Episode Title: 'Judgement Day'
Writer: Jeff Eastin
Director: Russell Lee Fine
At the park, Peter (Tim DeKay) and Diana (Marsha Thomason) catch up on Kramer's activities in the office. Diana tells Peter that Kramer is looking at Neal's coded prison letters to Kate.
Later at the office, Kramer (Beau Bridges) tells Peter that he suspects he's covering for Neal and that he needs boundaries. Kramer thinks it's best if Neal works for him in D.C. Peter tells Kramer he thinks Neal should finish out his two years and decide for himself where he wants to go. Meanwhile, Neal (Matt Bomer) takes a peak in Kramer's bag while the two chat. Inside, he finds his letters to Kate with the code cracked.
At Sara's office, Neal tells her that the code in the letters reveals the address to the location of the stolen Raphael painting. However, without the zip code, it's nearly impossible to find. During her search for the painting, Sara (Hilarie Burton) uncovered the zip code on a receipt, a duplicate of which is on the Sterling Bosch server. Just then, the feds arrive to search the files. In order to buy Neal time, Sara tells Kramer the painting has been recovered and is just waiting to be authenticated. Neal promises Sara he'll have the painting by 6pm when Kramer is due to arrive.
Neal asks Peter to extend the radius of his anklet as his prepares to go to Roosevelt Island to get the painting. Peter tells Neal he's playing into Kramer's hands, but extends the radius at Neal's request. Neal calls Mozzie (Willie Garson) and asks him to arrange transportation before he goes inside an apartment building.
Inside the apartment, Neal talks to a woman named Ellen Parker (Judith Ivey). Before handing over the package containing the painting, the two talk about Neal's parents. We learn that Ellen was Neal's father's partner on the force and that she's the one who told Neal the truth, that his father is a dirty cop and he's still alive. When Neal asks, she tells him she hasn't heard from either of his parents.
Outside the building, Peter waits for Neal and the two take the tram back to Manhattan. However, once inside the cable car, they learn that Kramer is waiting for them on the other side. Neal decides to make a break for it, climbing atop the cable car and leaping onto the one heading back to Roosevelt Island.
Back on the island, Mozzie picks up Neal in a stolen ambulance and tells him Sara is waiting at Sterling Bosch. With time running out, Mozzie tells Neal that he hid Neal's half of the U-Boat treasure and suggests they go on the run. Neal turns down the offer and Mozzie drives off to divert the cops.
Neal calls Sara and tells her to meet him in the lobby. When he's spotted by an agent, he runs and is soon picked up by Diana, who drops him off at Sterling Bosch. Meanwhile, Peter has Sara make a deal with her boss to recover his fifteen million dollar loss on the painting.
Neal arrives in the lobby only to find Kramer waiting for him. He has Peter slap cuffs on Neal when Sara and her boss show up. They explain that Neal was merely authenticating the Raphael which belongs to Sterling Bosch and it is not stolen. Kramer accuses Peter of obstructing justice and promises it's not over.
After hearing from his friends and associates, the committee deciding Neal's fate hears his statement. Neal tells them he's grateful for the life he has, but looks forward to the day when he answers only to himself.
On his way to the hearing, Peter runs into Kramer who tells him marshals will be taking Neal into custody for public endangerment after his tram stunt, as well as numerous other minor charges. Neal sees their exchange from the street.
While Peter testifies, Neal cuts off his ankle bracelet, gets in a cab and takes a seat next to Mozzie aboard a plane. He glances out the window with a slight smile on his face. Diana interrupts Peter's testimony to let him know that Neal is gone.
Making big life-changing decisions under duress is never a good idea. And Neal Caffrey's always been good a staying cool under pressure. Which is why his decision to finally give into Mozzie's pleas to skip town feels a bit out of character.
As a viewer, I'm excited about the set-up for "White Collar's" season four return. It's the set-up to that set-up that I'm questioning. Neal and Peter pulled all kinds of stunts (Literally. That tram jump was pretty far fetched, even for this show) to avoid Agent Kramer's clutches. For Neal to give up so easily (assuming he even heard the exchange between Peter and Kramer) after all that, doesn't make much sense.
Then again, Neal's made many questionable moves and not just in this case. And as we saw at the end of "Judgement Day," if Kramer wants Neal, he can get him on a variety of charges.
But that brings up another sticking point. Peter knows that Neal gets skittish when the heat is on. He saw Neal, literally disappear after his chat with Kramer. Why not try to reel him back in, then? I'm all for Neal going on the run with Mozzie, but I almost wish it were Peter who urged him to do it, knowing that Kramer is hell bent on owning Neal. That might be selfish on Peter's part, but it would certainly make things interesting.
Maybe I'm splitting hairs, here. I actually think "Judgement Day" is one of the strongest episodes of the season. We learned a wee bit more about Neal's backstory through a woman named Ellen Parker. Neal sure is good at charming those older ladies. Ok, he's good at charming everyone.
Which is why I'm so curious to see how next season plays out. Will the season premiere be titled, "You Can't Go Home Again?" Or will Neal and a reluctant Mozzie find a way to circle back after coming so close to leaving it all behind, forever? Either way, this season finale has guaranteed I'll be tuning in to find out.
Crave Online Rating: 9.5 out of 10.