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White Collar - Whack-a-Mole - Recap / Review and Episode Awards

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Previously - Neal infiltrated the Pink Panthers in return for a contract for his freedom from the FBI, Keller has the same deal from Interpol with LeSuit as his handler, Keller opened Neal's eyes about how this will all end, Mozzie was hurt Neal didn’t tell the Panthers about him, Woodford realized there was a mole, and the FBI figured out half a billion in American cash from Europe was being targeted.

Picking up where we left off, Woodford explains his mole problem to Neal. He insists the only one he can trust is Neal because he found a listening device in his hideout before Neal joined them. He asks Neal to ferret out the mole, but Neal says no. "The only thing worse than a mole is a rat. I've never been one. I never will be." Woodford: "That just might be a better answer than yes. Now I know there's someone I can trust completely." Neal passes the test as Woodford vows to find the mole himself. If he can't, the heist is cancelled and the Panthers will go underground. Woodford: "Nothing's worth spending the rest of one's life incarcerated, not even half a billion in cash." Neal surmises Woodford is hitting the Federal Reserve and you can almost see cartoon light bulbs going off above Neal's head. Back at the Burke house, Peter carefully whittles down a list of…OB/GYN candidates? El is amused and pulls a photo of her current doctor out of the pile as Peter confirms he background checked her. Yikes, here's hoping it's a boy. A daughter will never be able to date. El: "You need to stop worrying, My pregnancy is not a case." Peter: "What if I give the baby a tiny little anklet? Neal's is very comforting." Um, scratch that. The Burke baby is doomed no matter the sex. El reassures a nervous Peter that the baby is fine so he should stop worrying and enjoy it. Peter agrees. Good thing because Neal brings him the bad news at work. How Woodford hasn't had Neal followed to the FBI building I will never know. After bantering with Jones and Diana about moles - a group of moles is called a labor - Neal says his chances are good given Woodford is looking for one mole, not two. Peter suggests they serve up Keller and have LeSuit pull him from the mission. Neal then tells Woodford that Keller ran before he could be busted. Somehow I don't think LeSuit will go for that. Neal presses for more information on the algorithm but Peter plays it close to the vest while Neal doesn't share what he knows about the Fed. Let's just say they are both suspicious of each other.

Meeting with Woodford, Neal recaps the randomizer algorithm and knows they will have little time to plan a heist. Woodford's impressed. "You are everything that Keller says you are." Neal: "Now let's be clear. Keller and I were competitors, adversaries for the most part, and not what you would call friendly now." He lays it on thick, which is smart since he's about to betray Keller to Woodford. Turning the conversation back to the heist, Neal stresses how difficult a job it is so Woodford leads him to a van filled with heavy artillery. Yikes! They could take down a small country with such an arsenal. That's going to be a problem. Peter has problems of his own when he brings in LeSuit to talk. He surmises that the bug Woodford found was actually LeSuit's keeping track of Keller. Hmm, that's risky and frankly stupid. Peter gives a somewhat hypocritical speech about trusting his CI and tells him to pull Keller out before he gets hurt. He offers to share all credit for the collar and they debate which con artist is more trustworthy. LeSuit listens but I trust him less than Keller. No way he gives in so easily. Still an optimistic Peter shares the good news with Neal, celebrating right until Neal mentions the weapons. Peter: "How much fire power?" Neal: "Just short of nuclear." Then it’s mission cancelled. Peter can't risk all those airport employees. Neal argues that busting the Panthers now leaves them with no real proof. "The entire case would hinge on the testimony of two criminal informants." He counteroffers to sell Woodford on a better plan since the Panthers were never big on weapons in the past. Peter agrees provided Neal can deliver a gun-free choice and he approves it first. Neal calls them partners, but Peter challenges the term. "Let's just say good anklets make for good partners." Nice twist on Frost, there. Neal nods and speaks for the fans. "This has been more fun than a prison sentence has a right be." It has been a great ride. The two banter about control issues and fatherhood while I bask in the loveliness of this partnership, whether they call it one or not. Peter: "Hey partner, be careful out there." Awwww.

