Discussion is on Season 1, Episode 5, entitled The Portrait. Hosted by Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 00:00
[Titles] This is White Collared: The Podcast, season one, episode five, “The Portrait”.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 00:11
[Intro] I would like to welcome you to White Collared: The Podcast, which is a retrospective commentary on the USA Network Television series White Collar. My name is Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 00:23
To anyone who's written to me, posted comments or reviews, I do want to thank you,. I am not necessarily able to acknowledge all of them at this point because I am recording a little bit ahead. So if you have been kind enough to leave a comment somewhere or send an email, or review, I am very much appreciative of it. And as soon as I get to the point where I can do so, I will acknowledge those.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 00:47
[Feedback] Now, I do have one feedback I would like to acknowledge that is from Cheri deFonteny. Sorry, I know I butchered that name, I apologize. But she is the admin and moderator for the White Collar Fandom group on Facebook. So if you are not a member of that group, be sure to check it out. It's a really good group.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 01:07
In her feedback, she commented about my comments from the pilot episode; specifically, my take that Neal was a poor planner. And with her permission, I'd like to read some of her comment that she left for me. This is what she wrote:
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 01:26
“I think maybe we're discussing an issue of semantics to a degree. Let's take the prison escape, which you used as an example of overall poor planning (even though the escape itself was excellent) because his plan didn't allow for his continued freedom once he didn't find Kate at the apartment. But at worst, I'd call that maybe short-sighted, …not an indictment against his planning abilities. He didn't have a plan beyond that (that we saw) because Kate thwarted the only thing he wanted to do. He may well have had plans to win her over again, or to look for her in some other locations, or whatever. But the thing he didn't count on was such a definitive goodbye waiting for him at the apartment. Once he saw that, nothing else mattered to him, so even if he had plans, he no longer had any interest in implementing them.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 02:16
And I know you even mentioned that he should have assumed she would be gone a month and a half after she told him goodbye at the prison, but why? Assuming it was just a normal break-up, she would've assumed she still had another five or six months to get herself out of the apartment because he would be locked up safe and sound.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 02:35
Surely she wouldn't have expected him to do something as foolish as escaping with so little time left to serve, which means, from his perspective, he has to escape because he likely figures she would be gone by the time he should have been released.”
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 02:48
Or, he may have already decided she only broke up with him because she's in some kind of trouble, so he thinks he can’t wait because she needs him.”
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 02:57
I really don't disagree with Cheri, on much of what she says. I believe that in some degree, it is a semantical difference. But she uses the term “short sighted” when she's talking about Neal's escape. Well, the definition of short sighted is looking at the thing immediately in front of you and not looking and planning for those things that are beyond what is immediately in front of you. Not planning for those things. And to my definition, not planning is bad planning. Yes, he had an excellent plan for the escape; he didn't have an excellent plan in the larger sense because the escape was only a solution to part of what was necessary for the plan. Because Neal's plan, as surmised from that episode, is that he wanted to reunite with Kate and he wanted to save the relationship, he wanted to fulfill the promise he made to her have a better life, and to not be that guy who keeps getting locked up for a half a decade at a time. Reuniting with her was only the first part of the plan; breaking out of prison was only one possible way of accomplishing that.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 04:10
It's like the decision trees that you may have seen in a programming—computer programming class or a logic class or, or in a business where it's got all these little different shapes and all these lines coming off of it. And it’s, you know, if this is true, then go this route; if this is not true, then go this route; and if you're not certain then go this third route. And from each one of those are other additional decisions that could be made based on other factors and other evidence and other situations. And that's what I'm looking at is that Neal didn't do that kind of a logic and planning of the possibilities. His response was more like just a straight line. There's only one option, break out of jail.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 04:56
Now I think Cheri has an excellent grasp of what Neal's thinking probably was, and the assumptions that he was making. And that's part of the problem. After all, you know what happens when you assume: you make an animal of the horse family, which is typically smaller than a horse and has long ears and a braying call, out of U and ME. So for him to assume that Kate would still be there was an assumption that I think was unwarranted. And I base that on the fact that, as Cheri said, if it was a normal breakup, Kate would have assumed that she had about four or five months left. Well, it wasn't a normal breakup. We..we could see that from Neal's response: he was not expecting this, this was out of character for Kate; this was not normal behavior out of Kate, that as he understood it. Additionally, Kate presumably knows Neal well enough to anticipate his likely actions or anticipate that he might do something impulsive. So that would be a reason for her not to stay in the apartment, if she thought he might do something, maybe breakout, maybe have somebody try and keep tabs on her. So if her desire to end the relationship was genuine, she would have already done most of the work to disappear before breaking the news to Neal in prison, in order to put him at a disadvantage if he wanted to do something, like break out and find her, or do something like have Mozzie. keep tabs on her. So for Neal to assume that she would still be there, because that would be normal, is a…is a…is an assumption that I don't think he should have made.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 06:38
The other thing is that Cheri mentioned that, you know, maybe she only broke up with him because she's in some sort of trouble, and Neal understands this, or anticipates this, or Neal thing thinks this might be the problem so he doesn't think he can wait to get out prison, because she needs him right away. Well, it took him a month and a half to break out. Surely in the month and a half that it took him to accomplish the breakout, he could have contacted Mozzie or somebody else to verify his…a belief that she might be in trouble and he needs to be there immediately, can’t wait that additional two and a half months or so to finish his prison sentence.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 07:17
So I think that from the, shall we say on the ground perspective, Cheri is dead on in her analysis. And I don't think we really disagree. I'm just looking at from a higher level viewing down. So I think it's just a matter of Cheri and I are looking at it from different levels and different perspectives. But I do not disagree with anything that she said at all. And I do appreciate her comments, because comments like this make me think; they make me go back and analyze what I have been thinking and to consider other possibilities, or at least consider other perspectives and see how they fit with what I've already said, or what I believe. So thank you, Cheri. I appreciate the feedback. I appreciate the comments. And this is this is good. This is what I want to have. This is what I want to see from people's is them coming along and having comments in response to what I say and even disagreeing with me.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 08:15
Let’s get on to the actual details of the episode.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 08:19
[Episode Summary] The Portrait first aired on November 20, 2009. It was written by Jeff Easton, the show's creator, and Travis Romero. It was directed by Allan Arkush. Sorry, Alan, I know I butchered that last name. I apologize. I'm really bad with names
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 08:34
A valuable painting is stolen from a young woman. Peter sets up a sting but the thief escapes before the FBI can spring the trap. Neal and Peter track down the painting and Neal steals the painting back from the thief who in turn threatens the life of the gallery owner who helped them with the failed sting. But even if Peter and Neal do recover the painting, it may never be returned to the young woman from whom it was stolen. It seems that the painting may have been stolen years earlier by the young woman's grandmother, and the gallery that claims ownership wants it back. Meanwhile, the search for Kate continues as Neal follows clues which lead him to Grand Central Station.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 09:12
[Act 1] The episode begins with Neal and Mozzie outside of Grand Central Station.
