This week’s episode of White Collar is the season two finale, an episode that tries to tie together the end of the Music Box plot from season one and the more recent fractal antennae that has been the overarching theme for the more recent episodes.  It also gives us some tasty Neal/Sara action, a little Neal/Alex, and as always, some Neal/Kate by default.

Like last week’s episode POWER PLAY, the story involving the fractal does not begin right away.  Instead, it slowly gathers steam, simmering in the background while the rest of the events unfold.  Neal and Sara discuss what happened between them and how it impacts their working relationship moving forward.  If you found yourself wishing they would hop on the good foot and do the bad thing in the women’s bathroom so Moz couldn’t interrupt again: seek help, you have problems.  Like me!

Neal: The stacks with no A.C.?  It was like being back in college.
Sara: Yeah, you didn’t go to college.
Neal: I wasn’t enrolled, but I did spend a lot of time . . . researching.

Mozzie has the fractal antennae built and is ready to go, but informs the Suit that he’ll need to be close to the source if his device is to work.  He also waxes poetic about some of the treasures that may be hidden in the U-Boat, which is what Sara believes Vincent Adler is searching for.  Moz’s ideas?

Mozzie: It could also contain Hitler clones.
Peter: Is he serious?
Neal: Unfortunately, yes.
Mozzie: Another possibility–
Peter, hopeful: Let it be a surprise.

Love him.

Neal and Burke quickly come to realize that Alex has been kidnapped (or is it con-napped?) by Adler, our lovely arch villain.  When Team Suit goes looking for her, they, too, are con-napped and forced to take a sip of some kind of powerful anesthetic that’ll knock them out while Adler transports them to an undisclosed location.  They wake up in a locked room with Alex, who says that all she knows is that they are inside of some warehouse.  Adler makes his entrance and shows them Sara’s predictions were correct: he was not only searching for a U-Boat off the coast, but he found the thing and managed to transport it inland.

He would have popped the thing open himself, no doubt using the Hitler clones inside to build a Ponzi Scheme army, but he knows the sub is rigged with explosives to dissuade his ilk from getting grabby.  Hence his interest in bringing Caffrey to the warehouse: Adler plans to use Neal’s expertise in cracking safes to his advantage, making him open the sub without arming the charges.

Peter, upon stepping foot inside the U-Boat: If I see jars with fetuses with little black mustaches, I’m turning you around.

Once they break into the sub and find that the treasure consists of millions upon millions of dollars worth of classic art and jewels, Adler looks to tie up loose ends by killing Neal, Peter and Alex.  He fastens them to cinderblocks in a dry dock that is getting less and less dry by the second, but Alex’s quick thinking springs them and the cavalry comes to the rescue.

After a night spent enjoying a home cooked meal by Elisabeth, Burke rounds up the rest of Team Suit and begins hitting the wharf hard, trying to suss up Adler’s hiding spot before he manages to ship out with the art.  While the Feds head off in one direction, Neal opts to investigate a different warehouse on his own, where he meets Adler and two goons with guns.  There are always goons with guns, Neal, you should know this by now!  Gosh.  He may be pretty, but he can be kind of daft.

Adler tries to tempt Neal into helping him escape the F.B.I. roadblock by offering him half the Nazi paintings.  Neal wants no part and demands to know why Adler killed Kate.

Neal: Tell me why Kate had to die.  If you want my help now, tell me.
Adler: The explosives on the plane were [Kate’s] idea.  You’d parachute out over the ocean, the plane explodes, you live happily ever after.  But then she called, said Burke arrived, and then, as now, he threatened to ruin everything.
Neal: So you blew up the plane early.
Adler: Could have waited another thirty seconds and you’d be dead, too.
Neal: Am I supposed to be grateful?
Adler: You were as close to a son as I ever had.

Neal appropriately tells Adler to go to Hell just as all Hell breaks loose.  An explosion rips through the inside of the warehouse containing the art — apparently Adler didn’t have the presence of mind to properly remove the dynamite from the U-Boat.  Silly villain.

Without his art and losing his sanity, Adler draws down on Neal, blaming him for the fire.  Burke rids the threat of Vincent Adler with a well-timed rescue, shooting him and saving his partner.  All looks good in the world of White Collar until Peter notices a burning scrap from a painting fluttering out from the blazing warehouse: it’s a painting he recognizes from Neal’s apartment.

That devious devil, Burke assumes, set the whole thing up.  When confronted, Neal furrows his brow and tells Peter off.  This was without a question the best scene in the entire episode.

Peter: You did this.  The fire, all of it; you did it.
Neal: Peter, those were masterpieces.  I would never burn them, you know that.
Peter: No, but you’d steal them.
Neal: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Peter: That long con on Adler finally paid off, didn’t it?  You saw your chance and you took it!  I don’t know how, I don’t know what game you’re playing.
Neal: I have no idea, Peter.  I’m not lying to you now.  I didn’t steal the art.
Peter: I think you did.
Neal: Then prove it.  Prove it.

If the steely look in Caffrey’s piercing blue eyes as he walks away from Team Suit is any indication, he means those words with every fiber of his being.  Wow.  Burke, who is well aware he can’t trust Neal as far as he can throw him in matters of thievery, is left between a rock and a hard place: if not Neal, then who?

The audience doesn’t find out, but we are made aware that someone (not Neal) moved the art out of the warehouse under Adler’s nose, secreting it away to a storage unit for safe keeping.  The mystery person leaves an address, a note that says “YOU’LL THANK ME”, and a key in Caffrey’s apartment; when he goes to inspect, every piece of artwork, every last jewel that was found in the U-Boat is accounted for.

Neal is left standing amidst a stockpile of priceless art with a look of confusion that morphs into amazement that is replaced by that devious con-man grin.

What does this mean moving forward?  Who took the art, and what is Neal going to do with it?  How is the relationship between Burke and Neal going to change next season?  These questions need answers, USA!  Your viewers demand answers!

Written by Dave Lucas. Find him on Twitter @Sellar_Door. What do YOU think will happen next season?  Chime in with your opinions on who stole the art and how the Burke/Caffrey dynamic will change.

Image: USA Network. Pictured: (l-r) Sharif Atkins as Clinton Jones, Marsha Thomason as Diana Barrigan, Tim Dekay as Peter Burke — Photo by: David Giesbrecht/USA Network

White Collar Under the Radar Summary: WHITE COLLAR Season 2 Episode 16 – Neal gains more insight into Kate’s death.

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