Meanwhile LeSuit tells Keller about the new plan, and he is way too nonchalant about it for me. He says he's good with going back to a Russian prison for a couple weeks if it means taking down the Panthers and earning his freedom. I call baloney. And then it comes. Keller questions Neal's sincerity and picks at LeSuit's confidence. Keller: "I mean technically I'm still your prisoner and you're my keeper, right? And you and I, we were never partners but your success, Luc, is my success. If it goes south for you, it goes south for me. Caffrey, he has a way of making everything go south for everybody except him." He does have a point. Neal usually skates free while everyone else pays the consequences. Just think of poor Peter in the evidence warehouse last season. Keller: "You want the outcome of this operation to rest of Caffrey's slippery shoulders?" LeSuit smartly calls Keller on trying to manipulate him, which Keller is no matter how much he protests to the contrary. Significantly spooked, LeSuit rethinks his alliance with Peter and decides to tail Neal himself. I love the dichotomy of these two scenes. While I combined Peter and Neal's conversation and LeSuit and Keller's into two separate events to make the recap clearer, the show switches back and forth between them to show how differently these interactions really are. Just like Keller is a foil to Neal, his dealings with LeSuit are a foil to Neal and Peter's. There's no history between Keller and LeSuit and therefore no allegiance except for how it mutually benefits them. While Peter and Neal may not fully trust each other, they do have each other's backs as they have proved over and over again. They've been through fire together and it shows, cementing them into a true team despite the circumstances.

Neal and Mozzie also make a good team. Neal comes home to find Mozzie playing with a circuit board of multicolored lights. Moz: "Come, admire ingenuity in its most rudimentary form." They banter about disco and I agree with Moz - disco sucks and he's a genius. Over the last 36 hours, he figured out the randomizer. The red lights on the circuit board are airports and green are for airline carriers. Neal: "And the white, just to give it the full Christmas effect." Ha! Mozzie suggests that they are airport warehouses where money is stored before the Feds can deliver it to a vault. Say what? I'd think it would be the Fed's #1 priority, but what do I know about billions in cash? I live on a teacher's salary. With all the clues Moz is dropping, Neal finally connects the heist with the European Central Bank and now he's caught up. It's the big score. Mozzie exposits for those not listening last week and demonstrates how the randomizer works. Neal: "I love the light show, Moz, but we already knew what the algorithm did." Oh yea of little faith. Mozzie has unrandomized the randomizer. He can tell the algorithm what city, airline, and warehouse to send the money to. The man is genius. Neal's so excited he kisses Mozzie's head. "You are a truly talented man." That's an understatement. Moz: "Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see." He quotes German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, but it is apropos to the situation. Neal realizes that this can get Woodford to change the plan and Moz wants to go with him but Neal says no. Ouch, this is gonna hurt. Neal says it's too risky but Moz is adamant about watching Neal's back. Moz: "You know this hasn't always been about you protecting me." Neal gives lip service to it but still wants him in the dark. He talks about the right timing but there's no way he's risking his best friend. Sadly, by trying to protect him, Neal may lose Mozzie's trust.

He excuses himself to tell Peter the news, but meets a random woman in secret instead. Uh oh. LeSuit photographs Neal handing her an envelope and brings it to Peter. It's all very shifty, but I'll bet it's not what it seems like. LeSuit: "Our inside man has outside business." Peter tries to play it off as another case, but he doesn't have a good poker face and LeSuit calls him on it. Peter: "No, it's not about being right. It's about bringing down the Panthers." LeSuit asks if Peter trusts Neal and he confirms that he does. LeSuit: "That will be your undoing, not mine." Over Peter's vehement protests, he calls off the plan to expose Keller and walks out. Peter tells Jones to find out who the woman is and heads to Neal's for a surprise inspection only to find Mozzie there alone. Realizing that Neal's been lying to them both makes them very uneasy. As for Neal, he convinces Woodford to go old school via flattery about past heists. It's amazing how well this works on a hardened criminal. Neal waxes poetic about the Panthers' glory days and how it inspired him to up his own con game, but Woodford counters that with so little time to prepare they have to resort to guns. Neal shares the good news. Alas, Woodford is skeptical so Neal oozes on the charm like butter in a Paula Dean recipe. Success! Neal: "The means should always justify the end." Woodford: "Alright, let's create a work of art." Neal: "We'll be the talk of thieves around the globe." Being the penultimate episode, things can't be that easy. LeSuit officially reinstates Keller to his delight. Another successful plan, although this one is likely to benefit Keller more than Neal and Peter. Keller's first order of business: find Woodford a mole.

