White Collar: Everybody Loves Neal

White Collar S03E16: "Judgment Day"

On paper, the premise of White Collar is this: An extremely talented thief and con artist gets caught and must assist the FBI in bringing down other criminals. But in practice, it's more like this: Everybody on earth falls in love with the same guy. Seriously, it's become a bit of a running joke that basically everyone Neal encounters ends up developing a huge friendship crush on him (if not more than that). Heck, this week it became clear that even Neal's primary enemy, Agent Kramer, deep down just wants to spend more time with Neal. That is definitely the most plausible motivation for a villain on White Collar, to be honest. Wanting to hang out with Neal is kind of the reason we all WATCH this show, right?

Fortunately White Collar is a deceptively clever (and deep!) show, so that running gag turned into a bit of a tragedy in "Judgment Day," which was a pretty killer, game-changing season finale. The latter half of the season had been building up to Neal's commutation hearing, and throughout the episode we saw various co-workers and friends (including Elizabeth!) testify before a panel about Neal's character and whether or not he deserved to have his freedom back. Many of them testified in earnest—Sara, June, Elizabeth, and ultimately Peter all enthusiastically backed Neal's commutation while Jones did not (though only out of deep respect for the justice system). June's speech was particularly moving, as she uncharacteristically emoted about how she wished her husband was still alive so that he could've met her surrogate son Neal. It was a touching scene, but only moments later she bragged to Mozzie that she "nailed it." Probably White Collar's best recurring theme is that any lie is a white lie so long as the teller of that lie is awesome. This show glorifies lying more than anything I've ever seen—it's like liar porn, basically—so even a manipulative display of fiction by June still comes off as touching. That's how cool she is.

Quick question: Which bakery does Elizabeth shop at? This was some Cake Boss type stuff.

The main heist element of "Judgment Day" called back to a lot of past plot threads, specifically the missing Raphael painting and Neal's coded prison letters (which gave the address of the painting's location!). After Neal learned that Kramer intended to dredge up details of this crime by subpoenaing Sara, she covered for him by claiming she had the Raphael in her possession. This meant Neal had to venture outside his ankle-mandated radius in order to retrieve the painting before Kramer could charge her with obstruction of justice.

After hopping a gondola to Roosevelt Island, Neal arrived at a mysterious older woman's apartment and we learned more about Neal's past than ever before. Apparently his detective father (who is still alive) was once a good man who nonetheless turned "evil." Uh-oh! Looks like White Collar's new big theme is whether Neal will arrive at the same crossroads as his father. It's unclear how it transpired that this woman came to raise Neal, but he hadn't seen her in years, at least not since he stashed a certain priceless, rolled-up canvas at her joint. (Which, incidentally, Neal's ex, Kate, opted not to take). But even though we didn't have all the details of their relationships, the scene still felt emotional and real. But that was beside the point: How ridiculous was the view from her balcony?

Upon Neal's exit from the building, Peter intercepted him and they shared a gondola back to Manhattan. That's when Peter's "inside man" Diana tipped him off that Kramer and the NYPD were waiting on the other end and Neal decided to jump onto a gondola traveling in the opposite direction! Typical Neal. I think this was supposed to be a thrilling moment, but the green screen was so hilariously bad that it ended up just looking charming. Aw, White Collar. Just stick to billiards.

The endgame had to do with Neal racing back to return the Raphael to Sara, but Kramer stayed one step ahead and intercepted him in the lobby. His ultimate goal of nailing Neal for additional crimes, extending his sentence, then transferring Neal to Washington D.C. seemed to be coming to fruition. Fortunately Peter and Sara conspired to have her wealthy boss secretly purchase the Raphael and then claim that Neal had merely been hired to authenticate it. Arrest avoided! Or had it been? Later on, just before Peter was to testify on Neal's behalf, he learned that Kramer still intended to throw the book at Neal for the gondola incident and it looked very likely that Neal would not only not get his sentence commuted, he'd probably also be whisked away to a much worse city. So in one of White Collar's best moments yet, Peter connected eyes with Neal from across the street and sent an unspoken signal: "Run."

As Peter testified before the panel, we saw Neal hurriedly pack his things, cut off his ankle bracelet, and hop a plane with Mozzie to Hawaii, where Mozzie had stashed a sizable amount of the U-Boat treasure. Peter's panel testimony was interrupted with the news that Neal had broken his anklet. We never learned what their verdict would have been or what would happen to Neal and Peter's friendship. But the power of the cliffhanger didn't have to do with the question of how Neal's legal troubles would continue; it had way more to do with that subtle smile on Neal's face as the plane carried him away. Was he, deep down, thrilled to be back in the game? Had he conned all his friends after all? Heavy stuff!

