Wednesday, February 9, 2011

US Television, White Collar, Episode 2.13 "Countermeasures"

White Collar
Season Two, Episode Thirteen, Countermeasures
Original Air Date:  February 8, 2011

When Ford, an old friend of June's husband arrives, Neal is immediately suspicious of him.  Wanting to protect June, he takes a coin Ford touched in for prints and the trail leads to someone entirely different.  Neal's suspicions are confirmed when he and Peter learn of a major counterfeiting operation that is being planned with Ford right at the center.

After a meeting with Mozzie to discuss how the building of their fractal, Neal arrives back home at June's house to find a man, Ford (Billy Dee Williams), sitting at the table.  Ford is an old friend of June's husband, Byron, who has just moved back to Manhattan.  June, as her nature is, is being very generous with Ford and helping him establish himself in Manhattan once again.  Neal isn't completely trusting of him and asks Diane to check up on him.  He gives her the coin Ford was playing with to run prints.

Elizabeth and Peter bring Satchmo home from the vet after having to have a handcuff key extracted.  Before Peter and Elizabeth can sneak away to have lunch together, Diane calls to tell Peter she should see the results of the print she ran on the coin for Neal.  The prints belong to a Jonas Ganz, a person of interest in the Sturdevant heist a few years previous, and is a suspect for murder.  He had been in and out of correctional facilities for roughly the last decade.  Neal looks over the case file Peter is holding and knows immediately the file is for the wrong man based on the photo with the file.

The investigation begins and Jones finds a connection between Ganz and June's husbands old friend, Bradford Tullman.  Ford (who was incarcerated for real estate fraud) and Ganz were cell mates.  Ford and Byron were booked twenty years ago for running a rooftop casino and Byron is listed in Ford's file as a known associate.  One big question is why Ford doesn't have any fingerprints.  Peter orders Jones to find out where Ganz is staying and to have Diana begin surveillance of him.  He wants to know what Ganz and Ford are doing in his 'backyard'.

Neal arrives to his apartment and finds June there looking for a photo album for Ford.  It is full of photographs of June, Byron and Ford.  The two of them look through some of the photos and June mentions Ford asked about an old suit of Byron's, if she still had it.  Once she leaves, Neal heads to his closet where he finds the suit Ford is looking for.  He looks over it and finds a receipt hidden in the pocket.  A knock at his door interrupts him and it is Ford who wants to come in.  Neal steps aside to allow him to enter.  Ford wants to set the record straight because of his "background".  He hopes Neal will understand his situation.  June enters as Ford is telling Neal about the good old days.  Ford and June would like Neal to join them for dinner that night.  Neal asks Ford why he's there and receives the reply that he's looking for a second chance.  The two men shake hands but Neal is still clearly not convinced Ford is on the up and up.

Neal gives Mozzie the receipt so he can try to make it more legible.  Neal receives a call from Peter with word that Ganz is putting together a muscle-for-hire crew to plan another heist.  Peter wants to talk to Ford.  Instead of having him come into the office, Neal suggests that Peter and Elizabeth attend the dinner party that night with Ford and June.  Peter doesn't want to bring his wife to a covert operation and he's definitely not sold on the idea when Neal informs him that he might have implied Peter is a less-than-noble citizen.  He wants Neal to find another way for the men to talk.  Neal's "other way" is to call Elizabeth and invite her to the dinner party.  She accepts.

At the dinner party, June and Neal sing One For My Baby (And One More For the Road) while Ford plays the piano.  June and Ford talk about dancing and Elizabeth reveals that she and Peter took a salsa class last year and that Peter is a great dancer.  Peter is becoming increasingly impatient and wants to get to talking with Ford.  Mozzie calls Neal to give him information he learned about Ford, who was a major mastermind with very impressive credentials.  Neal has never heard of him because he is a "whisper"; no reputation is the best reputation.  The receipt is from a furniture store for a walnut coffee table that is currently in Byron's study.  There is also an additional charge for labor and modification.

When June starts to pick up the photo album, Ford, who is sitting at the piano, gets up and tells her he will put it away for her.  Both Elizabeth and Peter immediately take note and they sit down with June to look through the pictures.  Neal is in the study looking over the coffee table and finds a secret compartment containing a printing plate for counterfeit $100 bills.  As he's leaving the study, he meets Ford in the hall who says he's looking for Byron's record collection.  Neal directs him to the library then goes back downstairs and takes Peter back upstairs to the table.  When he opens the secret compartment, the plate is gone.  Elizabeth meets them on the stairs to tell them Ford just caught a cab outside and is gone.

Neal and Peter go up to Neal's apartment, where Mozzie, dressed for the party, is waiting.  Neal takes out a book to show the 1991 $100 bill that would be easier to duplicate and still be valid currency.  To find out what else Ford will need to counterfeit the money, Neal needs to borrow some "reading materials"--from the U.S. Treasury.

Under the watchful eyes of three Treasury agents, Neal very happily looks over his "reading materials".  The plate is real but is only a start.  Ford will need the right press and cutter, but most importantly, the right inks and paper.  Diana enters to tell Peter that as they were sitting on Ganz's place someone showed up.  An agent enters with Ford in handcuffs. 

