Tuesday, April 26, 2011

White Collar - 1.06 - All In - Recap

As Peter and Neal head to the office, Neal complains about how boring mortgage fraud cases are. "We stare at paperwork all day." Yeah, I'd be bored too. FBI headquarters is filled with running agents and Hughes calls Peter in right away. As we've never seen anyone move with the slightest hint of urgency in this office, something big is up. Neal inflates his ego, Lauren is snarky, and the FBI has a missing agent. Ah! The rush makes sense. Lauren exposits that they lost contact with Mark Costa 12 hours previously, but don't know what happened. It's not often the white collar division has this kind of action. Hughes finger summons Neal to Lauren's chagrin and Neal snarks back at her as he goes. Peter tells us that Agent Costa went undercover as a drug trafficker needing money laundered to nail Lao Shen, who heads back to China in 72 hours. Neal asks why they want him, while I wonder why white collar crimes is taking the lead. Hughes mentions Nick Halden, and hey, we get the first use of Neal's frequent alias. Apparently Nick Halden, a multimillionaire gambler, had money laundered through the Canary Islands. Neal asks if Nick Halden gets full immunity. Hughes: "Done. I don't give a damn what you did 5 years ago. I want to find my agent." Neal: "Then what can Nick do to help." Ha! Nicely played Neal.

Hughes wants Neal to contact Lao under the guise of playing pai gow, a Chinese domino game where players bet on two pairs of dominoes against the dealer's pairs. Lao uses certain hands and bets to make business contacts. Neal's scheduled to play in Chinatown tomorrow night. Hughes says it dangerous but Neal knocks down a row of dominoes, saying with a grin, "High stakes. I'm in." But first he needs to learn the game. Enter Mozzie and Tiles of Fire, a truly bad 70's Chinese mobster movie. Mozzie gets highly engrossed in the movie, but Neal's more concerned with how the FBI knew about Nick Halden. Moz: "Let's be honest. Nick was not your best work. He's no Steve Tabernacle." Ok, now I want to hear more about that alias. They puzzle over what Ringed Guy wants from Neal's considerable loot until Moz is distracted with mouthing terrible movie lines. Neal's very disturbed by this so Moz explains the wood pile and the basics (snickers - great reactions from both). Neal shuts off the movie after learning the death tile isn't real and says he needs to "fold above the bank," which signals he's a prospective client. June enters with brownies and who knew, she's a Tiles of Fire fan too. This is the beginning of a beautiful June-Mozzie relationship. Neal: 'There's a sequel?" Moz: "Five" BWAH!!!

At the office, Peter confirms Lao took the bait and Neal plays a prospective investor in the money laundering scheme. Jones is excited they'll be near a good Chinese restaurant. I'd be more excited to get out of the van. The restaurant owners helped the FBI in the past and let them hole up on the second floor. Score! In Chinatown, Peter thanks Mr. Kwan for his help. Kwan is happy to since he wants Lao and his racketeering ways out of his town. Kwan has enough debt without paying Lao too. They all take their shoes off at the entrance, but Peter is hesitant. Why? Because he has the cutest pale blue doggie socks on the planet. Cannot breathe I'm laughing so hard. Peter: "They were a gift from Elizabeth." Neal: "One that keeps on giving." Thanks El, I needed that. Kwan's daughter Bai is a precocious little thief, who cries when Peter takes the surveillance equipment back. Neal to the rescue with a sleight-of-hand magic trick. Peter: "You know, every time you do that I look for my wallet." Neal hands it back to him. Nice!

Neal gets changed for the con…er..sting and reviews layout and surveillance with Peter. Peter asks if it's everything and Neal responds, "Where did Elizabeth buy those socks 'cause Christmas is coming up soon.." Peter cuts him off. Neal mentions the anklet and Peter puts him on a watch tracker instead. Lauren cuts the anklet while Peter gives watch details. Neal jokes but Peter reiterates that Lao is dangerous and they will pull Neal at any sign of trouble. I love when Peter goes big brother on Neal. It gives me warm fuzzies. Neal: "Fine. As long as I don't draw the death tile." I snicker but Peter's not amused. "There's a death tile?" Neal heads to a spotlighted, bright red alley door, makes note of the camera, and punches in an alarm code. Nothing says shady like a spotlight and heavy security. The inside though has more gilt than Versailles. Nick Halden checks in and goes through airport security. Love how he takes off the watch but the tie pin makes it through with no problem.

