White Collar: “Shoot The Moon”
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White Collar: “Shoot The Moon”

B+

White Collar

“Shoot The Moon”

Season 4, Episode 14

What kind of romance are you looking for—an affair that sparks furiously but goes up in flames, a slow-burning courtship that ages gracefully, or perhaps something in between and undefined? That question is in the atmosphere throughout tonight’s episode. “Shoot the Moon” is a mostly solid, character-driven chapter that largely suspends the hunt for Ellen’s evidence box and instead gives Elizabeth a chance to shine, offers fans the return (and seeming departure) of Sara, and lovingly photographs its primary architectural set piece, Queens’ oft-overshadowed New York Hall of Science.

The only real sour ingredients are Bonnie and Clyde wannabes Oz (Twilight vet Jackson Rathbone) and Penny (relative newcomer Jessica McNamee), who forged their star-crossed bond while Oz was in prison and she swooned over his profile in Mugshot Monthly magazine (seriously). After helping her tough-talking bad boy—Oz speaks with a confusing Boston-meets-Staten Island dialect and is prone to threats like “You wanna eat a bullet?”—bust out of the joint, they set off to rob items that complete the metaphors of his prison poetry. First, Marilyn Monroe’s engagement ring from Joe DiMaggio. Next up: a bottle of Marie Antoinette’s perfume that Sara happens to be securing for its exhibitor (whoopsie). And the coup de grace? An actual chunk of moon rock on display at the Queens Hall of Science. All this would be far more exciting or inspiring if Oz and Penny oozed the actual danger and sex appeal of Bonnie and Clyde. Rather, they’re more akin to reckless self-saboteurs Walter and Phyllis in Double Indemnity—and just as comically doomed.

The story’s neatest trick is bringing three couples—Neal and Sara (who, we learn, are now friends with benefits), Peter and Elizabeth, Oz and Penny—together under its auspices. After making away with the perfume under Sara and Neal’s nose, the slightly bumbling duo commit the tragic error of carjacking and kidnapping Peter and Elizabeth, who were headed from Sara’s exhibit to a cozy getaway in Vermont. So, thanks to these amateur thieves-in-heat, Neal and Sara’s latest romp in the sack is on hold while Peter and Elizabeth are spending their lovers’ weekend held hostage in an abandoned warehouse with two misfits in far over their heads.

This is where Elle gets to shine, showing off the full arsenal of tricks we’ve implicitly witnessed her acquire from Peter. She talks Oz into unbinding her hands so she can help him make a stew. En route to the chopping block, Mrs. Suit cannily obscures Peter’s FBI badge so as not to raise Oz’s alarm. And, later, during the climactic Hall of Science showdown, she gets the upper-hand on Penny and demonstrates her ease with handling a pistol. The fact that both Oz and his desperately naïve girlfriend are so easily undermined every step of the way is a whole other conversation, one best left to an eye roll and acceptance that their lack of hardened skills was imperative to them earning our eventual sympathy. 

“Shoot The Moon” also flashes Neal and Sara’s chemistry at its most convincing. Too bad, then, that she’s off to a permanent job in London, even if it completes the narrative by leaving Neal to once again consider what version of stability he’s looking for. But it does strengthen his resolve to focus on restoring order and redemption to his father’s life, and in turn laying a foundation from which Neal himself can pursue a steady future. 

All this points to action squarely re-centering on the aforementioned evidence box next week, which should also mean more Mozzie (much as we love Elizabeth). Because even though “Shoot The Moon” reminds us (and Neal) what’s so special about Elle and Peter’s domestic bliss, White Collar’s most entertaining twosome is Neal and Mozz. So, like a bromantically sophisticated Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Sleepless In Seattle, off to the Empire State Building they go!

Stray observations:

  • Maybe it’s the way they’re writing his character now, but I like this more accessible, joke-cracking Neal.
  • Best I could find, there is no Rusty Egret B&B in Vermont, although I did have a dream it existed. Not much I can say in defense of that.
  • Man, Penny sure gets defensive real quick. All Peter asks is how long they were married, not whether they planned to or how she felt about the convention of commitment. 
  • Speaking of Penny, even if she doesn’t know Peter is an agent, she sure is quick to spill on their criminal history.
  • Peter and Elle drink boxed wine? I don’t know about that.
  • I did enjoy the fact that Oz and Penny were transported in from a mid-century crime novel or film noir, but it was also kind of corny.
  • Diana’s hair. LOL.  

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