White Collar: Home Invasion

At the skating rink in Rockefeller Center, following an elaborate and unnecessary series of covert maneuvers involving pickpocketing origami lilies, Neal meets with an attractive young woman named Alex (Gloria Votsis), who appears to be his former accomplice, to ask her about the jewelry box Kate wants. She denies any knowledge of its current whereabouts, though Neal notes that she carries a decorative piece from the box at all times in her purse.

An insider trader whom Peter has been investigating, Aldys Gray, is shot and killed. The woman whom he was with at the time, Pierce Spellman (Sarah Carter), claims a gunman ambushed Gray and escaped out the window. When Neal investigates the crime scene, he determines that Pierce: a) has a forged drivers license, and b) is lying about what happened. Before they can arrest her, she gives the FBI the slip.

Peter lugs a bunch of suitcases into FBI headquarters, explaining that he’s temporarily adrift while the wiring gets upgraded in his home. Elizabeth is staying out of town with her family, but Peter is stuck at a cheap motel. Neal invites him to crash at his place instead, which is the premise for either:
a) a series of wacky Odd Couple-style arguments between fussy, meticulous Neal and sloppy, macho Peter, or:
b) about eight million slash fiction stories.

In Pierce’s purse, which was left at the crime scene, they find a list written in code. Neal uses a Scrabble board to try to crack it. Alex stops by his apartment, furious because she’s just uncovered his connection to the FBI. She accuses him of setting her up by asking about the jewelry box. Downplaying the situation, Neal insists, “I was forced Fed.” Heh. Neal, you’re adorable. Go have a cookie.

Peter’s motel room turns out to be sad, shabby, and occupied by someone else’s angry dog, so Peter decides to avail himself of Neal’s hospitality. He drops by while Alex is still there. Cheerily ignoring Neal’s silent pleas not to tell her the truth about himself, Peter informs her he’s an FBI agent. Alex storms out, but not before moving around Neal’s Scrabble tiles to read “FED.” Meanwhile, Peter makes himself at home by messing around with Neal’s chess set, watching sports, and sweating all over Neal’s exquisite furniture. Yep, they’re going the Odd Couple route.

In the morning, Neal wakes to find his landlady June and Peter having mimosas on the terrace. Hey, Neal wears silk pajamas! This is not a surprise, really. Neal is cranky and surly, perhaps unnecessarily, and gives every indication of already being fed up with his houseguest. (Peter says to June re: crabby Neal, “We should get him a banana or something.”)

At the office, Peter secretly asks Jones to run Alex’s fingerprints from the Scrabble tile she touched. Meanwhile, Neal and Peter crack the code and discover it’s a list of five names. Aldys Gray was the fourth name on the list. The first three men on the list won’t discuss Pierce, but clearly have had some unpleasant dealings with her. The final name turns out to be a chatty, eager trust fund kid /art collector named Dan Pierce, who develops an instant boy-crush on Neal. I like how they make it clear Neal is equally attractive and appealing to men and women, in a friendly and mostly nonsexual sort of way.

With Dan’s help, Peter and Neal discover that Pierce has been trying to steal a series of five fifteenth-century jade elephants. Pierce already has the first three from the first three men on her list, but she didn’t find Aldys Gray’s elephant, nor has she tried to steal Dan’s own elephant yet. Peter’s boss, Hughes, explains that the elephants are the property of the Japanese government and must be recovered to avert an international incident. How do you figure, Hughes? The elephants were apparently stolen decades ago, and the Japanese government has been cool with it thus far -- why would it become a big deal now?

Jones fills Peter in on Alex’s background: She’s a high-end fence with powerful connections, and thus no one Neal should be associating with. Meanwhile, Pierce tries to contact Dan through an online dating service (Dan updated his profile photo to one where he’s wearing a jaunty hat, just like Neal). Dan sets up the date, but Neal shows up to meet Pierce instead. Neal explains that, like her, he’s trying to locate all five elephants. He claims to have two -- Aldys Gray’s and Dan’s -- which he’d like to combine with her three. The elephants are worth vastly more as a complete set -- like Voltron! -- so he suggests they team up and split the profit. Pierce is sold on this idea… until Alex shows up unexpectedly to rant at Neal about how the FBI has been snooping into her background.

Pierce gets spooked and bolts. Neal chases her down, so she yells at a nearby group of men to save her from him. Peter arrives and rescues Neal from a bad beating, but Pierce escapes in the confusion.

Neal is furious with Peter for running Alex’s fingerprints behind his back, especially while staying as a guest in his home, while Peter, less justifiably, is furious with Neal for losing track of Pierce. They squabble, then Neal flounces off in a huff. When he arrives home, he finds a gun-toting Pierce in his living room, demanding that he take her to the remaining elephants. She orders him to remove the tracking device on his ankle. Neal obeys, but first he uses it to spell out “POWER” in Morse code.

Of course Neal knows Morse code. Hey, who doesn’t?