At Kwan's House of Surveillance, Peter notices a bullet hole in the wall. Lao's men entered his house to make sure Kwan paid. "They fired a bullet 2 inches from my baby's crib while Bai was still sleeping in it." OK, not distracted by why a 4 year old is still in a crib; that sucks. Peter goes all concerned and we get a close up of Bai, the cutest little kid of all, peeking around a corner. Lao must die. Neal, ready to take him down, heads to a vacant pai gow table where he meets the man who refused to sell Gremlins to Billy's dad. Neal: "Don't get them wet. Don't feed them after midnight, right?" The man's as impressed as I am, which is to say not at all. An Asian beauty, gives Neal a drink as a small crowd gathers around Neal. When Neal folds on a winning hand, she questions him. Neal: "There are more important things than winning." Bodyguards whisper and patchy bearded Asian tough steps out of the shadows to take the dealer's spot. Welcome Lao. He and Neal subtext their real business and he suggests they play again. Neal agrees but NYPD raid the place. Peter: "They're going to get Neal killed." Jones calls the police chief while Laos' guard sees the police on camera and pulls a gun on Neal. Lao: "I don't believe in coincidence." I wouldn't either.

The beauty tells Lao they need to go and leaves Neal surrounded by armed cops. Peter wants him to yell FBI, but Neal doesn't give up a cover so easily. He flips and rolls the table for cover to make his escape under a gunfire. Jones: "I don't think he gave himself up." Peter: "Maybe it's not him." Yeah, right. Neal hurries through the kitchen and yells for Peter. "It's him. Alright, if he's not with me in 3 minutes, you mobilize back up and tell NYPD to stay the hell out of our way….And where are my damn shoes." Ha! Gotta love the mix of funny and action in this episode. Neal avoids the cops only to be pinned down by Lao's bodyguards. The beauty stops them and Neal follows her to finish their business. So…trap or business? Not sure. Peter realizes Neal's continuing the sting and I think he earns a bit of Peter's respect. Peter heads back to Kwan's and gives Jones and Lauren 50 things to do. Perhaps prioritize. He calls El about "another all-nighter." Peter: "I married a perceptive woman." El: "I married a predictable man." They agree to meet for lunch. Peter is upset over Neal and El says not to worry because Neal respects him. Peter: "I think you're overselling our bond a little bit." El and I disagree but they did bond rather quickly for cop and con.

Beauty takes Neal to a fabulous apartment and proceeds to seduce him under Lao's orders. Peter: "Only Caffrey." Lauren: "I've already seen this one on Cinemax." Jones enjoys it though. "I haven't." I wish we had more Jones. The beauty tells Neal to relax with a drink, but he's not into being drugged. She drinks first but Neal still declines so she busts his watch. Peter says to stand by, while the beauty pulls a gun on Neal. How many people really believed she was a prostitute? Nah, me neither. Neal: 'I'm really tired of guns being pointed at me tonight." The beauty knows he's Neal Caffrey as he's been on the Interpol watch list for years. Introducing Meilin of Interpol. Nicely played. She called the cops so the FBI wouldn't impede her investigation but now that Neal's caught Lao's eye, she's stuck babysitting. Interpol is after Lao's boss, a much worse player, and she demands Neal let Lao go in return for Kate. Huh? Didn't see that coming! It throws Neal too and he insists on knowing who has Kate. Meilin can help with that and Neal agrees to the drink. This is definitely Neal's biggest temptation so far.

