Or should we say into the box in Kate's case? Sorry. Bad joke. ;)
I don't believe Kate's dead. If she is dead, I will be very disappointed. Not because I love the character (she's been nothing more than a McGuffin all season), but because I want Neal to see Kate again, really be with her, and realize the truth. Elizabeth verbalized what I've felt all season and what Neal needs to face. Neal is in love with ideal and not who Kate truly is.
Tellingly, When Moz confronts Neal with the idea of settling down with Kate, buying a fixer upper, and joining the PTA, Neal seems genuinely happy at the thought. While Neal would never be the typical soccer dad, I can see him with a family. It's possible he is longing for something he didn't have and he's convinced himself, or Kate has convinced him, that she's the one he can have that life with. Again, he's focused on an ideal rather than reality.
Even with my doubts about Kate and her motives, I do not believe her to be evil. It's even possible she wasn't willingly acting as bait to get Neal on the plane. (I'm not even sure Neal was meant to get on the plane. I find it difficult to believe a timer was used when they couldn't be certain exactly when Neal would board. Or maybe part of the plan is to convince Neal that Kate is dead? Though I have no clue why.) I'm willing to believe Neal is right and Kate is being manipulated. And if she's too weak to fight back that doesn't make her a horrible person. But her actions, or in-actions, tell me she is not The One for Neal.
Ultimately, I want Kate to be alive because I want to see Neal make the choice we didn't get to see him make when the plane exploded. I want him to realize Peter was right. He has friends, people who care about him, and he's done some really good work to help people. He's built a life and home for himself and he's where he should be, regardless of the ankle monitor. I want Neal to embrace the man he's becoming because he wants to be that person and not settle because the life he thought he wanted was taken from him.
Peter and Neal were more upfront with each other than they had ever been before. The past several episodes I've felt they've continually been taking a step forward instead of one forward, then two back. Peter confronted Neal about his meeting with Fowler; Neal didn't make up any excuse as to what the meeting was about. When Fowler targeted Elizabeth (and I have never felt such rage as that moment Fowler walked into her business and started threatening her) to get to Peter, Neal showed Peter the tracker had been deactivated. Neal was honest with Peter at every turn and Peter used his suspension as a loophole to not turn Neal in and allow Neal to (hopefully) make the right choice.
At this point, I'm not thinking too much about Mentor or the music box. We know there's a second, encrypted file that Neal was not privy too that will likely reveal more of the truth of the operation. I believe it will all make sense eventually. One thing I do wonder about is who is the target? Neal? Peter? Both? Peter took Neal up on his offer to consult with the FBI, but someone higher up had to sign off on the arrangement.
And Fowler stated to Peter and Diana that Mentor, and thus the OPR deal, were legit. Fowler could have been lying, but, if any part of the deal was legal, could Neal be a free man or at least free of the anklet next season? Neal now has a personal reason to stay with the FBI - find out who killed (maybe) Kate and who tried to kill him. (Though I assume we'd have a quick answer as to whether or not Kate was on the plane. The fire was bad, but there would be some remains.) I would be interested to see Neal make a choice to stay with the FBI.
I hope (and suspect) we will see more of Alex next season. Gloria and Matt have incredible chemistry. And we still don't know quite how well Alex and Neal know each other. I keep going back and forth as to how intimate they were.
While I like Alex, and her relationship with Neal intrigues me, I don't trust her. I can accept she cares about Neal and would be interested in pursuing (or rekindling) a relationship. Just because she's a con, doesn't mean she can't have feelings (like Neal). But her bringing back the music box for Neal seemed too easy. I have to wonder if she took what is really valuable from the box while she had it for...several hours? Remember, we had hints the box was wanted for what it contained.
Perhaps she's working a side deal with some third or forth party we are unaware of. It's also plausible she doesn't want to have to deal with what Fowler and whoever he's working for could bring down upon her. But if she did take something from the box, my feeling is her plan is to keep it until she feels it's safe to attempt to sell and that will bring Neal back into her orbit after he (presumably) has wised up about Kate. She's working on a win/win situation for herself.
While the pool scene was great, Shirtless Neal + Sculpting = HOT. Maybe it has to do with my art background and that I love watching people being creative, but....GUH.
Diana is back! And she has a girlfriend! I love they included that bit. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of her.
I may have squeed when I heard Mozzie tell Neal, "As the proprietor of The Greatest Cake, I expect a glowing recommendation." It's probably irrational as to how much I love the idea of Neal owning a bakery and legitimate business, BUT I DON'T CARE!
There was dialogue cut between Neal and Elizabeth, including Elizabeth asking Neal why they couldn't have had their conversation in person. Given Neal's confession to Peter as to why he didn't wish to see him before he left, could Neal have also believed Elizabeth was capable of stopping him? Talking to her and Peter face to face, I think Neal *knew* he could be swayed.
And while I don't fault Peter for his continued efforts to, to his mind, protect Neal, when the woman he loved was threatened and used to get to him, Peter was able to put himself in Neal's shoes and realize the situation isn't so clear.
I loved Peter referring to Alex and Mozzie (and, acting as lookout, June ;) as Neal's "crew". Since Peter has Jones, Lauren and Diana, there's a nice balance to each man having his own team. And I enjoyed watching Neal and his crew in action, though I wish the heist was written a bit better. I knew right away the tools were in the statue. And the success of Neal's plan hinged on consulate people acting dumb. No one deduced the 'fire' started shortly after Neal declared his intentions was part of his plan? And all they needed to do was keep one person at the door to screw up the plan.
It didn't hit me until about an hour after I watched the episode that Neal's 'old friend' at the Channing Museum who owed him a favor was the curator in 'The Portrait'. I adore continuity. :)
Now my hiatus goals include writing my epic fic before canon screws me. I'll have to do a bit of glossing over, but waiting until the season ended also helped in some ways. And I will have some piece of equipment with Blu-ray capability before the Season 1 DVDs come out. ;)