Synopsis: Agent Peter Burke and Neal Caffrey investigate a corrupt politician believed to be involved in a straw donor scam. Caffrey goes undercover as the fixer, Benjamin Cooper, to help Senator Jennings weather a five-year old loan scandal that the FBI supposedly reopened. Meanwhile, Agent Burke and Agent Barrigan secretly work on solving Kate’s murder.
Episode Summary: Agent Peter Burke and Diana Barrigan arrive at the designated meeting place of the mysterious meeting Agent Fowler had pegged on his calendar. At twenty-minutes after the appointed time, no one is in sight. Agent Barrigan suggests that they call it a night, but Agent Burke believes that the meeting is too important to call off given that Agent Fowler took great pains to keep it secret. Moreover, he believes that the person Agent Fowler was to meet would know about the explosion. Soon after, a man arrives, careful not to divulge his identity by hiding behind a newspaper. Agent Burke makes himself known, but the man escapes. He instructs Agent Barrigan to get the security tapes of the premises, determined to learn the identity of the mysterious man.
Unaware of the previous night’s events, Neal Caffrey notices Agent Burke’s exhaustion, but the FBI agent associates it to lack of sleep given that Elizabeth is out of town. Agent Burke keeps Caffrey up to speed on their new case that involves Senator Gary Jennings. The senator’s assistant went to the FBI having suspected the senator for illegally funneling money into his campaign. The FBI is not surprised at all for they have looked into Senator Jennings before, but could not find proof of his misdeeds. According to the assistant, the campaign started to get an increasing number of donations right after the senator’s mystery meetings. Moreover, he started to keep two sets of books with one book the senator keeps to himself, and shares only with his inner circle. The assistant suspects that the senator has set up a straw donor scam that goes around the donation limit from individuals. He believes that the senator uses a group of individuals to write him small individual donations to mask the one big check he gets from a questionable source. He later reimburses these individuals under the table for their contributions. The assistant believes that the second book has the list of straw donors, and the source of the illegal money. Agent Burke’s plan is to put Neal Caffrey in Senator Jennings’ inner circle.
Neal Caffrey comes up with a plan where Agent Burke acts as the bad cop, and Caffrey as the good criminal. The plan is for the bad cop to create a problem for Jennings, while the good criminal provides the senator a solution. It sounds like a good plan, but Agent Burke is worried that Jennings will burn his books as soon as he learns that the FBI is sniffing around, but Caffrey has already thought of that. His suggestion is to make Jennings think that they are investigating him on the old loan scandal he was investigated on before, but walked away clean. This would create concerns on Jennings, not enough for him to burn his books, but enough for him to hire a fixer to cover up his problems. Fortunately, Jennings’ new fixer quit a few months ago, around the same time he started his mystery meetings. This presents an opening for Caffrey.
Agent Burke sets the plan in motion with him as the bad cop. He visits the senator’s office to inform him of his determination to bring him down for the Michelson loan scandal. Senator Jennings is confident that he will not find anything on him on the loan scandal, but Agent Burke is certain that he will find something on him. Soon after, Dylan, Jennings’ assistant phones Agent Burke to inform him that his visit fazed the senator, and that he has called an immediate war room. The senator started calling in favors, and attempted to get Agent Burke fired, but to Jennings’ dismay FBI Director Hughes is protecting Agent Burke. Moreover, Jennings is already looking for a new fixer, and Dylan already put Caffrey on the list. However, Caffrey has some competition. With the FBI betting on Caffrey, they are giving him an alias with a solid background as a fixer. Neal Caffrey is to become Benjamin Cooper, a valedictorian at his High School with a 4.0 GPA from Harvard Law, and soon after worked for the respectable firm Brextan and Miller in Delaware. His alias comes with an official school record care of the FBI, one that Caffrey does not have, because he dropped out of high school.
