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TV Review: White Collar – “Book of Hours”

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Trust. It's such a fragile thing. Give it too easily, and the results can be disastrous. Hold onto it with an iron grip, and people cannot prove themselves worthy. Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) already has a black mark against his reputation. He has not served his full prison sentence because he had his sentence reduced for good behavior. A monitoring device strapped to his ankle monitors his movements, which are limited in scope to a large extent. The fact he is a well known con artist who can persuade anybody of just about anything does not help much.

Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), the FBI agent who hauls Neal in to stand trial for his crimes, knows this well. He is the last person to be fooled by anything Neal does or, more to the point, says. Still, Pete also knows Neal can be extremely useful when it comes to understanding the crimes committed by people in well-to-do  circles; or, for that matter, those committed against them.

These two work together, but circle each other warily. When a mobster asks for FBI help in retrieving a religious icon, the stakes are raised higher. As Mozzie (Willie Garson), Neal's partner in the shady stuff points out, not everything is stolen for monetary value. Add in rumors of the icon's healing properties and the hunt is afoot.

Kirk Acevedo makes a guest appearance as Agent Ruiz, who heads the case concerning a guy whose death might just be the start of a mob war. The dead guy is yet another clue in the icon search. Since Ruiz is not too keen on sharing information with Pete due to Neal's involvement, other methods are required. Can Acevedo be added as a recurring guest star? This part is not complicated, but he makes a strong role enjoyable.

Mozzie impersonates an FBI agent! What, did you think it would be Neal? Garson makes a funny bit even more comical as he talks about obtaining a forensic sample. It's fluid, but to say more is not polite. Watch the episode to find out.

A touching role comes from Steve, a homeless guy who turns out to be a veteran whose only companion is seriously ill. Pete shows compassion since he's a veteran himself ("Pilot"). While the exact branch has never been stated, this subtext would be interesting to explore further.

Neal has to explore his own heart when he gets involved with an art historian (Callie Thorne, Rescue Me). To be on the right side of the law takes effort, but the bad side yields a higher payoff with much less effort. Watching Thorne and Bomer engage in the cat and mouse exercise is classic James Bond. I do have to ask, could the scene where she tells him she does not trust him have been any more awkward? I realize they were both acting, but it looks as though neither is completely comfortable with having their hands on one another. Bomer's a two-time soap vet! If anybody should be okay with physical contact, it's him. If I had been Thorne, having a sexpot like Bomer get intimate would not have been entirely unwelcome.

The mystery of the bottle Kate left Neal back at their apartment is revealed this week. The result is a map beneath the label, but the method of how it gets there is the real secret. Here's a hint: a specific light source is needed.

Slowly but surely this cast is developing into a solid team whose work is worth viewing each week. The addition of Natalie Morales as FBI Agent Lauren Cruz provides sassiness. Sharif Atkins as Agent Jones along with James Rebhorn as the FBI director make the show's richness even fuller.

Like the script suggests, some things have to be taken on faith. Neal believes Kate, his girlfriend, still wants him in her life. Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen), Pete's wife, believes he is putting her above all others. Mozzie believes in staying true to his distrust of the law. Pete wants to think Neal will come through in the end. The federal cop side knows better, but both cop and con artist are learning to work together.

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