Thursday, June 9, 2011

White Collar - 3.01 - On Guard - Recap

Previously, Vincent Adler killed people for treasure, Sarah and Neal sucked face, Peter channeled his inner middle schooler and noticed Neal's Chrysler Building painting, Adler's U-boat contained billions in Nazi plunder, his treasure warehouse blew up, Peter saw a flaming copy of Neal's painting and suspected Neal stole the treasure, Neal received a key to a warehouse that now houses the treasure.

Season 3 begins with Mozzie channeling his best bomber pilot, encouraging Neal to hurry up loading cargo on a plane. Peter and the FBI race the airstrip sirens wailing as Mozzie straps in. He's a pilot too. Who knew? Peter: "We cannot let Caffrey get airborne." Moz yells back they won't make it but Neal says they have to. They left so quickly they couldn't even close the plane door. I hope their cargo doesn't fall out. A title card tells us the episode is flashing back 4 days. Makes sense because it would be a really short season if Neal was arrested right now.

Four days ago, Neal looks incredibly tired. His eyes are bloodshot as he takes a lie detector test. Neal's baseline lie: "I have never told a lie." That works. Peter watches intently as Jones mentions the warehouse. Neal recaps season 2's finale. (If you missed it, stop reading right now and watch it!) Peter asks if he stole the art or knows who did. He denies both and the machine confirms it's true. Still, Neal's beaten a lie detector before so why does Peter bother. In a rundown building no less. No FBI sanctioned plan here folks. Neal reminds Peter it's 3 am but Peter doesn't care how long it takes. Apparently that's 2 seconds for the viewers because suddenly it's morning, Neal is clean-shaven although still in the same clothes, and meeting Sarah in a bookstore. They invade each other's personal bubble as he says Peter might question her. Sarah surmises Neal's on Peter's art theft suspect list and he confirms he didn't have his anklet that night. Again short storyline if he did. Sarah asks what Neal wants her to say and it sounds like she would lie for him. If so, it seems very out-of-character from the Sarah of last season. Neal suggests telling the truth (how ironic) about their night together but skipping the details. Thank you Neal. I really don't want to know. They flirt and kiss and Sarah asks if he stole the treasure. Neal denies it but she reminds us that he's a con. Neal heads out but Sarah stops him. "Caffrey, if that art is out there any idea who has it?" Neal shrugs and Sarah's gone for the rest of the episode. Insert a "Yippee!" if you don't like her or an "Aw" if you do. Then let's get back to the plot.

Neal heads home to find his door wide open. I fully expect to see Peter and an FBI team sweeping his place. Instead, Mozzie's on the balcony with a cheesy 50's hula dancer figurine on the table. Neal taps her and Moz calls her Lolana. Neal: "Is she from any island in particular?" Moz: "Whichever one your heart desires." Neal pulls out the card that lead him to the treasure (77850 Ganesvoort St., Unit A, New York, NY. YOULL THANK ME) and WHAT? Moz took the treasure? I'm less surprised about this than that they told us right away. I suspected to play Who Took the Treasure? for 6-10 episodes. There goes my theory on season 7's plot. Anyway, Neal's impressed as Moz explains his process. He found the warehouse through the limo transmitter, EM burst the security, and switched the truck with the art. As the whole sub was filled with unstable TNT, it was easy to detonate - perfect cover. Neal: "You didn't tell me." Moz: "Plausible deniability and all." Good thing because Neal passed the lie detector test. Moz calls the score their white whale and I think it's awesome he's sharing with Neal. Neal asks about Lolana, whose name means to soar. Moz says they will soar soon, but Neal mentions Peter's suspicions. Moz: "All the more reason for haste." It will take a few days to prepare. Neal: "…we don't rush this. We take our time. We do it right." Moz agrees and toasts, "To our best and final score." They clink glasses and tap Lolana for good measure. I love their self-satisfied smiles. I honestly think it's more about pulling off the theft than it is about the treasure.

