TV Recaps

Summer Refresher: What You Should Know About 'White Collar'

Neal Caffrey and the rest of the White Collar crew will be back for an all new season starting on Tuesday. But before it’s time to see where the gang has landed for season four, here’s a refresher on where we last left off with our favorite thief turned FBI consultant.

Season Three can be summed up as the season of the treasure, as in the Nazi plunder that was recovered on the u-boat at the end of Season Two. Season Three picked up where the previous season left off, with Neal surrounded by the treasure that had supposedly burned up in the warehouse fire. Neal and Peter had had a fight because Peter thought Neal had stolen it and he told him that he didn’t, which was technically true. It was actually Mozzie who had spirited the treasure out from under the FBI’s nose and hidden it away so that he and Neal could take their final score and go live their lives on an island somewhere, enjoying the billions of dollars the treasure would sell for. This set up a choice for Neal that would weigh on him all season: should he stay in New York and continue the life he’s built or should he take the treasure and run with Mozzie?

Things were tense between Neal and Peter since Peter had discovered a piece of Neal’s painting at the scene of the fire. (Mozzie had left some of Neal’s artwork in the warehouse in place of the treasure so the experts would find burned canvases). But even though he was angry, Peter still wanted to protect Neal so instead of having the FBI crime lab test the scrap of canvas, Peter gave it to Elizabeth and asked her to have the gallery where she used to work test it for him. Neal and Mozzie were one step ahead of them though. Neal knew better than to just steal the evidence, so he forged another painting, making it seem like it was from the 40s. It worked and Peter started to think maybe the treasure had burned after all. Neal and Peter’s friendship started to get back on track, but Mozzie was still pushing to leave the city as soon as possible.

The next big obstacle came in the form of a manifest that was discovered in the wreckage, listing some of the artwork that had been on the u-boat. Obviously this was a problem because if Mozzie tried to fence anything that was on the manifest, they would get busted. Peter was working with someone from the DC Art Crimes’ unit and Neal attempted to steal the manifest from her, but that didn’t work out. His only option was to sneak into Peter’s house and steal the copy from his safe. Mozzie took Elizabeth out for the night and Neal broke in, but he was clearly conflicted about it, especially with the dog watching him. Peter called Neal while he was standing in his room to ask if he wanted to talk about his breakup with Sara (she found out about the treasure, assumed Neal was going to run without telling her and ended things). Mozzie called next and Neal lied to him and said the manifest wasn’t in there.

Of course that lie came back to bite Neal when Mozzie fenced one of the paintings, a Degas, that was on the list. Neal was furious and told him about the list and Mozzie was hurt that he had lied to him. But they had to work together to get the painting back before Peter and Diana found it. Once again, it was a close call and Neal ended up base jumping off a building and onto Wall Street (cool scene), but the FBI found the fake Degas that Neal planted instead of the real one and even though Peter still had his suspicions, he was relieved that there was no evidence pointing toward Neal. Mozzie, on the other hand, gave Neal a choice: he had forty-eight hours to decide if he was going to stay or go. Neal decided to stay and Mozzie left and took the treasure with him.

Here’s where things really started to get complicated. Matthew Keller was back (he was an old enemy of Neal’s and he’d kidnapped Peter in Season Two and managed to escape). Keller wanted the treasure for himself and this time, he kidnapped Elizabeth and told Peter if he wanted his wife back, he had to get Neal to give up the treasure. Peter was furious with Neal, who confessed everything and found a way to get Mozzie to come back (it involved sending a message with a homing pigeon) so they could save Elizabeth. Neal, Peter and Mozzie were forced to work with Keller to steal the treasure while Jones and Diana led the mission to rescue Elizabeth. Of course Mrs. Suit is crafty in her own right and she outsmarted her kidnapper and climbed out a window just as the FBI arrived. She called Peter to tell him the good news, but Keller had already taken off with the treasure and an unconscious Neal. Neal and Keller fought, Peter showed up and Neal ended up shooting Keller (from the ground with one eye closed, no big deal) and then Keller was finally taken to jail.

Neal was prepared to confess to everything to make sure that Keller was put away for life, but it turned out that Keller had beat him to the punch. In order to keep the Russian mob from having him killed, Keller confessed to stealing the treasure just so he could give it back to its rightful owners. Peter was impressed that Neal was going to step up and said it meant a lot to him that he was willing to do that (Bromance officially intact!). The probation board was impressed with Neal too and set up a commutation hearing that would effectively commute the remaining two years of his sentence and he’d be free to lose the ankle monitor. He’d essentially be free. But there was still a major obstacle in Neal’s path and that was Agent Kramer, Peter’s former mentor and the head of DC’s Art Crimes unit. He wasn’t sure it was a good idea for Neal’s sentence to be commuted and he wanted to research all of Neal’s files. He warned Peter that he had gotten too close to Neal and it would end up costing him.

Unfortunately, Kramer’s investigation put him on the path to the missing Raphael painting (the one Sara had been searching for years earlier). Neal had hidden the painting with a woman named Ellen, who turned out to be the person who had told Neal the truth about his father before he’d been set to join the police academy. He hadn’t died in the line of duty like Neal’s mother claimed; instead, he’d been a crooked cop and he was still very much alive. Ellen’s apartment was outside of Neal’s two-mile jurisdiction, so he asked Peter to extend his range. Peter did and then he showed up to take Neal back so he could get the painting to Sara before Kramer found out he had it. But Kramer was waiting and Neal had to rely on Mozzie to get him out of the situation. Kramer still beat him back to Sterling and Bosch and he ordered Peter to arrest Neal. Thanks to Sara’s quick thinking, Mr. Bosch himself vouched for Neal and claimed he’d hired him to authenticate the painting so it wasn’t stolen property at all.

Of course that did not sit well with Kramer. He confessed to Peter that the real reason he was so involved with this case was because he wanted Neal to come work for him in DC. Peter was not amused and Kramer had Neal on all sorts of different, random crimes that he planned to hold over his head if the commutation hearing went in Neal’s favor. Neal saw Kramer and the U.S. Marshalls on the steps with Peter and Peter met Neal’s eyes and subtly moved his head, giving Neal the signal that he needed to run.

June, Sara and Elizabeth all testified that Neal should be set free. Jones testified that Neal should remain with the FBI for the last two years of his sentence and then he’d have earned his freedom. Then it was Peter’s turn. Even though he’d said earlier that he didn’t think Neal should be free, when it was time for him to testify, he told the probation board that Neal’s sentence should be commuted. Seconds later, Diana came in and told Peter that Neal had cut his ankle monitor and he was gone. The last shot of the season was Neal on a plane with Mozzie and at first Neal looked really sad, but then there was a hint of a smile and it was obvious Neal would do what he does best and make the situation work for him.

When the show picks up for Season Four, Neal and Mozzie have adjusted to island living while the FBI searches for them. Peter has launched his own, unsanctioned search and he wants to track down Neal before the bounty hunters do and try to find some way to make a deal to bring him back without anyone getting hurt. But will Neal even want to go back? Stay tuned.

White Collar airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on the USA network.

About the author

Mandy Treccia

Mandy Treccia has served as TVSource Magazine’s Executive Editor since 2016, formerly as Editorial Director from 2012-2016. She is an avid TV watcher and card carrying fan girl prone to sudden bursts of emotion, ranging from extreme excitement to blind rage during her favorite shows and has on more than once occasion considered having a paper bag on hand to get her through some tough TV moments. Her taste in TV tends to rival that of a thirteen-year-old girl, but she’s okay with that. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceMandy.