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White Collar - Episode 1.10 - Vital Signs - Recap / Review


On a beautiful day, Neal and June sit at the park watching her granddaughter Samantha play soccer. "Scenery, fresh air, just about everything I couldn't get at my last address." June says Byron loved it too for the same reasons. Neal: "You do like bad boys." She nods and laughs. Samantha scores a goal and comes over to celebrate. Too bad she's suffering from kidney failure. June sadly admits she was bumped from the donor list and Neal asks what he can do. I know, walk into Peter's house unannounced. I'm sure he'd love that. Neal: "I hope you don't mind. I let myself in." Peter: "I mind." Neal states the obvious and helps himself to Peter's Super Sugar O's. Hmm, I took Peter for an All-Bran kind of guy. Peter's miffed because he enjoys breakfast Neal-free. I'm stunned an FBI agent doesn't lock his front door. Neal goes for the sheriff badge toy in the cereal. Peter: "El, do something." El: "You want a bowl with that cereal." Neal: "Thank you. Manners." Not sure entering someone's house without knocking qualifies as good manners either Neal. Peter asks why he's there and he exposits that June was asked for $100,000 to find Samantha a new kidney. It's suspicious and Peter jumps on board. "Look at you bringing me a case." Neal attaches the sheriff badge to his coat pocket. "Well that's what us lawmen do." Peter wants more details and Neal says, "So I can run with it?" Peter: "Run with it? No Barney Fife. No, you can walk very slowly as long as you don't interrupt my breakfast again." Neal agrees and Peter reminds him that cereal toys are not real badges. Kudos to Tiffani Thiessen who doesn't have a lot to say in this scene but does a tremendous job.

Neal gets dressed as Mozzie questions if Peter told Neal to "run with it." Neal: "More or less." Moz: "I'm assuming less." Ah Moz, you know him so well. Neal justifies pretending to be June's financial advisor as a fact finding mission. He's meeting Melissa Calloway, representative of Hearts Wide Open. Moz and I agree the name "is truly menacing. If I made a horror movie, I would definitely call it Hearts Wide Open." They use Neal's new surveillance equipment to watch the street and Moz says they can't trust Melissa. "A New Yorker who does not take the subway is not a New Yorker you can trust." Neal: "I don't take the subway." Moz: "Precisely." Bwah! I wouldn't trust Neal either. He asks Moz to break into Melissa's car to examine her briefcase. "That's not so much a favor as a truly horrible idea." No kidding. It's daytime on a crowded street. Moz: "There's a reason most crimes happen at night. People can't see you." Neal changes the plan. He'll break into the car and Moz will take the meeting. Moz reluctantly agrees only because it's for June. Neal gets Moz a tie and tells him what info to fish for. "Since when am I a people person?" Neal: "Just do what I do." There are so many ways this could go horribly wrong.

While Melissa enters June's, Neal begins to pick the car lock. Alas, a cop walks by so Neal pretends he locked his briefcase in the car and blames his "wife" for taking the spare. The officer asks for ID to prove it's his car and Neal says it's in the glove box. He spins a tale of a prosecutor who needs to be at the courthouse in 20 minutes to arraign an abuser who punched a cop. It works. The cop calls for a patrol car. At Neal's, Melissa shoots for compassionate but takes a wrong turn at creepy. Mozzie talks too loud and surreptitiously turns on the surveillance so he can see Neal's situation. June asks about the donation and Melissa non-answers, "We would never discourage anyone from helping us continue our work." Moz however is distracted by a police car showing up on the screen. He thinks Neal's busted and tries to multitask the interview. Melissa says donations run between $100,000 to 500,000 but they're running out of time. Neal is also out of time, but luckily the new officer arrives with a Slim Jim. Original Officer asks who arrested the scumbag and Neal says Jones from the sixth precinct. Second Officer knows Jones and my guess is given the common last name, they all know a Jones. Neal calls him a tough guy and they agree, opening the door. He goes to grab his ID but the cops say no need and he is visibly grateful. He takes pictures of her briefcase contents as the police drive away. Melissa stands to leave and Moz in a bid to buy Neal more time, asks her to dinner. She flat out refuses and I would too. Thankfully June takes over before Mozzie embarrasses himself further. Moz calls Neal. "You told me to do what you do so I asked her to dinner….She left. Running." BWAH! Neal books it just in the nick of time after finding an invitation to a tennis tournament.

