White Collar Review: Trading Places

As the adage proclaims, imitation is the finest form of flattery. Well this week, in an amusing exchange of roles, Neal and Peter imitate each other—Neal Caffrey is Special Agent Peter Burke and Peter Burke is Neal Caffrey.

Elizabeth is planning an event for an ultra picky client, Andrew Stanzler (Richard Schiff). She learns from his assistant, Brooke, that Stanzler (an energy trader), may be involved with a collusion scheme, which is causing blackouts across the city. Elizabeth convinces Brooke to talk to Peter.

Sara Ellis is back from Argentina—she found that the crates of dinnerware came from an estate in the southern part of the country, and she believes Adler burned it down plus that Adler is obsessed with finding a certain German Nazi soldier.

At the museum, Peter is late to meet with Brooke, who grows nervous because Stanzler is on his way in. Peter tells Neal to “do whatever you need to do,” and Caffrey, always thinking on his feet, pretends to be Peter and convinces Brooke to come into the F.B.I. office. The real Peter Burke is less than thrilled about Neal’s impersonation, but agrees to go along with it thanks to El and the fear that if they tell Brooke the truth, she won’t trust them. So Brooke meets with Agent Burke (Neal) and his criminal informant, Neal Caffrey (Peter). Brooke clues in the real Neal that Stanzler is looking for a burglar, which the new Neal (Peter) will become.

At Neal’s apartment, Mozzie works on building the antenna that corresponds with Adler’s fractal while Neal fashions himself an FBI badge. Sara and Peter show up with a video on the German soldier Adler is searching for, which excites Mozzie, who exclaims, “excellent, top secret movies. I’ll make popcorn.” We learn the soldier was placed in a detention center on Ellis Island after the fall of the Third Reich because he claimed he had secret information for the U.S. government. However, it turns out the soldier escaped and most likely naturalized under a different name. They decide they must check the archives at Ellis Island. After leaving the apartment, Sara and Neal, exuding chemistry, are tailed by a hooded man.

Peter, as Neal Caffrey, meets with and wins over Stanzler, getting the gig as his personal burglar. His assignment? To steal a flash drive that contains video footage of a meeting with a partner Stanzler no longer trusts, Francis Luntz. To prepare for his stint as Neal Caffrey, Peter becomes a pupil at the June and Mozzie conman school—learning to plant a bug on someone and pick a pocket and lock like a pro.

Meanwhile, Sara and Neal delve through the German soldier’s records. He quizzes her as to why she’s helping, and Sara explains she likes the mystery but also that she “knows what it’s like to have a lot of questions.” Sara reveals her older sister ran away and she never heard from her again. She wants to help Neal find Adler and have some closure with Kate.

Later on, Peter is going on his heist with Neal, Jones and Diana in the van as backup. Peter’s heist is successful—he finds the flash drive in a wall safe and even gets a follow-up job from Stanzler, scheduled during the party Elizabeth has planned. Also, Stanzler is looking to forge another partnership with someone in the electric company to escalate his plan.

During the party, Jones and Diana are to be in the van, (poor Jones, he’s always stuck in the van), while Neal (as Peter) will escort Elizabeth and Peter (as Neal) will attend. At the party, Stanzler asks Peter to babysit Luntz, but he’s really setting them up, which becomes obvious when he locks them in the private gallery. As another blackout hits and forces the museum into a lockdown, Peter realizes Stanzler is going to come back to try to kill them both. Diana and the FBI work to get the backup generator working while Peter’s prediction has come true—Stanzler has made his way back into the locked gallery with a gun. Neal uses his FBI badge to make it back to the gallery and bursts in as the lights come back on, giving Peter the opportunity to tackle and apprehend Stanzler. Our dynamic duo discuss their role reversal:

Peter: “You enjoyed being me.”

Neal: “I’ll admit there is a certain allure to your profession. How about you?”

Peter: “Being Neal Caffrey had its charms.”

Neal watches with a longing glance as the real Peter Burke reunites in a loving embrace with Elizabeth. He goes to check on Sara and Moz, who are still sorting through the archives. As the lights go out, in a hot scene, Neal and Sara begin to kiss passionately. But the lights come back on and Mozzie interrupts their makeout session saying, “the urgency transcends the awkwardness” because he found the German soldier Adler was searching for. He changed his name to Michael Hunter but passed away. However, he has one surviving granddaughter—Alex Hunter.

The episode comes to a close as we see Alex being menacingly followed by the man in the hooded sweatshirt.

The White Collar episodes that always stand out for me are ones that use the entire cast. This episode was really a classic example of one in which the ensemble cast shone. So many parts stand out—June and Mozzie preparing Peter for his heist. The electric chemistry between Sara and Neal. Elizabeth and Peter’s perfect relationship. Witty banter between Neal and Peter. It had it all.

Next week—White Collar’s season finale. To get ready, here’s the promo and a sneak peek at a page from the script.

For more on this week’s episode, check out “One to Go” by Josh Hatala.

Season 2, Episode 15 “Power Play” (original air date March 1, 2011)

White Collar’s Season Two finale airs Tuesday, March 8th at 10:/9c on the USA Network.

Images courtesy of David Giesbrecht and USA Network.


  1. This was a great recap of the night! Perfect in all its detail and no biased commentary, thank you. I love this show and everyone involved. Keep writing about it!

  2. This was a great recap of the night! Perfect in all its detail and no biased commentary, thank you. I love this show and everyone involved. Keep writing about it!

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