Tonight, White Collar aired its summer finale, “Vested Interest.” To say this wasn’t my favorite episode would be an understatement. It wasn’t that the episode itself was bad, even if the case was a little on the dull side, but it was the way the show handled the revelation that most viewers saw coming for weeks that really irritated me. I understand that they wanted to end on a cliffhanger since viewers will have to wait until January for new episodes, but this was not the way to do it.
Let’s rewind to the beginning of the episode and get to the end in due time. Peter and Neal were still on the outs after the major blowup over Sam last week. Peter tried to impress Neal with his coffee making skills, but Neal was not having it. Peter reminded him that the two of them were scheduled to speak at an FBI training conference that day because people were very interested in their partnership and how it worked so well. Neal sarcastically mumbled that he was wondering the same thing. Peter reminded him that they needed to put on a united front so Neal slapped on a fake smile and they were on their way.
Things were still shaky at the conference. In a nice callback to the pilot, Neal and Peter talked about the first case they worked together (the Dutchman) and why they teamed up in the first place. The conference came to an abrupt halt when the agent in charge was told that there was a security breach. Peter offered to help him and Neal headed home. When he arrived, Sam was there with Mozzie and the two were having a standoff. Mozzie was holding a corkscrew on Sam, demanding to know who he was and Sam pulled out a gun. Neal calmed them both down and insisted that Mozzie could be trusted.
Back at FBI headquarters, Peter filled everyone in on what had happened at the conference. A thief had stolen FBI credentials to get access to the conference. As they tried to figure out which of the new FBI gadgets the brazen thief was looking to steal, Neal quipped that he liked the guy already since he’d conned his way into a room with 500 agents. He asked to see the secret FBI handshake, but Jones and Diana insisted there wasn’t one. Neal didn’t believe them. He headed back to the conference while the agents watched on the monitor. He pretended to steal an ID badge from an FBI agent so that all the other agents would check theirs. Once he was done, they zeroed in on the suspect, one of the only people who didn’t bother looking at his badge. They figured out that he was going to steal a bullet proof vest (get it “vested” interest?).
In the meantime, Neal was also planning on stealing something from the conference, a tracking device that they could use to figure out who was after Sam. But first, he needed to get Sam’s name in the system without Peter knowing about it. With some help from Mozzie and Mozzie’s pet rat, Neal set the rat loose in the office and when Peter was distracted, Neal switched the forms he needed to sign. After that, Neal and Mozzie were planning on using one of Mozzie’s safe houses (Friday) to setup the meet and plant the tracking device. While this was going on, Peter was doing his own investigating, trying to find Sam. A friend called in a favor and told him that Sam had retired to Florida. Peter placed a few more calls and found out that Sam Phillips had died three years earlier.
Peter immediately told Neal and Neal came up with several excuses why Sam could still be who he claimed to be. Peter agreed to investigate more, but he told Neal that he needed to consider the possibility that “Sam” was one of the dirty cops and he was using Neal to try and get to Ellen’s box of evidence. Here’s where the show started to lose me. If you read my recaps regularly, you know I’ve been speculating for weeks that Sam was Neal’s father. Once the show revealed the real Sam was dead, I thought for sure Neal and Peter would jump on the possibility that he could be Neal’s dad. Neither of them did. It was like the thought never crossed their minds. Two smart men, two men who solve cases for a living and neither one of them considered that Sam was actually Neal’s dad? How is that possible, show?
Anyway, Neal and Peter had to deal with the vest situation. They realized that it wasn’t the vest that the thief was after, but the guy who had designed it. Peter and the would-be kidnappers started shooting at each other in a parking garage while Neal helped the inventor stay hidden behind a car. To distract the shooters, Neal ran across the cars and ended up getting shot, but don’t worry; he was wearing the vest. Peter was relieved and Neal was sad that his favorite tie had taken a bullet, but the two seemed to be on their way to getting back on track.
Not-Sam went to the meeting place and ended up tied to a chair and beaten about the head, but Neal and Peter saved the day. While Neal had Mozzie take not-Sam back to his apartment, he handed Peter the bloody handkerchief he’d used to clean not-Sam up and told Peter to run his DNA. (For a second, I thought I’d been wrong and they really did suspect that he was Neal’s dad. But it was false hope as you’ll see when we get to the last scene).
Neal and Peter had to finish the FBI conference and this time, they were back on the same page. There was some nice banter about which case they should talk about. Peter pointed out that if they told the u-boat story, people would ask where the treasure was and when Neal suggested Yankee Stadium, Neal reminded him that Mozzie had been a part of that. Instead, they talked about the case where they’d gotten stuck in the room without air and Neal made sure Peter was safe before he passed out from lack of oxygen (Again, a nice throwback to an earlier episode). Neal and Peter admitted that even though they might not always trust each other, they always have faith in one another (aw, bromance back on!).
After spending a little time with Elizabeth, Peter headed back to FBI headquarters to wait on the results of the DNA test. Diana brought them to him and was shocked by what they showed as was Peter, which proved my brief glimmer of hope meant nothing. Neal had returned home to the loft and not-Sam was there. Neal told him that they were going to find out the truth. Peter called him and said the DNA results were back and there was something he needed to hear. Neal was stunned (excellent acting as always by Mr. Bomer) and he turned to Sam and demanded to know why he didn’t just tell him that he was his father.
So there you have it. Not-Sam is actually Neal’s dad and the show is gone until January. This season started out really strong and then lost a lot of steam with the Ellen/Sam/not-Sam storyline. Maybe if the show hadn’t been so heavy-handed about the hints that Sam would turn out to be Neal’s dad, the cliffhanger might have been more interesting. Still, the acting and the characters themselves remain flawless and despite my negative reaction to the reveal, I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next once January rolls around. Until then, feel free to leave your comments, theories, speculations, Matt Bomer appreciations in the comment section below. See you in January!