Following on from the renewed (or should I say, on-going?) tension in the partnership between CI Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) and his handler, Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), after the sudden departure of Sam (Treat Williams), “Vested Interest” takes us on a trip down memory lane. At the annual Best Practices Conference, Peter and Neal have been asked to be on the special panel discussing the Handler-CI relationship given they have the highest closure rate of any Handler-CI team in the country. Peter is proud of their achievement but Neal looks anything but excited to be discussing a relationship in which he now feels has encroached on his personal life.
Amidst the backdrop of Neal and Peter pretending to play nice in front of a group of FBI agents, the pair continues the game of cat and mouse – literally (actually, it’s a rat named Percy). While Peter continues to investigate the mysterious Sam Phelps using official channels – all be it on the sly, Neal and Mozzie (Willie Garson) have their own plans to find the mole inside the Bureau who they believe is responsible for Ellen’s murder and it involves Mozzie’s “third favorite safe house – Friday.”
There is, as always, a crime-of-the-week to solve here, but state of the art bullet-proof vest aside, the use of the panel interview is a clever way of reminding Neal and Peter – and the audience – of the start of their partnership, when Peter took the leap of faith his insightful wife, Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen), suggested that he consider taking Neal’s deal to work together. Their trust, whilst always testing, developed over time and has never been an easy one. They have faith in each other, even if they may not always trust each other.
I know many viewers who, like me, have watched the Pilot many times and will remember the case of the Dutchman fondly – their first case together. If it has been a while since you have watched it, I would suggest you go back to the beginning and watch it again because the scene in the church where Neal and Peter first find the man they suspected of being the Dutchman is one of my favorite scenes. Of course, the natural chemistry between Bomer and DeKay makes these scenes on the panel look flawless, as if we are watching a real-life interview on any talk show with the actors, not the characters.
Some final teasers and burning questions for the summer finale:
- When Peter says “That’s the Neal Caffrey I know and love” – this sentence made me all happy and tingly inside, even if you can tell Neal remains unimpressed;
- Jones (Sharif Atkins) may be a tough guy on the outside, but who knew he was afraid of rats? “For every rat you see, there’s another ten you don’t. I’ve seen Ratatouille!”
- Mozzie: “I brought a corkscrew to a gunfight.”
- I wonder how many routines Peter has changed since Neal started working for the FBI?
- Does the FBI have a secret handshake?
- Diana (Marsha Thomason) would make a mean boss
- There will be more than one O-M-G moment
As is the norm, the summer finale will leave us with another cliffhanger. I have a couple of theories about this one. I have no facts to back up my suspicions except to say I will continue to over-analyze till I think I have it figured out, and then I am sure Eastin will throw some red herrings into the mix. One thing is for sure: I, for one, am already looking forward to when season 4.5 returns. In the meantime, I know I will continue to lose sleep and engage in many debates with other fans over where this cliffhanger will lead.
WHITE COLLAR summer finale “Vested Interest” airs on USA Network Tuesday, September 18 at 9/8c.
Written by: Jeff Eastin
Guest starring: Treat Williams, Ned Eisenberg, Jason Pendergraft, Pawel Szajda