Tuesday, May 17, 2011

White Collar - 1.09 - Bad Judgment - Recap

Previously - Peter had a ring like Ring Man, Peter met with Kate, Ring Man wants Catherine the Great's music box, Neal was framed for a jewel heist, Fowler bugged Peter's home, Neal needs time to get the music box

At the office, Peter and Neal chat about their weekends. Peter had sports; Neal had the Guggenheim. Jones says David Sullivan, a possible victim of mortgage fraud, and his daughter Allison are waiting. Peter isn't happy because he doesn't see the fraud. He pulls Neal in because 6-year-olds make him nervous. Ha! Peter cringes as Allison draws on a 515 form, but Neal compliments her artistic ability. Peter catches us up by saying Sullivan's dad died and left them the house but before passing took out a second mortgage. Sullivan claims his dad would never do that. Peter reminds Sullivan that he only visited his dad 4 times in the last 3 years. Sullivan blames his dad for the rift, which automatically makes him unsympathetic to me, but he swears his dad wanted Allison to have a home. Sullivan calls Peter their last chance and little Allison gives him the picture she drew. It's of Peter, a house, and a tree. I think Sullivan is the con artist here. Peter says they will check it out. Sucker!

Neal looks over the bank's notarized paperwork and presents a compelling case against fraud. Peter's concerned more about Neal's feet on the table. (snicker) However he found that the cop who first took Sullivan's complaint is now retired at 35 years. Since there's no lottery win, they meet with ex-Officer Herrera. He asks who Neal is since the FBI couldn't afford his cufflinks. Both sides talk at cross-purposes to feel each other out, but when Peter brings up Sullivan, Herrera wonders if they are wired but he has nothing to say. Very fishy, especially since he had an 80% closed case record. Police departments don't early retire those numbers. Peter: "You burned your career for this case. You're just going to walk away." He tells Peter to drop it but insists on leaving a very specific $4.76 tip for the coffee and eyeballs them before leaving. Neal calls it cryptic; I call it a great tip even in NYC. His server thanks him. Off to the files to connect 476 to something. Neal: "For a dud case, Herrera generated a lot of paperwork." Great, in the real world that tip could take months. Luckily, we're on USA Network so 40 seconds in, Peter gets it. It's the ID # for Federal District Judge Michelle Clark. Neal reminds us all that pursuing a federal judge is highly risky. Herrera already lost his job. Peter looks at Allison's picture conveniently left by the files and says he's in.

That night Neal puts Mozzie on shifty judge patrol. Apparently Judge Clark was "Fowler's go-to judge while he was investigating" Neal. That's not suspicious. They realize Fowler bought himself a judge. Neal plans to tell Peter but Moz balks. "Secrets are safer." Peter will just file a report alerting both Fowler and the judge. True! However, Neal thinks he can leverage this to get Fowler to release Kate. For the first time, Moz and Peter agree. "What if she's working with Fowler?" Neal says he'll know when he talks to her, prompting Moz to ask if he trusts Peter. "Yeah I trust him…until I can't." Moz calls his answer Zen, but suggests Neal use Peter to send Kate a message. After all, Peter did find her once. I wonder why Neal didn't think of this earlier.

The next morning, Peter exposits 9 foreclosures Judge Clark presided over. He's interrupted by a lunch invite from El to sample pate. Peter's thrilled. "And feel free to bring Neal." Peter: "Oh, that's why you're calling. You want to borrow him." Wow, Neal's like a wheelbarrow. Peter: "My wife's inviting you to lunch. Good thing is I get to come along too." Bwah! Poor Peter. Although if it's goose liver pate, maybe it's poor Neal. In a product placed Ford stocked with GPS navigator and blind spot warning, Neal asks how Peter contacted Kate. "I'm a Fed. If I want to find someone I do." Yeah, well what about (insert a FBI most wanted listee here)? He asks Peter to pass the message, "I'm starting to wonder if the bottle really did mean goodbye." Peter glances at him sympathetically. My sympathy goes to Peter who tries El's first catering surprise. Love his disgusted face! This is why El invited Neal. "Why? Because he's a good liar." BWAH!!! Best Peter line of the night! El: "No, because he appreciates fine cuisine." Neal: "Which this is not." Neal has a more refined "Ew, gross" face but it's funny just the same. "No one could like that, El." El sniffs it. "Oh yeah, that does smell bad. Thank God you guys tried it first." Ha! Peter discovers the real reason we're there and it isn't bad food humor. The cable company called about a problem and sent someone over to fix it right away. Either NYC has premiere service or someone's house was bugged. Peter uses dial back but gets a disconnected number. That means bug! Neal rambles about a Matisse near a fire exit while Peter finds the bug. Neal writes, "What next?" and Peter yells his displeasure into the bug before stomping on it.

