Saturday, January 1, 2011

White Collar - 2.01 - Withdrawal - Recap

Previously - Neal Caffrey, convicted bond forger and alleged thief, gets caught by FBI agent extraordinaire Peter Burke after escaping jail to meet his girlfriend Kate Moreau. Unfortunately, he missed her by 2 days. In exchange for his criminal knowledge, Neal is released into Peter's custody as an FBI consultant complete with ankle monitor. This goes somewhat swimmingly until Garrett Fowler, OPR (Office of Professional Responsibility) man and shady criminal, makes a deal with Neal. Neal gives him a mysterious music box and in exchange Neal and Kate go free. Peter shoots Fowler to keep him from the box, but unfortunately he's wearing a vest so Peter threatens to download damaging info from a flash drive about him if he doesn't tell Peter where Neal is. At hangar 4, Peter catches Neal right before he gets on the plane. Good thing he does because it promptly explodes, blasting Kate and the pilot to bits - we think.

We open to OPR questioning Peter. Peter defends Neal, saying he cut a deal with OPR and would never kill Kate. Duh! Didn't someone research Neal before he became a consultant? Peter and Neal have an impressive 93% conviction rate. Peter blames Garrett Fowler, but OPR doesn't buy it. Peter is off suspension, but Diana informs him that Fowler is missing. Even worse, the flash drive was corrupted. The only thing they got was a meeting time two months in the future. Let's all cheer for Diana being back this season. She rocks!

Peter visits Neal in jail, which Neal is not loving. After all, there are no ties, bad food, and even worse coffee in prison. But Peter has a new suit, so there's a plus. Peter breaks the bad news to Neal; OPR doesn't believe him and there's no proof of what Fowler did. Neal cites the paperwork, but he is a world-renowned forger. Sucks when job excellence comes back to bite you. Peter wants to reinstate Neal's deal and they banter, which I love. Neal doesn't want to go "from one prison to another," but Peter will let him wear ties and have access to better coffee. The one sticking point, as always, is Kate. Neal needs to know what happened but Peter says he'll handle it. Neal: "Can I get back to you?" Peter: "You're looking at 3 and change. Your only choice is to serve out your time with me or rot in this place." I'd go with option #1 but I'm not as clever as Neal who probably has 20 other options. Thinking about - I'd still go with #1. However, Mozzie interrupts. He's Neal's attorney and the conversation is over. Peter: "Talk some sense into him." Mozzie: "We'll take that under advisement….suit." I have missed Mozzie most of all during hiatus. And what do you know, Mozzie has option #3, breaking Neal out. However it will deplete Neal's reserve cash. Neal: "I can always get cash." Mozzie asks what Neal wants to do.

2 months later - Neal pushes a custodial cart at a bank. TPTB want me to think he broke out of prison and is robbing the place. Did anyone fall for this? Anyone? I didn't think so. He sheds his custodial clothes in an elevator, looking like the impeccably dressed Neal we all know. He greets a receptionist as Nick Halden and says he's the new employee. The receptionist doesn't buying it, but low and behold, his work papers and badge are in the pneumatic mail thingy he was tampering with earlier. Very clever Neal. His id badge won't work so she lets him in citing "first day glitches." I feel sorry for this lady. She's super nice and likely to be fired. No wonder everybody's grumpy in personal service these days. Neal lifts her id badge while picking lint off her suit. Yep, she's fired. Thanks White Collar; lint now makes me suspicious.

Neal proceeds to the vault and I cry crummy security. Does everyone's id badge get you into the vault because that seems risky? Yes, Neal needed a code but still if there's no reason to be in the vault, why give them any access at all? Also, why are there lockers by the money? I assume they aren't employee lockers because that would just be cruel, but shouldn't they be near the money counting room where people have to put on special clothes and cameras are everywhere? This bank has issues; I wouldn't bank there. Neal puts the money in his briefcase, neatly spotting the dye packets and leaving them behind. He proceeds to walk right out of the bank, no questions asked. Peter and Jones meet him and exposit a bank security test. Already figured that out, thanks. We didn't know it's Neal's first day back on the job though. Peter reminds Neal of the ankle monitor. "Welcome home." Neal puts his foot on the car to attach it and Peter grumbles, but then smiles behind Neal's back.

