Discussion is on Season 1, Episode 6, entitled All In. Hosted by Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard.
Send your comments to WhiteCollaredPC@Yahoo.com
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 0:00
[Titles] This is white collared the podcast, season one, episode six, All In.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 0:12
[Intro] This is 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 0:24
First of all, I would like to thank you for listening to this show. Right now, as I'm recording this, we don't have a huge following, but that's okay. Now, you can help by telling a fellow White Collar fan about the show. Not everybody knows about it, obviously, and not everybody who learns about it will listen. But the more people we tell, the more people are likely to listen. So if you could do that, I would appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 0:50
[Episode Summary] Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's get on to this episode, All In. The episode first aired on November 27, 2009, it was written by Jim Campolongo and Joe Henderson—sorry, Jim, I probably butchered your last name, I apologize—and it was directed byJohn T. Kretchmer.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 1:11
An undercover FBI agent has disappeared. The prime suspect is a criminal named Lao Shen, a money Laonderer out of China and the target of the missing agents investigation. Neal agrees to use his Nicholas Halden alias to try to help locate the missing agent and to capture Lao. But the case gets complicated when an Interpol agent, who is also looking to arrest Lao, promises to reveal to Neal the identity of the man who has Kate in exchange for Neal blowing the FBI's case.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 1:44
[Act 1] The episode begins with Peter and Neal walking to the office and discussing cases. When they arrive at the office, things are going a bit crazy. And Peter says, Well, this can't be good. And immediately Laoren Cruz tells Peter that Hughes wants to see him. Right away. And as Peter has to use his office, and Neal asks, Laoren...
Neal Caffrey 2:07
What's going on?
Laoren Cruz 2:08
The Bureau's missing an agent.
Neal Caffrey 2:10
That isn't good.
Laoren Cruz 2:11
Yeah, he's an undercover from the DC office. We lost contact with him 12 hours ago,
Reese Hughes 2:15
We need somebody who understands money laundering. Nicholas Halden...[unintelligeble]
Peter Burke 2:25
Neal Caffrey 2:26
Excuse me. I have an important case to deal with.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 2:30
Now, at this point, we don't know the details of the discussion between Hughes and Peter. We do catch a little bit of the conversation and Hughes saying that they need someone who understands money laundering, which we presume to be a reference to Neal. So at this point, we haven't been given any information to connect Neal to the name of Nicholas Halden, but we do get a clear indication that there is some sort of connection, and that Hughes is pushing it, and Peter's resisting. We're gonna come back to that in just a moment. So, after Peter and Hughes have their conversation, Hughes walks out and signals to Neal to come on up. Peter and Hughes brief Neal on the situation. Specifically that agent Mark Costa was posing as a drug trafficker looking to clean some dirty cash through Lao Shin. Costa had been working him until the previous night, and according to his last contact, Lao was making a pit stop in New York for about 72 hours, and then after that he would be on a flight to the homeland—China—and at that point, the FBI loses him.
Neal Caffrey 3:35
So why are you telling me this?
Reese Hughes 3:37
Neal Caffrey 3:37
Who's Nicholas Halden?
Peter Burke 3:40
Cut the crap, Neal.
Reese Hughes 3:41
We know he's one of your aliases.
Peter Burke 3:42
You created him to Laonder cash through that Canary Islands scam you ran in '04. Multi-millionaire with a pension for gambling?
Neal Caffrey 3:50
Are you willing to offer him full immunity?
Reese Hughes 3:51
Done. I don't give a damn what you did five years ago. I want to find my agent.
Neal Caffrey 3:55
Then what can Nick do to help?
Reese Hughes 3:59
We want you to make contact with Lao using this identity. What do you know about Pai Gow?
Neal Caffrey 4:04
It's a Chinese version of poker played with dominoes. Not really my game.
Peter Burke 4:10
Make it your game.
