Discussion is on Season 1, Episode 8, entitled Hard Sell. Hosted by Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 00:00
[Titles] This is White Collared: The Podcast, season one, episode eight, Hard sell.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 00:13
[Into] 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 00:26
Before we get into the episode, I do want to let you know that this podcast, like many others, incorporates enhanced content which standard players generally do not support. This enhanced content includes websites and images that will appear at appropriate times during the episode. If you would like to check out the enhanced features on either this podcast or other podcasts, you can do that with a couple of different applications that are available: HyperCatcher and PodVerse for iPhone users, or PodcastAddict and PodVerse for Android users. Right now, not all of the podcast apps that are available that support advanced features support all of the advanced features; these three do seem to support most of these features, and hopefully as time goes by, sooner rather than later, more and more apps will support these advanced capabilities. Until then, you might want to check out one of these apps. I will have links for them in the show notes so that you can very easily check them out.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 01:32
Alright, let's get on to the episode. Hard Sell first aired on January 19, 2010, and it was written by show creator Jeff Easton, directed by Kevin Bray.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 01:45
[Episode Summary] Neal and Peter go undercover to try to bring down a fraudulent investment scheme. But Neal has come to believe that Peter is the man with the ring, and the resulting tensions between the two threatened to compromise the case. Worse, Peter has to reveal to Neal that he has spoken with Kate and that things may not be as Neal believes them to be.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 02:04
[Act 1] As the episode begins, Neal and Mozzie are in Neal's apartment playing chess.
If only there were some way to compare this to your life.
Neal Caffrey 02:20
I get it, Moz. I'm a pawn. Your analogy lacks creative thinking.
You're upset because it's accurate. See, Kate has reign over the entire board while your movements are more restricted.
Neal Caffrey 02:36
Fowler has to be lying about Peter. There's no way he has Kate.
Neal, Everyone has a price. And Peter has been in the perfect position to control everything. I hate to give the suit credit, but he's smart.
Neal Caffrey 02:49
I know him. There's no way he could do it.
If you're so sure then prove it. Find the ring, you find the king.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 03:00
At the end of the last episode, Free Fall, Neal had busted into a hotel room where Fowler and a team from OPR had set up. They were running some investigation out of that hotel room. When Neal busted in, he was convinced that Kate was there with Fowler, and Fowler was ridiculing Neal for believing that; for thinking that Kate would be there; for thinking that he had Kate. Here we find out that Fowler apparently told Neal that Peter was the man with the ring, and that Peter was the one who had Kate. Now, clearly Neal has his doubts about that. He has his doubts about Peter being the man with the ring, about Peter having Kate. But Mozzie is all on board with it. It is curious that Mozzie would believe without any apparent questioning that Fowler--who had just got done trying to set up Neal--would be telling the truth, and that Peter--who at least to some degree had established himself as, as a man of integrity, a man of honor, a truthful man--that somehow that Mozzie would believe that Peter was the man with the ring, and he was the one who was lying. I mean, it would seem fairly obvious that somebody who had just tried to set Neil up can't be trusted. So why...why should mozzie believe anything Fowler says? It just really doesn't make sense. And it's a curious contradiction to Mozzies nature to to be paranoid and suspicious of everybody, especially somebody who had just tried to set you up or set up his friend.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 04:32
After the chess scene, the episode moves to the FBI offices. Agent Arthur Landry, from the Dallas Field Office brings a boiler room case to Peter, and Peter tells him Neil's the guy, he's the guy that you want on this case. Peter and Landry briefe the team and tell them that they've got a boiler room scam using a pump and dump.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 04:56
[Boiler Room Scam] A boiler room scam is an operation which originates from a so called call center where high pressure salespeople call lists of potential investors from something called the suckers list to peddle speculative, sometimes fraudulent securities. Suckers lists identify victims of previous scams. The term boiler room comes from an early practice of running such operations in the basement or boiler room of a building and is so called due to the high pressure selling. Now what these scam artists usually do is sell worthless, overpriced or even non-existent products.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 05:33
[Boiler Room Scam: Pump and Dump] A pump and dump is a type of boiler room scam. Pump and dump schemes may originate on the internet using email spam campaigns, through media channels via fake press releases, or through telemarketing from the traditional boiler room brokerage houses. Often the stock promoter will claim to have inside information about pending news of a company and its stocks. Newsletters may purport to offer unbiased recommendations, then tout a company as a hot stock for their own benefit. Promoters may also post messages in online chat groups, or on internet forums urging readers to buy the stock quickly. If a promoters campaign to pump up the stock is successful, it will often entice unwitting investors to purchase shares of the target company. With the increased demand, price, and trading volume of the stock--that can convince people who were not even on the list to believe the hype and to buy shares. When the promoters behind the scheme sell or dump their shares and stop promoting the stock, the price plummets and other investors are left holding the stock that is worth significantly less than they paid for it.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 06:45
[Act 1 Continues] Neil, of course realizes that he is the one nominated to go undercover. Peter tells Neal that the scammers have taken the bait on a company that the FBI had set up called Reimer Pharmaceutical, and that they have a tap on every phone in the place. So they're recording every call, but all the sales are real, and they just want to know who's behind it all. Neil says, so do I. Of course, Peter, when Peter says they want to know who's behind it all he's referring to who's behind the scam. When Neil says it, he's meaning the Kate situation, but Peter catches it and asks him says, what was that? What did you say? And Neil tries to pretend like it was nothing. Peter also tells Neil that the anklet will have come off and warns Neil that they need a homerun in this case, because a lot of people think that Peter made a mistake in bringing Neil on board as a consultant, and things go sideways] Neil is back in maximum security.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 07:45
Neil, using his Nick Halden alias, which was the same one that he used in the episode, All In, meets with Brad who is kind of the manager of the call center. Neil's interview is a cold call to a potential sucker. And of course, the call is intercepted by the FBI and routed to Peter. Naturally, Peter makes sure that Neil makes the sale. But, as Peter says, Neil could sell light switches to the Amish. And the pitches that he makes during the phone call are cited as the various techniques that are used to pressure people into making a purchase right now without thinking about it, with the sort of pitches that are designed to appeal to people's greed, and desire for the quick buck, and the fear of missing out. Now during the fake conversation with Peter Neil recites a quote attributed to
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 08:37
[Henry Ford] Henry Ford, where he says the only history that's worth a damn is the history we make today. And it's close. It's not quite an exact quote, but it is very close to the original. In an interview, which appeared in the Chicago Tribune, May 25, 1916, Henry Ford was quoted as saying, "History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn, is the history we made today."
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 09:08
[Act 1 Coninues] After Neil's impressive audition, he's hired and he has a spectacular day of selling. Afterwards, Neil's invited to meet the man behind the curtain: Mr. Avery Phillips. Neil goes out to Philips's house, and while he's there, he sees Avery and his supposed partner Daniel Reed in a heated discussion. After Neil has been warned by Brad not say anything about the tension between the two, that is exactly the first thing he does the first time he speaks with Avery. I wonder if Neil is trying to create the image of Nick Halden as being a ballsy guy, or if he's just letting his frustration with Peter and his suspicions of him come out, and Avery's just a convenient target. Nothing is really said in the episode to give any kind of answer on that either way, It's presumed, or I think it's...you're supposed to infer that he's just trying to be ballsy and that's the character he's trying to create. But I think given everything that's happened in the episode up to this point, with Fowler telling Neil that Peter's the man behind it all, that Peter's actually the man with the ring, Mozzie getting on board with Fowler's interpretation or Fowler's version of things, I think Neil was having some doubts about Peter, and I think it could be the that is one of the things coming out here. I've said in the past that I think Neil does not really plan out well, or at all, sometimes what he's going to do--he may plan his next step, but not subsequent steps, and instead depends on improvisation--and I'm pretty certain that trying to provoke Avery is not part of a plan. Because from what I can see, it doesn't really seem to serve any purpose. Yeah, it builds a persona around his character of Nick Holden, but how does that help? I don't see that does.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 11:12
After the party at Avery's house, Neil calls Peter and arranges to meet at Peter's house, ostensibly to let Peter review the recordings that Neal made at the party. But apparently, it was just a pretext to get into Peter's house and look around to see if he could find any evidence that Peter is or isn't the man with the ring. He makes an excuse to go upstairs and finds what he believes to be proof that Peter is in fact, the man with the ring. It's a photo of Peter and Elizabeth, with what seems to be the same ring visible being worn on exactly the same finger.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 11:44
[Act 2] The next day, Peter is bringing the team up to speed on what they have found out based on the recordings and the information that Neil had provided. But the briefing goes a different direction then Peter even realizes it's going.
Neal Caffrey 12:01
So let me wrap my head around this for a segment you say on read your Avery, you're trying to screw me. Why?
Peter Burke 12:08
Neal Caffrey 12:09
It's that simple?
Peter Burke 12:10
Isn't it always?
Neal Caffrey 12:11
So you manipulate your friends and people around you?
Peter Burke 12:14
Yeah. All to get rid of you.