Benjamin Cooper meets with Senator Jennings and Reggie Mayfield, the head of his campaign’s opposition research. Mayfield informs him that a certain FBI agent is trying to pin the Michelson loan scandal on the senator. However, Benjamin Cooper informs them that they should not worry about the agent, and their focus should be on his position on the new stadium. This shocked Jennings, and Agents Burke and Jones who are listening in their conversation. Jennings is unaware of a new stadium, which is exactly what Cooper wants him to say. Jennings is confused, but rides with it anyway. He asks Cooper if there is a new stadium being built then why would he oppose it, but Cooper makes it clear that the senator is not against the building of the new stadium only he is opposed to the location where it is to stand for he has planned a new children’s park in that space. He borrows Mayfield’s newspaper, and shows them the article about a local group fighting for a new park. This puts a smile on Jennings’ face, and asks Cooper to continue. Benjamin Cooper believes that the senator’s constituents will not care about the loan scandal when they know that Jennings is fighting against the system that favors corporations who think that overpaid athletes are more important than the city’s children. The whole plan is simply a giant distraction, and with elections less than a month a way, this misdirection could work. Benjamin Cooper is now Senator Jennings’ new fixer.
Neal invites Peter out for drinks, but the man lies through his teeth. He and Diana meet at his house to look into photos of their mystery man taken from surveillance cameras, but the man managed to avoid all cameras. Diana, however, managed to put bits and pieces of the man’s face through several shots of him, and they got a patchwork of a man’s face. She is to run it discreetly in the FBI’s facial recognition database. Peter also asks about anyone poking around on the location of the music box, but Diana assures him that no one knows where it is except her. Not even Peter knows where Diana is keeping the box, and he is not keen on letting Neal in on their investigation until they have something concrete. Peter believes that the mystery guy knows something, and is positive that he is looking into him and Diana. Across from his house, a man takes pictures of him and Diana.
Benjamin Cooper arrives at the senator’s office early, and breaks into Jennings’ office. He finds a locked drawer, and a matchbox inside. Jennings and Mayfield arrive while Cooper is still in his office. Dylan informs Cooper, and distracts the senator to prevent him from entering his office. He takes a picture of the graphic on the matchbox and makes a note of what is written inside it, CiNNaMoN212. With Jennings distracted, Cooper exits the senator’s office unseen, and meets the unsuspecting senator.
Caffrey calls Burke to get an update on the graphic he sent, and learns that it is the flower of Aphrodite that is being used by several establishments including a high-class escort service. Caffrey informs Burke about CiNNaMoN212, and updates him of his request to get his fee off the books to which Jennings immediately complies, wasting no time to call a man named Darrow or Narrow to get it done.
Agent Burke visits the site of the high-class escort service, and gets a call from Elizabeth in San Francisco. He uses CiNNaMoN212 as the password, and enters the site with a warm welcome announcing the user’s intent of looking for high-class female companionship. Embarrassed at being found out looking through a vulgar website, Peter struggles to keep what he is doing from the curious Elizabeth. He swears to his wife that he is merely doing research.
Benjamin Cooper leads the meeting with Jennings and his staff, and asks about the status of the stadium story, and is pleased to know that the press has picked it up. Moreover, they have given an official statement from the senator denying the stadium plan. Cooper instructs the staff to specify that the senator did not meet with the zoning committee. They are to backdate and leak a canceled meeting with the zoning committee in his calendar. This raises questions from one of the senator’s staff, confused at having to create a stadium project out of thin air much more deny something that is imaginary. Senator Jennings steps in support of Cooper when his staff presses more on the task to create an illusion of a stadium project that the senator denies to be in the works, but seem to be secretly working into keeping a stadium from being built on the space reserved for a children’s park.
Mayfield arrives, and the senator calls for a fifteen-minute break. Mayfield announces that he may have found a solution to their FBI agent problem. He shows them pictures of Peter and Diana in his house. They are convinced that Peter is having an affair, and it is something they can use against Peter. Although sure that the woman in Peter’s house is not his wife, Jennings and Mayfield still do not know her identity. Cooper informs them that she is a prostitute, working on the logic that Burke is a control freak who thinks an affair is too sloppy, which is why he opts to use a prostitute. Cooper’s plan is for them to turn the prostitute on Burke. Jennings and Mayfield agree with the plan, and tells him that they even have someone who can help them.
