Episode Title: 'Scott Free'
Writer: Joe Henderson
Director: Tricia Brock
Peter (Tim DeKay) interrupts Neal (Matt Bomer) and Sara's (Hilarie Burton) morning-after breakfast to fill him in on a new case. Peter tells Neal they may have found the next "Neal Caffrey" as the two make their way inside the culprit's apartment building, where Berrigan (Marsha Thomason) is stationed with a raid team. They break into his loft only to find the thief already gone.
Mozzie (Willie Garson) stops by Neal's to sell him on the idea of setting up permanent identities that the FBI can't trace. Neal is hesitant at first but agrees to see what Moz can come up with. Back at the FBI field office, Peter briefs the team on Scott Rivers (Hutch Dano), the young forger the team has been after. Rivers steals from the rich and then donates to a charity in their name.
With some help from Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen), Neal and Peter identify the owner of an expensive motorcycle as a possible target for Rivers. Neal corners the thief at a party but he makes off with the bike after Neal rushes over to stop a woman from poisoning his drink. The team takes her in for questioning and learns that she was tasked with killing Rivers, after he unwittingly stole diamonds from a wealthy collector named Carlisle (Dana Ashbrook), who originally stole them, himself.
Mozzie informs Neal that Rivers is actually looking for him, while the two meet with Mozzie's man to pick up their new identities. Peter learns that he'll be living as Victor Moreau, the same last name as his lost love, Kate. Peter and Barrigan meet with Carlisle, who claims he's never seen Rivers. Moz arranges a meeting between Neal and Rivers, who is being followed by Carlisle. Neal brings Rivers back to his apartment. He, Sara and Moz hatch a plan to break into Carlisle's safe to return the stolen diamonds and then clue Peter in on where they are.
After Scott, Sara and Peter place the diamonds in the safe, Peter goes up with Carlisle to his office. There he opens the safe and reveals the diamonds to the crook, then arrests him. Outside the building, Neal tries to convince Scott to turn himself in but he takes off. However, he later has a change of heart and arrives at the field office to surrender to Peter and Neal.
Later at Neal's, Sara takes a peak inside Neal's hidden wall stash and finds the passport with his new identity.
This week, we were reminded of the crossroads at which Neal Caffrey stands. Mozzie continues to plot and plan for their future in the stolen art resale business while Neal gets more comfortable with his love interest, Sara. And then there's the case of the young Neal Caffrey in training, Scott Rivers.
While Neal urged Rivers to turn himself in, he also admitted to making many of the same choices the budding con man did. And though he did push Rivers to put a stop to his young life of crime and surrender, Neal himself, admitted to not having hit rock bottom yet. The con still gives him that same rush, now the only choice is what team he'll be using his tricks for.
Touching on the U-boat bounty, we learned that Berrigan's flagged a stolen painting on the market that might be from the Nazi stash. Neal's going to have make a move on the matter, sooner rather than later. And now that Sara knows about his newly established alter-identity, she'll have to make a choice as well – run with Neal or watch him leave.
All of these over-arcing issues made for a strong hour of "White Collar." The caper of the week was an amusing foray into high end safe cracking but it was these character notes that made the episode play so well. Like Peter, I like Neal and Sara together but I agree that bringing her into his world could sound painful echos of his relationship with Kate.
As for the guest stars, "White Collar" dropped by "Twin Peaks" again, this time picking up Dana Ashbrook, who played Billy Briggs after Madchen Amick (who played Briggs' girlfriend, Shelly Johnson on the '90s hit series) appeared last week. Ashbrook is still great at playing cocky, defiant bad boys. And Disney TV star, Hutch Dano was a nice fit as aspiring con man, Scott Rivers.
And the title of the episode, 'Scott Free' wasn't just a corny play on the culprit of the week's name but a reminder that no matter what choice Neal Caffrey makes, as we head towards the finale, he's got something to lose. The question remains, are these losses that Victor Moreau can handle?
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.