White Collar Review: The Swap

Sara: “What are you doing today?”

Neal: “Helping Peter find out who’s threatening to kill a public figure while Diana goes undercover as her assistant.”

Sara: “Same old. Same old.”

This week, in a Diana-centric episode, badass Agent Berrigan goes undercover to protect a well-known magazine journalist. But first, Peter gives Diana the task of translating the original manifest from the u-boat for Agent Matthews before she departs for DC. Neal observes the encounter and texts Mozzie, “the swap is on.”

But their con to swap briefcases for the one with the manifest is thwarted as Diana meets up with her girlfriend, Christie (Moran Atias). Yes, we finally get to meet Christie! Neal covers by setting up a double date with Sara plus Christie and Diana.

Peter meets with Jones and explains that the life of well-known executive editor of Circumspect magazine, Helen Anderson, has been threatened and that he wants to assign him as her protective detail. However, Helen is less than cooperative and refuses FBI protection. She is furious with her assistant who alerted their boss to the threats and fires her. This gives Peter an in to place Diana undercover as Helen’s new assistant/bodyguard while they investigate the threats. Peter warns Diana that Helen is intense…as Jones puts it, “she puts the hell in Helen.” To protect Helen, Diana can’t get fired and should speak in a British accent because Helen has “a soft spot for Manchester.” Way to go Marsha Thomason for speaking two accents in the episode!

To become Helen’s assistant, Diana must win her over in an interview. It isn’t going well as Helen tells her she “is overqualified and too old” but Diana is finally able to convince Helen to hire her.

Meanwhile, Peter has a lead—the name of a pharmaceutical company, Prager & Vaughn. They suspect the new head of product development, Paul Sullivan, and that perhaps there is a problem with a new product. Neal and Peter pretend to be FDA officials and do some snooping at the company, where Neal catches an assistant hiding a piece of paper in her office. With Jones’ help, Neal is able to get the redacted paper and uses his “special touch” to split it into two. His piece looks blank but with some fingerprint powder, they are able to read it, which is about a drug called Zybax.

Diana is growing a bit overwhelmed by the numerous tasks from Helen, a clone of Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. As she opens the mail, she finds another threat—a picture that shows that those threatening Helen have gotten into her home. Afterwards, Helen makes a phone call to set up a meeting. To protect her, Diana tries to talk Helen into bringing her along. Helen agrees, but only if Diana completes a large to do list including throwing a birthday party for her son.

Diana calls in reinforcements—Peter, Elizabeth & the FBI. Mrs. Suit helps plan and setup an awesome cowboy and alien birthday party. Can El plan my next birthday? With their help, Diana’s to do list is finished and she drives Helen to the meeting, where Diana sees a man with a gun in the shadows and interrupts. This scares him away but we learn Helen received a flash drive from her source.

Neal, with the ulterior motive of swapping the briefcase carrying the manifest, surprises Diana with the double date and by cooking dinner at her apartment. The couples bond and discuss how they’ve met—Diana and Christie met at pottery class, which Diana is embarrassed about. They also discuss the flash drive that Helen received, which only contains numbers. Christie, who is a doctor, suggests they’re serial numbers for drug samples and she will double check at the hospital.

Back at Neal’s apartment, Neal and Sara, who have smoldering chemistry, begin to make out but are awkwardly interrupted by Mozzie. With the mood ruined Sara takes off, leaving Neal and Mozzie to plot the briefcase switch from Agent Matthews at the airport.

At the FBI, Peter explains he heard from Christie and the numbers from the flash drive are serial numbers of sample packs of Zybax. However, the drug now has different packaging. Peter speculates that P&V did an undercover recall of Zybax but didn’t get the entire bad batch of drugs. They need proof.

Diana learns from Helen that her source emailed about a smoking gun, a memo about the drug, which authorizes the undercover recall. She is to pick it up at the launch party for the drug at P&V. At the same time, Peter is concerned, believing Helen’s source could be compromised. His gut is right when they discover the source was the head of R&D at the company, Casey Mendell, who is also found dead at his home. Peter immediately calls Diana to warn her that Helen is in danger. At the party, a P&V employee shows up to kill her with a needle of drugs. Luckily, Diana rushes in with her gun drawn to save Helen.

Back at the FBI, Peter mentions that the bad batch of Zybax has been pulled from the market plus that they arrested P&V employees, Carter and Sullivan on conspiracy to commit murder. In a surprising twist, Helen shows up to try to win Diana back as her assistant but Diana turns her down saying she’s happy with the FBI.

As the episode comes to a close, Peter tells Neal that he is family now since he knows how Diana and Christie actually met. He looks torn as Mozzie calls with bad news—Agent Matthews had taken an earlier flight with the u-boat manifest. Did Neal not warn Mozzie in time to not sell the Degas painting?

Time will tell.

As a sidebar but definitely worth mentioning, the scenes of NYC throughout the episodes have been exquisite and seem to be unique to this season. Also, wasn’t seeing Jones and Diana have larger roles in this episode awesome? I definitely think so. They are sometimes underutilized but were both very entertaining this week.

Next week—a Mozzie episode! He stole $500,000 from the Detriot mob when he was 12…Oh boy, should be good! I can’t wait!

Season 3, Episode 3 “Deadline” (original airdate June 21, 2011)

White Collar airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on the USA Network.

Images courtesy of Eric Liebowitz and USA Network.

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