Synopsis: The FBI suspects a Chinese money launderer to be behind the disappearance of an undercover FBI agent. They enlist the help of Neal Caffrey to pose as the multimillionaire gambler and money launderer Nicholas Halden. However, Neal is faced with having to choose between helping the FBI and letting Lao Shen walk away when one of the notorious money launderer’s trusted associates promises him information about Kate and her captor.
Episode Summary: Mark Costa, an FBI undercover agent posing as a drug trafficker working on a case to put Chinese money launderer Lao Shen to jail, goes missing. FBI Director Hughes personally asks Neal Caffrey to help with the case remembering his stint posing as the multimillionaire gambler, Nicholas Halden, who laundered cash through the Canary Islands scam. Neal, though careful not to implicate himself with the crimes of his alias, asks for immunity for the money-laundering scheme. The FBI Director gives Nicholas Halden immunity in order to get Neal Caffrey’s help. The FBI wants him to pose as fellow money launderer Nicholas Halden, and to make contact with Lao Shen through a game of Pai Gow.
Neal seeks Moz’ help in learning Pai Gow, the Chinese version of poker played with dominoes. Moz uses the Chinese movie Tiles of Fire: Part I that he claims to be a cult classic film to teach him the game, but appears to be more interested in watching than teaching. With a little nudge, Neal finally gets Moz to focus on Pai Gow. In order to hint at Lao that he is a prospective client, Neal needs to get a better hand than the dealer, and it throw away. However, Neal also needs to start winning first before he folds above the bank.
While Neal Caffrey plays in an underground casino in Chinatown with Lao Shen, the FBI stakes out at the home of the owner of Mei Shi Lin Restaurant. Mr. Tuan is a trusted informant of the FBI having been one of Lao Shen’s victims of extortion. To complete his cover, Agent Cruz cuts Neal’s anklet, but Agent Burke replaces his anklet tracker with a bugged watch. Caffrey plays Pai Gow against a dealer, and as planned folded on a good hand. Soon after, Lao Shen meets with him, and plays a game against Neal. All is well until the NYPD raids the underground casino, making Lao suspect Neal as the snitch. Not wanting to blow his cover, Neal Caffrey resists arrest, and risks getting shot as he escapes. Agent Peter Burke goes out to rescue him, but Lao’s men get to him first. Seeing that he is not involved with the raid, Lao’s lover, Meilin, takes him in her care.
Agent Burke recognizes that Caffrey is trying to save the operation by going with Meilin, and he vows to protect him while Neal plays with fire. Moreover, he suspects that the NYPD raid is not a coincidence. The FBI does a background check on Meilin. Immediately they suspect that something is amiss after hearing the woman remove Neal’s watch, and smashing it into pieces. The FBI loses its ears without the bugged watch, and is now in the dark with Neal’s fate. Meilin points a gun at Neal, revealing that she is aware of who he is for she is an Interpol agent. It is her who called the police afraid that the FBI will catch Lao Shen before Interpol learns of the identity of Lao’s boss. She makes a deal with Neal. Caffrey is to let Lao Shen walk in exchange she’ll give him information about Kate’s captor.
The following morning, Neal Caffrey shows up unharmed at Tuan’s home where the FBI has been staking out. Agent Cruz receives word from the NYPD that the tip came from Meilin Wan. Agent Burke pays a visit to the hostess bar where Meilin works, and finds a couple of her coworkers having a smoke. He approaches them, and shows him his badge, but miserably fails to understand what the Chinese women are telling him, but it is all part of his plan. Agent Peter Burke has all along in his pocket a recorder that recorded everything the women had said, and with the help of a translator they will have all the information they need. With the translator running late, Mr. Tuan’s child serves as a proxy. Young Bai translates the conversation, and the FBI learns that Meilin works a nightshift at a place called Red Lantern. Neal having made a deal with Meilin tries to steer away Peter from using the woman as a lead. Unfortunately, the FBI quickly makes the connection when they learn that the missing FBI Agent suspected Red Lantern Exports as one of Lao Shen’s shell companies. Moreover, this is what Agent Mark Costa was investigating before he disappeared. On top of that, Agent Cruz discovers that Meilin Wan is actually an Interpol agent. By this time, Agent Burke realizes that Neal Caffrey knew of her identity all along, but purposely kept that information from him.
Agent Peter Burke and Neal Caffrey sneak into the Red Lantern Exports warehouse, and find the corpse of Agent Costa in a freezer. They watch as Lao’s men wheel the body out of the warehouse before Agent Burke could even call it in. Upset, Peter confronts Neal about Meilin. Neal confesses to having agreed to botch the FBI operation in exchange for Kate’s whereabouts. Moreover, he informs him of Meilin’s reason for wanting the FBI to fail. Agent Burke, however, knows that Lao Shen does not have a boss, and that the real reason for Interpol’s sabotage is for them to get the credit for catching Lao so they could get more funding from China’s government. This upsets Agent Burke even more given that Agent Costa died in vain. Peter makes it clear that either Neal helps the FBI with putting Lao to jail or their deal is off.
Neal Caffrey gets an unexpected visit from Meilin, and confronts her with his knowledge of the real reason for Interpol’s sabotage. The woman does not deny his accusation, and even informs him that she has been given the task of preventing the FBI from monitoring any of Lao Shen’s accounts during their meeting. Meilin also gives Neal something to think about, stating that she knows who the man with the ring is.
The day of the meeting arrives. Agent Burke hands Caffrey a new tracker, one that he is supposed to turn off when Lao searches him for bugs, and one he should turn back on right after the search. The FBI also gives him an account number, one that they could use to track Lao’s accounts. However, Meilin also gives Neal an untraceable account number if he decides to switch allegiance, and help Interpol instead.
Neal Caffrey turns off the bug and meets with Lao Shen, and when asked for the account number, he supplies him with the one from Meilin. The transaction is complete, and Lao Shen suspects nothing. Meilin hands Neal Caffrey a flash drive with the information she has about Kate. Neal then challenges Lao to a game of Pai Gow, which surprises and worries Meilin. Neal Caffrey has lost almost all of his money on Pai Gow, and suggests that they add their watches to the stake. Lao agrees, and Neal turns on the tracker. Neal loses the hand, and his watch goes to Lao. Lao and his associate speak of the murder of the FBI agent unaware that the watch he is now wearing is bugged.
With the FBI in possession of hours long worth of transcripts of his transgressions, Lao Shen will be in jail for a very long time. Peter informs Mr. Tuan of the success of their operation, and that he now should no longer worry about the safety of his family. All thanks to Neal Caffrey who had the good sense to keep his allegiance with the FBI especially since the flash drive from Meilin that was supposed to have all the information about Kate and his captor is empty. Later, however, Neal receives a call from Meilin keeping her end of the bargain. Neal Caffrey learns from Meilin that the man who took Kate works for the FBI.
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