When ASAC Peter Burke and Neal Caffrey go on a case to hunt down a missing dinosaur skeleton, Peter unearths Neal’s new relationship in the process.
[SPOILER heavy – proceed with caution]
We’re on episode eight of thirteen this season, and this is the push into higher gear we’ve been waiting for. Writers Jessica Grasl & Julian Meiojas laid a lot on the table for us, and it’s one of the few episodes this season that demand a rewatch (or 2!).
Peter confides to Agent Clinton Jones that he’s got building suspicions that Neal’s up to something, which Peter knows can’t be good. He’s checked Neal’s tracker and noticed he was loitering on a street corner for 20 minutes, which to most is not a big deal, but to Peter indicates Neal may have been scouting a location for a future hit. He tells Jones to see if there are surveillance cameras in the area to get an image. Jones also regretfully informs Peter that the business card recovered in the same recent bust along with Agent David Siegel’s gun and I.D. still can’t be explained, that the handwritten “cooper3?” remains a mystery. When Jones asks Peter if he thinks Neal has anything to do with Siegel’s death, Peter says no. I find this interesting, as he’s obviously being honest with Jones, but he certainly had his suspicions when he was questioning a drugged up Neal on his sofa in the Dr. Summers investigation. I didn’t think he’d put that to rest so easily.
Neal and Peter are off on their new case, a shipping crate grabbed form Canadian customs that morning. (Please note as they walk and talk how Neal passes through the hydrant and pole, when there was tons of room to walk around them. Director Sanford Bookstaver makes this episode hum with little quirks like this, drops of color and shadows, and entirely unexpected angles. His direction is distinct and vibrant and always a sheer joy to watch). They unpack the crate in question and find a fossilized dinosaur egg, which is more than just exciting for Peter but less than disappointing for Neal, until the Natural History Museum Curator informs them the egg is missing its mother: A Tyrannosaurus Rex. The look on their faces says it all.
Neal’s invited Rebecca Lowe to his apartment so she can show him new information about Mosconi. Obviously expecting time alone with Neal, she’s brought her book and some wine, only to find Mozzie there as well. He only subtly snubs her choice of wine (hey, California zins are fine table wines!) and proceeds to literally get in between her and Neal as she shows them her findings. Seems Mosconi died the same year he created the stained glass window and he left a Masonic image, a compass, on his gravestone. They conclude that since the number 13 was sacred to the Masons, Mosconi likely created his Chapter 13 of the Codex as some sort of warning to the other Masons. This is great news, as it starts to pull tighter the, up to now, very loose strings on the whole Mosconi Codex arc of the season. We know Chapter 13 was an anomaly for Mosconi and we know Curtis Hagen wanted it, but up until now the reason for its existence was speculation. Now we have some meat on that bone, and we know that the chapter and the window could prove beneficial or disadvantageous to anyone who seeks the message it holds. Mozzie hints for Rebecca to leave, and after she stutteringly does (this is driving me mad, she’s lovely and seems to know her Mosconi, but at this point why is she still stuttering and stammering around Neal and Mozzie?), Neal tries to convince Mozzie– and himself– that he’s not falling for her. Mozzie reminds him yet again these work and women combinations don’t end well for Neal. But ever the loyal friend, Mozzie hands Neal a file which contain the results of his vetting of Rebecca. Mind you, he does admit in passing that it’s a cursory audit, which I’m hoping means he may have missed something and she’s still more than meets the eye.
