White Collar's Season 4 Premiere: The Face and the Chase

White Collar S04E01: "Wanted"

In my conversation last week with White Collar creator and executive producer Jeff Eastin, he explained the show's popularity in surprisingly simple terms: Much of its appeal is essentially wish fulfillment. To some degree ALL entertainment could be described that way, but on reflection I've never really wanted to be a criminal. And as nice-seeming as Neal Caffrey's elegant lifestyle appears, it looks like it'd be exhausting to maintain. So at first I wasn't convinced the wish-fulfillment angle explained why this show appealed to me so much, but then I realized that the real wish fulfillment is centered on Peter's character. That guy has the best life! He's got the coolest friend in Manhattan, his wife is just plain rad, and his job seems pretty exciting most of the time. Yeah, Peter is the audience surrogate and thesis statement of White Collar; his life is the one we should want, not Neal's. Which is not to say Neal doesn't have his own appeals.

Oh, welcome back, Neal! White Collar returned this week with its Season 4 premiere "Wanted," a big deviation from formula that was as relaxed as it was high-stakes. About six weeks had passed since Peter silently signaled Neal to flee the country and Neal had hopped a flight with Mozzie to some unspecified locale. Apparently Neal's absence had taken its toll on Peter (understandable!), not only because of Peter's mixed emotions toward Neal's escape, but also because Peter's bossman was still mad about it and assigning Peter only the worst cases. But Peter's sad and resigned attitude changed upon the arrival of an intimidating International Affairs Agent (Mekhi Phifer) with a reputation for bringing home criminals in body bags. Uh-oh, it looked like Neal was suddenly in more trouble than before!

As for Neal himself, he and Mozzie were hiding out on an island that looked A LOT like Puerto Rico but that we later came to find out was Cape Verde, an extradition-free paradise where the hats are fine and the baristas finer. Neal (operating under the alias of John Maine) was doing a GREAT job of blending in so far: gallivanting around the marketplace handing out cash to street musicians and fruit vendors while conspicuously romancing women and, you know, LOOKING LIKE Matt Bomer. Laying low, basically. Neal and Mozzie were also paying cash to a local ex-pat tycoon in exchange for safe harbor in town. If that sounds shady, that's because it WAAAASS. Never trust a cigar-chomping tycoon who accepts cash payments to pay off the local police; it's just bad times. On the upside, though, Neil was getting tons of good sand-castle-building time in, and his mini replica of Manhattan went a long way toward getting him some action with the hot local barista lady. If ladies love anything, it's immaculately constructed sandcastle skylines! Because LOOKING LIKE Matt Bomer just isn't enough these days?

Like all good federal agents, Peter brought his wife on a stakeout, in this case at the home of the gray-haired lady with whom Neal met up in the Season 3 finale. You know, whatsherface. The one who knew his parents. Anyway, after Peter knocked on her door and failed to convince her that he was one of the good cops, Elizabeth ended up going behind Peter's back and winning the lady over to the cause of helping Neal evade capture. Pretty soon this Ellen lady was spillin' the digits to Neal's super secret pager and Peter and Neal enjoyed their first phone conversation in a long time! And boy did they gab.

But Peter had more up his sleeve than just callin' to gossip with an old friend: He'd recorded the phone call and intended to use the recording to track down where Neal was. Diana and (newly minted series regular?) Jones came over for a highly preposterous sleuthing session in which they traced the sound of bells ringing on Neal's end to a specific church in Cape Verde. Good sleuthing! Except, whoops, technically what they did was called 'obstruction of justice' and pretty soon the Mekhi Phifer character was searching Peter's joint, and Peter ended up getting suspended from work. Poor Peter! Except, don't feel too bad for him because he immediately boarded a plan to go track down his dreamy bestie.

Unfortunately the evil agent beat Peter there and to add insult to injury, he enlisted tons of greedy locals to track down Neal and kill him if necessary. Well, he didn't say to kill him, exactly, but it was implied. At this point a child stole Peter's wallet and ran through the streets of Cape Verde only to lead Peter to Neal's hiding spot on a grotto somewhere, I don't know. But man if Peter didn't look like the HAPPIEST guy in the world!