Peter gets Neal’s message and realizes it means he’s taking Pierce to Peter’s house, where the power has been disconnected during the wiring upgrade. Peter and the FBI arrive and storm the house, just as Pierce is preparing to kill Neal. Pierce gets arrested, the elephants get returned to the Japanese government (no international incident necessary! Phew!), and Neal makes arrangements for Peter to stay in a luxury hotel until his home repairs are completed. He’s even taken the liberty of packing Peter’s bags for him. Peter asks him, “Is this because I ran Alex’s prints?” Neal replies, “It’s for so many reasons, Peter.”

And Neal secretly meets with Alex again, who tells him she knows where the jewelry box is, but won’t tell him until he stops working with the FBI.


Anonymous said…
I liked this episode a lot more than the last one. Yes, I don't know why the Japanese are only now freaking out over the stolen elephants, but I was willing to overlook it since I enjoyed so many other parts of the episode.

Even with the telegraphed "Odd Couple" side story, it actually worked as a nice extension of the relationship we're seeing develop between Neal and Peter. I liked seeing Neal a bit ill at ease in his own home and I liked the constant reminders that Peter is keeping a close eye on Neal. The tension between them is friendly but still has this tentative edge to it which I really dig.

Dan? So irritating (in an amusing way). The way he kept trying to impress and be like Neal much to Neal's amusement cracked me up (especially Peter's reaction to it).

How many episodes are there for this season?
Morgan Richter said…
I was very happy with this episode, even without Elizabeth or Mozzie. I loved Dan's enthusiastic hero-worship of Neal -- if you're going to pick someone to imitate, you can do a lot worse than Neal.

For the most part, Peter crashing with Neal worked for me, although I sometimes thought the writers took an easy path (Peter watches sports and drinks beer, which Neal wrinkles his adorable nose at!). Still, like you, I liked that Peter availed himself of the opportunity to snoop around to see what Neal's been getting himself into -- I thought that seemed extremely plausible. As much as Peter and Neal seem to genuinely get a kick out of each other, they're not really friends, and they might never be.

If Wikipedia is to be trusted, there's only three episodes left this season, bringing it to fourteen total. I think I've read that it's already been picked up for a second season, but I'm not 100% sure about that. Ratings-wise, it's been doing fairly well. This episode had 3.827 million viewers -- not bad at all for cable. By way of contrast, the Heroes finale this week, on network television, had 4.41 million viewers.
Anonymous said…
I'm glad to hear it's doing relatively well ratings wise. Not hugely far off from "Heroes" numbers and "Heroes" is on the main network so it's accessible by more people.

Even though part of me missed Elizabeth and Mozzie it was great to see an episode work really well with the focus on others, such as seeing a bit more of the other agents. To me it hit home that the show, when on top of its game, keeps me invested beyond certain characters.

Yeah, I also thought about how them living together took the easy route with the comedic expectations of them being opposites...Peter sweating all over the sofa and wanting to watch the game while reading. But then the moment Neal made a fuss about leaving I realized (or got the impression) that part of Peter's behaviour was an act intended to get Neal out of there so he could do some digging around. It wasn't about Peter accidentally stumbling upon what Neal was reading but looking for it.

That moment made it all work a lot better for me because it added a certain something to their relationship. As you noted, they may like each other, but they're not friends (yet...if ever).
Morgan Richter said…
Okay, I'm dumb. Because of course Peter was trying to annoy Neal sufficiently to drive him away so he could snoop, and I completely didn't get that until you pointed it out.

Yeah. Of course, Heroes has done disgracefully poorly in the ratings since returning in January -- I will be very surprised if it gets renewed at this point -- but considering how much smaller of a potential audience White Collar has (i.e. how many fewer TV owners have access to USA versus NBC), 3.8 million viewers puts it in pretty good shape.
Anonymous said…
You're not dumb at all. The scene was done well enough that it didn't hit us over the head with what was happening. Peter being this sweaty, noisy pain in Neal's ass could have worked on its own...but I love that there's more to it. Tim DeKay conveys this moment, this flash across Peter's face, when Neal is fussing about leaving and it's this really subtle give away.

Oh "Heroes"...at the start of the season I kept saying I would hang in there right to the end because I had already invested so much in the show. But by the end of the season (and way before that) I lost interest in the characters and their schizophrenic motivations. So even if it comes back for another season, I probably won't be tuning in unless some major "heads being removed from asses" happens.
Morgan Richter said…
Full props to Tim DeKay -- I've never watched Carnivale, which I understand is my loss, and I know I tend to focus more on Bomer's cheekbones here (because I'm shallow), but DeKay is very, very good. And the writers who have crisply defined his character are good. It's a role that could so easily drift into stock lines -- the straightlaced by-the-book FBI suit -- but Peter seems very real somehow, which is a credit to everyone who works on the show.

Yeah. Heroes. It makes me sad and frustrated to see so many squandered possibilities. Did you read Kring's recent AV Squad interview? Fascinating, but in some ways, it's a hard read: He passes the blame for everything that's gone wrong on the media, the bloggers (hi, Kring!), the actors' schedules, NBC, the writers strike, and the viewers, when the problems always, always boil down to the inadequate scripts. It's sort of a shock to go back and rewatch early episodes and remember, hey, I used to genuinely like Peter, and Matt, and HRG, and Angela. These days, they're no longer recognizeable as the characters I once found so appealing. Hard to blame that on the strike, or on the viewers.

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