White Collar ‘Honor Among Thieves’ Episode Recap
White Collar went back to its roots this week with ‘Honor Among Thieves,’ which featured a good old fashioned art heist, a great con for Neal Caffrey, and the return of Peter Burke’s doubts about Neal’s honesty. Additionally, Marsha Thomason finally had a chance to shine as Agent Diana Barrigan, who played a starring role in bringing down this week’s thief and shared some heartfelt character moments with Neal.
The death of Neal’s close friend Ellen Parker at the end of the last episode left Neal more than grief-stricken; it also made his search for information about his father much more difficult. Ellen had intended to introduce Neal to her friend Sam, an undercover cop with more information, but she was killed before the meeting could take place. “Trust Sam,” Ellen told Neal as she died; but, as Neal tells Peter at Ellen’s funeral, he’ll be hard to find with nothing more to go on than a first name. Neal suspects that the mysterious figure he sees lurking behind the graveyard monuments is Sam, and calls out to him. When the man runs away, disappearing among the tombstones, Neal finds the flowers that he dropped … they’re Ellen’s favorite. Peter agrees that it was probably Sam, who became spooked after coming to meet Ellen for a secret meeting only to find that she had been killed. But how will they go about finding him?
Peter begins working a case that involves a suspected upcoming art theft from a major museum, and brings Neal in to help (partly to keep an eye on him in case he decides to go searching for information on Ellen’s murder on his own). Neal and Peter pose as museum patrons while Diana puts on a uniform and acts as a museum docent. Milling about among the art and the museum visitors, Neal immediately zeroes in on a suspicious young woman who appears to be timing the guards’ rounds. When Diana the Docent asks Neal if he’s spotted anyone, he points out the attractive suspect he noticed earlier.
The beautiful young woman approaches and introduces herself to Diana (in a charming English accent) as Abigail Kincaid. Diana and Abigail are soon chatting and flirting, and back in the surveillance van, Peter and Jones watch as Abigail gives Diana her phone number. “Who would stop in the middle of a museum robbery to get a date?” Peter muses, then adds “Don’t answer that!” as Jones opens his mouth to reply. They speculate that Abigail is using Diana as a resource for getting into the museum. This is confirmed when, back at FBI headquarters, Diana says that Abigail has sent her several text messages. Diana asks her out on a date to see if she can discover more about the planned theft.
Neal is determined to find out everything about Ellen’s death and the identity of Sam. He wants to cooperate with Peter and find the information legally; but the Federal Marshals who were in charge of Ellen in the Witness Protection Program have taken control of her apartment as a crime scene. Peter promises to help Neal get the information he needs from the Marshals, but this turns out to be more difficult than it sounds. The Marshals refuse to provide their crime scene report, and Neal leaves the office in frustration.
Mozzie, trying to help, accompanies Neal to case the Marshals’ headquarters building. Both of them know, however, that Neal never get away with a theft because of the electronic tracking anklet that he wears. As they discuss possibilities, Abigail Kincaid approaches Neal (whom she recognized and identified at the museum earlier). She sends Mozzie away, and tells Neal she’s figured out that he wants something from the Marshals, and offers him a trade: She’ll steal the evidence that Neal wants if Neal steals the art piece that she was planning to take, a rare 3-D mobile. But Neal is ambivalent; he really does seem determined to do things Peter’s way.
Wearing a wire, Diana meets Abigail for a dinner date. They get along famously, but Abigail suspects Diana is in another relationship. Diana tells her that relationship has stagnated, and it sounds a bit too true to Peter and Neal, who are monitoring the conversation from the van. Diana invites Abigail to the museum for a “behind-the-scenes tour,” hoping she will take this opportunity to try to commit the theft.
After the date, Abigail goes to Neal’s apartment to talk about the trade; Neal turns her down, saying he’s decided it’s too risky. But Abigail reveals that she has already stolen the flash drive with the information on Ellen, and she left evidence in the Marshals’ building framing Neal for the theft. She says she’ll call the Marshals with the information if Neal doesn’t steal the art piece.
Neal frets that he didn’t tell Peter about the situation earlier, but with this much evidence against him now he feels it’s too late. He and Mozzie make plans to steal the mobile when Abigail takes Diana up on her museum invitation, using camera-defying devices designed by Mozzie to distract the undercover FBI agents. The heist comes off beautifully; while Abigail makes a pass at Diana, the agents end up chasing Mozzie’s LED-enhanced headless image on cameras throughout the museum. After Moz disables the cameras completely, Neal finds and disassembles the mobile, loading it into a trash bin (complete with a Mozzie-designed smell capsule to give it a realistic odor) which is rolled out to the curb as usual by a clueless museum janitor. Mozzie is waiting to intercept it as soon as the janitor goes inside. Voila!
The heist was a success, but Neal feels terrible about deceiving Peter. Mozzie tries to convince him that he had no choice, and that information on Ellen’s death is more important than an art piece. Neal reluctantly agrees, but he is still troubled. After Mozzie leaves, Diana unexpectedly arrives at Neal’s place. As he suspected earlier from her behavior on the undercover “date,” she has been having problems with her long-term girlfriend, and needs someone to talk to. Neal is sympathetic; he understands about playing a part, and enjoying it more than your real life. In a poignant conversation, we hear Diana’s regrets about deceiving her girlfriend echoing Neal’s issues with Peter.
Peter and Jones find evidence pointing at Neal’s involvement in the heist, and set up surveillance to watch as Neal delivers the art to Abigail. But as Peter witnesses the exchange, he hears Neal accuse Abigail of blackmail … and Abigail doesn’t deny it. Then, when Abigail tries to give him the flashdrive that contains the stolen Marshals’ report, Neal refuses to take it! Peter is stunned – is Neal not guilty after all?
“I said I wouldn’t take the offer,” Neal tells Abigail. “The price is too high.” Just as Abigail leaves with both the art piece and the drive, Neal calls Peter to turn Abigail in. Instantly, Jones and his team surround Abigail, taking her into custody. Back in Peter’s office, Peter dresses Neal down for his deceit. Neal seems authentically ashamed and apologetic, saying he thought he could take care of the situation without involving Peter; he didn’t want to get Peter into any more trouble. Still, Peter says that if Neal hadn’t called him THE SECOND he walked away …
“I would be in jail right now, ” Neal says earnestly, “and I wouldn’t blame you for putting me there.”
This seems to satisfy Peter. He then reveals to Neal that he has turned the flash drive back to the Marshals, and seems surprised when Neal answers, “Good. I said the price was too high, and I meant it. Your trust is too important to me.” At that point, Peter pulls out the copy he made of the drive, and gives it to a stunned Neal, making him promise to tell him if he finds any information that leads to Sam.
Back at home, Peter’s wife Elizabeth accuses him of wearing his “bad news face,” and Peter explains why. “Neal told me his trust was more important to him than the flash drive, and I believed him. I’m just not sure I should.” He says he realized that Neal would have known that the flash drive would end up in FBI evidence, and now suspects that Neal played a long con on him to get Peter to offer him the flash drive voluntarily. El asks if he really believes that’s the case.
“I don’t know,” Peter answers, “but if there’s anyone who can find a way to get everything he wants … it’s Neal.” Now the viewers have to decide… was Neal being sincere? Or was he just playing a very, very clever confidence game? And will Neal and Peter’s relationship be ruined forever if he was?
Watch White Collar, Tuesdays at 9 PM on USA to find out!