Fast forward to Peter and Neal. Neal protests that he passed Peter's test but his record is sketchy. Neal wants civility so Peter brings up the Mets. Ha! Neal asks why Peter "turned against" him. Peter plays an echo well here. Neal's all "Go Team" over a newspaper article about Adler but Peter downplays it as their job. Well, someone's bound to get an commendation from it. Peter, it's good to celebrate wins, find joy in a job well done. At the office, Peter-Neal start a funny staring contest. Peter wins. Neal mentions Peter smiling; Peter mentions Gary Rydell, who according to Neal is a "bit of a playboy with an uncanny ability to wreck expensive cars." Ha! He's also Neal's alias, a world-class fencer/smuggler. Neal: "You think I might activate my Rydell alias in order to sneak something out of the country. Something like a stolen Nazi treasure." Peter admits it crossed his mind but David Lawrence, master thief, is looking for Rydell. They originally dealt in pre-Colombian art but now he needs to move $60 million stolen from the Federal Reserve. Whoa! That's a lot of money. Peter: "We think he left the $60 mill behind." Neal: "Well, safe assumption. I mean the baggage fees alone would have cost a fortune." BWAH! I'm so thinking this when I fly next week. Peter's less amused and mentions Lawrence's e-mail to Rydell. Neal will pose as Rydell, strike a deal, and find out where the money is. Neal wonders why Rydell would take such a big risk, but Peter counters, "If you were one step away from pulling off the biggest score in your life, could you let it go?" Hello season 3 theme. I like how this case needs Neal because it forces Peter to use him sans anklet despite his reservations. Essentially it neatly sews up gaping plot holes this episode would have without it.

Neal realizes Peter has tangible evidence, no hunch, but Moz says Peter's playing with him. Neal: "So there's nothing from the heist that could be tied back to me?" Um, well. Moz: "You know that art studio where you keep all the paintings you've done?....Now it's just a studio." Ha! Neal's offended but he counters, "Neal, you're talented but Van Dyke has you beat." (snickers) Forensics needed to find paint and canvas traces. He emphatically declares, "Nothing could survive that fire." Neal glares. Moz amends, "Nothing should have survived the fire." Murphy's Law Moz. At night Peter and El have their own discussion on the piece of canvas that shouldn't exist. Peter works a different law, the law of plot development. "I know he took the art. I'm standing there watching the warehouse go up in flames and this floats down at my feet." El questions if it is Neal's, but Peter questions how many Chrysler Building paintings exist. Way too many! El has a book to prove it. Since the building was created in 1931, it fits the sub timeline. The Burkes play the maybe game. In summation maybe Peter's chasing Neal because he always has or maybe he's doing it because Neal's guilty. Peter wins the round. He admits it could be Mozzie or Alex but Neal is involved. El suggests Peter have the scrap tested to see if it's from the 30's but Peter can't go through official channels. "If I'm right and Neal's behind this, he goes down and so do I." El understands and will call in a favor for a private test. "For you, anything." Aw. They are still the loving married couple I love.

Diana makes an appearance because Lawrence contacted Gary. They'll meet at Gramercy Fencing Club. Peter: "Why can't guys like you ever just grab a beer?" Neal: "Imported or domestic?" Ha! The banter and humor is intact too. The anklet goes off as Neal smirks and Diana cuts him off. They're still listening to everything. At the club, "Rydell" and Lawrence banter about disguises before starting a match. Both have been AWOL for years so they duel to prove who's the better man. Lawrence takes the first point by slicing Neal's tie. However, Neal wins the match and thus his trust. They dicker over Neal's commission and Gary tells him "to set it up." but he won't yet reveal where the cash is. Neal looks ridiculous with half a tie missing. Bwah! As he enters the FBI, he quotes "cruel and unusual punishment" because Peter brought him there with mangled tie still on. I wonder why Neal didn't just take it off. Peter wonders how Neal would move the money, after snickering about the tie. HA! You and me both Peter. Neal claims boats are best to transport cash because dock workers are easier to pay off. He asks Diana's opinion about a new tie; I laugh at the 9+ ties he keeps in his desk drawer. He throws the destroyed tie away and Peter picks it out of the trash. Neal: "I've driven you to dumpster dive?" Peter: "A souvenir of Neal Caffrey's perfect moment? Priceless." He's a MasterCard commercial now. Bwah!