Neal Caffrey 12:17
I never saw coming.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 12:20
During the briefing, Neil is making some very pointed remarks full of under...subtext and undertones. He's making those toward Peter. But Peter doesn't respond. And it's as if he doesn't understand the significance of what Neil's saying. Perhaps the fact that Peter doesn't respond reinforces Neil's belief that Peter is the guy, thinking that if he wasn't he would be curious about the remarks and that the only reason he wouldn't respond to them is because he's trying to keep the fact that he's behind whatever's happening with Kate under wraps by not responding, by not taking the bait. I think Neil is making a mistake here. After all, if Peter is the guy, then revealing that you know that he's the guy or, hinting that you know that he's the guy, probably wouldn't be a good move until you have a plan to deal with him and the situation. I think Neil is responding emotionally here rather than rationally, which as I've said before, seems to be the case, again, of him not planning and just responding to an immediate situation. Not planning out his moves, not thinking ahead.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 13:34
After the briefing Mozzie. Neil, of course, are back in the apartment playing chess, discussing what Neil should do in light of the new information that Neil believes he's found.
What's with you?
Neal Caffrey 13:45
I found the ring. It's Peter.
I'm so sorry, man. I truly am.
Neal Caffrey 13:55
I don't understand why.
He's a suit. This is what they do. You gonna play it out?
Neal Caffrey 14:04
What choice do I have?
They've got you off your anklet for this one. You could run.
Neal Caffrey 14:13
I'd need some cash.
We can get cash. So what are you gonna do?
Neal Caffrey 14:19
Get the money.
And it seems like he's gonna skip out.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 14:24
Then presumably the next day they're back at the FBI offices for another briefing. Or it may be more accurately to call it a skull session because they're trying to figure out how to get the proof that they need that Avery is the one who is running the boiler room scam.
Peter Burke 14:39
We know who we're after. Now all we need is proof that Avery is getting a cut of the profits in the room.
Lauren Cruz 14:46
We already set up a company they're exploiting. How about we set up a CEO to exploit them?
Peter Burke 14:52
Where are you going with this?
Lauren Cruz 14:53
Let's say that the owner of Rhymer Pharmaceuticals is on to the scam. So he walks into Avery's office with a proposal: earning reports and share the profits in exchange for silence.
Peter Burke 15:03
We create the right backstory give the CEO working history, it could fly. Question is, who do we send?
Neal Caffrey 15:11
How about you? You look like a guy people can trust. But I'd also believe you can be bought...for the right price. If you played right, I mean.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 15:26
Jones had suggested that they aske for the boiler room books. Peter says that would tip their hand. I think the point here is that they don't have enough evidence to obtain a warrant, which would let them descend on the boiler room itself, as well as Avery and Reed's legitimate businesses, their homes and their other properties, to seize any financial records they could find. As it stands at this point, it seems their only real option is just to ask politely and hope that Avery and Reed give them access to the books. Of course, that's when Lauren suggests that they use a fake CEO for the fake company that the FBI set up, and the company that Avery's exploiting in the scam, and try to reverse the exploit and put the squeeze on Avery that direction. Back in the Book of Hours, I'd mentioned that Lauren seemed rather careless while searching the home of Professor Maria Fiametta. But here she proposes what seems to be a very good plan. If they can get Avery to go along with the scheme that this fake CEO is going to throw back on him, this would essentially prove that he is behind the scam, and that it is a scam and would allow the FBI to obtain a warrant to seize the documents that they need without having to tip their hand first. I think this may be a hint that although she lacks some of the skills necessary to be good in field work, or at least needs to significantly improve her field work, she has the skills to be a good investigative agent.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 16:59
During the skull session, Neil, of course continues his accusatory comments under...under the cover the discussion that they're having about the scam. But this time Peter definitely catches the comment. And he gives Neil a, 'what is this really all about?' look, I'm sure that Peter doesn't really know what it's all about at this point, or, or at least he doesn't understand why Neal would be having a problem about anything, or that maybe if it is about Kate why Neal would be having a problem with it at this point. But I think that he does realize that something's going on in Neil's head, and I think that Peter really doesn't have a clue about it. At this point yet, not not yet. After the skull session breaks up, Peter confronts Neil, but he doesn't get anywhere with him. And Neil tries to cover himself, but Peter is not buying it. So again, not planning, because if he truly believes that Peter is behind it all, he shouldn't be letting Peter know that he knows. Not yet.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 18:02
Over at the boiler room, Brad tells Neil that Avery's instructions are to freeze out Madison, who has been the FBI's insider. And since Jones and Lauren are listening in, they hear the instructions and they realize that Madison has probably been made by Avery. That's not good news for Madison or the FBI. Meanwhile, Peter arrives posing as Mr. Edison, the CEO of Rhymer Pharmaceutical, the fake company that the FBI set up. Avery tries to make like he doesn't know what Peter's talking about when Peter says, I know what you're doing, and I know why you're buying up all those shares in my company, they're not worth anything, that's my first clue. But Peter doesn't let him off the hook. When Avery realizes that he can't hide what he's been doing, or at least that maybe he doesn't need to, or that it's best...in his best interest not to, uh, he invites Peter to a party saying, if we're going to do business off the books, we should discuss it off the clock.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 18:57
Now later at the party, Neil seems to be trying to provoke Brad. And again, there doesn't seem to be any real point to it, other than the fact that Neil is just in a bad mood and looking to provoke somebody. I think he really wants to provoke a confrontation with Peter, but it seems that, failing that, he'll just he'll take a confrontation with anybody he can. Avery takes Peter into the house and shows off his prized comic book collection. He also brags about the fire suppression/security system in the vault that holds his comic books.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 19:30
Going back outside with the group, things start to get tense between Peter and Neil. Neil seems to be near the breaking point with Peter. He finally succumbs to Brad and Avery's pressure to take some shots. He terminates two clay pigeons with ease and prejudice, and while looking straight at Peter says, just 'cuz I don't like guns doesn't mean I can't use one. And he doesn't really do much here to disguise his anger or the threatening undertone of his voice. It's it's pretty obvious.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 19:58
After this exchange, Neil and Peter see someone escorting Madison into the house and they realize that she is in serious trouble. So Peter realizes he has to do something to move the suspicion off of her.
