Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hard Sell – White Collar Episode Summary 1.8

Neal Caffrey shotgunSynopsis: The FBI orders Neal Caffrey to pose as Nick Halden in order to infiltrate the company running a boiler room scam. Neal does a wonderful job at becoming one of the hustlers, and quickly learns of the identity of the man running the scam. However, he becomes distracted after finding evidence that Agent Peter Burke is the man with the ring.

Episode Summary: The FBI has been investigating a company that has swindled unsuspecting clients of their life savings through the sale of bad stocks. With a clerk, Madison Cookler, as their only insider, the FBI finds that they need someone who has the ability to con hustlers, and infiltrate the office running the scam. Agent Peter Burke recommends Neal Caffrey as the perfect man for the job.   Continue reading...

Neal Caffrey posing as Nick Halden interviews with Brad, the hotshot of the boiler room. As part of his interview, Neal is to score a deal with one of their prospective clients. Neal Caffrey picks a name from their client list, and gives him a call. The FBI, who has given Neal an Eagle, a pen that serves as a recorder, transmitter, and GPS, has been listening in the whole time. This allowed the FBI to re-route his phone call to Agent Burke who now poses as Charles Fairweather. Neal is to sell Mr. Fairweather stocks of Rhymer Pharmaceutical, which unbeknownst to the guys at the boiler room is a phony company, set up by the FBI. Neal begins the phone call, and all eyes at the office are on him. Agent Peter Burke gives him a hard time on the phone, but Neal shows his sweet talking prowess that impressed everyone including Peter. Having sold 5,000 shares on one call, Neal Caffrey lands the job. Caffrey needs not the help of Agent Burke to get a sale, and this he proved by quickly, and almost effortlessly climbing up the leader board. Soon enough, the mastermind of the scam takes notice, and decides to meet Neal in person.

Brad and Neal arrive at the bar where Avery Philips, the twenty-nine year old head of the operation, is. They find the young man arguing with his business partner. Neal wastes no time to update Peter of this new development, and convinces him to start the work at his house instead of the office. Already suspicious of Agent Burke after his conversation with Agent Fowler, Caffrey is surprised to find a picture of Peter wearing the same ring that Kate’s captor has. Upset at the information he found, Neal confides in Moz who suggests that his friend escape given that the FBI has cut his anklet for this undercover work.

The FBI runs a background check on Avery Philips, and finds nothing on him. They do know that he is running a legitimate brokerage firm with a man named Daniel Reed whom Neal recognized as the business partner Avery was arguing with at the bar. The FBI suspects that Avery has broken away from their partnership, and has been running the new boiler room scam on his own. With the identity of the man behind the curtain revealed, the FBI is now working on finding proof that Avery is profiting from the scam. Agent Lauren proposes a plan for the FBI to get a peek at Avery’s books without him getting suspicious of their investigation. Her plan is to have the supposed CEO of Rhymer Pharmaceutical strike a deal with Avery where he gets to track earning reports, and a share of the profit in exchange for turning a blind eye on the boiler room scam. Neal Caffrey suggests that Agent Peter Burke take on the job of playing the dirty CEO of Rhymer Pharmaceutical.

At the office, Neal learns that the guys at the boiler room have become suspicious of Madison Cookler. Agent Peter Burke arrives as Mr. Edison, the CEO of Rhymer Pharmaceutical, to meet Avery Philips. He cuts to the chase, and blackmails the scammer to giving him a cut in the profit in exchange for his silence. Moreover, he orders Avery to send him his company’s projected earnings. Avery Philips invites Agent Burke to a party he is holding for his employees at his house. Neal Caffrey unaware that Agent Burke was invited gets a little bit wary at his presence.

Avery Philips shows Agent Burke his prized possessions, a roomful of rare comic books. The vault, as Avery calls it, closes down at the event of a fire. Moreover, the air is sucked out in ten seconds preventing any chance of fire in the room. He uses his analogy to threaten Agent Burke whom he sees as a man trying to steal from him. Avery Philips then introduces Agent Burke, only known to him as Mr. Edison, to his employees who are outside skeet shooting. Neal Caffrey who has been refusing to participate is put on the spot, but once again astounds Avery after an impressive performance. Peter Burke, on the other hand, is puzzled at Neal’s snide behavior towards him. Neal puts aside his enmity towards Peter at the sight of a distressed Madison Cookler. Peter hatches up a plan, and asks Neal’s cooperation, but the young man refuses his order. Neal Caffrey confronts Peter Burke of his knowledge of his ring who quickly argues that he is not the only one who has it. With little time to explain, Agent Burke forgoes having to deal with Caffrey, and proceeds with his plan to rescue Madison with or without Neal’s backup.

