Monday, February 7, 2011

White Collar - 2.12 - What Happens in Burma - Recap

Previously we flashed back 8 years to Neal's arrival in New York City. No one was suave, facial hair busted out all over, and Neal meet Mozzie, Peter, Kate, and Alex. It was a busy episode.

Walking past the United Nations Building, Peter and Neal discuss travel. Neal teases that he tried to get Peter to France but chasing a fugitive was not what Peter meant. He recaps Neal's travels and Neal jokes about post cards. Peter: "I had Interpol warrants. They were just as good. Neal's robbing a palace. Wish you were here." The line and delivery are perfect. Peter wants be a Swedish Viking, which amuses Neal. "Pillage and plunder. I knew under that lawman exterior beats the heart of a thief." Peter: "Well maybe I just like hats with horns." Some of my favorite scenes are Neal and Peter riffing off of each other. It's so natural and gives us insight to their characters.

They meet the Undersecretary of Asian Affairs, Adam Wilson, who needs help solving a Burmese ruby theft. Christopher Harlowe, an American college student, is accused of stealing a Mandalay ruby. Wilson claims the charges are false to force American concessions in trade talks with Burma. The State Department believes the ruby is in Manhattan and want to find the smuggler. At the FBI, Peter has a picture of the Mandalay ruby. It looks like raw steak, not exactly necklace ready. Peter calls it a pigeon blood and Neal assures them that the name refers to the color and not animal cruelty. Jones agrees with me saying, "I'll take mine medium rare." They exposit the difficulty of stealing said ruby, which typical college kid could not do. Neal cleverly reminds us that he was orchestrating a Burmese jewel heist before Peter arrested him, but he has to backtrack when he gives far too many specific details for casual knowledge. Everyone disperses to talk to their contacts.

At the Burmese embassy, Neal chats up a pretty assistant about his time in Myanmar (Burma). Peter: "I guess I missed that post card." Peter and the assistant politic the Burma - Myanmar name change. I sing Istanbul by They Might Be Giants. Good times! The Burmese ambassador interrupts the debate and he and Peter politely smarm about the tape and Chris's innocence. It's antagonistic diplomatic speak which Neal interrupts with a Burmese proverb. "Even if the truth is buried for centuries, it will eventually come out and thrive." The ambassador counters that Harlowe will be sentenced in one week and it's hard to undue death. No innocent until proven guilty there. Neal flirts with the assistant on the way out. Peter gives Neal kuddos for the proverb and the Burmese chauffer wads up a parking ticket right in front of Peter. Diplomatic immunity. Peter exposits how our laws don't apply here and reiterates the one week timeline in case people weren't paying attention.

Using Diana's embassy contacts, they get the tape showing a healthy Harlowe coerced into confessing while gesticulating strangely. Unfortunately, it's been cropped so they can't see what the gestures mean. Wilson is visibly upset as Neal says it will be hard to refute. In a non-surprising twist, Wilson admits he knew about the confession and Peter and Neal puts realize that Chris is Wilson's son. That's why he brought in the FBI. Wilson says he's concerned the Burmese government will use him as political bait, even though they aren't close. Neal mentions the hand signals and Diana says the embassy children are trained to do that. They need the unedited tape.

Afterwards, Neal slams Wilson's parenting and the father subject comes up. Peter's dad was a bricklayer but Neal's early years are a mystery to him. Neal lays the bomb that his dad was a cop, stunning Peter. I would be stunned too but I read a spoiler. Peter wants details but Neal heads to his apartment. Snapping at a grumpy Mozzie for drinking his wine, Neal exposits the case. Moz is offended he asked someone else for info about the ruby since he's an expert on gems too, but Neal reminds him that he wanted to avoid the FBI. Getting shot will do that to you. Mozzie complains that Neal used his archrival. Neal: "Everyone's your archrival, Moz." Bwah! That's so Mozzie. They agree that Moz gets first veto from now on and Neal undresses, because every episode must have Matt Bomer eye candy this season. Neal tells Mozzie he talked to Peter about his dad. Apparently they've discussed Neal's parents before. Moz: "You want to lie down on the couch. I'll get my notepad…I just find it fascinating considering your patriarchal relationship with the suit and you're penchant for breaking the law." I would say it's an older-younger brother relationship because Peter is definitely too young to be Neal's father. However, there are family undertones between them. From Mozzie's reaction, there is definitely more to this story. Mozzie thinks that Peter could be useful with Neal's dad, but in what way I don't know yet.