Reese Hughes 4:12
I'm not gonna lie to you. This is a dangerous one, Caffrey.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 4:18
When Peter and Hughes mentioned the Nicholas Halden alias, and want Neal to use that alias in trying to find the agent, Neal tries to be cagey. Neal is obviously still sensitive about protecting himself from prosecution for things that he did beyond the things that Peter had arrested him for, and that he'd been convicted on, which was the bonds. And we saw the same hesitancy and sense of self protection in Fflip of the Coin when he hesitated to reveal to Peter information about the melting of precious metals, and he asked about the statute of limitations for certain crimes. So he's obviously still trying to protect himself because he doesn't want to get himself into a deeper situation in terms of possible prosecution. So he uses the situation with the missing agent, and Hughes' desire to use the Nicolas Halden alias to protect himself essentially from, from any future prosecution for anything that Nicolas Halden may have done. Which is actually very brilliant of him.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 5:21
Now the revelation here of Nicholas Halden being one of Neal's aliases throws a new light on that previous discussion between Hughes and Peter. And that's what I had mentioned that I would come back to here in a minute. Now, up to this point in the series, Hughes has shown a clear reluctance to involve Neal any more than is necessary in cases—up to the point of seemingly actively excluding him from investigations as much as he could. And it's been Peter who keeps Neal involved. But here we have Hughes pushing to involve Neal, and it seems Peter is the one dragging his heels. That's an interesting turnabout. But even more telling here is the fact that at the end of the earlier exchange, Hughes didn't tell Peter to bring Neal into the discussion, or bring him up to be briefed and asked him to use his Nicholas Halden alias in this investigation. He got up from his desk, walked out of his office into the, the—I don't know what you'd call it, the open platform area there above the bullpen—and he was the one himself who brought Neal into this, who called Neal up. Now this either shows that Hughes is softening his position about Neal and Neal's involvement in cases, or that he is so concerned about finding his agent that he's willing to do the proverbial deal with the devil in order to get it done. I'm not sure which at this point.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 6:47
Next we see Neal and Mozzie in Neal's apartment watching the movie, Tiles of Fire. For anybody who hasn't realized yet, Tiles of Fire is not a real movie. It's, it's a creation just for this particular episode. But looking at it, you have to admit it's pretty well done. It has the look of one of those, what 1970s/1960s low budget martial arts movies. So it's really—it's a nice, nice little joke in there. And during their watching this movie, of course, Neal wonders about how the FBI possibly knew about his Nick Halden alias. Neal has realized that Peter and the FBI actually know more about him than he thought that they did. And we also learn about another of Neal's aliases, Steve Tabernacle, although we really don't learn anything about Steve here other than his name. Now the conversation veers into a discussion of the man with the ring, and during this conversation, we also learned some things that Neal has stolen in the past that they think—or Mozzie thinks—might be some of the things that that the man with the ring is, is interested in. The first is Poe's Tamerlane book, second is a Tamayo painting, and the third is Washington's love letters
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 8:12
[Poe: Tamerlane and Other Poems] A little bit about Poe's Tamerlane. Now, there are some discrepancies in some of the information and timelines I found. Poe was born in 1809. Some references say that the 40 page collection Tamerlane and Other Poems was first published as a self published book by Poe when he was about 14. But the publishing information indicates the book was published in 1827, which would make Poe 18 years old. So I'm not sure which is accurate as far as Poe's age when the book was published—I tried multiple sources and could not come up with a definitive consensus. It seems to be pretty evenly split from what I could see between the information that suggested he was 14 and other information that suggested he was 18. Now rather than use his own name, Poe's authorship on Tamerlane is simply listed as A Bostonian. The number of copies printed is also subject to some discrepancy and disagreement. Many sources indicate that there are only about 50 copies, various scholars believe that the number may have been slightly lower—perhaps as low as 20 copies—or substantially higher—perhaps as many as 200 copies. However, the book was so rare that after Poe's death, the editor and critic Rufus Wilmot Griswold believed it had never existed until one was found in 1859. Today, it is believed that only 12 copies exist, making it one of the rarest first editions in American literature.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 9:47
[Poe: Tamerlane and Other Poems Auction] In December 2009, a fairly worn original copy of Tamerlane and Other Poems was sold at Christie's auction house in New York. Prior to the auction, Francis Walgren, who was the head of books and manuscript Christie's in New York, called the book The Black Tulip of U.S. literature, expecting the book to sell for somewhere between $500-700,000. The book in fact actually did sell for $662,500, which established a record auction price for a piece of American literature.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 10:21
[Tamayo Painting] The Tamayo painting. Rufino Tamayo—who actually has a longer name that I'm, I would butcher if I tried to pronounce it—was born August 25, 1899 and died on June 24, 1991. He was a Mexican painter of Zapotec heritage. Born in Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico—and I'm sure I mispronounced that—and was active in the mid 20th century in Mexico and New York, painting figurative abstractions with surrealist influences. Orphaned in 1911, he moved to Mexico City, and in 1917 he entered the National School of Plastic Arts. After the Mexican Revolution Tamayo began to develop his identity in his work, expressing what he envisioned as the traditional Mexico, not the overt political art of his contemporaries. He disagreed with their belief that the revolution had been necessary for the future of Mexico, but instead believed that the revolution would harm Mexico. In his painting, "Children Playing With Fire" from 1947, Tamayo shows two individuals being burned by a fire they have created, which symbolizes the Mexican people being injured by their choice and actions. Tamayo claimed, "we are in a dangerous situation, and the danger is that man may be absorbed and destroyed by what he has created." Due to his opinion, he was characterized by some as a traitor to the political cause. Tamayo came to feel that he could not freely express his art and therefore decided in 1926 to leave Mexico and move to New York City. Tamayo was proud of his Mexican heritage and culture, and was also profoundly influenced by the disregard shown of Mexican artists. Octavio Paz, who in 1990 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature stated of Tamayo, "if I could express with a single word what it is that distinguishes Tamayo from other painters, I would say without a moment's hesitation: son. For the sun is in all his pictures whether we see it or not."