Kate leaves you a bottle with a map on it. And this is where it leads us Grand Central Station?
Neal Caffrey 09:24
It's something I'd recognize, Moz. Something significant.
Significant? Grand Central Station!
Neal Caffrey 09:31
She could have sent us anywhere, so she sends us to a place that leads everywhere?
Neal Caffrey 09:36
You know, there's a great oyster bar in there.
Neal Caffrey 09:45
Hey, I think there's something in here.
‘X’ marks the spot? Again?
Neal Caffrey 09:51
Kate likes the classics.
"Dear Neal, heard you're looking for me. Wish I could explain more, but time is not on our side, but you need to stop looking. No one can deny what we have, but it's over. Please move on. Kate.”
Neal Caffrey 10:14
All this for "move on".
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 10:19
Initially, I accepted the notion that everything was on the up and up—that her leaving was genuine, and that she really didn't want to be found by Neal.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 10:30
But something about it just isn't adding up. Neal's comment, all of this for move on, really highlights the problem that is developing for me in Kate's disappearance. First of all, she tells Neal that the relationship is over, then takes off to the other side of the country—as we know from the fact that the ATM photo was…was taken in San Diego—and she changes her name. But she's left him messages and clues which seemingly are designed to help him find her. It just doesn't fit.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 11:01
Let's look at the timeline for a minute. She left the bottle with the hidden map in the loft for Neal months earlier, before she left him. Or as she was leaving him. But the fact that months earlier she left the clues on the bottle that leads Neal to the spot at Grand Central Station means that at that time, she intended to have a note or something else there for Neal to find. And she wouldn't have left the map on the bottle in the first place if she hadn't meant to entice him to look for her, or for whatever it was that she originally intended to leave at Grand Central Station for him to find.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 11:38
It starting to seem more like a game or a tease. There's definitely something going on that just doesn't make sense if we accept the idea that Kates breaking off the relationship and her disappearance is genuine. And it's pretty clear that Neal is starting to have his doubts about what's really going on as well.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 11:56
Well, after the Grand Central Station scene, we see Peter arriving at June's house, and Neal is on the rooftop patio. Peter tells Neal that they have an art theft: a painting by Haustenberg was stolen in a residential robbery. And this seems to impress Neal. He says I'd like to meet the person who keeps the Haustenberg over their mantle.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 12:17
[Haustenberg] Now as far as I can tell, Haustenberg was not a real artist. And this is also the conclusion of Aviva Brueckner who is the author of a website, Strange worlds Between. She writes that, “…the painting ‘Young Girl with Locket’ used in this episode shows the same composition as Matisse’s ‘Young Woman with Blue Blouse’. This is a piece from 1939 and is clearly expressionistic. The impressionistic influence on the painting as used in the episode might come from Renoir.” Now, Brueckner offers an interesting hypothesis on the genealogy of the creation of the unseen character, Haustenberg. But let me get to that in just a little bit.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 12:59
[Act 1 Continues] So in the meantime, as Peter and Neal are driving to the scene of the crime—and in between Ford Taurus—commercials, we get a few details of how Peter has been keeping tabs on Neal and some of his concerns about Neal in this particular case.
Neal Caffrey 13:14
Haustenberg are rare. Not many of his works made it out of Hungary after the war.
Peter Burke 13:17
Yeah. Rare can make it valuable... Very valuable.
Neal Caffrey 13:21
What are you looking at me for?
Peter Burke 13:23
Why do you think?
Neal Caffrey 13:24
I didn't steal it.
Peter Burke 13:25
I know you didn't steal it, but you like paintings. I'm worried that if we find it, it may be too much temptation for you.
Neal Caffrey 13:30
I can handle temptation. You know I didn't steal…You checked my anklet?
Peter Burke 13:35
I always check your anklet. I pull a map up on you every day so I can see exactly where you've been. What, are you gonna sulk now?
Neal Caffrey 13:43
You don't trust me.
Peter Burke 13:45
What did Reagan say? "Trust, but verify.”
Neal Caffrey 13:48
That was also the motto of the Soviet secret police.
