Tuesday, March 29, 2011

White Collar - 1.02 - Threads - Recap

We open on Fashion week in New York, a celebration Peter hates but leaves Neal smiling. They finally get a cab but Neal gives it to models. Second cab same as the first. Neal tells Peter to embrace the week, but Peter's late to interview a witness. Neal shows some money, which Peter says won't work, and a cab stops right away. The perp of the week is an Israeli counterfeiter, Ghovat, whom Neal knows as the Ghost. He's big-league in the counterfeiting world, the first one to forge the micro printing on the euro. They interview Tara, a model who inadvertently witnessed the Ghost murder someone. She can identify the Ghost's voice and is willing to help.

In the office, Peter and Neal go over the case. The dead guy was Ghovat's associate and they theorize a business deal went wrong. Fashion Week gives him cover to meet his buyer. Neal turns 8 and squeals that they should throw a party. He's really excited. I guess they don't celebrate in prison. He has a point, since the Ghost has a penchant for swinging towns. Neal: "We put women, booze, fashion all together in one spot.." Peter: "And what do we do? Send him an e-vite. He replies Ghost plus 1." Neal says Tara could be there to listen for the Ghost's voice. He does a happy dance embarrassing Peter. Hughes is less than thrilled with the plan, not sure Ghovat will show. Still, Peter persuades him to trust Neal. "Look, Caffrey, Ghovat, these guys are cut from the same cloth. Neal's convinced that our Ghost will show up. I say we trust his instincts on this one. We've never been this close to Ghovat." Hughes reconsiders and gives them $5,000 for the party. Neal: "15 would be better." Ha! It's the government Neal. They fix things with duct tape. Neal wants Elizabeth to help them and Hughes is far more excited about this than Peter.

At the FBI storehouse, they find all the fixing for a high class party. Apparently bad guys like Royal Osetra caviar, Springbank whiskey, and Garioch (pronounced geery) scotch. Considering how the '58 scotch costs over $1500 a bottle, I see why Elizabeth is impressed. The caviar is a bargain at $1,000 a tin. They should raid the warehouse more often. Peter's concerned with the inventory, which he calls "booze and fish eggs." Ha! I'm with you, Peter. Neal finds an impressive watch but they can't take it. Neal says it would look good on him and Elizabeth agrees, but Peter says it's too pricey. Elizabeth proclaims the warehouse shopping done but they need a place for this shindig. Peter he has it covered, but judging from the look Elizabeth and Neal give each other that's not too promising.

It's worse than I imagined. Peter thinks a decrepit loft with a chalk outline is a great place for a high class party. Neal and I beg to differ. Peter: "It has everything you need." Neal: "Yeah, if 5 drunk frat buddies show up." Bwah! Love the snark! Peter's feelings are hurt and he questions Neal about the models. He not only has 65 models already, but he also has a friend with a better venue. Peter: "Oh, you think your friend's place is better than mine?" I think the Motel 8 is a better than yours, Peter. Neal does so much better. It's a landscaped rooftop where El once had a state dinner. Ooh! Neal softens the blow though by giving Peter credit. Peter oversees the camera installation while Neal sees an attractive woman in a party dress. "You are definitely in the right place. You're also a little early." Neal goes to escort her downstairs and she riffs that he's not quite as charming as she thought he would be. Surprise, it's Agent Lauren Cruz. For the record, I like Diana better; I'm glad they brought her back. Neal: "So where do you keep your gun?" Peter just rolls his eyes.

We join the party in full swing. Jones: "Damn, Caffrey knows how to throw a party." Bwah! He asks if one guest is Miss March and Peter knows she was in Sports Illustrated, not Playboy. I find that funny since Peter is usually straight-laced and kind of stuffy. Ha again! Jones takes a picture of the video feed on his cell phone. I can imagine what he'll tell his buddies. Meanwhile, Neal escorts Tara. Peter directs them to a nervous looking guy in the crowd, and he introduces himself as Dmitri. He's not the Ghost but he does speak Hebrew, as does Tara. She realizes the Ghost is talking to Dmitri on his cell phone. Agent Lauren flirts with Dmitri while Neal lifts his cell. Unfortunately, the real Ghovat sees Neal do it and drops his phone in a random guy's jacket. When Neal calls the number, the Feds swarm him. Tara realizes it isn't him and Neal looks around frantically while Peter inwardly curses.

