White Collar, “In the Red”

I really don’t have a whole lot to say about last night’s White Collar aside from that “In the Red” was yet another fine, entertaining episode that kept the second season’s strong start going.

A few things though: First of all, the tape. I’ve said this before and I’ll probably continue to say it again, but this series would be better off without the ongoing arcs. It’s not going to happen, if only because that’s not how USA rolls, but more than any other series, White Collar works best when its characters are just sitting around chatting. Burn Notice might have better cases and procedural elements, but I could watch Bomer, DeKay, Atklins and Thomason banter in a well-lit room for 42 minutes each week with ease. But more than that, the story here with Kate, Fowler or any other shady people in the shadows is simply not interesting. What are the implications for Neal Caffrey if he finds out who killed Kate? Will that knowledge not allow him to be a FBI liaison? How will it really re-shade his past? I’m fairly confident the answer to those last two questions is “not really” and “not at all.” So outside of the network directive that makes audiences feel like they’re something around the corner, this is all so useless and false.

And really, it feels like the White Collar team recognizes this and that’s why the Kate story has been pushed further back than it was last season. This might not be the exact case, but I remember thinking last season that the series spotlighted its “mythology” more than its USA peers, but this year, anything dealing with Kate has been more relegated to the first and last three minutes just like every other series on the network. This is also one of the major reasons the first six episodes have been exceptional. This week’s case was yet another traditional-leaning one, which is probably another reason for the improved quality. I’ve talked about this before as well, but the writers have also realized that white-collar crime isn’t quite exciting, so they’re implementing stories that combine it with more “classic” crime. It might water down the product in some ways, but the series has been more exciting to watch and that’s all that really matters.

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