Keller is my favorite villain to date. In part because of his connection to Neal and ability to get to him (Though I don't think Kate ever was involved with Keller. We don't know her very well, but having been with someone like Neal, I can't see her rebounding with someone like Keller.); in part because Keller is a more believable bad guy, someone we can easily identify with and the type of criminal the FBI would encounter on a more regular basis.
Neal referring to Keller as a blue collar version of himself intrigued me. Neal could merely have been labeling the type of crimes Keller normally perpetrates, as well as his manner and methods. But could it also have been a reference to where each came from? Personally, I'd love it to be revealed that Neal didn't come from humble backgrounds and is a completely self-made man. What if Neal Caffrey came from wealth and privilege and has always been accustomed to the finer things in life?
After the wonky characterization in 'Home Invasion', Neal and Peter were more themselves in 'Bottlenecked'. The episode also had a nice balance of plot and Neal/Peter interaction. I'm probably one of the few people in fandom who feels this way, but some episodes I have felt focused too much on the bromance, slash...whatever you wish to call it. I love the partnership and relationship between Neal and Peter. I even enjoy spotting the subtext. But I don't want to be beaten over the head with it. Perhaps Jeff Eastin being the co-writer of the script explains some of it.
In 'Bottlenecked', there were many small moments to appreciate. There was Neal and Peter's reaction to seeing each other earlier than usual at the office and the perfect line delivery of, "What ya doing?" / "Nothing." Neal explaining his plan to get back into the wine cellar with Peter's help, Peter questioning it, and Neal responding with, "We can call this one a gray area." It is exactly what Peter said to Neal in 'The Portrait' after Neal obtain the check with Dorsette's name on it ('The Portrait' was also penned by Eastin).
Then there was my favorite catch. Neal, who has claimed he doesn't care for beer, was having a beer with Peter at Peter's home. It could be that Neal was merely being polite. But I think it's more than that. In the very next scene, we see Neal and Peter arriving at the wine tasting and Peter is complaining about the tie Neal has picked out for him, yet he has agreed to wear it. What those two scenes subtly did (and I like subtle) is show us that both men are beginning to compromise, to accommodate one another and are allowing the other a little bit more into their own world. And, on a larger scale, Peter actually did trust Neal to run with this case, something he hesitated doing in 'Vital Signs'.
I also liked seeing Peter being smart. Sure, it was originally Neal's plan, but every time it was on the verge of falling apart, Peter stepped up with a great idea that allowed them to proceed.
Hughes only had one scene, but it was one of the funniest. As he walks into Peter's office, Peter looks up and says, "This can't be good." Hughes responds, "Why does everyone say that when I walk into their office?" I may have had similar conversations myself. ;)
Moz was awesome and is becoming an increasingly integral part of the series (and FBI sting operations). He's feeling much more at ease around Peter and Peter, in turn, seems to have just come to accept he'll be a part of their cases.
It struck me on third viewing that Neal and Moz have the same smart phone. My personal fanon is Neal bought it for him. :)
Neal doesn't have a million dollars for a bottle of wine? Did buying a bakery in Manhattan wipe him out??? ;p
I'd have had more issues with Peter contemplating busting Keller for trespassing if I had not just watched an episode of Southland in which the police were busting gang members for jaywalking while trying to crack a much larger case.
Finally, because once again this has turned out much longer than I had planned, I'm beginning to wonder why Neal was willing to serve out his four year prison sentence? Neal seems to think there is a good chance Keller will escape from prison. We know Neal is capable of doing that and can put a plan together in a relatively short period of time. So why did Neal not break out six months after his sentence, grab Kate and run off to Europe or some country with no extradition? Is there a reason he was willing to sit in a cell and wait? Hmmmmm...
A heads up to those with Comcast or TV Guide, the description of the season finale contains a spoiler. Or at least it was the first I was reading about a plot point.