White Collar Recap: He Did a Bad, Bad Thing

White Collar - Season 4The following contains spoilers from Tuesday’s season finale of White Collar. If you have yet to watch, avert your eyes immédiatement!

For over a season now, White Collar‘s Neal Caffrey has been trying to figure out who he is by uncovering his dad’s mysterious past.

On Tuesday’s season finale, he got his answer — but it wasn’t the one he’d hoped.

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After securing Ellen’s evidence box from the Empire State Building — “It’s no 18th century music box, but what is?” remarks Mozzie — Neal’s pop James confronts Senator Pratt. Little does he know, Moz didn’t trust him at all and swapped the contents of the box, giving the real evidence to Neal. (Don’t ask us to explain how Neal makes a mini-blimp out of a champagne bottle to fly the evidence to safety — we’re simply not as smart as the con man.) When Pratt corners James in order to get his hands on the goods, all he finds in the container is postcards.

The two get into a heated argument and Pratt pulls out his gun while James grabs Peter’s gun off the table. (The FBI agent’s badge and firearm were taken away after the duplicitous new head of the department, Amanda Callaway, found out he was sneaking around with Neal.)

Peter walks in and urges James to put down the gun, but he takes the shot anyway and kills Pratt. And he’s determined not to go to jail for it, so he points another gun at Peter and backs out of the room. Left behind with gunshot residue on his hands and a bullet from his own gun in the senator’s body, things aren’t looking good for Peter, who is taken into custody as a clueless Elizabeth prepares for their dinner date back home.

Even after Neal begs his dad to turn himself in and clear Peter’s name, James doesn’t relent. Neal may be a con man, but he’s nowhere near as bad as his father. For one, James actually did murder his supervising officer, according to Ellen’s evidence. On top of that, he’s not willing to go to jail for his actions and save the one man in Neal’s life who’s truly been a father to him.

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“You show me you’re better than this. You show me you’re a decent man. … Dad, please do this for me,” Neal pleads, reaching out for him.

“Don’t! Don’t make me do something I’ll regret!” James yells so sharply, it startles Neal. “Let me give you some advice. In this life, somebody always takes a fall. Don’t let it be you.”

To sum up: Oh, damn.

Elsewhere in the finale, Neal and Sara say their “goodbyes” to each other as she prepares to move to London. Part of the plan for getting the evidence box involves Neal fake-proposing to Sara at the Empire State Building so they can get onto the exclusive 103rd floor.

“First time we met, you were chasing me,” he says after getting down on one knee. “First time we spoke, you called me a sociopath. The first time we had dinner, you asked me what I wanted from you. And the first time we kissed, I realized I don’t want anything…except you. And now I’m asking if you’ll go on one more adventure with me.”

She accepts and then privately whispers to him, “You bastard. That was a little too real. And it was damn good.” Neal reveals that he had a different speech planned, but he “meant that one.” But alas, this romance isn’t meant to be except in “another time, another place,” says Sara wistfully, imagining a future where they have two kids — Conrad and Connie!

White Collar fans, what did you think of the finale’s twists? Did James scare you in that last scene? And why did Sara choose her romantic fake proposal, of all times, to wear a black dress? Is she in mourning for her relationship? Sound off below!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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59 Comments
  1. AymieJoi says:

    Jeff Eastin is a bad, bad man! He does a lovely cameo, though. I’ve settled into the rhythm of this show, so I’m not as freaked out as I was at the end of, say, season 2. This was classic (too soon?) White Collar, and I loved it!

    • Chris H. says:

      I just watched the last episode on USANetwork.com, so my comments are a bit old.

      Give me a break. This Neal, James and Peter stuff is soooooooooo old and ridiculous. How about wrapping up the plot line and let us move on to a new plot? Is the show so weak that we have to arrest Peter, have everyone in crisis and end the Neal and Sarah romance just so people will tune in again in the fall. I have news for the producers, by the time fall rolls around, most of us will have worked to forget this ridiculous plot.

  2. rainey13 says:

    Oh… after the whole touching “you’re the blue in my eyes” bit at the beginning, to have James stab Neal in the back like that… That was brutal. But so many wonderful touches up until then. Loved how close Neal and Peter were working on this, including Neal’s comment about family being the people who are with you when you need them, not just blood. And the whole proposal bit with Sara… beautiful! But the promos said not back until FALL?!?!?!? That’s just not right…

    • Marisa_once says:

      Yeah I don’t know if it’s a mistake from the network. But maybe they’re trying to air the 16 episodes in a row instead of coming back in January. I know they lose viewers in the winter, some of them forget to tune back on after a long break…

  3. Alichat says:

    Peter noooooooooooooo!!!!!!! I kinda saw this coming after Neal said that Peter had been more of a father to him than James. Not this exact turnabout….but that Peter would end up in serious trouble. I’m interested in seeing how they fix this situation. I foresee an Elizabeth meltdown with Neal.

