All season long, Neal has sought to clear his father's name -- but his quest winds up inadvertently taking away both father figures in his life in the season finale of White Collar that aired tonight.
Since everyone knew the location of the evidence box in the Empire State Building, it became a matter of getting to it before Senator Pratt knows where it is.
At the beginning of the episode, Peter's new boss, Amanda Callaway, comes and sees him to confess what she knows and the fact that she called Senator Pratt. While it was heavily implied in the last episode that she was working with him, it seems instead that she wants to bring him down as much as Peter and Neal do.
Luckily for Peter, his old boss Reese Hughes used the NSA to tap the FBI phones and learned that Callaway was leaving out crucial details of her relationship with Senator Pratt. In fact, she is dirty Hughes insists, and it's going to be up to Peter to go outside the law and use Neal to get the evidence box first.
"Sometimes you have to redraw those lines to stay within them," Reese tells him.
When James goes to visit his son the next morning, he runs into Sarah -- which is the name he guesses on the third try. When Mozzie and Peter show up, none of them realize that she spent the night with Neal. "Who called Sarah?" they ask before Neal calls them out for being blind to obvious facts.
Neal warns James, Mozzie and Peter that Callaway has sent a team to get the box, assuming that Neal already has a plan to get it first -- which he doesn't.
While Neal and team know what floor the box is on, Callaway has only narrowed it to 28 different floors. She dispatches her agents to go looking for it and Peter recruits Jones and Diana to slow down the agents to the best of their ability.
Just as Neal starts to get his plan into place, he learns Senator Pratt has leased a floor in the Empire State Building so he can easily get access to the evidence box.
The plan starts with James and Neal going to see Senator Pratt. Mozzie is nearby with a proximity card copier so they can copy an ID card Pratt has on him. (He has leased the floor where the box is and they need his ID so they can get in.) While they're waiting for the copy to finish, Neal pretends to make Pratt an offer: the box for a promise that they'll leave James alone.
James winds up having to threaten Pratt before the card completes. Pratt then claims it was an assault and files a complaint, resulting in Callaway demanding James or Neal to be arrested on site at the Empire State Building.
Neal sneaks past the agents trying to arrest him, while Mozzie and James sneak into the building as well. Neal goes up to one of the floors with a view so he can propose to Sarah--which is his only way into one of the hardest floors to gain access to. (Celebrities and those that get engaged are allowed on that floor.) The engagement ploy works and someone from the Empire State Building takes them to the 103rd floor.
Peter confronts Pratt on the 51st floor when Callaway comes in. She was tracking Neal and with Pratt's suggestion, realizes Peter is wearing Neal's anklet. Peter than has to hand over his badge and weapon for that stunt.
While Neal and Sarah ponder a life they can never have together as a married couple on the 103rd floor, Jones and Diana tell Callaway they might have found the box in the floor above them when Pratt enters and demands to be there.
A floor above, James and Mozzie are pulling the lockbox out of its spot in the floor when they inadvertently knock a piece of the ceiling below and expose what they are doing. Peter, meanwhile, escapes custody and heads up in the elevator.
James gets caught with the lockbox by one of Pratt's men and is taken down to Pratt. When Pratt opens the lockbox, however, he realizes there's no evidence inside. Mozzie took it away and hands it to Neal who executes the fun part of the plan. He has put together a miniature blimp powered by the gas in champagne bottles -- yes, that's why they had to do the fake engagement.
Pratt spots the blimp and pulls a gun on James, who then pulls one on Pratt. Peter enters and James fires anyway--killing Pratt. Peter offers to testify for James on his behalf, but James pulls the gun on Peter so he can escape custody.
Peter pleads with him not to do anything and assures him everything will be ok. He pulls a gun on James but he escapes. Callaway then happens to enter, while Peter is still holding the gun, to see Pratt's dead body on the ground. Peter immediately says James is the one who killed Pratt, but Peter is still placed under arrest.
Back at Neal's apartment, James comes in for the evidence and Neal confronts him. Neal learned in reading through the evidence that his father lied about the gun that killed his supervisor and that he did, in fact, kill him.
Diana calls Neal to tell him Peter has been arrested and that James has to come in to clear Peter's name since it was his gun that killed Pratt. Neal pleads with him to come clean, but James refuses and says he won't go down for it. James even somewhat threatens his son if he continues to pursue this course.
"In this life, someone always takes a fall," James tells him. "Don't let it be you."
The season ends with Peter being frog marched out in front of colleagues, in handcuffs, while his wife, Elizabeth, waits at home for a dinner he promised to take her to. While Peter, of course, will eventually be cleared, how far are the producers going to take this storyline in the next season?
Will we actually see Peter go to prison?
Other stray thoughts:
- The scene with Neal and Sarah trying out the proximity card copier shows how much chemistry the actors have. It's a shame Hilarie Burton can't just join the show full time.
- While that proposal was fake, Sarah seemed like she actually wanted it to be real.
- Since Pratt is dead, does that mean Callaway will get away with how much she was involved?
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