Neal and Peter head to Randy, the jewel guy. Neal buys a photo of a woman and son minus the picture frame from a street vendor. Although he has 20/20 vision, he wears glasses. (Matt Bomer does too off camera.) Yep, it's an alias. Neal exposits trunk show, catching fans up but Peter already knows. Randy is known for story gems increasing the gem's value; people pay more for a good story. Peter wants a search warrant but Neal's way is faster. Also, Randy can slice a gem like Marcel Tolkowsky himself. Peter and I am clueless. (He was a Belgian diamond cutter who mastered the ideal proportions for brilliant-cut diamonds.) Randy greets Neal as Mr. Donnelly. Peter: "You said friend, not alias." Neal: "I consider them my friends." That's funny and a bit sad. He uses the picture frame photo to talk about his lawyer wife Nancy and soccer-playing son, Dylan. Peter's face is priceless. Neal introduces him as Nancy's brother, Mr. Satchmo. Bwah! Peter's not amused. They say they need an anniversary gift for Nancy, and Randy shows them the ruby. Peter asks for the provenance while Randy spins a tale about a maharaja's mistress. Both are fake. Neal wants to handle Randy, but Peter breaks out the badge. "Peter, you just burned a perfectly good alias." "And you named me after my dog." "Touché."

At the FBI, Peter gets Diana and viewers caught up. They plan to flush the ruby thief out using the trunk show, except they need some impressive gems in order to sell it to jewelry buyers. Peter does his best jazz hands, but Neal isn't impressed. I'm laughing too hard to care. There is a secret FBI vault of black market gems Peter's been hiding from Neal. "Why give an alcoholic a drink?" Why don't the gems go back to the owners? Earning Peter's glare, Neal asks how many jewels he can take. Neal's disgusted the FBI hides jewels an evidence locker and is not impressed by the take. Peter: " You could buy a SoHo loft with one of these and still get change back." Still doesn't make them a pigeon blood ruby, so Neal gets creative. He needs a 2000 degree Celsius oven and welding equipment. Hmmm?

Creating fake gems with these tools, Moz reconsiders helping the FBI. "I haven't had this much fun since I tripped Noam Chomsky." (famed member of American intelligentsia) The writers continue their "Matt Bomer is a smokin' hottie" campaign, having him sweat in a white wifebeater while using welding tools. Hello, men of construction calendar. This is two eye candy episodes in a row. Their philosophy - "Use it if you got it." Wonder what Noam Chomsky would. Peter joins them and Mozzie exposits that he is improving on August Verneuil's flame fusion apparatus. This show makes me feel seriously stupid. The only name checks I've known so far is Myanmar and Noam Chomsky. Peter corrects Mozzie's pronunciation of plebeian and I laugh. You lose points when you can't pronounce the insult. Peter asks if the created ruby will pass inspection. Neal: "Verneuil's have curved growth lines. Natural crystals run parallel but it requires high magnification." Peter and I share blank looks. "Close enough for government work." Peter: "That's what I want to hear." Mozzie thanks Peter for the equipment and he realizes that Neal gave it to Mozzie. Neal: "HE doesn't work for free." Neal ads a flaw to the perfect ruby. Mozzie: "Perfection is the antithesis of authenticity." Mozzie says it will be fine if it's not under a microscope; Neal has a plan.

Enter Diana with the ruby around her neck. "They didn't cover the runway walk in Quantico, but I think I can figure it out, Mr. Satchmo." Peter: "I made you a model. I deserve that." Jones looks quite dashing himself here. Neal is bringing style to the FBI. Of course, they need to stop talking into their wrists. Nothing about that is natural. The British smuggler appears and Neal and he trade bogus jewel stories. Neal offers a partnership and they agree to meet downstairs. Unfortunately, the smuggler literally follows a "kill the competition" philosophy and is summarily arrested after witty banter over the pros and cons of corporations vs. single proprietor businesses. Odd that they accuse him of the attempted murder of an FBI agent. Except Neal's not an agent. Either it's a scare tactic or they have tacitly declared Neal one of their own. Either way, Neal suggests he make a deal with Peter. He does, saying Chris Harlowe had nothing to do with it. The end, except it's only 20 minutes in. I smell trouble arising.

Wilson waits at the FBI while the Burmese government takes the smuggler's statement. Neal confronts Wilson on bad parenting. "A twelve-year-old doesn't know what he does or doesn't need." Peter realizes Neal is upset about his father as Diana breaks in with complications. At the Burmese embassy, the smuggler recanted, saying Chris was his accomplice. He is remanded by the Burmese government and therefore cannot be charged with attempted murder. Political asylum. Very slick.  Peter's ticked.  At his house, they banter about Peter's crossword (good continuity), multitasking, and Neal's dad. Neal doesn't want to talk about it so Peter makes a fake crossword clue to get Neal to say parent. It's charming. Neal tells him everything his mom told him, which makes it seem like Neal never met him. However, that doesn't jibe with Neal's conversation with Mozzie. Why would he need Peter's help then? Neal claims his dad died when he was two "in a hail of gunfire taking down a whole gang of bad guys." Peter proclaims him a hero and Neal waxes nostalgic about childhood cops and robbers. He got really good at shooting guns, but we know Neal hates guns. Peter accepts this, but I question.

