Sunday, November 3, 2013

White Collar - 5.03 - One Last Stakeout - Recap

On a beautiful New York morning, Agent Seigel catches up to Neal to talk coffee and get housing advice. Through Neal's guise of matching personality to city areas, Seigel reveals he's recently divorced and rich. Seigel: "Price doesn't matter." Neal: "It does in New York…unless you're secretly rich. You're secretly rich." Seigel: "Surprised Neal Caffrey. I guess I'm doing something right here." Neal suggests Greenwich Village because of its culture and Chicagoans appreciate the pizza. I appreciate the banter. Honestly, I expected to hate Seigel for interrupting Neal and Peter's partnership, but he has been a delight. He asks why Neal picked where he's staying. Neal: "It's in my radius." Ha! Plus June's the most awesome landlady ever. I need my
June fix, writers! Entering the office, Neal ruminates on Seigel's reveal. Neal: "C'mon, are we talking Hilton rich? Hurst? Do you own your own yacht?" Seigel tells him to drop it at the office since he doesn't want anyone to know. Neal: "You want to give a con man a secret? You live a dangerous life, Agent Seigel." Bwah, so true. As Neal's summoned by Peter, Seigel says his yacht was named Stephanie. Neal's not the only one intrigued. You are more fascinating than first seen, Agent Seigel. Peter wants to talk about Hagen's release but first Neal gets a dig in. "You've grown power hungry with the pointy fingers, you know that right. I mean please tell me you don't do it to Elizabeth." Ha! Neal's on a roll tonight. Peter recaps the corrupted bonds and says they've come far since the pilot. I agree but Neal does not. Peter's been promoted but Neal is pretty much in the same position, anklet-bound. I see his point. Peter: "You've gone from an incarcerated con man to an invaluable part of this FBI team. That is nothing to sniff at." Awww. Neal: "Hagen's free. I'm not." Maybe they should catch Hagen again and remedy that.

Of course, Hagen texts Neal right then, impeccable timing as always. They meet in a museum where Hagen is foregoing the forging business in favor of management, and Neal's his first employee. Neal objects, but Hagen holds the blackmail and Neal knows it. He wants chapter 13 of the Musconi Codex in 48 hours, but Neal protests. Neal: "You want me to risk jail for a little light reading?" Hagen disagrees on its worth and I smell a mystery like the music box. Woo hoo! Hagen: "What's important to me is now what's important to you." Yikes! This won't end well. Neal needs info and luckily a smitten archivist is on hand to exposit. The owner apparently stipulated that the book can never be opened, but legend says it contains the greatest wealth in the world, as stated by Musconi himself. Neal: "Well that's an easy thing to claim for a book no one can open." Good point. Helpful Archivist points out the gold binder tabs for each chapter, making that part of the job easier at least. As Neal heads home, a town car pulls up. Unable to see who's in it, Neal gets nervous, clenching his fists until Peter steps out. Neal and I both wonder about the spiffy little perk he got last episode. Ah, product placement. They banter about Seigel and Neal admits to ordering coffee outside banks and museums to mess with him. They both laugh. My heart sings. Peter talks about baseball tickets for no apparent reason making this scene, however awesome it is, pure filler. He also has a happy surprise and Neal guesses what it is. Neal: "Access to the secret government underground streets with no traffic and plenty of parking." Peter: "You've got to stop listening to Mozzie." BWAAHHH!!! Actually, Peter gets to promote Jones to acting SSA. Woo hoo! It's about time. Perhaps he can get out of the van now. Neal congratulates him. Neal: "Sounds important." Jones: "A little more autonomy, a lot more work." Aren't all promotions? Jones is happy but not as happy as Peter is about it. He beams.