Seriously, it was just this long, lingering, closed-eye, cheek-to-cheek hug. It's how ANY of us would hug Neal, be honest. But seriously, it was a touching moment for sure.

At this point Peter, Neal, and Mozzie scrambled for an escape route off the island. After running through the streets punching attackers in their faces, they eventually split up: Neal hopped on the back of the sexy barista's Vespa while Peter and Mozzie headed to the marina to bribe a captain or something. But when Neal swung by the shady cigar-chomping tycoon's place, it wasn't long before he realized he'd been sold out! That's when Mekhi Phifer arrived with a gun and we cut to black. Cliffhanger!

For an average episode of White Collar, "Wanted" was pretty different in a couple of important ways: No big crime, no elaborate heist, very little Peter-Neal banter. But the main thing it had going for it was the heartfelt longing between these characters, and how much we as an audience want to see everybody find their places and return to the status quo. It was a good status quo! So the temporary diversion into tropical paradise is a refreshing change of pace so far, but I'm definitely eager for the main partnership to get back to work. I love escapist entertainment where characters do their jobs competently. WHAT'S THAT LIKEEE?

P.S. Here's a photo gallery of Neal's most flattering close-ups. It's NSFB (not safe for brains!)

Matt Bomer Is Beautiful (PHOTOS)

QUESTIONS:

... Is Agent Collins kind of a jerk?

... Do YOU pay a 12-year-old village boy to run all your errands?

... Should Elizabeth just join the FBI already?

... Do you prefer Matt Bomer in dark suits or light suits?

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Do you prefer Matt Bomer in dark suits or light suits? I prefer him in NO suits!!!! ^.^
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dark suits, for sure! they make a good contrast to his light skin and blue eyes. :)
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I have to say dark suits because I don't really even like light suits much.
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This was an awesome season opener! And I, too, really enjoyed the slight change of scenery as well as pace. It was sort of perfectly executed in such a way that we got something new along with just enough of the old to keep us satisfied.



Question: you're one of the few writers who still place a final comma before the and in a sentence (e.g. "Peter, Neal, and Mozzie scrambled"). So which one is correct? I always did it like that but lately - over the past several years - I've been seeing more and more professional writers omit the last comma. Annoying grammar question. Sorry
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The last comma is incorrect and should be omitted. Sorry! :)
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hahaha I was taught otherwise but I'm not saying I don't believe you. I think maybe it's one of those things like saying "try and" instead of "try to." It's terrible but it's TECHNICALLY correct lol
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Collins is a major jerk! shoulda stayed on Torchwood and gotten red shirted!

yes, doesnt everyone?

no. I like her, but please use sparingly.

I prefer Matt Bomer in NO suits...lol. well, if I have to pick, that island light one was pretty an shiny....
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Both Collins and Kramer are jerks, I've seriously grown to hate both of them in the way of jeoffrey



I got paid when I was 12 to run them



yeah, she kicks jones ass



light suits and no ties has a more laid back feeling, thats cool
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Your thought that the island looked like Puerto Rico was right on. Matthew Bomer was on one of the AM shows and said they did film these episodes on Puerto Rico. Nice going!



