‘White Collar’ Recap: Putting the Chips On The Table

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The episode opened up with Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) meeting Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) outside a dry cleaner, with the FBI agent holding a freshly-pressed suit. He was having dinner later with his wife Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen) to celebrate the anniversary of their first meeting. He mentioned that he remembered all anniversaries, including the day that he first arrested Caffrey. He then showed him the FBI pen that he’d found in the last episode. Caffrey played dumb. What, you thought he was going to blanch and say, “Oh man, you caught us”? Burke dismissed him so that he could get ready for his date with Elizabeth.

Later on, the Burkes were eating dinner at a restaurant. Suddenly, the waiter came up with three drinks. Puzzled, Burke said that he didn’t order them. The waiter pointed to a woman sitting at the bar. It turned out to be Jill from Peter’s days at Quantico. She was also his ex. Awkward. Jill came over and sat down, though she did immediately realize that Peter and Elizabeth were on a date. They insisted that she sit with them. Jill told them that she was in town on a case. They then drank the bourbons Jill had sent over, though Peter knew he was in trouble by Elizabeth’s immediately sipping wine afterwards.

Rebecca, the unemployed museum curator, went to Caffrey’s place. He gave her wine and showed her the sole chapter of the Mosconi book he had pilfered. They were puzzling it out and he thought to put the pages, which contained a lot of illustrations, like puzzle pieces. They were flirting with each other the whole time. Finally,  it turned out to look like a stained glass window. Flushed with excitement, she kissed him. Of course, enter Mozzie (Willie Garson), in the role of the FBI agent to interrupt the kiss. She left and Mozzie expressed that he thought Caffrey was getting too emotionally involved. 

At home, Burke was at explaining himself to his wife. When Jill was at Quantico, she pushed him hard, but he said overall, Elizabeth was the one one who really got him through the past year, which mollified her.  She reminded him that it was still their anniversary. Bow-chicka-wow-wow.

The next day, Burke and Caffrey were talking at the office. It turned out an FBI badge had flashed somewhere and it could have been the late Agent Siegel’s. Jill then walked into the FBI office and headed toward’s Burke’s office, which made him get nervous and try to usher Caffrey out before she came in, telling him that she was no one important. While Jill and Burke talked in his glass-paneled office,  Agent Clinton Jones and Caffrey were trying to look like they were working, but were actually watching the conversation. They immediately sussed out  that she was Burke’s ex. Inside the office, Jill explained that she was looking for a guy who had made a chip for a defense contractor and was then going to sell it on the black market. She had set up a sting and she needed Burke to come in, since he apparently was the only agent in NY she trusted. On the way out, she muttered, “This is going to be fun.” Caffrey and Jones couldn’t get enough of watching Burke practically flop sweat in his office.

Later on, Burke and Caffrey were talking on the street, with Burke still swearing that Jill meant nothing, though he was going to tell Elizabeth about the going undercover later at night. Still dubious, Caffrey changed the subject and said that he needed a new wardrobe to get the people who were using Siegel’s badge. That meant the keys to the nice car. Later, Burke was at home and was about to tell Elizabeth the situation when, but of course, Jill just dropped by unannounced, saying that she had to do the recon right then and there. She dragged him off and hit Elizabeth with a “It’s classified” when asked what was going on. This raised the hackles of Elizabeth, who usually talked about all aspects of cases with Burke. Burke had to back up his partner, though he looked clearly uncomfortable. Nice. Nothing that would set up any suspicions, right? 

Burke and Jill were sitting in a car on stakeout and she told him that he didn’t need to put on a strong front – she knew he was still hurting from losing Siegel. After a brief interlude of Jones and Caffrey driving in a car making Cagney and Lacey jokes, she told about her experience of losing an agent and then held his hand to comfort him. Mercifully the seller showed up and the two agents went to the hotel that the seller was staying in.

Jones and Caffrey were in their car, acting as bait in the area where the badge had last been used. Soon a guy rapped the door, flashing a badge and saying that he had to commandeer the car to pursue a criminal. Yeah, right. Caffrey and Jones got out and put him under arrest. They looked at the badge. Yep. It was Siegel’s, which made Jones clench his jaw quite tightly to keep from capping the guy right then and there. 

In the hotel, Jill and Burke went to the seller’s room and managed to plant a gun under a sofa cushion and got out before he saw them. Outside they saw two guys go in … people they had seen before. This meant there may also be a third interested party in getting to this fellow and his chip. Quickly, Jill took a picture of Burke and herself with her phone to sell that they were a couple and get the guys on film.

Burke and Jones were interrogating the guy with Siegel’s badge. He swore he didn’t kill the agent and said that he was in a liquor store, waiting to rob it and said that he would be seen on footage. Burke was mad and seemed to not be placated by Caffrey’s kind words afterwards. He went to the office and looked out the window after putting Siegel’s bag in evidence. Caffrey saw this and knew that he couldn’t do anything to help. 

Elizabeth was waiting up for Burke when he got home. She wanted to talk to him about the case, but he stuck to it being classified, which ran counter to nearly every other conversation they had had over the past four seasons. She was mad, but said that she understood. Right. Burke tried to snuggle with her, but she was clearly peeved.