They meet on the patio outside . Peter asks why Neal was suspicious right away but Neal doesn't want to talk there. El worries about more bugs but Neal says they can't have an FBI team sweep the house. Neal: "I know a cleaning guy. He does a great job on my place." Ha! Peter says no but El wants the house de-bugged right away. I agree. That's a serious breach of privacy. Peter insists on having someone he trusts watch Mozzie. El asks why and Peter says, "He's odd." Neal adds, "In a good way." El is confused, even more so when Mozzie enters, introducing himself as "the Cleaner" and calling her "Mrs. Suit." Peter's impressed with his equipment and Moz is delightfully eccentric here, which bugs Peter to no end. Thankfully Jones arrives to relieve him and protect El. Neal comes in and El asks if Moz will try anything. Neal: "Do you have any rare paintings or coins?...Then you'll be okay." Ha! I love the banter tonight. Just then Moz comments on their unique Gorham silverware and Baccarat vase; I burst out laughing. I love Mozzie! El virtually pushes them outside, telling them to wrap up this case fast. El: "I don't think he bugged the dog." Moz: "Amateur." Peter and Neal practically race out the door.

We join Peter and Neal partway through a recap. I like that! Peter surmises Fowler needs Judge Clark for Operation Mentor. They figure he's after Peter now because Peter pulled the judge's files. Neal suggests they get to the judge first, but Peter is dogged about the music box. He asks why cons are fascinated by pieces attached to danger. Neal thinks it's their impact - like now. He claims taking down Fowler is worth hassling a federal judge and Peter agrees. "We stop the judge from taking the Sullivan home and then we get her disrobed." Neal and I share a "say what?" moment. Neal smirks and Peter harrumphs, "You know what I meant." He wants the judge to flip on Fowler, which sounds great except Fowler walks into the FBI about 30 seconds after they do. It's not going to be pretty. Peter and Fowler subtly threaten each other and Peter mentions Operation Mentor. "I would say you're not supposed to know it even exists." Neal: "You can pin this one on me. You like pinning things on me, right?" Hughes steps in and says Fowler will be working there. Fowler: "Oh relax, Burke. Just borrowing your phones for a little while." The writers do a great job of making me dislike this pompous, corrupt jerk. Cannot wait until Peter takes him down!

Hours later, Peter calls a break for the taskforce pouring through the judge's files. Neal stays. Peter realizes he's got something and Neal claims one of the signatures on a second mortgage is a forgery. He has Peter sign his name and Neal expertly copies it upside down, which allows forgers to copy a drawing instead of fight their own penmanship to mimic someone else's. Thanks Neal for Forgery 101. I always learn something from White Collar. Perhaps the show runners will post my bail. Peter: "It's a neat trick. Don't ever copy mine again." Neal: "Never again." Peter: "You have copied my signature." Neal: "Let's focus on the crime at hand." Bwah! They are interrupted by Fowler, who smarms and moves on. Peter gets permission to talk to the judge but makes Neal stay behind. "The last time you were in a judge's chamber you jumped out the window." Neal does an okay hand gesture that cracks me up.

Apparently judges work late because he comes by at night. He politely explains the forged signatures in the Sullivan case and says he's reopening the case based on the 9 suspicious foreclosures she approved. Oddly she asks about FBI salaries, which is not how innocent people respond. Peter's thrown too. Straight to bribery without protest. Hmm. She guesses Peter makes at most $140,000 a year. I should have gone into law enforcement, not teaching. Judge: "It's a shame you don't make enough for the services you provide. For what you do, the risks you take, I think you deserve double that." Peter asks what she means and she mentions a $125,000 bonus. "Does that interest you?" Peter: "It might." She suggests they chat next week outside of chambers. Peter agrees. Judge: "Good luck on your case. I hope you don't run into a wall." Very odd conversation. After Peter leaves, she removes a video camera; she taped the whole thing. Ah! I get it. The next day, Peter recaps the $125,000 bribe. Neal: "That's it. If I had known you were that cheap I would have bribed you myself." Peter: "No amount of money would have been as satisfying as catching you the first time…or the second." Peter plans to get permission for a sting. Fowler gets a call from the judge. I have to admit he's more clever than I credited him. He planned to have the meeting videotaped. Fowler wants the tape, but Judge Clark won't let her free pass out of her sight. She wants her files sealed first and then he can have Peter. They agree on the morning, which leaves time for some Neal razzle dazzle.