Agent Burke accuses Neal Caffrey of being a spy, and suggests to Avery that they search him. Soon they find the Eagle in his pocket providing supporting proof to Agent Burke’s accusation. Agent Burke makes up a story of how Neal tried to extort him on insider trading, and pins him as a corporate spy. Neal Caffrey plays along, and identifies himself as a spy for Avery’s business partner, Daniel Reed. With this new development, Madison Cookler is off the hook. Furious, Avery Philips desires to assert violence on Neal, but Agent Burke talks him into buying him out, and have him turn against Reed instead. Having lost Avery’s trust, Neal suggests that the man pay him with the bad stocks they have been selling. This way, he is assured that he does not benefit if he turns against Avery. Once again, Neal earns favor from Avery, and even gets himself a three percent stake at the profit.

Elizabeth Burke, learning of Neal’s distrust of his husband, having convinced himself that Peter Burke is the man who has Kate, tries her best to convince the young man that he is mistaken. To put any suspicions to rest, Peter shows Neal his ring, which turned out to be a pin the FBI gives out to its agents after ten years of service. Most agents including Agent Burke have turned their pins into a ring. Elizabeth Burke supports her husband with a declaration that a large number of FBI agents have the same ring, and invites Neal to the FBI commendation dinner so he could see it for himself. Neal Caffrey is somewhat relieved to find some proof that Peter is not Kate’s captor. Little did he know that Agent Burke had recently met with Kate, information even Elizabeth knows, but Agent Burke will divulge to Neal only after he regains his trust.

Neal Caffrey turns the wheel on the FBI’s plan on having Daniel Reed turn against Avery Philips. Avery Philips, unaware of the set up, sends Neal Caffrey to Daniel Reed thinking that the young man is only providing his business partner with false information about their stocks. Neal Caffrey confronts Daniel Reed declaring that Avery is betraying him. He plays a recording of Avery Philips instructing him to provide Reed with false information. After presenting himself as a man who can be bought, and one who can help him take Avery down, Neal requests access to Avery Philips’ financial records, and proof that he has been running the boiler rooms. He learns from Reed that Philips keeps his financial records in a ledger. Agent Peter Burke believes that Philips must be keeping his ledger in the comic book vault.

Propitiously, Avery Philips holds a party at his house to celebrate the scam they once again successfully pulled off. Neal Caffrey sneaks into the vault, and finds the ledger inside a wooden box. The ledger sits on top of a pressure plate, which makes it even trickier to obtain. All is well until Daniel Reed arrives at the party. Luckily, FBI agents are outside to give Agent Burke a heads up, but before he could do anything, Reed had declared that he did not hire the person they know as Nick Halden. More importantly, he knows about the ledger. Avery Philips grabs his shotgun, and makes his way to the vault. Peter Burke warns Neal who grabs the ledger just in time for the vault’s bulletproof glass door to close, shielding them from the shotgun. However, the air is quickly sucked out of the vault. Neal Caffrey believing that he could trust Peter Burke, hands the device that holds five minutes worth of oxygen so the FBI agent can deal with the shotgun carrying Avery Philips once they hit the kill switch. Neal Caffrey finds the kill switch, but passes out as he runs out of air. Agent Peter Burke seeing that Avery Philips has his shotgun pointed at him ready to shoot him as soon as he hits the switch, pulls his own gun, and prepares to take the bullet. Luckily, as soon as the hit the switch, the FBI agents arrive to accost Avery Philips and Daniel Reed. Agent Peter Burke resuscitates Neal Caffrey, and he is back on his feet in no time.

Convinced that he has regained Neal’s trust, Peter tells him that he met with Kate the night Neal confronted Agent Fowler. Kate was able to tell him what it is that the man with the ring wants from Neal. Moreover, Peter confesses to Neal that he is aware all along that an FBI agent is holding Kate captive. After doing his own investigation, Peter is convinced that Agent Fowler is the one who has Kate Moreau. In fact, it is his investigation that prompted Fowler to put Peter under OPR investigation. Agent Burke instructs Kate to inform Agent Fowler that he is on to him. Moreover, he orders the young woman to let Neal Caffrey go. Peter is convinced that Kate is working for Fowler, but Neal refuses to believe this. However, the young woman had agreed to stay away from Neal in exchange for the music box, the one that Catherine the Great kept in her room made entirely of amber in her palace at St. Petersburg. The Nazis looted the room in World War II, and one of the things they took is her amber music box. The music box though worth a fortune is not worth all the mayhem in obtaining it, which leads Neal to believe that it holds some secret.

With this new development, Neal Caffrey forgoes his plan of running away from the FBI, and decides to hand over the music box. The only complication is that Neal Caffrey does not have the music box, and so he must find it, and steal it.

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