Neal's been a criminal for a long time, but in tonight's episode, he admits it casually to Peter as he reminisces what little he knows about his father. While other season-long arcs saw Neal continue his criminal enterprises, this is the season where he plays by the rules and instead seeks to find out whether or not his father was a murderer. Even though he doesn't come out and say it, it is heavily hinted that Neal believes his life of crime may have begun when he learned the truth about his father.
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Important keys to Neal's backstory are revealed in tonight's episode, including:
- His last name is his mother's maiden name, and he only learned his first name was Neal when he turned 18.
- He was in the Witness Protection program until then ... perhaps his father worked for the mob?
- His father was accused of, and eventually confessed to, killing a cop.
The rest of the episode is built around Peter's desire to catch a criminal who appears only every five years - to ensure the statute of limitations expires on his crimes - to commit a robbery. It has been five years since his last crime and it's time to try and catch him again.
Except Peter doesn't know who he is. Peter and Neal first have to discover their suspect's identity piece by piece--first by deducing his height based on the distance between the seat and the wheel of the suspect's truck, and then by noting he must be left-handed by the way he ties a knot.
At first, Peter has to be sly and secretive about his "extra" case while working at The Cave--an evidence warehouse and his new assignment. He's got a by-the-books supervisor played by character actor Brett Cullen. He's someone who Peter, pre-Neal, might have even looked up to. Now though ... he's seen as an impediment.
However, as Neal and Peter get closer to catching thief David Cook, pretentions are dropped and Peter is amongst the team that attempts to trap Cook when he tries to fence his latest stolen goods.
Except Peter leaves at the moment when Cook is to be arrested. Peter realizes it can't be his win. It's Neal's. And he wasn't supposed to be there. Instead of using this case as an excuse to get back on the White Collar team, Peter accepts his new role and settles for lunch with his friend Neal in the "picnic area" outside The Cave.
After fearing that Peter would get back to White Collar as easily as Neal got away with his escape, it's a relief to see this will be no easy road back for Peter--nor Neal, as he undoubtedly will spend the season trying to uncover the secrets of his father.Other Thoughts:
- According to creator and executive producer, Jeff Eastin, on Twitter, the names on all of the lockers in the club are based on names of the White Collar
- Mozzie returns but doesn't really contribute to the case of the week--making his arrival seem more premature than it needed to be. Not sure why the writers didn't just keep him on the island for another week.
- One of my favorite scenes of the episode, and perhaps the series, is when Neal teaches Peter how to distract and guide the woman buying the stolen jewels to the real ones and away from the fake ones. The intercuts between Neal's lessons and Peter carrying them out were well written and nicely paced. Plus, it really seemed like it would actually work in real life!Alan DanzisContributing Writer(Image courtesy of USA)