Meanwhile, Moz makes model airplanes while Lolana watches. In the background are muffled sounds of Neal and a woman's voice. He yells up so Mozzie quickly covers the model with a dish rag. Hey! It's June's granddaughter, the college student Neal was to occasionally babysit in the pilot but who went MIA after that scene. Glad you weren't abducted too. Cindy brings coffee and tries to pry out info for June. At least that's my take. Neal takes the tray from her while Moz is awkward. They insist on bringing the tray down when they're done and politely back her out the door. If this scene doesn't scream "up to something," she's not paying attention. They chat about missing New York and pause just enough so viewers see their reservations about the plan, but then exposit the escape details for us. As Peter waits for Lawrence at the docks, Moz and Neal will sneak themselves and the treasure away by 400 Series Twin Otter plane. Neal wonders if it is big enough. Moz: "Think of it as a Kardashian. What it lacks in refinement, it makes up for in cargo space." BWAH!!! Seriously, why do people watch the Kardashians or Jersey Shore. Makes no sense. Neal worries about Peter's evidence and they decide pressing Elizabeth is their best card.

When he knows Peter is not home, Neal stops by to chat. El not too stealthily removes the Chrysler Building book off the counter and asks if he wants coffee. Neal agrees and claims Peter suddenly doesn't trust him. El: "I don't know how sudden it is. Breaking out of prison, stealing the music box, almost shooting Fowler. You want me to go on." He doesn't. "Look, he wants to trust you but you have this, I don't know, habit of doing the wrong thing for the right reasons." Neal sees it as a compliment. "You're saying I'm impulsive but I have a great heart." El: "Maybe you could try to balance the two." Neal praises her advice and coffee but asks for milk. While she gets it, he snaps a picture of the book she tried to hide. Very clever and yet risks alienating the one person who has always seen your side. Not a good plan, Neal. He toasts, "To the right things for the right reasons." Now I have Mr. Deeds by Sanctus Real stuck in my head. Good thing I like that song. El agrees and they clink mugs. There's a lot of toasting this episode. He joins Mozzie after buying a copy of the book. Moz is concerned that El chose Peter over them to which Neal and I remind him, "He is her husband." Apparently, osso bucco recipes trump husbands for Moz. Neal flips through the book as Mozzie rants until he sees a Chrysler Building painting. Yahtzee! He recaps Peter seeing it and asks if it was on the sub. "You know, in all honesty, it wasn't one of your better works." So yes then. Moz thinks Peter would arrest Neal if he had the painting but Neal says he'd verify it first. If he sent it to the FBI lab, the results would be in already which means no FBI. Moz asks why. Neal: "To protect me." Moz: "Or to protect himself." Me: "We've already heard this. Move on." They agree Haversham will watch Elizabeth. Glad to see Mozzie's alias back.

Lawrence, aka huge cautionary tale, meets Neal by the docks. He takes the risk because it's too tempting. "There comes a point where you finish the job or it finishes you." Neal: "If you get caught, you lose everything." Nope, that doesn't foreshadow inner turmoil or anything. Lawrence ran without anything so he wants to know the plan. Neal shows him a ship and gives him fake papers, sharing his 4-step plan. 1. Money comes by truck. 2. Bribed customs guy doesn't see it. 4. Fake routing papers. Lawrence asks about #3 but that's Neal's job. Lawrence is sold. Jones is still in the van. He admires Neal's ability to escape and Peter reminds us of the missing anklet until they're done. He goes parole officer. Neal must check in every 2 hours. Does it include sleeping? That's worse than a newborn? He's also restricted to home and the office unless it is case-related. Uh oh, someone's grounded. Neal already knows this and Peter asks about step #3. It's arresting Lawrence. "Oh. It's a good thing you didn't tell him." Ha! Peter brings up Neal's talk with Elizabeth. Neal hauls out the "same team" speech, conveniently ignoring the real reason he was there. We call this the liar, liar dance. Thankfully his phone rings and Peter tells him to get out.

