White Collar Season 3 Finale Review: Evasive Maneuvers

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The stolen Raphael, a death-defying jump, Agent Kramer on the war path, Peter, Mozzie and Sara’s attempts to protect him...

"Judgment Day" finally arrived for Neal Caffrey on White Collar. But, in the end, it seemed like his past caught up to him just in time.

White Collar Season Finale Pic

Everything that had been building up over the season unquestionably came to a head this episode. The cost of freedom seemed to be freedom itself for Neal. Let’s break down exactly what just happened:

In an unexpected twist of events, it was revealed that Kramer had come from the DC Art Crimes field office to New York because he had heard about Neal's commutation. The commutation opened a window for Kramer to find a reason why Neal should stay in the custody of the FBI; more specifically, if he could find something that proved there was something Neal was still hiding, it would give him the opportunity to become the Agent in charge of Neal, removing Peter from that position.

As a result, Kramer could then suggest that Neal's sentence be suspended indefinitely, or for as long as the sentence was related to the crime Kramer charged him with committing, all along in the service of the DC Art Crimes unit.

It would have been a brilliant plan if it wasn't so sinister.

In the end, then, it appeared that the only way for Neal to stay in New York was to run elsewhere. The Raphael cost him the limited freedom he had with Peter in favor a much shorter leash in the hands of Kramer in DC.

My theory is that the only way to counteract the retrieval of the Raphael was to run again and have Peter find him, thus restoring Peter completely back to the status of his handler.

Yet that also brings us back to another important question: Was Peter signalling to Neal that he needed to run? Or faking that he didn't support Neal commutation in order to induce him to run?

It seems like something evil to have Peter suddenly do something so sneaky. Then again, it Peter has been moving more and more towards bending the rules over the course of the season, wouldn't you agree?

I think part of the problem is that I can't read their faces. I don't know if Neal's smile at the end was one of being free and on a plane to some exotic destination, or of having found a way to foil Kramer. Nor do I know whether or not Peter's solemn face at the news of Neal's anklet being cut was Peter concealing his gratefulness that Neal had gotten his imperceptible message... or disappointment that he was gone.

Perhaps another watch is in order (I have no problem seeing it for the third time!).

Beyond the explosive plot relating to Kramer, we also got an in-depth but all too brief look into something else about Neal's past: Ellen Parker.

I never recall Neal ever mentioning her before, and it seems she's someone that not even Mozzie knows about. She's even in witness protection, which almost makes me want to know more about her. We learned a lot about Neal's past in their brief conversation. His father really was a dirty cop, and Neal himself had dreams of joining the academy. It's amazing where life will take you, especially where it took Neal.

The real question is: where will life take him now?

Some other moments from the episode that had me thinking (or freaking out):

  • Neal's epic trolley jump.
  • Jones actually opting for Caffrey to stay on the anklet for the remainder of his sentence
  • June's epic testimony. Well played, Mrs. Ellington, well played.
  • Diana getting her ATV on in that Ford.

Congratulations to Jeff Eastin and company for a wonderful third season and their trademark cliffhanger finale that always leaves fans speculating endlessly! Can't wait to see what you'll come up with in season four!

Where do you think that plane was headed? Are you as depressed as I am that the wait to find out is so long?


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (761 Votes)

C. Charles is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.


just cant wait for season 4 to be aired


I love the final scene aboard the aircraft. If you find Neal's face hard to read, watch it again paying particular attention to his deep inhalation, rapid succession of shallows, jaw clenching (very noticeable when he looks out the window), and rapid eye movement and blinking. It's as though he is attempting to cover up his real emotion, yet his distress is breaking through. Great acting!


I just watched this season finale and i totally agree with you all about this being one of the best shows ever. However I may read Peter and Neal's faces differently. To me, Peter face was just worried/sad because Neal had been pushed to run (he had no other option since it was made clear that Kramer had something else he was not telling against him) when he was so close to that much deserved freedom. Neal's face seems to me the kind of expression someone has when he feels like crying but tries to compose himself for the occasion, thinking of everything he just lost because he was forced to disappear. My goodness, next season cannot come soon enough!!


My only worry is that this last plot twist may have pushed it too far....
i hope that the writers have a way to bring the sotry together a place thier going to with this twist... That only a minor worry, i doubt the people who wrote a series as amazing White Collar, would make such a huge plot twist without knowing where it was going, before hand...... i found myself, standing in the middle of my room screaming THIS IS THE BEST SHOW EVER during the season finale and i hope this is just the beggining


@Derek, Neal didn't really have a choice, Kramer was close to figuring out the address where the painting was and just as fast as Peter did when he got there, Kramer would have figured out which apartment it was located at. The only hope Neal had was to distract him by having Sara report the painting already in custody. My 2 cents anyway.


One last observation - Peter is going to be P%SSED if he ever finds out Mozzie "saved" some of that treasure. There is no way he could *not* arrest them if they begin living off of it and it's traced back to them.


@Derek - Neal has an appreciation of fine art, and he's an artist. He wouldn't destroy a treasure like that even if it meant going back to jail. In fact, that's what he did. It's more than $$$. It's a friggin' Raphael! Kramer is waaaay to embittered for it to all be about Neal. He hardly knows him. Maybe Neal's dad is Kramer's ex-CI. Could be about Neal's mom, too.


Ellen (Neal's dad's ex-partner) is in Witness Protection, and hasn't seen Neal for 15 years, or his father and mother. She called him Neal, but she would know his real name since he ran away at 18 after she told him that his father was alive and a dirty cop. Peter can contact Ellen and find out Neal's father's name and research what really happened. I almost think that Neal's father may have been working deep undercover and Ellen didn't know it at the time. However, since Neal's mother lied and told him that his father died a hero when Neal was two years old, that seems too long a time for an undercover assignment to be going on. It will be interesting to find out also why is Ellen in Witness Protection, which Neal is aware of. Season 4 should be great!


Neal Caffrey is using the name Victor L. Moreau on his newest passport. The only one, other than Mozzie, who knows that is Sara. So I think Peter will get suspended, find out from Sara the name that Neal is using, and go after him to try to straighten out things. Then Neal can explain his childhood secrets and family matters, and Neal and Peter will work it out together how to stop Kramer and how to come back to NY to work.


About if Peter gave Neal a nod to flee in the show, Jeff Eastin confirmed yes he did. And reviewing what Peter was saying in his statement "as long as he's on that anklet we will never know... I'M SAYING NEAL SHOULD BE FREE." Peter didn't say he thought Neal deserves the commutation... Instead, he said "free"... hmmmm... maybe the last facial expression still shows Peter was somehow in shock... but I guess he's got the idea right away. Why Neal cut his anklet, where would Neal run to, how did he manage to do that.... Peter is the person knows Neal the best. He'd have figured the whole thing out...

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White Collar Season 3 Episode 16 Quotes

Mozzie: Where are you going?
Neal: To open a door I didn't want to have to open.

Whether there's an anklet or not, come Monday morning I'm gonna be stepping off that elevator on the 21st floor to go to work.