Wednesday, February 23, 2011

US Television, White Collar, Episode 2.14 "Payback"

White Collar
Season Two, Episode Fourteen, Payback
Original Air Date:  February 22, 2011

Matthew Keller claims he has information about forged passports that is crucial to national security and will talk only to Peter Burke and Neal Caffrey.  Keller wants to give the information to Peter in exchange for not being transferred to another prison where he will be in danger from the Russian's he owes money to.  When Peter and Neal go to the studio of Keller's former partner in crime, Jason Lang, to check out the story, Peter is led into a trap and abducted by Lang.  Lang and Keller want $2.5 million to pay off the Russians or Peter will die.  Is it a straightforward attempt to keep Keller safe from the Russians or does he something even bigger in mind?

Hughes brings word that Matthew Keller plead down to manslaughter after Peter and Neal brought him in for murder.  He was sentenced to twenty years.  Yesterday, Keller contacted the Department of Justice saying he had information critical to national security.  Keller refused to talk to Homeland Security insisting he would only talk to Peter Burke.  Both Peter and Neal doubt Keller has any real information but Hughes wants Keller's information checked out all the same.

Peter and Neal pay a visit to Keller in prison where the latter has a less-than-sparse prison cell complete with Dominican cigars, a chess game and liquor.  Peter asks about the information Keller has and after a couple of vague statements he challenges Neal to another game of chess.  While they are playing, Keller says he feels like he's made a home for himself at the prison he's currently in.  His deal is that if they make sure he stays where he's currently at he will, in return, provide information about forged passports that he hopes will lead to an ongoing relationship between he, Peter and the Bureau.  Peter makes him no promises but he says if the information pans out he will see what he can do.  Keller gives them the name Jason Lang (Adam Goldberg).

At home, Peter and Elizabeth have a discussion about his forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning.  He wished she would have called to remind him and feels she's angry he forgot and will hold onto it all day.  He doesn't want to be the husband that forgot the dry cleaning and she doesn't want to be the wife that has to call to nag.  They share a tense kiss before each of them leave for work.

Neal and Mozzie discuss Keller and Mozzie brings up the fact Keller has used Kate before to provoke Neal and that he might try it again.  Neal insists that it doesn't matter what Keller does, the forged passports won't stop the transfer and he's moved past Kate.  Keller has no way to torment him. 

At the office, Peter is looking over files regarding Lang and Keller and feels he's figured out Keller's game.  He wants Lang investigated.  Keller and Lang worked on the Belmont bond forgeries three years ago.  The deal went south and Keller took two bullets from Lang's gun.  Peter spoke with the case agent who said the relationship dissolved Lang destroyed the bonds.  Neal realizes Keller is wanting to take out the man who shot him, secure a stay in a Federal hotel room and tweak him (Neal) in the process.  Hughes still wants Peter and Neal to find out if Lang is making phony passports.  Peter tells Neal they won't be releasing Keller on an anklet.

On the way to see Lang, Peter and Neal talk about the argument Peter had with Elizabeth that morning.  Peter feels bad that he didn't say "hon" to his wife that morning before she left for work.  It is their way of saying "I love you" to one another.  Neal suggests Peter call her and leave a voice mail and to not forget to say "hon" before he hangs up.  Peter, all smiles, says he'll do just that as soon as they are done with Lang.

At Lang's studio, Peter asks Lang if he's involved in making passport forgeries.  Lang doesn't deny it right off.  He merely laughs and asks who told him that.  Lang gets a phone call interrupting his discussion with Peter giving Peter a chance to speak with Neal who has been looking around the studio.  Neal has found two printers that would be ideal for making forged passports.  When Peter tells Lang he needs to talk to him about his work, Lang does a runner.  Peter follows ordering Neal to stay at the studio, which he doesn't do.  Neal sees Peter being ordered to drop his gun and cell phone then taken hostage by Lang and another man with a gun.  He runs to Peter but cannot reach him in time.  Peter's cell phone rings and it is Keller.  The game is on and if Neal stops playing, Peter will die.

Peter is held by Lang who he now knows is working with Keller.  Peter warns Lang that Keller will betray him but Lang wants him to worry about himself and allow him to deal with Keller instead.  Peter knows roughly where he's being held and he also knows that Lang needs him for something as he hasn't killed him.  He wants to work something out with Lang but the latter trusts Peter less than he does Keller.  Neal goes to see Keller and demands to know where Peter is.  Keller informs Neal that unless his problem goes away with the Russians (he owes them $2.5 million) he won't be able to help him with his problem (saving Peter).  Neal tells him he doesn't have that kind of money but Keller reminds him of something he acquired in Scotland six years ago.  He gives Neal three hours to find that item and take care of the problem.

Neal calls Diana to tell her Peter has been taken.  Hughes jumps into action getting every agent in the office involved in tracking down and finding Peter.  In Hughes' office, Neal relates the details of his conversation with Keller following Peter's abduction.  Neal stresses that Keller will kill Peter if he doesn't engage him but Hughes insists the Bureau will not bow to Keller's demands.  Keller will still be sent to the Supermax prison he doesn't want to be at.  Hughes tells Neal to let them do their job and they will bring Peter home safely.

Mozzie calls Neal with the information that he got a call from an unidentifiable voice from an unknown number that gave a time and place for a meeting and instructions to tell Neal.  He asks if it is Keller.  Neal wants Mozzie to meet him in a half hour at Madison Square Park.  As he's wrapping up his conversation, Elizabeth walks into the office.  Hughes is posting a team at she and Peter's home in the event contact is made there.  When she can talk with Neal she asks about Keller.  He gives her honest information that Keller thinks 10-12 moves ahead and has already anticipated everything the Bureau is doing to find Peter.  She asks what he (Neal) is doing and he asks what she wants him to do.  She replies "whatever it takes to bring him home".

