WHITE COLLAR 5.02 ‘Out of the Frying Pan’

White Collar 502

Episode Title: "Out of the Frying Pan"

Writer: Daniel Shattuck

Director: Roger Kumble 

Previously on "White Collar:"

Episode 5.01 "At What Price" 

Will Neal’s old tricks work on his new handler? That’s the question that comes to mind at the top of this episode, as Neal (Matt Bomer) is introduced to the surprisingly young, yet accomplished, Special Agent David Siegel (Warren Kole). Siegel isn’t the “curmudgeon” Neal was expecting. You might even call him “a fan” of Neal’s, as Siegel is well aware of Neal’s reputation as an excellent confidential informant, working with Peter. 

The idea of Neal getting along exceedingly well with his new handler is much more interesting than sticking him with a hardass who questions his every mood. Siegel’s got his suspicions about Neal, but he’s decidedly measured in how he handles them. Which brings us to the case of the week. In last week’s premiere, Neal’s own heist, on behalf of Hagen, was under investigation. This week, it’s Mozzie (Willie Garson) a.k.a. Theodore Winter a.k.a. “Little Star” the feds are after in an attempt to shut down “Grey Trade,” a black market auction website. Mozzie just happens to be one of the local sellers the feds hope to bust. 

Sure, it’s a little too convenient, but the bureau’s pursuit of Mozzie is the perfect pressure cooker for an excellent episode of “White Collar.” Neal is forced to feel out his new handler while trying to keep Mozzie out of handcuffs. We get to see Neal and Mozzie pull some pretty clever moves, like when Neal creates two versions of a composite sketch in order to fool Peter into believing the man Siegel saw while investigating Littler Star’s warehouse isn't Mozzie. 

Based on Siegel’s description of the short, bespeckled bald man, Peter (Tim DeKay), Jones (Shariff Atkins) and a very pregnant and grumpy Diana (Marsha Thomason) believe that it’s got to be Mozzie, but Neal’s sketch switcheroo throws Peter off course. As for Siegel, he's too busy beating himself up for letting Little Star get away. 

During the course of the investigation, Siegel catches a break when he happens upon a holding company belonging to Teddy Winter which is actually Mozzie’s birth name. Neal’s right, Mozzie does look like a “Teddy,” though he prefers “Theodore.” But why would a slippery off-the-grid dweller like Mozzie put anything in his real name? In the hopes that the parents who abandoned him when he was a baby might some day want to find him. It’s hard not to try to reach into the TV and give Teddy a hug, right at that moment. 

What’s kind of revealing about Mozzie’s refusal to cut all ties to his past and let go of the possibility of having a family and/or some kind of love in his life is that he often criticizes Neal for doing the very same thing. In the end, it might be what does the duo in or forces the two to give up the dream of making that one last big score. 

In the meantime, there’s the matter of getting Mozzie out of this current jam. The boys come up with a plan to fake Mozzie’s death by burning down his warehouse and leaving some of his teeth behind, which he apparently had pulled for such a purpose. The plan works as Siegel watches the warehouse explode just as he and Neal arrive on the scene to arrest Mozzie. But like all great “White Collar” schemes, there’s a hitch; in this case, it’s Diana. 

Fearful about leaving her job and entering into single motherhood, Diana has thrown herself into the Grey Trade case. She notices an extra manhole in front of the warehouse which leads her to Mozzie’s underground safe house. It’s not looking good for Mozzie, as Diana holds him at gunpoint, but it isn't Neal who saves him this time…

As she’s about to arrest Mozzie, Diana goes into labor and Mozzie is forced to play midwife. In exchange for delivering her baby boy, whom she names “Theo,” Diana lets Mozzie go. When Peter asks about her choice of name and the identity of the person who helped deliver Theo, Diana plays dumb. 

Peter’s been known to look the other way when it serves the greater cause, but Jones and Diane have always played it by the books with Neal and Mozzie. Her presumed bargain with Mozzie puts Diana in an interesting spot, but assuming she’ll be on maternity leave for a while, who knows when if/when we’ll revisit this relationship. The idea of Mozzie and Diana teaming up in some capacity could be fun. And Mozzie seems pretty taken with little “Theo.”

As for Neal, a little Mozart and some tight choreography allows him to sneak into the FBI evidence room and tamper with the evidence against Hagen. Siegel may be none the wiser but Peter is hip to something, though what he’s not sure. It can only mean going forward Neal will really have three handlers: two FBI agents and one criminal in Hagen. And it’s going to take some serious dance moves to stay ahead of that trio.