Peter, Jones and Neal get back to the case of the missing T. Rex and decide that rich businessman Brett Forsythe is their likeliest suspect. (Nod to the staff for these on-screen ID reveals; they’re a huge boon to viewers and reviewers alike in keeping tabs on the baddies of the week). Peter visits Forsythe’s offices and finds many other artifacts on display, but also notices an empty display space- which probably held something until Peter arrived unannounced- and a keypad locked door against a wall. As they discuss it back in the office, Peter quite openly tells Neal he thinks he’s hiding something. Peter’s getting savvy to Neal’s involvement with the missing money from the Dr. Summers case, the FBI pen found in the chiropractor’s office and Neal’s apparent 20 minute scoping out of locations. (Or is he?) Peter admits he can’t get a warrant to check out Forsyth’s office, so he gives Neal the unspoken green light to break in and check it out himself. Allow me a moment to gripe that I hate that when the Feds want Neal to break and enter for them, it’s fine, but when he does it for himself, it’s not. No wonder Neal sees the line blurry sometimes. Not a big deal, I’m just saying the mixed message has always bothered me a little.
Neal breaks into Forsythe’s office (is it wrong that I got a little thrill that we have our jazzy little “Neal’s doing his thing” theme music here?) and takes a picture of the artifact, a pre-Columbian club, that now resides in that empty part of the display case. Peter tells him to come back out, but Neal decides instead to look around. He gets into the locked room and finds a small lab set up and a briefcase full of money (is it me, or do his eyes get as wide as possible at the site of that money?). Peter warns Neal to get out since Forsythe is coming back to the office (of course he did) and sure enough enters his office with Neal still inside. Neal’s pretty lucky that Forsythe opened the left side of that door he was hiding behind, and not the right, or he would have been found. (I’m not rolling my eyes at that trope, I swear).
Jones and Peter narrow down robbery suspects who might have provided Forsythe with his artifacts to one Michael Holt, who they decide fits the bill. Before he leaves, Jones also shows Peter the pics of the street surveillance cameras he asked for, one of which clearly shows Neal with Rebecca. So Peter changes course and starts his sleuthing into Neal from that angle. He casually asks Neal if he wants to be set up with a friend of Elizabeth’s, to which Neal declines, saying he’s not looking for anyone right now. Neal does ask if El’s friend knows he’s a criminal and is fine with it if so, since any woman he dates he has to lie to or wonder why she’s okay dating a felon. Barring paying someone to be his play date, yes, this would explain why Neal doesn’t seem to get much action. Look at him. Really, just look at him. Also, he’s in NYC. I rest my case on the nice little reasoning there by the writers.
Peter informs Neal about Holt, and says the Feds think Holt has left the country since he bought an airline ticket. We get a nice revealing piece here where Neal explains to Peter how he’s sometimes eluded his pursuers by buying first class tickets, checking in a bag, but then giving the ticket to someone with only carryon luggage to actually hand in the boarding pass, making it seem like Neal got on the plane. As a frequent flyer, I only wish a Neal Caffrey would hand me a first class ticket just before I board. It’s a nice little reveal, I thought. Nothing major, but gets us a peak into the no doubt impressive list of tricks of the trade Neal employs.
Employing his own tricks, Peter tracks Neal’s anklet that evening to a fancy restaurant and convinces El to go with him to scope what he already guesses is a date between Neal and Rebecca. They find Neal and Rebecca as expected, and Neal has to do some quick talking to not have Peter blow the first encounter. Neal’s continued his lie to Rebecca that he’s an FBI agent, and is desperate for Peter and El to not break that charade. El brings Rebecca with her to go get the Burke’s table, and once alone Peter rightly reminds Neal that he’s impersonating a Federal officer. I appreciate the oddest parts of this series, since I thought it was fabulous how Neal supposes he’s technically doing it, and Peter exasperatingly declares no, he actually is. Remember the clues Peter thought he was putting together about some big underhanded Neal caper- the FBI pen, the chiropractor’s office, etc.? Well, the fun twist here is that now Peter assumes that was all to keep Neal’s charade with Rebecca, all because Neal likes her. We as viewers know there’s a lot more to it than that and it’ll be interesting to see when Peter figures out this is just one layer of subterfuge. But then our lovelorn CI admits to Peter that he doesn’t want to tell her the truth because, for now, she looks at him like a normal man. She looks at him like El looks at Peter. He’s got a point. Kate, Alex and Sarah all knew exactly who Neal was, and I say kudos to them for accepting him. I get that Neal likes this unfettered feeling of freedom from judgment, but Peter’s right, she’s going to need to find out eventually. (And how many of us immediately thought about that anklet making the point moot if it ever got that far?)