I've joked to people that White Collar only pretends to be a serialized drama when it's more just a fun hour of television anyone can jump in on. But this season finale proved that White Collar has a lot more going on beneath the surface and its willingness to shake up its premise to this extent is one reason why it's one of the most underrated shows on TV. Who knows what'll happen when Season 4 premieres this summer (aside from hopefully tons of scenes of the cast chillin' in their swimwear in Hawaii), but I have a feeling this episode's emotional repercussions will be felt for a long time.

And in conclusion...


QUESTIONS:

... Were you shocked that Agent Kramer was such a jerk?

... Did you like when Sara seemed downright impressed that Neal stole the Raphael?

... Didn't those two cakes look so good?

... Do you think Neal will ever work for the FBI again?

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It took me a full week to process just how epically awesome and amazing that season finale was. I just love USA shows. They are quite siimply some of the best shows on cable television. There were so many moments that probably should have been cheesy and/or campy in this episode as per usual for this show but it never really is. I cast my usual drooling over Neal/Matt Bomer aside and was so invested and engaged in the episode from beginning to end and ....I am a complete sucker for family and just human connections and interactions. June, Elizabeth, Mozzie,Diana, Peter...etc they are all Neal's family or have become his family in some shape or fashion and it came to a head in this episode while also hinting at his real family background. Every season they focus on something. I'm assuming come summer it'll be the quest to learn more about Neal's family background, and they've paced it quite nicely.



There were so many fantastic moments. When El had the cakes and was speaking so highly of Neal during the meeting. Loved it. Loved her. She's by far my favorite cop wife on tv because she isn't one of those whiny types who nags her husband about never being home, she's a strong, independent, smart woman who can hold her own and has helped them in many ways. I've always loved her special relationship with Neal. If Peter and El are Neal's pseudo parents, she's the supportive mom. She's always in Neal's corner and giving him the benefit of the doubt and her relationship with Mozzie is equally as fascinating and fun. Another great moment was June's. I swear we don't see that woman nearly enough, and though she implied that she was essentially laying on the charm and putting on a performance I have no doubt that her words and feelings that Neal is her son and that she's proud of him and wishes that Byron got to meet him are true. I loved Jones speech as well, as essentially he made a valid point. If it weren't for Kramer's scheming this would have been a win-win situation. But when Peter gave Neal the nonverbal okay to make a break for it I was undone! Loved it!
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Season 4 will start in a location outside USA. So it's not Hawaii, most definitely.
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I've heard rumours its a location in the caribean and that season 4 will have alot to dot with his family
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I douth Neal and Mozzie went to Hawaii since Hawii is part of the US and a small set of islands. Mozzie hide the treasure "over seas". Try the other direction, another country (most likily one that will not ship them back to the US if asked).

--No he's been an a--hole from the start.

--Sara wasn't impressed Neal stole the Raphael, she already knew that. She was impressed she was so close to finding it.

--Very good. I liked the one with the cat better. More complacited than making a bunch of daisies and shoveing them on a cake.

--I have hope, but I can't see how to get him back in that looks real. So no.

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1. Kramer was doing his job. Analyse the situation from Kramer's perspective and not from Neal/Peter's.



2. Sara was more happy that she finally managed to get her hands on the painting which she is been after for so long and her leads were on the right track. Finally, Neal was also not going to get framed.



3. Elizabeth is the head of a catering business. She is expected to come up with such innovative cats and anklets ;)



4. Neal will work incognito and assist Peter outside the FBI's framework as the next time he gets caught officially, it means jail for a long time as he cut the anklet and ran.
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Mostly correct about Kramer. He was doing his job: Neal committed many crimes in the past so it's not like he's making it up.



What rubs me the wrong way is the REASON for it... he wants to get Neal on as many crimes as possible so he can keep him as an Indentured Servant until whenever he wants.



Reminds me of Shawshank... the warden didn't care about guilt or innocence he just wanted the main character to be his slave.



Meanwhile, if jail is supposed to be about rehabilitation and not punishment (as many suggest) then wouldn't turning someone into an outstanding citizen in 4 years that WANTS to help the FBI better than imprisoning him for 40 years and FORCING him to work for the FBI?
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I totally agree. Kramer is devious and only wants what best for Kramer (Neal solving his crimes for him). The part about the indentured servant / slave bothered me also. What arrogance!!



--she was happy that she had been so close to finding it



--the cakes were very cool!



