Now that fans have had time to digest the revelation that Sam (Treat Williams) is actually Neal’s (Matt Bomer) long-lost father, James Bennett, it’s time for some more truths to be told. Not surprisingly, Neal has a lot of questions for his father, chief among them being whether he was guilty of murdering a fellow cop.
Flashing back to a three-year-old Neal wearing his father’s policeman’s hat, James explains how he had become involved with the Flynn “organization” (aka the Irish mob) in the ‘80s, how they had framed him for murder when he tried to leave, and Ellen’s (Sprague Grayden) part in trying to clear his name.
The Flynns have a long history of organized crime and Flynn Junior is proud of his lineage, following in his family business of counterfeiting whiskey (and apparently general thuggery when required). Though Neal is convinced that Flynn Junior is responsible for Ellen’s murder, Peter (Tim DeKay) believes catching Flynn for distribution of counterfeit items would buy them time to gather enough evidence for Ellen’s murder (after all, they only got Al Capone for tax evasion).
And so begin our new lesson in white collar crime – counterfeit whiskey can only be identified by taste. Neal and his cohort, Mozzie (Willie Garson), for whom “drinking is the opposite of a new hobby,” begin the “onerous” task of trying to counterfeit the famous Shackleton whiskey by drinking the real thing (a bottle of which Mozzie once owned – remember its mention in season 2’s “By the Book”?) and then taste-testing their own blend to ensure the right match. Great opportunity to see Neal with a hangover, right?
With Elizabeth’s (Tiffani Thiessen) help, Neal goes undercover as a brewer, demonstrating his bartending skills, at a special event for liquor distributors to catch the attention of Flynn Junior in order to get inside his organization. James also offers some invaluable insights into the Flynns’ family business to help the FBI take down Flynn Junior.
Although convinced that Flynn Junior is Ellen’s murderer, there is still the broader question of who the higher-ups are who always seem to know every step Peter takes throughout his investigation into Ellen, Sam and even the case against Flynn. What is the evidence that Ellen has hidden that could exonerate James for the murder he was accused of committing?
Family has become an important theme for Neal this season. As Mozzie tries to get Neal drunk enough to share his feelings on discovering that Sam is actually James, Neal confesses that he is “not sure whether I should be mad or impressed that my own father conned me.” But the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as Elizabeth points out to James and Neal their similarities over dinner at the Burkes’.
Some additional teasers from “Family Business”:
- On the dangers of getting his wife involved in Neal’s undercover operation, Peter says proudly, “Elizabeth is armed with a very disapproving look.”
- Mozzie’s advice to Neal: “Every orphan wants to know their parents.”
- Ever the conspiracy theorist, Mozzie’s response to Neal: “I haven’t blown glass since before they faked Reagan’s death.”
- Peter makes his famous pot roast and offers a Burke family hangover cure
WHITE COLLAR season 4 winter premiere airs January 22 on the USA Network at 10/9c.
“Family Business” written by Joe Henderson
Guest stars: Treat Williams, Sprague Grayden, Diahnn Carroll, Scott Evans