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WHITE COLLAR 3.11 ‘Checkmate’

Neal faces off against an old friend when Keller demands Nazi plunder in exchange for Elizabeth.

Episode: 'Checkmate'

Writer: Joe Henderson

Director: John Kretchmer

Story:

After kidnapping Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen), Keller (Ross McCall) demands Neal hand over the Nazi treasure within twelve hours. When Peter (Tim DeKay) speaks with Elizabeth on the phone, she tips him off to blood under their dog, Satchmo's chin.

Neal takes Peter to the warehouse where he's storing the treasure but Mozzie's already moved it. Neal tells Peter that Mozzie wanted to skip town with the goods but Neal refused to go. Neal gets a message to Mozzie, who's hiding out in the woods, via homing pigeon. When he learns that Elizabeth's been kidnapped, Mozzie quickly returns to the FBI office to help out.

The blood from Satchemo's chin leads to a thug working with Keller named Grant. Neal warns Peter that handing over the treasure might not be the right play. Peter comes up with a plan to stall Keller while the FBI looks for Elizabeth. Meanwhile, Elizabeth works on convincing Grant that the bite from Satchmo has become infected.

Mozzie (Willie Garson) cons a criminal associate into breaking into the warehouse where he has the treasure stored. When the cops show up, Peter convinces a skeptical Keller to work with Neal on stealing back the treasure.

Back at the FBI office, Jones (Sharif Atkins) uses a footprint from one of the kidnappers to narrow down Elizabeth's location. At the warehouse, Neal and Keller con their way inside the warehouse, posing as cops. However, once they load the treasure into the truck, Keller knocks out Neal.

Elizabeth manages to break out of her holding room while Grant is out, attending to his dog bite. However, he soon catches her on the street and prepares to shoot her. Just then, Jones and Diana (Marsha Thomason) show up and take her home.

Elsewhere, Neal wakes up in the back of the truck and kicks out a few crates, causing Keller to stop. Outside, Keller and Neal fight it out. Peter then arrives and he and Keller come to blows. Neal reaches for a gun and shoots Keller in the leg before he can take out Peter.

Back at the office, Neal prepares to confess in order to put Keller away. However, Keller takes credit for stealing the treasure, via video, in order to get aid from the Russian mob. Moments later, Neal learns that he may soon be a free man after his upcoming parole hearing.

Breakdown:

Is he in or is he out? Well, it looks like Neal is going to have all kinds of options after his parole hearing. And with the greatest score ever now (mostly) safe in the hands of the Russian government, any other heist will surely pale in comparison. 

With his wife kidnapped, thanks, somewhat, in part to Neal and Mozzie, Peter was beyond pissed. But the good natured "suit" is quicker to forgiveness than anger. Once Elizabeth was back in his arms, any ill will towards Neal quickly dissipated. In fact, I'm certain Peter would like to have Neal in his back pocket for the rest of his days at the Bureau. But is 9 to 5ing with the feds really Neal's style while the world awaits?

He pretty much said as much when explaining his abandoned plans to run off with the treasure to Peter. As Neal told Moz, while watching Peter and Elizabeth reunite, there's a proper place for a story to end. If Neal were to keep it going, he must just end up like Keller. 

In this case, it's more like one story coming to end while a new one begins. Neal Caffrey, the parolee working off a bid working for the FBI becomes Neal Caffrey, free man and FBI consultant. Sure, but where's the drama?

Meanwhile, Mozzie's back at square one, with no treasure and no happily ever after on some tropical island. But life outside the city doesn't seem to suit him either.

All of this makes me wonder where "White Collar" is going in the rest of this third round. "Checkmate' was an excellent mid-season return. It was dark, fast-paced and spun our cast of feds and fraudsters in some interesting new directions. Exactly where they're headed, I'm not sure but at least I'm interested enough to find out.

Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.