--I believe that Neil's smile was more fake. He was trying to convince himself that this is what he really wants....not so. I also thought that he looked like he was tearing up. He really wanted to stay in New York and he's leaving his best friend behind and can't ever come back.



I can't wait for the summer. LOVE this show!!
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Is it just me or did it look like Neal was tearing up a little bit on the plane?
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Great episode. White Collar is such a witty show and engaging, charming, tragic and funny.

I thought the finale as it should have been. The characters are constantly developing, the stories are exciting, the acting is spot on and the best part for me the writing is brilliant. Also, New YYork never ever looked so beautiful on tv.

My only complaint/concern is, although i like Hillary Burton since One Tree Hill AND think her charcter is great, i really would appreciate her gaining a few pounds. She is shokingly thin. So please Jeff Eastin take her aside put on a stern expression and hand her a dounut.
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cant believe this is the first time I've seen anyone mention how disturbingly frail and thin that girl looks. It cant possibly be healthy.
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Hhahaha I dont know why but the snapshots of Neal made me laugh, but so freakin true, he is the handsomest! (sure its a word) I mean a person cant physically be more handsome, impossibru.
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Love White Collar - it's clever, witty and has great scripts. As for the eye candy - whoa!!!

I don't like Sara and Neal together - there's no chemistry there.

I did like how Peter said at the hearing that Neal will be a criminal as long as he is treated like one. That's so true - this show has a lot of insight into human behaviour.

I'm sure that we're going to meet Neal's father at some point - that should be interesting.
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Clever, witty, brilliant scripts & gorgeous eye candies of actors/actresses. What's not to LOVE about this show? Love Mozzie & June, they are gems!
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Maybe Kramer IS Neil's father.
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Ha, you would think Neil would know what his father looks like.....
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Actually, I am hoping there is more to Kramer's sudden jerkness than meets the eye... Perhaps there are other reasons to want to get Neal to Washington like some ominous big bad guy somehow connected to why the ladycop who raised Neal is in witness protection. It could be that Neal's dad is a really bad guy or that he is an undercover cop in a VERY long undercover operation and Kramer could be his handler or perhaps a corrupt cop? I just can't believe he's going to all these lengths just to hang out with Neal (let's get real) or to protect Peter from himself



In any case I can't wait for Season 4 - is there a date for the premiere yet?
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A lot of moral gray areas.



Kramer was trying to do a right thing for the wrong reason. Yes, Neil did commit a LOT of crimes and technically should serve a sentence for that. BUT Kramer was just doing it so he could pretty much have a slave working for him in DC for little pay. Very "Shawshank" if you ask me.



Some see jail as punishment, some see it as rehabilitation (hence Parole). If Neil's time in custody made him a solid person then is it really worth having him serve 30 years in jail?



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wow they really couldn't have ended this season any other way.... but SERIOUSLY?? i really wish Neil would have just waited it out, it could have all worked out for him in the end. Jones was right though-- Neil has the BEST CI position a con could ask for, and he just totally screwed it up
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Love the show and loved the finale. Nuff said!
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Wow you REALLY like Matt Bomer! Lol. I guess his eyes are interesting...
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1) Kramer's a jackass. But no, not surprised particularly....just surprised at how petty he was.

2) I love Sara and Neal, and I hope they do end up together. Any scene with the two of them sharing a moment is special to me. Especially when Hilarie Burton clearlyyy gushes all over Matt Bomer and his face everytime they share a scene. You can see her get short of breath everytime his magnificent teeth show up to brighten her world.

3) Yumm...cake.

4) White collar will make it work, because as Neal so clearly said this episode, no matter if he's in the game or not, all he's ever really wanted was a family, and the FBI are his family. I'm hoping the show primes Neal's dad to be the main series antagonist, and have Mr. Caffrey and Agent Kramer team up to become the series Big Bads. Looking forward to a good, nay, GREAT Season 4. At least I don't have to wait till next fall ;)
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1) No, Kramer's been working up to be a jerk for many episodes now - the signs have all been there.

2) Sara was more likely impressed/pleased that Neal didn't try to lie to her again.

3) Yes, cakes were awesome, especially the kitten's bracelet. (Wonder how she explained that one to the cake decorator?)

4) If Peter could cover for Neal with the Raphael, he can work Neal back into the FBI program, and possible provide cover for him removing the bracelet in the first place.



I don't think Neal was really smiling on the plane. I think it was Neal hiding how he feels again, and inside he's missing the life he thinks he's lost.
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I don't think Neil should have left.. I think that the FBI given the circumstances would think that Agent Crammer was p.o. and was trying to get back at Neil... He shouldn't have left and Peter shouldn't have told him to go.