At the FBI, Peter tells us respected Dr. Wayne Powell created the charity. Neal admits he talked to Melissa, which causes Peter to get into storyteller mode. He regales us with a cautionary tale of a restaurateur who informed on the mob to the FBI. Sadly, Jimmy got in over his head and as Neal says, "It didn't end happily ever after." Peter sticks his finger between Neal's eyes and says, "He took one. Right there." He cautions Neal against "trying to run the show on your own." With terrible timing, Jones gives Neal info he requested. Peter: "Unbelievable. It's like talking to a wall." Neal protests, " I hadn't heard your story yet." (snickers) Good point. From the info, they surmise Dr. Powell uses a third world charity called Doctoral Global Initiative to find organ donors. Neal suggests they talk to Powell at the tennis match.

Sadly, they are turned away at the door and Peter's surprised Neal didn't forge an invite. Neal: "I was allowed to?" Nope, plan B. He tries to charm Melissa but she's not interested until Peter joins them. Suddenly no invite isn't a big deal. Neal looks dubious and smirks when Peter says he's a chiropractor. "Poor posture doesn't discriminate." HA! They follow Melissa as Peter shrugs, "You underestimate me." Neal reminds Peter he'll have to flirt all day. "Should be a fun story to tell Elizabeth over breakfast tomorrow." Dr. Powell talks with Melissa while Neal snarks. Peter: "You know, any shlub can pick up a girl at a bar. You want a challenge. Try keeping a beautiful woman happy for 10 years running." Agreed. You're awesome Peter. It's been 12 years since Peter flirted. Neal: "Whoa, you haven't flirted in the 21st century?" They split up - Peter to distract Melissa and Neal to grill Powell. Neal complains about a 30 hour flight and Powell suggests taking sleeping pills on the way to the airport. They introduce themselves and join a mutual admiration society. Dr. Powell asks Neal to look for a perfect donor match for a "friend's" kidney in India. Neal says it's illegal to sell organs but Powell asks him to call. "We make exceptionally charitable donations."

Meanwhile, Melissa flirts with Peter saying, "I prefer someone with more experience." Apparently she doesn't mind if said someone has been married for 10 years either. "Commitment. Another quality I admire." So she likes the challenge. In a medical tent , she asks Peter to be the back-up physician and becomes his first patient. She takes off her jacket and asks him to massage the knot out of her back. Peter: "I can feel the tension, yep. Maybe this is stress. From work maybe." She tells him to go lower and Peter quietly wigs out. Turning around she says they are working the wrong side but Peter doen't going there and asks about work again. Melissa mentions the Howser clinic and he says he'd love to see it. She extends an invite, reaching into his jacket pocket for a pen to write her phone number. "Feel free to give me a call. Whenever you're ready." It's a good thing Peter's faithful. Neal joins him as Melissa puts her jacket back on. The look on Neal's face is priceless, but Peter just shakes his head and rushes off.

That night Neal makes a truly terrible joke about FBI standing for Female Body Inspector. Peter tells him to shut up and exposits Dr. Powell's travel records to India. They can't get him through charitable donations either. However, Powell has nephrosis and suddenly all his cranberry juice makes sense. He born with only one kidney and needs a perfect match to keep kicking. So much for that "friend." Neal: "Peter, he's got the perfect cover here. If he wasn't so dirty, I'd almost respect him." Peter thinks he can find proof at the Howser Clinic. However, he has doctor-patient privileges. They need another way in and Neal's on it. He finds Moz glumly playing chess by himself and asks if he's okay. In short, no. The charity won't help June anymore because they found a more urgent need. Still, Peter was right about the clinic because they are dumping files.

At the Burke house, El sorts laundry and finds Melissa's card in Peter's jacket. She asks about it and Peter says he was going to tell her about it. Peter: "That is part of an undercover job I was working and part of the cover was that I had to talk to another woman." El flips the card over to Melissa's number. "Must have been quite the conversationalist." Peter explains he had to flirt with Melissa so Neal could talk to Dr. Powell. El's confused because that's usually Neal's job but Peter nonchalants that Melissa chose him. El: "You had to seduce another woman?" On other shows, this would lead to screaming and suspicion or wacky spying hijinks. Peter swears he only had drinks with her and El looks like she's going to cry when….she busts out laughing. Elizabeth is the most awesome TV wife. "You had to flirt? You hate flirting." She rolls at Peter's "You look thirsty" pick-up line. El: "Please tell me there's surveillance video of this. I gotta see this." Peter's saved by the phone and I'm saved from boring TV by the way they write this couple. I hope nothing about Peter and El ever changes.