Back at Neal's place, Peter and Mozzie await Neal's return. Neal: "You two have been spending an awful lot of time together. I fear bonding." Mozzie protests to my delight. Peter though has no time for chitchat. He wants answers now, but Neal counters that Peter is withholding info too. They both agree to share. Moz: "This is going to require much more liquor." Bwah! On the same page about the money target, Peter still wants to know what Neal's been doing so Moz jumps in with the randomizer secret and Neal brings up his meeting with Woodford. Neal suggests they all work together on a new plan to pitch him. "We'll make it good for Woodford. You make it better for the FBI." Peter: "You want me to help you plan a new heist?" Yep, that's the gist of it. Neal: "Our best and final." I'm all for teamwork, but I have no illusions about this being Neal's last plan. He's a con at heart. Also teamwork goes better in theory than practice, as they keep finding faults in each others' plans. Moz: "Problems or opportunities? He'd be a terrible con." Ha, I guess we can scratch that from Peter's potential career list if things go sour. After 2 hours of brainstorming, Peter sums it up nicely: "This is harder than I thought." Ha! Luckily Moz has a spark of inspiration. He suggests they go underground and Peter piggybacks on it to suggest pneumatic tubes just like banks. Maybe he does have a life in crime after all. Brilliant! He takes the plan to Diana and Jones to exposit. Basically the post office used tubes to link branches all over the city. Coincidentally one of the tubes leads to an old warehouse. Score! Neal: "Peter, you've missed your true calling." Peter: "Oh there's still time." Ha! Only one small hitch, very few things still work from the 1920's so Neal must get everything operating well.

Enter a Mozzie and Neal role playing con. I adore those. Mozzie not so much. "Oh I'm under strict doctor's orders to avoid all manual labor. I'm hernia prone. Sledgehammers are abhorrent to a man of my finesse. These hands have never known a blister." Ha! Apparently he only wanted to come when he thought it was his ticket into meeting the Panthers. Neal is far more cautious, wanting to verify the tubes' existence before bringing in killers. Smart thinking. Moz's tune changes quickly when they find out a yoga class meets in the building now and suddenly he's gung ho for manual labor. As Neal talks to the owner, Mozzie leads the women in yoga to her chagrin. Yes, it is as funny as it sounds. They break enough of the wall open to confirm the tubes are still in place, before kicking the women out with the threat of asbestos. This plan is going swimmingly so far….well, maybe not for Mozzie. Neal kicks him to the curb again before the Panthers get there. I choose to believe that Neal is both trying to protect Mozzie and keep him from discovering Neal's plan to disappear afterwards. Anything less will be disappointing. Meanwhile Woodford is only slightly happier than Moz. Although he's delighted about the pneumatic tubes idea, he's less so about Neal bringing in another person again. Sometimes I fear Neal will be shot again before thes series ends. The car feature product placement however will continue forever. Before Woodford takes off, Neal questions him about the mole to stir up doubts. He mentions Keller's absence but backs off when Woodford asks about it. Neal: "Keller's not a man of stealth or subtlety. He's no more a mole than I am." I'm not sure what game Neal is playing here.