Diana warns Neal against making a deal with Keller while she is escorting him home.  He tells her about a three-man job Keller pulled early in his career where one of the men said he thought he left his passport behind.  Keller killed the man without question even though the passport was in the guys back pocket all the time.  Keller didn't wait to find out.  Neal was the second man on the team.  She tells Neal she will go get a cup of coffee but he must meet her back where they are standing now in one hour.

Neal meets with Mozzie who is equipped with a bag full of hammers.  They are at the place in the park where Neal and Kate used to visit and tells him about a life he'd thought about with Kate.  With one of the hammers, he removes a ring from a statue, a McNally Solitaire worth $2.5 million at its last appraisal.  Neal tells Mozzie who thought they had depleted his resources that he was still holding out with hope that Kate wasn't gone.  Mozzie asks his friend if "the suit" is worth the ring.  Neal replies that keeping Peter alive is more important than holding a candle for someone who isn't.

Peter sees the dry cleaning number inside his jacket attached with a safety pin.  He works the pin free so he can try to unlock the handcuffs he's wearing.  Lang's men tell him Caffrey is on his way to the exchange.  Lang wants them to stay with Peter and not to interact with Peter in any way.  Peter, from the information he overhears, questions Lang about an escape during Keller's transfer.  Lang doesn't intend to hurt Peter.  Keller will be the one to kill him once he's free.

Mozzie goes to see Elizabeth.  He assures her that between the Bureau agents and Neal, Peter will be home in time for dinner.  He tells her that Neal is meeting with the bad guys to ensure Peter's return.  She talks about the fight they had this morning.  Mozzie knows how hard it is for Elizabeth especially since the suits won't say anything.  He gives her a device because he's going to drop a bug in the other room so she can hear what the suits hear when they hear it.

Neal arrives for the meeting with Lang and asks about Peter.  He refuses to give over the ring until he can see Peter and know he is alright.  Lang insists the ring comes first so Neal gets up to leave.  Lang calls him back and makes a call.  Lang gives Neal the option for one question and tells him to make it a good one.  The question is what cell phone number was Caffrey using the first time Peter caught him.  Peter asks to see the text and says he doesn't have his glasses and needs the phone closer.  Peter gives the number then Neal gives Lang the ring and Lang leaves the meeting.

Neal buys a sketch pad from a street artist while Diana questions him about giving the ring to Lang and them not returning Peter.  He writes down a series of letters to decipher the message peter sent from his question.  Neal figures out the message was "no transfer".  Diana calls Jones to get him to stop the transfer.  Jones calls the transfer drivers but they are working for Keller and don't respond.  Jones follows the transfer bus into an alley and sees Keller escape the bus.  He goes into pursuit as Diana and Neal are trying to get to the location.  She gets a call from Jones that Keller has escaped.  As Hughes is giving a briefing, Diana and Neal arrive and he orders them into his office.

Peter continues talking to Lang about Keller.  Lang insists he knows what he's doing and that he is going to finish the job he started when he shot him once.  Peter gets the handcuffs open as Lang puts his hand through the bars to shoot him.  Peter lunges forward and knocks Lang out.  He takes the arm of a mannequin to get Lang's phone from his pocket.  As Neal and Diana are leaving the Bureau office, Peter gets a call through to Jones.  He wants to talk to Neal.  He tells him he's in a locked cell with Lang three feet away next to his gun and Keller is en route.  He wants Neal to talk him through a jailbreak.  Elizabeth, who is listening thanks to Mozzie's bug orders the agents at her home to put Peter on speaker.

Peter explains the cell and his surroundings to Peter and Neal reconstructs everything in the office so he can work Peter through the escape.  Neal tells Peter they need to short the backup to the lock before they cut the electricity.  He tells Peter to follow the conduit running alongside the cell to the fuse box.  Neal walks him through shorting out the backup.  The final step in getting free is using the cell phone battery meaning they will have to disconnect the conversation.  Jones has a lock on Peter's location as Lang is waking up and reaching for his gun.  Peter disconnects the phone and everyone waits.  After a few tense seconds, the phone rings again and it is Peter letting them know he's out.  Everyone, including Elizabeth, moves out for the location.

They arrive at the location and Neal gives Peter a hug calling him "escape artist extraordinaire, Peter Burke".  Keller never showed.  Peter has the ring Neal gave Lang and tells him the Bureau can't legitimately hold it if it isn't stolen and belongs to Neal.  Neal replies that it doesn't belong to him and that he might want to contact the Scottish Royal Museum.  Outside, Elizabeth and Peter share a kiss and call each other "hon".  Keller calls Neal apologizing for not making the surprise party.  Neal vows that he will find Keller.

I find it difficult to talk about White Collar episodes without doing a little bit of fangirling because I enjoy the show so much.  There isn't anything for me to pick on and this episode was no different.

As with many other episodes of White Collar, we got to see just how strong the bonds of friendship are between Peter and Neal.  Neal sacrificed the last (or what we think is the last!) of his secreted stolen objects to save his friend.  I love what he told Mozzie in the park that keeping Peter alive is more important than holding a candle for someone who isn't.  That made me smile as it truly shows how much Neal thinks of Peter.

Ross McCall was back in tonight's episode as Matthew Keller.  I love that guy.  He is so brilliant in any role he's given that if there was ever to be a television series with him cast in the lead I'd watch just for Ross and would love the show because of him.  I first saw him in Luther last year and had to find other work of his because he so impressed me.  I was thrilled when he showed up in White Collar as Keller.  He's such a great bad guy that I look forward to seeing him pop up in future episodes.

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