Back at Neal's place, Mozzie tries on bad 90's wigs and agrees to help if he can avoid the Codex. Huh? It practically screams conspiracy. Apparently having Suit the Sequel (ha!) in Neal's life means Mozzie has to change. Say it isn't so and especially not in that wig. Neal: "Too Bieber." Ha again! Neal suggests that he stop drinking if really wants to be a new person. Moz: "There are some lies even I can't sell." I think Neal just wants to lower his wine bill this season. Since they can't remove the anklet anymore, Neal needs a good excuse for being at the museum. Moz suggests piggybacking on someone else's theft at the same time. Luckily he has just the person, Zev, a con man who takes other people's robbery plans and steals the loot before they can. Zev is on Mozzie's enemy list for screwing him out of a heist earlier. Neal: "You know for most people that's a metaphor. It's not an actual list." Oh, Moz will never be most people, Neal. That's why we love him. He's also not subtle. In a hideous comb over he virtually shouts plans to steal a painting while Zev listens in. Zev isn't the sharpest tool, since he obvious isn't the least suspicions. Really? At the same time, Neal pitches the theft to Seigel under the guise of "chatter". He even cons Seigel into selling it to Peter as if it was his own source. One glitch - Peter invites himself to the stakeout in nostalgia. Luckily those baseball tickets earlier come in handy and Peter has to bow out. Neal: "Won't be the same without you." Yeah, you have a much better chance of succeeding.

The downside to Peter's new job is all the paperwork. Jones brings in more so they can banter about carpal tunnel syndrome. Reese had a stamp with his signature on it, but with Neal around Peter says it's too risky. Ha! Smart man, but pointless. Neal can forge his signature at any time. Jones asks how Peter's adjusting out of the field, and we all know it's hard especially since Peter resists change. Jones brings up the Yankee tickets again and I suspect more than cars are being product placed on White Collar these days. Peter: "I have to get going. I've got to jump on our underground street to beat traffic." Bwah, Moz invades Peter's head space too. Before leaving Jones calls Peter on monitoring Neal's anklet and he admits it's only been 10 minutes. Aww Peter, it's hard to let go. At Neal's, Moz bakes parchment. "Just like Momma used to make." Ha! They recap the heist, talk Hagen's purpose, and disagree about whether to keep the pages Moz took out of the oven blank. Moz wants his manifesto inserted for when someone finally opens the book. After some light flirting and a quick look at Mozzie's manifesto, Neal goes for Helpful Archivist's staff pass. Job done. Well until she sees Moz's flying saucer. Ha! Neal filches the pass quickly by putting his arm around her shoulder, making her flustered. Helpful Archivist: "I have a thing that I am…late for that now I really wish I didn't have." Ha! I like her. She's delightfully flustered and passionate about her work, reminding me of Felicity on Arrow. But the con must go on. Seigel picks Neal up for the stakeout. Sadly he's early and there goes Neal's plans again. He can't catch a break. Stakeouts are weird without Peter but Seigel brings pizza, which definitely beats deviled ham. Neal: "Thank you. I didn't get you anything." Seigel: "You catch me a bad guy. We'll call it even." That's the plan, Seigel.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth talks baseball to a distracted Peter, who's nostalgic over stakeouts. I'm just happy to get an extended Peter and El scene. These two rock. Peter talks about joining it, but El suggests he "rip off the band-aid" and get used to his new position. It's solid advice, especially since the stakeout conversation is elevator buttons, in which Seigel's family made their fortune. Not exciting but good back story. Seigel: "Well somebody's got to make them. My grandfather realized that. Created a monopoly on the business." Neal: "Probably because nobody else wanted to." Seigel: "There loss; our millions." Seigel explains that growing up he was surrounded by crooks in business suits. Neal: "So you decided to do something about it." Seigel: "Or you could argue that the elevator button kid never really fit in. This is all petty revenge." I really like Seigel. His self-deprecating charm is appealing. I hope he isn't evil. Seigel gets bored easily, which he has in common with Neal. Seigel: "We are sitting outside a museum right now and we're waiting for a guy to steal a painting. Come on. Tell me you don't love that." Neal: "Yah, it was just a lot more exciting when I was the guy doing the stealing." Seigel: "See that's why I like being your handler, Neal. You're either going to make my career or you're going to ruin it. There's no middle ground with you." Neal: "And you find that exciting." Seigel: "It beats making buttons." Ha! Love, love, love this scene!

