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?

Judgment Day Review

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

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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.