"Tap me like a geyser," are five words that never need to pass through Tim DeKay's lips onscreen again; especially when they are spoken to his boss. Fortunately for White Collar, DeKay and the rest of the cast bring more to the table for this episode than a few snappy one-liners.
"Parting Shots" opens with Peter in his new digs at the evidence warehouse, just as Neal (Matt Bomer) drops in with lunch. Peter is quick to upgrade lunch partners, though, when Sara Ellis (Hilarie Burton) also stops by to ask for help with a possible insurance fraud claim.
Sara's settlement case centers around the suspicious death of Grant Covington, whose widow, Sophie (Laura Vandervoot) stands to inherit 50 million dollars. Sara smells a rat, but while she and Peter are staking the funeral out, they end up with a front row seat to a kidnapping attempt on Sophie. Fortunately for the young socialite, Neal comes to her rescue, curtailing the abduction attempt and sacrificing only his hat in the process.
Being an eyewitness to the crime - as well as the former lead investigator on an insider trading investigation involving the late Covington - gives Peter the perfect opening to slip out of his evidence warehouse duties and into the role of consultant on the case for the FBI. Meanwhile, Neal's purloined hat gives him the perfect excuse to drop by Sophie's place and scope out her relationship with her late husband's business partner, Wilson Mailor (Peter Hermann).
The twist is that Sophie is actually the victim and Mailor's the one who is trying to nab her in what Agent Jones (Sharif Atkins) terms a “white collar mugging” for the inheritance money. Despite his initial hesitance, Neal agrees to work a con to draw Mailor out, by making him think Neal is moving in on Sophie. With some help from Mozzie (Willie Garson) and an unsuspecting PI named Freddy (Casey Siemaszko), the con goes off with out a hitch, giving the PI some juicy photos for his client, Mrs. Mailor. Peter and Jones move in on the PI.
Once Freddy's photo's are in Mailor's hands, the trap is sprung and all that's left to do is wait for him to make a second move on Sophie. That chance comes when Sophie invites Neal to be her guest at the gallery benefit where she plans to give away the 50 million dollars. For Peter, this means that playtime is over and it's back to the evidence warehouse for him while the rest of the team goes out on the sting.
A funny thing happens on the way to the benefit, though, when Neal realizes that Sophie's driver Tony (J. Bernard Calloway) has been bought by Mailor. He quickly makes Tony think he's already stolen the money, then makes a deal to free the girl in exchange for a cut. Off radar and once again in mortal peril, Neal's only hope is Peter, who defies his warehouse warden and races off to the rescue. At a dock that has served for more than one White Collar standoff, Neal stalls for as long as he can, then breathes a sigh of relief when the money is in his bank account, ready to be split amongst the thieves. He walks away without a scratch, but not before baiting Mailor to go after Freddy. Mailor can't resist the chance to tie up loose ends and Peter is there to slap the cuffs on him and bring him in.
Woven throughout the main narrative is Neal's continuing search for the truth about his father. He is determined to get as much information as he can from his father's partner Ellen (Judith Ivey) before the Witness Protection Program relocates her. Unfortunately, Ellen is tight-lipped; reluctant to give away anything because the situation is so precarious. It's no small surprise that the episode closes with Ellen and her federal marshal protectors being gunned down. “Trust Sam,” will most likely be the last words Neal has from her, meaning we must wait once again for more clues in this case to be disclosed.
What we don't have to wait for is Peter's reinstatement to the white collar crime division at the FBI. Despite circumventing the rules of his administrative leave, the Bureau decides to take the risk and reinstate his position, as well as his partnership with Neal. What saves this from being a clichéd victory is the warning that Peter take care not to get in too deep with Neal, lest he wake up to discover he's no longer the man he used to be. It is a slightly somber Peter who surveys the small party of friends and family gathered in his home to celebrate and the smile doesn't quite reach his lips as Neal proposes a toast, “To Peter Burke: the man we all wish we could be more like.”
White Collar airs Tuesday @9pm on USA Network.