Episode Title: "Brass Tracks"
Writers: Jim Campolongo and Alexandra McNally
Director: Anton Cropper
Previously on "White Collar:"
Peter (Tim DeKay) warned Neal (Matt Bomer) about letting his emotions get in the way of their investigation into the men responsible for destroying his family, but in "Brass Tracks" it was Elizabeth’s feelings that put the two at odds.
While looking into the murder of Dennis Flynn, Jr., the team learns that a senator from D.C. was responsible for having Flynn transferred. This leads to the discovery that Senator Pratt was one of the corrupt cops who worked with Neal’s father, back in the day.
And with that, a new big bad is introduced and this one’s played by the go-to guy for villains, Titus Welliver, who honed his bad guy chops on shows like "Lost," Sons of Anarchy" and "Deadwood." Neal and Peter immediately set up a trap for Pratt after questioning him about Flynn. Aside from his Irish mob ties, Pratt’s in cahoots with a crooked construction mogul and frequent campaign donor named Edwards. Neal goes undercover as a hotshot architect in order to catch Edwards in the act. However once in custody, Pratt’s partner-in-crime refuses to roll on him. Meanwhile, the senator manages to have Peter’s boss, Reese Hughes (James Rebhorn) pushed out of the department.
Making things more complicated is Elizabeth’s insistence that Neal keep Peter out of the loop after Edwards’ has Peter’s car sabotaged, sending him to the hospital. We’ve seen Peter and Neal work both ends to the middle before but this time its Elizabeth who’s to blame. She only wants to keep her husband safe, but Peter knows better than anyone how dangerous things can get when Neal and Mozzie go rogue.
But how much fun is it to watch the team of Mozzie (Willie Garson) and Jones visit a crackpot keymaster? If only we could spend entire episodes with Mozzie’s eclectic underworld associates. When Neal finds a key hidden inside a locket which belonged to Ellen, Mozzie and Jones (Sharif Atkins) go looking for answers. On strict orders to keep Peter out of harms way, Neal has Mozzie trick Jones into thinking the lead is cold. But Jones is an FBI agent, after all and is hip to Mozzie’s plan. In the end, the info gets back to Peter, who’s deeply hurt when Neal lies to his face about the key.
Elizabeth tells Neal she’s worried about her husband "getting in too deep he can’t get out," but she of all people should know that already happened several seasons ago. We’ve seen Peter stick his neck out for Neal countless times. And now that Hughes has been forced out, Peter assures Neal the case is as personal for him as it is for the dandy FBI consultant.
In the past, Neal’s loyalty to Peter may have been in question, but this time it’s exactly that (as well as his loyalty to Elizabeth) that’s keeping the two from working together to take Pratt down. And that’s where things could get even riskier for Peter. He may think he’s keeping up with Neal on the key and it's meaning but the difference is that Neal doesn’t have to play by the same rules (or "laws," if you want to get technical) that the FBI agent does. And thus trying to keep up with Neal is dangerous, especially when he’s on tilt thanks to the smug remarks from the man responsible for ruining his father.
Thankfully, "Brass Tracks" followed up on the momentum from last week’s episode, in which learned what we really went down with James (Treat Williams) and the Irish mob, all those years ago. With a corrupt senator pushing the feds around, both Neal and Peter will be out for vengeance. But we know these two are much more formidable together than apart. The question is if and when Senator Pratt figures that out, for himself.