Caffrey shows the photos to Agent Burke, and the plan he conjured. Moreover, he hints of his distrust on Peter after he lied about his plans for the night. Although annoyed at having to explain himself to Neal, Peter tells him that the supposed stakeout he was to help with got canceled. Disappointed at Peter, Neal tells him that he has never lied to him. He may have let Peter draw incorrect conclusions, but he has never explicitly lied to him. Anyway, Caffrey’s misdirection worked once again. Having believed his supposition that Diana is a prostitute, Jennings and Mayfield informed him to get Diana contact Barrow, the man Jennings called to get his fee off the books. Agent Burke supposes that the high-class escort service Aphrodite is the source of the cash that pays out the straw donors.
Agent Burke calls Agent Barrigan to his office to inform her that Caffrey told Jennings that she is a hooker, and that Agent Burke and her are having an affair. Moreover, she is to meet with an escort service. None of these fazed or angered Diana, which is a relief to both men who put her in an awkward position.
Neal informs Mozzie about the pictures, and his speculation that Peter is looking into Kate’s murder. Mozzie believes that it is good of Peter to look into the unofficial case in his off hours, and that he is trying to protect him by keeping it secret from him. Neal, nonetheless, wants to know what Peter has found. Mozzie seems to approve of Peter keeping secrets from Neal, which balances the fact that they are keeping secrets from him. Moreover, Mozzie who voted for Senator Jennings is joining the letter campaign to stop the building of the new stadium.
Agent Barrigan, undercover as a hooker, arrives at a party, and meets Roger Barrow. Barrow offers her a job as a high-class prostitute that pays ten thousand dollars a night. However, he needs to know that he can trust her. Her task is to pick any guy at the bar, get him upstairs, and hand in ten thousand dollars by 4 a.m. Neal Caffrey aching to go to the party has left the van unnoticed. Caffrey is already at the bar offering Diana a drink, while Agent Burke and his team figure out a way to get ten grand in cash in three hours. However, Caffrey has a solution for that too. He whispers into Diana’s earpiece informing Agent Burke to meet their mutual friend at his place to get the money. Agent Burke meets with Mozzie who agrees to lending the money, but asks for full immunity regarding the events that will happen that night and for the agent’s shoelaces, a magnet, and a Sports Illustrated. Mozzie unscrews a light switch as Peter looks for a Sports Illustrated, but finds a New York Journal magazine supplement. Mozzie ties the shoelace around the magnet, and uses it to pull out a key from inside the light switch. He then asks Peter for a twenty-dollar bill, a hammer, a crowbar, and a radio.
Diana flirts with Neal to make a show for Barrow. Neal asks Diana what she would have done if he hadn’t showed up. Diana would have flirted with one of the men, take him up the penthouse, put a gun between his ribs, and threaten him with solicitation. Meanwhile, Mozzie and Peter arrive at a storage facility looking for unit R-39. Mozzie turns on the radio with the tape of Claire de Lune. Mozzie asks Peter the reason for the scramble for ten grand, and learns that they are to use it to take down a corrupt politician, and is disappointed to know that the politician is Jennings. Mozzie, a fan of Jennings, has second thoughts about helping the FBI, and insists that the senator is innocent. Peter convinces Mozzie to help him, rationalizing that all this will not matter if the senator turns out to be innocent. The two arrive in front of R-39 when Mozzie tells Peter that what they need is actually behind the huge crate. As if on cue, the guard arrives to turn off the radio, and finds Mozzie whom he refers to as Mr. C. Mozzie hands the twenty-dollar bill to Eddie, and the man gets his forklift, and moves R-39 out of the way. Mozzie hands the magazine to Peter as he takes the duffel bag from him and enters the space that R-39 used to occupy, while Peter waits for him.