Peter Burke 13:50
Get used to it, comrade.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 13:53
Contrary to what Neal says, based on what I can find, “trust but verify” was not the motto of the Soviet secret police. It may have been an unofficial motto, but I don't find any reference to it.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 14:06
Now, multiple sources referenced this has been a Russian proverb that existed before the KGB.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 14:12
[Trust, But Verify] Now, according to the website, Russia Beyond, the origins of this rhyming proverb—and in Russia, it is a rhyming proverb, or in Russian, it is a rhyming proverb, it is not an English—but the origins are difficult to trace. According to the website, "The Ultimate Guide into Russian Proverbs” compiled and published by Vladimir Dal in 1879 does not include this proverb. It means trust but verify had popped up only in the last years of the 19th century or the early 20th century. Vladimir Lenin voiced a version of the idea although not as eloquently in his 1914 speech: “Do not take their word for it. Check it strictly. This is the slogan of the Marxist workers.” Stalin repeated Lenin's idea years later: “A healthy distrust is a good basis for working together.” And the Soviet film, “Big Life" from 1939, has that proverb word for word.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 15:11
[Act 1 Continues] Next we meet Julianna, who it seems is feisty and fearless. After all, hitting the monster as she called him, and being threatened with her life if she did it again, she did it again. I think that pretty much fits the definition of feisty and fearless. She also seems to be a little bit irresponsible in that she has a painting that is apparently worth millions of dollars hanging on the wall of her house, visible to anyone who comes in, yet it wasn't insured.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 15:42
[Act 2] When Julianna is out of the room momentarily, Peter and Neal are discussing uncle Gary and how he seems to be the most likely person to be the insider for the robbery. Because they've concluded it had to have been an inside robbery. So Neal convinces Peter to let him talk to Uncle Gary on the grounds that, since he isn’t FBI and Uncle Gary’s insistence that all FBI inquiries go through his lawyer, it doesn't apply to Neal. So he promises not to threaten or lied uncle Gary, albeit reluctantly with regard to the lying part.
Neal Caffrey 16:17
Tell me, Gary, Does Julianna know you helped steal the painting?
Uncle Gary 16:21
You can't be here. My lawyer was very clear.
Neal Caffrey 16:23
First of all, hiring a lawyer makes you look guilty.
Uncle Gary 16:26
He told me specifically not to talk to the FBI.
Neal Caffrey 16:29
Do I look like an FBI agent?
Uncle Gary 16:31
Who are you?
Neal Caffrey 16:32
Think hard, Gary.
Uncle Gary 16:33
Did he send you?
Neal Caffrey 16:34
What do you think?
Uncle Gary 16:36
God, I knew this would happen. What, that whole thing at the house was a setup?
Neal Caffrey 16:40
How'd it go wrong? Julianna wasn't supposed to be there. Now she's a witness.
Uncle Gary 16:44
It wasn't my fault. Her class got out early. Please don't hurt her.
Neal Caffrey 16:49
It's not me you need to convince.
Uncle Gary 16:51
Tell him… Tell him I'll make sure she doesn't cause any trouble.
Neal Caffrey 16:56
She's ready to sit with a sketch artist. This is the kind of thing that makes it much harder for him to sell the painting.
Uncle Gary 17:03
How about... here? How about a good-faith payment? Here. Here's $300. That's all I got.
Neal Caffrey 16:09
Uncle Gary 17:13
All right, you're right. You're right. Um… I can write him a check.
Neal Caffrey 17:20
That could work.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 17:23
Well, here, Neal is using the same technique on Uncle Gary that he used—or tried to use—on Peter in the car about Grand Central Station and the oil…oyster bar. Oil bar? Oyster bar. He asks essentially meaningless questions, or makes meaningless statements that are truthful. He didn't lie. They're truthful. But they don't mean what the other person in the conversation infers they mean based on the context of the conversation. And this is a technique used by many people—advertisers, politicians, police officers, and con men; taking advantage of the tendency of people to not really listen to what is actually being said, to not actually think about the meaning of what is being said. It's actually surprisingly easy to convince people that something has being said that isn't actually being said, so that later, if and when the person making the statements or asking the questions, is accused of having said this, or that, or you know, some other thing they can honestly say, I never said any of those things. You know, I'm sorry if that's what they thought I meant. That's not what I meant at all. I didn't say those things. So it's a way of lying truthfully.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 18:40
Now later, in a conference with Peter Neal, Agent Jones and few other unidentified agents, we learn a little bit about the people behind the theft of the painting. First, there's Gerard Dorsett, who’s a French expat, and who's into shaking down stockbrokers, he’s into high end loan sharking, and making questionable loans with big corporate money. And presumably, he is the brains behind the operation because the other person—Joshua—is the ex-military muscle. And as we clearly see in the video, the recipient of several well placed punches to the face by Julianna. We also meet Taryn Vandersant, who is a buyer the Lambert gallery that Dorsett apparently contacted trying to sell the painting, and who convinced him that she had a wealthy client who's interested in the painting. Now it's interesting that Dorsett is only asking $100,000 for the painting. This seems an awful low price for a painting that is reportedly worth 2.6 million. My guess is that uncle Gary got in touch with him, spilled the beans about his talk to Neal and realizing—that uncle Gary compromised him—Dorsett decided he needed to dump the painting fast, and that would mean selling for far less than he could get if he had more time to find a good buyer. I also have to wonder about uncle Gary's health these days.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 19:58
[Lambert Gallery] Now a little bit about the Lambert gallery. The Lambert gallery is—or was—an actual place. In 1966 Yvonne Lambert opened his first gallery on the rue de L'Échaudé. rue de L’Échaudé. Sorry, I do not speak foreign languages. Anyway, he opened that in Paris, France where he began to exhibit American artists. He showed founders of conceptualism, minimalism, and land art such as Carl Andre and Lawrence Weiner. In 2003, Lambert founded a new gallery in Chelsea, New York, and then relocated to West 21st Street in 2005. Or in 2007. Depends on the source you reference. Now the New York gallery closed in 2011, and then the Paris gallery closed in December of 2014.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 20:48
[Act 2 Continues] Back to Neal and his apartment. Neal’s in his apartment, he does the Mad Magazine folded in with the note from Kate, which makes it read, “Here. Friday. Noon”, and which is now considerably more wrinkled than it was when he pulled it out of the hiding place in the girder of the overpass in front of Grand Central Station. So I guess he was carrying it around in his pocket trying to figure out what was going on with it, at least for a little while.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 21:11
Now, in the discussion for the episode of threads I mentioned that Peter doesn't have a lot of use for the trappings of wealth, nor for the pretentiousness of some so called modern art, such as an oversized ‘load of laundry’ as he calls it that sells for $120,000. He also doesn't care for Haustenberg's work. He calls it cartoony. Neal calls Peter a Philistine to which Peter replies,”Yeah, I'm the crazy one”, as he looks right at the $120,000 load of laundry.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 21:39
Neal and Taryn Vandersant meet Dorsett in the gallery, and in what I think has to be a callback to the pilot, Neal choses to go by the name DeVore. Now the conversation hits a slight bump when Dorsett asks how long Neal and Taryn have known each other. She clearly wasn't expecting that question and she didn't seem to know how to handle it. And I think that a guy that is a smart inexperienced at cons as Dorsett is, had to picked up on that. And of course, once he sees the FBI agents outside the door of the gallery trying to act casual and trying to act like they aren't FBI agents, he probably realizes he's been set up.
