TV Recaps

White Collar Recap: "Diminishing Returns"


WHITE COLLAR -- Episode 403 -- Pictured: Matt Bomer as Neal Caffrey

Three episodes in and White Collar’s fourth season has been flawless so far. This week’s episode, “Diminishing Returns,” had Neal ready to get back to business as usual, which meant shaving off the island scruff and putting on one of his trademark suits. But things weren’t quite as smooth for Peter, who was reassigned to work at the FBI’s evidence warehouse, The Cave, which was more or less a prison that even had a yard (they liked to call it the picnic area). Of course a temporary demotion from the white collar division was not going to stop Neal and Peter from working together.

Neal was feeling really guilty about Peter being reassigned, but Peter wanted to just take the punishment and keep his head down so he could get back to his real job as soon as possible. But he did mention that he was planning on reopening a case and he was sorry he wasn’t able to. Curious, Neal asked Diana and Jones for the details. They had already given him two assignments, both of which Neal completed in record time and made it clear that he wanted to help Peter. Jones showed him the giant files. The suspect has been committing crimes for 20 years and he shows up every five years like clockwork. They know it’s so he can avoid the statue of limitations so that if he does get caught, he can only be punished for one crime.

The only other thing they know about the guy is that he likes Turkish harmony, a form of tobacco that showed up at some of the crime scenes. Peter had gone undercover as Peter Morris and worked at a bank to try and catch him, but the cover never went anywhere. Neal told Peter that there was a stolen water delivery truck in Jersey that had remnants of the tobacco at the crime scene. Since Peter and Neal couldn’t go to the truck, Diana had it delivered to the warehouse. Neal jimmies open the door and Peter deduces that the suspect is 5’10” and Neal figures out that he’s also left-handed.

Peter and Elizabeth are at home, sharing a private moment as Peter tells her that he’s not sure how much longer he can handle being stuck in evidence. Neal shows up to let Peter know that he used DMV records to track down the suspect. His name is David Cook. Peter recalls that he was a bank teller when Peter was working undercover and he didn’t like him because he was a Mets fan and Peter is a diehard Yankees fan. He also recalled Cook being competitive control freak, who didn’t have emotional ties to anyone. He was also a creature of habit. The FBI sets up surveillance and Elizabeth convinces Peter to go help them with the case.

Neal and Diana are in the truck, monitoring Cook and Peter shows up. He explains that he was just out for a walk and saw a suspicious truck and decided to see what was going on. Neal tells him there’s a convict and an FBI agent watching TV and invites him to join them. They see Cook playing squash at a club and notice that he’s very protective of his gym bag. Neal wants to get a better look and Peter agrees to resume his Peter Morris cover. While Peter distracts Cook with a competitive game of squash (winner gets $5,000), Neal breaks into his locker to see what he’s hiding.

He finds his PDA and there’s a hidden camera in the water cooler, which Neal assumes is why he stole the truck in the first place. But there are people standing in front of it so Neal can’t see the location. Cook hurts his shoulder and heads for the locker room to get ice. Peter talks loudly to warn Neal and Neal hides, but he’s still got the PDA. Peter stalls Cook from looking in his bag and then Neal passes the device to Peter and he slips it back without Cook noticing. Neal caught a glimpse of a jewelry store and he’s going to sketch out a floor plan. Diana gets a list of six stores in the area that get deliveries from that water cooler company. Diana, Neal and Elizabeth narrow the list down to one. But they’re too late and Cook has already pulled off a diamond heist by the time they get to the jewelry store. Peter surprises Neal by leaving since he’s not supposed to be there.

When Neal gets home, Mozzie is there playing a game he doesn’t understand with some new friends. Neal notices that he shaved his goatee as well and wonders if he’s done with retirement. Mozzie admits that good partnerships are hard to find (aw!). Neal fills him in on Peter’s situation and Mozzie’s interest is peaked by the evidence warehouse. He tells Neal the treasure is safe and as they have some wine, Neal mentions the case and suggests that someone should try to track down the fence.

Mozzie does his part and gives Neal the fence’s name, Rena. Neal convinces Peter that he needs to play to Cook’s competitive side and go to the fence. He shows him three real diamonds that he borrowed from June and a handful of fake ones. Peter wants to know how Neal plans on fooling the fence. Neal suggests he pick up one of the gems, any one of them. Peter grabs the royal blue diamond and when he turns it over, there’s an ‘x’ on the back. Peter wants to know how Neal did that and Neal explains that there’s a three part plan to catching Cook.

The first part is to draw Cook out. Peter goes to Rena and tells her that they have a mutual friend. Rena calls Cook for a reference and he’s angry that Peter is trying to get her to buy from him instead. The second part of the plan involves Peter distracting Rena with the gems while they wait for Cook to show up. Neal explains that the way he got Peter to choose the blue diamond was because he was wearing a blue tie and subtly straightening it or the matching blue handkerchief he had. Peter does the same and Rena picks up the blue diamond. He points her attention to the yellow diamond by giving it a ‘thumbs up’ and Neal explains the third will be the hardest. He uses muted wordplay to rhyme with pink. After a close call, Rena picks up that one and a few minutes later, Cook makes his entrance.

Arresting him is the third part of the plan, but first Jones needs to get a visual on the diamond. Cook is ranting at Peter and accusing him of trying to steal his score. He pulls out the diamond and the agents move in. Peter tells Cook that he’s right and this isn’t his victory and he slips out. Neal is confused when he realizes Peter is gone. Peter shows up at the warehouse and Agent Patterson gets on his case for being two minutes late, but then he relents because he did a good job cataloging the cell phones. Peter is stunned to see the work is done as Mozzie, wearing an FBI jacket, slips away.

Neal returns to have lunch with Peter again and Peter tells him that he didn’t need to make the arrest himself; he just needed the closure. He asks Neal to finish telling him about his dad and his relationship with Ellen. Neal explains that Ellen was his father’s partner and she had to arrest him because his dad was a corrupt cop. Neal said that his mother mentally checked out after that and Ellen was the one who raised him. Peter realizes Neal grew up in witness protection. Neal explains that he was three when the marshals took them away and he was sent to St. Louis with his mom and Ellen and his name was changed to Danny Brooks. When he was 18, Ellen told him the truth and that his real name was Neal. Peter points out that ‘Caffrey’ is his mother’s maiden name, and Neal said he didn’t want his father’s name so that was when Neal Caffrey was born. He ran away and never looked back.

Peter is surprised when Neal tells him that his father was a murderer. He said he’d always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and now he had. Peter tells him that he’s not a murderer, but Neal says he is a criminal. He also wants answer so Peter suggests he talk to Ellen while she’s still in New York. She explains that his father was accused of killing a cop and she didn’t think that was a line he would cross. But then he confessed to it. She warns Neal about digging too deep, but he tells her that he needs to know who he is.

Whoa. The last two scenes were really heavy, but I’m so curious about Neal’s father and whether or not there was some kind of cover up. I have to believe that there’s more to the story, but I have no idea what it could possibly be. I’m a little surprised that Peter isn’t already back working white collar, but considering he did a lot of the heavy lifting with the case, this setup can probably go on for another week or two. As long as I get my bromance time, I’ll be happy. See you next week.

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.

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