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 12:26
[Washington's Love Letters] Next, we come to Washington's love letters. When George Washington died in 1799, Martha Washington destroyed almost all of her correspondences with her husband that she had saved over the course of their relationship. After years spent in the crush of public notoriety, it was about the only thing in her private life that she could control. Only three letters escaped from the mass eradication, two of which were found beneath a desk drawer after her death, and are among the few pieces of remaining evidence to the nature of Martha and George Washington's relationship. So that's just a little bit about the three things that we know that Neal has stolen in the past.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 13:05
[Act 1 Continues] So let's get back to the episode. As they're watching the movie, "Tiles of Fire", Neal realizes that the movie really has nothing to do with the game Pai Gow, and even Mozzie admits that the movie takes a few liberties with the actual details of the game by throwing in a non-existent death tile. After Neal convinces Mozzie that hey, let's get serious about this I need to learn this game, Mozzie begins instructing Neal on the game for real, and then we discover that not only is June a fan of "Tiles of Fire", but there are also five sequels.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 13:42
The next thing we see is Peter briefing the team, and then they set up at an apartment above the Meishi Lin restaurant. Now the restaurant and presumably the apartments above it—because there are multiple apartments up there—they are owned by a family that are trusted informants for the bureau. As the team enters the apartment, they of course take off their shoes before entering as is customary in many cultures, and here we see Peters socks.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 14:09
[Dogs All Over] They are called Dogs All Over, and they come from Wheelhouse Designs. They were a gift from Elizabeth. I think the fact that he wore them to work says something about him and his relationship with Elizabeth. Many people given such, let's say, unusual pieces of clothing as a gift might wear those things casually, but Peter wears it to work. And given the nature of his profession and the sort of situations he's likely to find himself in, I think the chances of them being seen by somebody are probably higher than they would—it would be in other professions or other situations, and yet he wears them. Because they were a gift. From his wife. And I would say that his love for his wife and his willingness to express it by wearing those socks at work outweighs his concerns about what others would think of him for wearing those socks. Now for anyone who really wants to get a pair of those such themselves, I will have a link in the show notes so that you can find both the grey and the blue versions of those socks so you can have your very own.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 15:15
[Act 1 Continues] During the course of the team setting up, Neal gets his anklet removed and replaced by a watch that has a tracker in it, and a one way audio monitoring device installed. As he gets ready to leave and meet with Lao, Neal jerks Peters chain a little bit by telling him that everything will be fine. As long as he doesn't draw the death tile. And the fact that this concerns Peter really kind of shows that Peter failed to complete his homework on the case.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 15:41
Neal goes up to the gaming house and walks in, sits down at a table, and here he makes a Gremlins joke and then enters the game of Pai Gow. I would say that within the context of the episode, maybe Neal is making a bad joke about the dealer's appearance and comparing it to the appearance of the grandfather, Mr. Wing from the character, or from the movie Gremlins. Mr. Wing was the owner and caretaker of Gizmo at the...that we saw at the very beginning of the movie, and then he came back at the end of the movie. That would be a very tasteless, tacky, inappropriate joke, I guess would be the thing to say. Um, it's almost a stereotypical stupid American can't tell one Asian person from another, they all look alike type attitude. And I would I would hope Neal wouldn't have that attitude. But we know that he's made inappropriate jokes in the past. We saw that in the Threads episode where he made the joke to Laoren about where does she keep her gun when he met her and she was wearing that very short, tight fitting dress that quite frankly left no room for any kind of weapon or...or anything else to be hidden. So I guess in the context of the series, we can say, okay, Neal has a history of making really inappropriate jokes and maybe this is just another one of them. That's the best explanation I could come up with within the White Collar world.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 17:10
I think there is another explanation outside of the White Collar world that makes this line, "don't get them wet, don't feed him after midnight", make more sense.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 17:21
[Gremlins] So let's go back to the movie Gremlins for just a brief minute because that's where that line comes from. If you remember the beginning of the movie, Gremlins, Randall Peltzer was an inventor played by Hoyt Axton, who goes into this shop run by an elderly gentleman. It's kind of a curio/junk shop while he's in there Peltzer's trying to sell this elderly shopkeeper, Mr. Wing, one of his inventions. Well, as he's talking to him, he keeps hearing this, the sound...sounds like from an animal of some sort. And he keeps hearing it and he gets curious about it and he discovers the mogwai. Well, he wants to buy the mogwai for his son for Christmas. But Mr. Wing won't sell it to him. And Peltzer is getting frustrated. Wing's grandson is there, and he tells Peltzer, you know, go on outside, just wait for me. And after a few minutes, the grandson comes out with the mogwai, sells it to Peltzer and tells him the three rules of the Gremlins: "Don't put them into bright light, don't get them wet, and don't feed them after midnight". So it's it's the grandson who sells the mogwai to Peltzer and tells him the rules. Now that child actor was John Louis. It's my theory that the actor playing the Pai Gow dealer is...