Neal asks about the clinic and bingo, Peter requested their financial records spawning the file dump Moz saw. He asks why El is laughing but Peter ends the conversation. Neal's frustrated with FBI protocol and concocts a plan to get into the clinic. Surely it's not within his anklet radius so won't he have to get Peter's approval? Enter Neal in doctor coat and glasses pushing a loopy Mozzie. He calls Moz the mayor's nephew, who thinks he's Bruce Willis. Ha! He cons the receptionist into letting him escort Mozzie up. Neal: "Nice work Moz. You can quit shaking now." Moz: "I'm not acting. I hate hospitals." Someone sneezes on him and it's no surprise Moz is a germaphobe. They hurry as Dr. Westlake is paged by the receptionist. Files are being dumped and Moz lifts a janitorial outfit to take the files out himself. At the same time, Neal pokes around Doctor Powell's office. He finds a charity donor list of the city's power players. Unhappily, security sees him and sends guards. Before they get there, he faxes the list to Peter's house. Guess he didn't inform Peter so who the heck monitors his anklet? Security calls Dr. Powell and straps Neal to a table. Powell says to calm him down and they megadose him. Neal: "I hope there's something fun in there, Nurse Ratched." Things get blurry right away.

After getting the fax, Peter calls the anklet monitoring company and asks about Neal (#9305A). I guess an alarm doesn't go off when he's out of range. How pointless but good when they're on a case. Peter flips that Neal's at the clinic and I chalk it up to worry. Typical older brother reaction. He says Neal will go to prison for this and panics about a warrant. El calms him down, reminding him that Melissa already invited him. Brilliant. He calls Melissa and El talks him through flirting. "Tell her you need to see her. Tell her you can't stop thinking about her." Peter: "This is a test isn't it." I couldn't love these two more. All is well until Melissa mentions his magic hands. Peter hurriedly tells El he was a chiropractor but she gives him the high eyebrow. Peter: "That was definitely a test." Ha!

He hurries to the clinic to intercept Melissa. She says it's a bad time but luckily Powell phones to warn her not to talk to anyone until he's there. Peter uses the distraction to slip upstairs. He hears Neal singing, toasted out of his mind. Neal: "Hey buddy!" Peter quiets him and worries about the restraints, but Neal sits up. Even doped up Neal Caffrey can get out of restraints "except my anklet." He tells Peter he's strong. He also says he can walk but falls down, so Peter drags him to a conference room. Peter starts to scold him but this is minor compared to everything else he's done. I wonder if confessing to a crime under heavy drugs is admissible in court. He should probably shut up. Peter is curious though and now knows Neal took the Antioch manuscripts by carrier pigeons. I thought they were extinct. "Who cares though Peter. That's not what's important. It's not about money; it's about people." Peter: "Good 'cause you're going to be spending a lot of quality time with people in orange jumpsuits once I get you out of here." Neal: "Right. I'm going down once they see those security tapes of me breaking in here." Peter: "Those surveillance cameras." Neal: "Before I go back, you should know this. Out of all the people in my life, Mozzie, even Kate, you know, you're the only one." Peter: "I'm the only one what?" Neal: "You're the only person in my life I trust." Yikes! If that doesn't tug your heartstrings, your heart's colder than mine. Peter's a big softie too as he rubs Neal's head like a little kid and sighs. He handcuffs Neal to a chair and demands, "Don't pick this." Awesome! One of the best scenes in the show.

Downstairs, Melissa and Dr. Powell talk about the break-in while Neal debates semantics. "I could slip you off. That wouldn't be picking; that would be slipping." He decides to sing again instead. I like drugged Neal. Peter returns with the surveillance tape. That's theft Peter. Neal looks at him funny. "Peter?" I have the same reaction about Mr. Straight and Narrow. "You stole that for me." Peter: "Yeah, it's a regular Kodak moment." He takes Neal back to his place where Neal's headache is soothed by an ice pack and El's sympathy. Peter: "What about me?" El: "There's some dishes that need to be washed, Mr. Magic Hands." Oops, someone's in trouble. She continues babying Neal, who milks it for all he's worth. I never realized how tall Neal is but his legs are longer than the couch. He uses his normal (not woe is me) voice to tell Peter wealthy clients paid for organs in case they needed them. He mentions a list full of names and blood types. Peter will talk to the four names Neal managed to faxed over.