Aubrey, Woodford's right hand man, is not so happy either. As Woodford leaves, he calls Neal to face the other conspirators about changing the plan and cozying up to the boss. Aubrey: "Nothing's wrong with the old plan." Neal: "Except death. Guns mean body bags for them and us. Now I'm willing to die for the gang but I prefer not to." Good point. They accuse Neal of being a mole, citing Boots' disappearance. Neal counters that a mole would not attract attention but I'm not sure that's true and neither are they. Neal: "Okay so I placed a bug in a secret hideout before I was a member. Wow, I'm even better than I think I am." Someday Neal's smart mouth will get him in trouble, possibly today as Aubrey pulls out a gun, forcing Neal to fast talk some more. Considering that the co-conspirators are all running from the law and Interpol, Neal points out that each of them have a better motive and opportunity for betrayal than he does, but again that logic seems shaky at best. Still it works and after complimenting each of them on their superior skills, they continue working on the compressor. Back at the office, Peter works on some potato chips. Huh? It's bizarre to see Peter stress eating and Diana calls him on his pre-sonogram jitters. Diana: "You think you're worried now, wait until you see the heartbeat." Peter: "It gets worse?" Diana: "It gets real. Being a parent, worry's a constant companion for life." She reassures him that there's nothing better than parenthood before Jones interrupts to say the photo of Neal was taken near the docks. I guess they couldn't just ask Luc, given that Peter pretended it was on the up and up, but still it seems like a waste of time when a major operation is proceeding. Still they have cause to worry. Peter: "Neal was spotted there this morning." Diana: "Doing what?" Peter: "Well that's the half billion dollar question." Speaking of, Neal calls Peter to explain that Keller is missing and they need to find him. Peter: "If he's in trouble, you're in trouble." Neal: "He'd have no problem saving his own life at my expense." Very true.

Peter puts Diana on LeSuit patrol since he is not answering his phone. Woodford, however, has no problem finding Keller who arranged a private meeting. Woodford: "No lookouts, no security. If this is a trap, I deserve to step in it." Keller says it isn't a trap but Woodford doesn't take his unexpected absence lightly until Keller claims to have proof of who the mole is. Apparently Woodford buys it because he interrupts the crew's celebration after having successfully gotten the tubes to work again. Just as Neal flashes an old air mail envelope that now flies through, Woodford calls Aubrey and demands an emergency meeting with them all. Uh oh. This can't be good. Meanwhile Peter and Jones chat about Neal working for them at the storage place in the picture. I'm not sure talking about it in the open is a good idea even if the place looks deserted. What if it was a Panther hideout? Jones turns the conversation to the sonogram but Peter still has an hour. Peter: "You want to be a dad?" Jones: "Oh I can't wait. In terms of choosing wives, I'm being extra picky. I want my kids to have the kind of mom I had." Aww, Mama Jones was a strict but loving high school math teacher. I like getting more back story on Jones even this late in the game. Jones: "You know my life has been guided by the fear of my mother's disapproval." Haven't we all? Jones feels bad for Baby Burke though, given that Peter and El will be hard to live up to as the most perfect TV couple ever. He has a point but no fear, Peter has the solution. "We'll have to set a poor example. Take the pressure off." Ha! You two wouldn't know how if you tried. The jovial mood is broken when Diana calls, stymied by LeSuit's disappearance. She followed the cell tracker but he's nowhere to be seen. Jones calls his phone and voila, LeSuit is dead in the dumpster. Did anyone expect less? I would say I'm sorry for LeSuit but I can only muster up meh. I liked his nickname better than him.

I, like Peter, am more concerned about Neal and what LeSuit's death could mean for him. The whole gang meets up in the usual abandoned building in time for some Keller snark: "What happened Caff? GQ kick you off the cover?" Bwah! He may be the only person complaining about a sweaty Neal in a wife beater for much of the episode. Neal shows Woodford the 1950's airmail but Woodford has more pressing issues and pulls out a gun. "I've got a mole to exterminate. Thanks to Keller we're about to find out who it is. He's here, standing amongst us and this device is going to point him out." He takes out LeSuit's tracker and I sigh with relief because Neal isn't tagged so when Woodford scans him nothing happens. He continues to scan each member until the tracker goes off with Aubrey, who protests vehemently. A stunned Neal watches as Woodford murders Aubrey in front of them and then demands Neal step up the plan, leaving Keller and Neal alone for one intense whispered discussion. Keller dug out the tracker in his arm to plant on Aubrey. Neal: "You just got someone killed." Keller: "Yeah I'm willing to kill and I saved the whole operation in the process." Neal: "How did Woodford get Luc's tracker?" Keller: "Ask Woodford." Neal: "Luc is dead." Keller: "I can't see him just handing it over." Neal: "You gave him up." Well duh. Of course he did. Keller: "Does it matter? I'm not gonna cry over a dead cop. Besides, I like your plan. It's going to make us all rich." The depths of Keller's callousness no longer surprises me but it does make him chilling and the plan less stable. Neal: "What plan? When Peter finds out about Luc, Interpol is the first call he's going to make. A United Nations of cops will sweep down on Manhattan." Keller: "Then Burke is going to have to convince them to hold back for the good of the mission otherwise Luc, he died for nothing." Sad to say but he is right and Neal knows it.

