White Collar – Recap & Review – Empire City

photo: usa

photo: usa

New York City has a lot of history and two very iconic institutions are jazz and taxicabs. This week’s case navigates for us through the history of both, but how do the two relate? Well Neal, Peter, Moz and the gang find out as they get to go under cover this week.

In addition to getting some movement into where Ellen wanted Neal to go, it’s another episode directed by Tim DeKay. They sure like giving him episodes that focus a lot on the City (last one was at Yankee Stadium).

Mozzie’s working as a cab driver while Neal is city hopping looking for the cityscape spot on the key. So far nothing, he’s convinced Ellen knew that he would know, so he’ll continue searching places connected to her. Of course, Peter and Jones are monitoring his anklet to see where he’s going. All the while, El tries to convince Peter to stop digging, while he’s still wondering why Neal lied to him. Peter says he’s safe where he is and El still believes she’s right in having Neal lie. Oh El, it’s never good to lie, especially between these two…

Mozzie’s cab driving hits a small snag when he sees another cab with his same numbers, prompting him to chase it down and running five consecutive red lights. Peter helps gets Moz off on just a fine. Love Moz being a cab driver to vacuum for tips under the name Hal Hoover. Moz paid in full for his taxi medallion (which are worth a lot), hence being so upset. Seems Hal Hoover has a case on his hands for Peter!

Peter brings in Diana and Jones to go after the buyer since Moz’s word won’t be that great. Peter goes undercover as a Taxi and Limo Commission agent. Peter: No TLC for my TLC idea? Neal: I’ve been waiting for a TLC joke, but that was not good. Ha! Peter talks to owner Dusarc to get log records, while Neal goes after Moz. I love when Neal and Peter go undercover. Moz is there on his own to get some inside info. Neal and Moz do their distraction thing to get inside the other cab to get its tracking, but Peter catches them and besides, Peter can just ask for the device data.

From the logs, Moz notices a few fair irregularities – presumably when the medallion changed hands – and they thumb through the lengthy list to track down any suspects. The info leads them to the revived Cotton Club and two brother owners, one of whom works for the TLC. If they are selling the medallion, an imbalance might show up on their balance sheet.

Neal and Peter head to the Cotton Club, as Moz has Angelo Wells (Keith Robinson), the TLC employee co-owner, get in his cab. He knows his cab companies, so it’s obvious to Moz that he’s their guy.

Inside the Cotton Club, Neal figures they can’t go in as FBI and instead as talent management – gotta love last minute undercover-ness – to meet with the other co-owner Delmon Wells (Bill Bellamy). Neal sells Delmon on getting June to open up for his grand re-opening. The guys get a glimpse at the books and stall to take some photos. Peter listening to El helps get them through the impromptu cover-up. “Music is not born in Madison Garden.”

El works herself into the case when Peter and Neal need help isolating discrepancies in the book. She quickly finds it, but its not enough to catch Angelo. They need eyes on the operation, someone on the inside. In comes Diana as a cigar girl. Diana undercover is always entertaining and she’s all dolled up for the gig.

Lots of security in the place, but Diana follows the brothers to the office to overhear Angelo planning to sell another medallion this Friday with Delmon having no idea. They mention a safe and Diana goes in to see, but is caught by Delmon. Luckily, her quick thinking and attitude get her out of trouble. It’s nice seeing Diana let loose with the cigar in hand.

Delmon is the brother who would never give up his baby brother, so how to get Angelo? The team will have to force him to show up at the briefcase swap between Delmon and Dusarc. And here comes a crazy idea from Neal. He wants to replace the real medallion with a melting decoy, yes melting, which will get Dusarc mad and force Angelo to show up to get the real one. But can they safely make the switch? As long as they have the right voice, because the safe is voice activated.

Time for June to come out of retirement. I love that she’s totally in on the case and all for recording a real EP. Neal really does have the best landlord. Love hearing Diahann Caroll sing. While Moz does the recording, (what does he not do?) and hiding Delmon’s audio in one of the tracks, Neal works on the ice medallion. Upon listening to the EP, Delmon agrees June is who he wants for the reopening. Yay!

Re-opening time! El keeps Delmon preoccupied so Neal can sneak into the office to switch the medallion. I enjoyed seeing El save the day again with her quick thinking. The execution had perfect timing with Jones getting June’s attention, Diana running the water and note over and June dedicating the song to Delmon. Nice team work there.

Like clockwork, Neal makes the switch, (Diana was hiding the ice medallion under her cigar tray), narrowly escaping without getting caught and Delmon and Dusarc make their swap. Then it’s Moz’s turn to keep Dusarc occupied long enough for the medallion to melt. It works as Dusarc opens the briefcase, no medallion, lots of water and he’s furious, yelling for Angelo to come.

Angelo finally shows up, forces Delmon to open the safe to get the real medallion and in comes Peter and the team. Peter says they all have to be arrested, but with some slight convincing, Angelo says Delmon had nothing to do with it, so he’s safe. Exactly what they wanted. Cased closed. As they leave the scene, Jones takes the time to steal away a cigar, leaving behind some cash, so not really stealing. Nice Jones.

The case inspires Neal on where he thinks Ellen wanted him to be. Neal realized ten years ago, she would have been finding to place that meant a lot to him. And back then, he was on the run, his time running out and every day he went to a pier in Queens to drink wine, collecting corks, each meaning another day free. He told Ellen about it the last time they talked. And what would you know? It’s the spot. The key covers all but one building…the Empire State Building.

New Mozzism? Three in the hand is better than none in the bush.

This week’s case was a nice change of pace episode with lots of undercover-ness and the team working together to help Moz. Diahann Carroll rocked this episode and DeKay rocked the directing! Also liked the quick resolve to the key cityscape. Do you think Ellen hid a clue at the Empire State Building, or is it another journey around town? I’m beginning to love the idea more and more of a city wide hunt. There’s my thoughts, share your TwoCents below.

In two weeks: Shoot the Moon

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