Diana brings Neal up the penthouse suite, and agrees to make the most out of their undercover task. Diana shares a secret about hotels, and shows Neal that sometimes the wall where a painting hangs would have a little mark to let you know that there’s something behind it. True enough there’s one at their hotel room, and she pulls the hung painting out to reveal a painting on the wall. She claims it is a secret art to make the experience more bearable for people who live in hotels. She came to know this because she is a daughter of a diplomat, and she grew up in fancy hotels. This surprised Neal who could not picture a diplomat’s daughter fieldstrip a semiautomatic, but is even surprised to learn that she learned it from her bodyguard who died in the line of duty protecting her. Neal feels that he ought to share something personal with Diana, and tells her a story of how he and Kate conned their way into some rich guy’s hotel room on their first date, and ordered five thousand dollar burgers, while admiring the view of a rundown bridge from their window. Neal blames himself for Kate’s death, but Diana believes that Kate would not have wanted him to.
After a few clangs and bangs, Mozzie emerges with ten grand. With ten minutes left, Agent Burke returns to the van, and instructs Agent Jones to log the serial numbers, which would let them trace back the money to Jennings. While Diana tells the story of how Peter had a mustache, there’s a bang on the door. Afraid that Barrow is checking up on them, she pins Neal down on the bed, and makes out with him. Luckily, it’s only Mozzie delivering the ten grand. They dress up, while Mozzie admires the sketch Neal made of a window with a view of a rundown bridge. Neal kisses Diana goodbye, and Diana hands the money to a pleased Barrow.
Neal receives a frantic call from Jennings whom he instructs to call up reporters that are on their side, and have them ask him about the loan scandal to which he is to answer with “Did you ever play stickball?” At the Jennings campaign headquarters, all eyes are glued on the ambush interview of Jennings where a reporter asks Jennings about the FBI reopening the Michelson loan scandal. As per Neal’s instructions, Jennings asks the reporter if he ever played stickball then goes on to explain that all he needs to play stickball is a broomstick and a ball. It is to him the ultimate form of democracy, and anyone can play it even Timmy Nolan. This leads the reporter to ask who Timmy Nolan is, and Jennings tells him that Timmy was a friend of his whom he used to play with, and is the reason why he is fighting so hard to make the park a reality. Jennings claims that the loan scandal resurfaced to keep him from his fight to save the park. He challenges the supposed corporations who would like to profit from the land to bring it on, but promises that he will not back down.
Although Neal and Jennings supporters are impressed with the turn of events and are confident that the loan scandal story is buried, Mayfield is convinced that they need to get Agent Burke completely out of the way, because agents like him will stop at nothing. Mayfield believes that Lana, the prostitute, knows a lot more about Agent Burke. He has Barrow on the task to rough her up to tell him more, and is not worried if Barrow gets out of control. Diana meets with Barrow in his hotel room, and Agent Burke gets a text from Neal informing him that she is in trouble. Barrow has his gun on his lap. Diana informs him that she is an undercover FBI agent, but this does not faze Barrow. She orders him to put the gun down, but he points it at her ready to shoot. Luckily, Diana is faster, and shoots the man on the shoulder. Agent Burke and his team barges in the hotel room, and find Diana with his high heel pressed on the man’s wounded shoulder, gun pointing at him.
Agent Burke arrives at Jennings’ campaign headquarters where Jennings is having a photo shoot unaware that Barrow already pushed him under the bus, and that the FBI arrested Mayfield who has a copy of the second set of books on him. The FBI arrests Jennings who is cocky as ever. Imagine his surprise at learning that Benjamin Cooper works for Agent Burke. The FBI arrests him on campaign finance fraud, and as an accessory to murder. Nonetheless, the people will get their much-coveted park that is to be named Timmy Nolan.
Agent Barrigan hands a file to Caffrey who gravely asks Agent Burke as to why he kept it from him. Agent Burke believing it to be his unofficial investigation on Kate’s murder was ready to explain when he learns that it’s only an old picture of him with a mustache. Agent Burke is shocked at having seen his picture believing that he burned all of it. It is Agent Barrigan’s way of getting back at him for making her flirt with Caffrey. While Neal is making the rounds to take a poll of people’s reactions to Agent Burke’s choice of mustache, Agent Barrigan hands Agent Burke the file with the facial recognition results. Unfortunately, it did not find a match.
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