Neal Caffrey 20:11
They know she's the mole.
Peter Burke 20:14
Damn it. This is going to go bad fast. Back my play.
Neal Caffrey 20:21
Peter Burke 20:22
Neil, what is wrong with you?
Neal Caffrey 20:24
I saw your ring.
Peter Burke 20:28
A lot of us have those rings. Not now back my play. Hey, Avery. This guy's been playing you. You got yourself a spy.
Peter Burke 20:28
Neal Caffrey 20:28
I know you've got Kate!
Neal Caffrey 20:36
What, are you selling me out now?
Peter Burke 20:38
Trust me. I'll explain later. I knew I recognized a son of a bitch. Search him.
Who are you?
Neal Caffrey 20:55
Like he said. I'm a spy.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 21:01
Peter pulls a page from Neil's playbook and improvises. Now, this is an instance where it definitely is appropriate. But Neil decides to make a stand here by refusing to back Peter's play. It's understandable that Neil would want to confront Peter about being the man with the ring. But really? Right now, when a woman's life might be in danger? I understand he feels betrayed. But this is a totally inappropriate time for him to try and make a stand. And it seems rather cruel and heartless and, and almost evil of Neil to be willing to let somebody be sacrificed just because he's mad at somebody.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 21:43
[Act 3] Despite his initial reluctance, after Peter forces the situation Neil, does actually back Peters play. But that doesn't stop him from taking some verbal shots at Peter, such as his comments, "I'm the one you can't trust. That's a good one." But between Peter and Neil they convince Avery that Neil is a corporate spy, and is working for Avery's partner. That's enough to convince Avery that Madison wasn't the mole and they sent her home with a bottle of champagne and tell her that she's the employee of the month.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 22:13
Next, Peter and Neil persuade Avery that Neil is willing to flip on...on Reed, given the proper inducement. After Avery is satisfied, apparently the party breaks up and then back at Peter's house, Peter Neal has some things to sort out.
Elizabeth Burke 22:30
Neil, are you out of your mind? Peter doesn't have Kate.
Neal Caffrey 22:34
You sure about that? How often Is he gone, Elizabeth? How many late nights when you don't know where he is? He has the ring.
Peter Burke 22:40
That's your evidence? It's a 10 year FBI pin. Put in 10 years, you get one. Most of us have been made into a ring.
Neal Caffrey 22:48
I've never seen you wear it.
Peter Burke 22:49
It's a fraternity thing.
Elizabeth Burke 22:50
Come with us to the next bureau commendation dinner. You'll see hundreds of them.
Neal Caffrey 22:54
I'm sorry, Peter.
Peter Burke 22:58
I promise you. We'll figure out who it is.
Neal Caffrey 23:01
Whoever it is, is with the bureau.
Peter Burke 23:02
Yep, that is a problem.
Neal Caffrey 23:05
Thank you guys.
Peter Burke 23:06
It's all right.
Elizabeth Burke 23:14
You gonna tell him that you met with Kate?