Peter wakes from a 1/2 hour nap to find one sock missing and Bai watching. He spouts off about how unreliable Neal is as you know who walks in. Peter: "He always gets himself into trouble. It's not like I'm worried about him. I just feel responsible. If anything happens to him, I'll have a lot of paperwork to fill out. Paperwork's a hassle. Neal's a hassle." Neal watches on less cocky and more thoughtful than usual. Peter: "But then again, that was a neat card trick huh." Bai waves to Neal, who's happy to be appreciated. Peter: "I knew you were there." Ha! OK, Peter. Neal: "You also know she speaks perfect English?" Bai giggles and pronounces Peter weird. I like that kid. Peter calls Neal a bad influence and yells for his sock. Neal got a ride with the FBI and claims the watch got banged up in the chase. Meilin will contact them with the meeting place. Jones comes in with a new anklet (that was fast) and Lauren says Meilin tipped off the police. Neal plays innocent, but Peter's suspicious. They head to Meilin's work but Neal can't talk to the women without blowing his cover. Peter: "I guess I'll have to show you how it's done." Peter flashes his bag and the women start talking at the same time. Unfortunately for Peter, not in English. Neal: "That's the same guy who caught me, right?" (snickers) Peter heads to Neal and Lauren, and whips out a mini-recorder. "Yeah, that's how it's done. Amazing what someone will say when they don't think they can speak the language, isn't it." Have to admit, Peter got me there. Bravo! "Let's see what they were saying behind the back of the bumbling FBI agent."

At the FBI, a translator is an hour away. Lauren runs the tape and coincidentally, Bai is there waiting for her dad. She says one woman called Peter a bad name. He has Bai translate and as a teacher, I object. Obviously there's more foul language on that tape. Why not get Kwan to translate instead? They find Bai works at the Red Lantern, and Neal tries to move the conversation in another direction. However, Jones finds out in Costa's reports it is a shell company for Lao. Remember Costa? The missing FBI agent? Lauren calls Peter out while Jones finds the address. Meilin's facial scan came back restricted so she dug further - Interpol. As Elizabeth and Peter eat lunch, they discuss whether Neal knows. Peter says Neal's playing him and El says that means Kate. She really is a brilliant study of people. Perhaps she should go into criminal profiling.

At the Red Lantern, Peter demands Neal pick the lock. Neal protests about a warrant which is a red flag to me on both counts. Peter already filed for a warrant and Neal stalls saying he doesn't have his tools. Peter hands him his. Not quite sure what to make of this from either side. Neal's always prepared and I'm don't I like FBI carrying around equipment for breaking and entering. Neal can't stall any longer and unlocks it. Neal: "I think I just saw the Ark of the Covenant back there." Peter: "If my face melts, let me know." Bwah! Love the random Indy reference. Peter finds scuff marks and a refrigerator with a blood stain near it. Not good. Agent Costa won't need his notes back. Peter starts to call the FBI when someone enters. Lao's thugs have come to dispose of the body and Peter has no cell service. (insert "can you hear me now" joke at will) Peter pulls a gun but Neal has another idea; they hide on top of a pallet as Costa's body is transferred to a laundry cart. Peter goes ballistic over Costa's body but Neal reminds him that it's better than being dead too. Peter: "This isn't a game, Neal. I think it's time you and I had a little heart-to-heart." Neal plays innocent and this is so not the time for that. Peter mentions Meilin's Interpol connection.

Neal and Elizabeth sit uncomfortably on the couch as Peter crankily paces his dining room. I'm not sure if El is there for moral support or to keep Peter from shooting Neal. Neal whispers: "I never lied to Peter." El: "You did leave a few things out." Neal needs a mom for moral training. He tries to excuse his actions with concern over Kate's safety and I admit he does puppy dog eyes like few others. El: "Look, my husband really wants to trust you but you keep giving him reasons not to. You're on your own on this one." She gets up and Neal begs her to stay. I would too since Peter is giving his best grizzly impression. Neal, looking like a school kid at the principal's office, breaks the ice and asks, "So what now?" Peter would take him off the case if it weren't for his cover. Neal: "No, I wasn't talking about the case." Peter asks what Interpol promised, guessing that Meilin had news on Kate. Neal confirms and says they want Lao free to get his boss. Peter thinks it's a jurisdiction thing because the Chinese government will give Interpol $500,000 in funding. He hands Neal Costa's file and says he can't trust Meilin. Peter: "We either take down Lao now or our partnership comes to an end." Neal: "We're partners?" Peter: "You tell me." Strong scene here and very well done. One of the best of the season so far.