(And I prefer Matt Bomer without any suit). : ) Yes, I am going to he!!...
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Okay, the show is entertaining but I watch it for Matt Bomer 'Eye Candy Extraordinaire'
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The FBI is crazy not to recruit Elizabeth, but she's better off left to her own resources.
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Mozzie didn't get nearly enough screen time IMO.
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I disagree with almost everything the reviewer, Price Peterson, had to say. Or, perhaps I should have called him, "what'shisface," which is how he referred to Judith Ivey's character. To say that about an actress of her talent only shows ignorance. Secondly, this is called fiction. I liked the new story line because it keeps the show fresh. Using a child as they did makes sense to me; he is a lot less likely to be noticed or regarded as suspicious. Of course, Peter brought his wife along. She has successfully helped him more than a few times and how else would she get any kind of screen time? The only incongruity for me was that neither Neal nor Mozzie would be wary about being able to trust the tycoon they were paying. I did see that one coming almost from the first. In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed the episode and look forward to more.
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It was a great comeback, or it easily could have been the WC withdrawal that made the episode so good. I was also fond of seeing casual Neal. I mean damn that man even looks positively mouthwatering with scruff. No one should be that darn prettty! Also loved the little Neal and Peter hugging moment. Peter was so happy to see Neal, they were practically giggling on the phone together, but that hug...they have a nice bond. Usually I'd say it was fraternal but honestly Peter has come off as more of a father figure to him....and Neal is like his precocious son. Very sweet moment.



-Yes. Not just because we're hardwired not to like because of the threat he poses but because of his methods. He's ruthless in a way that isn't respectable. It's one thing to bend and break a few rules, but the manner in which he does it makes him more despicable than admirably rebellious. The entire sending poverty stricken, money crazed civilians who would undoubtedly use brutal force after Neal was just inexcusable. That makes him a jerk.Plus it's evident that he doesn't do his own dirty work which is pathetic.



-Of course not. Child labor laws and what not.



--Umm definitely. She's my favorite "cop wife" on a tv show because she gets it. She's a huge asset. Plus honestly she made the entire force look incompetent the entire episode. I mean risky enough with the whole calling Neal thing but I got it. Plotting and mapping out where he could be in Burke's house (where the FBI had them bugged on more than one occasion...and has seen more search warrants than a mobster's mansion) was reckless and stupid on their part. How could they not know that Collins would be all over Burke, Burke's house, Burke's everything. Just stupid. Why not do all this sleuthing at Diana's place or Jones' place or one of the thousands of rooms at June's or something. The only redeeming point was when Burke's boss suspended him all the while giving him hints, nudges, and winks about whatever Burke does on his own time is up to him.



- It's Matt fricking Bomer. I prefer him in any suits. Dark, light, Navy, birthday..
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I think I heard him called James Maine, not John.
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Yep, it was James not John and it was said more than once.

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Enjoyed the season premier but I just hope it is not going to be a whole season of running and chasing. That would be like watching Prison Break 2 and 4.
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Peter and Neil move to the islands and Leverage it up with Moz, Elizabeth and the rest. Queue crazy island adventures =p
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LOVED that episode. You're right, it didn't follow the usual pattern, but then again after last season's finale we kind of needed that. It was a very good season opener, and now I just can't wait for the future eps. Peter missing Neal so damn much made my heart squee. Such BFFs.



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Ah, the questions...



Is Collins a jerk? Absolutely - in capital letters. JERK. And operating on an island with no extradition treaty, and where he can offer a $500k bounty, that just gives him free rein to not care about bringing Neal back alive. (Good thing we KNOW that Neal, Peter, and Mozzie will figure a way out. For one thing, they're WAY smarter than Collins and Dobbs. Plus, without Neal, there's really no show.)



If I had a 12 year old village boy as sharp as Hector seems to be, I'd trust him to do a lot. The wallet theft scene - and the resultant reunion - was fantastic.



Peter offered Elizabeth a desk next to Neal's last season, and she turned it down. Wisely so, I think. She's much better as a sounding board and occasional accomplice. Of course, it would have been nice to see her "good cop" bit that convinced Ellen.



Dark suits, light suits... I actually like the NO suit look on Matt Bomer. And we did get a significant chunk of that in the first episode! Emerging from the water, in the shower, in bed, getting out of bed. (Bare torso, long bare leg - what WAS he wearing???? Maybe a Magic Mike thong.) Still, as good as Neal looked in island wear, I prefer him in the dark suits that have come to define Neal Caffrey. And I can't wait to see Neal back in New York!
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Mekhi Pfifer was awesome in the episode, I know his role as Agent Collins was supposed to come off real douchie, but he did a great job. And man am I glad White Collar is back.
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For one, Mekhi Pfifer is awesome! He was just given a shitty role here...

