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'White Collar' recap: Neal finds an old foe in the Pink Panthers

'White Collar' recap: Will Matthew Keller's return jeopardize Neal's path to freedom?

And just like that, Neal Caffrey’s (Matt Bomer) freedom might be in jeopardy, thanks to the arrival of friend-turned-foe Matthew Keller (Ross McCall) in the latest episode of USA Network's "White Collar." 

We last saw Keller in Season 3, on his way to Russia with a 20-year prison sentence. Let’s not forget, he did kidnap Elizabeth Burke (Tiffani Thiessen) and almost kill FBI Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay). 

Caffrey learns that Keller is now an informant for Interpol, noticing a chip implanted in his former partner's left arm. Interpol, like the FBI with Caffrey, wants to dismantle the elusive crime syndicate known as the Pink Panthers, led by Alan Woodford (Gavin Lee). At a meeting with the Pink Panthers, Caffrey learns his first task: Steal a rare Swedish stamp, the Treskilling Yellow. 

What if Keller takes down the syndicate first? I'm sure that's an idea fans, like myself, don't want to entertain. 

Having two con men infiltrate the Panthers may seem like a thumbs-up for "law and order." Well, not for Burke, who wants Keller behind bars but, in a rare instance, is calmed by Caffrey. It's been Burke who's tried to keep Caffrey from rash decisions, dating back to Season 1 when Caffrey and then-girlfriend Kate Moreau planned to run.

Back at FBI headquarters, Burke and agents Diana Berrigan (Marsha Thomason) and Clinton Jones (Sharif Atkins) learn a black market dealer, Bianca/Sofia Esteverena (Paloma Guzman) plans to auction the stamp to a handful of clients, including a rarely photographed California playboy, Nathaniel Dietrick. FBI agents intercept Dietrick at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Caffrey adds a new alias to his resume before meeting Bianca.

At the cafe, the meeting turns sour as Caffrey realizes Bianca will only meet Dietrick’s father, Elias. Cue another role debut for Burke.

Burke plays the role with ease. The con pays off, earning both entry to the auction at a private residence. Burke plays on Bianca’s emotions about losing her father at 5 years old. He has a knack at taking what means the most to people to get what what he wants.

Take Rebecca Lowe/Rachel Turner (Bridget Kegan) in "Borrowed Time," letting Burke swindle her into finding Caffrey. Does that make Burke two for two now? 

At the auction, Caffrey and Burke locate the stamp protected by a top-of-the-line security system that triggers a cage when tampered. As a distraction, Burke tussles with a snobby bidder, setting off the alarm, allowing Caffrey to use a snail fork to hold the cage. Caffrey slips the rare stamp inside his neck tie. 

But with the stamp ripped from its owner overseas, the FBI has no choice but return it. Caffrey is forced to forge the Treskilling Yellow before meting with Woodford.

Keller lies about the stamp’s authentication, thanks to a word inscribed on the rare find by Caffrey: Interpol. Woodford reveals cracking the security system as the real test. 

Caffrey, hold onto your fedora, please. 

At episode's end, Burke heads home with Caffrey after the day's success. A contract Mozzie wrote, saying Caffrey seals his freedom by handing over the Pink Panthers, bears the attorney general's signature.

Then, Burke reveals to Caffrey what fans learned last episode, Elizabeth is pregnant. "El" had no choice but to tell Mozzie earlier as he noticed "Mrs. Suit" didn't drink any wine while putting dishes away. 

I don't know where the "Baby Burke" storyline will take us, but it's a tender addition to the show. The kidnappings, deaths and Caffrey's smarts against old foes make for entertainment, but the characters’ joy about a new baby is refreshing.

It’s a touching progression between Burke and Caffrey, former foes themselves. 

Burke and Caffrey toasted the news: “To the future." I'll channel my inner Mozzie and raise a glass of red wine to that. 

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