Diana gets an unaltered tape from a friend at Amnesty International and they head to the FBI to see it. Harlowe uses the letter s on his shirt to spell "Rocker," his girlfriend Maggie's nickname. They get to her too late as the Burmese embassy stole her external hard drive earlier. Apparently, Chris is making a film about KNLA Burmese rebel units. (The Karen/Kayin National Liberation Army is fighting to create their own state. Fighting started in 1949.) One film clip shows that Chris was in a different area at the time of the theft. Maggie shows Wilson a clip of Chris proving he doesn't blame his dad. He wants to make him proud. Aww. You two should try talking instead of war zones. Jones finds photographic evidence of the Burmese embassy car outside Maggie's apartment, but diplomatic immunity rears its ugly head again. They get permission to search the car and the assistant, but not the diplomatic pouch. Peter and the ambassador exchange more political words and nothing gets done. Neal's phone rings and Peter is so distracted he lets Neal go without questioning him. My question - Doesn't Neal have a 2-mile radius on his tracking device if not with the FBI? Something's fishy in the Big Apple. Neal meets with Wilson, they talk parenting and Wilson asks Neal to steal the hard drive.

Meanwhile, Peter and Diana surmise that Wilson wanted Neal not them so Diana pulls Neal's tracking details. At his apartment, Neal and Mozzie run through a con to get the Burmese assistant to open the diplomatic pouch for them. Neal makes fun of Mozzie's drawing. Finally something Mozzie is not good at. Neal plans to give the created ruby to the assistant. Moz: "To take my heart would be less painful." Neal: "We can always make another one." Does Peter know this? When the lid on the box closes, it will create a chemical reaction between ammonia and hydrochloric acid, causing the box to smoke like it is on fire. Alas, it doesn't smoke right away. "Shouldn't a smoke bomb make smoke?" They hope the assistant will dump the pouch contents onto the ground where Neal can snatch the hard drive since it would now be on American soil. Things get convoluted with Moz and Neal. Unfortunately, Peter drops by just in time to see smoke coming out of Mozzie's jacket. Peter asks what they are doing. Moz: "Discussing Hegel and his rational realism. You?" Peter: "Casual stroll. You're smoking." He doesn't mean hot by the way, and Neal frantically signals Mozzie behind him. Mozzie: "It's a smoking jacket." This whole thing is my take on a comedy of the absurd and works well to lighten a political episode. Peter confronts Neal about meeting with Wilson, but Neal wants to help a father "make good with his son." Peter knows this is about Neal's relationship with his own father and correctly calls him on rationalizing but Neal asks what Peter would do if it was his son or Neal's son. "One wrong move inside the Burmese consulate and they will extradite you. You'll end up in a Kabaw prison. I can't protect you." Neal: "I'm not asking you to." Aww, I'm asking. I love when Peter gets all over-protective of Neal. This is the brother relationship I love. Peter agrees and leaves. In a lighter moment, Mozzie carries in the smoking box. Bwah!

At the Burmese embassy, the ambassador puts the hard drive into the diplomatic pouch and hands it to his assistant. Neal meets her outside and gives her the ruby, which she promptly takes inside. Meanwhile, Diana tells Peter that Neal is at the embassy. Peter grumbles about warning Neal but Diana calls him on it. "Boss, you could have chained him to the desk if you wanted to, but you didn't." She suggests that Peter wants Neal to save Chris. Peter doesn't want Neal to get caught and Diana says he knows where Neal is. Peter Burke to the rescue. "Alright, have your diplomatic friends on speed dial. If this goes wrong, Neal and I are going to start an international incident."

Neal waits as the assistant and the ambassador head to the limo. Peter joins him and Neal is shocked when Peter asks to help. He needs Peter to stall because "the smoking jacket's not smoking." Peter grabs a new parking ticket off the limousine and starts questions him about registration. The ambassador hands him the registration and 18 unpaid parking tickets. Is it really that hard not to park next to a hydrant folks? Peter requires the ambassador to help him close out his "investigation of said parking violations." He goes through every ticket while the ambassador keeps claiming diplomatic immunity. It's a battle of wills, folks. Fortunately, the bag smokes and the assistant dumps the contents on the ground like planned. Neal grabs the external drive. It is now on American property and stolen to boot, making it evidence. Peter threatens the ambassador with polite diplomacy. Cut forward several days. The Burmese government can't complain about the external hard drive without admitting they stole it. Their limo pulls up with a new ambassador in it; the other one left for health reasons. I think the former ambassador is getting a tour of Kabaw right now. Chris is reunited with his girlfriend and dad. Wilson thanks Neal and Peter, and Neal claims that "unconventional" is their specialty. This season it definitely is. That and eye candy.

As they watch Chris and his dad hug, Neal admits his mom lied to him. His dad was a corrupt cop and Neal is afraid he is his father's son. Peter says he isn't. Neal freed Chris and reunited a family, proving to be an unconventional good guy. Peter then asks about Neal's mom but Neal is not going there. I still question whether we've heard everything about Neal's dad because I don't see how Peter could help if he's dead. My guess is that Neal's dad is alive, but the question becomes is he really a dirty cop. I don't think we've heard the last of Neal's father.

Next week - Billy Dee Williams guest stars, Neal sings, and June gets more than 3 minutes in an episode. All good things.

Screencaps by White Collar Online.
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