Original Air Date: March 2, 2010
Brittany Frederick – Staff Writer
Neal is still trying to track down the possible location of the amber music box that everyone’s talking about. But he’s convinced Alex knows where it is, and barters with her – he’ll give her the box when he’s done with it.
But Peter has bigger problems waiting when Neal gets there: there’s an FBI agent named Kimberly Rice who apparently wants their help with a kidnapping and home invasion. The prime suspect is – you guessed it – another friend of Neal’s. Peter is not happy that Neal is being taken away from him. Neal is not happy that this Wilkes guy tried to kill him once. Neal also doesn’t like Rice, who has a big stick up her ass and wants him to shut up and do as he’s told.
Peter is unhappy without Neal, so unhappy he’s not paying attention to anything Elizabeth actually says. He goes to poke around and finds Neal banished to the car. Peter and Neal get more done in 30 seconds than Rice has all morning. This ticks her off much to their combined glee. But Mozzie warns Neal that he may be in over his head, while Neal counters it’s the only way he can get his tracker removed and therefore get Alex to talk to him. Mozzie just calls dibs on Neal’s apartment. But it’s enough to get Rice to let Neal cut the tracker.
While this is going on, Peter is busy poking around the case on his own, talking to the kidnap victim’s father, who reveals the suspect specifically asked to meet Neal. In other words, Neal’s the ransom to get the kid back – and he figures this out when he gets tazed. And this makes Peter all levels of pissed in a very public explosion. This is enough to get Peter put in charge, and now it’s his turn to save Neal from one really bitter enemy. (How many people from Neal’s past are going to come back with grudges? Isn’t this like the third one in the last few weeks?)
Wilkes wants Neal to go infiltrate a travel agency so he can get information, and provides a handy sniper on the roof to persuade him. This really scares the crap out of Neal – Matt Bomer gives an amazing performance as utterly terrified yet still trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat – but he pulls it off. Not only does he do that, but he manages to sneak a message to Mozzie while he’s at it. Neal decides he’s had enough of this and gets tazed again for his troubles.
Back at the FBI, Peter gets the obligatory tape of the hostage. Neal gets to visit the hostage. Mozzie goes to Elizabeth to get Peter’s attention, and the moment Elizabeth mentions Neal Peter takes off. Now that there’s a control to measure him against, you can really see how Peter and Neal’s dynamic has changed, and why Peter is so good at what he does. Mozzie gives Peter the email and puts him one step closer to Neal.
Neal, however, is being bullied into posing as a limo driver so he can steal a briefcase belonging to some guy who is really named Edward Riley – a criminal’s best friend. Peter and Rice turn up to tip off Neal as to who he’s really trying to scam, and how he’s between a rock and a hard place. Peter leaves Jones to keep an eye on Neal (and Mozzie turns up besides), while he and Rice go to find the girl. Mozzie decides to crash the party alongside his old friend. The two of them instead pretend to be undercover ICE agents who detain Riley and discover his suitcase is full of gold cards – really actually gold cards. A bit of bad acting convinces him to give them the suitcase and skate free.
Of course, Wilkes fails to keep his end of the deal. Neal manages to stall long enough for Peter to find out where the girl is hiding and an entire team of FBI agents pops up to save the day. And a couple of FBI snipers keep Neal in one piece. Once again, Neal proves himself smarter than the people he used to know. Maybe it’s life experience. Or maybe he’s just sneaky, as he walks off in plain sight before Jones can reattach his anklet – to meet Alex, who continues her holier than thou attitude but reveals the music box is closer than he thinks. Peter figures out this plan in about five seconds and warns him that going after the music box would be crossing a line he can’t go back over. It’s clear the dilemma Neal has to face: closure about his past, or a better future. And just in time, we see all the pieces come together…
Once again, the White Collar writers advance on all cylinders, moving each of their story components logically forward toward a satisfying conclusion. Nothing is missing. Nothing seems off. It’s just a well done story, and more often than not, that’s all that TV viewers really crave. I can’t wait to see how it all ends – how do you think it will?