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We’re back, Collars! Neal and Keller attempted some collaborative conning on this week’s episode, “Uncontrolled Variables”.
At the beginning of the episode, Neal and Mozzie are discussing Interpol and their lack of trust for the organization. Mozzie is still nervous about Keller’s intentions, but Neal doesn’t seem to be on the same page. Mozzie shows Neal that he is holding a Japanese “good luck amulet”, which he reveals is for Elizabeth. Neal tells Mozzie that he already knew Elizabeth was pregnant, but they are interrupted when Neal gets a call from the Pink Panthers, forcing him to leave Mozzie and meet with Peter.
Peter is talking about Interpol with his team and they realize that Keller has a handler who can control his monitor. Their new goal is to find out who released Keller from prison. During Neal’s meet with Keller later that day, Peter and his team use a GoPro to take images of people nearby, hoping to figure out who Keller’s handler is via cross-match.
In a market in the park, Keller tells Neal that they’re going to be working together for their next mission: stealing and copying a file from Atlas Tech. Neal wants to know if Keller already has a plan for getting in the vault, and much to Neal’s distaste, Keller wants to con an assistant at the tech company (who happens to be a very attractive young woman).
Neal profiles her and recognizes that she is just a good innocent person; he is very reluctant to complete the con and involve her in the theft. But Keller’s persuasive tone pushes Neal to get involved, and he makes his way over to her. They talk about NYC’s unique vegetables, and I must say that Neal’s charming skills are pretty spot-on.
To gain her trust even more, Keller walks over and tries to ask her out, but Amy (the young assistant) is definitely “creeped-out” by him, allowing Neal to swoop in as the hero and scare Keller off. Amy is, unfortunately, oblivious to the fact that the men are working together and continues to show interest in Neal by letting him walk her to her car.
Meanwhile, Peter has located Keller’s handler and confronts him in the park.
Peter meets with Neal, Keller, and his French Handler (Luke), telling them that they all “need to talk.” He very clearly explains that the “four of [them] have the same goal” and that they need to work together. When Luke tries to show dominance over Peter about Neal, he comes right back with, “Neal works for me. You’re with me or you’re out.” Peter goes even further to say that the operation will either be joint FBI-Interpol, or just FBI and that it’s Luke’s decision.
When Neal and Mozzie are reviewing the blueprints for the office and the vault, Neal realizes that he needs to use Keller in order to get the Exodus file.
Neal brings Amy lunch to the office and she is shocked to see that he has prepared such an amazing meal for her. As she starts to eat, Amy sees that the guard is new and then pieces it together that the guard is the creepy guy (Keller) from the market.
Checking on what the guard was doing, Amy opens the door to the vault room and Mozzie sneaks in to the vault. The big problem? Mozzie’s USB drive will not work on the old-school floppy disc computer system where the Exodus file is being held.
So what did Mozzie do? He took the whole file!
The only plan they can think of is to sneak the file in Amy’s purse and then hope she puts it back when she sees that she has it, but Neal doesn't want to use Amy (Neal is also adorably upset that she will realize that he conned her).
When Peter and Luke get to the house to see how Mozzie is doing with the file, Mozzie greets them as “Suit and Le Suit”. Mozzie lets them know that he doesn’t have a perfect solution for the file, but he thinks he can get the different computer parts “to talk”, comparing their ability to work together to a seating chart at a wedding.
Amy goes to Neal’s apartment for their dinner date, and Neal knows that he needs to stall her so that Mozzie can copy the file. Her romantic intentions are very clear, but Neal does his best to distract her and interrupt her passes at him.
She manages to get him to stand up behind her so that he can show her how to use the knife properly, and just as they are about to kiss, Neal’s landlady, June, bursts through the door. Neal gladly welcomes her in to the apartment, using her as a procrastination tool.
Mozzie succeeds in opening the file and while on the phone with Neal, Peter apologizes for skewing Amy’s impression. When Neal was out of the room on the phone, Amy let June know that she wanted some privacy with Neal, and when he returns, June quickly leaves the apartment. Neal starts to talk, but Amy throws herself at him and the two of them kiss in their embrace. This time, it is Amy’s cell that stops them.
Apparently, Amy’s boss knows that the file was stolen, and she is convinced that she’s going to be fired.
Analyzing the file, Peter thinks that it looks like a complex algorithm. Mozzie stays in the conversation with Peter and Luke, but makes an observational comment that “two suits acting like suits is two suits too many.”
Peter’s plan is to tell Amy’s boss that they took the file as part of an FBI investigation. He tries to persuade Luke, saying that it’s “There only play.” Peter tells Luke that the girl is innocent, and that Neal will send her home.
Luke seems to have other plans though, and calls Keller. Peter realizes that Luke took the disc and left his house. Peter is nervous that he will plant it on Amy.
Neal walks Amy home and Keller is in the apartment, placing the file in her bag. Keller pulls a knife on her when she confronts him, and Neal comes storming in to save her once again. Keller tells Amy that Neal and Keller stole it together.
She figures out that they know each other and it’s clear that Keller wants Amy to turn on Neal.
Trying to save his dignity, Neal tells Amy what to do and how to use the disc to promote her own status within the company so that she isn’t fired when she returns the file.
But the next day, when Amy meets up with Neal after she speaks with her boss and returns the file, we learn that Amy quit her job, saying that she refused to manipulate others to get what she wants (unlike some other people she knows…). She slaps Neal and thanks him for making her realize that she doesn’t belong in NYC.
Peter and his team discover that the file is a randomizer for variables relating to international airlines. The algorithm provides info about what is being transported where. Peter yells at Luke for stealing the Exodus file from his house and for Keller almost hurting Amy.
Mozzie and Neal talk about the conman’s quandary (not wanting to hurt innocent people), and Mozzie is able to convince him that he protected Amy from Keller and that he shouldn’t feel guilty about conning her.
Elizabeth asks Peter if he’s going to put “being a father” on the top of his priority list, and he affirms to her once more that he longs to be a great father.
In the final scene, Neal and Keller play chess (how fitting) and Neal warns Keller not to try anything like that (endangering innocent people) again. Neal reminds Keller that “he’s not a guy” like him.
Keller asks Neal what he thinks is going to happen after they get their freedom when they’ve taken down the Panthers. Keller bitterly tells him that they will always be hunted men and that it will never be over. He explains that Panthers will come after them, especially by going after the people that they love, and that anyone Neal considers to be family might as well be put “on death row”.
Keller leaves Neal in the park to consider where his loyalties lie. Will Neal rethink his whole operation and contract with the FBI? Had he not previously considered what would happen to him after he took down the Panthers? New episode in 2 weeks!!