Taryn Vandersant 22:22
I've got fluorescing cadmium green and azurite blue. That puts the paint composition pre-1960.
Gerard Dorsett 22:27
Perhaps you can explain why there are people signaling each other outside. Who are they?
Neal Caffrey 22:34
If you brought the FBI into this …
Gerard Dorsett 22:35
It was not me!
Taryn Vandersant 22:27
I told you to keep a low profile.
Neal Caffrey 22:38
You were careless. You've been flashing this painting all over town. They followed you here.
Gerard Dorsett 22:44
Something is not right here.
Neal Caffrey 22:46
Damn right it's not.
Gerard Dorsett 22:48
For my time and inconvenience.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 22:52
When Dorsett accuses Neal and Taryn of bringing the FBI along with them, Neal does what I guess you could say is the logical thing: he accuses Dorsett of having done it. As the saying goes, the best defense is a strong offense.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 23:05
Now in their conversation prior to him being suspicious, Dorsett had mentioned the…
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 23:11
[Butterfly Effect] …so called ‘butterfly effect’ when he says that butterflies flap their wings and they can set off hurricanes. Well, one of the best ways to understand a complex idea to make it easy to understand by metaphor. And that's what the term butterfly effect was created to attempt to do. From the website, “How Stuff Works”, “The term ‘butterfly effect’ was coined in the 1960s by Edward Lorenz, a meteorology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was studying weather patterns. He devised a model demonstrating that if you compare two starting points indicating current weather that are near each other, they'll soon drift apart—and later, one area could wind up with severe storms, while the other is calm. At the time, weather statisticians thought you should be able to predict future weather based on looking at historical records to see what had happened when conditions were the same as they are now. Lorenz was skeptical. He was running a computer program to test various weather simulations and he discovered that rounding off one variable from .506127 to .506 dramatically changed the two months of weather predictions in his simulation.” A variable of .506127 to .506 isn't hugely significant in and of itself. But the rounding of that made a significant difference in the result, long term. “His point was that long-range weather forecasting was virtually impossible, in large part because humans don't have the ability to measure nature's incredible complexity. There are simply too many minute variables that can act as pivot points, cascading into much bigger consequences.” So, while people often mistakenly think the butterfly effect means that tiny changes can have big consequences (and we can track this progression to see what change caused what), what Lorenz was trying to say that we can't track these changes. We don't really know exactly what sort of trigger would cause a weather pattern to go one way over another.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 25:20
Later, other scientists realized the importance of Lorenz's discovery. His insights laid the foundation for a branch of mathematics known as chaos theory, the idea of trying to predict the behavior of systems that are inherently unpredictable. The term Butterfly Effect isn't really meant to imply that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil could actually cause a tornado in Texas. It's just meant to illustrate that a small event at the right time and in the right place, could in theory combined with other factors, and ultimately culminate in a much different action elsewhere than would have happened if that small event hadn't happened.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 26:01
[Act 2 Continues] Anyway, back to the episode. After the sting goes sideways, Peter is talking to Elizabeth about it, and the potential consequences of having lost $100,000 of the Bureau's money.
Peter Burke 26:12
The thing about Neal...Nothing is ever what it seems. The guy's a contradiction. He's obsessed about Kate, but you should have seen him flirting with this girl at the takedown.
Elizabeth Burke 26:22
Well, honey, that's who Neal is. That's never gonna change. That's what I love about you so much.
Peter Burke 26:26
What, that I lost all ability to flirt when we got married?
Elizabeth Burke 26:30
Honey, it was even questionable then.
Peter Burke 26:32
Elizabeth Burke 26:34
Who's the new girl?
Peter Burke 26:34
Taryn Vandersant. She's a buyer at the Lambert gallery. She's beautiful, seems nice.
Elizabeth Burke 26:39
Well, if Neal's interested, you should encourage it.
Peter Burke 26:41
Encourage it? Oh, I need that like a hole in the head.
Elizabeth Burke 26:44
Honey, if he would fall for the new girl, he might actually stop chasing Kate.
Peter Burke 26:52
You and Taryn were getting along pretty good yesterday.
Neal Caffrey 26:54
She's not my type.
Peter Burke 26:55
What? Not your... Why isn't she your type? She loves art. She looks like Lara Croft in khakis.
Neal Caffrey 27:00
Really? Does she bake cookies for orphans, too?
Peter Burke 27:02
Neal Caffrey 27:04
I get it. Meet a nice girl, maybe settle down.
Peter Burke 27:07
Simplify my life, probably save yours.
Neal Caffrey 27:10
You're lying about the cookies.