Back at FBI headquarters, Neal exposits security breaches to impatient Midtown Mutual bank managers. Apparently Rene Simmons, the person in charge of branch security, asked the FBI to do a test. They failed. And why is the FBI doing bank security tests? Because a bank robber called the Architect left his business card. He's already robbed banks in Boston, Chicago, and Dallas. They have one week to tighten security. Rene's concerned, but Peter overconfidents that it's different in New York. Um Peter, overconfidence is the first sign of future failure. Neal admires the Architect. He still can't figure out the Boston holdup so he's good. Peter asks how Neal's doing and Neal says he's fine. Con men should be better liars. In my favorite scene of the episode, Neal tries to forge the Architect's nameplate but his hands keep shaking. Something's wrong and Peter looks over him through his office window, worried. It's a blink and you miss it scene, but poignant. It shows just how much Neal has been effected by Kate's death and how deep their bond has grown for Peter. I love when Peter goes all big brother on Neal.

Peter meets Mozzie in the park, following signs in sidewalk chalk. Bwah! Mozzie balks when Peter doesn't follow the plan. He uses a voice changer but forgets that Peter can call back his phone, giving away his location. I adore Mozzie and his super paranoid ways. He sits back to back with Peter, annoying Peter to no end. Peter worries Neal is going "section 8" and Mozzie says he isn't forthcoming with him either. "Kate's only been dead two months. No one can snap back that fast." This is a good time to say Kate's alleged death. I hope Kate is dead; it's more intense if she is. Still, I give her 2 seasons to come back before officially calling it. Mozzie calls Peter on his semantics and won't say what Neal's been doing about Kate. Peter gives Mozzie info first about Neal's shaking and frequent flashbacks. Mozzie admits to investigating and worrying if Neal's a target. Peter's solution is to keep Neal occupied.

June walks Neal into his apartment where Mozzie is waiting. June is glad he's back. "I like a little excitement now and then." Agreed. Neal exchanges pleasantries but when June leaves, he's down to business. Mozzie compiled everything he has on Kate, Fowler, and Mentor, but doesn't know where Alex is. "Since the explosion, she's been laying low. Can't blame her." Neal is sure Alex will return and I hope so. I like her. Neal asks about the music box, which Diana logged into evidence. He suggests they find who wants the box in order to find who killed Kate. Neal's losing it so Mozzie spouts sobriquets and asks about the Architect case to refocus him. Neal: "Since when are you concerned with FBI cases." Mozzie: "Since you started spiraling into the dark place." Aww, Neal's lucky to have such good friends. Mozzie points out the "A" in the Architect's name and Neal pursues that line of thinking.

Early the next morning, Neal's already at work. He tells Peter the Architect is fond of Ivan Aivazovsky's paintings. He compares the signature "A" in both and thank you Neal for showing me how to spell it. Diana has been busy too, narrowing their suspects to Edward Walker. Peter encourages Diana and Neal's teamwork, but feels left out when they fist bump without him. Walker, played by the excellent Tim Matheson, is hitting golf balls off his penthouse terrace into the Hudson River. He's spoiled, bored, and way too self-assured. Peter questions Walker while Neal splices a shot into the Chelsea Pier. "My permit doesn't cover that." Bwah!! Walker calls Neal on his ankle monitor and summarily dismisses them. "Oh and Mr. Caffrey, a suggestion for the next time you commit a crime. Don't get caught." He's so smarmy I can't wait for them to take him down.

Neal denies that Walker got to him but Peter knows better and warns Neal not to cause them more trouble from OPR. Back at the office, Diana reminds Peter of Fowler's mystery meeting while Neal "accidentally" runs into Whitney, Walker's personal assistant, at a café. He charms her over travel and a mutual disdain for the Hamptons, as he lifts her cell phone and gives it to Mozzie. Mozzie copies the sim card. At lunch with Elizabeth, the world's best wife, Peter explains his worries about Neal. "I think he went through one hell of a trauma. I also think that if he was ready for a straight jacket, he'd be grinning and saying, 'Peter you have to trust me.'" Neal doesn't know how tight the scrutiny is on them. One missed case and Peter's fired and Neal's in jail. We've heard this before. Move on. Peter reminisces about the explosion, wondering why Neal turned back to him. He says it doesn't matter anymore, but Elizabeth calls him on it. "It matters to you." Yes it does - badly.