Peter Burke 23:16
I don't think he'd trust me enough for me to tell them what happened at night. After the case, then I'll decide.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 23:25
It really didn't seem that hard for Elizabeth and Peter to convince Neal that it wasn't Peter. This leads me to conclude that at least at some level, Neil didn't really believe it was Peter, or at least he wanted to not be Peter enough that he was willing to believe them. Their story was plausible. But you know, realistically, it's not really proof that Peter isn't the man. So again, like I say, I think that Neal wanted to be convinced that it wasn't Peter. And what they presented him with was enough to convince him. Even though it really wasn't hard proof. Peter tells Elizabeth he'll wait until after the case is finished to decide if he will tell Neal about the meeting of Kate. I think Peter wants to tell me about his meeting of Kate, but he's not sure Neil is ready to hear about it.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 24:18
Back at what I presume is the office of the legitimate brokerage office, owned by Avery and Reed, Avery confides to Neil about his plans to double cross Reed. He's thinking he bought Neil and that Neil will tell read the false information that Avery wants him to feed him. But instead, Neil tells Reed Avery's real plan, Neil convinces read that they can take every down and make a financial killing in the process. All he needs is proof that Avery has been running the boiler rooms. Reid tells Neal that he doesn't trust computers, that's why Neil couldn't find any information on the computers, and that he keeps all his info on paper. Neal he tells us to Peter and Peter immediately knows where Avery keeps his books: in the comic book vault. Logical place. Weird place, but a logical place.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 25:06
Lauren then briefs Peter and Neal about the fire suppression system in the vault, which essentially, as I mentioned before, doubles as a security system. When triggered a polycarbonate wall seals the room, then a hydraulic vacuum sucks out the oxygen. Okay, great. What do you do if you're in there and something happens? Well, Jones gives Neil a James Bond style gadget. A mini breather, which as far as I can tell, doesn't exist. Or at least, it doesn't exist on the open retail market that I could find. Jones says it'll give him five minutes of error once the air is sucked out of the vault. But the backup teams response time is also five minutes. Roughly, give or take. Could be a little longer. That could be a problem for Neal.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 25:54
[Act 4] Avery is throwing a celebration party, celebrating his move to double cross Reed. And things seem to be going fine. As the party is in full swing, Neal slips out of the main party area under the pretense of hitting on the waitress. But instead he slips into the vault. Neil is checking out the box that looks like it holds the ledger and he's trying to figure out what he needs to do to get into it without setting off the fire/security system. And the backup teams in position and ready to move. But Reed can't stick to the plan that he and Neal cooked up. He busts in on the party and confronts Avery. Peter realizes they're gonna have a problem and heads toward the vault as Avery and Reed exchange their insults, and their accusations, and they begin to realize that Neil has played them both. Peter gets to the vault just before Avery and Reed and he runs into it. Avery is about to shoot at Peter and Neil with his shotgun, so Neil grabs the ledger from the box which triggers the fire suppression/security system. And of course it drops polycarbonate wall which protects them from shotgun blast. That's the good news. The bad news is that all the air is being sucked out of the room.
Peter Burke 27:04
We need to find the kill switch.
Neal Caffrey 27:06
Peter Burke 27:07
No, no. We look together. We share the oxygen until Jones comes.
Neal Caffrey 27:12
There's not enough time. Five minutes for one person, two and a half minutes for two.
Peter Burke 27:15
Peter Burke 27:16
We're wasting time. Peter, I trust you.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 27:23
I suppose someone could take the cynical view and say that even if Neil thought Peter was behind the Kate hostage situation, he knew he could trust Peter because Peter would still need Neil alive to get whatever it is that he wanted from him. But I'll accept Neil statement at face value, that any doubts he may have had about Peter previously are gone, and that he truly believes that Peter is not behind whatever is happening with Kate, and that he does trust him. Sincerely. Peter and Neil are desperately looking for the kill switch, which they find. But Neil collapses from lack of air, and Peter now has a dilemma: Keep the polycarbonate wall in place as protection from Avery shooting them--because Avery has a shotgun, it's a double double barrel shotgun, he fired one barrel already, but he still has a second one--but if he does that Neil suffocates. Or the other option is to raise the wall, and then they have air and Neil doesn't suffocate, but they both probably get shot. Of course Peter really doesn't have a choice; he has to raise the wall. But he does try to improve the odds by having his gun at the ready to try to shoot Avery as soon as the wall gets high enough that he has a clear shot and hopefully, before Avery can shoot them. But of course the good--the really good news is that the backup team, led by Jones and Lauren, shows up just in time, and Peter doesn't have to try it out shoot Avery.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 28:50
After the bust, Neil and Peter are sitting on the front porch sort of catching their breath after the events of the previous little bit, trying not to think too much of how close they came to death, trying to keep the conversation not serious, but it does turn serious after Neil asks Peter, 'you got my back, right?' In the context of the conversation at this point it's really about the two of them working together as a team. Each have any other's back as...as team members, as...as teammates, as partners. But I think Peter realizes that if he's going to truly have Neil's back, he has to come clean with him about Kate, and he does.
