Running the Long Con – “White Collar” Then and Now – Part 2

It is another day closer to the season 3 return of my favourite TV show, WHITE COLLAR.  I hope you enjoyed reading Part 1 of my look back at the things I love about the show.  If you missed Part 1, here’s what you missed:

  • The Wardrobe
  • The Truth, Half-Truths and Little White Lies
  • The Quirky Friend
  • The Women of White Collar

There was too much to talk about for one post so here is Part 2.  I’m sure I’ll think of something more after I publish but I’m sure there will be more opportunities in the future for more!  So here we go…let the recap continue! 🙂

5.  The Villains

This show has not been lacking in the villains department given our protagonists are here to solve crimes.  I particularly loved the ones with the fun nicknames like The Dutchman (season 1, “Pilot”), Ghovat (season 1 “Threads”) and The Vulture (season 3 “Taking Account”).  I wish they had more names for the villain-of-the-week – let’s hope I will get my wish in season 4.

But for now, let’s just look at some of the most interesting ones, namely, those who have had a past with Neal.

Fowler, Adler, Keller - coincidence all the baddies' names end with "ler"? Lol

Garrett Fowler – the OPR agent who was behind the plot to frame Neal for the theft of the pink diamond and then thought to be behind the plane explosion that killed Kate (yes, she is definitely dead).  His name became a dirty word and undoubtedly inspired many drinking games where you take a shot every time the word “Fowler” is uttered by anyone on the show.  It turns out, he was not such a bad guy although how many people secretly wanted Neal to just shoot him in the museum in “Point Blank”?  Since then, he has disappeared into the ether.  When WHITE COLLAR creator and showrunner, Jeff Eastin, was asked on Twitter what had happened to Fowler, he replied “Peter killed him and buried him in his backyard”.  I wonder if Satchmo, the Burkes’ dog, has dug up any mysterious bones recently?  Kudos to Noah Emmerich who played Fowler with such aplomb.  Every time I see him in a movie now, I have a tendency to burst out with “FOWLER!” in the middle of the theatre…

Vincent Adler – the man who made Neal Caffrey the man he is today, Adler was the biggest conman of them all.  The world thought he was a financier but he really stole their money in a Ponzi scheme.  And all the while, he was educating Neal and getting him used to the lifestyle of the wealthy and privileged.  When it came to light that Adler was the one behind Operation Mentor and everything to do with the music box and all the treasure it held, things turned deadly.  I’m sorry that Adler had to die.  Perhaps one day there will be a movie-length special about Neal’s past with Adler…even Andrew McCarthy (who played Adler) agreed when I suggested this to him on Twitter last year.  Let’s hope this will happen!

Matthew Keller – the best bad guy you could ever wish for.  We first met him towards the end of season 1 (“Bottlenecked”) when we learned that he and Neal had met in Monaco at a backgammon tournament: “it was a simpler time then”. Things turned nasty between the two, mostly because of Kate (as was implied by Keller) and former criminal partners became chess-playing enemies. Neal won the first round but the return of Keller in season 2 (“Payback”) almost turned deadly when he kidnapped Peter.  As much as we wanted to hate him, we also cannot get enough of him.  Maybe it’s Ross McCall’s Scottish-American accent that makes him the sexiest, deadliest villain on the show?  Keller returned in season 3, much to the audience’s excitement (yes! yes! yes!), but he’s after so much more now (no! no! no!) and as of the mid-season finale (“Countdown”) he has kidnapped Elizabeth in order to get to the U-boat treasure.  I still believe Keller is the villain with the best lines, and I assure you, when he returns in “Checkmate”, you will not be disappointed.

6.  The Galaxy of Stars

The USA Network is never short of a good guest star for its original programs.  They seem to get bigger and better every year too.  So I’m just going to name a few who have worked with some of the cast members before – let’s call this “Six Degrees of White Collar”.  See if you can name the people and the episodes these stars appeared in as well.