And two...so glad it is back! And i loved every minute of it!

Those who say who missed the stat quo of the show, really truly don't 'love' the show

and its characters that much...that's what i take from the negativity...

Anyway, it was awesome, despite the different setting..but Peter & Neal's hug, Neal buying that hat from the shop and then how Peter found Neal; that sold it all!
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Loved last night! Love White Collar! I look forward to the entire dervision this show writers,cast and crew bring! It is fun, sexy, witty, entertaining , intelligent story lines, delivered by a "team" that gives a care. I just love the entire premise. I come away show after show very vested in each "Character" (little USA pun there) . Keep it coming. Very excited to see where this curve in the road takes Neil,Peter, and Mozzy. Thanks Jeff, for putting out smart entertainment. Now that my commentary on the serious stuff... Now for the Q&A ... Girls gotta have some fun...

# 1. Collins/Jerk, Me NO LIKEY, but gotta have a Character to hate, After all he's doing his job. I guess. Maybe Neil can charm him too ! But a chunck of change is probably too much temptation. Have to watch and see...



#2. Hey kids must learn the value of buck... sure. Honest work honest pay. He should watch and learn , kid could learn something from Neil.



#3. Elisabeth should stay right where she is. Nice husband, she's like his wing man and the true voice of reason in the show. A grounding force, if you will. Not to say she couldn't kick some ass and take some names. Just get her in a room with Collins, throw in a little Sara, Alex and Diane... they'd all Defend Neil to the death... He's so pretty. She sighs, they all sigh...



#4. LOVE him in a Tux, like the one at the Fashion Awards, Damm... With the dark glasses, (you rocked that look Matt) but the fun girl in me really wants to put out there...and say Swim

Suit... No better yet...Birthday Suit...

Hey Thanks Price.... It's been fun.
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To me that was not "White Collar" but a totally other kind of show with the same actors. I don't know if they intend to uses that format from now on but I am not sure I like it.



For the first time since the show began I had to force myself to watch the episode until the end.

Burke acted like an amateur and Caffrey was absolutely careless.

Tiffani Thiessen who's not that good an actress got more screen time and Mekhi Phifer is even worst.



Matt Bomer? Dark suits, light suits, no suits... he looks great either way. ;o)

(I can say it even if I prefer Sandwiches to Hot Dogs.)
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It depends. I'm not saying 100% that they WILL going to return to the old format... though I imagine they will.



But considering the big event that the season finale ended with... resolving that is going to have to be "different." They can't just resolve that in one of their 42-minute-capers, what went down last season was a big deal.



Resolving that is going to take something different than what they normally show. For the time being, it's a new ball game... until they can bring him back to NY and help Peter with his job again.
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I don't go that way...but I would have Matt Bomer's babies.
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The nice touch I loved? When Neal called Parker, only to find it was Peter warning him about Agent Collins... behind him, Neal's sand castles he built were crumbling and falling... so very symbolic of his situation. It's a throw-away bit, but I really liked it. Oh, and GREAT review Price! Any change you want to take over on The Newsroom? :P
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Enjoyed the premiere. Count me as one more that does not understand why people speak spanish in Cabo Verde.
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Wow you've been very busy this week Price! Thank you for all the wonderful faces of Matt Bomer! Honestly that photo gallery should be illegal its so beautiful!



Agent Collins is a jerk but also a bad ass.

Puh I'd rather run my own errands thank you. Even if I had as much money as Neal.

Nah I think she would be bored working for the FBI.