Neal heads home to find June and Meilin on his balcony. I love June and it is her house, but this is the second time she's barged into his private space. That has to be annoying. June says goodbye to Meilin who politely threatens her. "Now that I know you're such a wonderful host, don't be surprised if I stop by again soon." That's one way to get Neal's protective hackles up. June to Neal: "I'd keep my eye on that one." Ha! She's one smart lady. Neal confronts Meilin about Costa's death and she wants points for bread crumbing them to his body so he could get a proper burial. Lao suspected Costa of working for a competitor but didn't know he was FBI. Neal calls her out on letting a murder free for political clout, but her job is to keep the FBI from monitoring Lao's transactions at their meeting. She doesn't care what happens afterwards. Before she leaves, she tells Neal that she knows who has Kate. I shouldn't feel for Neal here but he is between two bad offers.

In the van before the meeting, Peter gives Neal a second watch and tells him how to deactivate it while they are scanning for bugs. Peter: "Press it again and it turns it back on, and you damn well better turn it back on." Neal agrees and Peter exposits that they will trace Lao's account and put him away for good. Peter tells him good luck and he follows Meilin to the meeting. In the elevator, Neal turns off the watch and she gives Neal a new account number. He's patted down but no bug check this time. Lao and Neal chit chat pleasantries before getting down to business. Neal gives the false account number and Meilin gives Neal a flash drive. However, he also challenges Lao to a game of pai gow, after he palms two dominoes. Lao accepts the challenge and I'm curious how Neal will scheme his way into pleasing everyone while still getting Kate info. He loses some hands and Neal offers to place his watch in the bet. "C'mon Lao. What's life without a little risk?" I see. Very clever Neal. He turns the signal back on before purposely losing. Meilin puts the watch on Lao's wrist. When Neal rejoins them in the van, Peter smiles.

Peter tells Kwan that Lao is going to jail for a long time since he basically confessed via the watch. Kwan thanks them and Neal compliments his dumplings. As Kwan gets Neal more, Neal tells Peter the flash drive was empty and Bai tells Peter to close his eyes. Her cutely impish face beams as she shows Peter his missing sock. Peter: "David Copperfield she ain't." Nope, she's much cuter. I like when Peter interacts with kids. They should do that more often. Lunch ends and it's back to work. Neal calls Peter partner to my amusement and Peter's chagrin, but he's stopped by a phone call. It's Meilin and the biggest shocker of the evening is that the flash drive really was empty. I thought Neal was lying to Peter. She tells him that the man who has Kate is FBI. Neal looks suspiciously at everyone in the office. As Shane Alexander's "Feels Like the End" plays, Neal's brow furrows and suddenly everyone becomes a potential enemy, mastermind of the game where he's the pawn.

I liked this episode more than I remembered. The case was interesting and I liked Meilin. I hope she appears again, since the Interpol connection gave the case more gravity and intrigue. I absolutely adored every scene with Bai and Peter. Kids, or at least this one, throw Peter off his game a bit and I enjoy seeing his flustered side. Besides, she was the catalyst for finally hearing Peter's thoughts about his complicated relationship with Neal. Normally he has these conversations with El, but here he went deeper. Maybe because he didn't think anyone understood what he was saying. This episode might have featured Neal more, but it was Peter's showcase. His tiger pacing in the dining room and his smile at not being betrayed said a lot about the character. I enjoyed Peter saying they were partners and how much the words meant to Neal. Probably the thing that puts this episode squarely in the win column for me though is the ending twist. I didn't expect the FBI in Kate's situation and seeing Neal's paranoid reaction really hit home. Pairing it with "Feels Like the End" was a master stroke. This episode has everything - good characterizations, interesting story, a clever con, and most importantly, a cliff hanger that leaves you confused but dying for more.

Screencaps by Emma-Jane
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