Murray Bartlett – the Aussie actor who played Adrian Tulane in season 1 (“Free Fall”) guest-starred in Sex and The City with Willie Garson

Noah Emmerich – recurring bad guy Garrett Fowler is a member of New York theatre group “Naked Angels” which is supported by Matt Bomer and has also been friends with Tim DeKay for many years

Billy Dee Williams – the legendary actor played Bradford Toman (aka Ford) in season 2 (“Countermeasures”) was a former schoolmate of Diahann Carroll’s and the two also starred together in ’80s soap Dynasty

Tim Matheson – guest-starred and directed the season 2 premiere (“Withdrawal”) and had also directed an episode of Matt Bomer’s defunct show Traveler

William Sadler – guest-starred in the Dan Brown-inspired treasure-hunting episode in season 3 (“Where There’s A Will”) had co-starred with Matt Bomer in Traveler

Nathen Garson – son of Willie, had a bit part in the flashback episode in season 2 (“Forging Bonds”)

Brady Smith – husband of Tiffani Thiessen, looked hot in a naval uniform shooting arrows at Neal (also hot in a naval dress whites) in season 3 (“As You Were”)

Eliza Dushku – the sexiest Egyptologist you’re ever likely to meet (season 3, “On the Fence”) was the star of Tru Calling, in which Matt Bomer played her boyfriend

Joe Manganiello – better known to his fans as Alcide from True Blood will be guest-starring in an upcoming episode in season 3 (“Neighbourhood Watch”) in which he plays a baddie who just moved in with his wife a couple of doors up from the Burkes, went to college with Matt Bomer.  The two also recently wrapped production of “Magic Mike” (or as we know it, the “stripper movie”)

I’m sure there are more but this is already a pretty impressive list.  Other notable mentions, of course, are Andrew McCarthy, Beau Bridges, Callie Thorne, Kyle Secor, Max Martini, Anna Chlumsky, Madchen Amick, Lena Headey, Chris and Danny Masterson, and in episodes to come, we will also see Tom Skerritt (as Elizabeth’s father), Dylan Baker and Lola Glaudini.

As for who I would love to see on the list of guest stars in season 4, let’s start with Tim DeKay’s gorgeous wife, Elisa Taylor; then there’s Jason Priestley who recently guest-starred in the mid-season finale of another USA Network show, Psych.  Priestley would be awesome as his character was the one responsible for the death of Matt Bomer’s character in Tru Calling;  Patrick Breen, star of stage and screen and long-time friend of Willie Garson’s is currently co-starring with him in a web series called Whole Day Down.  Last but not least, the stars of Chuck, Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski – both Matt and Tim have guest-starred on their show which is coming to its series finale in the coming weeks (they have already finished shooting the series).

7.  The Talented Mr Caffrey and Agent Burke

Neal didn’t get to become the FBI’s Most Wanted just on good looks and charm.  Our Neal is a man of many talents.  Of course we all know he can paint and sculpt, pick locks, play poker, and disable alarms.  But over the last two-and-a-half seasons, we have learned that he has many other talents, some of which even Peter didn’t know he possessed!

Let’s list some of these talents:

Talented Mr Caffrey

  • handling and shooting a gun (season 1 “Hard Sell”)
  • fold origami (season 1 “Home Invasion”)
  • swing on a banner like Errol Flynn (season 2 “Point Blank”)
  • bake a ruby (season 2 “What Happens in Burma”)
  • sing and dance (season 2 “Countermeasures”)
  • fence (season 3 “On Guard”)
  • cook (season 3 “Deadline”, “Veiled Threat”)
  • BASE jump (season 3 “Countdown”)

Now, we can’t talk about Neal without also mentioning the man who arrested him – twice.  FBI Agent Peter Burke is a man of many talents of his own.  And don’t ever call him a mathlete either!  Let’s see what we know about him:

Agent Burke has got moves to die for!