At Neal's place, a very tetchy Neal looks out over the city and snaps at Mozzie about his anklet. Moz can't get it off but Neal has it better than most; his 2-mile radius goes farther in New York than most places. Neal isn't laughing. He wants Kate. He wonders what Ring Man wanted from Kate in San Diego, because he didn't find it. Mozzie: "How do you know what he was looking for?" Great question! Neal told Kate that all his stolen loot was warehoused in San Diego, but he told Mozzie Portland. Good to know Neal is so trusting. Moz is clearly miffed. "It's a test. You told her San Diego. You told me Portland. Then, whichever rock gets overturned you know who betrayed you." Neal tries to back track but no dice. "What? That you can trust me. That I'm the one who's been there through all of it." Mozzie rightly points out that Kate betrayed Neal but Neal says she was forced to. Hey, betrayal is betrayal, no matter why. It makes Mozzie the trustworthy one. Moz counters that she didn't warn Neal in prison, but Neal thinks she did with a code. When the FBI pursued them, Neal says they made immature, fold the paper to reveal the message codes. Mozzie: "That could be cracked by anyone who's ever seen the back of MAD magazine." Ha! Neal gets huffy; the codes improved over time. Neal needs to see Kate's last visit and Moz points out that Peter can get the tape. Neal says Peter won't just show it to him, but Mozzie suggests asking. Well that's common sense. Might as well try it.

At the FBI, they have a real name for Ghovat and exposit that he has no record, but Dmitri does. He's your basic overall bad guy. Jones tails him and the meeting adjourns. Neal flirts with Lauren who finds this attempt more charming. Neal steps into Peter's office to ask about lunch, but Peter has a picnic with Elizabeth. He wonders if he's in trouble and Neal tells him to "show no fear," but he's no relationship expert. As Peter knocks on wood and goes to leave, Neal asks for the tape. Peter's not sure if it's a good idea, but Neal says he needs closure. He's vulnerable and yes, when he says it, my heart cracks a bit. It reminds me of the pilot when Peter finds Neal mulling over the bottle. I think it gets Peter too because he agrees to get the tape if Neal helps him catch Ghovat.

At lunch, Peter small talks to gauge Elizabeth's mood. It's funny and El tells him that he's not in trouble. Peter is vastly relieved that she asked him to lunch to give him a present. It's a new watch. She thought Peter wanted the watch in the warehouse, so she bought one that wasn't quite as nice, but showed she was thinking of him. Peter calls it "perfect" but has a problem with the latch. He's interrupted by a phone call and stumbles over the time because the watch doesn't have numbers on it. He settles for 5 minutes and then praises a watch that is clearly not for him. El says it looks good on him while Peter squints at the hands. As Peter heads back, Neal reassures a nervous Tara who is moving into protective custody. She's upset, since she wanted a modeling agent not witness protection. Neal says if anyone can catch Ghovat, it is Peter. Aw! Peter walks in and Neal notices the watch. "No sundial to clutter it up." Ha! Peter blames Neal for giving Elizabeth the idea. But no time for banter, as they have a bad guy to catch. Jones follows Dmitri to a photo shot with the model Ghovat escorted to the party.

Neal gets them into the photo shoot, no small task. Dmitri is there and they figure since Neal has his phone, he uses the model to contact Ghovat. They won't talk to a Fed but Neal has a plan. "Do you trust me?" Peter: "Nope." Ouch, but funny. It's amazing how far these two have come in 2 seasons. Neal tells Peter to look menacing but I'm getting "parent lecturing" instead. Neal's not impressed either. Peter gets ticked and now he looks menacing. Neal makes sure the outline of Peter's gun is seen through his jacket and adds Terminator sunglasses. Insert lame joke here. Neal talks to Dmitri, implying he wants to contact the Ghost also. Dmitri confirms he's there to buy, but doesn't say what. He tells Neal and Peter to leave. Neal head nods to Peter who skulks out of the room. Neal: "Hey, man. For the record, you were much scarier than that other guy. Much." Peter looks absurdly pleased.

Jones tails Dmitri to a hotel and Peter sends back up. Two hours later, still no sign of Dmitri leaving. They get a report of people arguing and by the time Peter and Jones get to the 50th floor, Dmitri is toast. He has a dress gagging him and blood near his neck. It's puzzling. Peter says he was stabbed and Neal thinks the gag was a message not to talk. He's very uncomfortable around the dead body, reinforcing that Neal may be a criminal but he's not violent. Nice little reminder there, director. Ghovat left by an unreported security elevator, proving him smart and paranoid. The only clue left is the dress. Peter: "Well it's not off the rack. It's got no tag, which means it's couture." Neal gives Peter a questioning look but Peter dealt with knockoffs before. "Ask me what I know about a Prada bag sometime." Bwah! Love the deadpan delivery on that one. Neal notices a slit in the dress and Peter exposits that it's a security strip that can hold 4 gigs of information on it. Neal reminds us that this is a lot of info.