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 18:39
[Actor John Louie]...John Louie. I can't find any evidence to prove my theory, I can't find any evidence to disprove my theory. Part of the reason for that is that that role, and that actor, is not credited in the episode; not credited anywhere that I've been able to find. But it's my theory that this is an inside joke by somebody on the production staff. The fact that we can't prove who this actor actually was—whether it was John Louie or somebody else—is because, as I said, there are no credits for this character, which is a little bit, it seems a little strange, because even though the character doesn't have any lines that are spoken, he does seem to be featured. I mean, he gets some pretty good screen time there. So, why would an actor who gets as much screen time as he gets, who's...who's featured as prominently, as this character and actor is in these, the sequence of scenes—why would he not be credited?
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 19:41
I have a theory about that as well. And it kind of in a weird kind of way provides some support to my theory that this is in fact John Louie. John Louie continued as an actor for several years after filming the movie Gremlins. Oh, for about three or four years after that. Eventually, he went to Stanford University for undergraduate degrees, and then to Harvard Business School, where he received his master's of Business Administration in 1996. Now, at the time of this episodes filming, which was 2009John Louie, the actor who as a child had played the grandson in the movie Gremlins—in 2009 he was the vice president for international strategic planning and marketing for Mattel Incorporated. And this is, I think, key to my theory as to why he was not credited. Part of his function as the vice president of international strategic planning and marketing was to craft retail partnerships with key multinational accounts, and also to manage regional marketing services for European subsidiaries, including media. For a number of years prior to 2009, Mattel had been creating direct to home release movies based on many of their toy properties. A big one was the Barbie movie series. As well as the vice president of international strategic planning and marketing responsible for crafting retail partnerships with multinational accounts of Mattel's and for managing regional marketing services, including media, presumably John Louie would have some interaction with the company that they had distributing their direct to video movies. Which was Universal. White Collar was a 20th Century Fox production. It might be a little bit awkward for the Vice President of Mattel's international strategic planning and marketing division, it might be a little awkward for him to interact with Universal Studios and have his name appearing credits in an episode of a TV show produced by 20th century. So that right there could be the very reason why we have no credits as to who this actor is. So if this was in fact, John Louie, who was playing that part, this is a good explanation as to why he may not have wanted his name given in the credits. And maybe one of the reasons why we never find out for certain who this actor really is. Now, I did reach out to a number of the production people from White Collar, and I asked them if any of them knew for certain one way or the other if this was in fact, John Louie, the actor, Vice President of Mattel, or somebody else. Most of my inquiries were not responded to; not really a surprise. I did receive a response from one of the people that I reached out to who shall remain..remain nameless, in part because I don't have their permission to give their name, and also because I don't want to be responsible for encouraging people to flood their inbox with inquiries. But to that person, if they ever listened to this episode, they know who they are, and I would like to thank them for their efforts in assisting me in trying to resolve this question and identify who this actor was. They were not able to provide any information because they didn't know. And they indicated that they reached out to Jeff King, and he was not able to provide that information as well. And yes, I did reach out to the Screen Actors Guild as well. They basically blew me off by saying that an actor's screen acting credits is confidential information. Hmmm. Let me think about that for a minute.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 23:22
Anyway, back to the episode. During this Pai Gow game, Neal meets Meilin who is serving as his hostess. And then of course he meets Lao Shen, and the verbal dance between the two of them has just begun when things suddenly go wrong.
Clinton Jones 23:41
Peter, we got a problem. NYPD got a tip off. They're about to raid the game.
Peter Burke 23:45
Who the hell tipped them off?
Clinton Jones 23:47
I have no clue.
Peter Burke 23:49
They're gonna get Neal killed. You get me Captain Shattuck of NYPD before they crash this whole thing.
1st NYPD Officer 23:54
NYPD! [unintelligible] Hands on the table!
2nd NYPD Officer 24:06
Everyone down! Down! We will shoot! Freeze!
Unknown Speaker 24:11
Come on, Neal. Just give yourself up. Tell them you're FBI.