But who cares about Fowler when Mozzie and Elizabeth are bonding. One of my favorite things about season 2 is their connection. It's great to see its inception. Moz helps El get some boxes down while Jones looks on. Man, help them! One box contains old surveillance photos Peter took of El. And yes, it sounds creepy. El and Peter met when he investigated an art gallery theft where she worked. Jones assumes she was a suspect but no. How is that NOT creepy? El was a case witness and Peter wondered if she was single. Doesn't the FBI train them to ask questions? Moz suggests he was adding El "to the list of corporate, government….I mean, how charming." Ha! Moz on his best behavior? He took to El quickly. Peter didn't have the guts to ask El out so she held up a sign saying, "I love Italian." Moz: "Misappropriating FBI resources to follow a girl." Jones: "It's been known to happen." Ha! This still falls under stalking. Moz calls him sly and El agrees, "He's a bit of a bad boy." Peter walks in and is a bit worried that El and Moz are a team now. Mozzie claims the downstairs de-bugged but needs a few days for the upstairs. They can't sleep in their own room, as Peter talks in his sleep. He tells Jones to drive "Haversham" home but Moz refuses. He does take the pate though.

Elizabeth and Peter camp in their living room and make a date for Italian food on Saturday. Just when things get interesting, Hughes knocks on their door. He warns Peter that OPR is investigating him for accepting bribes. Peter recaps the scene for him, and Hughes says there is a videotape. Fowler officially presents it in the morning. Hughes: "I can't protect you Peter." Elizabeth worries and Peter heads out, saying he will fix it. Meanwhile, Neal and Moz discuss the music box and Kate. Neal says Peter did not get a message to Kate yet. That's surprising as he received a suspicious postcard with a chess move on it. For White Collar trivia buffs, Neal lives at 5026 Riverside Drive, NY, NY 10014. The opening chess move is D5, meaning black goes first. Moz: "Unusual. Symbolically making you virtuous white." They're interrupted by a knock everyone assumes is Peter. Nope, it's a freaked out Elizabeth asking for help. Peter's at the office and the poor guy can't even get some decent coffee. Luckily, Jones shows up to support him and he knows how to use the coffeemaker. I love his loyalty. He got the entire white collar team to join them. Peter's more than respected here; he's loved. Jones and Peter share a look that screams "I've got your back". Awesome!

At Neal's, El wants Mozzie and him to break into the judge's office to steal the tape. Moz points out that stealing federal property is really dangerous . El doesn't care. "If you don't do this, Peter could go to prison." Neal: "Yeah, and if I do I could go back." Good point. El: "You owe him." Another good point. Neal tells El to rest and they will handle it. As soon as the door shuts, Neal freaks. "Do you have any idea how we're going to do this?" Moz grins. As a teen movie once said, "I bow to the King of Scams." He uses pioneer props to explain that Fowler hired a courier to pick up the tape. Moz will stall the driver. Neal asks how. "With my obvious charm of course." Neal: "Do we have a backup?" Ha! Neal will wait in a blind spot in a courier uniform Moz created since there aren't many 24-hour tailors. Neal is particularly fussy this episode. Suck it up, Prima Donna. Next, he will pick up the tape and demagnetize it. Then change out of the uniform and hand the blank tape to the real courier. Not bad for a spur of the moment plan. It lets them stay incognito and out of jail. Neal asks if it will work but Moz just shrugs. I think it's brilliant.

The white collar taskforce looks at the judge's files. Every scam was a dead person estranged from their family, but aside from that Judge Clark is the only constant. The loans averaged $350,000 but they don't know where the money went. Follow the money folks! It's a good plan except Fowler sealed the files. That leaves only Herrera as a witness. He declares the judge is protected by powerful people who will go after Peter 's friends. Still Peter needs to find the money to take her down, so Herrera says he got canned after asking for a search warrant of the judge's chambers. Peter hands him coffee and leaves. Instead we join Neal and Moz mid-scam. As Ray the driver unlocks his van, Moz steps out to insult him. "You were supposed to deliver a very sensitive package to me at my house. Instead you gave it to my mother." BWAH!!!! I love this show. Neal slips by while Ray is distracted. Ray asks what's in the package and Moz yells, "That's none of your business." True, but who isn't curious. "She's gonna take everything from me man. The free dinners, the free laundry, the free basement. Is that what you want?" Poor Ray. Moz really sells this! "You want me penniless in the street shirtless." Moz starts taking off his shirt while Ray protests strenuously. I laugh so hard tears form. Which is why I appreciate the break to the judge's assistant who must think all messengers are brainless. Get off my screen, Annoyance. Neal gets the package as planned. On the street, Ray protests that Moz is yelling at the wrong guy. Moz calls him Ray Collins, but he is Ray Hoffmeister. Moz apologizes and shows Ray H. the fist of fury he'll use on Ray C. before skedaddling. Ray H. shakes his head in disbelief. By this time, Neal has dumped his uniform in the trash. He gives the package to Ray, who mutters apologies for the delay. Fun scene!

