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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.

16 Comments

  1. aww boo. i really loved alex. shes such an awesome character and her and neal have ahmazing chemistry. i dont want her to leave. sara is okay but i dont like her and neal together, they lack in chemistry and are so cliched. id rather have alex as a regular next season than sara. BOO!

  2. aww boo. i really loved alex. shes such an awesome character and her and neal have ahmazing chemistry. i dont want her to leave. sara is okay but i dont like her and neal together, they lack in chemistry and are so cliched. id rather have alex as a regular next season than sara. BOO!

  3. I like Sara a lot, she brings something we don’t see in Neal all the time, while not trying to repress who he is, she is starting also to understand how to deal with this romance (thanks to an assist from Elizabeth Burke) by the way, it might not count but Sara has the Burke’s(Neal’s defacto family) aproval…

    I love that she kind of forces Neal to act like a grown up like in this scene:
    Sara: I had a life too. if there is going to be something between us, then don’t lie to me
    Neal: I would never
    Sara: Yes you would
    -> then Neal gives a straight answer to the alex question.

    That’s a grown up conversation no cat & mouse game with a lot of conversation made in charades etc…

    There chemistry is sexy and mature at the same time, between those two, she is not an eternal teenager seeking the next adventure like alex, she is a young but mature woman who would like to see where this is going but in a a non b.s. way… one other thing is that although you could she likes him a lot, she likes how is mind work, how smart he is etc… she doesn’t worship him or fantasizes about him, it’s a very charming guy she likes and she wants to give it a shot!

  4. I like Sara a lot, she brings something we don’t see in Neal all the time, while not trying to repress who he is, she is starting also to understand how to deal with this romance (thanks to an assist from Elizabeth Burke) by the way, it might not count but Sara has the Burke’s(Neal’s defacto family) aproval…

    I love that she kind of forces Neal to act like a grown up like in this scene:
    Sara: I had a life too. if there is going to be something between us, then don’t lie to me
    Neal: I would never
    Sara: Yes you would
    -> then Neal gives a straight answer to the alex question.

    That’s a grown up conversation no cat & mouse game with a lot of conversation made in charades etc…

    There chemistry is sexy and mature at the same time, between those two, she is not an eternal teenager seeking the next adventure like alex, she is a young but mature woman who would like to see where this is going but in a a non b.s. way… one other thing is that although you could she likes him a lot, she likes how is mind work, how smart he is etc… she doesn’t worship him or fantasizes about him, it’s a very charming guy she likes and she wants to give it a shot!

  5. If Neal had actually done something I’d be okay with the ending but as it is Peter just screamed at him for no reason at all. There’s absolutely nothing in the episode that makes me suspicious of Neal. And I say this as someone who usually doesn’t trust Neal at all. The episode made me angry and Peter of all people – and usually I’m defending Peter when others think he’s not being fair to Neal. Not this time. Fine maybe he was upset after killing someone for the first time and felt manipulated into killing Adler but it still sets up a contrived conflict based on Peter jumping to conclusions and making an ass of himself.

    I would have rather seen Neal actually DO something that warranted Peter yelling at him – but the thing is Neal never suffers any consequences for his actions. He gets away with everything in canon with nothing actually happening – up to and including the attempted murder of Fowler. Now we’ve got a situation where Peter has yelled at him for something he didn’t do and I wouldn’t be surprised if Neal felt that if Peter doesn’t trust him there’s no point in even trying to be good any more. Especially with that grin of Neal’s at the end.

  6. If Neal had actually done something I’d be okay with the ending but as it is Peter just screamed at him for no reason at all. There’s absolutely nothing in the episode that makes me suspicious of Neal. And I say this as someone who usually doesn’t trust Neal at all. The episode made me angry and Peter of all people – and usually I’m defending Peter when others think he’s not being fair to Neal. Not this time. Fine maybe he was upset after killing someone for the first time and felt manipulated into killing Adler but it still sets up a contrived conflict based on Peter jumping to conclusions and making an ass of himself.

    I would have rather seen Neal actually DO something that warranted Peter yelling at him – but the thing is Neal never suffers any consequences for his actions. He gets away with everything in canon with nothing actually happening – up to and including the attempted murder of Fowler. Now we’ve got a situation where Peter has yelled at him for something he didn’t do and I wouldn’t be surprised if Neal felt that if Peter doesn’t trust him there’s no point in even trying to be good any more. Especially with that grin of Neal’s at the end.

  7. Peter is full of remorse, and it is most delicious!

  8. Peter is full of remorse, and it is most delicious!

  9. In reply to Anne:
    Peter is suspicious of Neal because he saw that scrap of painting (the Chrysler Building) Neal did in the fire at the warehouse and figures Neal blew up all of his old paintings to scam Adler into thinking it was the Nazi artwork. It is so obvious!

  10. In reply to Anne:
    Peter is suspicious of Neal because he saw that scrap of painting (the Chrysler Building) Neal did in the fire at the warehouse and figures Neal blew up all of his old paintings to scam Adler into thinking it was the Nazi artwork. It is so obvious!

  11. @Catti Yeah… I’m slowly coming around to the idea that there’s reason for Peter to be suspicious – especially with all the times we’ve seen Neal manipulate situations (and Peter) to attempt to get what he wants – in Copycat Caffrey or Point Blank for example. I guess it’s just since we didn’t see Neal plotting I didn’t (and still don’t) believe that Neal had actually done anything. But of course from Peter’s POV there is a chance that Neal did something – especially when you add in how upset Peter as about killing someone for the first time and if he feels like he was manipulated into killing Adler for Neal.

    I still would have preferred it if either A) Neal really had done something or B) the writers tried harder to make me believe it was possible for Neal to have done something. It’s like Kate and the music box all over again – there was never any effort put into making anyone believe that Kate really was using Neal – we were just supposed to assume it based on what the characters said.

  12. @Catti Yeah… I’m slowly coming around to the idea that there’s reason for Peter to be suspicious – especially with all the times we’ve seen Neal manipulate situations (and Peter) to attempt to get what he wants – in Copycat Caffrey or Point Blank for example. I guess it’s just since we didn’t see Neal plotting I didn’t (and still don’t) believe that Neal had actually done anything. But of course from Peter’s POV there is a chance that Neal did something – especially when you add in how upset Peter as about killing someone for the first time and if he feels like he was manipulated into killing Adler for Neal.

    I still would have preferred it if either A) Neal really had done something or B) the writers tried harder to make me believe it was possible for Neal to have done something. It’s like Kate and the music box all over again – there was never any effort put into making anyone believe that Kate really was using Neal – we were just supposed to assume it based on what the characters said.

  13. is sara kate’s sister?

  14. is sara kate’s sister?

  15. Kailon–That would certainly be a twist.

  16. Kailon–That would certainly be a twist.

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