White Collar – Recap & Review – Bad Judgment

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White Collar
Bad Judgment

Original Air Date: Jan 26, 2010

Brittany Frederick – Staff Writer
brittanyfrederick @thetwocentscorp.com

Peter Burke can’t resist small children. That’s how he and Neal get roped into an apparent mortgage fraud case involving a house being foreclosed on and a detective who chose early retirement over pursuing the truth. A tip from said detective leads them to a possibly corrupt district court judge, but that’s not going to stop Peter from defending small children. Especially when it turns out said judge knows Fowler, the FBI agent who’s got Kate and has it out for the both of them.

Things ratchet up in a hurry when Peter and Neal pay a visit to Elizabeth, only to discover the bug that Fowler has planted in Peter’s house via a randomly appearing cable guy. “Now? Now I am pissed off,” Peter growls before smashing it into little pieces. Neal recruits Mozzie to sweep the house for more problems, and Peter recruits Jones to keep an eye on Mozzie. That’s before the boys go to work to find Fowler, who’s decided to move into their building for the time being.

Probing the mortgage fraud case, Neal deduces that the signature on the second mortgage is a fake and does a neat trick with Peter’s to prove it. “Don’t ever copy mine again,” Peter says. A pause, “You have copied my signature before.” Neal just says, “Let’s focus on the crime at hand.” It’s a classic White Collar moment. Then I crack up laughing when said corrupt judge is played by Kate Hodge, who played team leader Annie on UPN’s forgettable techno-thriller Level 9 opposite Max Martini. However, her character here is bent like a screwed-up paperclip and she tries to bribe Peter. When he balks, she calls Fowler.

Peter and Elizabeth are the cutest thing ever. I’m just saying. Especially when we see the photos from that oft-mentioned time Peter surveilled Elizabeth to see if she had a boyfriend. “Misappropriating FBI resources for a girl,” Mozzie says. “Not like that’s happened before.” But their cute is broken up when Peter’s boss comes over to tell him OPR is investigating him with the accusation that he did take the bribe.

Much, much later that night, a pissed Peter is surprised to see the whole of the FBI office turn up to help him with the investigation, courtesy of Jones, who’s rallied the troops. Things are made that much harder when Fowler seals the judge’s FBI files, but Burke appeals to the former detective, who tells him the money trail may lead to the judge’s chambers. Also bringing help is Elizabeth, who wants Neal and Mozzie to break into the judge’s office to get the supposedly incriminating tape. Their plan to swipe and demagnetize the tape mid-courier transfer goes without a hitch.

Peter is facing off with Fowler in his boss’s office, and he looks like he would rather take it out to the parking lot. But when Fowler gets the tape, of course there’s nothing on it, and he storms off fuming. Peter goes back to work, and finds Neal grinning like an idiot because he knows when the money will be moved and where to thanks to a lovely lip-reading. Peter uses the wiretape in his house to alert Fowler that the judge is moving the money, by pretending that it’s really a huge payoff on his behalf. Fowler and the judge confront each other just as Peter sics the whole FBI office on them both quite gleefully. Fowler has no choice but to go along with the arrest, or admit that he’s there for an illegal reason. The judge is arrested, Peter saves the small children, and everyone saves Peter.

Peter says he’s heard back from Kate, who has told Neal to “see Robert” – her dead father. The two of them and Mozzie go to visit the man’s gravestone and in the flowers, Neal finds something he doesn’t tell either of them about. The plot thickens yet again.

Jeff Eastin proves a master of the balancing act that is a well written TV series: he develops his ongoing narrative, while making interesting weekly cases that are both fun and intriguing. Not to mention he has able power in a quartet of leads who play their characters for all they’re worth as real people, not jusut caricatures. Next week he makes Tim DeKay squirm a lot when Peter goes undercover. Who wouldn’t want to see that?

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