Wednesday, November 27, 2013

White Collar - 5.06 - Ice Breaker - Recap

Previously - Hagen ordered Neal to steal a chapter from the Musconi codex, Neal's theft got a poor archivist fired, Seigel died which probably involves Neal as well, the most evil therapist on the planet got under his skin, and he's tired of being a puppet. Neal's had a hard season so far.

Pretending to play chess, Neal exchanges cash for fake ids. Anyone who has watched White Collar knows it's an FBI sting, so it's no surprise when they come busting in. Like that Nick Halden is back in play though. Peter, on the other hand, is ticked Neal went off script with follow-up questions. Neal: "If I were up to something, you really think I'd do it when you had ears on me?" Peter and I say yes. You've done it before, Neal. Peter finally brings up the $2 million Neal snatched for Mozzie, but he denies it. Peter: "Dr. Somers had a tendency to take bad guys who want to be good and turn them into worse guys. What exactly happened during your therapy session?" Neal: "She encouraged me to be the man I really am. I think Lucy told Charlie Brown that and only charged him 5 cents." Yippee, Charlie Brown reference. No research. Peter: "And what kind of man might that be exactly?" Neal: "We were going to discuss that at our next session. Now I have to wait 20 years." Ha! Luckily Neal escapes the handcuffs and ceases the discussion. At the FBI office, Neal looks at the passports and realizes one person made them all so Peter sends Jones chasing parking tickets but confiscates the Nick Halden passport before leaving. Ha! Neal protests, but I agree. No need for temptation. Jones finds traffic footage, while Peter exposits about "Doris Day parking." He loves Doris Day too. Woo hoo! Now that I think about it, she did always get premiere parking. Maybe she knew about that underground street system as well. Mozzie would approve. Not so much of books on cryptography. Moz: "The history of cryptography, oddly cryptic." Bwah! They are stuck on deciphering the codex and not even Sudoku has the answers. Neal: "Well in a happy accident, you may have proven the Riemann hypothesis." Ha! Go collect $1 million. Moz concludes that the codex is alien. Neal: "I think you're right." Huh? Say what? Oh, he agrees they need help. Moz suggests a monk in Berlin. Neal: "You think Hagen's using monks." Moz: "I think Hagen's using you…and me." Ouch, but sadly true.

No time to chat though. Middleman's parking tickets are all from the same abandoned building…er, ice skating training center? Neal and Peter appreciate a skater's technique. Neal: "First Doris Day, now figure skating. It's nice to see your softer side." The skater's less impressed. At first glance I swore she was Alona Tal from Supernatural and Burn Notice, but actually it is Annet Mahendru from The Americans. Either way she's ticked about Peter's badge. "Put that away or you will get all of us killed." Baddie du jour, Sergei, interrupts so Neal sells himself as a sports agent and Peter as an ice skating coach. Ha! What fun. Sergei says no deal but reconsiders as Peter and Neal walk away. Too bad because Peter wants to get a warrant rather than talk figure skating. No dice. It's off to the FBI to create coaching pictures for a fake website. To be honest, it should be too little, too late. Sergei would check Peter out the second he left. Neal, however, has bigger fish when Rebecca, formerly called Archivist, shows up at the FBI. She's suspicious of Neal and wants answers. I like her. She remembers her key card went missing after meeting with him. Yeah, that's a problem. Rebecca wants to see Peter, but Neal convinces her that Agent Groytsner is the agent in charge instead. Since he doesn't exist that can only mean one thing…Mozzie. Neal arranges a meeting and rushes her away before segueing back to the counterfeiting case with Peter and Jones. He's good. The case gets interesting since Sergei is using fake passports to move Russian criminals into the US without suspicion. Yikes! Oh and Sergei is a hockey aficionado. Wrong cover there, Neal. Peter: "Alright, don't you worry about me. You just worry about becoming a top sports agent." Neal: "Con men taking 10%. I think I can handle it." Ha! Neal definitely has the easier job. Elizabeth is called in to help Peter become a skating coach overnight. They banter about their second date at an ice rink, where Peter was a pro from playing youth hockey while El did her best Bambi impression. Aww. Peter promises to teach El how to skate and she lays out a Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan curriculum. Hmm, that's a long, contentious time ago. Hope figure skating hasn't changed much since the 90's.

