TV Recaps

White Collar Recap: "Ancient History"

It’s time for my weekly White Collar gushing. This season has been packed with awesome episodes and this week’s, “Ancient History” brought the return of Alex Hunter, upped the tension between Neal and Peter as well as Neal and Mozzie and for the first time ever, someone other than Peter Burke can claim that he caught Neal Caffrey.

 The episode started with four masked men robbing a museum. But as they made their way to the exit, the NYPD was waiting to arrest them. Each man’s mask was removed and Neal was the fourth man on the crew. As the officer led him to the car in handcuffs, Neal reminded him that he was his inside man, but the officer didn’t seem to care. Peter arrived and as he argued with the cop to release Neal, a yellow flower appeared in the backseat of the cruiser beside Neal. He took it and then handed the bewildered officer his handcuffs back. At FBI headquarters, Jones and Diana mocked Neal for getting busted, but Peter agreed that it didn’t count because he wasn’t booked.

Alex turns up on the FBI’s radar as part of the museum heists involving ancient Greek artifacts. Neal is surprised to learn that Alex spent 16 months in a Greek prison after she left New York. Peter wants Neal to reach out to her and find out what’s going on. Once Neal and Jones leave to go find Alex, Peter and Diana talk about Sam. Diana had been helping Peter track him and Peter fills her in on Neal’s background and why he wants to keep this off the FBI radar for the time being. Neal tells Mozzie that he’s looking for Alex and Mozzie is worried she’s going to kill him for stealing the u-boat treasure and cutting her out.

When Neal and Mozzie return to Neal’s, there is a package waiting for him from Ellen. Since it had his and her real names on it, it took awhile to get to him. Inside, he finds a Beta tape (way to be authentic, show) and Mozzie says he can get his hands on a player so they can watch it. But Neal would rather watch it with Sam, which does not sit well with Mozzie. Mozzie doesn’t trust him and he’s angry that Neal is cutting him out. Neal strongly suggests that Mozzie leave (ouch). Alex shows up not long after since Neal sent the flower back to her. Their reunion is tense, but Neal tells her that he wants to help. He convinces Peter to go after the person paying Alex to do the job instead of her.

Mozzie goes to see Elizabeth and brings her a giant piece of “art” for the backyard that she really doesn’t know what to do with. Peter comes home and isn’t happy to see Mozzie there or the giant lawn decoration. Elizabeth leaves them alone to go deal with the gift and Mozzie tells Peter about the tape and how Neal wants to watch it with Sam. He doesn’t like going behind Neal’s back to the ‘suit’, but he doesn’t trust Sam at all. Peter admits that he’s looking into things off book, but hasn’t found anything yet. Mozzie sees Alex’s file and thinks it’s Sam’s, so he sneaks a peek when Peter goes to help Elizabeth.

Neal is catching up with Alex and trying to score an invite back to her hotel room. Peter and Jones are watching from the van and Jones sees Mozzie going into Alex’s room. Peter goes in after him to stop him from ruining the operation. Mozzie finds one of Alex’s bras and he’s convinced that Sam is really Samantha. Peter explains that it was Alex’s folder and they need to get out of there before Neal and Alex get back. Mozzie wants to help Peter search and Peter tells him that he doesn’t have a warrant. Mozzie points out that he’s trespassing so Peter can look around and Peter is not amused by him and Neal both using that loophole. But Mozzie starts pulling stuff out and finds the envelope, just as Neal and Alex arrive, leaving Mozzie and Peter trapped together in the bathroom (Seriously show, we need at least one Peter and Mozzie moment per episode. They’re so funny together).

Alex and Neal are talking about the treasure and Alex explains that she bought a place with the hopes of decorating it with the artifacts. Neal tells her the treasure was more trouble than it was worth. Peter sends him a text to come to the bathroom and Neal spills some wine on his sleeve so he can go and clean it off. He’s not amused to see Peter and Mozzie, but the three look inside the envelope and figure out which museum is next on the target list. Neal tells them to put it back and get out. He goes back to Alex, but she notices he didn’t clean the wine off his coat so she assumes he searched her room. Neal tells her that he doesn’t have a choice and wants to help her. She’s angry and sends him away.

