It’s a week before expert conman and FBI consultant Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) applies for his get-out-of-jail-free card. His friend and keeper, Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay, who also directed this episode) asks questions from a form for the review board. The affection that these two guys have for each other might be obvious, but equally obvious are Peter’s reservations about freeing Neal from his anklet.

White Collar “Stealing Home” Recap

Not helping things is Neal’s obvious admiration for the focus of this episode: world-class criminal mastermind Gordon Taylor (Hal Ozsan). With an affable demeanor and the motto “Nobody gets caught, everybody gets paid,” Taylor is popular with the public and well-regarded among thieves.

While that sets up the weekly plot, what we really keep coming back for is the complicated relationship layers that keep building for the main characters. White Collar does a nice job of keeping its audience off-balance, especially in matters of trust.

The trust issue between Neal and Peter is well-established, and even if you’ve watched every episode since Season 1 (as I have), the main characters are still not predictable. While they are true to their own characters, they get new perspectives that will change their minds or skew their perception of a situation, so we never really know how even a well-established character will react.

This week, we see a new (though not unexpected) trust issue crop up between Peter and his oldest friend at the FBI, Agent Kramer (Beau Bridges). Diana (Marsha Thomason), unfailingly loyal to Peter, informs Peter that Agent Kramer has been digging up more dirt on Neal so that he won’t be released.

The story progresses as Mozzie (Willie Garson), Neal’s closest con friend, is invited to join Taylor’s crew for this new job: a hit on Yankee Stadium, The target is revealed with the towering facade of the stadium in the background. Neal quickly sells Mozzie on setting up a meet, and is visibly, if briefly, flattered by Taylor’s inquiry of Neal.

There are more trust issues between Neal and Peter as Neal informs Peter that he’s trying to get on Taylor’s crew, but as they talk, they enter Yankee Stadium. We are treated to an overwhelmingly beautiful view of the park, as they toss around many of the stadium’s monikers through the years. It’s a reminder of its place in history, and a showcase for another thing this show is famous for: visually stunning scenes that feature the iconic and beautiful settings of New York. (One day, I’ll go through this series and put together my own top 20 list of White Collar cinematography that will just about make you cry. This moment will probably make the list, and I used to be a Mets fan.)

Neal ends up back at his apartment where Mozzie tells him that a meet is set. Neal’s landlady, June (Diahann Carroll) brings up her husband’s old cue. The meet will take place at a pool hall, and Taylor’s game is 8-ball.

Neal enters the pool hall slo-mo style, so we can take in the beauty of a man who can really wear a suit, carrying a cue case. We know from Mozzie that Taylor is a talented pool player, but before long we find that Neal is up to the challenge. One of the more fun things to do is to add up the many talents of Neal Caffrey as they are revealed to us. Pool shark – check. Neal proves his worth to Taylor with a nicely executed masse shot to pocket the 8-ball, and ends up winning a spot on Taylor’s crew.

The plan for the theft – Babe Ruth’s first home run ball in Yankee Stadium – is set with some minor inconveniences, and a plan is put into play. What follows is a few very nice, see-sawing scenes that contrast Neal’s girlfriend Sara’s (Hilarie Burton) impression of how he’s changed, and the reality of the con skills that he obviously still has, even if he now uses his powers for good.

The thieves are ready to go. In what I am hoping was a thoroughly tongue-in-cheek moment, seven completely conspicuous guys walk down a regular street in New York, looking as if they were going to a “GQ Wears Black” photo shoot.

They walk into Yankee stadium and pull off the theft to perfection, even with Neal leaving Peter a clue as to where he can make his bust.

Peter expertly spots the clue (making the newly-added backstory of Peter’s days in professional baseball germane), realizes (yet again) that yes, Neal really is on his side, goes to the hand-off and makes the arrest.

As is typical at the conclusion of the weekly plot, White Collar likes to give you a little something to think about regarding the overall season arc, and a little side of mystery to take with you for next week. This time, we find that Agent Kramer is indeed working behind Peter’s back, and that the FBI may have found incriminating evidence of Neal’s past crimes, thereby threatening any chance of having his sentence commuted, and possibly even giving him more time in captivity.

Peter goes to Neal’s apartment to discuss the heist. A bit of suspicion is thrown around, but we know that it will amount to nothing, in the same way that you know who’s going to win a pre-recorded sporting event when the hour is ticking to a close. What IS interesting is that Peter seems undecided about whether to give Neal a heads-up about the evidence that was found that may incriminate him, and in the end decides to withhold that information. We don’t know why exactly, except for his general distrust of Neal, but it’s another example of the above-board Burke being less-than-honest with a man he considers a friend. It’s not inconsistent with his trust issues with Neal, but it is a nice counterpoint to Neal’s blatant honesty throughout the episode.

The final scene involves a special gift that Neal gives to Peter: a chance to toss around the ball from the mound at Yankee Stadium. It’s an implied father-son moment that is familiar in the mythology of baseball, so we know why it’s there: to underline the strong bond that these two characters have developed over the life of the series.

Favorite and notable moments:

-We find out that Neal spent some of his childhood in St. Louis, and apparently was allowed to hang out in pool halls at the tender age of 9.

-Looking around the museum of Yankee Stadium, Neal and Peter come across DiMaggio’s bat and Peter spends some time waxing poetic about baseball as they both compare great works of art to great works of sport.

-Peter’s wife, El (Tiffani Thiessen) is “a tigress” in bed. Upon inadvertently finding that out, Neal delivers a perfectly comically-timed “not
hungry…anymore” remark.)

-Peter used to play in the minor leagues and looks to Kool Moe Dee for his walk out song: “I Go To Work.” Except it would be “I Go To Burke”. My personal kudos to the writers for putting that song in my head for the last three days.

-A tense moment in the thieves room has Mozzie nervous that they might “die in a slow-motion hail of bullets while Nancy Sinatra plays ironically in the background.”

-Mozzie is incapable of sounding even slightly French, even while speaking French.

-Neal give Peter his rookie card. Another well-timed comic exchange between Bomer and DeKay:
“Can I keep this?”
“Sure.” Neal pauses and says under his breath, “They’re not that expensive.”

-Neal and Sara have one of the most intimate conversations that Neal has ever allowed himself to have. And it’s one of the coziest, natural and
chemistry-filled scenes in the episode.

Written by Ceil Kessler find her on Twitter at @CeilCK

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