All four people went to Powell's clinic where he made a master list of their blood types. Whenever a wealthy client needs an organ, he uses the list to find a match. Wealthy clients pay poor clients for their organs, which sounds like an urban legend. Jones asks why Powell travels to India and Peter reminds us he has nephrosis and needs a perfect match. The charity funds his search. Alas, the donors won't testify so Peter asks for divergent thinking. Neal raises his hand and Peter ignores him yet no one else has any ideas. Neal wants to trace the money from the organ sales by offering him a new kidney. He plans to make Powell believe his kidney is failing by giving him 3 symptoms of renal failure. They pick up his suit from dry cleaning and exchange it for a larger size to mimic weight loss. Not sure how it explains his other clothes fitting, but okay. They also put itching spray on his clothes for skin irritation and I worry that the FBI has it in the first place. Neal: "Wow, you're really enjoying this." Peter: "No. Well maybe just a little." Finally, they need to fake blood in his urine. Neal talks compounds, and now I worry about Neal's knowledge too. He says not drugs but food coloring for the body. Phew, that's a relief. I can't handle Killer Caffrey. Moz distracts the food delivery guy and injects dye into his cranberry juice. It obviously works because Powell flips out in a way that makes me laugh. Way over the top. His nephrologist says it doesn't sound good but the tests will be back in a few days. She prescribes rest, which he does in the fetal position on his hardwood floors.

Enter Neal as Dr. Parker, calling with a kidney match. Peter wonders how to knock him out but Neal remembers the sleeping pill bit before. He's nuts to take sleeping pills when he's not sure about his kidneys, but Jones chauffeurs him to the "airport" and knows he took them. They must be really powerful because he awakes in "India." An Indian nurse hits a machine that I guess is for dialysis in order to keep it working. Neal enters in blue scrubs saying, "Please don't touch that. The equipment in here is very temperamental." He tells Powell they removed his kidney because he was in renal failure. His body is rejecting dialysis and his blood pressure is dropping. In essence, he'll die without a new kidney, making it easy to blackmail him for $30 million. Powell protests but Neal isn't negotiating. He tells the nurse the machine will be free soon and Powell admits to a completely secure account used to siphon money from his charity. He gives Neal the bank, account, and password. Neal: "Then I have what I want. Let's see how quickly we can get you healthy again." He turns on the patented Neal Caffrey smile and leaves. Immediately the machine stops. He rips off the bandages to find they are fake and races out. The background city noise is from a boom box. Peter: "Welcome back to New York, Dr. Powell." Busted! Neal shows his cereal sheriff badge too. (snickers)

All is well and they join June at the park where Samantha has another game. Peter says they closed Powell's charity and June thanks them. Neal: "Tell her the best part." Peter: "Samantha's back at her original spot on the list." Aw. Was someone in the registry paid off by Powell? I guess not. Peter exposits about how the registry was re-examined after the scandal and they had Samantha re-instated. Peter leaves to join Elizabeth as June hugs Neal. As El works in the dining room, Peter enters with candles, wine, and his cheesiest pick up lines. "I couldn't help but notice that you are sitting here alone." El: "Well my husband's at work. it happens a lot." Peter closes the laptop saying, "He must be good at his job." El: "Well actually his partner does a lot of the heavy lifting." Ha! Peter: "Oh really. IF that's the case, I bet it's because your husband is distracted by thoughts of you..Bet his favorite part of the day is coming home to that smile. Wherever he is, he's a lucky man." El: "I keep telling him that." Peter: "You look thirsty." BWAH!!! El: "So that line does work." She laughs and Peter introduces himself as Dr. Tennebaum, chiropractor. "I'm told I have magic hands." El: "okay, now you're dead." They laugh and kiss and all is right with the world again. Aww.

So much to love about this episode it's hard to know where to start. Anytime Neal is out-of-control it's an interesting plot twist. Drugged Neal is hilarious with a good singing voice, if you excuse the slurring. I love how Neal made this case personal and was willing to risk more because of it. As for Peter and El, they remain my favorite on-screen couple. They show marriage is work but that work can be fun. It's inspiring and I wish more TV couples were written this way. I also loved the intricate plot to get Powell to reveal the money. There wasn't enough Mozzie time for my liking but everything else was phenomenal. One of my favorite episodes.

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