Episode Title: 'Stealing Home'
Writer: Mark Goffman & Jim Campolongo
Director: Tim DeKay
Peter (Tim DeKay) tasks Neal (Matt Bomer) with getting intel on high-society thief, Gordon Taylor's upcoming heist. Diana (Marsha Thomason) talks to Peter about Agent Kramer's attitude regarding Neal's upcoming hearing. Peter advises her to do whatever Kramer asks, even if it means going behind Peter's back.
Mozzie (Willie Garson) tells Neal that Gordon hired him and asked for Neal to be brought in, as well. Neal meets with Gordon to prove himself over a game of billiards. After taking the game with an impressive shot, Gordon asks Neal to join his team for a job at Yankee Stadium.
Peter meets with Sara (Hilarie Burton) to ask her if she plans to be a character witness in Neal's hearing. To his surprise, Sarah tells Peter she knew nothing about it. She later stops by Neal's apartment to find out why he didn't tell her about the hearing. Neal tells her he didn't want her to think he was asking her to "say nice things" about him. After spending the night having a frank and open talk with Neal, Sarah tells Peter that she wants to testify on Neal's behalf.
Surveillance at the hotel where Gordon is staying leads the team to Robert Winthrow Jr., son of a hotelier and a collector of priceless baseball memorabilia. Peter and Neal deduce that Winthrow is after a prized baseball held at the Yankee Stadium museum.
Neal and Mozzie meet with Gordon and the rest of the crew to go over the plan. With their surveillance equipment jammed, Peter and Jones (Sharif Atkins) are unable to hear what's going on inside. However, Neal convinces Mozzie to help him get a message to Peter by hiding it inside the decoy baseball they plan to switch with the real one. At the stadium, Mozzie and Gordon wait to make their move as the rest of the crew sets things in motion. After Winthrow's man breaks the glass containing the ball, Neal, dressed as a security guard, swaps it for the fake. He then hands it off to Gordon.
When Peter finds the ball Neal replaced the original with, he recognizes it as a fake and rips it open with a knife. He finds an address written inside. Peter and the team race to the location just in time to see Gordon hand off the ball to Winthrow. However, when Peter goes to arrest Gordon, it's not him. As Neal and Gordon watch from after, Gordon admits that Mozzie tipped him off to the feds.
Later, Peter stops by Neal's place with the coded letters he wrote to Kate while in prison that Agent Kramer is interested in. However, he has second thoughts and doesn't bring up the letters. Neal then takes avid baseball fan, Peter to Yankee Stadium to check out the pitcher's mound.
"Stealing Home" was full of quirky reveals, or at least three. We learned that Peter left behind a career as minor league pitcher due to a bum arm, got a rare glimpse of Neal out of a tailored three-piece suit and found out that Peter is a Kool Moe Dee fan. Two of those three things are actually believable.
Tim DeKay was behind the lens for his directorial debut and the former collegiate baseball player's mark was all over this major league inspired episode. Listening to Peter wax poetic in a debate with Neal over baseball and the works of Jackson Pollock was one of "White Collar's" better philosophical asides. And then there was his chat with Peter about ditching MLB for the FBI, though it was really just another reminder to Neal that life can be lived not on the lam.
With Sarah on his side again, it's looking likely Neal with take up roots on the right side of the law. It's Mozzie we've got to worry about. With the likes of Gordon Taylor, a criminal mastermind living in the lap of luxury, in the wind, Mozzie's itching for the next big score. Neal, on the other hand, seems focused on shaking off that ankle bracelet.
A few more observations on "Stealing Home:"
- Not at all surprised Neal is skilled at billiards. Baseball? Not a fan, it seems.
- What exactly is Agent Kramer's end game with Neal? He's solved a crap load of cases. The FBI's gotta like that.
- It always a bit jarring to see Neal in common people's clothes. Still looks damn fine, though.
- How will Diana play her position with Peter and Kramer. She's clearly loyal to her boss but what if Kramer starts applying some real pressure?
"Stealing Home" was a nice set-up for "White Collar's" upcoming season finale. Will Mozzie run off to Paris to get in on Gordon's next exotic score? Will Neal stay put, now that Sara's back on his arm? And how badly does Kramer want to see Neal out of his tailored three-piece and back in stripes? That might just be the ultimate crime…of fashion.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.