Neal demands to know what was going on with Peter and Mozzie and Mozzie admits that he told Peter about the tape from Sam. Neal is furious with both of them for going behind his back. He storms off. Later at FBI headquarters, they figure out the person running the job is a Greek official named Spiteri. He’s the General Secretary for Culture and Tourism and they realize he wants to bring the artifacts back to Greece so he’s having Alex steal them. Peter wants Neal to try again with Alex, but Neal points out that when trust is broken, it takes more than an hour to get over it. The subtext is clear and Diana and Jones offer to leave them alone, but Peter insists that he and Neal are fine (They’re so not and I don’t like when they’re fighting). Neal says he has one last card to play with Alex.

She shows up at Neal’s and he gives her a piece of the u-boat treasure. Alex is less than impressed and Neal begs her to let him help so she doesn’t end up in jail again. Alex blames Neal for her going to jail in the first place. She explains that Spiteri showed up in her cell one day and told her that she could perform the heists for him or she could rot in jail indefinitely. Neal and Peter make up, but Mozzie is still bitter about Neal choosing Sam over him. He agrees to help with the job even though he’s still scared of Alex. She arrives and Mozzie starts to talk to her and she responds with, “You’re dead to me.”

Neal disguises himself as a self-absorbed artist and Alex is his agent. They go into the museum and con the curator into believing he’s there to paint a special portrait in the gallery. When she calls to confirm, Mozzie has rerouted the call and makes the curator believe everything is legitimate. Neal paints the wall while Alex disables all the security systems. The two start carrying everything out to the truck while Peter and Jones watch from the van. Since all they have against the Greek official is Alex’s word, they need to tie him to the stolen goods so they plan on having Alex bring them to him. But as they’re loading the truck, Alex disappears and the NYPD shows up again and ruins the entire thing.

Peter has to bail Neal out of jail and he tells him that catching Neal Caffrey used to mean something, but now, everyone is doing it. Neal is not amused. He knows Alex planned for him to get caught, but he can’t figure out why. Peter and Neal realize that Alex wanted all the treasure in one place and that she’s going to steal it from the NYPD evidence locker. It’s too late to stop her so Neal and Peter set out to track her down. In the car, Peter plays Neal’s horoscope for him and it warns that he might return to his old ways. Neal mocks Peter for falling for the horoscope con and taking advice from a car and Peter tells him that he’s taking the fun out of everything. Neal quips that it’s because he’s having a 3 out of 10 day (This whole scene was hilarious, but it also felt like heavy-handed foreshadowing. Things are good in the bromance again and it just seems like it won’t last).

The police find Spiteri in the van and the treasure is gone; in its place, Alex left the piece from the u-boat that Neal had given her. Neal realizes this was her plan all along and he tells Peter she’s gone. But when Neal gets home, Alex is there. Neal is hurt that she conned him and that they were never just ‘Neal and Alex’ and she points out that this is Neal and Alex. She tells him that he owed her a treasure and now they’re even. The two share a kiss and Alex takes off (I really like Alex and hope they find more excuses to bring her back in the future).

Mozzie is at the Burkes’ again, hooking up the beta player to Peter’s TV. Peter warns him that he’d better not be bugging his house. Neal shows up with the tape and Peter and Mozzie are both happy that he changed his mind and decided to watch it with them. Neal admits that it was a hard decision, but he wanted it to be his decision and he knows who he can trust. They put the tape in, cue it up and…that’s it. End of episode.

Cliffhanger ending aside, I loved this episode. It was classic White Collar with the slight of hand and the cons pulling cons on each other. There were some great bromance moments between Neal and Peter and Mozzie and Neal and Neal, Mozzie and Peter. Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the black t-shirt Matt Bomer was sporting in the beginning of the episode?

The promos for next week seem to confirm my fears that things are not going to stay well between Neal and Peter. Sam is back and he tells Neal that he can’t trust Peter and later, Neal and Peter are (shirtless) in a boxing ring (did I mention shirtless?) and Neal accuses Peter of being behind Ellen’s death. Again, promos are made to be deceiving so we’ll have to wait and find out if it’s all an act. See you next week.

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.