Hmm tough question....he looks good in both and especially naked...I'd say he looks best in dark suits with glasses!!
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let's star with mekhi phifer ruining everything i like! man, please stop trying to act. after torchwood you still have the guts to show up around here???



second, the biggest problem isn't that it looks like puerto rico. it isn't that santa maria is a town (on an island), not an island. it's that they acknowledge that cape verde was colonized by the portuguese but STILL have people speaking SPANISH!!!!!!!! and, capirinhas are brazilian and any woman who speaks either language is able to pronounce it properly.



now, where's the .gif of bomer putting that hat on? my life depends on it.
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I agree. I cringed when I saw that he was going to be in the show and that feeling was validated when I saw his performance. Horrible casting......
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Phifer has done both good and bad work (I liked him in Lie to Me), and I don't think anything could have saved the implosion that was Torchwood: Miracle Day. Everyone came out of that one looking sucky. I'm a proud American who is deeply ashamed of what we did to a great British show.
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THAT HUG WAS THE CUTEST THING EVER!!!! SQUEE!!!

other than that, i thought it was a very good episode, i didnt truse that douchey blonde guy from the beginning...

and i agree, while it's adorable to see neal try so hard, but one look at him and you can;t imagine he would ever need to.
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Ah, that was a lot of fun. Glad this show is back to brighten up my Tuesdays (or Wednesdays, depends on when I watch, of course). I quite liked the fact that the show was set outside of New York... it felt refreshing. I might be a slight disappointed when they all have to go back.



- Agent Collins isn't that much of a jerk... maybe just slightly. He only slightly comes off a jerk because we, as the viewers, know and follow Neal. If Neal and Peter were on a case tracking down a fugitive and they went about it like this, I don't think I'd consider them jerks. The only jerky thing is not necessarily caring whether Neal is taken dead or alive... or really hurt.

- My errand boy is over 50. And by boy, I mean woman. And by woman, I mean my mom.

- Liz should NOT join the FBI. She may be Mrs. Suit already, but I don't think she'd look particularly good in them. She's better off as a sidekicking wifey.

- I prefer Matt Bomer in NO suits. Lame joke, but it was totally set up for me.
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Mekhi Phifer was going to find Neal or die trying... and he can't do the latter because he has Captian Jack Harkness's blood in his veins.



Off topic, the FBI has an 'international affairs' division? Wouldn't that be DOJ or CIA territory.
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Thank you, I missed that he was from DOJ, I must have been out of the room.
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dude they implied that collins of internationnal affairs division was a part of the DOJ hence why FBI had to cooperate with him.
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The Office of International Affairs is from the DoJ - Collins was introduced as being from the Department of Justice, not the FBI. Fortunately, Phifer doesn't over-act here quite as much as in Torchwood - but it's close.
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Love the return of White Collar. This was a good episode in a spectacular setting, and it was fun to see that Peter can actually solve things without Neal's help.

- Collins is a jerk. Ain't nobody gonna try and kill Neal! Also, he couldn't even find Neal on his own, he had to use Peter's super sleuthing skills to do it!

- I tend to use village idiots to do my bidding, they're much better at hiding secrets than 12 year olds.

- Elizabeth is amazing! No, she should not join the FBI, she's too good for them. She should start up her own detective agency. In fact, when White Collar ends (*gasp*), she should get her own spin-off.

- I've always been a fan of light suits so I'm going to go with that. But then, it is hard to tell which is better when he looks amazing in most things...
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Is Hilarie Burton off the show? I really liked Sara Ellis.
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Oh Gawds, NO!!! please NO sara ellis, she was HORRID. No chemistry, barbie doll looking waste to tv time. Id rather stare at naked mozz....
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Looks like it, yeah. She's no longer in the opening credits. I'm gonna miss her.
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Very good start to this great show. Collins is kind of a jerk, but for the most part his job requires that. He's there to catch his mark, not to make friends. This chase should be quite interesting cause Collins is good at what he does.



Hey, the boy gets his pay and does his job with no complaints. Works for me!