Alas, it's Mozzie reporting on El. No one in the FBI or New York is suspicious with Neal whispering in the phone and Moz spying via a telescope out the car window?. Bah! He lip reads pointless conversation until El hands a guy the painting. "Oh sweet Elvis Costello. It's your Chrysler painting." No shock there but Mozzie's voice rising an octave has me rolling with laughter. He suggests stealing it but it would raise as much suspicion as Neal's paranoid behavior - IN THE FBI. He suggests they swap it out. It's risky but do-able. Peter hawk eyes Neal as he tells Moz to meet him at the warehouse to pick up canvas and paint from the 1930's. He immediately leaves, causing Peter to send Jones to tail him. Hey! Jones leaves the van/office. Another season 3 wish fulfilled. Of course it keeps Neal from meeting Moz, who responds negatively to Neal's questions. He's guessing what colors to scrape off the paintings. I wonder if it damages the art but art thieves should this, right? Neal says to get primaries and he'll mix what he needs. Moz: "I'm not an idiot." Of course not. You're the most amazing character on here. He's got a white and dark blue, but Neal wants a different blue. Moz loses it because he's doing the work and Neal's micromanaging. Neal tells him to breathe and check the Dali but no dice. Moz: "I'll find something. Neal: "I know you will." Good since he didn't need to cut you in on this heist to begin with Neal. He ends the conversation by chucking his phone in an abandoned building. I hope it's on the way to your house Neal. Remember, you're grounded.

That night Neal recreates his painting to throw Peter off. Moz has what's needed, including paint mixed by Picasso. Neal: "Taken from masters." Moz: "Picasso was a communist. He'd be happy to share." Bwah! Moz exposits a 30-minute window to switch the painting before it's mailed. Security is standard but they need a distraction. Kansas City mudslide is out since it involves a jackhammer. Neal wants to run a Phoebe Cates and I flashback to the 80's, the last time I heard her name. Hello, Fast Times at Ridgemont High reference. And who will play Phoebe Cates? Why June's formerly missing granddaughter, Cindy. Glad to know you're not just here to run coffee. Neal thinks she'll do it for the excitement. However, there's still the Jones problem. "I'll take a page from the great." The next morning he leaves looking particularly dapper, fedora on and umbrella in hand. Jones follows him into a park full of others in fedoras and umbrellas. He grabs one who asks if he won the contest. Bwah! Very clever Neal.

Step 2 - Enter Moz the delivery guy, who has a package for someone who transferred to Boston. Moz calls it "a hell of a town" and turns the security guy's attention to Cindy walking by. She "accidentally" pours her drink on herself outside the window. Fiddling with her blouse, she enters the lobby. She hands Mozzie her bags and coat and starts undressing while Moz holds the coat up. It keeps security guy from getting a peek but not anyone on the sidewalk. What's up with that? Security guy protests a bit but she exposits a grumpy boss and asks which new top to wear. Meanwhile, Neal walks right by the security cameras. The Phoebe Cates works. Security guy and Moz eye wink each other and after Cindy is redressed she glances down at Neal, thanks the security guard, and kisses Mozzie. "Screw Boston. This is a hell of a town." Ha! Whole scene was well-done. I love when they have to pull off intricate plans to accomplish their goals. Step 3 - Neal steams open the envelope the painting is in and cuts out a piece of fabric. At first I wondered why he didn't create the painting sample at home and switch them. Then I realized he didn't know which part was unburnt or the exact size. I could never be a criminal. Too many details. He quickly makes a copy with his premade paint, sweating with concentration. Of course, Peter calls to nail him on slipping by Jones and Neal claims he thought Jones was sent by Lawrence. Hmm, it's plausible. Good excuse. Neal claims to be at home doing arts and crafts. HA!!! Peter says Jones will be there in 20 minutes so it is a good thing Neal's almost done. He burns the edges with a handheld blowtorch and races home. Mission accomplished.

