With procedurals and lighter fare, the easiest way to mix things up a little bit is to re-position the lens of focus onto a supporting player and this week, White Collar dips into that pool with a Mozzie-centric episode.
For the most part, this season of White Collar hasn’t been stale in any way so it’s not as if I’ve been clamoring for an alteration to the formula and Willie Garson has been given more to do as Mozzie anyway this season, thus making “By The Book”‘s focus on him not directly necessary. However, that also doesn’t that the episode wasn’t a fun hour of television.
Mozzie is a character tailor-made for a USA series. He’s just odd enough to be interesting, just funny enough, just rebellious enough, etc. But for the most part, we know nothing about him aside from his tight relationship with Neal and that he has a crazy awesome photographic memory that helps when it comes to white-collar crime. Also: he hates the FBI and any other law enforcement agency. Perhaps it was my prior knowledge of Willie Garson’s role on Sex and the City, but I have to say I never considered Mozzie’s sexual orientation and kind of thought of him as some sort of asexual criminal savant. Say what you will about that, but “By The Book” showed us that Mozzie does in fact like women, but only very, very intelligent women who like to read. Of course.
Oftentimes, the episodes that pull in supporting players like to tell us something new about said people, but this being a USA series, that’s not really going to happen. I’m not sure there’s anything to totally take away from “By The Book” in terms of character revelations for Mozzie, as much of the beats played here were just re-emphasizing the few things we do know. I think that tinge of mysteriousness works for the character and for this world and again, the episode was fun to watch, so I’m not really going to complain that we didn’t learn about Mozzie’s childhood or a past bad break-up or something.
“By The Book” also proved that White Collar can tell other types of crime stories when called upon, which may or may not prove that centering the series on white-collar crime set it up for some boring cases no matter what. Cases like this have been done to death and I guess there is some novelty in pursuing white-collar criminals each week, but it perhaps says something that a more straightforward “criminal” worked better as a villain than some past folks. Either way, this has been a really strong string of episodes to start the season that have presented more than just a nice dynamic between the two lead characters.