Sadly, the con must go on and Neal's already late. He points out a man casing the museum, so Seigel checks it out. Neal's ready to go in but out of nowhere, Peter shows up. Plan awry again! Peter complains about the pizza being gone. Neal complains about Peter joining them. Peter thought it would be nice to have one last stakeout together, which I find sweet, but Neal goes straight for the jugular. Neal: "It's always going to be one last something with you, but the truth is this is not your life now. You and I aren't partners anymore. Now you wanted to go, you should just go." HARSH Neal! Foul on that play, no matter the reason. I mentally shake my finger at Neal. After all Peter's done for you! But Neal doesn't care; he's mid heist. Things go swimmingly until Seigel tails Mozzie and Zev accidentally triggers an alarm, trapping Neal too. At least it keeps Seigel from seeing Moz. Neal cuts the wire to free himself, but by the time he meets up with Seigel, Zev gets away with the painting. Oh buddy. No one's having a good day. Not even El, whose dinner with friends Peter interrupts. She is way more supportive than Neal. Sadly, a text about the theft interrupts more Burke time, so it's back to the office with an irate Peter. It is The Following-sad when FBI officers can't catch a criminal at their own stakeout. Unfortunately for Neal, Peter knows Helpful Archivist's badge was used to get in and he now thinks it was a two-man job. Plus she's on her way to be questioned. Uh oh! Good thing Neal's a great con. He says he used her to suss out the heist and leads her answers away from anything incriminating. Since Peter feels responsible for distracting them during the stakeout, he doesn't catch on. Neal guarantees it's not Peter or Seigel's fault, but Peter takes over the case nonetheless.

The next day, Mozzie is unhappy as well. Zev is still free. Silver lining - the codex intrigues him. He made a copy of it so they can outwit Hagen, but Neal's more concerned about Peter poking around the theft. Moz: "So solve the case." Neal: "I did solve the case. I created the case." Ha! Moz tells him to treat the robbery like any other case he and Peter worked on and solve it. Good advice, so Peter and Neal go to the museum, where Neal apologizes for being a douche to Peter. He also dumped Seigel so they can work one last case together. Or so Seigel can't figure out what Neal's up to. Either way. Heading toward where the painting was stolen, Neal sees people uncasing the Musconi Codec and gets nervous, but Peter says the owner's spooked by the robbery and wants his collection back. An FBI agent tries to open the Codex but Archivist 2.0 says it's against policy. Neal, saved by rule followers again. He and Peter reenact the crime and Peter makes a mark where the security gate fell. Neal: "Peter, don't scuff up the floor with your shoe." Ha! Yes, mom. While Neal checks out the security panel, he realizes he took his gloves off in panic during the theft, a rookie mistake. That'll haunt him later. Luckily, Zev did as well. Peter: "Sloppy work." Neal: "Well no body's perfect." Peter orders all the gates shut but Neal talks him into shutting only the one area. Neal: "Even I don’t go shopping when the alarm goes off." Nope, just before. At least Zev's caught to Moz's delight. Scratch one name off the enemy list - literally. (For those keeping score, Decurtis, Gilalr, Johnny Death, and Zev are off the list while Marni Paws, Louie L. Louie C. and Angry Jerry are still on.) Of course it was not worth the risk since Seigel did the arresting. Too much hubris Moz.

