I’m getting nervous here. Not because I thought for a minute that Woodford was bad news for Neal after showing up in his apartment unbidden, with a gun. But because this is the penultimate episode of White Collar ever and I’m not sure enough forward momentum has taken place to set up the finale next week. That said, I’m glad I was right: Woodford isn’t a threat to Neal, even with that gun of his. I called it when I guessed that Woodford came to tell Neal that Neal’s the only one Woolford believes isn’t the mole in his gang. Neal’s a great conman, no question, but the more I see of Woodford, the more I have my doubts about him being the head of the legendary Pink Panthers. Well, Neal says he’ll play his part, but refuses to snitch, since he’s never been a rat and doesn’t plan to start. I’m feeling that this was true Neal here, not “mole” Neal talking. He has his standards and refuses to set them aside. I’m good with that.
Remember, Peter and the White Collar gang haven’t told Neal about the money due to be delivered to the Federal Reserve, only that they know the randomizing algorithm selects specific airports and flights in the US. But no worries, Neal figures it out fast when Woodford mentions half a million bucks in cash. And it ends up Mozzie, our little genius, has figured out – with one laptop and some blinking lights on a circuit board – how to override the algorithm so they can plug in whatever city and flight they choose for the currency to be delivered. Now, don’t get me wrong, Mozzie is super awesome, but if all it takes is one guy, a laptop and a circuit board to outsmart the algorithm, Atlas Tech has bigger issues with their security than we thought. And as Mozzie yet again begs Neal to introduce him to the Panthers, Neal yet again denies him, stressing that it’s because the Panthers mean business and he wants to keep Mozzie safe. Now, careful viewers know this is likely because Keller warned Neal that no matter how this comes out, if Neal and Peter bust the Panthers, they’ll come after everyone dear to Neal. (And also, Woodford is rather decisive with his targets and one wrong word from Mozzie could be his last.) So, although I totally get why Neal is keeping Mozzie at arm’s length with the Panthers, I can also see why Mozzie is so suspicious. If it was truly just for his safety, Neal wouldn’t be quite so circumspect with his other activities (poor Moz even directly asks Neal where he fits in with his BFF’s plans at this point). And the way Neal is emphasizing his concern and affection for Mozzie (the relief when Moz figured out how to override the algorithm, his extreme gratitude for the things Moz does for him, etc.) really makes me think we’re all right and the finale will be Neal faking his own death. We’ll see soon enough on that theory.
When Neal finds out that Woodford plans to go old school on this Fed heist and use guns – really big ones – Neal manages to convince him to use another plan. His. Neal, Peter and Mozzie have brainstormed that the best method of getting unseemly gobs of money out of JFK (where they’re going to have the algorithm reroute the cash) is via the old pneumatic tube system from the USPS. It’s such a classic White Collar solution, I, maybe, choked up a little.
Oh yeah, remember that empty cargo container Neal was clearly concerned about last episode? Apparently he’s paying off someone to… do something. Honest, we don’t know what yet, but since Luc was gullible enough to listen to Keller’s opinion that Neal only has his own interests in mind with any con, he followed Neal and took pictures. And yeah, this kind of unsettles Peter, but he does his best to cover for Neal. Sadly for Luc, he listened to Keller, which usually gets you in trouble or dead. And for Luc, it’s dead. Keller was savvy enough to dig out his RFID tracker and plant it on Woodford’s #1 man, but he knew Luc would never go for it, so he ratted him out to Woodford who killed him. Oh Keller, never change. This way we can love to hate you forever.
While Neal gets some too-close-for-comfort scrutiny from the other Panthers, he does notice that Keller’s not there. He doesn’t confirm or deny that this means Keller is the mole, but he’s got his hands full just getting the team to fix the old pneumatic tube machine. The gang is told to stop activities and meet with Woodford, who has, unbeknownst to them, met with Keller alone. Again, this being White Collar, I knew Keller didn’t sell Neal out, but I was surprised when Woodford pegged his #1 as the mole (thanks to Keller pocketing his RFID on #1 earlier) and shot him point blank. It surprised Neal, too. It certainly had the desired effect of reminding us that Woodford can be quite deadly and Neal is right to keep Mozzie away. But, the loss of #1 means they’re down a man. And again, White Collar-style, they bring in Peter undercover as a cohort of Neal’s. Woodford isn’t pleased at all that Neal invited someone else to the exclusive, invite only party. But, much like last week’s ending, this week’s has the illusion that Peter is in hot water, when we know Woodford will accept him into the gang soon enough anyway.
Last but not least, there’s Baby Burke to consider. El has an ultrasound planned (let’s not get into the issue of when she would have one, and, at her age, if she would have one) and Peter is adamant he’ll be there. Which means he isn’t, as he gets caught up in the case. He comes home to a fuming El who yet again puts her foot down and says she will not be a married single mother of their son. So, she makes Peter swear (she should have made him pinky swear, it’s stronger) he’ll be there for this kid. He latches onto the specifics that the child is a boy, and they both get teary eyed as they consider their futures as a family (and all the fans get teary eyed considering that there’s a more than good chance they’ll name the baby Neal). As much as I’m happy for them (and I am, really!) they never mentioned wanting kids in 5 seasons, so the retcon for season 6 makes it hard to take these assertions as genuine. But still, naming babies after a “dead” BFF/partner/ex-con is just one of the things we can look forward to in next week’s finale. I’ll bring the tissue if you bring the wine.
Catch the finale of White Collar on Thursday, Dec 18, at 9/8c on USA.