Just when I think the highjinks end, who should appear but the judge. Neal plays hide-and-seek around a column and calls Peter. Peter talks about possible evidence in the judge's chambers and wants to meet. Neal sees the judge and Miss Annoyance leaving and does a little breaking and entering. Luckily, Annoyance leaves a bobby pin on her desk. He makes it look like someone broke in and then joins Moz to spy on the judge. New Yorkers must live in their own world, because in St. Louis if someone breaks out binoculars and a microphone on the street, we notice. Moz relays what's being said and razzes Neal on not opening the safe. Neal says no time. The judge plans to move the evidence tomorrow at noon to a deposit box at Certified National. Apparently Miss Annoyance is in on the scheme because she doesn't ask what the judge is talking about. Neal and Mozzie are very proud of themselves.

Peter however is worried because he's in the meeting with Hughes and Fowler. Hughes acknowledges Fowler tapped Peter's phone and Fowler is so obnoxious about "the evidence" that I want to slap him. Tension mounts but nothing happens. Fowler says he must have the wrong tape. Hughes: "Until you have the right one, stop wasting my time." Yeah buddy! As Fowler leaves, he sees a grinning Neal standing in his way. Peter questions him about the tape but he denies it. Peter says thanks but Neal says he should thank El instead. He recaps the judge's money drop but since he obtained the info illegally they need a back up. Peter suggests they get Fowler to do it. "He's tapping my phone." On a call, they discuss Peter paying the judge for the blank tape and give real drop info. When Neal talks about the music box, Fowler stops the eavesdropping. His partner looks a bit suspicious. Everyone converges on the bank and Fowler demands Judge Clark give him the tape. She's justifiably confused when he grabs her briefcase and opens it. It's full of cash. He realizes he was set up as the sirens sound. Peter calims he's there to assist Fowler in arresting a corrupt judge. He had Neal forge Fowler's name and tells him that either he arrests the judge as a hero or explains his actions to OPR. No more pet judge for Fowler. Hughes joins them as Fowler makes the arrest, warning her that silence is golden. Hughes congratulates Fowler.

For some reason Fowler talks to the judge alone at the office. As he leaves, Peter asks if they're playing good cop, bad cop. Neal says no. "You need a good cop." The judge plea bargains to fraud in exchange for ratting out the bank personnel. Peter: "She's taking advantage of the system." Neal: "I hate when people do that...Now that I work for the system of course." Ha! Score one for the good guys. They share the news with Sullivan, who owns the house free and clear now. Peter hands the foreclosure sign to Allison and tells her to color on it. Good cheer abounds as Moz finally finishes sweeping Peter's place for bugs too. They are eavesdrop-free but their wiring is museum bound. Mozzie can hook them up with a guy in copper but Peter stops him to say thanks. El tells Moz she'll walk him out and he says, "Thanks El." Peter's worried about their informality. Neal agrees Moz trusts Elizabeth and that's why their relationship works so well. Whenever Moz and El are on screen together, you know there's good times ahead.

Peter calls the case a mixed win and Neal agrees that Fowler will be back for the music box. Peter smirks because he knows Neal doesn't have it. Peter: "Oh, look at that. Telling the truth. Did it hurt?' Neal sulks, "A little bit." He decides turnabout is fair and asks if Peter heard from Kate. Her message - "See Robert." Robert is her dead father, so they take a trip to the cemetery. Moz arrives for a Kate intervention. Neal says no thanks and finds a yellow paper flower in a bouquet at the grave. Peter asks if he's getting anything but Neal lies. When he says they may be right about Kate, everyone has to be suspicious. Peter walks away, but Moz knows exactly what the flower means. Unfortunately, he doesn't share with us before we fade to black.

I thoroughly enjoy this episode every time I see it. I love the humor most of all and also the building of Mozzie and Elizabeth's relationship. They are both great characters and I love how they complement each other. Of course, adding Fowler was a good step in the overall storyline of the season too. This episode answered key questions and yet still left us hanging. What's so important about the music box? Why is Fowler involved? Is Kate betraying Neal? And most of all, what is so special about that yellow paper flower? The answer to that question makes me smile.

Screencaps by Emma-Jane and TV Caps
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