Peter agrees. While he smoothes it over with Interpol and convinces them to wait on the plan, Diana, Jones, and Neal talk about the lack of evidence at the crime scene. There's no tie to Woodford, DNA or otherwise, so an arrest warrant is out. Diana suggests getting him for Aubrey's murder instead but Neal quickly nixes that. Neal: "Yeah, subpoena us. Four will swear they didn't see anything and I'll be face down in a garbage barge bound for South Carolina." Jones: "Wow, that's where New York's garbage goes?" Neal: "One of several places. I don't want my body ending up at any of them." Neither do we, Neal. Peter rejoins them only to get a text message from El telling him to check his e-mail. For some reason Peter has to do that on his desktop instead of his phone. Hmm, perhaps they no phone company would pay for product placement. Either way, it all spells trouble for Peter when a sonogram of his baby's heartbeat comes up. He missed it and El is ticked. Not to mention, he obviously waited until evening to come home instead of racing right over. Big, big mistake, sir. El doesn't even let him apologize before demanding he sit. She understands about LeSuit's death but Peter didn't even to call so she could reschedule the sonogram. "Let me make this clear. I am not going to raise our child as a married single mother." Peter: "No, never." El: "And he is going to be the first priority in this family." Peter: "He will. He…well wait, he? It's a boy?" El: "And he's perfect." Peter is stunned and thrilled and sorry all at once. Peter: "I really need to kiss you right now." Awww, have I said lately how much I adore these two.

Over at Neal's, things are about to get equally tense. Moz set up the override for the randomizer and tells Neal how to work it, assuring Neal that yes, it really will work. After all, Moz is a genius. Neal: "You're amazing, Moz. I mean none of this would be possible without you." Very true and that's precisely why Moz wants in with the Panthers. Quite frankly this argument is getting old so I wish Neal would just come clean about what he's up to even if it is to protect Moz. After all, they always work better as a team. Neal disagrees. "Woodford just killed his most trusted man. Keller could have stuck that chip on you." Moz: "Or you. Neal, since we've met we've always been watching out for each other so why not now?" In a stunningly hypocritical speech Neal implores Mozzie to trust him. Moz: "I always have, but lately…" Neal: "No, trust doesn't have a time limit." Um Neal honey, trust is earned and who are you to preach on THIS subject. Moz: "You've been lying to me, holding back information which is worse." Neal: "I have my reasons." Seriously? You might as well have said, "because I said so." Mozzie is not your child and you have no right to treat him as such. I don't blame Moz for calling him on it. "What is this? Why are you not telling me? Are you helping the FBI or are you taking the money?" Duhn, duhn, duhn. Yeah no, I don't buy that explanation. It's too new USA Network and they're cancelling this show because it is more old school. Neal: "Just be patience for a little longer, okay?" Moz: "This is all going down now. You said you had a bigger plan. Where the hell do I fit in?" It better be right at Neal's side, Jeff Eastin. Fair warning. Instead of answering, it's one quick cut to Neal enjoying a beer with Peter. Beer and Neal always seems incongruous to me. They talk about the sonogram until Neal suggests Peter join the con as a replacement for Aubrey. Oh Mozzie is NOT going to like this.