3rd NYPD Officer 24:20
Fired. Shots fired. We have a white male... 6-foot, gray suit... Heading out of the building.
Clinton Jones 24:19
I don't think he gave himself up.
Peter Burke 24:22
Maybe it's not him.
Neal Caffrey 24:23
Trying to save my cover here, guys.
Peter Burke 24:24
It's him. All right. If he's not with me in three minutes, you mobilize backup and tell NYPD to stay the hell out of our way!
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 24:34
[Act 2] Well, I think we see something here in this…in this sequenc that is very, very big. Experts say that in a stressful situation, your first response is your most honest response. Peters first response here is that they're going to get Neal killed, and that Neal should give himself up, and tell them that he's FBI. Now, Peter does not know who from Lao's organization might still be there. If Neal were to identify himself as FBI to the…to the police, he could blow the entire operation. But Peters response is not about saving the operation. It's about saving Neal. This is huge. Now naturally, Neal, being Neal, he doesn't do the rational thing, but instead he improvises trying to salvage the operation. So he grabs one of the round tabletops that just conveniently happens to not be bolted to the base, and uses it as protection against the police gunshots while trying to make his escape. Neal does manage to escape the local police. But in the process, he runs into a couple of Lao's men, and they don't look happy. But Meilin steps in and rescues him, telling the man that Lao said to let her take care of it. In the meantime, Peter directs Cruz and Jones to begin trying to figure out what happened and why. And then Peter calls Elizabeth.
Elizabeth Burke 26:00
Peter Burke 26:03
I married a perceptive woman.
Elizabeth Burke 26:05
And I married a predictable man. All right. So no dinner tonight. How about lunch tomorrow?
Peter Burke 26:10
That sounds great.
Elizabeth Burke 26:14
What did Neal do now?
Peter Burke 26:16
Elizabeth Burke 26:19
You know, I wouldn't worry too much about him. He respects you, you know.
Peter Burke 26:23
I think you're overselling our bond a little bit.
Elizabeth Burke 26:26
I don't. Good luck.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 26:31
I think this conversation between Peter and Elizabeth serves to highlight even further how Peter feels about Neal. I already mentioned that his first response when the New York Police, the local police, raided the gaming room was for Neal to get himself up, potentially compromising the investigation to find the missing agent. And here I think we see…see that being built upon, even though I don't think Peter consciously realizes how he feels, but we we hear it in this conversation. When Elizabeth tells Peter, ‘Neal respects you’, Peter responds, ‘I think you're overselling our bond’. That doesn't really seem all that significant. But if you look at the wording, Elizabeth's comment was unidirectional. It was about how Neal feels about Peter. Peters response, though, is bidirectional. He doesn't say to Elizabeth, ‘I think you're overselling Neal's bond to me’, he says, ‘you're overselling our bond’—the bond between each one of them for the other one. Elizabeth's comment was unidirectional, but Peter responds to it bidirectionally. I think that's very significant and shows that Peter actually has a very…developing strong bond with Neal.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 27:47
Meilin takes Neal to a hotel, and eventually reveals that she is an Interpol agent. She also admits—or at least she doesn't deny—having been the one to call the cops with the anonymous tip that led them to raid the game. Meilin tells Neal that the FBI is interfering with an Interpol operation to get to Laos boss. She also tells Neal that she can help him get to the man who has Kate and all he has to do is botch up the FBI operation and let Lao walk.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 28:16
[Act 3] The next morning, Neal returns to the apartment where Peter and the team are headquartered, and Peter asks about the watch. Here we see the first hint that Neal may be considering compromising the FBI’s case. He lies to Peter about what happened to the watch, and conveniently leaves out the detail about Meilin being Interpol. And when Cruz reports that the anonymous tip that rated the Pai Gow parlor came from Meilin, he attempts a subtle deflection by questioning the validity of the information. Peter seems to have some questions about Neal's recounting of that night. He points out that if Meilin were really trying to keep the deal alive, as Neal suggests, then why would she have had the gaming parlor raided? Peter Neal and Laoren go to a hostess bar where Meilin reportedly works, and Peter uses a little subterfuge to try and get information on Meilin whereabouts. And the information that he gets points to something called the Red Lantern Export Company. But again, Neal tries to deflect the case from Meilin by telling Peter that pursuing the case through her is a waste of time. Peter’s had Laoren Cruz doing a little bit of investigating and she comes up and gives him the results of that investigation. And it just makes Peter question Neal's reliability and its intentions even further than he was questioning them before.
Peter Burke 29:38
Elizabeth Burke 29:40
Wow, you think Neal knows?
Peter Burke 29:42
Well, he spent six hours alone with her in a room... He knows.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 29:45
Maybe he was keeping his cover. Okay. He knows.
