During the aptly named "Forging Bonds," White Collar explored the relationships that have come to shape the show and its characters.
The episode was an interesting look into how Neal came to know Mozzie, Kate, Peter and Neal’s mentor, Vincent Adler. It was a more emotionally driven hour than what we’re used to on this show, but it gave us something to ponder and enjoy.
First, it seems my wish for more emotionally probative episodes and some more answers about Neal’s past came true. Not only did we get to see Neal before the suits, we also got to see Mozzie with a goatee and a toupee. I must say, though, that I much prefer Mozzie bald and without the facial hair, which we can all attribute to Kate’s flattery. Same goes for Peter, who sported a mustache in the early days.I loved Neal’ s brazen introduction to Peter outside of First Unity Bank. It seems like such an insignificant thing until you realize the relationship it created, and the unfinished business it became for Peter, which he pursued until the day he caught Neal. I almost wasn’t surprised when Neal thanked Peter for finding Kate, even though it resulted in Neal’s arrest.
Also, I'm loving that we got the origin of Neal’s most used alias, Nicholas Halden - who would have guessed that he got it from spam?
What about when Neal met Kate? That look on his face was priceless. Seeing them interact was much appreciated, and who knew that when they met, Kate already had a boyfriend who she left for Neal?
This show essentially started because of Neal’s love for Kate, who had seemingly abandoned him after coming to prison to break their relationship off. It lacked context at the time, which quickly changed with Neal’s time at the FBI, revealing that Kate didn’t abandon him, but was kidnapped, and, as we now know, murdered.
This early look into their rather intense relationship, and the realization that Neal’s more elaborate cons, which eventually got him caught by Peter the first time, were in response to the volatile nature of his and Kate’s relationship.
This line of thought makes me wonder about Neal’s need to be in control. Is it his hubris that allows him to be so successful in his cons? Perhaps the well-maintained detachment? That begs the question: what happens when Neal isn’t in control? Was the near murder of Fowler in "Point Blank" the answer?
It’s important to question, considering that the closer to Adler that Neal and Peter come, the more directly Neal is going to have to face his emotional connections to the people around him and the consequences of his actions as a result.
Another question I always had was whether, as an audience, we would like this mysterious Kate character as a person and as Neal’s romantic interest.
As much as I wanted to pair him up with Alex immediately upon realizing the possibility of Kate coming back was minimal, upon watching this episode, I realized that Kate was really much more than the ethereal character I seemed to picture her as. Plus, that completely enraptured look on Neal’s face when he looked at Kate almost makes you feel guilty for even minimally entertaining the thought of him with anyone else.
He really was - is? - in love with her. Even when Neal finally told her the truth about his name, she stuck with him. She loved him as much as he loved her, and I personally don’t believe that my conscious can be eased until I have proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Kate is actually dead.
I also find it very interesting that Neal’s pursuit of the music box with Alex was what caused the riff in his relationship with Kate, especially since it’s the music box that Kate eventually needs from Neal in order to be released from Fowler’s custody. It creates an interesting circle that leaves us wondering even more why in the world this music box is such a big deal.
Now we know that the fractal pattern Mozzie derived from the contents of the music box could lead them to a plane or boat from the 1940’s. We can thank Alex for this little piece of info also, who is apparently back from Europe, and we can hopefully look forward to her physical return to the show very soon.
C. Charles is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.