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Published on February 29th, 2012 | by Ernie Estrella


White Collar Season 3 Finale Review: Free To Go

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Matt Bomer Judgment Day 01

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?

EDITOR’S PICK: WHITE COLLAR SEASON 4 Theories and Expectations

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.

white collar season 3 finale agent kramer

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.

white collar 316 finale stunt

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.

white collar ellen parker

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.

white collar 316 finale testimony

Loose Buttons
• 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.

Now read my theory of what we’ll see in Season 4, based on the stories laid out before us and let me know whether it’s similar or different from yours. Click Here.

Pictures Courtesy of Matt Bomer Fan

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  • Anonymous

    It’s hard to even know where to start with this episode!

    I love Jeff Eastin… I hate Jeff Eastin… I love Jeff Eastin…

    I like the term “devious villain” for Kramer. On the surface it seems that he has a noble goal, to protect his friend. But it quickly becomes clear that Kramer’s idea of protection goes way beyond anything Peter needs. And, of course, Kramer’s ultimate  goal – to harness Neal’s talent for his own uses – leads him to use some rather nefarious methods to try and get his way.

    Seriously, you’re going to shackle Neal with a charge of public endangerment?!?!?!? I think the only person endangered was Neal himself. Fun stunt though :-)

    Peter’s statement pretty much summed things up: Kramer has no idea how to handle Neal. Because seriously, it wasn’t the anklet that kept Neal in New York – and after being manipulated into a lifetime of servitude to Kramer, Neal would have been gone the first time someone blinked in DC. And the thing is, if Kramer had been willing to take just the 2 years remaining on Neal’s sentence, Neal probably would have gone, especially if it meant no inquiry into some of Peter’s reports. Maybe this will teach Kramer something about being greedy.

    So much bromance on display, even sometimes when Neal and Peter weren’t together. Peter calling the marshals at Neal’s request, and then going to Roosevelt Island – and not asking too many questions. The quiet “wow” Peter utters at Neal’s tram-to-tram leap. Peter comig up with a plan to save Neal at Sterling Bosch – and the quiet “it’s not over” even as he’s putting the handcuffs on. Their final (for now!) face-to-face when Neal says he’ll be there Monday morning, anklet or no. Neal telling Peter the truth about the Degas – and Peter thinking it was a joke. Neal promising to tell Peter everything…

    And, of course, that moment at the end when their eyes met from across the street. Peter finally knew the lengths Kramer was willing to go to, and friendship won out. The subtle head shake, and Neal understood.

    I feel bad for both Peter and Neal. Peter has been terribly let down by the man he considered a mentor and a friend. And Neal finally accepted that he had everything he wanted – the dream with a tracking anklet – only to have it all yanked away from him.

    Random bits:
    * Peter’s conviction rate in Withdrawal was only 93%, so he and Neal improved on that.
    * June has a last name! And her testimony was awesome. June is awesome :-)
    * Elizabeth’s statement about being able to trust Neal when it counts was so on point. And I want a piece of cake!
    * Loved that Sara was excited about the Raphael news – not bitter that she didn’t find the painting years before. Her testimony was also excellent – that yes, she and Neal had once been adversaries, but he changed.
    * Jones’ testimony struck me as very honest. He considers Neal a friend, but isn’t convinced Neal should be free yet. (Though I hope he remembers how Neal saved his life!)
    * Diana came through for Peter and Neal again. Kramer could learn a few things about engendering loyalty.
    * I *KNEW* that storage container in Checkmate wasn’t big enough for all of the treasure!!! And Mozzie did say he always had a contingency plan :-)
    * The final shot, lingering on Neal, was brilliant. He’s happy, he’s sad, maybe a little scared. (I love Jeff Eastin… I hate Jeff Eastin… I love Jeff Eastin…)

    Can’t wait to see what Season 4 brings :-)


