Wednesday, January 26, 2011

US Television, White Collar, Episode 2.11 "Forging Bonds"

White Collar
Season Two, Episode Eleven, Forging Bonds
Original Air Date:  January 25, 2011

When Peter finds Neal in the same photograph with Vincent Adler, he goes to see his friend wanting to know more about Neal's involvement with the billion-dollar swindler, Adler.  Neal relates to him the story of how he came to know Mozzie, Adler and even Kate and Alex.  Peter, in turn, tells the story of his investigation of Neal and what led him to capture one of the smoothest and best con men in the business.

Peter is going through the case file of a billion dollar ponzi scheme involving Vincent Adler (Andrew McCarthy) and finds Neal in the background of a picture of Adler.  Later that evening, Neal is at home working on a painting, purely for relaxation purposes, when Peter arrives.  He shows Neal the picture of the two of them and asks Neal about Adler.  Neal admits Alder is the man who made him who he is today and that he himself just figured out Adler was responsible for everything that has happened.

Over beer and wine (that cost as much as the beer), Peter asks Neal how he knew Adler.  He wants the entire story from the beginning so they can catch Adler.  Peter will not take 'no' for an answer, even though the story includes crimes he doesn't know about.  He puts his badge on the table and makes Neal a deal:  full immunity for anything he says from that moment until the sun rises over the balcony as long as he didn't kill anyone (which Neal didn't).  Neal takes the deal and starts the story.

Neal shows Peter the fractal Mozzie built from the music box code and tells him he saw one like it before in Adler's office when he worked for him.  When Peter asks how he met Adler, Neal says to know more about Adler they have to start with Mozzie. 

Eight years ago, Neal was a newcomer to New York and knew nothing about the city.  He stops to watch a game of "find the lady" that Mozzie (sporting a goatee!) and another man are running.  Neal ends up betting $500 and takes them for another $500 when he "finds the queen".  However, he left another card in place of the real queen.  Mozzie pays a kid to follow Neal then he later shows up at Neal's apartment.  He wants to partner with Neal because of how good he was at switching the queen.  They go over some forged bonds Neal is working on and Mozzie knows immediately that the two of them could go far together.  He wants to do the "Everest of Swindles" with the mark being Vincent Adler.

When the issue of the bonds arise, Peter admits they were the first time he came across him.  Peter, complete with his Mario mustache, gets the case.  Neal asks what his nickname was since every case gets one.  Peter reluctantly admits it was "James Bonds".  Peter and Elizabeth were just moving into their new home together, with puppy Satchmo, and Peter is, as usual, consumed by work--Neal's case.  Peter can see Neal's potential in just one forged bond.

Neal continues to tell Peter about Adler.  He and Mozzie studied and researched Adler before starting the con:  "know thine enemy, and you will win".  They need just two pieces of information to re-route Adler's money wire transfer from the Cayman islands:  his account number and password.  That's where Neal comes in.  He has five months to become Adler's trusted friend and get the information.  He had to cash in a few more bonds to be able to get into a charity dinner to meet Adler, which gave the FBI their first visual on Neal Caffrey. 

However, Neal wasn't the only one to make a mistake.  Neal and Mozzie overhear Peter talking to the bank manager outside the bank after Neal cashed in some of his bonds.  Neal gives Mozzie the money and walks right up to Peter and talks to him about the money in the bank, bonds and even gives him the sucker the teller gave him when he cashed in the bonds.  That night, Neal comes up with his first alias, Nicholas Halden after seeing the surname on an advertisement.  Mozzie has gotten him a fine suit and has even prepared a fake bottle of fine wine for him to give to Adler.

At the dinner, Neal spots the Mark and gives him the wine.  In the course of ingratiating himself to Alder, he meets Kate, who is, at that time, Adler assistant.  He and Kate discuss art even though Neal is completely taken by the lovely Kate.  Neal switches seats at the dinner with Adler's date (unbeknownst to her) and Adler gives him to the salad course to state his case.  Neal admits he wants to work for him.  He gives Adler a tip about a firm buyout Adler is getting ready to embark upon (the Singer deal) and gives Adler his card so when the information he provided turns out to be true Adler can call him to offer a job.  One month later, Adler ditched Singer and brought in Neal.  Part of his job was to know everything about everyone Adler dealt with, which Neal was adept at.

The whole time he worked with Adler, he also got to spend time with Kate, who had a boyfriend at the time.  She tells him her boyfriend asked her to move to Chicago with him in one months time, which she agreed to do.

Neal sees the fractal, something Adler was obsessed with, for the first time in Adler's office.  Neal found the "culprit" that was looking into Adler's business dealings.  Neal brings her into the office and we see it is Alex Hunter.  From the get-go, Adler wants to know who Alex is working for and plays hardball from the start.  He gives Alex one chance to "fix her mistake" and allows her to leave.  Adler gives Neal a reward check once Alex leaves which Neal wants to invest with Adler.  Adler makes an exception for Neal and allows him to do so.

Peter questions what happened to Alex.  She confronted Neal outside Adler's office.  The two have a drink to discuss what Alex is working on.  They end up at Neal's apartment where she admits that, even then, she's looking for the music box.  Alex promised to send Neal a message if she ever needed his help:  a paper flower.  Things changed with Kate.  Instead of going to Chicago, she shows up at Neal's apartment wanting to be with him instead.  A few days before the con is to expire, Neal still doesn't have the password.  Mozzie informs Neal "The Suit" has been asking around about him and that they should finish the con and move on.  During a fitting for a $10,000 suit Adler is buying Neal, Neal informs his boss about an irregularity with his account in the Cayman's.  Adler gives him the password to the account.  Neal tells Mozzie he didn't get the password and that he is in love with Kate.

Later, when Neal and Kate are at his apartment, they see the news story of Adler's disappearance with hundreds of millions of dollars of his clients money.  Clinton Jones joins Peter in the White Collar Division.  Adler left one dollar in his account and the password he gave Neal was an anagram for "nice try Neal".  Neal promises a distressed Kate that everything will be alright now that it's just the two of them.  He tells her the truth about who he is and what he does.  He taught her how to survive and how to con.  He explains to Peter how they stole a 16th century manuscript.  He wants them to leave for France because of Peter but she doesn't want to go because Neal tried to con her into going to Copenhagen for the music box with Alex.  Neal went without Alex but the job fell apart since it was a 3 person job and Kate wasn't there to help.  Kate was gone when Neal returned to New York.  Peter and the FBI knew a lot about Neal and another of his aliases, Steve Tabernacle.  Diana gives the team the idea to stake out Kate.

Mozzie brings Neal news of Kate's location, even though it appears to be a trap.  The two meet and express their love for one another and, sure enough, the FBI raids and Peter is arrested by Peter.  Neal thanks Peter for helping him find Kate.

Their next step:  find Adler even though it will be near impossible.  The key is the fractal.  Seeing a clue that lets him know Alex was there that day, Peter asks what she thinks the fractal is.  He reveals it is a fractal antenna that responds to a specific frequency for an emergency beacon.  If the fractal is built and put into a radio, it will lead to a boat, plane or something else that disappeared in the 1940's.  Adler wants it and they must find it first.

I loved this episode!  We got some great backstory here on how all of our favorite characters met and what made them who we know and love them to be.  And how great was it to see Mozzie with that goatee and Peter with that crazy Mario mustache?

Not only all that, but the entire storyline is propelled forward with the reveal of the importance of the fractal and what they must find to catch the man who has made their lives miserable.  I can only begin to imagine that they are looking for and know it will be something amazing.

What do you think the fractal will lead them to?

White Collar airs Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. (US Eastern time) on the USA Network.
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