Wednesday, November 11, 2009

White Collar 1.02: "Book of Hours"

“And God said shut thine doors and eat thine oranges?”


“Book of Hours” was, overall, a pretty fun hour of television. The set-up to the case of the week was pretty different from your average procedural, and the case itself was pretty unique too. And it’s always fun to watch the pretty of Matt Bomer as Neal got his flirt on for the sake of the case. To top it all off, Mozzie provided some helpful information, but not too much, and he got in on some conning too!

A small group of FBI agents, including Agent Cruz, are tailing a mobster by the name of Barelli. They’re watching him as he leaves his church. It soon becomes apparent that Barelli is onto them. He sends his nephew Ignazio, to knock on the door of the van. This was a moment of comedic genius. It was funny when Neal knocked on the door of the van last week, but this week it was even funnier because it shows just how obvious the FBI agents were being with their surveillance. Barelli wants the FBI’s help because somebody stole his church’s Bible. Peter agrees to help as long as Barelli closes down one of his bookmaking operations.

When Neal gets the call about the new case, he’s in the middle of talking to Mozzie about the great Kate mystery. Mozzie is going to take the bottle to his “lab” and check it out. A little later on, Mozzie happens to have some useful information about the missing Bible. It’s called the “Healing Bible” and there are accounts of people whose lives have been sparred in its presence. This gives Neal a hunch. He thinks that the culprit is a true believer in the Bible’s healing powers.

Neal and Peter debate the merits of Neal’s theory and the merits of the Healing Bible story as they wait to talk to the Priest at the church. Peter is a lapsed Catholic and doesn’t believe that the Healing Bible could have been responsible for the miracles attributed to it. As he says, he prefers his miracles “with a little more smiting and lightening.” He’s not going to believe a miracle unless it’s staring him in the face. Neal seems to want to believe in the possibility of miracles. I wonder if he always had this outlook, or if his current, frustrating situation has made him look to a higher power.

After a little prodding, the Priest finally reveals that he let a homeless man sleep in the church on the night the Bible was stolen. He had been reluctant to share this information because Barelli had been trying to keep homeless people away from the church. Peter and Neal pay Steve, the homeless guy, a visit. Steve is ready and willing to give up information. He took the Bible, but he’d like it back. The man he took it for hasn’t given it back to him, and he needs it to heal his sick dog.

It turns out that Steve is an Iraq war veteran, and he found his beloved dog Lucy while serving. I question how easy it is to bring a dog from Iraq into the United States, but I did like that they made the homeless guy, who could have just been a completely crazy stereotype, a veteran. A disproportionate number of our homeless here in the United States are veterans, and frankly, the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country deserve better than that. If the character of Steve shed some light on this huge problem, that’s a wonderful thing.

Steve was getting frustrated looking through FBI photo books for the man who told him to steal the Bible (his mind, as he says, was “fried” in the war), but he is eventually able to make a breakthrough. Hughes comes into the interrogation room to let Cruz know that there’s been a murder. Barelli’s nephew is dead. Hughes slams the case file down on the table, and Steve instantly recognizes the picture of Ignazio.

Peter and Neal run into a little snag in their investigation. Agent Ruiz (Fringe’s Kirk Acevado…RIP Charlie), head of the Organized Crime division, has claimed Ignazio’s death as his own case. He’s wary of letting Neal, a convicted felon, have too much information about the case, and he gets Neal and Peter taken off the case completely. They don’t let Ruiz stop them, though. Neal, with a wink and a nod, gets Peter to lend him his FBI jacket. Neal then gives the jacket to Mozzie, who uses it to get into Ignazio’s apartment. It was kind of fun to see both Peter and Mozzie in on the con. Neal realizes that Ignazio has been researching old manuscripts like the missing Bible, and he had a book on the subject written by Maria Fiametta, a professor at a local university. And, even more interesting, Ignazio had an appointment with Maria penciled in on his calendar.

Peter and Neal take a trip to Maria’s office, and of course, as soon as Maria hears Neal’s name, she knows all about his reputation as a master forger. When are Peter and Neal going to figure out that it might not be such a great idea to bring Neal along on these trips considering he’s probably going to be recognized by most of the people they’re checking out. He needs to make like Matt Bomer’s other character, Bryce Larkin’s, best buddy Chuck and stay in the car! Peter and Neal do manage to turn the recognition into a new plan with the help of Elizabeth. A quick aside: am I the only one who has a problem with the fact that Peter shares so many details of his FBI investigations with his wife? Anyway, Neal is going to ask Maria out on a date in an attempt to show her the old Neal is still in business and would be interested in purchasing the Healing Bible if she has it in her possession (which they totally think she does).

The date is going fairly well, and Neal is seriously getting his flirt on. He earns himself an invite back to Maria’s place, and Agent Cruz and another FBI agent scramble to bug the apartment before they get there. The plan doesn’t work very well though. When scanning surveillance footage of her apartment, Maria clearly sees the FBI agents. Now she really doesn’t trust Neal, and as a last ditch effort to regain her trust, Neal destroys one of the bugs. Agent Cruz seems a little peeved by this. It looks like they’re trying to set up a future romantic relationship between Neal and Cruz, but I’m not really seeing any chemistry. Anyway, Neal’s ploy seems to work, and Maria agrees to sell him the Bible.

The Bible handoff gets quite tense, as Neal has to cut his GPS tracker in an attempt to fully convince Maria he’s on her side. He ends up almost getting shot for his trouble, but the Bible stopped the bullet. Maria is arrested and everything seems to be okay, except that the Bible is missing again. Turns out Neal handed it off to Mozzie in the FBI jacket, and Mozzie took it to the church so Steve could use it on his dog before Barelli got possession of it again. Barelli is kind of pissed about this at first, but he has a soft spot for dogs, so he gets over it and offers to take Lucy to his vet in Yonkers. I’m not sure why Peter thinks this is a good idea, but he does, so it seems like everything ends well for everybody except Maria.

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