Keep Liz off the FBI. Just use her as a narc, or undercover. Better for her and for Peter.
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It's not doing his job to bring back suspects in body bags!
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Collins is coming off more rabid than anything else. A good comparison is Adrian Pasdar character on Castle. Pasdar played an FBI agent who seemed like he would do anything to get the job done, but you realize that he knows there is a line and he won't cross it.
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Overall I enjoyed the season premier, aside from a few key points. One of which was covered below. Cape Verde is Portuguese and they speak Portuguese on the island. And considering it is an island and therefore isolated you can't do the whole ok they probably speak a little spanish because they are either, right next two spain or surrounded by spanish speaking countries like Brazil. But writers make mistakes and it is more difficult to find a native speaker of Portuguese as a writer in LA then it is a spanish speaker. Secondly, Peter. I know they needed it for a plot device because Collins wasn't going to find him on his own. But Peter have had experienced a crooked kind of agent going through his place before with Fowler should have known Collins was going to search his house when he wasn't there. That should have been a given and Peter isn't that sloppy. Nor should he be anymore, he has not been the only one mentoring in the relationship of he and Neil. He has been around Neil for a long while and should have learned a thing or 8. That was kind of sloppy. But other than that, I loved the episode. I thought it was hilarious that Neil did the skyline of Manhattan, I thought it was more hilarious that it was flooded when they had the call. It made me think of the movie, "The Day After Tomorrow". But overall I ilke where the show is going. It wasn't going to be a good show this season if Neil and Peter were separated for that long. I want to see them on the run for a little while. I like the shake up of the norm, and though the norm is still great, I can honestly say I have never been bored with an episode. But I like the new and different. And again like I said on the Covert Affairs thread. This is how you shake up a show. Burn Notice needs to take notes and fix their product. Because one more great episode of Covert Affairs and for me Burn Notice falls down to number 5.
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why the question mark after referencing Sharif Atkins becoming a series regular FINALLY? like he didn't deserve it? he's appeared in EVERY episode of the series, and the majority of them having relatively vital roles.. Jones is awesome! aaannnd what a great premiere!!!
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I think the question mark was more about the "finally" question, not whether Sharif deserved it. And as has been explained many times by Jeff Eastin, the decision to remain a "guest star" was always Sharif's (or maybe his agent/manager). It left him free to accept other pilot offers, should any come along. It was never a question about not appreciating Sharif's contributions to the show. In fact, Eastin went out of his way to combine several unnamed agents into the Jones character for the Pilot when Sharif became available.
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I'm actually not that invested in the status quo. Peter brought work problems on himself (if he hadn't looked for Neal he wouldn't have obstructed justice) and brought the FBI to Neal's doorstep (cause really Collins was going to find him without a Peter assist and a lot of silly CSI stuff that made no sense). Peter should have left it alone. I was not in the hugging mood when he showed up in not-Puerto Rico. I really wish they'd come up with a different way of getting the boys back together than having Peter betray Neal and lead Collins to him.
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I'm a big fan of White Collar, don't get me wrong. The thing is, last night there was one detail that really disappointed me... In Cape Verda (Portuguese Colony) people speak Portuguese (and native) not Spanish. Plus, the country looks nothing like that in terms of people (ethnicity). I know this very well because I'm Portuguese myself but oh well... Still loved it!
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Completely agree!

I honestly thought they were in a island in the Caribbean...

I understand it can be difficult to find someone who speaks portuguese (from Portugal, since I guess the portuguese spoken in Cabo Verde is more similar to that spoken in Portugal than the brazilian one) in the USA and all... but, I kinda think it's sort of lack of respect towards the country they're using in the show... if they wanna use a country as a location, why not portrait it more close to its basic reality (language and ethnicity)? It's like when the a caracter goes to Brazil, for instance, and all they show is that: 1st - we speak spanish; 2nd - everybody can speak english, even the poor guy that don't even speaks portuguese correctly....
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Finally! Missed the show so much! This plot! This scenery! Oh, and MATT BOMER obvs...



Answering the most important question: I prefer Matt in dark suits. I think he looks more awesome in them (is it even possible?) OR in black leather jackets. Yeah, definitely black leather...
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I LOVE the Island costumes, (during the hat part, I literally clapped)

I want this to last a few more episodes before they return to the status quo, I was starting to lose interest in White Collar, but this premier perked it back up!

Oh, and his alias was James, not John
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