Episode Title: 'Upper West Side Story'
Writer: Alexandra McNally & Jim Campolongo
Director: Russell Lee Fine
Neal (Matt Bomer) tries to get back in Peter's good graces with a pair of Yankees tickets and a cup of coffee. Their morning is interrupted by Manhattan Prep student, Evan Leary (Graham Phillips). He hands over a report he created alleging embezzlement from his school's scholarship fund. Evan believes a rich investor named Andy Woods started the scam when he took over management of the fund. Woods has also been on the FBI's radar for some time in associated with a major cartel.
Peter (Tim DeKay) goes undercover at the school as the parent of a prospective student. Neal poses as his assistant but when he's mistaken for a substitute teacher, he decides to take on the role when he learns that Woods' daughter, Chloe is in the class.
Woods (Dylan Baker) encourages Peter to send his son to the school while Chloe (Elizabeth Gillies) swoons over Neal, as he teaches class. Woods becomes suspicious of Peter when he learns he isn't staying at the hotel he checked into. Peter covers by admitting to spending the night with his mistress. Back at his apartment, Neal tells Moz (Willie Garson) about Chloe and his plans to set her up with Evan.
Peter theorizes that Woods in working with the school's headmaster, Graham Slater and under-reporting scholarship funds. The next day, Neal and Peter head back to the school where Neal sees Slater place an envelope inside Chloe's locker. Peter pulls the fire alarm, allowing Neal to break into the locker and take a peak inside the envelope, which contains the school's quarterly finance report. Chloe asks Neal to tutor her at home. He agrees and invites Evan to join them.
At Woods' home, Neal and Evan arrive while Peter and Diana (Marsha Thomason) join Woods and his wife for dinner. Peter and Diana stage a couple's quarrel and Peter attempts to go out on the terrace, triggering the alarm. Woods' disarms the system, allowing Neal to break into his office and copy his hard drive. Woods catches Neal and Chloe in his office but Evan quickly covers for them, endearing himself to Chloe in the process.
At school, Evan tells Neal that Woods is onto them. Woods holds Peter inside the shop classroom, where he discovers that Peter is an FBI agent. Neal gets Woods to leave the room when he calls him from Chloe's phone. He then uses chemicals from the lab to create a smoke screen and frees Peter. Diana arrives and arrests Woods. Neal gives Chloe some parting advice. She then goes off with Evan, after discovering the roses Moz stashed in her locker on his behalf.
Back at the office, Peter tells Neal that he gave his statement in the Keller case, omitting Neal's theft of the art. He returns the Yankees tickets to Neal, who then gives them to Jones (Sharif Atkins), who in turn invites Peter to the game.
It looks like they're not breaking up, after all. After Peter and Neal's almost flirtatious exchange in the Manhattan Prep Western Poetry class, I'm not surprised their bromance is at hot and heavy, as ever.
Ok, let's be clear. It's all about character for Peter, and Neal proved he's got plenty of it in "Upper West Side Story." Not only did the reformed con artist help take down a slimy prep school parent played with a despicable zeal by Dylan Baker, he demonstrated a deep understanding of second chances during his heart-to-heart with Chloe, while Peter swooned from afar.
While Neil seems to be embracing the straight and narrow, Mozzie's future plans are still unclear. Like Neal, he's in love with the big city but nearly running off with the greatest score any thief with a taste for the finer things could want has got to be a major bummer. But like Neal, Moz also wore his heart of gold on his sleeve in this episode. Still, I can't imagine him sitting still for another season.
As cases go, I'm always a fan of the episodes where we get to see Neal deep in his element. A private school in Manhattan was the perfect opportunity for the well-read felon to wax poetic with a bunch of prep schoolers while taking down a baddie. When it comes to crime, Neal is truly a man for all seasons.
What remains to be seen is where our Renaissance man will go once he's truly free. If 'Upper West Side Story' is any indication, it's unlikely he'll stray far from his beloved city and Sara. It's Moz I'm worried about.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.