Episode Title: "Family Business"
Writer: Joe Henderson
Director: Paul Holahan
Previously on "White Collar":
Like father like son. The old adage rang true for Neal (Matt Bomer) in "White Collar’s" midseason return, "Family Business."
As perceptive as Neal is, people tend to have blind spots when it comes to matters of the heart and Neal was particular near-sighted when it came to trusting his father, James (Treat Williams) nee’ Sam. But as Mozzie (Willie Garson) pointed out, Neal might have done the same thing if he were in his father’s shoes.
We finally got the full story regarding what exactly happened to James. When he was caught by his supervising officer attempting to steal money from a crime scene, James was forced to become a pawn of Irish mob family, the Flynns. When he tried to get out, Dennis Flynn Sr. told James he could leave after doing once last job. Unfortunately, that job was getting framed for the murder of his supervising officer.
Though his story isn’t so far out of the realm of possibility, Neal wasn’t about to let James pull one over on him again. But the unlikely voice of reason, Mozzie reminded Neal that he has the opportunity to finally get to know his father, one the orphaned Moz would have seized in a heartbeat.
We’ve seen Neal’s feelings color his behavior before and set he and Peter at odds. "Family Business" was no different. While working undercover as a master whiskey bootlegger for the man who he believes killed Ellen, Neal took some major risks to get the answers he needed, including enlisting Mozzie as his accomplice without consulting Peter (Tim Dekay).
Ultimately, the move paid off and Neal found the gun used to kill Ellen. Now a believer in James’ tale of corrupt cops, Irish mobsters and life in WitSec, Neal was finally ready to properly reconnect with his father. Unfortunately, that will have to wait as Peter believes the man responsible for killing Dennis Flynn, Jr. will now be gunning for James.
And with that, it’s likely this storyline could be put on the back burner until later in the season. Thankfully, both Neal and the viewers got some resolution after last summer’s cliffhanger.
Aside from working through his daddy issues, "Family Business" allowed Neal to demonstrate another one of his high-class grifts – bootlegging whiskey. Half the fun of "White Collar" is watching Neal do what he does. Even if we have no idea what he’s doing, the result is always pretty slick.
What will be interesting going forward the rest of the season is how Neal’s new found of understanding of his father and what he went through affects him. Despite the anger and hurt he’s harbored for so long, Neal’s never come off as bitter or jaded in matters of the heart. If anything, it’s his ability to empathize and understand the difference between right and wrong, even as he navigates an often tempting criminal underworld, that’s kept him from becoming a legitimate criminal. Now that he has some sense of family that comes from a time before he was "Neal Caffrey," will we see a shift in Neal’s priorities?
Have we just seen Neal take the next step in his evolution from top shelf con man to FBI consultant? That all depends on how he handles his emotions and perhaps more importantly, how Peter handles Neal.