At the café, Mozzie tells Neal to "be cruel to be kind." Whitney's charmed so it’s time for the let down. With her phone back in her oversized purse, Neal shows her his monitor. Neal is creepy in a Ted Bundy way as he smarms that she's the first girl he's had a drink with since prison. This is Neal Caffrey if the show were on HBO. Thanks for all things USA. Mozzie: "Neal Caffrey on paper - not so great." Neal agrees: "It's a lot to process." Mozzie notices that on bank heist days, Walker's itinerary is in green instead of blue. Tomorrow's green so Neal says, "I think we got him." We're only 27 minutes in, so I doubt it. Neal explains the situation to Peter. He's positive that Walker will rob the First Unity branch at noon, but Rene's skeptical since she has the access codes. Still, the alarm goes off and SWAT goes in, only to find an alarm clock in a safety deposit box registered under Peter Burke. SWAT guy is ticked. And who should walk by but Walker himself. He smugly taunts them. Back at the FBI, the DOJ grills Peter. Diana: "This is the FBI, Neal. We don't act unless we're sure. Peter trusted your lead." Ouch!

Neal reassures Peter while having drinks at Peter's house, but they are off the case. Neal placates Peter by explaining what happened at the hangar. "I didn't want to run anymore. If I had gotten on that plane, regardless of whatever deal was made, it wouldn't have felt like freedom….You're right Peter. I have a life here. If there's something you could have done to protect Kate, I know you would have….The same way I know you can get Walker." Aww, Neal tells Peter exactly what he wanted to hear, looking at him with respect. It's another brotherly moment folks and you know how I love that. Peter: "It's not fun being tweaked by the bad guy, is it?" Neal: "Especially when you see them make one of your friends look like an idiot. Not that you…you didn't look like…but you kind of…yeah." Ok moment over. Neal theorizes that Walker sent the card to see if they were worthy opponents. Peter says no; it was a test of their response. They revealed the bank weakness. But before Peter can call Jones, alarms go off in banks throughout the city. Peter realizes that Rene is the key, since she's the one with the codes.

Peter tells Diana to bring back up. Through the door, they see Rene with a gun in her side. Not a good plan for super-smart bank robbers. This is New York; streets are crowded. Shouldn't they have immediately moved to a place without such a great view from the street? I would look in after hearing about the other banks. Neal wants to break in through the roof - apparently he didn't share all he learned with the FBI. Unfortunately, Walker knew this too. Peter shoots the cell phone out of a bad guy's hand as they head in. "Nice shooting Butch." "Thanks Sundance." LOVE IT! Neal: "What do you say? Ready to break into a bank?" They crawl through a shaft into the main area. "Were you ever going to share your alternate access route with me?" "I just did. Admit it Peter; we'd make a pretty decent team." Neal calls Peter on enjoying himself and we all know he is. Neal says they could be legendary. Peter: "I can see the wanted posters now." BWAH! Again with the great banter!

Back at the false bank heist, Diana tells original SWAT guy to head to Midtown Mutual. They'd better hurry because Rene's at the vault. Neal still has the ID card he stole. "That was supposed to be returned to the bank." "Aren't you glad it wasn't?" Peter can't tell if Walker is there. Two of them take Rene to her office. Peter will get her to safety because he has a gun. Neal will create a distraction by shutting off the lights and calling Peter's phone. "Do your thing Dirty Harry." The references fly fast and furious tonight. Peter rescues Rene as SWAT sirens sound and Neal follows the robbers even though Peter objects. Unfortunately, without masks, they blend right into the crowd.

