Sunday, January 9, 2011

White Collar - 2.02 - Need to Know - Recap

White Collar - Season Two - Need to Know

At Fowler's mysterious meeting place, Peter and Diana wait for his contact, but lose him when he shows. The next day, Neal notices that Peter looks tired, and he mentions Elizabeth's away, a cover for Tiffani Thiessen's pregnancy. Neal exposits that Elizabeth's business is booming and soon Peter will be able to "retire early and become a house husband." Peter: "Because when you look at me you see soap operas and light housework?" Not to knock all the stay-at-home people out there but that made me laugh. They delve into the Case of the Crooked Politician and I wonder how they choose just one. Oh, I guess it's the one that gets turned in by his assistant. Political loyalty isn't what it used to be. The corrupt senator is Gary Jennings, a guy even Mozzie likes. I feel heartbreak a-coming. Apparently Mozzie votes "more often than you think ..or would approve of." Unfortunately for him, Senator Slick has caught the FBI's attention for possibly shady dealings, which means Neal's joining the campaign.

Assistant Dillon was a "true believer" until politics kicked him in the butt. There are two sets of books and only one is public knowledge. He cries Straw Donor Scam and Peter helps Neal and viewers like me out by explaining it. However, "politicians were the original con men" so Neal plays professor in Con Games 101. To get around campaign limits, Senator Slick is getting big money from a "questionable" donor but instead of claiming that money, he has many people write him smaller checks and then gives them cash from the big donor. Ingenious in its money laundering way, it also symbolizes what's wrong in politics when the rules never apply to them. Neal needs to join the inner circle to access the other books.

Neal suggests playing a round of Bad Cop, Good Criminal but Peter says that's fantasy. Neal thought about..yeah let's go with that…running a variation of this con in the past. Peter pressures Senator Slick about a loan case the FBI tried to pin on him in the past. This spooks him into hiring Neal as a fixer, a slimy PR guy that gets politicians out of messes, to handle the problem before the FBI finds the real crime. Neal says they need a bad cop but balks when Peter suggests himself. "I've seen you do mildly irritated cop." But the look Peter gives Neal shuts up his protest. Again Neal and Peter finish each other's sentences, the buddy banter making the show great.

Senator Slick complains about handshaking in politics and heads straight for the Germ-X. That would be gross. Peter barges into his office and thanks him for making his career. He threatens to keep digging into the Senator's past until he finds something. Why? "Because I can tell you're dirty just by looking at you." As Peter joins Neal in the van, Assistant Dillon gives them the aftermath scoop - Senator Slick is riled.

The next day, Neal borrows Peter's newspaper looking for spin possibilities. He chooses a local group trying to build a park. "Touch my crossword, and I will put you back behind bars." Peter does the crossword in pen - that's confidence! Senator Slick tried to get Peter fired the day before but Hughes protected him. The FBI gives Neal a full-proof background as Benjamin Cooper, complete with valedictorian picture in a high school yearbook. Aww, Peter is shocked and saddened to hear that Neal never graduated from high school. So am I, Peter. I feel a good back story coming on. Or not. Too bad. I love to hear about Neal - the early years. This is a no anklet kind of job.

At the fixer interview, Neal plans to create a fictional story about a baseball stadium being built in the protesting neighborhood. It's a giant smokescreen designed to get people's attention from the scandal. Neal would be good at politics himself. Senator Slick is impressed and Neal has the job. Reggie, Senator Slick's right hand man, is skeptical. Neal: "In today's world, rumor is truth." What a sad state! I hate politics too Peter. Neal invites Peter for a beer, but he has a deviled ham stakeout in the early morning…

…which is code for secret meeting with Diana. Lying is not the way to go here Peter. Score for Diana - Mysterious Meeting Man is now Patchwork Man because they pieced together his face from several camera pictures. I knew Diana wasn't betraying Peter; Peter asked her to hide the music box. She asks about Neal but Peter doesn't want to open old wounds without something concrete. Big mistake Peter. The tables are turned when we see Patchwork Man taking pictures through Peter's window.

At campaign headquarters, Neal breaks into Senator Slick's office leaving Assistant Dillon to distract him. He's a bit too nervous for a distraction role. Neal: "We need more terrible liars in politics." No kidding! Neal snaps a picture of a matchbox cover with his phone before going out the back door. Then he takes a smoke break to talk to Neal. The picture is for a high class escort system. Bet you didn't see that one coming. Add to this Neal being paid off the books and you know the guy's shady. Peter types in the website code word Neal found on the matchbook, and Elizabeth calls just in time for Peter's computer to pouty whisper the escort service's ad. Elizabeth: "What kind of work is that?" I'll miss Elizabeth until she's back fulltime.

Meanwhile, Neal's stadium story leaks and he spins a story that the senator cancelled a meeting with the zoning committee to make it seem like the FBI is targeting him for not supporting the project. Clever. A campaign worker asks questions for us so Neal can exposit how to turn nothing into a scandal. Good to know the press is so easy to manipulate. And this show manipulates me too. Patchwork Man didn't take the pictures; Senator Slick wanted to blackmail Peter instead. Neal realizes that Peter lied to him. One big fat "I told you so" to you Peter. Neal claims Diana is a prostitute and designs a way to pull her into the con. Later, Neal confronts Peter who continues to lie to him by saying the stakeout was canceled. Neal: "I've never lied to you…not to you. I may have let you draw certain conclusions that were incorrect, but never an actual lie." Not sure I agree with Neal's vague morality but I sure hope Peter feels guilty. Neal explains that Barrow, the under the table wages guy, is now involved. The two debate who's going to tell Diana the news. Peter: "You're the one who made her a hooker." Neal: "You're the one who's sleeping with her." Peter loses. "Neal told Jennings you're a hooker. You and I are having an affair. You're going to go meet with an escort service." Diana: "OK. Anything else?" I agree with Neal, "It's good to have her back."