The green screen was pretty bad.. I was thinking that while I was watching it.
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Great season finale. I truthfully didn't think Neal would run but like Peter said you box Neal in and he would run. I think next season is going to start off with Peter and co closing in on Neal, he will probably find him alone in a room like the last time he caught him. If Neal does work for the FBI again, he won't have the same type of deal like last time.
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Neal's look at the end was great. He had a bit of a sad face, then a bit of a smirky happy face. Oh, emotions, you crazy.



I really am a fan of the show, but I just HATE the green screens, particularly because they're poorly done, and done way too often.



I would love for season 4 to be Neal going around stealing stuff again, with Peter and the gang chasing him. Two problems with that though: 1) I expect Neal to work with the FBI again, and I don't know if he could if he becomes a legit fugitive again; and 2) I'm afraid that may result in MORE bad green screens.
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I'm sure next season Neal and Kramer will re-enact the scene:

Mozzie never told you what happened to your father... I'm your father!
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Haha liar porn it is! The finale was amazing so thrilling and unexpected I can't wait for next season and to find out more about Neal's parents!
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i just can't wait for next season, this last episode was amazing, and i LOVE neal, i mean who doesn't??
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You can see that he was on the verge of tears at the end. Matt Bomer is such a great actor. The range of emotions he went through in just under a minute was amazing. Neal did not want to leave NYC and he did not want to be on the run again. He said so in several episodes this season. Now Kramer has forced his hand. How will Peter get him back? We know he will it's just a question of time and good script writers :-)
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it was awesome
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this show is awesome,look forward any time its on ,hope they bring it back ,one of the best series on tv
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I agree with you Price. White Collar is just good television. It just entertains you and makes NYC look like something other than Bloomberg's little fiefdom. If only it were that clean. But I digress, Neal is the man. That is it, simple straight forward, The Man. You can't help but like the guy. No one can, unless that person has an agenda. Because come on, you can't have a soul and not like Neal. The show is what it is and it isn't trying to be anything more. It is just fun. It has it's moments of seriousness, of which I think we shall see more of in the next season. But ultimately it is just a fun romp of a show where you can tell the actors are having a good time.



As for the questions.



I am not shocked at Kramer. Kramer is in charge of Art Crimes in DC perhaps the whole FBI. If my suspicions are correct, he was/is the big bad that was behind Agent Fowler and the death of Kate. He however has been without a flunky for a season to help him gain his riches and is looking for someone new. By why get someone new when you have the original article in Neal. So transfer Neal to DC under his supervision and then you can dictate/ blackmail him into doing your bidding and stealing things for you that you are ultimately in charge of finding. And then it kind of wraps up that whole plot. Because it was left hanging. So I think it is that. Or he is just a giant Dbag.



I like Sara, she was an interesting and pleasant addition to the cast and her and Neal are good together.



Those cakes did look pretty good.



Neal will ultimately work for the FBI again because that is the show. Personally I would like to see a season where Peter is chasing Neal around the world as Neal is "stealing" things. Because that just would be cool.
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Loved Loved Loved this episode. All actors really opted their game, and it had just enough action/running through NYC to be existing and feel "finale-esque" without being too ridiculous.

- Not shocked at all! I actually thought maybe he would turn out being totally evil and corrupt - especially with the reference to Neal's dad (fun plot twist idea - Kramer was somehow tied up in Daddy Caffrey's shenanigans, and he thinks Neil knows something so he wants to keep him close by and/or get rid of him).

- I like the chemistry between Sara and Neal, but she needs to take some more acting classes during the hiatus, because Matt Bommer outshines her in every scene.

- The Yummy Cakes! You mention something about Elizabeth getting them at a bakery, but Peter clearly says "Elle's been baking" when Neal enters the house, and since she is an even planner, I wouldn't be surprised if dessert/pastry making was in her toolbox.

- I think Neal will somehow be an outside consultant, to help the FBI will criminals who are international fugitives; it would be fun to see them work in new locations!
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I think Neal will return, but only with the guarantee that Peter will be his handler again or that he is a free man. I think that what we saw at the end was the ghost of Neal's criminal mind resurfacing, but its like Peter said to Kramer and the hearing "Treat him as a criminal and he will think of himself as one." I feared that Kramer might become the jerk he was today when he first told Peter to safeguard his career and his emotions. I hope we get to see Kramer get screwed over by some little skeleton in his closet too, because its really unfair how he used misdemeanors to try to blackmail Neal. He deserves to be strung up and left to dry. I can't wait for season 4.
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