This just isn't Elizabeth Burke's season.
This week's White Collar has Mrs. Suit overhearing plans for a robbery thanks to a scanner Peter left at home. When nothing materializes, Peter and Neal are skeptical, but (of course) Mozzie is more receptive. He and Elizabeth monitor the scanner until they hear the same voices again...right across the street from the Burke home. The new neighbors are Ben (Matt Bomer's Magic Mike co-star Joe Manganiello) and Rebecca Ryan (former Criminal Minds star Lola Glaudini).
Elizabeth coerces Rebecca into inviting her and Peter over for dinner. Plus, while she's sneaking around, she even made Mozzie and Neal a picnic meal to keep them fed in the car outside. Unfortunately, she does manage to get herself locked in an upstairs bedroom, and has to have Neal talk her through lock-picking from the window ledge outside, much to Peter's annoyance.
Peter reluctantly agrees to look into Ben, and Diana tells him that Ben did time for armed robbery. Just as Peter is calling Elizabeth to tell her that she was right, Ben shows up on the Burkes' doorstep and realizes that Elizabeth lied to get into his house. His thinly veiled threat spooks Elizabeth and makes Peter's jaw clench, especially given his wife's recent abduction. Jones tails Ben and identifies his partner as Connor Bailey (Smash regular Will Chase), after which Neal decides to go make nice with the fellow criminals, running into Ben at his parole office.
On a napkin while he and Ben are at a strip club, Neal uncovers the number for a phone company work order, which would allow Ben and Connor to walk into just about anywhere without suspicion. Peter quickly deduces that the target is a luxury hotel and their bad guys are already there, plotting to make off with a few million dollars. He and Neal just miss Ben and Connor as they speed away in a van with the entire hotel safe inside.
When Elizabeth sees Rebecca leaving the house, she and Mozzie elect to tail Ben's wife - and when she becomes convinced that Peter won't make it in time, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Her attempt to impersonate an FBI agent falls flat, and she and Mozzie barely escape before Peter and the calvalry show up. Peter is all too happy to have everything back to normal, and so am I.
"Neighborhood Watch" is a fairly run-of-the-mill White Collar episode. It's not a "whodunit" as that's patently obvious from the get-go, but there aren't a lot of surprises in the "howdunit" either. The bad guys are sufficiently bad: Manganello has the glower down pat, while Lola Glaudini has made a new habit of playing villains on USA (her last TV appearance being as Carmel Loan in the network's adaptation of the John Sanford novel Certain Prey.) And it's nice to see more scenes between Tiffani Thiessen and Willie Garson. But as much as there's nothing specifically wrong, there's nothing specifically right, either.
One potential good thing is that perhaps this episode will spell the end of the show dwelling on Elizabeth's recovery post-kidnapping. It was nice to see that the aftereffects weren't glossed over in the first two episodes, but if we keep on that any longer, then we might end up in pity territory, and as Elizabeth herself says, we don't need that.
Oh, and did you notice that this episode was directed by Vincent Adler himself, Andrew McCarthy? Yep. McCarthy is an accomplished director and it isn't the first time he's directed a series he's also acted in (see: Lipstick Jungle, Gossip Girl). That's a nice trivia tidbit for you.
But let's hope next week's ep, with Beau Bridges, has a bit more pop.
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.