Two weeks ago we watched as Neal rushed down the street, pushing through the crowd, his voice strained and frightened as he called out to Ellen. An Ellen who appeared to have been shot; her final words to Neal were to trust Sam.

Apparently she died during the week off, because we begin episode five at her funeral. After a too brief pause for grieving, Neal notices a man hiding among the trees and mausoleums and shares Ellen’s last words with Peter. This is our first glimpse of the up to now intangible Sam, who runs the second he hears Neal call his name.

I wish they’d spent a little more time at the funeral.  Ellen was a mother-figure to Neal, someone he loved very much and all we were given was a tear and a lip-wibble as Neal laid the flowers at her casket. A nice touch would have been to have Elizabeth and Mozzie there, too.

Mozzie, too, was upset at the loss of a woman he’d become friends with. He spent the entire episode pushing Neal to do something, anything, to find Sam and discover who was responsible for Ellen’s death.  Unfortunately, the only information was locked up in the Marshall’s database, the last place Neal could go, especially wearing his anklet.  Peter insists on doing things the right way, aka, his way, the FBI way, and surprisingly Neal agrees with him.  Neal probably said “no” more times in this one episode than he has in the last three years.  Said “no” and actually meant it.

Cut to the case of the week, a possible heist at a museum, and our introduction to what is unequivocally the best female villain that’s been on the show so far.  Abigail, played perfectly by Rebecca Mader, was at different times sneaky, sexy, and heartless, while keeping busy blackmailing Neal and kissing the lips off Diana.  Small aside: Jeff Easton, Henderson, and USA are to be commended for showing the attraction between Diana and Abigail and allowing the kisses to happen naturally and without fanfare.

matt bomerAbigail wanted a piece of art; Neal wanted a flash-drive. Abigail stole the flash-drive from the Marshalls’ office, blackmailed Neal into stealing the rather elaborate mobile from literally right under Peter’s nose and, like Neal had warned her, didn’t get away with it.  That pretty much sums up the main plot of this particular episode.

Watching Neal pull off the theft was a piece of beautiful writing, acting, directing, and editing.  It’s easy to see why it took Peter so long to finally capture young James Bonds, and as we later watch Peter work out that Neal was the one responsible for stealing the mobile, it’s easy to see why he was able to capture Neal the first time. Something that added immeasurably to the episode and especially the theft sequence was the music.  I don’t know who the composer is, but he or she has done a stupendous job these past four years.

There were a couple of small side-plots running through this episode.  We had the interaction between bad girl Abigail and Diana in her undercover role as a museum guide. Neal and Diana in a beautifully acted heart-to-heart after she and Christie broke up (Marsha Thomason was sterling all throughout this episode).  And then there was Neal struggling so hard with his decision not to break the law, only to have his attempts thrown back at him, first by Abigail and then by Peter.

Kudos to Matt Bomer for taking Henderson’s words and turning in a wonderfully subtle performance of a man attempting to ignore his grief, work around the frustration of not being able to steal the information he needs, and then being in the unfortunate position of having to do exactly what he didn’t want to: steal something right under Peter’s nose and then have to act like normal around him.

In season three’s “Scott Free”, Neal told Peter what he did was like an addiction.  While Neal unhappily tells Mozzie that stealing the mobile was the same as stabbing Peter in the back, Mozzie simply waves it away as though it were nothing, “it’s just a piece of art.”  No, it was much more than that.  What Mozzie did, and what he spent the entire episode doing, was akin to handing an addict the latest designer drug.

matt bomerPeter, as much as he tries to help Neal, also does his own share of enabling.  Neal’s excuse for not telling Peter what was going on was because he wanted to protect Peter, and he was afraid Peter wouldn’t believe him.  The first reason, okay, maybe he meant it maybe he didn’t.  However the second reason I find very easy to believe.  Peter’s spent the entire three seasons immediately jumping to the conclusion that Neal did whatever illegal action was happening in any given episode.  No matter what Neal said Peter never believed him.  Look at what happened when the Nazi sub blew up; their fragile trust broke with Peter’s words “You did this.”  It’s no wonder Neal is reluctant to talk to Peter about things that can be misconstrued so easily.  “You wouldn’t have believed me” says Neal at the end. “You should’ve given me the chance,” replies Peter.  If I were Neal I think I’d have a hard time giving Peter that chance.

So, was this a long con for Neal?  Or is Peter overthinking it?  Neal did manage to get everything he wanted, and his little smile at the end matched the one on his face when he saw the Nazi treasure in the warehouse.  Of course, he didn’t steal the treasure and I don’t think this was a long con.

Some lines I especially liked / White Collar Season 4 Quotes:

Peter: “How do you want to handle this?”  Neal: “SAM!”  Peter: “That’s one way to do it.”

Neal: “Ellen wasn’t Irish.”  Moz: “She was a cop.  Close enough.”

Neal: “And suddenly I find myself rooting for our mystery thief.”

Peter to Jones: “Who would stop in the middle of a museum heist to get a date? Don’t say it.”

Peter: “I don’t get it.  Are we watching a date or a heist?”

First Neal, then El: “You’ve got your bad news face on.”

Mozzie: It’s an olfactory assault weapon for distraction purposes.”  Neal: “It’s a homemade stink bomb.”

Neal to Peter: “Your trust is the most important thing to me.”

Pictures: USA Network

Like this White Collar recap? Stay with us because the wonderful and entertaining writer Dana Jeanne Norris will be recapping the rest of White Collar season 4!

Written by Dana Jeanne Norris. You can find her on Twitter @Dana_Jeanne.  She also helps run the always updated Official website for Michael Shanks.

Dana Jeanne Norris is a former travel agent, now a returning college student, and writer living on the central coast of California.  She’s an active advocate for LGBT civil rights, same-sex marriage, and anything that keeps our children safe.

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