Jeff Eastin and his fellows whipped up a superb Season 3 finale that will leave their fans speculating endlessly through the summer. It was full of suspense, sentiment, and daring risks that will potentially change the course and formula of White Collar. Those who have been wanting new details about Neal’s past got that too. So if you still had a bone to pick with the show after the season finale, well, let’s face it, you probably aren’t a fan.
Neal: I have a good job, a wonderful home, a partner and a best friend. To wake up only to answer myself? That would mean everything.
We are left with the image of Neal (Matt Bomer) on a plane sitting next to Mozzie (Willie Garson). Unaware of where they are heading to, wondering what will happen to Peter (Tim DeKay) amongst his peers in the White Collar Division and the rest of the FBI, and debating what kind of choices Neal will make now?
To me, “Judgment Day” was about one of Peter’s friendships strengthening while another one crumbled.
We’ll recall that when Agent Kramer (Beau Bridges) introduced himself to Neal, he mentioned that he was not only Peter’s mentor but also his friend. He claimed that he was worried about Peter. The music box, Garrett Fowler, Music Box, U-Boat were brought up as instances where Peter looked like a fool, but Kramer was using his influence to ultimately get what he wanted–Neal back in Washington D.C. hand-cuffed to his side. He kept Peter in the dark about his investigation and failed to see the good that Peter is accomplishing with Neal.
Kramer quickly established himself as a devious villain. He remains on the right side of the law, but he threatens the harmony of the show so while not a classical type of villain, Agent Kramer may be the most disruptive one yet. Kramer left Neal with no other choice but to bolt the country. Peter sacrificed his professional reputation to ensure that Neal wouldn’t be used by Kramer.
Agent Kramer to Peter: Are you handling him or becoming him?
This is the most relevant thing said all night.
Peter didn’t just extend the radius of Neal’s anklet in the literal sense, he has been figuratively loosening his grip on Neal because he has proven to be an asset and a friend. Peter enjoys the con, he enjoys the art of the confidence game, but has always stayed on the right side of the law. He gave Neal the time to get away from Agent Kramer’s grip and in the final scene, it was hard to tell whether Peter is thinking like Neal or feels like he’s back at square one. By now, you should know to give Peter more credit. Peter has slowly embraced Mozzie and Neal even though they both drive him nuts.
Neal: When all of this is over, I’ll tell you everything.
At that point, everyone thought that all of this was the end of the episode. Now all of that is in limbo and who knows how this will all shake out. I don’t think Caffery is planning to be away from New York for long, but a couple of episodes in Season 4 seems about right.
Tension was created wonderfully on the sky tram to and from Roosevelt Island. Neal needed Peter to extend the radius of his anklet or risk alarming the public that he was a criminal. On the way back, the one-way ticket into Agent Kramer’s grasp was averted by another big time stunt jump by Neal. Fantastic? Yes, and White Collar never fails to entertain on its finales.
But it was fun too to see Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen), June (Diahann Carroll), and Sara (Hilarie Burton) testify in favor of Neal, but I thought it was good that Agent Jones (Sharif Atkins) recommended that Neal serve out the rest of his two-year sentence and that he had a good deal. Agent Barrigan (Marsha Thomason) also stood by Neal in her own way, risking her good record by throwing her Ford SUV into all-wheel-drive to help give Neal a shot at making it to Sterling Bosch with Rafael’s St. George and the Dragon.
Diana: I’m going to regret this.
And then there’s the mystery of Ms. Ellen Parker (Judith Ivey) who lives at 4221 Main Street. She was not Neal’s mother, but this mystery woman knows both his mother and father. We gather that it was Neal’s father’s old partner on the force. She has a long storied past with the Caffreys, but he hasn’t seen her in a long time. Neal had aspirations of joining the police academy, and following the footsteps of his father.
Ellen Parker: Do you hate me for telling you what I did?
Neal: No… My mother lied to me about my father… He’s a dirty cop and he’s not dead… Was my father always corrupt?
Oh the pathos! Who can complain about learning about Neal’s dark past. We also found out that Kate came for the Rafael, but changed her mind, leaving it for Neal. Funny how she left it behind for him, and it brought him closer to Sara.
For those fans that looked for the Neal and Peter’s relationship to deepen, they should be satisfied by Peter’s recommendation for commutation on top of warning Neal about Agent Kramer. He stuck by him all the way through the end, covering for him and for his troubles he got the true story of what really happened with the skyscraper base jump and the Degas. If only Peter believed him. Apparently jumping from moving trams was more believable.
• I knew Peter and Neal’s success was pretty high, but a 94% conviction rate? No wonder Neal was offered commutation.
• Of all of the testimonies, Jones was the most sincere and truthful, whereas June’s was the most impressive.
• I liked Neal pulling an Ellis Boyd Redding (Morgan Freeman) from Shawshank Redemption, saying it didn’t matter what he thought if he should be free and he wasn’t going to give some long dialogue about what he deserves.
• At the beginning of the episode, Neal declared that New York is his home now and Mozzie replied, “I am beside you.” This was an interesting show of support by Mozzie, who ultimately did sit beside Neal on the plane, but how exactly will he support him now?
• For once it was nice to see Elizabeth stay out of the con or Peter’s job for an episode to get two cakes for Neal’s commutation . One congratulating Neal on being set free, while the other one was a cat with an anklet with the saying, “Hang in there!”
Peter: I think we need a third cake.
Elizabeth: One with a file?
Peter: One that says, “Bon Voyage”
All three could be applied to Neal right about now.
Before you come up with your theories on what will happen in Season 4, I ask that you consider where these characters have traveled since we were introduced to them. Look at how the gap between Peter and Neal has closed and how their characters have developed over three seasons. Jeff Eastin and company has given us a season that began with a question of trust, a better understanding of the entire cast, and evolved into the ultimate test of friendship. The Emmys or the Golden Globes may never recognize White Collar–their loss–but that doesn’t mean it’s not damn good television. Here’s to another memorable season and to the long and painful wait through the spring.
Pictures Courtesy of Matt Bomer Fan