Peter interrogates the dress designer, who confesses that Ghovat kidnapped his son and forced him to smuggle the strip into the US. Once he cleared customs, his son was returned. However, the designer gets the last shot; he made two dresses and Ghovat took the wrong one. Neal surmises that Dmitri and Ghovat struggled because of the wrong dress. Ghovat won. Neal wonders what the chip has on it, and Peter guesses, "Could be launch codes, covert id, the formula for new Coke. Who knows?" Um, Peter. 1985 called to say the Cold War is over and New Coke failed. He redeems himself by using the designer to get Ghovat. On the phone, the designer says he sold the other dress and enter Neal with Tara wearing the dress. Neal makes her more comfortable and soon gets a call from Ghovat. Ghovat offers him $5 million but Neal wants $10. Ghovat threatens him and hangs up. Unfortunately, the phone is a burner, there's no prints, and Ghovat kidnaps Tara. Not a successful night. The burner phone rings again.

The FBI starts tracing the call, but Ghovat knows about Peter. He is sufficiently menacing towards Tara and arranges a meeting at the park, fully aware that the FBI will stake it out. He's either very cocky or very clever. In this case, I'm going with the later. He hasn't stayed off police radar this long without thinking things through. Neal wants to go to the drop as he feels bad about Tara, but Peter says he'll be more helpful figuring out Ghovat's game plan. Neal's solution - don't have a plan. Ghovat expects them to try something so Peter should be flexible. Peter's unsure of this plan and in all honesty, I would be too. He asks what Neal would do. "I would go home and have dinner with my wife." Aw! That's advice Peter can take. A very nervous Elizabeth listens to the game plan. "I'm really glad you got into the white collar crime division, where nothing exciting happens." It has to be hard living with law enforcement. El has another present for Peter and he really, really tries to avoid it. But surprise! It's his old watch. Peter says he loves his new one, but El knows it doesn't fit right and it's hard to read. "I mean, it's beautiful, but it's not you. Take this." (huge sigh) I love these two together. El: "I need you to be Agent Peter Burke tomorrow, and this, this is you." Sniff! "Besides, when all this is over with, I need you home at six o'clock right on the dot." Now I'm all smiles again. Smart woman! Peter says thank you, but the conversation they have with their eyes says so much more.

The next day, Hughes rallies the troops, saying that the strip contained a code to counterfeit European currency. They put a false code in the dress but aren't sure it will fool Ghovat, putting Tara at risk. Hughes: "We could put the entire monetary system of Europe at risk. Guess who wins." Yikes! Way to be frosty cold there. Hughes assigns roles, and Neal raises his hand, irritating Hughes. Neal wants in, but Hughes says he's the coffee guy. Somehow I doubt it. Nope. Hughes runs the show in the van when Neal knocks on it. Bwah! Hughes is not amused. He can't say anything because at that moment, Ghovat calls Peter, who runs to a new position without agent backup. Ghovat has chosen a lovely bomb belt as Tara's accessory. If he calls, the bomb blows up. Hughes says to let Ghovat go, but Neal calls Ghovat's cell to jam up his phone. He can't trigger the bomb if he can't make an outgoing call. Neal races past Peter and tells him to get the belt off Tara. Unfortunately, when Neal catches up to Ghovat, he pulls a gun on Neal. Did you really think he wouldn't have one? C'mon Neal. Lauren tackles him from behind, leaving a grateful Neal to say, "That was pretty damn charming." Ha! Meanwhile Peter throws the belt on the ground and demands everyone get down. I don't get it. Why wouldn't he have everyone move away instead of hitting the deck. Neal compliments Peter's hero technique and then takes credit for Ghovat being in custody. Hmmm.

Peter also takes his promises seriously, as Neal and Mozzie watch the tape of Kate's last visit for a clue. Neal shushes Mozzie, which is funny because the tape is picture only. They decide it's not her hair or the fact that her scarf makes the letter "M". Mozzie: "13th letter in the alphabet. Thirteen is a prime." Neal: "Thanks Rain Man." Moz is getting ticked when Neal notices Kate using Morse code. Mozzie realizes she's signaling "bottle". Neal looks longingly for more, but that's it. He takes the bottle off the shelf. I wonder how he got it since it should be in evidence. But any bottle mystery will have to be solved next time, as the credits begin to roll.

I think this episode is a bit below average for White Collar. It had an intriguing plot and advanced the Kate mystery, but some of the lines fell flat and it wasn't as tight as the pilot. I enjoyed it but I when I went to recap it, I was hard pressed to remember most of what happened. What did you think of it?

Screencaps by CAPS BY EMMA-JANE
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