The next day as the thieves plan, Neal brings up the personnel shortage and informs Woodford that he has a replacement. Not a particularly smart idea given that Woodford has control issues. As Peter walks in, everyone grabs a gun except Keller and Neal. Keller: "Well look who we have here." Keller confirms that he knows Peter and Neal says the stamp job was Peter's audition. He throws in that the tubes were Peter's idea to sweeten the pot but it doesn't overcome the fact that Woodford hasn't vetted him. Woodford: "I'll decide who auditions, Mr. Caffrey. Now who the hell are you?" The screen fades to black as Woodford puts a gun to Peter's head. As we head into the series finale, things are heating up. Neal and Peter are undercover with Keller. Woodford trusts Neal with his bright, shiny, new plan. We're at least 2 bodies fewer than we were before. Still I have no idea where this is going. Neal obviously has a plan that pretty much has to end with his fake death. If this is what he is trying to keep Mozzie from knowing, then I understand the distance he's creating between them. I just don't like it one bit. Moz and Neal are as much a foundation of the show as Peter and Neal are. I don't like when they have hurt feelings between them, especially when there is only one episode left. Here's hoping that Neal siphons off some of that cash to Mozzie and they reunite on some island they just bought and fortified. The idea of Neal being all alone in the end leaves me cold. Still no matter what happens, the finale is going to be the highlight of my TV week. Please make it a good one, Eastin.

Grade: A-

Best Reason to Watch - it's the penultimate episode and everything is in motion
Best Scene - Mozzie explains that he can control the randomizer to an excited Neal
Most Fun - Mozzie gets in touch with his inner yoga
Biggest Oops - Peter misses his child's first sonogram and El is ticked
Most Paranoid Papa - Peter researches obstetricians complete with background checks
Most Intense - Woodford uses a tracking device to scan for the mole
Weirdest Sight - Peter stress eating
Least Surprising - Woodford wants Neal to find out who the mole is
The "Hardly Knew Ya" Award - LeSuit dies and I feel meh about it
The "Yeah No, I Can't Suspend that Much Belief" Award - I don't even buy that the smartest gang of criminals in the world don't know Neal is working for the FBI. There's no way I buy that they don't know the head FBI guy in the city where they are working. That's all kinds of shoddy.
Worst Partnership - Peter is now in control of Keller too. Like that's going to end well for anyone.
The "You Learn Something New…" Award - a group of moles is called a labor
The "Shhh, It's a Secret" Award - Peter and Jones are poking around warehouse storage just jabbering away about Neal being an informant in with the Panthers. Seriously guys, this is how people get killed.
Best Couple - Peter and El
Biggest Genius Award - Mozzie for the way he breaks the randomizer in 30 hours
Best Manipulator - Keller, who gets LeSuit back on board to stay in the game himself and then betrays him
The "I Have to Agree" Award - I too was a child in the 70's and yes, disco sucked
Worst Liar - Peter in trying to convince LeSuit that the pictures he took of Neal handing an envelope off was official FBI work
Best Quotes -
1. Moz: "You know this hasn't always been about you protecting me."
2. Neal: "You two have been spending an awful lot of time together. I fear bonding."
3. Keller: "What happened Caff? GQ kick you off the cover?"
4. Moz: "And now that the Panthers are down a mole, it's the perfect time…" Neal: "No, no. Woodford just killed his most trusted man. Keller could have stuck that chip on you." Moz: "Or you. Neal, since we've met we've always been watching out for each other so why not now?"
5. Neal: "Yeah, subpoena us. Four will swear they didn't see anything and I'll be face down in a garbage barge bound for South Carolina." Jones: "Wow, that's where New York's garbage goes?" Neal: "One of several places. I don't want my body ended up at any of them."
6. Moz: "This is going to require much more liquor."

Screencaps by

About the Author - Dahne
One part teacher librarian - one part avid TV fan, Dahne is a contributing writer for SpoilerTV, where she recaps, reviews, and creates polls for Sleepy Hollow, White Collar, Grimm, Teen Wolf, and others. She's addicted to Twitter, live tweets a multitude of shows each week, and co-hosts the Sleepy Hollow "Headless" and Teen Wolf "Welcome to Beacon Hills" podcasts for Southgate Media Group. Currently she writes a Last Week in TV column for her blog and SpoilerTV. ~ "I speak TV."
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