Peter and Neal get pulled away from dinner as the museum curator calls to say someone’s breaking in. They get there in time to grab the intruder, who happens to be Holt looking for the egg. Back in the office, Peter, Neal and Jones decide to lure Forsythe out by having Neal go in as Holt’s back up in delivering the egg. Well, an egg. Seems Mozzie gets to brush off his fossil faking skills we learn he has. A nod to Bookstaver for a beautiful shoot in the office: The ceiling angle of Neal tossing the ball and the ambient colors and shadows were noticeably effective. Also, the following montage scene of Mozzie and Neal baking their own dino egg with an embedded tracker was one of the better montages I’ve seen in a while, including using James Brown’s “Super Bad” as the music track. (Fangirls and fanboys everywhere were as impressed with Matt Bomer in his tank top as we were with their egg crafting, I should note). Over a glass of wine for a job well done, Mozzie again gently chides Neal to take it easy with Rebecca since now that Peter knows she’s on Neal’s social docket, she might be a risk to their work with the Codex and Hagen.
Neal is able to convince Forsythe to accept the egg, and after he starts to authenticate it with a CAT scanner, a perfectly executed USB toss from Peter to Neal to switch scanner results wins them their goal: Forsythe accepts the egg and moves it to his private storage unit where they arrest him and find the T. Rex. The museum is thrilled, and as they leave, Peter kindly orders Neal to be at the Burke’s for dinner that night. Peter and El both convince Neal that he needs to tell Rebecca the truth about why he’s working for the FBI and the anklet, but he’s worried about how she’ll react. They suggest that the longer he waits, the more the truth will hurt her, but agree that it’s a gamble either way. Regardless, it must be done. It was so nice to see Peter and El acting as Neal’s friends and confidants here. We really don’t imagine that Neal needs much advice for anything in life, and he certainly never seemed to need it with his previous lady friends. This does well to display his vulnerability in this relationship with Rebecca, since she’s unlike his usual love interest and this is new water he’s wading into.
He gets a bit more advice from the ever classic and classy June, but even she admits she was hurt when her Byron told her he was a criminal. She got over it and ended up loving him dearly, of course, which heartens Neal. Rebecca uses an excuse to come to Neal’s and admits she wants their relationship to continue, at which point he finally admits who he really is. She’s upset at first, but when he confirms that he’s told her the entire truth– and that he didn’t expect their feelings for each other- she locks the door and jumps him. Sorry, no better way to put that. Then it’s sloppy kisses and clothes on the floor time as we break to morning and Neal carrying 2 coffee cups (obviously empty, sorry prop department) indicating Rebecca is still back at his place, presumably still in bed. Neal’s almost home when he sees June talking with Hagen, who is carrying her groceries. Neal rushes to them calling for June, wherein she introduces Hagen to Neal and leaves them alone, but not before throwing Neal a very knowing look (that she knows Neal’s freaked, even if she doesn’t know why). Neal warns Hagen not to threaten June, but Hagen simply tells Neal he’s pleased Neal is planning on stealing the Mosconi window, as that was going to be his next task for his blackmail checklist.
Which begs the question: How does Hagen know that the Codex leads to the window, let alone that Neal will be stealing it? Well, the latter is obvious, since it’s Neal and of course he’d steal it, but the former is trickier. Just who does Hagen have keeping tabs on Neal and the Codex mystery? He obviously knows Neal and Mozzie made a copy of the Codex pages before turning it over to him, but I’m guessing Rebecca is still a wild card in this. Sure the title this week tilts a hat to “digging deeper” into Neal’s feelings for Rebecca, and it clearly plays on the fossil case of the week, but I get a nagging feeling that Mozzie should have dug deeper in his audit of Rebecca’s past, as well.