White Collar Review: "Forging Bonds"

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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.

With a Mustache!

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.

Forging Bonds Scene

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.


Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (68 Votes)

C. Charles is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.


@Orian---very short, sweet and precise...and also very likely, and thanks for putting the timeline into perspective for us! @Lannie---glad this was a favorite, it definitely ranked in my top five and I found myself evolving my assessment of Kate from actually getting to see her. I'm not sure who I ship more, but all three ladies would be fun to see, no matter which they chose or whether they brought someone back from limbo :p @Porter---also very to the point, and I hope they capitalize on the opportunity the show has created as well @Suzanne---I think the favor will be more involved than that, perhaps for her to work a case with them or something? Also, just because Kate becomes part of the show doesn't necessarily mean the show has to end. While the premise of the show started with Neal and Kate, I am sure the writers are clever enough to write some amazing stories about the evolving relationships between characters with Kate involved as well. @Gaby---thanks for your strong and entertaining opinion...I had forgotten Kate visited Neal so frequently...it does seem strange, then, to think that she was betraying him in some way...I kind of have a hard time believing it @ilovewhitecollar---I am so glad that you brought up his hair, I really wanted to mention it in the review because it was so gorgeous....I wanted to run my fingers through it! @Cass---you seem to dictate some of my suppressed misgivings about Kate perfectly. I really want to like her and want to give her credit and I'm not sure I completely understand or know Kate like I might want to, but that's all the more reason to bring her back so we can finally settle the conflict within ourselves about whether or not Neal is wasting his time with these feelings he has @TeamKate---it's an ongoing battle that I don't think anyone is going to win until the writers settle it for themselves, but you have some very valid points!


@Rayla---I think part of her hiding from him was not as much a matter of hiding as a matter of being kidnapped. Because she was part of the conning and so important to Neal, Adler took advantage of that fact, blackmailed some lower level folks like Adler, and made Kate a pawn to get to Neal. Then again, that's just what I think, so I could be completely wrong.... @Mary Beth---I, too, wonder what the big surprise will be, and we'll just have to wait and see what happens...apparently Jeff Eastin tweeted this review, so hopefully he saw you're comment and will resolve our need to know what happens as soon as possible @Mary---I'm not sure I'm willing to write Kate off as Adler's girl just yet. As I put in the quote section, Adler made a comment to the effect of, "The things we try to hide are most obvious to those around us," so obviously he could see right through Neal. But let's be honest, Kate seemed pretty upset when they found out that Adler had gone to ground, I don't think she's as deceitful as we might be willing to pin her...then again, who knows with this show...they have a knack for misleading us....or, rather, letting us mislead ourselves


@Cass Peter was wrong. He didn't/doesn't know Kate, and he doesn't know their relationship. Kate spent four years of her life waiting for Neal, why would she do that just for a laugh? NO, she loved him. She let Folwer take her to protect Neal. She forgave him for lying all about his identity, she broke up with her long term boyfriend to be with him, she became a con for him. What else does this chick have to do? I probably side with her partly because of how mysterious she is plus she is mega gorgeous her eyes are amazingly blue. I like the fact you don't know the whole story and Neal doesn't have all the power in the relationship, it's very in the air.


I loved this episode, and it was great to get Neal and Kate's origins. It was obvious that Neal was very much in love with her, but I am still not convinced that Kate cared for him like he cared for her. I wanted to be after this episode, but I think Peter's observation that there wasn't concern in her eyes was really alluding to something. Maybe I'm wrong. But I wouldn't be surprised if she was working for Adler the entire time. And no discredit to the actress, but I just could not see what Neal loved about her character. And until the writers reveal who she really was, I'm still going to be suspicious of her.


I love Neal&Kate, Bomer's hair in the episode was hot, I love his hair the 'flashback' way. Bring back Kate, this episode made me Neal&Kate crazy :D


I always knew even in S1 Kate wasn't betraying Neal. People can be stupid. She waited 4 YEARS, just to turn around and betray him...come on. She was the victim, that stupid guy refusing to let her go back to Neal and then Burke (as much as I heart him) saying she dumped you, she's against you...bla bla bla it was like shut up, you don't know their relationship. She visited him EVERY WEEK for FOUR YEARS. Fingers crossed Kate is alive.


I'm wondering now if the favor that Neal owes Sarah will be to give her the Raphael that he admitted to Kate he stole? Also wonder if Kate is not dead that she could come back at the end of season three in order to have a lovely ending to this story. But then that would mean that Bomer had moved on to movies and no longer a White Collar show. He deserves that but I hope it is not true.


Love Neal and Kate. She needs to come back otherwise it's a waste of an truly great storyline. The flashback proved how great they were together.
Kate better be alive.


My favorite episode so far!!!!! Season 1 they made Kate look like the villian so I wasn't sure I liked her, but I LOVE HER NOW! She is awesome. I don't want her to be dead. Neal and Kate's reunion would be so freakin awesome. I was super glad Neal and Kate had so many scenes, I totally ship them 100%. Alex and Sara don't compare to them. Boo! Now I am mad they killed her. Hopefully the writers will be smart and bring her back.


Someone else might like to clarify the timeline, but I'm pretty sure Neal was arrested much later than 3 months after he started working for Adler. We know Peter chased Neal for 3 years, and I'm assuming that started from the time Neal cashed the fake bonds to buy his way into Adler's party and ended with Peter and Jones arresting Neal at Kate's storage facility. Neal worked for Adler for at least 5 months, then when Adler went to ground, Neal, Kate and Moz ran cons together (like the cop car scene) for a bit until Neal went to Copenhagen with Alex for the music box. He came back to NY, found Kate gone and began running bigger fancier cons to win her back and got Peter and the FBI really after him too. Last night's ep didn't go into any detail on what those bigger cons were but they've left the door open for more flashbacks! eg. Antioch manuscripts, Vinland map etc ;) so it wasn't a particularly long career as a con artist but if Neal's only 30-ish when he started working for Peter and just spent 4 years in prison, he would've only been in his early 20s when he made the forged bonds and gave Peter the sucker outside the bank!

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White Collar Season 2 Episode 11 Quotes

Often the things we try to hide are most obvious to the people around us.

Vincent Adler [to Neal]

James Bond - shaken, not stirred.