  • ask him some day what he knows about Prada bags (season 1 “Threads”)
  • he knows a lot more about wine than Neal gave him credit for (season 1 “Bottlenecked”)
  • Peter may not be able to afford to own  a Lamborghini but it doesn’t stop him from dreaming of owning one (season 2 “Prisoners Dilemma”)
  • he can ride a horse (season 2 “Burke’s Seven”)
  • he could be a thief if he wanted to (season 2 “Powerplay”)
  • astronomy is his hobby (season 3 “Where There’s a Will”)
  • all the dancing lessons El makes him go to paid off with his awesome tango with a deadly widow (season 3 “Veiled Threat”)

8.  Where Are They At Now?

When season 3 premiered with an opening scene where Neal and Mozzie are getting ready to take off in a plane with the FBI hot on their heels, we thought “OH NO! Neal took the treasure and he is running!”  Anyone who was following Twitter when “On Guard” aired would have seen the number of angry tweets saying mostly one of two things:

  • How could Peter believe that Neal stole the treasure? Stop interrogating him!
  • How could Neal think about leaving Peter?

In both cases, fans were upset.  The show which redefined the term “bromance” (because Neal/Matt and Peter/Tim have better chemistry on and off screen than any crime-fighting duo ever seen on screen) ruffled some feathers as fans feared a major rift between the duo.  That rift, continued to grow throughout the first half of season 3.  It caused me great pain every time Peter and Neal chat like old times and then they give each other those suspicious glares!  Or the times when Peter would give Neal a knowing smile as if to say “I’m one step ahead of you buddy” and Neal looking worried.

But how can anyone blame Peter for being disappointed/suspicious/distrustful of Neal?  After all, Peter killed a man (Vincent Adler) to save him and then finds out that Neal may have conspired to commit a crime right in front of him?  And of course, the mid-season cliffhanger…if ever there is a reason for Peter to lose all faith and trust in Neal, it’s getting a call from Keller to say he has seen the treasure and that Neal has it, and then finding your wife has been kidnapped because of all the secrets and lies coming from the man you trust.  Wow! This brings to mind the walk-and-talk between Neal and Peter in “Countdown”:

Neal (about Peter’s relationship with Kramer): It must be nice to have someone who believes in you

Peter: I never gave him a reason not to

As for Mozzie and Neal – what can I say? Mozzie seems to have forgotten what he said to Peter at their first meeting and decided the long con with all its riches is what he wants and he’s taken the treasure and disappeared.  Can he stay away from Neal for long?  What would he do on an island?  Maybe he should buy Australia (technically a continent and an island) and buy some vineyards to produce all the wines he likes?  Then he could send a few to Neal in prison (for his crime) to make up for all his wines that he has drunk…

9.  Where to from here?

Well, since I have been fortunate enough to have watched the screeners for the first three episodes of the season return, I can tell you there is another game-changer coming up that I expect will take us through to the end of the current season.  Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay have said in their recent TCA (Television Critics Association) interviews that we will have another jaw-dropping cliffhanger to look forward to.  Personally, I think any swag USA Network gives away for this show should include either a pacemaker or a brown paper bag for when we start hyperventilating.  I thought most of the first half of season 3 have ended with mini-cliffhangers (Neal trying to stop Mozzie from selling the Degas after he found out about the U-boat manifest, Neal breaking into the Burkes’ home and finding said manifest, Sara unlocking Neal’s laptop to discover the treasure cam, just to name a few of my favourites) so I have no doubt Jeff Eastin and his team of writers are going to make our hearts go nuts again.

The last 6 episodes of season 3 are sure to keep us on the edge of our seats

10.  A White Collar Crossover?

USA Network works hard to promote its original programs. As a result, fans fall in love with their characters and because the casts all seem so wonderful and get along so well, fans are always asking for crossovers.  Jeff Eastin had mentioned he would love to do a crossover with Burn Notice as it was created by his friend, Matt Nix, and others have suggested a crossover with Covert Affairs or Psych.  While I love all these shows, in my opinion, the one that would offer the best fit is In Plain Sight, a show about a pair of US Marshals who work in the Witness Protection division.  Given the US Marshals are who monitor Neal’s tracking anklet data, one would expect this would be an easy fit.  I can picture this: Marshal Marshall Mann (yes, his name is Marshall and he is a US Marshal in case you’ve never watched this show) has a quote-off with Mozzie as both are highly intelligent and knows everything; Mary Shannon can set Neal in his rightful place with her insults and resist his charms while Stan McQueen (Mary’s and Marshall’s boss) will enjoy a good laugh with Peter over a beer at the scene.

