I wish I had been more up on USA's White Collar return. Two weeks ago, in the mid-season finale, Peter (Tim DeKay) was framed for a crime, and had to get all of his friends to help him clear his good name in an Ocean's Eleven inspired way. The team included returning guest star Hilarie Burton as Sara. Then, last week, Peter probed Neal (Matthew Bomer) for information on new villain Adler (Andrew McCarthy), and as Neal told his story, we were treated to flashbacks of all the main characters in their younger days. Alas, having just watched both a couple of days ago, it felt too late to review them.
Instead, this week I'm left covering a standard, stand-alone episode. But I can't say that's necessarily a bad thing. I prefer the episodes that play more to the series' mythology, but a stand alone is sometimes a better representation of the show as a whole. Plus, last night's entry, titled "What Happens in Burma", was a fine representation of where the show currently is and where the growth has occurred, as well as an enjoyable hour.
For most of season one, I got the feeling that Peter Burke never really trusted Neal Caffrey. This feeling continued into the first part of season two, but has been slowly changing from a partnership forged in necessity to something more. Best friends, even. Bromance. Peter's willingness to help Neal engage in not-quite-legal activities to allow justice to be served shows how deep their friendship has become. And Peter actually trusts Neal, allowing him to go down that road, but not worrying that Neal is turning back to his life of crime. To the same extent, Neal has recently been showing a willingness to go to Peter first, rather than trust his illegitimate instincts. Neal doesn't cross that line any more unless he has a very good reason.
Similarly, Diana's (Marsha Thomason) bond with Peter has begun to feel more authentic. Diana was not part of the original cast, but was added as a main character later. It seemed to me that Diana and Peter seemed too chummy too quickly, though it was explained that there was a back story that we the audience hadn't witnessed. Stepping outside the fourth wall, it felt like a forced way to add a new character. Now, having seen them work together over time, I have begun to like and appreciate Diana, and the role she plays in Peter's life and job.