Episode Title: "Forging Bonds"
Previously on "White Collar":
After Peter was framed for shooting Mozzie, Neal and the now rogue FBI agent went on the hunt for Julian Larson, the man responsible for the attempted hit. WIth the help of Jones, Sara, Moz, Barrigan and Elizabeth, the "Burke Seven" hatched a plan to snag Larson, which led Neal to realize that Vincent Adler is the man behind Kate’s murder and Moz’s near death.
Peter (Tim DeKay) pays Neal (Matt Bomer) an unexpected visit and the two sit down for a long talk about their shared history with financial scammer Vincent Adler, over a six-pack and some cheap wine. Neal reveals that after running into Mozzie (Willie Garson) during a game of three-card monte, the veteran con artist, impressed with his bond forgery work, recruited Neal to work a long con on wealthy hedge fund manager, Adler (Andrew McCarthy).
Neal uses his wits and charm to ingratiate himself with Adler – and his assistant Kate (Alexandra Daddario). Meanwhile, Peter works on cornering Neal, who’s earned a reputation as master of forgery, "James Bonds."
While working on Adler, Neal crosses paths with Alex Hunter (Gloria Votsis), who also has eyes on the wealthy financial manager’s fortune. The two have a brief romance but Alex leaves to continue on her quest to find the mythical music box.
Soon after, Neal begins a relationship with Kate while continuing to earn Adler’s trust. With pressure from Moz, Neal makes a play to obtain the password to Adler’s offshore account – and gets it. But having grown accustomed to his new lifestyle, Neal balks at taking the money and Adler makes a move of his own, swindling his clients out of millions and going on the lam.
In the wake of Adler’s scam, Kate soon takes up the con game with Neal but when he tries to trick her into going after the music box with Alex, she leaves him. At the suggestion of then rookie, Barrigan (Marsha Thomason), Peter uses an unwitting Kate to lure Neal into a trap and arrests him, which ultimately leads to their federal agent/criminal consultant partnership.
Back in the present, Neal expresses his skepticism about ever catching Adler, but Peter is confident that if he could catch Neal, he can get Adler. He then asks Neal what Alex, whose signature origami note is sitting on table, thinks the fractal means. Neal explains that it’s an antenna corresponding to a frequency for an emergency beacon, which Peter vows to find.
Flashback episodes are almost always a good time and "Forging Bonds" was no exception. The story telling device allowed the writers to explore the origins of two characters as beloved as they are mysterious, Neal and Mozzie.
And while seeing Moz and Burke sporting a variety of heinous facial hair was fun, it was Andrew McCarthy’s guest spot as the scheming hedge fund manager, Vincent Adler that made the episode.
In the role of Adler, McCarthy gave petty grifter Neal Caffrey a serious run for his money. But in the end, Neal could never catch up with Adler, who got hip to his protege’s long con and ultimately turned the tables on Caffrey and all those who actually trusted Adler with their money.
Kate’s decision to join Neal on the dark side felt a bit forced but then again, can you blame her after Adler conned her out of a job?
I couldn’t help but think of Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio’s characters in "Catch Me If You Can," as Burke pursued Neal "James Bonds" Caffrey, lollypop in hand.
Alex’s attempt to infiltrate Adler’s art fortune was a bit underwhelming as an intro to a character with such a deep connection to Neal. However the introductions of Barrigan and Jones weren’t as heavy handed (read: cheesy) as they could have been.
The mystery of the fractal is an intriguing one and I’m interested to see where it takes us (apparently to some emergency beacon in the middle of the ocean). If it means we’ll get more of Andrew McCarthy as Vincent Adler, I’m down for the long haul or con, as the case may be.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.