Episode Title: 'On the Fence'
Writer: Mark Goffman
Director: Paul Holahan
Mozzie (Willie Garson) bursts into Neal's (Matt Bomer) apartment, insisting that the feds are onto their treasure and he implores him to skip town. Neal tells Moz he's meeting with Sara and that if Peter catches on to their plot, he'll never stop hunting them.
Peter (Tim DeKay) interrupts Neal's talk with Sara (Hilarie Burton) to brief him on their latest case. Neal's former associate, Matthew Keller (Ross McCall) has resurfaced in Egypt where he's stealing priceless art. Keller's latest score is an amulet considered to be an Egyptian national treasure; which the government believes may have been smuggled into New York.
Peter shows Neal a tabloid headline about the Nazi sub and suggests Keller may think Neal has the art. The two decide to bait Keller by making him think Neal does indeed have the U-boat treasure. Peter learns that Egyptologist, Raquel LaRoque (Eliza Dushku) may be the recipient of the amulet. LaRoque is looking for a restoration tech to help remove stolen artifacts from inside the X-ray proof shells they're shipped in.
Hale, an old con buddy of Mozzie's, sets up a meeting for Neal with Raquel in exchange for the sale of the Degas. Neal sits down with Raquel, who's apprehensive to work with him, despite his apparent level of expertise. Peter and Diana (Marsha Thomason) move in to apprehend Neal and Raquel, as planned, but Neal foils the operation when he tells everyone at the mob-tied cafe that the feds are moving in.
Back at the field office, Mozzie calls to tell Neal that Hale didn't make it to the meeting with Raquel because he was killed. Security footage from Hale's car reveals Keller as the killer. Meanwhile, Keller corners Sara on the street, posing as an Interpol agent and demanding she give up info on Neal.
Sara stops by Neal's place, frantically looking for him and tells Mozzie about the Interpol agent. Mozzie tells Sara that Keller was posing as the agent and wants Neal dead.
Neal stops by Raquel's place while Peter and Jones (Shariff Atkins) monitor him from a van. Meanwhile, Mozzie reaches out to an unlikely individual, a priest, to get to Keller. Moments later, Keller drops by Raquel's place with a gun, demanding she turn over the amulet. Raquel pulls a gun, herself, makes her exit and learns about the hit Mozzie put on Keller.
With Peter and the team on the verge of breaking in, Keller makes his escape but not before calling Neal out on his U-boat treasure. Neal follows suit, eluding Peter and is now en route to the warehouse. He catches up with Keller, who demands he turn over the treasure. Peter stops Keller before he can shoot Neal but not before Raquel can take a shot at him. However, Keller escapes.
At the field office, Diana brings Raquel in for questioning and she plants a kiss on Neal. Sara drops in as well and tells Neal his secret is safe with her. At Neal's place, Mozzie drops by and admits to selling the Degas to put a hit on Keller. Neal tells Mozzie about the manifest. He tells Mozzie if they don't get the painting back, they're "done."
As the penultimate episode of the season, it comes as no surprise that 'On the Fence' was also the best. Once again, "White Collar" excels at tying in an intriguing season-long storyline to a solid one-of episode.
There was movement on all fronts, this week. Sara and Neal attempted to make sense of their break-up while the water level rose around Neal's raven-haired former flame, with Keller tracking her down and Peter bringing her in for questioning.
As for Peter, Moz and Neal, the return of Matthew Keller is a true bane of the trio's existence. Keller poses a serious threat to Mozzie's dream of running away with Monet, Degas and Matisse. As Neal's former partner-in-crime, he's obviously got a nasty agenda with Mr. Caffrey and Peter's having flashbacks to the time Keller kidnapped him. Keller's a worthy opponent, all-around, which is why this hour of "White Collar was such a heart-racer.
Eliza Dushku hammed it up a bit as Egyptologist and femme fatale, Raquel LaRoque but a little fanboy stunt-casting was just the icing on the cake in this episode. Neal managed to nimbly dance around the small matter of whether or not he has the U-boat treasure, with Raquel, Keller and Peter. And with Sara conveniently out of the romantic picture, there was no reason why the chemistry between Neal and Raquel wouldn't lead to a few sparks.
Which leads to next week's finale and the choices Neal must make. He may be adept at dodging Peter's watchful eye, Mozzie's persistent pleas to skip town and his lingering feelings for Sara, but time is running out for Neal Caffrey. With the Degas sold and more and more players clued in to his hidden treasure, it's go time. And I can't wait to find out which direction Neal chooses.
Crave Online Rating: 9.5 out of 10.