Paul Ben-Victor, who plays Stan, is friends with Tim DeKay (they worked together in a very funny film called Randy and the Mob – you should check it out) so it would be easy chemistry for the two friends to work together again.  Also, one of the reasons given for the network not doing any crossovers is that the shows are shot in different locations and scheduling conflicts make them impossible.  However, in light of the fact that In Plain Sight has just started shooting its fifth and last season (sadly with only eight episodes), they will probably wrap before White Collar has finished shooting season 4.  So let’s keep our fingers crossed some execs are reading this and give me this wish!

I hope you have enjoyed reading my look down memory lane at the evolution of my favourite TV show.

You can now read my advance review of the season 3 mid-season premiere, “Checkmate”, published at (and follow Lena on twitter @LenaLamoray).

You can also read some of my otherWhite Collar related posts:

Ten Things I Learnt From “White Collar”

How Well Do You Know The Villains of “White Collar”


10 thoughts on “Running the Long Con – “White Collar” Then and Now – Part 2

  1. Pingback: Running The Long Con – “White Collar” Then and Now – Part 1 « LibraGirl Rules – My Life, My Rules

  2. CJ

    Great recap – and I do love the idea of a White Collar – In Plain Sight cross-over. I could see some great sparks flying between Mary and Neal. And the idea of Marshall and Mozzie meeting and quoting… sublime! (Ahhh, the fanfic ideas are starting to form…)

    One point though – I think Peter’s hobby is astronomy, not astrology 🙂


    1. Valerie Leung Post author

      Awesome work CJ. More than 40 other people read it and didn’t notice my mistake 🙂 I’ve fixed it now…just goes to show what happens when you get too excited when it comes to the boys 🙂


  3. CJ

    Totally understandable excitement when it comes to Neal and Peter!!!

    And who knows, maybe after getting Elizabeth back, Peter might thank his lucky stars and start reading his horoscope every day 🙂


  4. Afsana Noor (@AfsanaNoor)

    A Fantastic piece of writing as always. Agree with everything except No.8. You know, You missed some talents of Neal. Talents like-
    1. Neal knows magic and card tricks! (All In)
    2. He is very good with children, you know the “Peter Pan” (Bad Judgement, All in)
    3. He can sell anything and everything (Hard Sell)
    4. He can hot-wire cars (Pilot, Prisoner’s Dilemma)
    5. Neal can defuse bombs, doesn’t matter if it’s 70 years old (Under the Radar)
    6. Can counterfeit money (Countermeasures)
    7. He can be a very wicked politician (Need to Know)
    8. Neal is an secret art-restorer (On the Fence)
    9. A great Escape Artist (Pilot)
    10. Can forge anything! (All the episodes)
    I’m not even going to talk about his charm, fashion sense , knowledge about wine and his encyclopedic knowledge about European arts and history. Is he really only 33?


    1. Valerie Leung Post author

      Haha yes you are correct he can do all those things, and that’s why I said the list was of the things Peter/we didn’t know he could do 🙂 After all, Neal was a known forger and counterfeiter 🙂 But yes yes he can do it all! Who knows how? He is super talented! 🙂


  5. Christine Antonios (@christinelive)

    Oddly enough, Keller is the only villain who hasn’t let me down yet. The others kind of fizzled at the end of their moment.

    Great call with the IPS cross over. I think that could be really interesting. Even though CA and BN are more popular, I just don’t think it makes sense to mix CIA and FBI. Psych is too far removed and RP (though same state) wouldn’t make much sense. Personally, I think they need to mix in some lawyers considering Neal’s 94% conviction rate (Suits?), but Jeff has already said lawyer shows scare him hahahaha.


    1. Valerie Leung Post author

      I’d like some formal explanation of what happened to Fowler (as amused as I was by Jeff’s twitter comment) but that’s OK. Some mysteries will remain mysteries forever 🙂

      I wonder how I can campaign to get an IPS/WC crossover happening…?


  6. Pingback: An Open Letter To Mr Jeff Eastin « LibraGirl Rules – My Life, My Rules

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