What has changed is Mozzie's attire - he would fit in at any corporation. Looking snazzy, Moz. Love the tie. Neal's concerned Moz will go off book, but that's a pot-kettle situation if I ever heard one since they both improvise well…um, when the script needs it, and this one does. Neal's scheduled to meet with Peter and Sergei at the same time he's introducing Rebecca to Mozzie. No problem. Neal will be off anklet in the meeting and can slip away to Mozzie's chiropractor's office, which he scoffs at. Hey, I've seen you work more magic with less. The biggest shock is the chiropractor takes his staff out to lunch each day. Sign me up for that job. In a brilliant move, Neal plans to ask Rebecca to decode the codex to get needed answers and her off his back. Hmm, this could go so wrong but I like more Archivist time. Moz: "So you can reward her for your misdeed by having her reward us with her information." Ha! Best news about this con though is June as receptionist! Neal and I approve. I've missed her. The next day Neal tries to give Peter drinking tips via a trick glass, but he declines. You'll regret that one Peter. He also undoes Neal's anklet, which he may regret even more. At the vodka bar, a drunk accosts Neal about dating his ballerina sister and almost blows the con. Peter: "Why does your love life always end up affecting me?" Ha, yet not so true. Neal now has reason to leave, while the drunk has feedback for his Fiddler on the Roof audition. Ha! It's not just Neal who has to do some fast talking though. Sergei looked up Peter Neevens to zero results. Sergei: "How can you be famous if you don't exist?" Peter calls it a spelling mistake and sure enough Peter Nevins pops up complete with fake website - just in the nick of time.

It's nothing compared to the fake FBI offices Moz and June create. Neal introduces Rebecca to June: "Our office couldn't function without her." June: "He's not exaggerating." So true! Moz gives Rebecca a letter exonerating her from any museum theft culpability, but she still has questions. Not as many as they have for her. They create a classified codex case to lure her in without having to give details. Moz: "I'm afraid you're on a need to know basis, as in we need to know what you know and not the other way around." Neal adds it could be dangerous since Hagen's not above killing. Rebecca's intrigued but wants more time. While Neal escorts her out, Moz and June impersonate whirling dervishes, de-FBI-ing the office before the chiropractor's crew arrives. Ha! Back at the bar, Peter and Sergei aren't even halfway through the bottle. I foresee a painful morning in Peter's future…if he gets that far. Sergei attacked Katya's former coach out of jealousy, so Peter plays up his marriage - smart. Several rounds of vodka later, Sergei hires him but with a caveat: "Stay on the ice and out of my business." Yeah, not suspicious at all. Finally free from his vodka-loving "boss," Peter heads outside. Neal hurries over with coffee but Peter's suspicious of where he was. Neal though is delighted to see a staggering drunk Peter. It is pretty funny. While Neal gets the car, Jones confirms Neal left but he thought it better to be Peter's backup than chase Neal. Agreed. Sergei's vicious. The next day, Peter looks less than well but better than last week. He looks for his ASAC files, but El wants to talk about his return to field assignments. Peter deflects with humor but realizes something's wrong. El: "Hon, every day you're in the field, every day I…I can't exhale until I hear you walk through that door at night and I don't like that feeling." Peter says Seigel's death was random and promises to be safe, but El's not convinced. I get her anxiety, but it feels contrived and I'm not for that. The Burkes are one of the few TV couples who love AND respect each other. Their relationship is not based on fault finding, put downs, or cheating. It's rare and special. If they need extra drama, don't get it from the only TV marriage I respect.

At the rink, Peter dons his coach outfit while Neal snarks and chews gum to get in character. Huh? Is he channeling Matthew McConaughey? Neal leaves to snoop despite Sergei's threat while, under the guise of lessons, Peter gets scoop from Katya. A jealous Sergei beat her and then asked her to marry him. Katya: "If I say yes, I'll be miserable forever and if I say no, I'm dead. You’re my coach. Advice?" As Neal breaks into Sergei's office to find passport pages, Peter stalls Sergei by challenging him in hockey. One Miracle on Ice reference later and challenge accepted, giving Neal time to print a list of fake passport recipients from the computer, located right next to a loaded gun. Yikes! Especially when Sergei's cousin heads his way. Neal picks up the phone and pretends to be mid-conversation, saying his cell died. Cousin is not impressed but Neal claims to hold Katya's lucrative contract, so he picks up the gun and gives Neal 2 minutes to wrap it up. Plenty of time for Neal to get the info, snap a few pictures, and get out. Meanwhile Peter and Sergei are both impressive on the ice - right until Middleman from the opener appears. Uh oh. Peter acts quickly to keep him from seeing Neal. He shoots a puck at the wall and Neal slips out. Sergei: "What the hell was that?" Peter: "That one got away." Sergei: "Hey you know what, you're a crazy person, but I like that." Not a good sign when a psycho likes you. At the office, Peter fumes about Middleman making bail as Jones cites a court miscommunication. Neal thanks Peter for saving him and Jones exposits that the list Neal got contains some bad characters. Not that Sergei needs any help, considering he killed Ivan and dumped him in the river. That's one way to take care of a problem.