It's Mozzie! Mozzie thinks Peter's lying about the pictures because he is, but he says Peter's trying to protect Neal. "It's only fair. We keep secrets from the suits all the time. Now they have their own. There's a certain universal synchronicity to it all." Bwah, Mozzie is participating in a letter campaign to stop the stadium from being built. Neal's excited about the news and almost tells Mozzie it's a con but stops at the last minute. Why kill the dream?

At the prostitute/escort service, Diana looks fantastic, Neal has ADD in the van, and Barrow has a police record for aggravated assault, extortion, and attempted murder. "Attempted? At least we know he's not very good at it." Except the target died in a mugging within two weeks. So, not someone to mess with - got it. Unfortunately he has trust issues too so Diana needs to get $10,000 by 4 am from a client. Neal becomes said client. Regrettably, the FBI isn't an ATM so it will take too long to get the money. Neal takes care of that too, telling Peter to meet Mozzie at Neal's apartment. Neal and Diana start a hot non-sexual flirtation to fool Barrow and crew. Neal: "Is this doing anything for you?" Diana: "Not a damn thing." Diana heads to awesome again by explaining that if Neal hadn't shown up, "I'd have put this strawberry in that guy's mouth, taken him up to my room, put a gun between his ribs, and told him to shut up and sit tight or I'd arrest him for solicitation." Yep, awesome! They move to the penthouse suite where Diana turns down a champagne bath. They do get sushi and some plush robes though, and to pass the time Diana shows Neal where the good artwork in a hotel is. Diana was a diplomat's daughter who lived in motels. Her bodyguard, Charlie, died protecting her. In turnabout, Neal tells Diana about his first date with Kate. They conned their way into a swanky hotel room and order 5 hamburgers at $1000 a pop. They watched the sun hit an old bridge. Neal confesses that it should have been him on the plane. Diana felt the same way when Charlie died but says Kate wouldn't want him to blame himself. To lighten the mood, Diana suggests they create artwork behind an unadorned painting. I love how this season gives us more character background. Both stories were well done.

At Neal's, Mozzie will get the money for Peter provided he gets full immunity for anything Peter sees. Peter says he'll owe Mozzie one. Agreed! Mozzie wants Peter's shoelaces, a magnet and a Sports Illustrated. "What is this? A scavenger hunt now?" But Mozzie is a no ask-no tell kind of guy. By the way, Mozzie wears a Save Our Park button - awesome. With the shoelace and a magnet, Mozzie extracts a key from Neal's electric socket, but needs $20, a hammer, crowbar, and radio. "Life is more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party." Kuddos to Peter for knowing that's Jimmy Buffet. I love how aggravated Peter is with the cloak and dagger routine. Mozzie takes Peter to a warehouse to look for unit R-39. He tunes the radio to play classical music. They find R-39 but they have to get behind the unit. Luckily the music brings Eddie, the warehouse guy, over. Mozzie gives Eddie $20 to forklift the boxes out of the way. The magazine is for Peter to entertain himself while Mozzie gets the money. "There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant." "Emerson. All of your quotes are getting on my nerves - Peter Burke." Peter reads to the sounds of things breaking. Mozzie returns with the money and suggests a quick exit.

Back at the van, they have 10 minutes to log serial numbers from the money and get it to Neal. Mozzie takes the money up in room service, interrupting as Diana tells Neal about Peter's earlier mustache. Neal and Diana pretend to make out as Mozzie enters. Neal: "What if he works for Barrow?" Diana: "I know who he is." Neal: "It was worth a try." This show is very good at lighthearted banter. They change while Mozzie stares at the new artwork.

The next day Peter complains, "How is it that you always get the penthouse suite with the girl and I end up with the sweaty, bald-headed guy at a warehouse in Queens?" Neal just wants to see the 'stache. Today is Save the Park day and Peter questions why Neal hasn't told Mozzie it's a con. Neal disagrees. "Perception drives reality, Peter." Gary calls freaked about the loan scandal in the news but Neal turns the conversation to stickball in the park. He creates Timmy Nolan, a supposed childhood friend of Senator Slick. They tell the news people that the only reason the scandal has been re-opened is because the higher-ups want to stop his campaign for a new park. It's a hit. Unfortunately, Right-hand Reggie wants a more permanent solution to the Burke situation. Barrow will rough up Diana to get information. Neal texts Peter, but Diana is already there. Peter races in but Diana has wounded Barrow. Diana: "Aw, you were worried." Peter: "Well, not about you. I was worried about what you would do to him."

Back at Senator Slick's campaign front, Peter exposits that Barrow rolled and Reggie was caught with the second set of books. The senator is taking campaign photos when the FBI arrests him. Neal joins in and they watch a news cast about the new bond issue for the Timmy Nolan Memorial Park. Peter asks who Timmy Nolan is and Neal says the FBI will have to invent him. Peter glees, "Look at you. You got a park built." Maybe Neal should run for office. He gets positive things done. At FBI headquarters, Diana hands an official looking folder to Neal. "Peter, how could you keep this from me?" Neal demands. At this point I wonder why Diana shares info about the music box or Patchwork Guy, but this show is about the con game. Peter falls for it to, starting to explain why he left Neal out of the loop. Neal: "I expected more Magnum, P.I. and less Super Mario." BWAH!!!! I'm not sure which is funnier - the picture or Peter's reaction. Diana says it's payback for making her flirt with Neal. Take note - never get on Diana's bad side. She can dig up some serious dirt! Neal of course shows the picture to the whole office. However, they got nothing on Patchwork Guy. So the mystery stays…well..mysterious.

Screencaps from White Collar Online. My other recaps and polls here.

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