Little time is spent in this first episode of White Collar‘s Third Season premiere before not only divulging the identity of the person responsible for swapping the Nazi art at the end of last season, but laying the groundwork for this season’s arc as well.
It’s revealed Mozzie (Willie Garson) is responsible for the old switcheroo, and Neal (Matt Bomer), now dealing with suspicions from Peter (Tim DeKay), and a warehouse of priceless artwork, has some very big decisions to make. Despite his distrust, Peter puts Neal back into the field to use one of his old aliases to help recover $60 million stolen from the Federal Reserve at the same time Neal and Mozzie start plotting their exit strategy and working to cover up the only traces that might tie Neal back to the stolen artwork.
With Kate (Alexandra Daddario) dead, and the man responsible (Andrew McCarthy) now behind bars, it appears this season-long arc will do mainly with Neal’s dilemma on how to use the fortune which fell into his lap to disappear, and Peter’s determination to find the art – whether or not Neal has it. It also appears at least one of Neal’s lady friends (Hilarie Burton) will be sticking around for a few episodes as well.
Even if the case of the week (the lost $60 million) is rather weak, this episode lays the foundation for what could be a strong season pitting Neal and Peter against each other far more than we saw last season. As to whether that’s a good thing rather than the evolution of Neal as a character in his role working with the FBI, well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.