In the end everyone's happy. Seigel got his bad guy and he wants to keep that pattern going. Seigel: "You and me, we're two sides of the same coin, Caffrey." Neal: "You and me?" Seigel: "Yeah." Neal: "How so?" Seigel: "We're both self-made men just in different ways." Neal brings up Seigel's money, but he was disowned for arresting family friends. It cost him his marriage as well. Neal: "You gave up all that for long hours and little reward?" Man, I like this guy. Seigel counters that Neal could blow his anklet and be on a beach any time as well. He starts to ask Neal something but is interrupted by Peter congratulating them. Seigel calls Peter on not taking the credit himself, but hey that's not Peter. Peter: "I look forward to what you two bring me next." You and me both, Peter. I just hope it isn't something Neal is directly involved in. Too many close calls and cover ups already. Peter leaves, seemingly ready to put his old life behind him so Neal and Seigel can truly become partners. It's a big step. Neal asks Seigel about his question but Seigel wants to celebrate with a drink instead. Neal says he can't. Instead Neal meets Mozzie to talk about his glove mistake. He's right. He has been making a lot of mistakes lately. He questions handing the codex to Hagen, but this time Moz is right. Hagen's a master forger, so they don't have much choice. Moz suggests they figure out Hagen's game plan and get to it first instead. I love this idea. The treasure box quest was White Collar at its finest and this could be just as intricate. Neal distracts me from this pleasant thought by pointing out Mozzie's hideous wig. They banter about McGyver as I laugh in agreement. Moz: "Seriously? You're just jealous because for once people are staring at all of this instead of staring at all of that." Neal: "Oh they're staring alright. Do you think if I find a paperclip, some Silly Putty, and a rubber band, you could make me an 8-track player?" Bwah! Moz: "I could make a wine opener." Bwah! Neal: "That I believe." Me too. Moz leaves before Hagen can recognize him. Smart!

Under a bridge by an abandoned building, Hagen scolds Neal for complicating the theft. Neal counters that it's not Hagen's problem and wants to know when his services will end. Hagen says when he gets what he wants, Neal will be free. Neal: "But you won't tell me what that is?" Hagen: "Come on, Mr. Caffrey. You know you love a mystery. Don't spoil it for yourself." I love these face offs. Great chemistry. Can't wait to see what the big score is also. Of course, that may not happen because…Seigel is watching. Yikes! Either he's dirty or there will be hell to pay, making the scene switch to Jones and Neal returning the painting even more jarring. Shouldn't there be handcuffs and a disappointed Peter by now. Is Seigel playing it close to the vest for some reason? Guess we'll find out, but for now Jones is curious about why Neal's there. Of course he wants to ditch Jones to wipe his fingerprints off the security panel, but he spouts nonsense until Helpful Archivist walks by. Jones: "You could have told me it was about a girl." Ha! Neal tries charming her, but he's responsible for her losing her job. Did he really think she'd be unscathed? She walks off but I hope she comes back. I could see her being a con artist herself, biding time to get the codex. They both walk away and I presume Neal wiped down his prints, but suddenly it's back to the FBI office. I don't get the scene cuts tonight. Everyone is solemn as Neal walks in slow motion. Time for the cuffs? Neal joins Peter and it's obvious Neal has no more clue about what's going on than I do. Are you kidding me? THEY KILLED OFF SEIGEL!!! WHAT? I never saw that coming at all. WOW! Of all the bad guys who made it out alive, I never thought they'd kill a guy they just spent 2 episodes making us like. Holy crime scene! I have no words.

This is White Collar at its best. I am not easy to surprise these days, but that was a complete 180. I cannot imagine where they are going from here, but I'm more excited about this season than ever. How long will it take for Neal's deal with Hagen to come out? Was it really Hagen who killed Seigel? What is Hagen's end game? How will they capture Hagen without Neal going to jail too? So many delicious questions. I am very eager for Thursday to get here so we can start getting answers. For me the best season of White Collar was season 2 and this is shaping up to be similar, except the stakes are even higher. I love the re-addition of Hagen and that they don't shy away from making him the bad guy. While I'm completely stunned Seigel died, I am grateful he didn't turn out to be yet another corrupt FBI agent from another area. That was getting old. I am also grateful that I came to know and like Seigel in the course of 2 episodes, so that his death feels like a loss already. I can't imagine the guilt Neal will carry knowing someone he genuinely seemed to like died because of something he did. All in all, this was a solid A episode, and my enthusiasm for the rest of the season is at an all time high. What did you think?

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