Walker meets them at the FBI office to gloat and sue the FBI for harassment. Peter: "Enjoy this game you are playing. It won't end well for you." Walker: "Oh the game is already over. This Architect, whoever he is, has already won…Oh, if I did do it, do you think they would make me a junior FBI agent too?" OK buddy, it's official. I hate you more than Fowler. Neal: "Wow! That is one arrogant B****" True, so go get him. I want to cheer his arrest. In the office, they review the tapes and even though I hate him, I admit Walker is very smart. Neal says they will catch him because of his ego. Peter: "Vanity is not cause for indictment." Peter wants this guy and not just because of the multi-million dollar lawsuit. Neal: "Hell hath no fury like a Fed scorned." Nor a ticked off viewer. According to Jones' figures, Walker got 8.2 million. Neal's mental math says no; it couldn't be more than 6.5 million. Unless they stuffed it into their pockets, 1.5 million is missing. "Enough to be a share."

Back at the bank, Rene leads Peter and Neal to the security boxes. Peter has a key from the bank president to box #213, which is under the name of Rene's dead uncle. "Either it's a miracle…" "Or you forged his application." "My money's on the latter." Now Peter and Neal are finishing each other's sentences. I love this partnership. Rene's the missing partner and while it isn't a big shock, it is a nice twist. Peter finds the money. Woah, Rene's got a gun. Now that is a shocker. In my second favorite scene, Peter and Neal use their banter to distract Rene. Peter: "You really think you can outrun the FBI?" Neal: "For the record, it's a marathon not a sprint." Peter: "He would know." Neal picks a faux fight about Peter rubbing his criminal past in his face. It is effective and highly amusing. Who knew Peter wants to write books? I've transcribed the whole thing, but this is too long already, so back to the story. As the fight escalates, Neal shows Peter the dye packs. He slams them together, forcing Rene to the wall and blinding her. At the Penthouse of Annoying Arrogance, Whitney brings Walker Peter's business card. After all, Peter has one of his. Peter exposits that Rene gave him up. Neal: "Why settle for 25 to life tomorrow, when you can plea bargain today? Oh next time, don't get caught." I smirk with Neal at this. Walker's finally panicked as Jones handcuffs him but Neal gets off a great golf shot straight into the bay. He does the hat flip and the Neal we know is back..mostly.

Peter is reading the newspaper at the park again. Mozzie: "I saw a mockingbird in the park. Then you say what color's the mockingbird." Peter: "I'm doing the newspaper thing. I'm not doing the stupid bird thing." I think I like Mozzie and Peter more than Mozzie and Neal. Glad Mozzie's getting more time. He asks about Neal and Peter says he's doing better. They argue whether Mozzie is good or great; I'd go for awesome. Peter and Mozzie make a deal to watch out for Neal. Peter: "Look I know he won't tell me everything. I get that. He's Neal. I'll keep an eye on him and you, but that puts me in a position to clean up a mess, not stop it before it happens….Just tell me if he's going to do anything stupid." Mozzie: "I can't rat out my friend." Peter: "It's to protect him." Mozzie: "That's the same rationale that was used by the Gestapo and the KGB." Good point, but I hardly think Peter qualifies as either, Moz. Peter says that Neal is his friend too and Mozzie tenuously agrees.

Mozzie joins Neal at his loft and says that the music box was swapped while being transferred by OPR to Washington, D.C. Neal's determined to find out where the original is. Meanwhile, Peter calls Diana about Fowler's mystery meeting. As she opens her vault to get her gun, we see the music box hiding there. Diana: "I'm right behind you boss." Nice try White Collar, but you know what they say about fool me once. You had me questioning with Peter's ring. I don't buy that Diana is the bad guy. Something else is afoot and I can't wait to find out what.

This was a great premiere and well worth the tiresome wait. I loved how all the characters had their wisdom in this episode and room to show their connection to the others. From June welcoming Neal home to Elizabeth showing just how much she knows Peter, White Collar excels at the small moments. Plus, it has Mozzie, my favorite oddball on TV these days. The crime of the week was interesting, the bad guy awesome in his offensiveness, and the plot over the music box is still intriguing. All in all, this was an A- episode. It's good to have White Collar back.

Screencaps at White Collar Online and Matt Bomer Fan. My recaps at Dahne1 Blogspot.

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