  4. six says:

    Ugh, Jeff Easton and his season finale too much to handle sometimes but that’s why we love cliffhangers and this one was fantastic!! I loved the scene with Neal and Sara, best one yet, so touching and heartfelt as well as Neal and Peter and Neal and James in the beginning. The whole cast is so good but Matt really was outstanding in this episode. My only complaint is we have to wait till fall,,,,what? I love watching White Collar in the summer!

  5. JBC says:

    Disappointed in this episode. Underwhelmed by it honestly. Jeff E. in new interview with THR is saying his favorite scene is Sara and Neal proposing.???? WHAT???. You can tell he only cares for the romantic angle now, instead of the exciting conman and fbi agent premise from the first season.. Season 4 was so good until this strange episode. I don’t mind Peter getting arrested, that’s not been done before, and love Hughes and Peter’s penchant for justice, but Why So much Sara time, and not enough edge of your seat scenes, SO BLAND and PREDiCTABLE.. Sorry James is a baddie, Treat is a good actor. Enjoyed his arc on WC. Love Peter and Neal, but really can’t take more soul searching from Neal about Sara and who he is. NEED more cases of the week, more fun, humorous, con cases, different women, and new characters. Loved Maya and Sophie and Alex all being part of S4, just enough, but please no more romance and domestication of Neal Caffrey with Sara . The Original was a little more like the old Neal and then this.
    I think Jeff Eastin may have really wanted to make a show based loosely on The Thomas Crown Affair, i.e. The Neal and Sara Ellis Hour, instead of Catch Me if You Can, The Burke and Caffrey Show. Two different premises, but JE has tried to mesh them into one. Too inconsistent.

    • JustJoan123 says:

      Why are you getting so worked up about what is obviously a very nice way to say goodbye to Hillary Burton who is leaving the show?

      • JBC says:

        I am not worked up, just expressing my opinion. Also, from what I read on THR latest interview with Jeff Eastin, he said she is coming back. My hope is that they get back to cases of the week and great Neal and Peter episodes again. This is why I watch. They have made the romances so front and center. I prefer them more peripheral. I like to see Neal Caffrey, lighthearted, free, and fun the way Jeff originally presented him to the audience. I know there is character development after 4 seasons, but the original premise of The Smart FBI Agent and The Smart Conman solving crimes together is the most appealing to me.

    • Marisa_once says:

      I guess to each is own opinions. I loved the proposal and others have loved it too.

    • julieto says:

      you are crazy, this was a really good episode and it is nothing wrong in showing neals feelings and the constant dualism he has to face

      • JBC says:

        Just expressing my opinion, why do you insult me and say I am crazy? There is nothing wrong with Neal expressing his feelings. This isn’t my point. The scenes of Peter and James and Pratt were excellent, as was the last scene with Neal and James. They are fantastic actors and I liked those scenes especially. I just feel like it lagged in the middle and the romance took up some of the time that I would have liked to see the Lead of the story be more involved. It seemed a bit off in the way they placed those scenes. Yes, the proposal was beautiful, but couldn’t the writer bring Neal into more action.? Make it more exciting. It was the finale. This is Neal Caffrey the man who jumps out of Judges chambers and base jumps out of tall buildings. I liked alot of it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have an honest critique. When I read Jeff E’s vision for S5 after the episode, I was upset to see he cares more for making this into more of an ensemble soap opera with the romance than focusing on the original premise of Neal and Peter solving crimes. They make the show for me and I like to see the ladies in Neal’s life in small doses, it makes the story more enjoyable.

        • katyone says:

          I like your opinion and you are certainly entitled to it IMO. Don’t you hate it when you give an opinion and certain people feel they have the right to jump down your throat like they own the comments section personally (maybe they do and we don’t know it).

          I am not sure how I feel about the whole thing but it can get tedious with all the back and forth (plot & subplot). I feel something was lacking and too much extraneous bs was put in, I think that it blurs and confuses the whole thing.. As to Neal’s character, I find it hard to believe that he would put so much time and energy into doing this huge romantic thing (not part of the con) in the middle of a dangerous operation with lives at stake and so many other things hanging in the balance that were so important to him personally(like his father being cleared, his past explained etc), this is not the Neal we all know, time and pl ace for everything and this certainly was not it.