Peter Burke 27:11
I've said before that Peters relationship with Elizabeth is such that he uses her as a sounding board and for feedback in his cases, and that that is something that the FBI probably wouldn't approve of. And here we see that our feedback actually changes his mind. Initially, he is not only confused by Neal's flirting with Taryn, while simultaneously obsessing over Kate, but he also thinks that the possibility of Neal being seriously interested in Taryn could be troublesome for him. But as has happened in the past, Elizabeth is able to redirect his thinking, making Peter understand that maybe a Neal/Taryn relationship could actually be a good thing for both Peter and Neal. After Peter and Elizabeth’s conversation, Peter and Neal are going into the office walking through the office and Peter's trying to promote the idea of Neal getting together with Taryn. And they're on their way to a meeting with Walter, the curator of the chanting museum.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 28:13
Now he spars a bit with Neal over the painting not having been listed in the art loss registry.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 28:18
[Art Loss Registry] Now the art loss registry is a real thing, which currently lists over 700,000 works of art. But contrary to what Neal states, Walter was correct in that the registry was established in 1990, not 1991.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 28:24
[Act 2 Continues] The sparring between Neal and Walter continues when Walter says that the Matisse influence is apparent in the Haustenberg. Neal disagrees and rather rudely and arrogantly at that, especially considering that he just got the establishment date of the art loss registry wrong. He says, “Considering Matisse was a Fauvist. I wouldn't agree with that at all. Unless you're talking about his early works, which I don't think you are and if you are, you're just wrong.”
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 28:58
[Fauvism] Let’s talk about Fauvist movement here for just a second. According to ArtStory.org, Fauvism, which was the first 20th-century movement in modern art, was initially inspired by the examples of Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat—probably butchered that name really, really badly—and Paul Cézanne. The Fauves—or “wild beasts”—were a loosely allied group of French painters with a shared interest. Several of them, including Henri Matisse, Albert Marquet, and Georges Rouault—again, butchering names, I'm sorry—they had been pupils of the Symbolist artist Gustave Moreau and admired the older artist's emphasis on personal expression. Matisse emerged as the leader of the group, whose members shared the use of intense color as a vehicle for describing light and space, and who redefined pure color and form as means of communicating the artist's emotional state. In these regards, Fauvism proved to be an important precursor to Cubism and Expressionism as well as a touchstone for future modes of abstraction. One of Fauvism's major contributions to modern art was its radical goal of separating color from its descriptive, representational purpose and allowing it to exist on the canvas as an independent element. Color could project a mood and establish a structure within the work of art without having to be true to the natural world. Another of Fauvism's central artistic concerns was the overall balance of the composition. The Fauves' simplified forms and saturated colors drew attention to the inherent flatness of the canvas or paper; within that pictorial space, each element played a specific role. The immediate visual impression of the work is to be strong and unified.
Above all, Fauvism valued individual expression. The artist's direct experience of his subjects, his emotional response to nature, and his intuition were all more important than academic theory or elevated subject matter. All elements of painting were employed in service of this goal.”
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 31:10
Now one of the first images I saw when researching Fauvism was…
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard31:14
…Henri Matisse's woman with a hat from 1905. And it actually reminded me very much of work I remembered from artist…
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard31:22
[Peter Max] …Peter Max. Peter Max was known more for his pop art pop art, much in the style used in works such as the Beatles movie, Yellow Submarine, and in Max's posters from the 1980 Olympics really wasn't fauvist but I'm thinking more along the lines of his works, such as…
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 31:41
[Peter Max: Vase of Flowers]…“Vase of Flowers”, or…
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 31:43
[Peter Max: Abstract Flowers II]…“Abstract Flowers II”, or…
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 31:45
[Peter Max: Umbrella Man]…“Umbrella Man”. And although I'm not knowledgeable on art, I doubt these would be called Fauvist works. But to my untrained eye, there do seem to be some stylistic similarities.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 31:59
[Act 2 Continues] But back to the episode. After Walter explains that the painting belongs to the Channing museum, and he wants it back, and he doesn't care about anybody else who had it because it doesn't matter that it was stolen from them if it was stolen from him first, Neal has a conversation with Juliana.
Neal Caffrey 32:19
You're not a very good liar. Your grandmother stole the painting.
Julianna Laszio 32:22
Why would you say that?
Neal Caffrey 33:23
She never had it insured. That was my first clue.
Julianna Laszio 22:26
Is this like a good-cop, bad-cop thing? He takes a call. You wink at me.
Neal Caffrey 32:31
If we get the painting, it's going back to the Channing, Unless you give us a good reason to keep it away from them. All right. Tell me a story. How did she take it? Just... hypothetically.
Julianna Laszio 32:44
Hypothetically? A little black dress, a laced bottle of whiskey, and a horny Irish security guard.
