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For the last six weeks I have had the privilege of recapping the final season of White Collar on Entertainment Weekly’s Community blog.
Tonight I got to write about the finale. Instead of writing the article twice, I’m going to post my EW recap here.
I hope you all enjoyed Neal, Peter, Mozzie, Elizabeth, Jones, and Diana as much as I did. Thanks White Collar, it’s been a great six years! Au revoir!
Season 6 | Episode 6 | “Au Revoir” | Aired Dec 18, 2014
White Collar has graced the hearts and homes of viewers and fans for six years, showcasing not only the greatest capers but also the greatest relationships. Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) and Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) will always be my favorite onscreen father-and-son duo, even though they weren’t officially playing father and son. Peter was the father Neal never had: a man who believed in him enough to keep him safe, no matter what. Whether it was Mozzie’s (Willie Garson) poetic waxing, or all the nods to classic heist films like How to Steal a Million or The Thomas Crown Affair, there will always be a special place in my heart for this show, and tonight we say goodbye.
The stakes are high
Every season finale of White Collar has been amazing, and this episode is no exception. With a gun to Peter’s head, Woodford must be convinced to let Peter help with the job or he will kill him. Peter smoothly mentions pulling an old job of Neal’s, which impresses Woodford. When Mozzie finds out Neal has invited Peter onto the Panther job, he freaks out. Mozzie can’t understand why Neal would betray him like this. Thankfully, Neal has a play. Mozzie gets to be the outside man who siphons off $30 million—that is, if everything goes to plan.
As this is the finale, we get the opportunity to say goodbye to all of our favorite old friends, including June (Diahann Carroll). Neal toasts and kisses June goodbye, calling her his “saving grace.” When she hugs Neal and says “I’ll see you tomorrow,” I couldn’t help but cry. No June, you won’t. Neal also returns “the lady” to Mozzie, a souvenir from the first time Neal beat Mozzie in a con game of cards. Elizabeth and Peter also have Neal over for dinner to tell him that they are having a baby boy. Peter and Neal share one last cup of coffee together, reminiscing about their first meeting over Italian coffee in the clouds.
The perfect score
The Panthers will be moving $1 million per second out of the airport, with radio silence and only three minutes to break into the safe. Neal, handsomely disguised as an airline pilot (à la Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can) gets the security clearance they need to break into the airport. He then does a quick wardrobe change so he can let in Peter and Keller (and their ominous hearse). In true Ocean’s Eleven fashion, the Panthers have all their equipment set up and they are ready to go!
The second Peter’s watch is triggered, the FBI begins moving in. Neal and Keller work together to crack the safe. Every detail of this heist has been planned, but something could go wrong at any second. The stakes really couldn’t be any higher. What a great way to say goodbye to a show that essentially has always been about pulling off a great heist. Mozzie is even waiting underground for the $30 million, listening to Bobby Darin sing “La Mer.” What could go wrong?
Take the money and run
The police burst in right as they finish the job and arrest everyone. Neal, Peter and Keller are held temporarily while the rest of the Panthers are indicted. While Peter steps out, Keller starts pushing on Neal. Keller questions Neal’s trust in the FBI, forcing Neal to run. But Neal is still wearing his anklet, which means he only has a few minutes to escape if he decides to run with Mozzie and the money.
Mozzie, Neal and Keller collect their money, agreeing to split it evenly. That is, until Keller pulls a knife, demanding all of it. Neal pulls a gun on Keller, bringing all their history to the surface. Neal and Keller have always been at odds, and now Neal has too much to protect to let Keller get away. Keller tries to convince Neal that they are the same, but Neal holds his ground: “That’s not me.” In the scuffle, Keller shoots Neal and leaves him to bleed out. Peter tracks Keller down and, in a flash, takes a shot and kills him. Moments later Neal is being lifted into an ambulance, and then, he’s dead. Our hero, our fearless leader, our Neal, is dead. Mozzie starts spouting conspiracy theories about JFK and fake bodies, unable to cope with losing his closest friend. “There was always a way out. It didn’t matter how tight the scrape, Neal could always slide past.” Not this time, Mozzie.
Always look at the pinstripes
After Neal’s passing, Peter and El have their baby, Jones gets promoted, Diana takes a job in D.C., and Peter is actually making it home on time at night. Mozzie is playing cards in the park, just like he was when he first met Neal. Mozzie has traded in his conspiracy theories for depression, stage four in the five stages of grief. Mozzie still holds on to the queen card, hoping it was a sign of Neal pulling his last and greatest con. And $23 million is still missing from the Panther case—where could it be?
If one thing is true about Peter Burke, it’s that he never stops digging. He was, after all, the only man to ever catch the elusive criminal Neal Caffrey. The same is true of him even now. On the day Neal died, Peter was given the bullet that killed him and a mysterious key. Peter must have forgotten about the container he and Jones checked out before the Panther heist. Finding the key, Peter opens the container. There are diagrams of bullet wounds, doctors, poisons, a decoy mannequin, and Neal and Mozzie’s queen of hearts card. Mozzie’s words echo loudly in Peter’s head: JFK, decoy, greatest con … As Peter puts this puzzle together, a familiar song starts playing. The classic and always victorious “La Mer.” Minutes later we see Neal, sharply dressed, putting on that famous fedora. Neal walks off into the sunset, in Paris, heading into what might just be the called the greatest art heist in Paris of all time.
Oh, White Collar, there is nothing to forgive here. Was it heart wrenching to watch Neal die? Yes. But it was more satisfying that any ending I could have hoped for. I think I even saw show runners Jeff Eastin and Jeff King cameo as homeless guys talking to Mozzie! All is right in the world, Neal lives to con again. Maybe one day Peter, Elizabeth and baby Neal will make a trip Paris and run into their old friend. As Neal said on his deathbed to Peter: “You’re the only one who ever saw the good in me. You’re my best friend.” We saw the good in you Neal, and we always will.
Thank you, USA Network and the White Collar cast, crew and creators for six amazing seasons.