White Collar – S03E11 – “Checkmate”
Spoilers for Previous Episodes
In the mid-season finale, Elizabeth Burke was kidnapped by Keller, the con man gone wrong. Peter is not happy and I was afraid he might go off on Neal to the point of another break up of their partnership. Instead, Peter holds his cool in a restrained calm which Tim DeKay plays very well and the group is able to do what needs to be done to find Elizabeth. What follows is Peter and Neal trying to stay ahead of Keller while restraining themselves from bashing his face in. Elizabeth, for her part, isn’t waiting to play the damsel in distress either. A solid episode which gives a satisfying conclusion to the Keller story while also leaving an opening for the possibility of a really interesting second half of the season.
Score: 4 of 5
Thank goodness, the old title screen is back! I just did not like the faux gallery title screen with the techno music. No, the swiping images and poppy beat embodied the tone of the show. So glad the powers that be realized this too!
I’m also really glad that they didn’t take the opportunity in this story line to break apart Peter and Neal and spend the episode with yet another “I don’t trust you” skit. Once again Elizabeth shows herself to be the glue of the series and everyone bans together despite the fact that both Neal and Mozzie feel responsible for what has happened. It’s sad that it takes her kidnapping for the characters to get their act together but sometimes you need something as dramatic as this in order to do it.
Peter resists every urge to beat the crap out of Keller and while I would have liked to see more scenes of him having to show restraint, it’s nevertheless as satisfying to the viewer as to Peter when he gets the chance to, well, beat the living crap out of Keller.
Neal also gets to do his best Kurt Douglas impression with a shield, trying to defend/fight against Keller before Peter comes and saves his butt. Interesting scene with him shooting Keller in the leg. Apparently there is a long story to how Neal was able to make that shot despite bleeding from a head wound and otherwise having been laid out. I wonder if that was a throwaway line or if more examination of Neal’s past is going to come up later this season.
Elizabeth is of course not one to sit by idly when there is a daring escape to be made. She is able to manipulate the weak link and make herself an opening to escape. Kudos to Tiffany for playing this character so right, it could have been too easy to either make her overbearing or OTT, but she’s just the right mix of strong female and supportive wife.
The ending closes with Neal deciding to the right thing and protect Peter and Elizabeth from Keller forever by admitting to the treasure theft and Keller’s part in it all thereby ensuring the man’s sent away for a long long time. Turns out Keller beat Neal to the punch, using the treasure to ingratiate himself with the Russian mob he was running from. Hey, a bit too neat of a tidy package but this is White Collar, they don’t use grit and drama for cheap tricks, and we love them for it.
Lastly, Neal has been put up for early release, i.e., the anklet could be gone and he no longer has to report to Peter. Come on, we know he’ll find a way to stick around (there is a fourth season commissioned after all), but Peter, Elizabeth, Sarah and the FEDs are his family now… he’s not going to give them up.
Not if he’s smart and we both know he is.