Neal Caffrey 32:53
Why'd she do it? That's the locket. Your grandmother's the little girl in the painting.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 33:05
That's right. Juliana's grandmother was the woman in the painting.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 33:11
Okay, now I mentioned earlier of Aviva Brueckner, author of the website “Strangers Between Worlds”. She offers an interesting hypothesis on the genealogy of the creation of the unseen character Haustenberg. To quote, “Who might this Hungarian post impressionists be? Haustenberg is László Mednyánszky. He is well-known for the Impressionistic influence in his work. Furthermore, in Hungarian it is custom to write the last name first and then the given name [or the family name first and then the given name]. So, László Mednyánszky would be Mednyánszky László as in Julianna László, the granddaughter of Haustenberg.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 33:57
[László Mednyánszky] Now a couple things about László Mednyánszky. He actually predated Haustenberg. Or the the time that Haustenberg supposedly lived. Mednyánszky died shortly after World War One whereas the fictional Haustenberg survived World War II so they were separated by about a generation. And among the works that I could find by Mednyánszky, I could not find any that directly resembled the painting “Young Girl With Locket” that was used in the episode. However, I did find—in terms of composition—a similar piece called…
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 34:36
[László Mednyánszky: Peasant Boy With Hat]…”Peasant Boy With Hat”, which although stylistically, was different, because Mednyánszky and Haustenberg are very different in their styles.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 34:47
[Act 2 Continues] As a side note, one thing we learned about Julianna from the scene is that, like her grandmother, she cares more about sentiment than money. Her grandmother never had the painting insured and neither did Julianna despite the fact that the painting was worth millions of dollars. Granted, by trying to insure it, she would have to deal with the issue of the theft of the painting from the Channing gallery decades earlier. But even just based on what she's revealed about the paintings history at this point in the episode, I think she could have put up a good case.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 35:18
Now, at this point Dorsett has dropped off the radar, so Peter decides to try and find him by trying to find Brigette. After going through the customs list, they narrowed the list of possible Brigette’s down to seven. Neal quickly volunteers to check out the Brigette’s staying at the Gansevoort.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 35:38
[Gansevoort] Now, the Gansevoort is at Ninth and 13th Streets in New York, in the Meatpacking District. The 186 room hotel features a full service ground floor restaurant, year round rooftop bar and restaurant, a 45 foot heated outdoor pool, and indoor and outdoor spaces where guests can enjoy unobstructed 360 degree views of the Manhattan skyline. Room Prices start at over $300 a night and can go up to over $1,600 a night. Just the kind of place that Neal would like.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 36:13
[Act 2 Continues] Peter and Neal stake out the hotel, and Neal of course isn't happy about having to sit in the car and just watch—old school as Peter calls it.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 36:24
Neal's attitude gets worse when Peter pulls out a sandwich. Deviled ham. Now, frankly, I like deviled ham. But more importantly, this again highlights Peters perspective on things. He's the guy who can find enjoyment in simple things and doesn't understand the compulsion to live the opulent and self indulgent lifestyle.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 36:48
Peter also reveals that not only does he check Neal's anklet on a daily basis, he keeps tabs on him in other ways, such as the fact that he knows that Neal recently acquired a gold credit card. Peter lets now go into the hotel restaurant— probably just to get rid of him for a while more than anything else. But while he's in the restaurant, Neal meets Brigette, and manages to get him and Peter invited up to her hotel room.
Neal Caffrey 37:13
[Act 3] Up in Bridgette’s hotel room, Neal breaks into the master suite against Peters wishes and direct orders and finds the painting. He steals it and leaves an origami butterfly in its place, which of course is a message to Dorsett referencing Dorsett’s earlier comments about butterflies and a butterfly being an expression for a man who flits from flower to flower, and how Neal could be quite successful as a butterfly. He also finds the inscription on the back of the painting to Julianna’s grandmother. I'd mentioned before that I thought that from what Juliana, the granddaughter, had revealed about the paintings history that I thought she could put up a good case for claiming ownership. Now during legal wranglings for the painting, no doubt the painting would have been examined by multiple experts and this inscription surely would have been found in the process, which I think would have pretty much solidified her claim against the Channing. So again, I have to think that the fact that she didn't go this route shows that the painting means more to her personally than the money ever would have. Now, I'm not saying that she knew about the inscription. But had she pursued it, had she been interested in the money aspects of it, the value aspects of the painting, surely, she would have had the painting examined at some point, and it would have been discovered, this inscription. So I have to think that she was operating from a point of integrity and I—and i have to admire that in her.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 38:37
Now the next morning, Dorsett returns to the hotel and discovers that the painting is missing, and finds the origami butterfly in its place. Later, Jones calls Peter to tell him that they've lost track of Dorsett. Well, Neal kind of has an idea where Dorsett is, or at least what he's up to, because when he's in his apartment, he gets a call from Dorsett.
Neal Caffrey 39:06
Who is this?
Gerard Dorsett 39:07
I could ask you the same thing. You seem to have many names, George.
Neal Caffrey 39:11
Dorsett. How’d you get this number?
Gerard Dorsett 39:13
You bought my girlfriend a drink with your credit card. I'm impressed with your resourcefulness. Now you will see mine. I want the painting. If it is not returned, Joshua will pay a visit to your beautiful friend at the gallery.
Neal Caffrey 39:26
You leave her out of this.
Gerard Dorsett 39:28
Brigitte was out of bounds, yet you involved her. You set the rules. Now you must play by them.
Neal Caffrey 39:34
I need two days.
Gerard Dorsett 39:35
That's all you have.
You stole the painting?
Neal Caffrey 39:40
I was going to give it back to Julianna.
You're like a child... No sense of consequence. And you're Robin Hood. And did I forget to mention the part where you stole the painting?
Neal Caffrey 39:50
I didn't think Dorsett would get away.
This is because you don't like the guy from the Channing. You did this for spite.
Neal Caffrey 39:56
I've done things for less.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 39:58
Once again, we see a problem being created because, rather than plan, Neal tries to improvise and tactically tries to solve a problem, an immediate problem without considering how his short term solution to an immediate problem will impact the longer term, strategic plan. Or as Mozzie puts it, no sense of consequence. So, what would have happened if he'd left the painting? Obviously, we don't know. But we do know what happened because he took the painting: Dorsett threatens Taryn Vandersant’s life. And at this point, Neal has one solution to the problem. He has to admit the truth to Peter.
Neal Caffrey 40:41
[Act 4] I took the painting.
Peter Burke 40:43
Damn it, Neal.
Neal Caffrey 40:44
I wasn't gonna…I did it for…We can use it to catch Dorsett. He doesn't know I work for you.
Peter Burke 40:54
We'll set it up tomorrow. Now get the hell out of my house.
Neal Caffrey 40:59
Okay. [unintelligible], Elizabeth.
‘Night, Neal. Well, he, uh...Told you the truth about the painting.
