While still not a perfect episode, "Countermeasures" was so much better than "What Happened in Burma". It felt like a throwback to early episodes which focused on simpler stories and small, intimate moments between the characters. And it was a nice breather from the music box arc. Other than Moz's brief mentions of trying to locate radio tubes, there was no discussion of it this week.
My main complaint has to do with, no surprise, the plot. I don't know if the plotting was any worse than usual, but that the the entire scheme hinged on a 50(?) year old receipt being in the jacket pocket of one of Byron's suits was stretching.....no, it was just really far-fetched. I mean, we'd have to assume Byron last wore the suit shortly before he died and I don't think he's been dead that long. And how would Ford know the receipt was in the jacket? And if he knew where the receipt was and what it was for, why wait so long to contact June? Or didn't he consider the possibilities of stealing the plate until he met his latest cellmate? And it's convenient that it was one of the suits Neal hadn't worn yet. My arm could break from the handwaving! :p
Another plot point I feel may have been lost in editing is June's awareness of what Neal (and by extension Peter) was doing. June knows Peter and El. I would think Neal would have had to clue her into his concerns and plans if he was to pass Peter off as a business associate to Ford. Otherwise, June could have slipped up and revealed Peter's an FBI agent.
What worked were the parallels between Ford and Neal. The show doesn't really do subtle, but in this case it was to the story's advantage. Subtle is something Neal could - and would - choose to ignore. In many ways, even as someone on parole, Neal is living the life he wants to live. And once his time is up, he aspires to have it all - wealth, notoriety and a home. "Forging Bonds" showed us Neal was already struggling to balance his personal life with his criminal life. Up until this point, I think Neal felt he was on the same path as Byron, but we learn Byron made a choice. Perhaps he was never an upstanding, law-abiding citizen, but by hiding the plate and not using it, he stepped away from activities he knew would cost him time with June. At a point in his life, he decided she came first. Can Neal do that? Kate was supposedly the love of his life, yet he wasn't willing to walk away from what he knew. And when Ford is offered a second chance by Neal, just as Neal was offered one by Peter, Ford chooses to run and ends up with nothing.
There were moments which made Neal pause and contemplate what he wants his future to be. Diana pointed out June was extending the same generosity to Ford as she had to Neal. And one of my favorite lines was when Peter told Neal, "When you decide to grow up..." It was Peter's most pointed comment yet regarding Neal's maturity (or lack of) and the consequences of it and Neal didn't come back with a smart retort or dismiss it. In fact, when Peter continues with "you can be a con or a man", Neal pays closer attention to what Peter is telling him. Neal's never distinguished between the two, but I think he does when Ford chooses to be the former. Ford chose to turn his back on June. He put the con before the people in his life. It's something I can't see Neal ever doing.
It was interesting that as Neal gets a look at one possible future for himself, Peter removes the anklet. There was no indication any other tracker was put on Neal. Neal was free to run if he chose, but Peter trusted him not to. Granted, Neal's desire to help and protect June outweighed any other considerations for him, but it was the first time I recall Peter removing the anklet without direct or veiled threats. It's progress!
(ETA: On rewatch, which I just did, it seems the removal of the anklet was more a plot device than the characters moving forward. If Neal had been wearing the anklet when he was grabbed, it would have been easy for Peter to locate him and stop the armored card heist. But I like my theory better. ;)
Other Random Bits:
OMG, THE CLOSET! I actually said, "Whoa", when I saw it. I had wondered where Neal kept all his clothes since the wardrobe by his bed seemed far too small.
Elizabeth making Peter apologize to Stachmo. Of course, my pervy mind is wondering why the keys to Peter's handcuffs were lying around. ;)
As soon as Peter told Neal to come up with another plan, OF COURSE, he immediately called Elizabeth and, OF COURSE, she accepted the invitation. Really selling the scene though is Peter's multitude of expressions as he listens to the call.
The singing! I was sad it was so brief, though it was understandable given there is only so much time to tell the story and the singing is not integral to the plot. And I loved El and Peter's stunned reaction to discovering Neal has yet another talent. (Although, Peter should have had some idea given Neal's pretty good drugged warbling in "Vital Signs".)
The dancing! First, learning Peter and El took Salsa lessons and Peter is pretty good. Then, Neal offering to dance with June. =)
Neal commented "people can change" in reference to himself. This seems rather contradictory to his statement to Peter last week that he does what he doe because it's in his blood. Hmmm....yeah, let's just pretend "Burma" didn't happen.
How did Neal put the plate back in the table? Wouldn't the FBI taken it into evidence or questioned why it was missing?
"The Men in Black Bobsled Team" will never not be funny.
Funny, but also sort of sad, "Old con men never die, their smiles just fade away."