          I hate cliffhangers because you never know when they are going to cancel a show or when it will be back on the air. I can’t stand waiting so many months to hear what happens, thought that went out with ‘who shot JR’. I thought this was a summer show, hence the low number of episodes, 15, not a fall show with 25 episodes, what gives. I would prefer 25 episodes myself.

          Keep TJBC, I for one appreciate points of view other than my own, gives me something to think about and corrects mistakes that I may have made or remembered incorrectly. Thanks!

  6. Levi says:

    My early prediction is that Neal will confess to killing Pratt to save Peter, and then his dad will tell the truth to save Neal. Then, we can get back to solving White Collar crimes.

    • dee123 says:

      I hope not. I’d rather have the roles reversed for a little while. Neal continues to work with Diana & Jones and Peter ends up being stuck with Mozzie trying to clear his name.

  7. Patamar2 says:

    Good-bye Sara! *happy dance*

  8. Quinn Mallory says:

    Haven’t been a huge fan of the Neal-Sarah story line but love the “fake” proposal in this episode, as well as how everyone walked in on their morning after in the beginning of the episode. While it was no surprise at all that James had a secret that he was hiding, it was still mildly shocking to have Peter arrested for the murder of the senator (okay, so you know he was not going to make that sushi dinner date with Elizabeth for some reason).

    Overall, it was a nice season finale. I wonder what the next big arc will be since the Peter on the hook for murder arc will be resolved within the first handful of episodes. Are there more evidence in the box that is going to lead to bigger conspiracy? I do think the music box from season 1 was more interesting than governmental conspiracy.

    • Alex says:

      “you know he was not going to make that sushi dinner date with Elizabeth for some reason”

      The reason? this show is highly predictable. You knew Mozzie didn’t give Neal’s dad the real box, you knew about Neal’s dad real motives, you knew the plastic new boss (the actress from CSI:Miami, poor lady, what did she do to her face) was not clean. And you knew all this before it happened, because there is no surprises in here, it’s kind of boring.

      • Alichat says:

        OMG! I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one distracted by her face. I don’t understand this need to botox your face to the point where the only movement is blinking, or the need to put large amounts of filler in your cheeks. At least she wasn’t as bad as Meg Ryan.

      • MJ says:

        I don’t think she was working for Pratt. I think she genuinely thought she was doing the right thing.

        • Emgee says:

          I was going to say the same thing…I think the jury is still out on her. I don’t think the show resolved one way or another whether she was in Pratt’s pocket or not.

        • rainey13 says:

          Ummmm… no. She called Pratt and told him where the search was being conducted. She even told him they were looking for a box – and that was after Peter told her what was alleged to be in there. She allowed Pratt to come into an active investigation scene where he was a possible suspect. That’s not doing the “right” thing.

  9. cookie says:

    Peter will be ok. Remember when he was assigned to that warehouse where he had to inventory those parts, I thought OMGosh what a demotion, but he made it through. But I think Peter is going to have to use his smarts to stay alive in jail.He’ll have to become Neal in jail to stay alive. Loved the finale!!

  10. cookie says:

    Also I fear for anyone around Elizabeth when she find out about Peter. So sad, I just want them to be happy, I love their relationship.

  11. DramaMomma says:

    I saw this article’s title (but didn’t read the article) before I finished watching the episode. At the end, I was almost hoping James would shoot Peter because that was the lesser of the two scenarios I could see playing out. I think James was hurt that Neal chose Peter over him. I can see Hughes coming in to save Peter though it makes you wonder if he had all these friends where were they when he lost his job.

    As a Everwood shoutout: Doc Andy, how could you screw over Rev Keyes?

  12. Emgee says:

    What an awesome finale that was. When James asked Mozzie what was taking so long, I said out loud “he’s switching the contents of the box.” I didn’t predict what would happen next, though and I can’t wait for Season 5 to see how this new development gets resolved.

  13. jmp says:

    OK, the x “peter’s” boss has a recording of New boss and Pratt and Pratt’s shot. Is she bad, of course she is. She want’s to nail Peter and think that she has done it. Can’t wait for next season! Everyone, watch out for Elizabeth, Neal and Mozzie – out for blood!