Moz sneaks past Jones into Neal's and says everything's ready except the Lawrence distraction. Lawrence texted 10 minutes earlier and Moz is flabbergasted Neal isn't more excited. He has a lot on his mind here. He loses something whichever choice he makes. Moz: "Everything good must one day come to an end. Just think. You're never going to see anything in this apartment again." Not the best argument at this time. Moz grabs Lolana while Neal hides stuff in hidey holes. He wants to say goodbye to June but Moz stops him. "You know the rules. No goodbyes…I'm going to miss her too. I'm going to miss all of it." Neal is visibly distressed, but grabs his duffle bag from a hole in the wall behind a painting. That's a lot of easy to find hiding places Neal. Pausing to look around, he throws his FBI ID on the table and mutters, "Goodbye Caffrey." Ouch. Being a con must lead to expensive therapy.

Neal calls Peter who recaps the already recapped plan. Neal heads to the fencing club, Peter to the harbor. Jones will be on hand if there's trouble. That's ominous. At the club, Lawrence brags about his flawless heist, except it couldn't be flawless if you still don't have the money 6 years later. He compares himself to Prometheus who also met a sticky end. All the while, he fiddles with wiring. He thought for sure someone would find the money but they never did. Mostly because it was hidden…in the fencing club air ducts. Huh? He flips the wires and money shoots out of the vents. My first thought: Truly awesome. Millions of dollars floating over their heads. Second thought: This club looks expensive. No one ever cleans the ducts. How dusty! Also, shouldn't it be hot with 2 ducts blocked? They need new management. Neal asks how Lawrence feels and it's better than he imagined. The money is counted and stacked when a tough comes in about Jones. Busted! They drag him off the neighboring roof and Gary questions him via a gun. Neal takes over and Jones denies knowing him. He's at the club on a hunch. Gary punches him and rants about how the big, mean FBI get in the way of his poor-little-theft plans. Boo hoo! You're not Neal so I want you in jail. Lawrence wants to kill Jones but Neal suggests he makes good leverage. He explains step #3 as a backup plan and sacrifices his own getaway to keep Jones alive. I'm sure it's supposed to be an Awww! moment but Neal's a criminal too so the emotion is tempered.

However, Moz is full of emotion when Neal changes the plan. He's at the warehouse packing the last of the treasure when he gets the call. Frankly I'm shocked it isn't out of the warehouse and loaded on a truck by this time. Those boxes look heavy and they are numerous. With such a short window of opportunity, shouldn't the packing be done. They need time to load it on the plane as well. Neal's call interrupts him. "Now boarding, Freedom Airlines. Flight # 1 and only." Neal puts step #3 in effect for a client and Moz is justifiably confused. Right until he gets Lawrence and airstrip in the same sentence. Neal adds, "Grab your suit and meet me there." That one needs no translation. Moz isn't happy to involve Peter. "No suits. No suits on the island." HA! But Neal already hung up and missed the pun. Mozzie reluctantly calls Peter who gives him flack for calling during something important. "Yeah you and me both suit. I'm passing on a message from Neal. He's made a request for our presence without the slightest regard for the monumental inconvenience it causes us. Primarily me." (snickers) Peter and Diana head out. Mozzie smashes his phone. They're going to need a loan on cell phones soon. What do they think this is? Burn Notice.

