WHITE COLLAR Advance Review “Empire City” USA Network

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NUP_149024_0287There is always a lot of fun when Neal (Matt Bomer) and Peter (Tim DeKay) work together to solve a mystery, but it is even more challenging when they work independently of each other to achieve the same goals (think back to the mystery of the music box in season 1).

Following Elizabeth’s (Tiffani Thiessen) impassioned request of Neal to lie to Peter and solve the mystery of Ellen’s key without her husband, Neal and Mozzie (Willie Garson) go to great lengths to find out where the skyline on the key leads.  They go to past homes and other places special to Ellen during her time in New York City while Mozzie uses his taxi to milk unwitting passengers for tips (both of the monetary and the mystery-solving kind).

Yes, Mozzie, under an alias – or is it his real name? – has a legitimate taxi medallion (worth a million dollars!), much to the surprise of even his best and closest friend.  While on a drive with Neal to Brooklyn – even Neal doesn’t get a free ride, he spots another cab with the same medallion as his, sparking a car chase and a new case for the FBI.

Their investigation leads them to money-laundering and fraud involving the new owners of the famed Cotton Club, the Wells brothers – Del (Bill Bellamy), an ex-con, and younger brother Angelo (Keith Robinson), who happens to work for the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC).  They send Diana (Marsha Thomason) undercover as a cigar girl to get inside the Club and even June (Diahann Carroll) gets involved as the star performer for the Club’s grand re-opening.

The gang will get closer to finding an answer to where the key leads as Peter and Jones (Sharif Atkins) join forces to continue the search behind Neal’s and Mozzie’s backs, and equally importantly, behind Elizabeth’s back.

“Empire City” pays tribute to two of New York’s icons: the yellow cab and the historic Cotton Club.  Tim DeKay’s second outing calling the shots behind the camera provides us with more of the montages of New York that the show has become famous for.   The music selection is apropos, taking advantage of having a legendary singer (Carroll) in their cast.  As DeKay revealed during a recent conference call, Carroll sang live with the band in the Cotton Club scene and she has not lost her touch at all.

The writing is tight, providing some hilarious lines that made me laugh out loud:

Mozzie: Three in the hand is better than none in the bush.

Neal: Stop trying to make that into a saying!

Peter to Mozzie: Stay here and don’t get into any trouble.

Neal: I don’t know why you bother still saying that.

Oh, one last teaser: Neal’s closet is capable of amazing things!

WHITE COLLAR “Empire City” airs on USA Network on February 5 at 10/9c.

Directed by Tim DeKay

Written by Channing Powell and Dan Shattuck

Guest stars: Diahann Carroll, Bill Bellamy, Keith Richardson, Joe Forbrich

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