White Collar continued its stellar fourth season this week with, “Parting Shots.” The episode was jam packed with awesome moments, but like always, it seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. This week brought the return of Sara, some good news for Peter and a little more insight into Neal’s past. It also ended with a cliffhanger that already has me on pins and needles for the next episode. Too bad we have to wait two weeks (boo!).
The episode started with Neal visiting Peter at the evidence warehouse under the watchful eye of Agent Patterson. Neal mentioned that he’d stopped at the bank and Peter was curious to why and Neal told him that he’d received his first FBI paycheck since he’d been back and he put it in his rainy day fund since all he could afford was an umbrella. Peter asked how Neal had left things with Sara and Neal was confused by the abrupt change in subject until Peter pointed out that she was behind him. Sara had come to get Peter’s expertise on an insurance claim that she was investigating.
Grant Covington had been under FBI investigation when he’d died a year earlier in a scuba diving accident in the Hamptons. His wife, Sophie, was set to receive his insurance settlement ($50 million!) since the death had been ruled an accident and Sara wanted to make sure the widow really didn’t have anything to do with it. Peter agrees to use his lunch break to help her stakeout the memorial service for the one year anniversary of Grant’s death. They talk about the case and both are suspicious of Wilson Mailer, Grant’s former business partner, who seems to be trying to get close to Sophie. They also notice a photographer taking pictures from a distance.
Neal takes Mozzie to meet Ellen. He’s concerned when he finds her gardening in front of the house, but she points out the marshals are across the street guarding her. She wants Neal to meet her friend, Sam. He’s a fellow cop, who does a lot of undercover work and isn’t always easy to get a hold of. She still believes there’s more to the case and Neal’s father might be innocent. Neal just wants the truth. Mozzie stays to help with the planting and Neal heads off to meet Peter and Sara. As Sophie leaves the memorial early, a masked man tries to pull her into a van. Neal saves her and then she thanks him and steals his hat to hide her face as photographers chase her.
Back at headquarters, Peter is filling Diana in on the case and as he’s looking longingly at his office, Neal tells him he’ll be back soon. Hughes warns Peter to back off, but then Peter offers to work as a consultant. Neal and Sara watch as Jones interviews Sophie and it’s obvious she is not happy with the FBI or with Sara for the way they’d questioned her after her husband’s death. Sara mocks Neal for feeling bad for the fleeing suspect and he tries to apologize for leaving without saying goodbye. Sara makes it clear her world did not stop spinning without him. Since Sophie doesn’t trust the FBI, Sara suggests Neal talk to her.
Pretending that he’s there be questioned too, Neal stages a run in. Peter fumbles and introduces Neal as ‘Neal Armstrong’ and he’s not amused. Sophie thanks him and he asks if he can have his hat back. She invites him to the house to pick it up. Neal convinces her to accept Peter’s business card and when he arrives at her house later, Mailer is there. Sophie sends him away and Neal discreetly looks around to learn more about her. She tells him she used to do charity work, but her husband didn’t like it. When Neal leaves, the photographer from the memorial service follows him. Peter calls Neal and tells him to lose his tail. He does and Jones and Peter follow the photographer to his place.
He answers the door with a shotgun in his hand and the agents tackle him to the ground and handcuff him. His name is Freddy and he explains that he’s a PI, who specializes in marital infidelity. Poppy Mailer hired him because she thinks her husband is having an affair with Sophie. Peter and Jones go through his pictures and find one of the kidnapping attempt. Later, Peter, Jones, Neal, Sara and Elizabeth are at the Burkes’ going over the evidence. They figure out Mailer is the kidnapper since he was wearing the same gloves in one of Freddy’s pictures. They think Mailer killed Covington and since he couldn’t seduce Sophie for the money, he was planning to kidnap her and make her pay her own ransom by sending the money to an offshore account before he killed her. Jones calls it a ‘white collar mugging.’
Peter wants to make it look like Neal is trying to steal the fortune, but Neal says he can’t con a widow. Peter says he can if it will save her life. He wants to use Freddy to take photos. Neal returns home and finds Mozzie and Ellen playing cards. Mozzie wants to hear stories about Neal as a kid. Ellen tells him about how Neal used to love school, but his mother could never get him there on time so he broke in and changed all the clocks to 30 minutes later…when he was in second grade. Since that didn’t work, he rerouted the buses to go past his house and after that; he forged his own city bus pass. Ellen has to leave, but she tells Neal that she’s trying to get in touch with Sam for him.
Neal asks Mozzie to help him put Peter’s new plan into effect. While Neal goes to see Sophie again, Mozzie pretends to be trailing Neal. He sits down on a bench beside Freddy and tells him that Neal is con man and he’s after Sophie’s money. Meanwhile, Sophie tells Neal that she’s giving all the money to charity. The two spend some time together and Neal purposely forgets his hat. He goes back for it and Sophie kisses him while Mozzie and Freddy take pictures. The pictures show up on Peter’s doorstep with an invoice for five hours of work to be paid in cash (ha!). Diana secretly tips off Mailer and he shows up at Freddy’s just as his wife is leaving with the folder. She shows him what his ‘whore’ has been up to and tells him about Neal being a con man.
Sophie invites Neal to go to a charity event with her and the FBI plans to watch them since they think Mailer will try to grab her. Neal notices Sophie’s driver/bodyguard, Tony, is wearing an expensive watch. Neal drops part of the act and coldly tells Sophie that he stole $50 million from her and put it in his rainy day account. She looks confused and he tells her that Tony can be bought. Neal tells her by the time she calls Agent Burke, they’ll be long gone. Tony pulls a gun and makes her get out of the car. Sophie calls Peter and relays the message. Peter walks out on his evidence job even as Patterson warns him that it’s going in his file. Peter explains to Hughes that they need Sara and Sophie to transfer money into Neal’s account. The ladies agree.
Mailer is holding a gun on Neal, but Neal points out that he won’t be able to transfer the money if he’s dead and then Mailer would have a body to deal with. Neal wants some hush money to go away and he shows Mailer his ‘Wanted’ poster when Mailer asks how he can trust him not to go the police. Mailer agrees to give Neal 10 percent of the money and lets him go. Neal drops a hint that Freddy might have more evidence and then calls Peter to tell him where to find Mailer. Hughes lets him go and Peter and Jones arrest him. They’re able to charge him with Covington’s murder as well and they get the money back. Hughes warns Peter he needs to be careful so that he doesn’t lose himself. Then he gives him the recommendation from the review board.
Peter is reinstated to his old job (YAY!). As everyone celebrates, Neal asks Sara to admit that she’s mad at him. She says that she was and his leaving opened old wounds for her from when her sister, Emily, left when they were younger. Neal tells her she deserves to know what happened to her. Later, Neal goes to see Ellen and finds the two marshals have been killed and Ellen is being brought out on a stretcher, barely breathing. She tells Neal to trust Sam and things don’t look good as she’s loaded into the ambulance.
…and that’s it for two weeks. Poor Neal looked devastated and it makes me sad that he just can’t catch a break. The previews looked pretty grim for Ellen and Neal might be going off book again…In other words, this show continues to bring it. See you in two weeks.