Last summer USA introduced us to sophisticated white collar thief Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer), a con man turned FBI consultant, and FBI Special Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), an agent in the FBI white collar crime division who has dedicated his career to hunting down Neal. After making a deal with the FBI, Neal begins working with Peter on white collar cases, including everything from art theft and forgery to embezzlement. Season one laid the groundwork for this edge-of-your seat show, creating unforgettable characters (especially Willie Garson's quirky Mozzie) and building a white-hot, unique summer show that ended (quite literally) with a bang.
At the beginning of season two, Neal is still reeling from ex-girlfriend Kate's unexpected death. Though he returns to his job as an FBI consultant (after a brief stint in prison after cutting his tracking anklet — again), Neal secretly works to unravel the mystery behind Kate's death. Meanwhile, a concerned Peter meets secretly with Neal's friend and fellow con man Mozzie out of concern for Neal, while still hiding an agenda of his own. Whether it's out of concern for Neal or for the Bureau, Peter begins working with newly reassigned Special Agent Diana Barrigan (Marsha Thomason) outside of business hours on the questions surrounding a strange artifact that was connected to Kate's death.
The biggest refresher about season two is the inclusion of Marsha Thomason as Special Agent Diana Barrigan, Peter's trainee and chief point-person to discovering the truth behind Operation Meteor in the first season. Thomason appeared in both the series pilot and season one finale, but was replaced during the remainder of the season by Special Agent Lauren Cruz (Natalie Morales). While Lauren was an interesting character, she often felt stilted and flat, not to mention occasionally extraneous. Whether or not the failure of Lauren's character was due to writing or acting, Diana is a welcome change. She feels much more natural on screen with Peter and Neal and adds a much-needed level of cohesion to the cast, especially in the bureau. Diana is already poised to be a standout character in season two and I'm curious to see what the writers do with her.
The rest of the cast is just as strong as before — perhaps even stronger. Neal and Peter's entertaining old married couple-like bickering flows even more easily, and it feels like both the writers and actors have fully settled into the characters and plot, adding a warm sense of comfort to the show that makes it more accessible. Not to mention that Willie Garson (as Mozzie) continues his show-stopping awesome, stealing the show in nearly each scene (just like in the first season) but somehow manages to improve upon his quirky, whimsical nature in the second season. Oh, and West Beverly Hills High alum Tiffani Theissen returns as Peter's wife Elizabeth. Though I admit it's hard for me not to see the girl from 90210, Theissen holds her own against the other strong characters in the show and plays well off Neal and Mozzie while managing to establish herself as part of the White Collar universe. With such an intriguing group of characters, it's easy to get involved.
So far, season two of USA's crime-comedy hit is heating up to be even better than the first. Even if you haven't seen the first season, you can still dive into the intriguing world of white collar crime.