  14. kirads09 says:

    I honestly don’t know what to think about that season finale. Certainly don’t feel it was “awesome”. I feel tremendously let down. Didn’t end well for anyone in any form. The best thing was Neal’s (real/not real) proposal. Sara should have stayed.

  15. lisa says:

    AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Can’t wait until fall! too long to wait to see how this gets resolved… and Matt Bomer deserves an Emmy for this episode. Each time he teared up, it turned me into a blubbering fool.

  16. Susan says:

    Great season finale! Loved the proposal – my husband was convinced that Neal meant it :)
    We’re really looking forward to the next season.

  17. Deena says:

    White Collar finales always bring it. I love the way Peter was “caught” in the exact way James had explained his situation to Neal. Mozzie is the best. His conspiracy theroriss might be off the wall but his instinct is always on the mark. I yelled at the TV when they said the show would not be back until fall because I was expecting summer.

  18. AJ says:

    Is this the end of the Neal Sara relationship?! I hope not….love that aspect of the show!

  19. MJ says:

    I thought the proposal was awesome. When Sara teared up and told him that was too real, I felt for them, because I think they want to be together.

  20. Spike5 says:

    I guess it’s just me but I thought it was boring. I started playing solitaire on my iPad part way through.

    Plus the absurdity of the details. Just two: A tracking anklet that can show the exact location within a 100 story building? A mini-blimp assembled in minutes out of a champagne bottle and spare parts navigating through the skyscrapers of Manhattan directly to Neal’s terrace–unseen by anyone?

    • rainey13 says:

      Pratt saw it. Other people may have seen it – probably thought it was a cute toy. And it’s not like it was a real champagne bottle – it was a special Mozzie creation. (Maybe you missed that detail.)

  21. A says:

    No White Collar till the fall? Are you kidding me? I hope they don’t pull a Psych.

  22. Gia says:

    Business as Usual Awesome Finale…Plz Plz Plz bring Sara back & get back soon …cant wait till fall…..& dont they have security cameras in Empire state building which will prove James shot Pratt & not Peter.

  23. Jennis says:

    Mattie B is gr8.that was one heck of a performance. every time he terared up i was shooooooo sad & teared up too.

  24. James says:

    The memory where James leaves Neal is so good.

  25. Mara says:

    I love the romance in this show — makes it for me!

  26. Alex says:

    White Collar doesn’t usually make me this emotional…but damn, there were tears welling up in my eyes during the proposal, and then again during the final scene in Neal apartment.

  27. Ella says:

    Neal’s father turning on him was horribly upsetting :( Poor baby. I also really, really didn’t want Sara to leave, I just kept hoping she’d come back to console him or he’d stop her or something. That proposal was beautiful.

  28. skrable2 says:

    The finale made no sense, and did a disservice to Ellen. Ellen’s last words to neal were to “Trust Sam,” meaning his father pretending to be Sam. Yet, what’s in the box? Evidence that shows his dad to be a murderer. … So why did Ellen say to trust him?

    It comes off as a cheap way for the James character to run off while creating a cliffhanger we know won’t end with Peter being convicted of killing a U.S. senator.

    Stupid plot development that doesn’t even respect your own storyline, nevermind the viewers who follow the show

    • JBC says:

      Yes, Ellen’s words to Neal were to “Trust Sam” but Ellen thought she was communicating with Sam Phelps, not James Bennett. James admitted that he was lying to Ellen in “Family Business”, making her think she was in touch with Sam..So this wasn’t an inconsistency in the show.
      I love the acting with Matt/Neal and Treat/James in the first scene and last scene especially and also the emotions shown on Peter’s/Tiim face as they arrested him and walked him out. This is what keeps me coming back to White Collar. These two leads especially are great to watch. Hope to see more Peter/Neal scenes next Season.

    • Abby says:

      If you followed properly, you wouldn’t have missed the episode where Diana and Peter found out the real Sam had died and James was pretending to be that Sam so he could be closer to Ellen and the evidence box. Of course, Peter won’t be convicted but the process of proving his innocence will be something to watch though.

  29. Sammy says:

    I am betting that Neil was taping the converstion. Seeing as he knew before his Dad arrived that he was guilty of killing his supervising officer.

  30. I agree with the statements that WHITE COLLAR is moving away from the somewhat light-hearted smart con man and smart FBI guy teaming together to solve crimes. I thought the character development progression through the first 3 seasons was fine and mostly logical. (Beside the fact that Neal would at this point be off his tracking device at this point. Wasn’t the original sentence something like 36 months?) Season 4 has been kind of a misfire for me from how quickly they resolved Neal running with minimal (functional) consequences to how the finale played out.

