White Collar Review: Spoils of War
This week, White Collar fans finally get some answers! The season two finale, “Under the Radar,” opens with Neal (Matt Bomer) and Peter (Tim DeKay) bringing some fake Rolex watches to evidence. Sara (Hilarie Burton) waits for them there. She and Neal bring up and then back off from the topic of the other night, but seem to agree it’s a moment worth revisiting. Peter tells the team the current plan is to take down Vincent Adler (guest star Andrew McCarthy), who they know is looking for U-Boat 869 off the coast of New York. The contents of the submarine are unknown. Peter tasks Diana (Marsha Thomason) and Jones (Sharif Atkins) with locating missing Alex (guest star Gloria Votsis). As the team splits up, Neal reassures Sara there’s nothing between him and Alex anymore.
Mozzie (Willie Garson) wonders what secrets the sub might hold, but also has a way for the team to locate the sub’s SOS signal—the fractal. Peter asks Neal to call Alex, hoping to narrow the search area, but Adler answers saying “the lady doesn’t want to be disturbed.” Mozzie informs the team he learned Alex was in town a few weeks ago, and tried to fence some items through a man named Teddy. Neal recognizes the name and tells Peter that Teddy deals in hot merchandise. Neal and a reluctant Mozzie set Teddy up, calling a meeting to sell the fake Rolexes from evidence. Peter and Jones arrest Mozzie while Neal helps Teddy out of being searched. In repayment, Teddy tells Neal Alex was heading for the Conservatory garden.
The team reviews security tapes from the garden, seeing Alex disappeared somewhere inside. Peter and Neal attempt to retrace her steps but lose track of each other. Peter answers a phone call from Adler, who wants him to get into a car outside. Neal’s already there, and Peter is disarmed and forced to unlock Neal’s anklet. Adler says he’s going to take them to Alex, and asks them to drink a cocktail that will render them unconscious for the trip.
When Peter and Neal come to, they see Alex is also prisoner in the room with them. Adler enters and opens a set of doors, revealing the submarine. Adler tells them the Germans were never able to come back for it after the war, and that Adler’s father was the lone survivor of the incident, which is why he knows so much. The boat has some unstable explosives in it, so Adler wants Neal and Peter to go inside while Alex stays behind as insurance. Meanwhile, Sara goes to Neal’s apartment to meet him and finds Mozzie finishing the detector system. They realize something’s gone wrong when they both mention Neal being late.
Back at the warehouse, Adler monitors Neal and Peter’s activity from behind blast-proof doors. When the two open the hatch to the sub, they find a code-breaking machine sitting on top of dynamite. Alex tells Neal how to deactivate the timer and he and Peter enter the sub. Inside is a priceless amount of Nazi plunder in art and gold, still being monitored by Adler via a pair of glasses. Neal rips the glasses off and tears something resembling the fractal from the sub’s wall. Adler and his men grab them and take them out of the sub.
Diana and Jones piece together that something’s wrong based on Neal’s offline tracking anklet. They agree to meet Sara and Mozzie at the garden and start looking for Neal and Peter there. In the FBI van, Mozzie tells the team what his device does, and latches onto a moving signal.
Adler’s men leave Peter, Neal and Alex in a dock slowly filling with water. They untie themselves and get free when Jones and Diana arrive. In a moment of passion and relief, Neal and Alex kiss, which a hurt Sara sees from afar. The three were drugged again after being removed from the sub and have to tell the team they no longer know its location. They assume Adler will take the art to Europe, but won’t be able to move it until the end of the week.
Neal and Peter head home to let the rest of the team handle the search. In the office, Sara introduces herself to Alex and they start conversing.
Alex tells Neal about her grandfather encoding the SOS tracker into the music box, that she never believed his stories about treasure until she was given a key after he died. In a parting moment, she calls Neal “a wonderful treasure, just out of reach.” Quite the metaphor that he clearly has no problem living up to. After she leaves, Neal tries to explain his past with Alex to Sara, but she’s not interested. Peter interrupts them, telling them they’ll be joining him and Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen) for dinner.
At the Burke residence, Elizabeth and Sara talk about Neal and if she can change him. Elizabeth tells Sara she doesn’t need to and can trust Neal when it counts. Peter tells Neal how happy he is that he can come home to his life with Elizabeth. Neal’s not sure anything similar is in his future. Neal and Sara go to leave and he tells her he meant it when he said things were over with Alex. She kisses him and tells him he owes her lunch.
The next day, the team reports that Adler’s sub can only be in 1 of 15 warehouses. Neal stays in the car as the team searches, and ends up wandering into Adler. Adler tells Neal he has a truck full of the art ready to go and offers Neal half if he gets him past the perimeter set by the FBI. Neal questions him about Kate’s death. Adler tells him Kate planned to blow up the plane over the ocean, and allow her and Neal to parachute to safety, start a new life. When Peter showed up it ruined the plan, and Adler decided to detonate the plane on the ground instead. As they talk, something in the warehouse explodes. Adler guesses one of the wires was tripped and opens the door when another explosion blows the two of them and his men back. Peter and company see the explosion from another site and head that direction.
Neal convinces Adler the art is destroyed and pulls him away from the wreckage. Adler pulls a gun and blames Neal, convinced he had something to do with the explosion. Just as he’s about to pull the trigger, Peter shoots Adler from behind. Peter asks Neal what Adler meant, and Neal says he doesn’t know. Peter seems convinced Neal had something to do with it. Neal says he’d never lie to Peter, and more so, he’d never destroy that art. Peter doesn’t believe him and Neal simply replies, “then prove it.”
When he gets back to his place, Neal finds an address and key sitting on his table with a typed message that reads “you’ll thank me.” Neal goes to the warehouse address and discovers a room full of all the Nazi art and gold. He spins around looking slightly confused and eventually smiles as he takes it all in.
While finally knowing the secret of the music box wraps up a lot of the mystery, I can’t help but wonder where Neal goes from here. He seems to find the lifestyle Peter and Elizabeth live somewhat seductive in comparison to his criminal past. Does this mean he’s ready to play the good guy full-time? Will he turn the recovered treasure over to the Bureau? Will Peter trust Neal again? Thankfully, I won’t have to wait long for answers. White Collar will return for a third season this summer.
For another take on the season finale, read “Who’s Conning Whom” by Allison Toner.
Season 2, Episode 16 “Under the Radar” (original air date March 8, 2011)
White Collar airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on the USA Network.
Images courtesy of David Giesbrecht and USA Network.