Peter Burke 29:50
He's playing me.
Elizabeth Burke 29:53
Well... There's really only one reason why he would keep something from you.
Peter Burke 29:58
Just one? Kate.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 30:05
Again, Peter is bringing Elizabeth into the case. And again, Elizabeth serves as his lens to focus his thoughts and his direction on the important details. In this particular case, it's that if Neal isn't following the course that they had set out for him on this case, it's because of Kate. Something to do with Kate. And something to do with Meilin being Interpol tied up with something to do with Kate.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 30:35
Next, Peter Neal, head to the Red Lantern warehouse where again Neal tries to drag his heels on the case, first suggesting that they can't enter because they need a warrant, then saying that he can't get them in because he doesn't have his lockpick tools. Now Peter either routinely carries those himself, which seems unlikely as that wouldn't probably be typical for a law enforcement agency, or he anticipated Neal's response and grabbed a set before heading to the warehouse. I'm going to lean toward the latter. Inside the warehouse, they find a freezer, and inside that freezer, they find the body of their missing agent. Almost immediately Lao’s men appear, and it seems that they're there to pick up agent Costa’s body. Peter doesn't have any cell phone service in the warehouse to call for backup, so he and Neal climb onto the top of a shelving unit and observe. Well, Peter has no choice. He has to let Lao's men leave. And of course he's upset about that. Neal rationally points out that had Peter tried to confront them and stop them, that the two of them could have ended up dead. But in his frustration, Peter doesn't react well to that. And the combination of being forced to let Lao’s men leave, and his knowledge that Neal has been holding out on him is finally too much. And he confronts Neal about Meilin.
Neal Caffrey 31:53
I never lied to Peter.
Elizabeth Burke 31:54
You did leave a few things out.
Neal Caffrey 31:56
You don't understand. I need to find Kate. She's in danger.
Elizabeth Burke 32:06
Look, my husband really wants to trust you, but you keep giving him reasons not to. You're on your own on this one.
Neal Caffrey 32:15
Please... please… no, stay! Don't go! So, what now?
Peter Burke 32:26
Now I wouldn't take you off this case if I could.
Neal Caffrey 32:28
I w... I wasn't talking about the case.
Peter Burke 32:31
What did Interpol promise you? Did Meilin promise you Kate?
Neal Caffrey 32:36
Look, what was I supposed to do? She said she could find her.
Peter Burke 32:40
In exchange for what?
Neal Caffrey 32:41
They want Lao to walk.
Peter Burke 32:44
Do you know why?
Neal Caffrey 32:46
They're after his boss.
Peter Burke 32:47
Lao doesn't have a boss. You know what this is really about? It's about jurisdiction. If they arrest him on Asian soil, they get additional funding from China's Government.
Neal Caffrey 32:56
Peter Burke 32:58
Yeah. Half a million dollars... That's the price of a dead FBI agent. You really think you can believe everything she tells you? We either take down Lao now, or our partnership comes to an end.
Neal Caffrey 33:13
Peter Burke 33:15
You tell me.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 33:20
Neal does come clean with Peter, albeit reluctantly. It’s...it's understandable. He feels he's caught between his responsibility to Peter, and his responsibility to Kate. And undoubtedly he feels that revealing the truth to Peter compromises his ability to fulfill his responsibilities to Kate. His conflict is further complicated, though, when Peter tells him that Meilin lied to him. Because contrary to what she told Neal, Lao doesn't have a boss. And the motivation for Meilin to let Lao walk is that if Interpol can arrest him on Asian soil, they get additional funding. So basically, almost everything Meilin has told him up to this point about the investigation, about Lao, about Interpol, has been a lie. And then, of course, Peter warns Neal that if they don't take down Lao themselves, right now, that the partnership between Neal and Peter is over. And the idea that they are partners, just the fact that Peter even says that, really hits deep with Neal. I mean, he has friends—Mozzie of course we know. And of course, he had Kate who was and is his girlfriend, but the spark that Peter strikes with the word partners seems to suggest that he hasn't had someone that he considers a partner in the same way that he considers Peter to be a partner, and that Peter considers him to be a partner. But I think it's maybe more than that. I've mentioned before that there's kind of this father/son relationship between Peter and Neal. And it seems to me that the response Neal is having here is the same sort of response that a kid might have when his father, to whom he looks up but feels inadequate in comparison to, calls him a partner. I mean, that’s...that's the kind of response that I see out of Neal here. And I think that's, I think that really highlights the fact that there is this almost father/son relationship between the two.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 35:25
After the conversation, Neal returns to his apartment, and Meilin is there with June. And it's clear that June has her suspicions about Meilin because she tells Neal as she's leaving the apartment, I keep my eye on that one.