In a joint effort, Russia agrees to extradite the criminals already here but that won't help if new ones get in the US clean. Peter: "I've dealt with money laundering before but Sergei's laundering people." The team ponders how to amass the needed resources, but Neal suggests getting Sergei to host a party for all his new friends. If Katya says yes to his proposal, they have an easy solution. Neal: "What kind of fiancĂ© would he be if he didn't throw a party to celebrate the happiest day of his life?" Brilliant. Katya agrees. She's done harder things than pretend to love a sociopath. Peter and Neal join the engagement celebration along with evil Cousin. Sadly he's heading out, so Peter tells Neal to stall him. Neal: "But I'll miss your speech." Peter: "I'll make sure somebody records it." Ha! Neal steals Cousin's wallet, while Peter makes a toast: "So what I'm really trying to say is it's good to put all these names to faces, so raise a glass. Oh, one other thing. You're all under arrest." Bwah! That's one memorable toast. As the police break in, Cousin confronts Neal: "You're no sport agent." Neal: "Yeah and you're not…Sammy Jordash, really?" Cousin goes after Neal but Jones takes him down. Good timing. Sergei instead grabs Katya and puts a knife to her throat. Peter pulls out his gun, but Katya saves herself by stabbing him in the thigh. I like this woman. Peter picks up the fake passports. "You were right, Peter Nevins doesn't exist. By the looks of it, neither do any of these people." Ha! Afterward, Katya leaves the FBI office on her way to Innsbruck. "Any last advice, coach?" Peter spouts about edges and axels. Neal laughs and calls him out for having no clue about what he's saying. Katya hugs Peter goodbye, Neal walks Katya out, and Jones leads Peter to the chiropractor building. Jones says the building's completely ordinary, but Peter knows nothing is ever random with Neal.

Meanwhile Mozzie interrupts Neal's codex reading to say Rebecca called. He teases Neal about liking her and I really don't need that. Call it the Sara Effect - a little is quite enough. Moz: "Personally I don't see the attraction. She doesn't want to rob you or arrest you or charge you with insurance fraud." Ha! Moz, you got Alex and Sara, but forgot Kate. Not that it would surprise me if Rebecca is a con artist as well. In fact, I hope she is. Rebecca wants to meet at a bookstore. Moz: "You know there's nothing more enchanting than a beautiful woman cradling a classic opus in her soft, gentle hands." Neal and I stare. Neal: "Would you like to take the lead on this one?" Bwah! Not this time, Neal. Moz: "No, you're the front man. I'm merely rhythm guitar." Neal: "Yeah well so was John Lennon." Awww. Moz turns serious. "Hey, leave your heart off your sleeve." I could not agree more. At the same time Peter goes to the chiropractor's office, where he finds an FBI pen they mistakenly left behind. Hmm is right. Sadly, he heads back to the office where he and Jones look at Seigel's picture in the Hall of the Fallen. It is weird scene to randomly put in especially since it cuts quickly to Neal and Rebecca. Huh? Rebecca wants to help but she has a record for a stolen tile in Marrakesh. Yeah, she's a con. The two banter and Neal says they only have chapter 13 of the codex. Uh oh. That was a mistake. Apparently Musconi was superstitious, never adding chapter 13. Huh? I don't follow any more than Neal. Strangely we jump to Peter teaching El to skate. He catches her before she falls and they kiss under the spotlight. Aww, how romantic. Now that's how I like the Burkes.

This episode, while a little slow and somewhat forgettable in the overall scheme of things, was a good standalone crime of the week except for the weird cuts at the end. I liked Peter going uncover and loved, loved, loved June's participation in the Rebecca con. They could have spent a more time integrating her in the action but I will take whatever June time I can get. As for Rebecca, I find her interesting so far. If she ends up playing Neal as much as Neal is playing her, I could go for it. I always liked Alex because she gave as good as she got. However, I'm not interested in pushing another Neal romance. It wasn't pretty last time and quite frankly, there is plenty going on so the show doesn't need it. I'm also nervous about the conflict they seem to be building within the Burke's relationship. That's typical TV drama stuff, but the Burkes are not typical and they don't need to be treated as such. One big plus in this episode was bringing back the Musconi codex issue. If it turns into a complex, season long hunt like the music box was, I think it will be a whole lot of fun. White Collar as caper is always well done. I look forward to seeing what secrets it holds. Of course I am guessing a treasure but it would be interesting if it were a whole lot more complicated than that. However it falls out, I trust the White Collar writers have something special for us.

Grade: B

This week - White Collar is taking a break for Thanksgiving so there will be no new episode. I wish everyone a happy holiday if you are in the US and a great week regardless. Cheers!

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