Tuesday, November 17, 2009

White Collar 1.03: "Flip of the Coin"

“Aw, honey, I was talking about Agent Burke. He caught you twice, right?”

-Agent Cruz

Overall I found “Flip of the Coin” to be a fairly unsatisfying episode. I’m missing the spark that White Collar had when it first premiered a few weeks ago. It seemed like it could be a fun way to get my heist story fix while waiting for Leverage to return in January, but with stories like this week’s it seems to only be ordinary. There was no real suspense to the mystery, and Neal’s zest for the good life has been toned down a few notches. One bright spot, though, is that I found myself liking Mozzie a lot more than I did when the series first premiered. With his amusing little quirks, he’s fast usurping Neal as my favorite character.

I didn’t know whether to be amused or kind of squicked out by the beginning of the episode. Neal has been sent to look for information in what appears to be a large room of binders holding case files. While there, he runs into Agent Cruz, and there’s a little of their usual chemistry going on. I’ve already pretty much made my feelings known about that. Neal’s clearly still hung up on Kate, so there’d better be no leading Cruz on, or I’m not going to be a happy viewer. Anyway, Cruz reveals that she wrote her thesis at Quantico on Neal. This seems kind of like overkill to me. I get it show, you want me to believe that Neal might potentially give up the search for Kate for this girl (even though clearly that can’t ever happen just by the laws of good storytelling). Message received.

The case of the episode soon becomes apparent as Elizabeth arrives at the FBI, one of her best friends, Dana, in tow. Peter figures he’s in big trouble. I’m not sure whether or not to be offended by all the attempts at “how can I ever possibly understand those ka-ray-zee women” humor in this episode. That well is mined a little too deep for my taste. Dana’s husband John served in Iraq and came home from his tour recently. Their happiness was shortlived because the FBI has a warrant out for John’s arrest because he’s suspected of stealing museum artifacts from Iraq and smuggling them back into the United States. Elizabeth and Dana are convinced John is innocent, and they won’t rest until Peter agrees with them. First, though, John has to turn himself in, and Elizabeth has decided that he’ll be turning himself into Peter.

Peter sort of (but not much) begrudgingly does what Elizabeth asks. When John turns himself in, he tells Peter that he was framed, most likely by a man named Patrick Ames at the state department. Following up on the lead, Peter goes to visit Ames, who now works for a private military contractor. Is that the new go-to conspiracy-like villain these days? First we had Jericho on FlashForward and now this. Art reflecting the times, I suppose. Earlier, Neal had given us the helpful tip that when you try to melt down gold (some of the stolen collection had been melted down), it’s impossible not to get burns on your arms. When Ames’ bodyguard tries to keep Peter at a distance, Peter notices that the bodyguard has exactly the type of scars Neal described.

While Peter was out unsuccessfully trying to intimidate Ames and his bodyguard, Neal and Cruz have been looking over a gold bowl that was recovered. John’s fingerprints and hair samples were found on the bowl, which is why the FBI issued the warrant in the first place. The team realizes something important quickly. All the fingerprints seem almost too perfect, and more importantly, they’re all from the left hand. Neal makes another bit of an inferential leap when out for a beer with a frustrated Peter (who just can’t deal with the emotional crying woman staying in his house while her husband is in jail…to that I say grow up). Peter only picked his beer up with his right hand the entire time they were drinking. Obviously, the next logical conclusion is that someone who went for drinks with John got his fingerprints.

Peter decides to cut to the chase and ask Dana if her husband has been out to drinks with anyone recently. Her response is to burst into tears. As you do. Then of course we get the obligatory scene with Elizabeth making Peter leave the room and Peter being all “I didn’t do anything!” If I wanted to see this stuff I’d watch family sitcoms like Still Standing or According to Jim. Seriously. Dana does reveal some useful information to Elizabeth, though. John went for drinks with Alicia Tegan, a reporter who had been embedded with his unit in Iraq. She claimed she wanted to do a follow-up piece on returning vets. Dana also mentions that John lost his Yankees cap when meeting with Alicia. Um, hair source, anyone?

There’s a big intricate sequence that takes place at Worldwide News Network, Alicia’s place of employment. Peter employs a really kind of stupid tactic of having the security guard let him up to Alicia’s floor, then be sure to tell Alicia that an FBI agent is waiting for her when she arrives at work. The idea is to have Neal, who had been too busy playing footsie with a random publicist to get past the security guard with Peter, observe Alicia’s reaction when she hears an FBI agent is there. Neal observes like he’s told to, but then he uses his own method to get past the security guard. He loads up with multiple trays of coffee cups and acts like he can’t get to his security badge. It kind of reminds me of a scene in “Sneakers,” one of my favorite heist movies from the early 90’s, where that particular team uses a cake and balloons to get past a security guard.

While Peter questions Alicia, Neal checks out Alicia’s desk. She locked a pawn shop ticket in a drawer, and now Neal has two copies of it. Peter’s kind of upset at all the evidentiary rules being broken, but he’s learned to just go with it when Neal’s on the job. Neal has Mozzie go check out the item at the pawn shop, of course. Just what does Mozzie do all day. I suppose his answer would probably be the same as HIMYM’s Barney when asked what he does at work. “Please.”

Later that night, Neal calls Mozzie to find out when he’s going to arrive with the info from the pawn shop. Mozzie’s response is “I walk at a delicate pace.” I should totally use that. What can I do? I’m short- I’ve gotta work to keep up. Never mind the fact that my college roommate, one of the only people I know who is shorter than me, could motor across campus like nobody’s business. Neal opens the door to his room not to find Mozzie, but Peter, who has been told by Elizabeth to give Dana some space. Neal and Peter get to drinking, and they are soon joined by Mozzie. Mozzie is a little wary at first, but Peter makes it clear that he doesn’t want to know Mozzie’s real name or what he actually does. When they’re all good and trashed, Mozzie makes a very Captain Jack-like speech about how he lives a life of crime so nobody can tell him what to do. Oh, and he got a gold Iraqi coin from the pawn shop, too. This proves Alicia’s involved.

When confronted, Alicia gives up Ames’ involvement immediately, but she says that he hid the artifacts from her and never gave her any of the proceeds. It’s time for a typical White Collar set-up, where once again Neal plays a buyer of expensive things. He arrives at the Ames sting via limo driven by Mozzie. Ames figures out pretty quickly that the whole thing is an FBI set-up, and the situation gets a bit dicey, but it ends fine thanks to Mozzie. He’s happily listening to opera while he eats Chinese food and sips champagne when he sees the commotion heading his way. He calmly hits Ames with the limo and leaves the scene. Mozzie is totally my new favorite character.

No comments:

Post a Comment