Neal Caffrey 35:47
What happened to Costa?
What, no small talk?
Neal Caffrey 35:51
I saw a dead FBI agent today. Not really feeling like small talk.
I'm the reason you found that body.
You expect me to believe you left a bread-crumb trail on purpose? You lied to me about why you want Lao.
Neal Caffrey 36:04
And you're letting a murderer go free to curry political favor. If that sits right with you, then maybe I should rethink our arrangement.
I'm just doing my job. And right now, my job is to make sure the FBI can't monitor any of Lao's accounts during your meeting tomorrow. Doesn't matter to me what happens after that. Oh, Neal? The man who's got Kate… I know who it is.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 36:34
In the previous episode I mentioned about how...about how Neal had led uncle Gary to believe he was saying…Neal was saying certain things or, or asking certain questions that he really wasn't. And I had commented about how easy it is to get people to believe that you're saying something that you aren't. And I see that happening here again. Meilin wants Neal to believe that she was the one that led the FBI to cost…Costa’s body. And when Neal says, Well, you expect me to believe you left a breadcrumb trail on purpose, she responds, your agent deserved a proper burial. Now, most people would interpret that response as meaning. yes, I left a breadcrumb trail for you to follow. But that isn't at all what that response means. In fact, the response doesn't even really address Neal's questions at all. It's simply a statement, which is designed to let the listener in for something and infer that the statement is an affirmation and a confirmation of the question that was being asked. And really all she said was, Hey, your guy deserves a proper burial. Okay, great, he deserves a proper burial. Did you actually lead us to find him? Those two things aren't related. It's not an answer to the question. And then, rather than admit that she lied about Lao having a boss and that it's all about securing the additional funding, she avoids the issue altogether. She just simply tells Neal, well, it's my job to make sure that the FBI can't monitor any of Lao’s accounts in this meeting that has been set up where you're supposed to give him this money, and the FBI can follow it. And she doesn't admit that she outright lied. But it's a tacit admission that she lied. So the fact that Neal has confirmation from Peter that Meilin lied. The fact that Meilin not denying that she lied, should really cause Neal to question everything she has ever said to him, including the suggestion that she could help and find Kate.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 38:37
Now, maybe she realizes that this is the case, that maybe he’ll...maybe he will figure out that I've been lying to him about everything, including what I said about Kate, so she tries to deflect his attention from that fact…from the fact that she can't be trusted to tell the truth by redirecting his attention with her claim that the man who's got Kate, I know who it is. And that wording is very important, because that wording becomes important to something that happens later. The other thing she says is that it's her job to make sure the FBI can't monitor any of Lao's accounts during the meeting, and that after that, it doesn't matter what happens. That's going to be important, too.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 39:23
Now in preparation for the meeting with Lao where Neal is supposed to give Lao an account number so that Lao can supposedly launder this money and thus give the FBI the opportunity to track that money through the account, because they're monitoring the account, and give them the evidence that they need to bust Lao on his money laundering...during that, setting up that meeting, Peter gives Neal a new watch and says well, you better not break this one. I think we can assume that Peters figured out that, contrary to what Neal had said previously, he didn't damage the first one while he was trying to get away from the local heroes, as Mozzie puts it, and I think we can also hear in Peters voice that he's perturbed with Neal when he says, manually deactivate the transmitter press it again, it turns back on. And he damn well better turn it back on. The tone in his voice is pretty much a warning to Neal: don't let yourself be tempted to let Lao walk. Remember what I said about being partners? I mean it.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 40:27
Well, we know that Peter wants to get Lao for Costa’s murder. But perhaps he realizes that with Lao's men having taken Costa’s body, they really don't have anything anymore that they can use to tie him to the murder, so he's focused...he seems to be focusing on getting Lao for the money laundering. And we can see this, see evidence of this…this change of focus a little bit when he's talking to Neal in the monitor van, and he tells him, once you give Lao our account number, we'll be able to scan the dirty money. So between that and the audio from the watch, we'll be able to put this guy away for good. Which makes it all the more important that Neal not blow the operation. But of course, Meilin isn't going to give up and in the elevator up to Lao's suite, Meilin gives Neal a different account number that she wants him to use, that the FBI can't trace. And despite Peters warnings, Neal…he...he really does betray Peter by not turning on the watch transmitter while making the deal. And further, he betrays Peter by giving Lao the account number that Meilin gave him, not the one that the FBI set up for the deal.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 41:34