In the conference room, Peter and Neal question Ford about his relationship with Ganz.  He tells them Byron stole the plate from him.  Ford thought the deal would have been a big one for he and Byron, their final score, but Byron didn't want to do the job.  He was protecting Ford from himself.  He tells them he came back to protect June from Ganz and that he did tell Ganz what else he needed to do the counterfeiting.  Unable to control his curiosity, Neal asks Ford how he doesn't have any prints.  Ford rubbed his fingers with a pumice stone every morning.

Peter doesn't think Ford is being honest but Neal is unsure.  Peter suggests they send both Ford and Neal undercover into Ganz's group.  The operation is set up and Ford and Neal go in.  Ganz is suspicious of Neal but Neal wins him over when he identifies I.D.'s as being fake and even gives him details.  Ford mentions a phony baseball to Ganz who immediately goes on alert.  Peter orders his team to gear up as Ganz pulls a gun.  Again, Neal's ability to talk his way out of any situation wins over Ganz.  Ganz orders Ford to wait on the sidelines and that it is up to Neal to give him (Ford) his share.

That night, Peter and Neal talk about what Neal saw in Ganz's place.  Neal is able to give Peter the names he saw on all the fake I.D'.s (by using simple word association).  Joseph Dowd, Kenny Estrada and Dylan Fleeks.  Neal has an association for every cop and crook he ever met.  Peter laughs and asks if his was "Burke the jerk", to which Neal says nothing.  Neal looks over the fingerprints they took that morning and finds dark green ink.  He had already mixed the dye for the money.  Ganz is now going after the paper.

Diana ran the aliases and found that Joseph Dowd has been staying in a hotel that is near the BCU plant that supplies the Bureau of Printing and Engraving with paper stock.  Peter orders her to contact the Treasury and Secret Service so they can be waiting in the event Ganz's crew try to hit the BCU.

Neal returns to June's where he and Mozzie talk about Byron.  Neal feels he wanted out of the life.  Jones and Diana bring Peter the news that both Ganz and Ford have slipped surveillance.  Peter calls the Treasury to inform them the theft may be underway and is informed the paper is in transit.  He orders a team to Neal's.  The doorbell at June's house rings and Neal's phone rings.  When Neal opens the door, Ganz is standing there and takes Neal from the house.  Mozzie answers the phone and tells Peter about Neal having been taken.  Ganz wants Neal to identify the paper when they hit the truck en-route.

Ganz's crew overtake the truck and force the guards to open the doors.  Neal identifies some boxes of paper as what they are wanting.  Ganz takes Neal back to where Ford is waiting with a case full of newspaper cut into money-like bundles.  Ganz forces the printing process to begin and Neal and Ford get to work.  Ganz wants every bit of the money printed. 

Peter goes to Mozzie for help.  He asks him where he would go to hide if he had broken some laws, which would be someplace he's never been caught that is already set up with his tracks covered.  Peter remembers Ford wanting to take the book of photos and he and Mozzie look through them again.  They stop at a photo of the Lenox Lounge, where Byron used to run the back room some twenty-five years ago.  The counterfeiters hear sirens wailing in the distance and see police drive up outside.  Ganz pulls a gun wanting the case of money, which Ford gives to him, the case he thinks is full of newspaper.  Ford called the police and he takes the case full of newly printed money.  More sirens are heard and this time, it is Peter and his team.  Diana arrests Ganz who has the case full of counterfeited money as Neal had switched the cases when the sirens were first heard.  Neal gives Ford the option to make another choice.  Peter and his team go inside as Ford makes his choice.  He chooses to run.  Neal takes Peter inside the room where Neal expresses his disappointment to Peter as Ford discovers he has the case full of newspaper.

At June's, Neal finds her looking through the photo album and listening to music.  She understands what kind of man Ford was.  She let him in to remember what she and Byron had and that perhaps she wanted to go dancing again.  Neal extends his hand to her and they dance to the music she's listening to.  Mozzie finds Neal sitting on some steps and tells him he found parts for the fractal but Neal's mind is elsewhere.  He asks Mozzie if he ever thinks about how everything will end.  Neal tells his friend that the printing plate may have found its way back inside the table "for a rainy day".

How nice it was to see Billy Dee Williams in this episode!  He's most certainly a legend and he was excellent as Ford.  I've always enjoyed him in everything I've seen him in and this performance was no exception.  Ford was almost a sad character.  He couldption.  Ford was almost a sad character.  He could have turned his life around and lived out his years there in Manhattan with June as a true friend, but he instead chose the last big score.  He thought it would bring him the happiness and security he wanted when he should have realized that money couldn't have brought him any of that.

As with every White Collar episode, there was some great humor here.  I loved how Neal tricked Peter into attending June's dinner party.  Poor Peter, he's got it from both sides.  Neal tricking him and Elizabeth going along with it.  And Peter even had to apologize to Satchmo for the uncomfortable eating of the handcuff key.

It was a nice treat to hear Diahnne Carroll singing a brief bit of One For My Baby (And One More For the Road) with Matt Bomer joining her.  I'm never one for musicals or singing in much of anything but this was nicely placed.  It wasn't the focus and it was handled with some humor.

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