The next morning,  Jill and Burke were at the FBI office, where they got information on the two guys that they had seen earlier. They figured that the two men wanted to steal the chip. Elizabeth strolled in to give Burke his lunch, which he had forgotten. She started to talk to Caffrey, who was waiting at his desk, having also been cut out of the loop by Jill and Burke. The topic turned to Jill, who Elizabeth saw as being lonely. Inside the conference room, Burke was bringing Jones into the case, something the lone wolf Jill didn’t want, but Burke threw his weight around as ASAC, which made her back off. Elizabeth went upstairs and into Burke’s own office and of course, this classified file was just sitting out there in the open for her to see, including the posed picture. It was like White Collar meets Three’s Company. It’s all a misunderstanding, Janet! She stormed out of the office before Burke could talk to her.

Later on, Burke and Caffrey were talking outside about the Elizabeth/Jill situation.  Caffrey was trying to explain that Burke should know that marriage can trump classification sometimes, especially here. Burke said that he could talk to Jill about the stress of losing Siegel, she had been through something similar. He also said he didn’t want to worry Elizabeth any more than she already had been, what with him being shot before and then arrested. Burke’s cell phone rang and he had to run off to the meet.

Elizabeth first wanted Mozzie to follow Burke, but he said for her to follow Jill. 

Outside, Burke and Jill were doing a stakeout. The two mercenaries were going into a restaurant, so they decided to go to the hotel.  In the surveillance van, Jones wanted to do a walkthrough of the restaurant, since he realized there were no eyes in the back. Jill didn’t want him to and told Burke to tell him to stand down. Jones sussed it from Burke’s response and decided to go anyways. 

After talking to Mozzie, Elizabeth wanted Caffrey to case Jill’s hotel, which Caffrey did, if only to keep Elizabeth from charging over half-cocked. They saw Burke and Jill going inside the hotel and Caffrey tried to assure her that it wasn’t what it looked like. She snapped that it better not be and they got out of the car to go into the hotel. Remember the TV show Cheaters? At this point, the cameras would have been hustling in behind Caffrey and Elizabeth as they walked towards the hotel, all shakey-cam to show the anger and urgency.

After Caffrey and Elizabeth went into the lobby, with Caffrey going  to look for a room number for Burke and Jill. Outside, Jones did a walkthrough at the restaurant and realized that it was an ambush at the hotel and tried to call Burke. In true television plot fashion, just as the phone rang,  Jill took it from Burke, saying that protocol called for radio silence. D’oh. The two agents made their way to the seller’s room. 

While waiting in the hotel bar for Caffrey to return, Elizabeth saw the seller sitting at a stool. She tried to stall him from going upstairs by flirting with him and got him to put his number in her phone. While the seller was doing that, he also slid something in the phone’s case. When he finished and left, Caffrey walked by the seller only to to see him get led off to the elevators with a gun in his side. Elizabeth and Caffrey followed and determined the floor from the lobby elevator readings. She updated Caffrey what had happened in the bar, including getting his number. Caffrey took the phone and he found what the seller had put in the phone’s case – the chip. 

Upstairs, Jill and Burke went to the seller’s room. While they were outside the door,  the two mercenaries and the seller came into the hallway, saw Burke and Jill and pulled guns. After first trying to bluff the mercenaries that they were honeymooners, the bad guys forced her to open the bag to show the money. Soon they were tied up in the seller’s room with the mercenaries interrogating them. The seller blurted that he gave the chip to “a woman downstairs.” Trying to buy time, Burke interjected that he was a buyer too. 

Caffrey and Ellizabeth made their way to the seller’s room door. Elizabeth was desperate to get into the room. Caffrey got her in with a modified hotel room card – after making her swear that she never saw the item. Elizabeth burst into the room and was immediately facing a consternated husband and two guns trained on her. Yikes.

After the commercial break, Elizabeth said that she had the chip and showed the phone to the mercenaries, holding it for a few seconds, allowing  Caffrey to sneak in through the back door. What then was not exactly the best coordinated or believable rescue that I have ever seen. In sequence, Elizabeth threw the phone towards the mercenaries, putting them off-balance. Caffrey slid behind a sofa to where Burke was and with one smooth motion, managed to slice the rope around the FBI agent’s wrists without, you know, severing any arteries. Burke  then reached under the sofa to get the gun they had so conveniently left before and shot one mercenary in the arm while Jill, still tied up, was able to stand up and while turning her upper body, smash the other mercenary with her chair. Jones and other FBI agents then flooded in. WWE matches have looked more realistic. 

The aftermath saw Burke talking with the departing Jill, who told him to not be afraid to talk to Elizabeth about everything he was feeling. Which he did, that evening, finally opening up to her about the pain and guilt that he felt about Siegel’s death. Elsewhere, Caffrey led Rebecca to the stained glass window from the Mosconi illustration and then laid a huge kiss on her, which she gladly reciprocated

Of course, the episode couldn’t end on a good note. The next morning, Burke was in his office looking at Siegel’s shield case. In the inside compartment, he found a business card that had ‘Cooper’s?’ written in Siegel’s handwriting on the back. He narrowed his eyes at that and then looked briefly at the camera. Dun-dun-dun! We’ll have to find out what that meant next episode.