seen as an obvious equivalent until now: Numb3rs.

Maybe it was having Diane Farr, who played Megan Reeves on Numb3rs that put the idea in my head, but mostly it was having an Mozzie-centric episode and being forced to deal with the fact that supporting characters are supporting characters FOR A REASON.

On Numb3rs, we had stalwart FBI agent Don Eppes who as assisted in his investigations by his brother the math genius, who worked as professor at “Cal-sci” but also “consulted” for the FBI. Fandom being what it is, there were plenty of Eppescest shippers, but more to the point here, Charlie, the brother, had a colleague/friend/mentor named Larry Fleinhardt played by Peter MacNicol.

Larry was a classic quirky supporting character. He’s short. He’s funny. He’s a genius at what he does, although incredibly awkward in other social situation. He has weird phobias about food, and at one point in the series was known to only eat white food. He eventually had a romance with FBI Agent Megan Reeves, played as previously noted by Diane Farr, the actress who played Gina in this week’s White Collar episode.

I loved Larry. Sometimes I was more interested in what he was saying or doing than the actual A-plot of an episode. There was a lot of back-story between Larry and Charlie, and I had a sort of shippy thing about them, that they might have at least had something going on while Charlie was at Princeton.

I love Mozzie. Honestly I do. I think he’s a great character, and I have a lot of fanon about what happened between him and Neal in the early days and why exactly Mozzie is so upset about Neal’s collaboration with The Suit.

There might have been a great Mozzie-centric episode to be done, maybe a few seasons down the line. This sure as hell wasn’t it.

For one thing the set-up. The Gina character was completely unconvincing, and I’m sorry Diane, you just don’t cut it as a diner waitress. The character itself was badly written. Diner waitress. Mystery novel fan. Loves puzzles. Has sleazy dirt-bag boyfriend. I was waiting and waiting and waiting for some kind of reveal that she was an undercover agent OR actually the big bad herself, and the whole thing was a scam being played on Mozzie

As it was, she was nothing but a bunch of unrelated plot points and Mozzie came off like an idiot. He also came off as completely inconsistent to how we’ve seen him in the series thus far AND within the episode itself. The scene at Gina’s apartment, for instance. If he’s really worried about Gina, than the whole “I don’t want her to see you because then I’m the quirky friend” makes him look like as big a jerk as Tommy is supposed to be. The psyching Tommy out so Mozzie can go be the hero doubles down on the jerkishness. I never believed he really cared about the girl all that much. It was all about his ego.

The bit about the cheese was just annoying. It was my actual first STFU Mozzie moment of the series.

The lovely hllangel has pointed out that this episode seemed divorced from the main arc of this season. There was no mention of the Music Box and only one reference to Kate, and that was extremely neutral. It’s impossible to tell in Neal’s delivery in that scene how much Kate is supposed to have meant to him and that he’s still mourning. I have a sneaking suspicion that this episode was actually meant to go into the first season and got punted for some reason.

Another problem is that the baddie just wasn’t that compelling. He wasn’t evil enough for me to hate or ambiguous enough for me to care about. This was a major problem because the last few smug snakes have been so awesomely bad that I really wanted to see them taken down. Here, I just didn’t care that much about Mr. Baldie one way or another, although I did like his “I care about the trees” line.

The elevator scene was fun and it was cute to see Neal playing along with each bit, however it should be pointed out that comparing somebody to Truman Capote isn’t the best way to convince me that they’re a straight character obsessed with a woman.

I was a sucker for the car scene the first time. I love cars in the rain and think they should always lead to smut, but the second time around it felt a bit like a whole carcass (as opposed to a bone) being hurled over the parapet directly at the Peter/Neal shippers, and the analogy they used felt wrong, since again, I honestly don’t believe that Peter necessarily has the same feelings for Mozzie that they’re trying tell me Peter has for Neal. (Loyalty and savior complex, yeah. Something close to an ideal of slashy love-not so much.)

By the way, they need to lay off on the “little guy” stuff. It doesn’t look to me like Willie Garson is actually that much shorter than the other two and he almost had to slouch to make it appear that he was.

Here’s what I did love in the episode: JONES! JONES! JONES! One scene of epic, crowning, fucking AWESOME! Seriously. Someone has to make me an icon of Jones in that scene with the open collar and the chest showing.

That is the kind of thing a supporting character should do. One awesome scene. Make me want more. Don’t make me yell at the character to STFU.

I loved that Peter was essentially one step ahead of Neal all the way and that Neal knew it. It’s like they’ve reached a point where Neal isn’t trying all that hard. Hopefully the angst in Peters’ “I can’t let my guard down for a minute” got through to him.

Single best moment: (aside from Awesome Scarface Jones) When Mozzie was all “You know what they do to guys like me in there.” And Neal was “Yeah. I do.” And he flashed the anklet. (Although we didn’t get to actually see it.) That was a great call-back to “I wear a badge; he wears a tracking anklet.”

That gave me the kind of slash/angst I like. (Ok, I squeeeeeed a bit over “A certain FBI agent came into my life” although that still felt like they were tossing the cow.)


So….I still love the show, but I hope they’ll go back to the good stuff and not make me glean it out of a weak episode. Promos for next week look promising.

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