Peter Burke 41:11
Mm-hmm. Because they threatened Taryn.
Elizabeth Burke 41:16
It's a start.
Peter Burke 41:18
Yeah. It's a start.
We see that Elizabeth…It’s not a matter of that she has faith in Neal, but…because obviously he screwed up. And she has to recognize that fact. But she has faith in Neal inasmuch as she sees him progressing. He admitted the truth. Now granted, he was kind of forced into the situation because of his actions—he was dealing with consequences of his actions—but he did admit the truth Peter. And she sees this as a good thing. She sees this as progress. She is in Neal's corner; she is rootin’g for him big time.
Well, Neal already said that he wants to give the painting back to Juliana. So to that end, he decides to forge a copy of the painting. And, of course, we can guess that he intends to give the fake to Walter, the curator of the Channing Museum. Now, Neal is clearly not taking the creation of the forgery very seriously. In fact, that becomes a point of contention between him and Mozzie, who seems quite irritated by Neal's lackadaisical attitude about the forgery, which is undoubtedly coupled with his irritation about Neal having stolen the painting in the first place. No sense of consequence. You think you're Robin Hood. That’s…that’s where Neal…uh, Mozzie’s at right now with Neal.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 42:45
Well, the next morning, the bust of Dorsett goes off without a hitch. But we see that Neal did in fact, give Dorsett the forgery, which of course, the FBI recovered during the bust, and then gave to Walter the curator of the Channing Museum. Now, when Walter realizes that the painting I a forgery, or…or it looks wrong to him, presumably, and he suspect it might be a forgery, he flips the painting over to verify in his own mind that it's the legitimate painting by looking at the inscription on the back, which, of course willed the painting to the grandmother of Juliana. And of course, what Walter finds there's the note that Neal left for him, which essentially, is a veiled threat to keep his mouth shut and never pursued the manner. In the meantime, Neal returns to real painting to the granddaughter, Juliana. However, I can't help but think that Peter knows that Neal did something. But I think he also knows that he doesn't know what Neal did, how he would prove what he did, or even if he would want to prove what he did, even if he really did know what Neal did. Or if he even wants to know what Neal did. Did that make sense? Yeah, I think that made sense. Anyway, Peter knows that something's not right. But it's one of those ‘ignorance is bliss’ type things.
After the case is over, after Dorsett is busted, after Julianna gets the painting back, and Walter’s sent back with the fake, Neal returns to Grand Central Station at noon, on Friday, as he believes the note from Kate directed him.
Neal Caffrey 44:27
Forbidden romantic meetings are kind of a personal thing, Moz.
Yeah, like I was gonna let you come alone. What if the guy with the ring planted that note? You'll be happy I came when a red laser dot suddenly appears on your forehead.
Neal Caffrey 44:38
Enough with the hero talk, Haversham.
Neal Caffrey 40:49
Kate Moreau 40:50
Neal? I don't have a lot of time. He's close.
Neal Caffrey 40:53
The man with the ring?
Kate Moreau 44:54
Yes. Listen, I need you to tell me where you hide everything.
Neal Caffrey 40:48
Kate Moreau 44:59
The money, the bonds, the art... all of it.
Neal Caffrey 45:03
Kate Moreau 45:05
He wants something…Something you took, something you hid.
Neal Caffrey 45:08
I hid a lot of things.
Kate Moreau 45:09
Well, then, give him everything. If he gets what he wants, he'll let me come back to you.
Neal Caffrey 45:13
Who is he?
Kate Moreau 45:14
I can't tell you. It's too dangerous for you.
Neal Caffrey 45:16
Dangerous? Why? Kate, just tell me. I can protect you.
Kate Moreau 45:19
This is the only way you can help me. You always told me I had to trust you. Well, now you have to trust me. I want to come home. Please just tell me where you hid everything.
Neal Caffrey 45:33
Kate Moreau 45:37
I want to come home.
Neal Caffrey 45:38
It's the only leverage I got. Just stay there, okay? I'm coming up.
Neal! Neal! Kate
Mozzie, tell Neal I love him. Tell him it's the only way.
