For the first time, I find myself not knowing what to think about an episode of White Collar. I can’t say that I liked or disliked “On the Fence.” I can’t even say that I had mixed feelings about it, because I don’t know what my feelings were. Some disjointed thoughts follow after the jump.

Let’s start with what could have gone wrong. Ross McCall was just awful as Matthew Keller in his previous appearances, and Eliza Dushku doesn’t exactly have a reputation of being the most capable actress. To my surprise, both were tolerable in “On the Fence,” though I’d rather not see either of them again. The other thing that could have gone wrong was that Neal and Sara’s breakup could have been ignored this week, but instead, it was addressed directly, which was far better than the perfunctory “goodbye” we got last week.

However, on the other hand, “On the Fence” failed to deliver on something that should have been a slam dunk. The subject matter in this week’s case concerned priceless Egyptian artifacts, which are the kinds of stuff that White Collar used to deal with more often in its early days. This week’s case should have served as a way for White Collar to get back to its roots, where Neal and Peter not only had to track down criminals dealing in stolen artwork, but also had to identify those criminals. Instead, this week’s case skipped the identification process. Nobody did any work to identify Keller or Raquel, and a result, there was no real mystery.

And then there was the stuff that was just plain confusing. While the lack of mystery in this week’s case made “On the Fence” kind of bland, it also had some excitement because it featured guns, and guns make everything better. (This is a scientifically proven fact.) So, the easily amused part of my brain exclaimed, “Yay! Guns!” Unfortunately, the logical part of my brain was also working, and it wondered why Keller didn’t use his gun to take Neal hostage, or why he didn’t threaten Neal with the gun and force him to reveal the location of the Nazi loot. Then the logical part of my brain began wondering how Keller confirmed that Neal had the art. And then it wondered why Keller found it no more difficult to elude the FBI than an NFL quarterback would find playing Red Rover against a group of ten-year-olds. And then it craved a turkey sandwich because I was hungry, and the logical thing to do when you’re hungry is to eat a turkey sandwich.

I guess I have to face the fact that applying logic to this show is a fool’s errand, like strapping wings to one’s arms and jumping off a cliff to fly. If I try to do so, I’ll end up frustrated (or dead). White Collar expects me just to “roll with it,” so to speak. If I do that, if I just ignore all the nonsense, then Keller’s machinations are a lot more interesting to me, and Raquel kissing Neal at the end of the episode actually makes sense.

Of course, that’s contingent on being able to ignore the nonsense, which is something I have difficulty doing. If you’ve read any of my other White Collar reviews from this season, then you know that I’ve been commenting a lot on the nonsense. But I have little desire to do that today. In fact, I have little desire to write about White Collar, because I honestly just don’t know what to think about it anymore. At this point, liking or disliking the Nazi loot storyline has little do with my enjoyment of the show. All I want to see now is if the show can stick the landing next week. Since “On the Fence” was basically a setup episode, it makes sense that next week’s installment will be the payoff. But it also means that I can’t really say much about this week’s episode until I’ve seen the next.

So, I’m going to end the review here and throw it open to the floor. What did you think of “On the Fence?” Comment with an opinion, and I’ll gladly adopt it as my own. I mean, writing more than 700 words on the subject of an episode about which I didn’t have much of an opinion is a pretty cool talent of mine. But I’d really rather write something of substance. And I’d really like that turkey sandwich now, thank you very much.

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