A case of mistaken identity, a coveted historical treasure, and an underground coalition of spies dating from the American Revolution … could anything be more enticing to an unabashed conspiracy fanatic? A thrill ride for Mozzie is pure entertainment for White Collar fans this week, as Willie Garson brings even more depth and humanity to his already beloved character in episode 4.06, ‘Identity Crisis.’
While on a weekly outing with June (Diahann Carroll) to bid on abandoned storage units, Mozzie acquires a mysterious container which holds the belongings of an 18th century owner of a luxurious New York City residence. In the unit, he finds a series of camera obscura peepholes which each project an inverted image onto an opposite wall. He also finds a diary, some keys, and the address to a Central Park apartment. Mozzie, ever the opportunist, uses the keys to make himself at home in the opulent residence. After donning a monogrammed smoking jacket and helping himself to expensive whiskey and a cigar, Mozzie is interrupted by a masked gunman.
“Where’s the flag, 723?” Says the tall, dark man.
Thinking on his feet, Mozzie (still in smoking jacket and slippers) escapes through a previously discovered hidden passageway in the apartment’s library, and heads straight for the home of Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer). Bursting in, exclaiming that he’s being chased by someone who is trying to kill him, Mozzie discovers FBI Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) is there as well. When Mozzie tells his rather unbelievable tale to both Neal and Peter, Peter agrees to investigate, and the FBI confirms the main points of Mozzie’s outlandish tale. We discover later the flag in question is the very one that George Washington carried across the Delaware in December 1776 – a treasure that people are willing to kill for.
Peter asks Neal to help with research on the case. The code name “723” prompts Neal to research its last use, which turns out to belong to a member of the Culper Spy Ring, founded by George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Neal’s main source of information is a book by a college professor named Stringer, whose infatuation with the Culper Ring cost him his tenure and his reputation.
Stringer disgraced himself by publishing a book which claimed that the descendants of the Culper Spy Ring still carry on their ancestors’ traditions today. Mozzie is enthralled with the theory, and employs the spy ring’s ancient codes described in Stringer’s book to make a modern day Culper contact in order to find Washington’s lost flag. The plan works, and Mozzie makes contact with “Agent 355,” an attractive young woman named Tempest who is descended from the original Revolutionary-era female agent of the same codename (who, incidentally, is portrayed in a painting on the storage unit’s wall). Tempest, though denying any covert inclinations of her own, surrenders to Mozzie the letters of the original Agent 355 which contain clues about the location of the flag.
As Neal and Peter stake out Mozzie’s meeting with Tempest, Neal explains to Peter that Mozzie’s obsession with spy stories is the result of a poignant childhood fantasy; Mozzie, abandoned as a baby, took comfort in the wishful notion that his own parents were spies that had given him up for his own protection.
After Mozzie’s meeting with Agent 355, he is once again pursued by the mysterious gunman, who this time is identified. A watching Neal pegs the clandestine figure tailing Mozzie as Stringer, the author of the controversial Culper Spy Ring book, and Neal and Peter dash from their car to confront the armed man. Though they are forced to let Stringer go after questioning him, Peter and Neal’s suspicions are nevertheless aroused. And when further investigation reveals that another Culper spy descendant was recently murdered, they strongly suspect Stringer is responsble.
Mozzie peruses the letters provided by Tempest, and discovers an important clue. He takes Neal back to the storage unit, where they realize the previously discovered peepholes project the possible locations of the flag onto the painting of Agent 355 on the opposite wall. Only one is the true location, but they still need more information before they can ascertain which.
Mozzie’s primary goal is to obtain the flag, but the FBI is more interested in convicting Stringer in the murder of the other Culper descendant. Peter convinces Mozzie that the modern Culper spy ring is in fact a fiction; but they still need his help to bring down Stringer. Neal, Jones, and Mozzie stage a sting to capture Stringer, where Neal and Jones impersonate Culper descendants in an attempt to elicit Stringer’s murder confession. Stringer confesses; but he also reveals he has the coordinates to locate the flag. Before the FBI can take Stringer into custody, Mozzie helps him escape using the same hidden passageway he had used to escape from Stringer. Stringer escorts Mozzie to the storage unit, where they find Tempest already there. Stringer, now with both Mozzie and Tempest at gunpoint, finds the correct peephole and locates the probable location of the flag: A Revolutionary War monument in Central Park.
Neal and Peter enter the storage unit not far behind Mozzie and Stringer, and find Mozzie’s clue indicating the correct peephole. They leave immediately in pursuit, hoping they’re not too late. “If they find it, Mozzie’s a dead man,” Peter says grimly.
Meanwhile, at the Revolutionary War monument, Mozzie and Tempest discover a stone marking the location of the flag. Mozzie, still convinced Tempest is a Culper spy, praises her covert techniques; but Tempest continues to insist that Mozzie is misguided, and there is no modern Culper spy ring. When they move the stone, they discover a hole containing a box; but when Tempest opens it, she says it’s empty. Suddenly Tempest lashes out at Stringer, and she and Mozzie flee; and just in time, Peter and Neal arrive to take Stringer into custody. Mozzie is gleeful, saying Tempest used her spy training. She explains again, exasperated, that she’s not a spy. Neal is sympathetic, telling Mozzie he’s sorry that the spy ring turned out to be a fiction – but Mozzie is having none of it. He’s giddy with the knowledge that the ring is real.
“The flag is gone … and so is she,” Mozzie points out, and Neal and Peter are left to wonder. The viewing audience, however, has no doubt … in a closing scene worthy of a spy thriller, ‘Identity Crisis’ ends with Tempest (Agent 355) unfurling the long lost flag onto a table in front of the other modern day Culper spies. Mozzie was right after all!
Don’t miss White Collar on Tuesdays at 9 PM ET/PT on USA.