Well, that was unexpected. And I don’t mean it was unexpected that we discover that Mozzie was once married (still technically is), because we knew that as a spoiler around the Interwebs a few months ago. What was surprising is that TPTB opted to put this episode in this season, with only a sparse 6 eps total to wind down the entire series. I’ll get to my thoughts on that in a minute. First let’s take a look at what the episode had to offer. Our baddies, the Pink Panthers, have been MIA for some time, which worries Neal Caffrey, Agent Peter Burke and the rest of his White Collar team. But, with the help of the data they retrieved from Atlas Security in a previous episode, they nailed down the potential target as a flight arriving in San Francisco that would be carrying half a billion in unmarked US bills for the local Federal Reserve. So, the sting is set up by Peter, who coordinates with the SF White Collar office. I get that this is in spirit of keeping the series arc going, as it would make absolutely zero sense to not have some advancement on the Pink Panther front for 1/6 of the season. But it also seems really odd that this was relegated to the B Plot, when Mozzie’s matrimonial exploits was Plot A. At least we had some dialogue between Neal and Peter noting that the Pink Panther take-down isn’t just a requirement for Neal’s freedom, but it’s a requirement for Peter’s continued employment with the FBI. I like that it’s been made clear that they both have a lot on the line with this deal. Puts more gravity to the outcome, when we get it.
So, yeah, about that marriage. Drawn out by what he thinks is a message from the Panthers, Mozzie contacts Neal where they meet up instead with Eva Perkins, a con artists Mozzie met 5 years ago: A Con artist so worthy of Mozzie’s respect that he wasn’t even upset when their sweetheart marriage con backfired (you know, in the classic Con-cons-Con style). Mozzie thinks she wants to reunite their old relationship, until he finds out she wants a divorce since she’s met someone new. And of course, Mozzie wouldn’t just let that slide, he and Neal check out the competition. This would be Jack Conroy, who heads a profitable charity, so of course Mozzie assumes the worst and that Eve is conning the man. It takes a little time before Neal, Mozzie and Peter realize Jack is a con, as well. And through it all Mozzie declares that he’s only invested in this because he thinks Eva is conning Jack. While at first they can’t prove that Eva and Jack are conspiring anything against the charity, they expose their plans when Eva calls Mozzie, ostensibly asking for his help in escaping Jack. Conveniently this was during the charity’s gala event as a private art gallery. Even though he learns that Eva was okay with setting him up as the patsy, he forgives her and lets her escape while Jack is apprehended red handed. I’m not saying Mozzie acted rashly by letting her go, but the excuse that it was due to his “code” was a bit weak. Why not just admit it was his love for her and he’s giving her another chance? I would have believed that more.
As to the entire concept of Mozzie’s marriage being a surprise to Neal and brought up this late in the game, I have my theories. As Mozzie comments to Neal, when he met Eva 5 years ago, Neal was in jail and Mozzie was without a partner in crime. The timing makes it convenient for the retcon. And even though Mozzie always declares to Neal that con artists are loners, he’s gone through much the last 5+ years on behalf of his BFF Neal. He belies his own declarations of solitary work. I also have a feeling it allows us to know that come what may at the finale, Mozzie won’t necessarily end up on his own. He was tight with Eva and obviously with Neal, so he’ll come out okay in the end. After all, he tells Eva that 5 years ago he would have walked right into her trap, but that was before there was a Neal, or a Suit – he’s not working alone now.
At this point, the more intriguing questions are what the heck was Neal checking on in that storage container, which he appeared flummoxed was empty, and how quickly will Keller turn on Neal in the next episode now that the Panthers’ Woodford has told Neal that he knows the Panthers have a mole? I mean, after all, why did he go to Neal and admit that? I can only think it’s because Neal has proven trustworthy and Woodford suspects Keller, which should allow an interesting, high stakes showdown. Man, I really hope I’m right!
Watch White Collar on Thursday at 9/8c on USA.