White Collar: Forging Bonds

Hey, Andrew McCarthy is guest-starring on White Collar! This warrants a recap. Bonus points: We finally get to see the big Peter-Neal origin story. I love a good origin story.

So it was revealed in the last episode that Neal’s former mentor, Vincent Adler (McCarthy), was most likely the mastermind behind both the explosion that killed Kate and the attempted murder of Mozzie. Nobody knows where Adler is, so Peter shows up at Neal’s place, equipped with beer and wine, ready to pick his lovely gray matter as to his possible whereabouts. The wine comes in a screw-top bottle, and just watching Neal swirl it around in his glass and sniff at it and wrinkle his pretty little nose in perplexed disgust makes the episode worth watching all by itself.

Neal, of course, is reluctant to dish about his past criminal exploits to a Fed, so Peter offers him full immunity for anything he says until sunrise. Neal tells Peter that, as Mozzie figured out last episode, the tune in the hotly-coveted music box represents a fractal equation… which is identical to one that Adler used to keep on a plaque in his office. If they can figure out what the fractal means, they might uncover why Adler was willing to kill Kate and Neal and Mozzie over the music box.

Flashback to eight years ago: Neal, sporting a dumb haircut and minus his current impeccable fashion sense, arrives in New York, where he first encounters Mozzie (who is wearing a preposterous wig and goatee which, bizarrely, make Willie Garson look maybe twenty years younger. Seriously, he looks like a scruffy NYU undergrad). Mozzie is running a three-card monte scam; Neal effortlessly scams him right back. Mozzie is so impressed with Neal’s moxie -- and his knack for forging bonds -- that he offers to make him a partner in a long con: Mozzie wants Neal to ingratiate himself to Vincent Adler, wealthy and influential CEO of Adler Financial Management, in the hopes of eventually wheedling his bank account number out of him.

Neal shows up at a charity dinner to get close to Adler. He cashes some of his forged bonds in order to buy a ticket for the dinner, which is what first puts him on the FBI’s -- and Peter’s -- radar. Peter, by the way, is sporting a truly awesome ‘stache. The hair department pretty much went gonzo with this episode.

At the dinner, in which he trots out his “Nick Halden” alias/alter ego for the first time, Neal encounters his future lover Kate Moreau (Alexandra Daddario), who is Adler’s assistant. Neal and Kate hit it off immediately, though she’s in the midst of preparations to move to Chicago with her current boyfriend. Neal charms his way into Adler’s inner circle and grows closer to Kate.

While working for Adler, Neal also first hooks up with his future partner in crime/casual lover Alex Hunter (Gloria Votsis). Alex, who is looking for Catherine the Great’s music box, is following a rumor that Adler knows something about its location. She’s planning on following the trail of the music box to Europe; she tells Neal she’ll leave him an origami flower as a signal if she ever needs his help searching for it.

Kate ditches her boyfriend and starts a romance with Neal, whom she still knows only as Nick Halden. Neal throws himself into his new lifestyle and cavorts around naked with Kate and takes up the habit of wearing expensive custom suits (and, yes, his iconic hats). At one point, Adler offers to give Neal his account password so Neal can check out some alleged irregularities; because of his new love for Kate, Neal turns down this perfect opportunity to rob Adler blind. Mozzie is appropriately disgusted by this.

Shortly thereafter, Adler disappears with hundreds of millions of dollars of his clients’ money -- including all of Kate’s and Neal’s cash, which they’d foolishly invested with him. Neal, Kate and Mozzie start running multiple cons to earn a living.

Back at the FBI, Peter, now joined by Jones and Diana, forms a new white-collar crime task force. His main target: Neal, who embarrassed him by getting away with cashing the forged bonds.

Alex leaves Neal an origami flower, summoning him to Europe to help her find the music box. When Neal misleads Kate about his intentions in helping Alex, she dumps him. After running around Europe with Alex for a while, Neal returns to New York and tries to find Kate, to no avail.

Meanwhile, Peter and the FBI secretly monitor Kate, in the hopes of setting a trap for Neal. Following a fishy-sounding tip, Neal finally tracks down Kate at a storage facility. They reconcile… and Peter swoops in and hauls Neal off in handcuffs.

Back in the present, Peter and Neal examine the fractal equation. They figure it’s actually a fractal antenna that corresponds to an emergency beacon: If they build the antenna and hook it up to a radio, maybe it’ll lead them to whatever Adler is desperately looking for…

Good stuff. Sheer improbable froth, frippery and insubstantial and delightful.

Comments

Ingrid Richter said…
So what's the complete list of Brat Packers showing up in recaps on your blog, Morgan? Do we have the full Pretty in Pink cast yet? Breakfast Club? St. Elmo's Fire?
Morgan Richter said…
Let's see... We've had Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy both on Psych (not, alas, in the same episode), Mare Winningham on Criminal Minds, Andrew McCarthy on White Collar... I remain convinced that someday Rob Lowe will pop up on a Psych episode, but I think odds are remote for Demi and Emilio to make any TV appearances in the near future (well, Emilio, maybe). So that's it for St. Elmo's Fire.

Pretty in Pink, we just have McCarthy. Breakfast Club? Just Judd and Ally.

(Other not-really-Brat Packers-but-sort-of-tangentially-linked actors: Lou Diamond Phillips popped up on Psych, Craig Sheffer was on Criminal Minds, and C. Thomas Howell, the busy beaver, was on Psych and Criminal Minds.)

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