WHITE COLLAR: “Countdown” Summer Finale Advance Review

Are you ready, White Collar fans? The summer finale “Countdown” airs TONIGHT at 9/8c on USA Network!

Season three has really reminded us who Neal Caffrey is. Beneath the dazzling smile and charm, Neal Caffrey is a criminal. And a damn good one, at that. One of the recurring themes of this season has been the classic battle between nature vs. nurture, and we have watched Neal fight to decide between who he is and who he wants to be. With Mozzie on one shoulder and Peter on the other, Neal has been wearing himself thin leading a double life, living up to the season’s tag line: Choose a side.

It all comes to a head in “Countdown,” the jaw-dropping finale that had me (literally) gasping in shock by the end. I can’t reveal any major spoilers, and it’s difficult for me to form coherent sentences after watching it, but I shall do my best to give some semblance of a review. Click to read a short recap and my review of White Collar‘s mid-season finale!


The past few episodes have been building up to the climactic finale airing tonight. The extent of Neal’s internal struggle really comes to light in the closing scene of “As You Were”. After months of trying to find out what the FBI knows, Neal finally recovers the manifest Peter had been hiding from him. He has his ticket to freedom in his hands, a clear shot at running away with the treasure — and for a second, it really looks as if he’s going to take it.

Until Peter calls, and suddenly it becomes painfully clear: Neal never truly wanted to run. He’s been finding excuses to stay, and Peter’s phone call was all he needed to be reminded of what he’d be leaving behind. Neal chooses to lie to Mozzie and delay his departure for just a while longer, and the episode ends with Neal sitting alone in the Burkes’ bedroom, staring at their photograph while contemplating his dilemma.

Last week’s “On the Fence” brings the return of a familiar nemesis (every good hero needs a nemesis!), Matthew Keller. News of the stolen treasure has tempted Keller out of hiding, and he doesn’t hesitate to go after the people closest to Neal to get what he wants. In the past, he had kidnapped Peter. This time, he threatens Neal’s love interest Sara Ellis to get information on the treasure, then murders an old friend to cover his tracks. Mozzie takes matters into his own hands and puts out a $6 million hit on Keller, but it only results in allowing Keller to escape before the FBI can arrest him.

Unfortunately, Mozzie unwittingly sells a Degas painting listed on the manifest in order to fund the bounty on Keller. Neal has no choice but to admit he lied, and the two must overcome their differences to recover the painting before the FBI — and more importantly, Peter — catches them.


Neal’s worst fears are realized and word of the Degas painting has reached the FBI. Peter brings in outside reinforcements by calling in the help of his mentor, Kramer (played by guest star Beau Bridges). Check out the AOL TV exclusive preview clip, which sets the scene.

One of the things I love most about White Collar is getting to see Peter and Neal at their best and brightest. They make an incredible team working together and solving cases, but when forced to work against each other in a battle of wits, it’s as if playtime is officially over. “Countdown” demonstrates this better than any other episode has so far, in my opinion. We get to see Neal like never before, drawing upon all of his skills in staying half a step ahead of Peter. Likewise, we are reminded why it is that Peter was the only one who could catch Neal (twice).

While Neal and Mozzie try to get to the painting before Peter and Kramer, there is a literal countdown happening in the background. Mozzie gives Neal an ultimatum: “Stay here with Peter, or come with me. Choose a side, Neal.” (Heyyy isn’t that…?)

Meanwhile, Peter faces a difficult decision of his own. Kramer remarks on his close relationship with Neal, and reminds him: “If Neal is a suspect, then you have to treat him like one.”

As if things aren’t complicated enough, Neal’s lies start catching up to him when someone unexpected shows up at the FBI office. For once, things don’t always go Neal’s way, and we begin to see just how quickly things can unravel. It all leads up to an insane stunt (think “Free Fall,” multiplied by about seven) and a heart-stopping final three minutes.


→ “Why is there a giant hourglass on my table?”
→ A certain photograph makes a reappearance! ;)
→ We learn Peter’s nickname from his probie days at DC Art Crimes.
→ Badass!Diana going undercover as Peter’s muscle.
→ “We have a problem.” “We should copyright that phrase.”
→ Find out where Neal hides his spare lock picks. (No, not there.)

DO NOT miss the White Collar summer finale! “Countdown” airs tonight at 9/8c on USA Network.

For more White Collar scoop, check out my interview with Tiffani Thiessen!

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