Episode Title: "Honor Among Thieves"
Writer: Joe Henderson
Director: Arlene Sanford
Previously on "White Collar":
At Ellen's funeral, Neal (Matt Bomer) spots a mysterious man he believes to be Sam. He and Peter (Tim DeKay) chase after him, but the man quickly disappears. The next day, Neal shows up outside the office, despite Peter's suggestion that he take some time off after Ellen's murder. Neal explains to Peter that he needs to stay busy and Peter brings him on the case of a upcoming museum heist the feds became aware of after a security jamming device was found in the basement.
Peter and Neal visit the museum the day the heist is supposed to go down. Inside, they spot a suspicious looking woman (Rebecca Mader) who later approaches Neal, who she recognizes from his days of crime. She also introduces herself to Diana (Marsha Thomason) and begins to flirt with her. Afterward, the two exchange numbers.
Inside the van, Peter and Jones (Sharif Atkins) watch the woman approach a child, who then touches a piece of art, setting off an alarm. The woman quickly disappears.
Back at the office, Peter briefs the team on the woman, now identified as Abigail Kincade, a personal shopper for the wealthy. They suspect she became nervous when she recognized Neal and paid the child to set off the alarm to warn her accomplices. Peter tells Diana to set up a date with Abigail. Neal and Peter then discuss Ellen's file, which the Marshalls refuse to release. Neal is convinced that accessing the file is the only way to track Sam down.
As Neal and Mozzie (Willie Garson) case the Marshall's building from the street, Abigail approaches them. She sends Mozzie off and makes an offer to Neal when he tells her about Ellen's file. She proposes to steal the drive containing the file from the Marshall's office if he'll steal a mobile sculpture from the museum. Neal says he'll think about it.
At the apartment, Mozzie demos a hat he outfitted with an L.E.D. which makes the face of the person wearing it invisible to cameras. He suggests Neal take Abigail up on her offer since the FBI thinks Abigail is after art stored in the back of the museum. They won't catch Abigail and Neal still won't have Ellen's file.
At dinner, Abigail asks Diana about her personal life and she admits to being in a relationship that isn't working. She then invites Abigail for a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum the next day. Meanwhile, Peter tells Neal that the Marshalls aren't going to be handing over the file.
That night, Abigail stops by Neal's apartment to ask about her offer. He turns her down, but she explains that she's already stolen the files and left a few strands of his hair in the Marshalls' office. If he doesn't steal the mobile, she'll make sure the Marshalls find his DNA when they realize the file is missing.
With no choice but to steal the mobile, Neal and Mozzie plan the heist. The next day, Diana takes Abigail to the backroom of the museum but instead of going for the art, she goes for a kiss. Meanwhile, Mozzie distracts the feds by shutting off their security feed and moving to different floors. Neal manages to steal the mobile and hides it in a trash can. Peter and his team swam the area but the thief appears to have escaped. When the garbage is taken out, Mozzie retrieves the art.
At the office, Peter is convinced the heist was an inside job. He goes over the video but finds nothing. He sends Neal home for the day and then looks over the video again. He soon realizes that Neal is nowhere on camera and begins to suspect he is the thief.
Diana stops by Neal's place to have a heart-to-heart about her girlfriend and what happened with Abigail. Later, Peter calls her in and tells her about his theory on Neal. The next day, the team hides out in the van and watches as Neal meets with Abigail to hand off the mobile. When Abigail gives him the drive, Neal says he doesn't want it. As she walks away, Neal calls Peter to let him know that Abigail has the art. The team quickly arrests her and Neal realizes they were on to him.
Neal explains himself to Peter and tells him he had no choice in the matter. At the office, Peter tells Neal that the Marshalls won't be pressing charges and that since he helped put away Abigail, he's off the hook. Neal tells Peter he didn't take the drive because his trust means more to him than getting answers about Ellen. Peter then gives Neal another drive with a copy of the files, which he made in case it was needed for evidence against Abigail.
That night at home, Peter tells Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen) the situation with Neal is making him uneasy and she suggests the whole thing might have been a long con on Neal's part.
Neal versus Peter always makes for the best episodes of "White Collar" in my opinion, which is why "Honor Among Thieves" is my favorite episode in recent memory.
With one foot in the high-end criminal underworld and the other firmly planted, anklet and all, at the FBI, Neal's been forced to make some tough decisions through the years. Though I'm not certain I buy the notion that Neal had no choice but to play along with Abigail's blackmail, the excitement of Neal and Mozzie facing off against Peter and the feds justified any minor plot holes. And "White Collar" is the only show I can think of that can make stealing a mobile out of an art museum a sexy, high-intensity heist.
Other great stuff in this episode included the "Lost" reunion between Marsha Thomason and fellow freighter folk, Rebecca Mader. Instead of playing another one of Neal's endless criminally elegant love interests, Mader's character, Abigail had her eye on Diana. There's been hints in the past that not all was well with Diana and Christie's relationship and this episode brought the matter to light with a clever twist.
While Jones remains stoically skeptical of Neal, Diana's always had a soft spot for her con-artist co-worker, while maintaining her badass rep. It was great to spend a little more time with this character. Hopefully, she'll step into the spotlight again as the seasons progresses.
As for Neal, I was a bit disappointed that he got away with merely a slap on the wrist for breaking into a museum and stealing a priceless piece of art. Especially after the lecture Peter gave him at the top of the episode about staying out of trouble. However, the idea the always surprisingly perceptive Elizabeth posed about a potential long con is an interesting one. It makes you wonder if in the end, Neal's FBI gig is just that, one epic scheme to get over on the Peter and the feds. Not likely but it sure is fun to think about.