First, I have to note the new opening credits. I like them. I didn't have strong feelings about the old credits, but they felt like an afterthought to me. Good credits should help tell the story, the new ones do, and in an impressively short amount of time.
Second,The Slash. Or, if you prefer, the Epic Bromance, courtesy of zegeekgirl. ;) Short of Peter giving Neal mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, I'm not sure how much further they could have taken the scenes between the two.
I had read that the reveal of what happened between Peter and Kate would happen later in the episode. This was a great decision. It allowed us to watch Neal's trust turn to doubt. And his slow burn become barely contained rage. (While giving Matt the opportunity to create a multi-faceted performance.) Had we known from the start what had transpired, the tension would have been non-existent as we waited for Neal to discover he tied himself up in knots for nothing.
The most interesting part, for me, was learning Neal should have trusted his first, gut instinct. Neal told Mozzie, "Fowler has to be lying about Peter." And such was the case.
The dialogue was perhaps the best since the pilot. There's the humor we've come to expect in every episode ("You could sell light switches to the Amish.") and the pop culture references (thank you for mentioning Thunderball because it immediately came to me mind), but as soon as the case is underway every line of Neal's is laced with a double meaning. His words, along with an inability to not quite keep his emotions in check, tip Peter off that something is not right between them. Neal has been held at gunpoint and shot at and has not broken his cover, yet he can't keep it together in Peter's presence.
Elizabeth played a small role in the episode, but she cemented two of my beliefs. Peter does, in fact, tell her everything. And she's able to spin the truth as well as Peter and Neal. Peter may have met with Kate, but he was never holding her.
I'm also sure her statement to Neal, "Peter is the best thing that ever happened to you and your smart enough to know that", launched a thousand fanfics tonight. ;)
Not that there weren't other moments to inspire fic. On second viewing, Neal and Peter arguing about the breathing device, Neal giving it to Peter, and Neal possibly sacrificing himself was a *bit* extreme, especially when you consider it's only the eighth episode of the series. But we needed the "Peter, I trust you" moment. Peter has questioned Neal's loyalty in the past. If Peter hesitated revealing his conversation with Kate because he was unsure of the value Neal placed on their partnership and friendship, that moment left him with no doubt.
As for that conversation, I wonder if what we saw is exactly what he told Neal. That Peter believes Neal is smart is neither a shock to us or to Neal. That Peter believe Neal is good, we've suspected and likely so has Neal. (Neal may be a con man, but it doesn't make him a bad man.) The "We're friends?" comment I would think would elicit a response from Neal along the lines of, "We're partners?", in 'All In'. But it's Peter's statement to Kate, "I"m tired of watching you twist his heart around," that left me going, "Do he really say that to her?" "Did he really repeat that to Neal???" Peter's worried about Neal's heart being broken and he verbalized that?
And Peter's chat with Neal ends with Peter telling Neal that Kate never loved him like Peter loves him. Or something along those lines. ;)
I actually do believe Kate loves Neal. I have no proof of it, but I can't believe Neal could have been so wrong about their relationship. Or that the writers would be quite that cruel. My guess is she loved him, just not as much or she cared more about the money than him.
I never thought Peter was the bad guy, but I had concerns as to how the writers were going to resolve the mid-season cliffhanger. Even on repeat viewing, it hung together pretty well. Peter has the pin/ring as do hundreds of FBI agents. And Fowler began to set Peter up after Peter began investigating him. But one question remains. Where did the photos come from? Peter said a copy showed up on his desk the same day as Neal received his copy. Neal received the photo from Mozzie. Could Mozzie have slipped a copy to Peter? Why would he do that? Why would someone else give a copy to Peter and Moz to pass along to Neal? Could it be Kate? Did she feel the only way she could free herself from the mess she is in (she seemed genuinely fearful) was to get Neal *and* Peter to work on the case?
Neal arrived at the FBI office after Peter. I thought Peter usually picked him up in the morning. Is the office in Neal's two mile radius?
Loved the "Boop" after Neal put the tickets in the agent's pocket.
Nick Halden is back! But, sorry, it's hard for me to believe that alias or any other is going to work with Neal Caffrey's photo plastered on the front page of the paper. That's one huge plothole the writers and audience will have to ignore for the run of the series.
Was that a law library/bar they were in? I work in a law firm and we have after hours get-togethers, but they take place in an office or conference room.
I want to know if Neal dressed Peter for his undercover assignment. In lieu of an official explanation, I will except fic. :)
Neal doesn't have the music box. I did not see that coming. It's a nice arc to have running through the back half of the season and it allows for the quest for Kate to be somewhat put on the backburner.