Un, Mozzie’s paranoia is on full display here. And I can't necessarily say I disagree with him. He’s…he’s got a valid point. Now granted, his paranoia may be a little over the top. But I would say it’s…it’s probably not that far over the top under the circumstances. Now before I comment about this particular scene in detail, I do want to talk about…
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 46:31
[Pay Phones]…pay phones.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 46:33
I think there's a lot of people out there who have no clue as to what a pay phone is, or was rather. With the advent of the Apple iPhone, the Google Android phones ,and the declining use of physical currency, the use of public pay phones has declined quickly over the last 10 years or so. In fact, a few remained standing in New York as late as 2020 earlier in the year, but many of those, perhaps most of them were not operational.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 47:05
According to the Smithsonian magazine, the first pay phone was invented by William Gray, and developed by George A. Long, with one of the first ones being installed on the corner of Main Street and cCentral Row in downtown Hartford, Connecticut in 1889. The backstory here is that by the 1880s, the telephone was a critical component of American infrastructure, but the man on the street looking to make a phone call had to locate one of the relatively rare agent operated telephone pay stations, and pay a fee to make a call. This could be a great inconvenience, as one William Gray would find out in 1888. The son of a Scottish immigrant, Gray was an amateur tinkerer in Hartford who was best known for designing an improved chest protector for baseball catchers that became the game's standard in the 1890s. As for the pay phone, though, the story goes that Gray was inspired to create it when—depending on who you ask—either his boss, his neighbor, or the workers at a nearby factory refused to let him use their phone to call a doctor for his ailing wife. Eventually, Gray found a phone and his wife recovered, but he was left with an idea. Public telephones. After numerous failed attempts, Gray developed a satisfactory mechanism that used a small bell to signify the operator when a coin was deposited, which would grant the individual the opportunity to make a call. In 1891, Gray set up the Gray Telephone Pay Station Company and began installing phones on posts and in cabinets across America. He continued to refine his creation, eventually racking up more than 20 patents related to the pay phone, including innovations related to toll apparatuses, coin holders, call registers, and signaling devices. One hundred years later, there were more than 2 million pay phones installed in the United States. And although they could still be profitable…recent…in recent years, particularly in places where cell phone or landline coverage was not available, by…by 2018, there were only 100,000 remaining across the country.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 49:17
[Act 4 Continues] Now, let's talk about this scene. There are a lot of conflicting clues and a lot of conflicting information here. While one can make the argument that there was a reason that the man with the ring didn't want Kate or Neal, to know specifically what he was looking for, it seems more reasonable that he would have told Kate what it was that he was looking for so she could ask Neal, where that specific thing was. To simply have her ask where he hid everything seems a bit vague. It assumes that everything is hidden in one place, discounting the real possibility, and the rational probability, that an intelligent thief would spread his stash across multiple locations, thus reducing the likelihood of losing everything if his stash was located, or was compromised, because it would only be one of several and would only have part of his stash.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 50:11
The best reason I could think of for the man with the ring not wanting Neal or Kate to know specifically what he was looking for would be because knowing what that thing is would reveal his identity. But Kate already knows his identity, since the ATM photos seem to show the two of them together and out in public. So it doesn't seem likely that he would have been able to hide his identity from her in that sort of a setting. And the photo is completely without context, so not only do we not have any idea of the identity of the man with the ring, we really don't know, from the photograph, anything about his relationship to Kate. Everything is just assumptions that are not based on any real facts. Now another possible reason why the man with the ring might not want Neal or Kate to know specifically what he was looking for would because…would be because of its value, perhaps being more than Neal realizes or in a way that Neal doesn't realize. But if Kate means as much to Neal as it seems, it doesn't seem reasonable that Neal wouldn't be willing to trade it for Kate, regardless of its value. And if that were the aim, then once again, we're back to it being more likely that the man with the ring would tell Kate and Neal what it was that he wanted and simply arrange a swap.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 51:28
Then there's the change of her wording. Maybe I'm making more of this than is there, but it does seem suspicious that early in her phone call, she says, he wants something, give him everything, if he gets what he wants, he'll let me come back to you. But then it becomes, just tell me where you hid everything. Now as I say, maybe I'm reading more into this than is there, or that…more than is intended to be there. But it does seem an odd change of focus from him, to her, from him wanting to know, to her wanting to know, from telling him where the stuff is at, to telling her where the stuff is at. Perhaps that's an unintentional admission that maybe she's more involved in this then she wants Neal to believe; It’s just a slip of the tongue. It's what they call a Freudian slip, she accidentally revealed a true motive.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 52:24
But it ends up in stalemate. Uh, Neal refuses to divulge the location. He's insisting that by refusing to reveal the location and by holding the information as leverage, that’s the only way he can get Kate back. And Kate is insisting that revealing the information is the only way for him to get Kate back. And yet the look on her face when Neal tells her no seems to be a genuine look of heartbreak. And it couldn't have possibly been for Neal's benefit because he was too far away for him to really read her expression. And the expression is still on her face even after Neal drops the phone receiver and Mozzie picks it up while Neal tries to run after Kate. So I don't know about you, but at this point, even though I want to believe that Kate is an innocent victim in all of this, there’s just too much conflicting information and some of her actions just don't make sense in the context of her being an innocent victim in all of this. She left Neal the bottle with the map which directed Neal to a note, and the note led Neal to a meeting with her, only to have…have demands made of him by some apparently unknown individual. As much as I might not want to, at this point I have to reconsider my previously held belief that Kate was an innocent victim in all of this. And I have to at least consider the possibility that the whole thing is a scam and that Kate is either behind it or a willing participant in it. After all, Kate knows better than anybody, probably,Neal’s tendency to act on impulse and without planning out beyond the immediate need. And this situation seems to be designed to get Neal to act on impulse—designed to get Neal to agree to give up the information in order to get Kate back. And if that is the deal, is Neal throwing a spanner in the works by not impulsively agreeing to give up his stash? Or is refusing to give it up and attempting to use it as leverage his impulsive act? I don't know.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 54:31
Hopefully in future episodes we'll find out.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 54:34
But as it is, this is the end of The Portrait. As always, I will be providing links to all the resources I've mentioned in the show at WhiteCollaredPC.com and also in the show notes. And I will also be providing probably some additional links to other resources that I utilized in my research but didn't necessarily directly mention. And once again, I would like to thank Cheri deFonteny—Cheri, I’m sorry, I know I'm butchering that name—but I would like to thank her for her feedback and her permission to use her comments to…use her comments of challenging my position. And again, I don't know that we're all that far apart on what we think Cheri, I think we're just looking at it from different perspectives, and coming to different conclusions, but that's all.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 55:27
Anyway, on the website, there at WhiteCollaredPC.com, you can find ways to communicate with me and the show. I will also have a link to the White Collar Fandom Facebook group where you can join in the discussion with Cheri and myself and others. And if you would do me one favor: If there's anything about the show that you enjoy, even if there's a lot of things that you don't enjoy about the show, if there's anything about the show that you do enjoy, do me the favor of sharing this podcast with a friend. That will help grow the podcast and the listenership of this in far more ways than just about anything else. You could do. Reviews on iTunes and other places really don't do a whole lot, but sharing it with your friends and acquaintances who love White Collar like you do, like I do…that will help this podcast more than you can possibly imagine.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 56:18
That being said, thank you for listening to this episode. And please be sure and join me for the next episode as I share my thoughts on episode number six, entitled “All In”. But until then take care, and God bless.