Neal Caffrey 29:31
You talked to Kate. The night you confronted Fowler.
Neal Caffrey 29:34
He said he was investigating you.
Peter Burke 29:36
He is. This picture was on my desk the same day that you had it.
Neal Caffrey 29:47
And you never said anything.
Peter Burke 29:48
What was I going to tell you? I recognized the ring. This guy with Kate is with the bureau. I started poking around trying to figure out who it is,
Neal Caffrey 29:58
Peter Burke 29:59
I think so.
Neal Caffrey 30:00
Of course. Yeah, you start digging around, that's when he bugged your phone.
Peter Burke 30:04
The phone, the OPR investigation, Operation Mentor. All of it. He wanted to know what I was on to.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 30:10
So Peter tells Neal that he found the photo on his desk the same day that Neil got the photo. And he says he recognized the ring, which earlier was revealed to be a 10 year pin made into a ring, which Peter says it's sort of a ritual with agents. Peter defends not saying anything to Neil at that point, because he says, what was I gonna tell you? I think Peter made a mistake there. I can understand his reluctance. Neil, when...when the photograph showed up, Neil was still fresh out of prison. He was fresh on as a consultant, and still very, very hot find Kate despite his feigned assurances to Peter, to the contrary, Peter might have been afraid that their working relationship and trust level might not be strong enough for Neil to handle the news about the FBI connection to Kate. But because Peter knew that Neil had the photo, because Neil Neil showed him half the photo and...and Peter having the original photo as well, he knew that, that Neil had removed half of it. But he knew that Neil had the photo. So he would have understood that the ring was the only real bit of information and the only real clue that that photo revealed, and that Neil would focus on trying to identify the ring in order to identify the person wearing the ring. By having a frank talk with Neil at that time, he would have been in front of it. And I think he might have made Neil a bit more trusting of Peter. It might have been a little bit of a shock, it might have been a tough thing to explain to Neil, Neil would have probably reacted badly, initially. But I think if he if Peter had revealed that information early on, they would have avoided a lot of the problems that they were having, such as the that they were having In this episode, Fowler wouldn't have had an opportunity to worm his...his lie in his misdirection, and his his attempt to point the finger at Peter, none of that would have would have taken...it wouldn't have taken hold, and I think they would have been better off and...and farther ahead than where they are if Peter had said something.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 32:14
I want to touch on Mentor, Operation Mentor. As I was assembling and completing the last episode Free Fall, I realized I might not have been totally clear on a point regarding Neil and Mozzie, the hotel room that Fowler had set up in and Operation Mentor. I had mentioned that Mozzie might not have found any operation to explain the hotel room. And it might have seemed like a contradiction. Neil and Mozzie were given access to all the documents that the FBI had on Neil, the hotel room was apparently referenced in one or more of those documents. So how could Mentor not have been mentioned? The fact that Neil and Mozzie got all the documents that the FBI had about Neil doesn't mean they got all the files that those documents came from. So in this case, we know that Fowler has been spying on Peter; Neal and Peter worked together; the file on Mentor would include documents that mentioned Neil, and those documents would have been turned over to Neil and Mozzi, and one or more of those documents could have referenced the hotel and the room. But the complete Mentor files would not necessarily have been turned over to Neil and Mozzie, because undoubtedly, many of the other documents within that file had no reference to Neal, therefore, probably wouldn't fall within the scope of the discovery ruling. And certainly, the FBI would have wanted to interpret the ruling that way, you know, at any rate, that that they wouldn't have to give him the whole file, only the documents that specifically reference Neil. And the fact that a document in the file mentions Neil but doesn't reference Mentor isn't necessarily a contradiction either because if it was an informal document--field notes or something to that effect--it wouldn't necessarily mention the specific operation. These would be the types of things that an agent would be making notes of to himself while he's working the case out following somebody, doing research and documents, whatever, he'd be making these notes to himself, he wouldn't have to reference the the operation, but he would be saving these for making his formal report later on. Now, the formal report probably would have mentioned Mentor, but we don't know if the FBI would have turned over the actual reports or the handwritten notes as and especially if Fowler wanted to hide the operation from Neil for some reason. He might have just given him photocopies of the notes saying, well, here they are, and not necessarily the finalized, typed up version of the report that the agent actually turned in.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 34:50
In addition to telling Neal that he said the photo all along, he does finally tell Neal about his meeting with Kate.
Peter Burke 34:59
You recognizes this? Yeah, I've got one, too. Just like Fowler.
Kate Moreau 35:05
What do you want?
Peter Burke 35:06
Leave Neal alone?