  • Anonymous

    I loved how the writers of White Collar dared to change the setting of the show so much. And though I doubt that they will devote more than one or at maximum two episodes to bring the anklet and Neal back to June’s apartment, it still was a great way to end the season. And if they do stray from the formula for more than a couple of episode, I’m sure it will be done masterfully and dedicated fans will only love it.
    What I liked is how Kramer’s role as the ‘villain’ in this final episode came through unforced. One could clearly see the effect of his own old CI (whom he considered as a son) betraying him in the end made him see Neal as the same, and that hurt, coupled with his friendship with Peter (whom I guess he also considers as a son since he mentored him) made the perfect storm for Neal.Of course, through out the whole episode the character that shines the most was Peter. From the beginning, his and Neal’s relationship has been based on mutual respect. However, over the many cases (cons) they have worked together on, not only has that respect deepened but a friendship has also grown, deepened, been tested and finally, came through in this last episode of the 3rd season.The progression has been fascinating good to see – from the ever suspicious Peter in the first season to the helpful Peter in the second season to the (again) suspicious Peter after the U-Boat incident. The friendship has grown not only grown, but also been tested, and the final test was when Peter warned Neal on the stairs about Kramer.His testimony was spot on – that as long as they keep someone like Neal tethered, it would be impossible to tell if he was reformed for the simple reason that he is a great con. He was never the violent type and was risking his neck even in the first season for innocent people, so the only ‘reformation’ he ought to have learnt is to have a umm… respect for other people’s properties. But for someone like Neal, the thrill and the challenge are important and he gets plenty of it in the WC division in the FBI, so I do think he should have been set free at this point. Maybe down the line he could have gotten bored and did something stupid, but there’s another aspect of Neal that’s pretty deep beneath the surface which I think would have kept him in that office for a long time. And that is his past.

    When we got a glimpse at this past, the character of Neal became full bodied in the sense that we find out a little bit about why he is the way he is. He had a family once and  his mother who lied to him about his father being a dirty cop. From what it seems, Neal’s hero was his father and to have that trust betrayed by that hero, it explains why he never ‘lied’ to Peter and why he had such admiration for him – in some ways he sees Peter as the hero he lost when he found out about his father’s true nature.It also explains why getting a family has meant so much to him. To someone like Mozzie, growing up orphaned has made him into the perpetual con, but Neal lost a family. Hence getting it back is everything to him and his life as a con was merely a thrilling distraction. Perhaps thats why he never gave up the idea of Kate. In some ways, even Mozzie is getting an extended family in Neal, June, Elizabeth and even the Suits.

    However the question remains, what lies ahead? I can envision the first scene of season 4 being Peter walking into a room and catching Neal (again). Then we get a flashback and see how Neal cons his way back into the family of the White Collar division of New York. The obstacle will remain Kramer. We could also see a race between him and Peter to find Neal. If Peter catches Neal again then no one will be able to say that Peter cant handle him and Kramer may have to back down. However, it might be difficult for Neal to get this good a deal because he ran again. So the writers will have to handle the way back to formula with great care in order for it to be believable.Another way I can envision seen the retreat or downfall of Kramer is to see a case around Kramer’s old CI. He could get involved in a case and it can be revealed that he was set up thus invalidating Kramer’s crusade to nail Neal (I know, I love my alliterations).

    The best way would be to destroy all the skeletons Kramer could possibly find to pin on Neal. it shouldn’t be that hard since Peter wasn’t able to make a case against Neal in all but the Bond forgery cases. If he destroys all forgeries like the ones he signed with his name (look under Polarized light) anonymously returns or fences all things he is supposed to have stolen then hes free and clear (as long as he doesn’t get caught with the less than half of U-boat treasure).

  • http://twitter.com/DreamCougar Helen Callahan

    Great comments and ideas All-Caps and rainey13!  I can see Peter being suspended because of Kramer and with his free time he will get together with Sara to find Neal.  Sara is the only one, other than Mozzie, who knows Neal’s new alias, VICTOR L. MOREAU.  There is no way Kramer can find that out. Since the Raphael has been returned, there should be nothing in Neal’s letters to Kate to implicate Neal in any other crime.  Neal originally told Kate his fortune was in San Diego, but she couldn’t find anything.  Peter is always loyal to his friends, now including Neal, and since Kramer has shown his true colors Peter will feel bad taking him down but will realize that Kramer is not the man he first knew when he entered the Bureau.  So in a way Peter is experiencing the same feelings that Neal had when he discovered his father was a dirty cop.  Since Neal has part of the treasure with Mozzie, I can see Keller coming back again in Season 4.  Perhaps the recapture of Keller and giving back more of the treasure may vindicate Neal’s escape and keep him working with Peter.  However, I don’t think Neal will get back the anklet again, as that would be going backwards.  He will work with Peter because he wants to, but he still will have his fun with Mozzie and his cons.  Season 4 should be fun and I hope it brings back the friendship between Peter and Neal, because that’s what makes this show so great and so much better than any other crime show.

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