We fast forward to the opening scene only to find the plane is loaded with Lawrence's money and not Nazi treasure. Good twist writers. I've learned not to trust you. Neal snarks on Mozzie's costume and I'm not sure why Moz doesn't sock him in the jaw. Neal's killing his island dreams and being a pain to boot. Moz says Peter's on his way and Neal snags a handcuff key from Moz's jacket. I'm shocked Neal didn't have one. Lawrence chooses this time to unpack Jones and Moz gets it. Neither will risk someone to escape. Unlike Lawrence. Neal sneaks Jones the keys as he goes by and asks if Mozzie can fly the plane as FBI sirens wail. Never doubt Mozzie's talents. [Note - I have been corrected that it is Mozzie's pin that Neal snatched and gave to Jones, which makes more sense.] The opener replays but now the plane has far more passengers. Neal and Peter glance at each other over the open door and again I wonder why they don't close it. Not only might the cargo fly out but the FBI could also shoot them. Bah! Jones, Neal, and Moz nod to each other and action ensues. Jones unlocks the handcuffs, Moz jerks the wheel, and Neal flips a box on a tough. Jones knocks out Lawrence and the FBI swoop in while money flies. Jones says Neal had his back; Moz razzes Peter. "Your timing was far from impeccable J. Edgar." "Sorry, Amelia." BWAH! I like when these two banter. Moz claims to save the day and Peter offers to sew him a cape. "Do that. I look good in aubergine." Ha! Good to know. Jones thanks Neal as he heads off and Peter puts his arm around him. Aw. I think their partnership can be saved. Peter tells Neal he did a good job and hands him the anklet. Neal is less grateful for the latter.

Back at the Burke house, Peter celebrates the day and El shares more good news. Test results say the canvas is from the 30's. They concur it wasn't Neal's work but Peter looks unsure. He enters Neal's apartment even though Neal is not home. He has every right to do so since Neal's on parole under his supervision but it seems off. He rummages through the paintings and finds the Chrysler Building. Neal enters and remarks on the home invasion. The paintings are bound for storage so he offers Peter the Chrysler painting in his hands since he has a view of the real thing. Peter smiles and calls a truce. "I may have rushed to judgment." Neal: "Oh, you had judgment on speed dial." I wonder where judgment will be when Peter finds the truth. Neal mentions the severed tie and I laugh at the memory. Peter was ticked then but he's smiling now. Everything is better when Peter smiles. Neal and I like it. This touching scene is interrupted by Diana's call. As he leaves, Neal says Peter is welcome anytime. That will end up biting you, Neal. Meanwhile at the FBI, a part of the sub's manifest survived with 22 paintings listed. Peter wants to keep it a secret. Of course, Mozzie and Neal chat about financing another escape at the same time. Can't they hawk something else? Selling U-boat merchandise is very risky. The rest of the season comes down to Russian Roulette. Sell art on that manifest and it's all over. Peter isn't sure if Neal's involved but one thing is sure. By midseason hiatus the jig will be up and I can't wait to see how it ends. Moz: "Simple question. What do we sell first?"

I love this episode. It included several things on my Things I Want to See in Season 7 list. It had an intricate plot in the middle and most importantly, twisted Neal and Peter's relationship on its head. There's no good way out of this one so I can't wait to see what the writers decide. Neal can't be caught with the treasure because then he goes to jail for longer than any fan will wait. He can't succeed and retire to a private island. At this time, he can't even admit the truth to Peter because he's guilty of aiding and abetting Mozzie. I also don't see Peter hiding this infraction from the law. The only thing I can think of is that the treasure has to disappear. Either someone needs to steal it from them (Alex or Keller anyone?) or they have to bury it - not necessarily literally. How do you think the season will resolve the treasure conundrum?

***If you're wondering what Matt Bomer thinks of the twist, rest easy. According to, he loves the direction the show is going. He says that it “reminds the audience that Neal isn’t always this friendly person. He actually is a criminal. I’m glad they’re steering the ship in murkier waters.” Do you agree?

Screencaps by Gallicka, TV Caps, and White Collar Online
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