Kate Moreau 35:07
I can't do that.
Peter Burke 35:11
Why not? What does Neil have that you so desperately want? I can get it for you.
Kate Moreau 35:18
Why would you do that?
Peter Burke 35:19
Why? Because he's good. Because he's the smartest guy I've ever met. And I'm tired of watching you twist his heart around. He's my friend. Did you ever love him?
Peter Burke 35:37
Tell Fowler I know. And I'm not backing off.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 35:41
When Peter tells Kate that he can get whatever it is that she wants from Neil, she says, 'Why would you do that?' And Peter's response is the first...I think the first direct acknowledgement by him, at least the first direct acknowledgment out loud, that he considers Neil his friend. Of course, he has to work up to it. I mean, he starts with, 'He's good. He's smart.' Because Peter's tired of watching her twist his heart around, because Peter's, the sort of guy who doesn't like to see good people being taken advantage of by others, regardless of his relationship, or lack of relationship to them. But then he finally says it. He's my friend. When Kate reveals that the focus of all skullduggery is a music box, she perhaps unwittingly acknowledges that she is at least a willing participant in the scheme when she says, 'the music box, that's my price.' Not, that's his price, not the man with the ring's price. No, it's it's not a reference or implication of anyone else being interested in the music box, it was just about her and her price. Peter's a smart guy. I think he knows how to read most people, and can figure out when what somebody says means more than what they intended to say, where it reveals more than they intended to reveal. And I think the comment, and what it meant is part of what Peter's referring to when he tells Neil, 'I looked in her eyes, I didn't see concern for you.' I will admit that my previous comment about Kate being a willing participant and it being about her and her price, doesn't seem to quite line up with the fact that when Peter tells Kate, 'tell Fowler I know and I'm not backing off', she responds don't push him. It's as if she's fearful of Fowler and what he might do to Peter and possibly, Neil. But I'm thinking that Kate and Fowler are partners in the scheme, probably 50/50 partners, not one or the other being in charge, and then the other just being sort of a lackey or errand boy or errand girl. And given that Fowler is OPR/FBI, he would probably fall into the approach of a scheme in a familiar manner to him, which would be good cop/bad cop with Kate playing the role of the good cop who's just trying to be nice and reasonable while bad cop Fowler's just seemingly pushing her and controlling herr manipulating her in order to manipulate Neil. So playing the part of the fearful damsel in distress would be consistent with her part, although she really doesn't seem to be able to play her part with complete consistency, which would again explain the verbal slip she made in this episode, as well as the episode in The Portrait, when she said, when she told Neil, tell me where you hid everything instead of tell him
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 38:40
[The Amber Room] The object of Kate's obsession is an amber music box that according to Neil, Catherine, the Great had in the Amber Room in the palace at St. Petersburg. A little bit of information about the original Amber Room. Construction of the original Amber Room began in 1701 and was originally installed at Charlottenburg Palace, home of Frederick I, the first King of Prussia. The room was designed by German Baroque sculptor Andreas Schlüter, and was constructed by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram. Peter the Great admired of the room on a visit and in 1716, Frederick William I, who was the King of Prussia at that time, presented it to Peter as a gift celebrating either the peace between Russia and Prussia, or a Prussian Russian alliance against Sweden, depending on which paragraph of the article from the Smithsonian magazine you read.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 39:48
After Frederick William I gifted it to Peter the Great it was shipped to Russia in 18 large boxes and installed in the winter house in St. Petersburg. In 1755 Czarina Elizabeth ordered the room to be moved to the Catherine Palace in Pushkin. Italian designer Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli--I know, I'm sorry Italian folks, I butchered that's all those pronunciations I apologize--but he redesigned the room to fit in the new larger space that it was being installed in and had additional Amber's shipped in from Berlin to fill in the spaces. There were more renovations, and eventually, the room covered about 180 square feet and glowed with six tonnes of amber and other semi precious stones. The amber panels were also backed with gold leaf.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 40:43
In June of 1941, Adolf Hitler initiated Operation Barbarossa, which launched 3 million German soldiers into the Soviet Union. The invasion led to the looting of 10's of 1000's of art treasures, including the illustrious Amber Room which the Nazis believed, since it was made by Germans it was most certainly made for Germans. As the German forces moved into Pushkin, officials and curators of the Catherine Palace attempted to disassemble and hide the Amber Room. When the dry amber began to crumble, the officials tried hiding the room behind thin layers of wallpaper. But the ruse didn't fold the German soldiers who tore down the Amber Room within 36 hours, packed it up into 27 crates and shipped it to Königsberg Germany, the present day killing and...killinin..killingrad Kaliningrad. Okay. Sorry, I'm really bad with foreign languages. I'm also pretty bad with English sometimes. But anyway, the room was reinstalled in the Königsberg Castle museum on the Baltic coast. The museum's director Alfred Rohde was an amber aficionado and studied the rooms panel history while it was on display for the next two years. Late in 1943, with the end of the war in sight, Rohde was advised to dismantle the Amber Room and crate it away. In August of the following year, Allied bombing raids destroyed the city and turn the castle museum into ruins and with that the trail of the Amber room was lost.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 42:22
