White Collar: Thou Shalt Not Steal

NUP_136475_0089Neal Caffrey might be a “reformed” criminal, but as far as the FBI is concerned, he’s still a slippery thief. That’s why this week, the plot to find and return a stolen bible that requires Neal to cut his security anklet had everyone biting their nails.

When a well-known mobster requests the help of the FBI in finding out who swiped the bible from his church, the feds seem more than a little confused by his desire to get it back. That is, until they learn that the bible has special meaning (and is worth a mountain of cash). The “healing bible” has been known to cure people of illnesses, and whoever stole it clearly knew it could fetch a hefty quarter million dollar price tag. In exchange for law enforcement’s help, our mobster, Leo, even agrees to curtail some of his illegal operations – what a stand up guy!

The trail soon leads Peter and Neal to a homeless man who slept in the church the night the book went missing, and he ‘fesses up to swiping the bible relatively quickly. He said he took it to heal his sick dog Lucy, but before he had a chance to use it the man who actually convinced him to steal it from the church took it back and ran. After picking out the culprit from a book of mug shots, it is revealed that the man behind the theft is actually Leo’s nephew and fellow mobster. But, since said nephew quickly turns up dead in the East River and the case is temporarily turned over to agent Burke’s rival in the Organized Crime unit, it seems as though our boys might be moving on to another case. Not so fast…

Posing as an FBI agent (on a very urgent and humorous urine sample mission), Mozzie gains Neal access to the murdered man’s apartment and they come across research that leads them to believe that he was plotting to sell the book to Maria Fiametta, a professor who is an expert in historical artifacts – who also happens to be quite the sultry one. Neal and Peter speak with Maria, learn that the stolen bible is an ancient book of hours, and confirm their suspicion that Maria was attempting to buy the stolen book from the mobster. While the boys scratch their heads trying to figure out how Neal can gain Maria’s trust and infiltrate her story, Elizabeth is the one who comes up with the idea for Neal to pretend he’s still a working con man and just ask her out to dinner. She clearly appreciates the power of Neal’s charms, even if Peter is slow on the uptake. One agent who does appreciate it, however, is Lauren, the only female in the FBI’s white collar crime unit. She and Elizabeth (and everyone else with estrogen) are hip to Neal’s powers of persuasion over the fairer sex.

NUP_136475_0514Their plot works like a charm, with Neal wining and dining Maria at a restaurant while agents bug her apartment – that is, until she discovers that they were there and that Neal is trying to play her. In an attempt to convince her that he’s more felon than FBI agent, Neal destroys their recording device and arranges the sale of the book with Maria. However, when the actual exchange is supposed to go down, (and after a particularly naughty pat down by both of them – for safety, of course) Neal is required to sever his tracking device, and even though he’s charming it’s painfully obvious that the FBI doesn’t trust him one bit. Further complicating things, Maria pulls a gun and before he can be rescued by the feds, she shoots Neal, and he dies. Just kidding! The bullet lodges in the front of the bible, Neal is safe, officers swarm in and arrest her, and we think that’s the end of it. Mozzie had other plans though – he uses his FBI jacket to abscond with the bible and bring it to the homeless man to heal his dog before it is properly returned to the church. As it turns out, Leo is an animal lover and offers to take the dog and her owner to his own veterinarian, so the dog is saved, the bible is safe, and all is right again – almost.

Because it wouldn’t be White Collar without a mention of Kate and Neal’s unending search to find her, he and Mozzie spend the episode painstakingly examining the wine bottle Kate referred to in her last visit. They have all but given up on finding clues on the bottle, until Neal discovers that the heat from a candle reveals a hidden map of the New York City subway system on the bottle’s label. Hmmm…interesting. We have no idea what this means, but it’s just another small piece of the puzzle at this point. I’m sure Mozzie and Neal will be hard at work chipping away at her whereabouts all season, we just have to wait and see whether the trail eventually leads to Kate.

For another take on this episode, check out A Leap of Faith by Allison Toner.

Season 1, Episode 3: Book of Hours (originally aired November 5, 2009)

For more on White Collar, click here.

Fridays at 10/9c on USA Network

Photographs courtesy of USA, Electric Artists

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