“I’m happy here. You know, someone once told me, my life is a dream with an anklet attached. If I wake up tomorrow and that anklet is still on, I have a good job. A wonderful home, a partner and a best friend. A family. But to wake up and answer only to myself. That would mean everything.” -Neal in “Judgment Day”
White Collar‘s Season 3 finale was simply fantastic and, ultimately, heartbreaking. Neal finally achieved a sense of happiness in his life. He realized New York City is where he wanted to be. He got himself a family; he had a great job; and he accepted the fact that whatever happened with his commutation hearing, he would show up for work on Monday morning. Neal’s never had true happiness like this before. So, of course, it was extremely difficult to see all that ripped away from him. The finale was intense, suspenseful and surprising. It went to places I had no idea it would go. I mean, we learned more about Neal’s past than we ever did before. We saw the lengths his new family would go for him. And we saw Neal get to be a bit of a badass. Some of the more surprising moments of this season ender:
- Neal’s middle name is George. Here’s the thing. We learned a lot about Neal. But my memory is shaky. Not sure if we knew some of this before or if we were learning it all for the first time. Regardless, I liked the insight we got. And it’s certainly going to set up a whole boatload of things for Season 4.
- The Burkes didn’t just get Neal a commutation cake. They decided to cover their bases and get him a consolation cake in case the hearing didn’t go his way. Hilarious.
- Finding out Neal’s from St. Louis. Did we know this before? I was surprised that they were filling in the blanks of Neal’s mysterious past.
- Kramer can’t forget his own past with his own CI and how that went bad. So he doesn’t understand the affection Peter has for Neal. But he does know how valuable an asset Caffrey is. He not only wants to do everything in his power to make sure that anklet monitor stays securely fastened to Neal’s leg; he wouldn’t mind leveling more charges against the former thief. Why? Because he wants Neal to work for him in D.C. Not cool.
- The stolen Raphael came into play once again. And this time, Neal confesses Sara was thisclose to finding it back in the day. Love how Sara was able to work with Neal. I think they were in a good place in this episode. Of course, that makes later events even that much more heartbreaking. Love that she finally got her hands on the stolen Raphael however.
- Neal knew where to get the Raphael. He had to head out to Roosevelt Island. But he knew what a risky proposition this was. First, he had to get Peter to extend his radius or everybody was going to be on to him immediately. And after a nail biting amount of time, Peter got it to happen.
- Out in Roosevelt Island, Neal heads to the home of a woman who turned out to be his father’s ex-partner. In the few minutes Caffrey was there, we learned Neal wanted to be a cop back in the day. His dad was one. He thought his dad was a hero. But he really wasn’t. And it was this mystery woman who revealed his dad’s dirty ways years ago. The minute she said Neal’s father started out good and the the evil came later, I was intrigued. His dad is alive. His mom is alive. They’re somewhere out there. This episode definitely set up some family drama for Season 4. I wonder who they’d get to play Neal’s parents?
- Kate actually came to get the stolen Raphael from the woman but then left it there saying Neal should have it. I’ve never gotten the soulmate vibe from Kate and Neal like I think this show was trying to give, but that was cool of her.
- Neal’s tram jump. Totally ridiculous but I don’t care. I bought it and loved it. It was such a badass move. Thankfully he didn’t lose the painting, although it was close.
- Loved seeing June, Elizabeth, Sara and Jones testify at Neal’s commutation hearing. They were very in character and even though Jones has grown to like Neal and sees him as a friend, he hasn’t forgotten what he’s done in the past. He thinks he should ride out his sentence. June was gushing in all her glory which was just so incredibly cute. El was simply her supportive self. She realizes how important this relationship is to her husband. And Sara made a good case for Neal. After all, she once testified against him. Now she’s there in support. If that doesn’t show how a man has changed, I don’t know what does.
- I loved Diana coming to Neal’s rescue and making sure he got back to Sterling Bosch.
- “Are you handling it? Or becoming him?” Kramer said this to Peter. And while the whole Kramer business was a bit over the top. That quote made an impression. And to me, it’s not far from the truth. Peter and Neal have grown so close, they influence each other. Neal’s a little more upstanding. And Peter’s a little more loose. Which one has been influenced more? From the looks of this episode, Peter. He extended Neal’s radius. He lied to Kramer. He worked a backdoor deal with Sara and Mr. Bosch to get Neal out of trouble. He did some questionable things to save his friend. He went up against his mentor. And then when he realized Kramer was out of control and was going to bring Neal up on a slew of charges, he signaled to Neal to get the hell out of dodge because he was in trouble. I loved every bit of what Peter did but that can’t be good for his career.
- I really wanted Neal to have that conversation with Peter about the Roosevelt Island woman and his past. Neal kept putting it off but I wish we could have seen it.
- “Should Neal Caffrey’s sentence be commuted?” “Yes. I’m saying Neal should be free.” I loved Peter going before the commutation panel. He told them about the last time he caught up to a thieving Peter. How he had nothing and no one. And that he’s come a long way. Much of Season 3 focused on the troubling side of Peter and Neal’s relationship. It was great to see them be there for each other at the end.
- That last scene of Neal and Mozzie on the plane was so sad. Plus, we had learned that Mozzie had conveniently stashed Neal’s portion of the stolen U-Boat treasure out of the country. Yes, they’ll be able to live in the style they want to be accustomed to, but that isn’t exactly what Neal wants. The last image we get is of a conflicted close up on Neal’s face as he leaves for a life on the run. And that’s a wrap on this season.
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