    Someone has already mentioned that WC is moving into soap opera territory, which to me is creatively problematic. SUPERNATURAL is an example of a series that literally went to the apocalypse and has pulled back (mostly but unevenly successfully) by embracing the fun aspects and not the “gravitas.” I fear WHITE COLLAR is starting to take itself too seriously.

  31. serena says:

    II watch the show for the Matt bomer/Neal. But I agree the show is becoming more of a soap opera. Matt acted the heck out of the proposal scene. Of course, anyone who watched, teared up, that’s how good an actor he is. But that scene was way OTT. What’s their problem? Why all the melodrama? Sara is leaving of her own choice, isn’t she?

    They need to bring him a new love interest, passionate like Neal but without the soap opera. Let Sara stay in london.
    Neal, Peter, Mozzie, Diana, Jones, El need to get back to the business of entertaining us.

    Oh and it would nice to get Alex back for an episode or two. Keep it light and sunny, guys. why so serious?

  32. M says:

    holy mother of god, that was one hell of a cliffhanger. I mean seriously, Peter being arrested for murder? I wonder how Peter and Neal are going to get out of this one. it was a bit stupid by Peter (although probably instinct) to grab the weapon James had just killed Pratt with, considering that’s how James claimed he was framed.
    I can’t believe there won’t be any more episodes until fall.
    And to those complaining that the show gets heavier… You may not have noticed but most shows of this kind get darker over time. Even L&O SVU started out pretty lighthearted compared to what it’s now.

    • Levi says:

      I also think it was dumb of Peter to ditch his escort and go back up the elevator. He shouldn’t have even been there. He had done his part. The cons had the rest of the plan handled.

      • M says:

        I think him going back up had two reasons. One, to look out for Neal, after all they have a pretty much father-son relationship and that’s what fathers do, look out for their sons. Also, two, to make sure it was all reasonably within the law. I’m pretty sure he was trying to prevent exactly what happened, that someone would get killed. I’m almost certain though neither Neal nor Peter expected James to turn on them the way he did. They didn’t trust him, but I think they were just thinking of him going on the run with evidence, not killing

  33. I rarely leave a response, however i did some searching and wound
    up here White Collar Season 4 Finale Recap – Peter Arrested,
    Neals Dad Is Bad – TVLine. And I do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be just me or does it give the impression like a few of the responses look like they are left by brain dead individuals? :-P And, if you are writing at additional sites, I’d like
    to keep up with everything new you have to post. Could you make a list
    of every one of all your social pages like your twitter
    feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  34. Thea Karan says:

    I think this was the strongest and most serious season so far and I hated the way it ended. I never trusted James/Sam and he is really a bad person, unlike Neal (who maybe a criminal, but isn’t callous).

  35. susan says:

    I spent a good part of last night rethinking all i read and am now woondering if by some miracle James is not Neals father but planted by Kramer to deliberately hurt Peter & Neal`s relationship. please lets remember he tried b4 to take Neal to washington to keep him from Peter, he doesn`t care if he hurts Peter he is so horrorably jealous that Peter has what he never succeeded ikn having with his CI. It was because of him that Peter madce Neal take off swhen Neal could have & should have had his freedom. the only person kramer cares about his himself and what he wants and lets face it he was not happy with Peter getting what he wanted Neal to stay with him. i just want all this done and for Peter and Neal to go back to their great relationship so Jeff Easton please make things right and make it soon. they r the reason we watch. on a finale note to Jeff Easton please don`t take the summer episodes away ever again. could we also have a christmas episode, it would be great.

  36. Katharine says:

    The way I was able to get through the summer without White Collar- WMMP showed 2 past episodes each Thursday night. Now I can not wait for October 17th.

  37. Kath says:

    I seriously thought that Peter was actually onto something when he smiled as Pratt left with Calloway. I thought this finale was gonna be a positive one. I mean, it was more sensible for it to end in a positive manner and have a fresh plot readied for the latter seasons. ANDDD, I really think that it was stupid for Neal’s dad to refuse to testify. I mean, Peter said he’ll back him up and say it’s just self-defense. And he would’ve been free. Instead, his brain went stupid overdrive and left. Seriously, if there won’t be probable cause or a bigger conspiracy to back up his whole leaving, I’m suing Jeff Eastin or any other person who’s responsible for this finale.

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