It seems hard to believe that crates with several tonnes of Amber's could go missing, and many historians have tried solve the mystery. The most basic theory is that the crates were destroyed by the bombings of 1944. One of the more extreme theories was that Stalin actually had a second Amber room built and that the Germans stole a fake. But in 1997, a group of German art detectives got a tip that someone was trying to hock a piece of the Amber Room. They raided the Office of the sellers lawyer and found one of the rooms mosaic panels in Bremen, but the seller was the son of a deceased soldier and had no idea of the panel's origin. In 2015, explorers in the town of Walbrzych--I'm sorry, I'll put this in the show notes, I'm not even going to try to mispronounce it any more than I've already tried--anyway, they said they found a tunnel, which they believed was laden with na...looted Nazi treasure. But after weeks of hype and speculation, when the explorers eventually began digging, they discovered the tunnel was empty. In 2017, treasure hunters claimed that the treasure was inside a cave in the Hartenstein hills near Dresden. In 2019, another group of treasure hunters found the hatch to an underground bunker in Poland that had been sealed for decades. But they didn't know what was inside of it. They thought there might be treasures. They thought that the Amber Room might be in there, but they really didn't know. And in both the 2017 and 2019 cases, the claims were made based on radiographic imaging which showed tunnels and rooms, and other physical evidence that was found such as steel cables, indicating that large heavy objects such as crates laden with treasures may have been moved in these places. But nothing was ever confirmed or found.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 44:11
But the final word may be from a team of Polish divers. In October 2020, it was announced that they had found an almost intact wreckage of the German steamer Karlsruhe. In 1941, the Amber Room's contents were placed in storage in Koenigsberg, now a Russian city which is known as Kaliningrad, and as Hitler's defeat loaned the 196 foot Karlsruhe was used to evacuate Germans from that city. It's a journey which has sparked the speculation that treasures were actually spirited away on that ship. On April 13, 1945, the Karlsruhe came under attack from Soviet planes and sank to the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Lead diver Tomasz Stachura--I know I mispronounced that name, I'm sorry Tomasz--he stated that it was in Koenigsberg that the amber chamber was seen for the last time. And from there, the Karlsruhe left on its last voyage with a large cargo. Now the wreckage they found was practically intact, in its holds they discovered military vehicles, porcelain and mini crates with contents still unknown. They said, "we don't want to get excited but if the Germans were to take the amber chamber across the Baltic Sea, then the Karlsruhe steamer was their last chance."
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 45:38
Now, the Smithsonian also does report that the construction of a new Amber Room was begun in 1979 and was completed after 25 years and $11 million. It was dedicated by then, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and then German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder. And the new room marked the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg in a unifying ceremony that echoed the peaceful sentiment behind the original.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 46:10
[The Amber Room: The Amber Musicbox] Now, what about the amber music box? Apparently other than the fact of the Amber Room actually having existed, and the fact that it actually did contain treasures which have been lost the time, there seems to be no historical basis for the idea that there was specifically an amber music box as part of the rooms collection. Now given that nobody really knows what the room contained, at this point in time, it is entirely possible that it contained a music box. It is entirely possible that the music box was made of amber. But it's all speculation as part of the show. But that's part of what we like about the show is the weaving of fantasy and reality together to where you really don't know where one ends and the other one begins.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 47:01
[Act 4 Continues] Be that as it may, it seems that all of Fowler's efforts to secure the music box and whatever else it may have contained, maybe for naught because we learned that even though everyone thinks Neil has the music box, he doesn't actually have it. He just let everybody think he had it. But it seems that Neil no longer has a choice. He must find the music box and steal it. To whichh Mozzie says, 'welcome back'.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 47:29
[Closing] And I would like to welcome you back to the next episode when it comes around. It will be coming just give us a few weeks. But until then, just a reminder that you can help the podcast grow by telling a fellow White Collar fan about it. If you visit the website, www.WhiteCollaredPC.com you can find all the ways that you can contact me. And I will also be providing links to all the resources I've mentioned on that website and in the shownotes.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 48:01
Thank you for listening. And be sure to join me for the next episode as I share my thoughts on episode nine, "Bad Judgment". Until then, take care and God bless.