After Neal makes the deal with Lao, Meilin gives Neal the flash drive which she says she was going to give him that has all the information about who has Kate. But now Neal begins his betrayal of Meilin. Not really betrayal. That's probably not the right word. Double cross, let’s...let's call it that. It's a double cross. What he does is he draws Lao into a game of Pai Gow. And, of course, we can see that Meilin is not happy about the sudden change of plan by Neal. She's clearly even more unhappy when he essentially tells her that he's about to double cross her, now that he technically did what she demanded, and seemingly gave Neal what he wanted. So we're back to this line that she said earlier of as long as the…as long as you use the account number we give you so the FBI can't trace it, I don't care what happens after that. Well, this is what happens after that. Neal double crosses her.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 42:35
[Act 4] After apparently losing most of his money, presumably intentionally, Neal puts up the transmitter watch as a bet against Lao's watch. He activates the transmitter on the watch as he puts it on the table, and then of course, he promptly loses the hand. After he loses the hand and he leaves, Lao and his associate began to speak freely on a number of subjects, including the disposal of agent Costa’s body, and all the while Peter, Jones and Cruz are listening and recording. Later Peter tells Mr. Twan, their informant, the owner of the Meishi Li restaurant and of the apartment that they used as their command post, that they have enough information on the recordings to put Lao away for a long time. We know that the FBI can get Lao now on the death…death of agent Costa because we know that he talked about that while Peter and the…the team were recording their conversations. So even though prior to this, they didn't have anything because the body had disappeared, now they've got him on that. Peter does say they have hours of transcripts on Lao, but nothing we see or hear lets us know for certain if he had anything that would tie Lao the money laundering. So I suppose it's still possible for Interpol to get him on that after the US is done with him on the murder charge. But we don't know for certain that the US won't have the money laundering, either. Despite the fact that the FBI can nail Lao on the murder and possibly the money laundering, the fact is, Neal betrayed Peter and the FBI by essentially botching—or at least potentially botching—their case against Lao for the money laundering. He also double crossed Meilin. After all her intention was that the FBI couldn't bust Lao so that Interpol could. The fact that Neal set things up so that the FBI could bust him, at least on the murder, possibly still on the money laundering, means that Interpol can’t, or at least the best they can do is extradite him to a European jurisdiction so they can charge him. But of course, they won't be able to get the extra money that they had been banking on getting.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 40:41
Later, Meilin calls Neal.
Neal Caffrey 44:50
Neal Caffrey 44:53
You calling to apologize about the empty flash drive?
That was a necessary precaution. I had to be careful with something this sensitive.
Neal Caffrey 45:02
So you know who has Kate?
I don't have a name, but I know this... He's FBI.
Neal Caffrey 45:13
How do you know? How do you know that?
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 45:20
The fact that the flash drive Meilin gave Neal was empty should probably not have been a surprise to him. After all, everything she had told Neal, basically the entire time, from the from the time that she revealed that she was Interpol on, everything had been a lie and a manipulation. So why should Neal be surprised that she lied to him about having information about Kate? Of course, the lies, I don't think end there, or at least the lies continue to be a factor because she tells Neal that she doesn't know who the man is who has Kate. She only knows that he's FBI. But that's not what she said before, back at Neal's apartment, when he confronted her about lying about Lao's boss, and they disagreed about agent Costa and whether or not she led them to his body, she said, the man who's got Kate, I know who it is. The man who has Kate, I know who it is. Not that I know who he works for. Not I know something significant about him not. No I know what direction to send you in to find him. No, I know it was a very definitive, I know who it is. And now she's saying, I don't know who it is. And it's unfortunate that Neal seems to give what she says about the person having Kate been FBI...It’s unfortunate, unfortunate he gives any of that any kind of credence. Because either she lied to Neal previously when she said she knew who it was or she's lying to him now when she says she doesn't know who it was. And I think it's more likely that she's lying to him now out of spite for Neal having double crossed her. Especially that when Neal asks how she knows that the man is FBI, not only does she not answer the question, she hangs up on him. She's not going to continue the conversation.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 47:19
But the fact that Neal does believe her leaves him very suspicious of every FBI agent in the room, every FBI agent he's ever worked with, I would presume including Peter, which is really a shame because after all, he's made tremendous progress in starting to trust Peter, and the other FBI agents he's been working with. Cheri deFonteny, who is the moderator and admin of the White Collar Fandom Facebook group calls the ending of this episode, “one of the most effective traumatic moments of the entire series. Poor Neal, his whole world shifted right there in that moment, leaving him just holding on for dear life.”
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 48:03
[Closing] And I think that's probably the best way to sum up the episode. I will be providing links to all the resources I've mentioned, plus links to various sets of rules for Pai Gow that I found on the internet. I will include all those in the show notes, and on the official website, which is at WhiteCollaredPC.com. On the website, you'll also find ways to communicate with the show and with me personally.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 48:28
I want to thank you for listening to this episode and ask you to please be sure to join me for the next episode as I share my thoughts on episode seven, Free Fall. But until then, take care and God bless.