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Pawns and Players: An Advance Review of the Winter Premiere of USA's "White Collar"

When we last watched USA's White Collar, the fun and frothy crime series might have seemed as though it had itself taken a swan dive onto a bakery awning, offering a cliffhanger reveal that called into question everything that we had seen up until that point, most notably the tenuous partnership between semi-reformed criminal Neal Caffrey (Matthew Bomer) and gruff g-man Peter Burke (Tim DeKay).

Fortunately, tonight's brand-new episode of White Collar ("Hard Sell"), the series' winter premiere, deals head-on with that pesky reveal over the course of the hour via a series of plot twists that test the characters' preconceptions and their own trust issues.

Lest you worry that White Collar has jumped the shark, that couldn't be further from the case. With a facile ease and a gleeful wink at the shock of the viewing audience, the writers not only explain why a ring-clad Peter met with Kate but just what the significance of that scene really was. In other words: whatever you think you saw, guess again.

This week's episode of White Collar finds Neal going undercover to bust up a boiler room operation that is swindling unsuspecting investors out of thousands of dollars. It's a case that tests not only his ability to remain charming, charismatic, and utterly convincing but also puts his relationship with Peter under increased scrutiny, after Neal makes a shocking discovery about his partner.

What price would it take to betray the people closest to you? It's this question which hovers over the action of tonight's episode and which will make you question some of the foundations of the series itself. Along the way, there's also a nice caper for Neal and Peter to pull off if they can keep it together long enough not to sell the other out. Throw in a vault, comic books, a shotgun, and some amber and you have the makings of a fantastic installment that deepens the series' central relationships and offers a new direction for the overarching plot.

Both Bomer and DeKay are sensational in this week's installment and the undercover angle gives both men the opportunity to take on different personas than their usual regular identities. Much of the series' charm is derived from their banter and by the begrudging respect each of them has for each other. Place that and their working relationship in jeopardy and we begin to see just how dangerous each of them is in their own way, as well as how clever and crafty. Trust--and betrayal--is a very powerful thing.

And that's all I'll say for now, lest I ruin tonight's plot twists. But be sure to tune in and find out just what happens.

White Collar returns tonight at 10 pm ET/PT on USA.


Steph said…
Great preview. I watched the screener last week and was blown away by this episode, which is certainly their strongest to date. DeKay and Bomer are one of the best duos on TV right now, and have obviously found a comfort level with each other than translates well on screen. This show has found its legs, and seems poised to be the next breakout hit the network has been reaching for.
Greer said…
Whew. Glad to hear that they haven't done anything too bizarre with the whole Ring Peter storyline. It had me worried. This show isn't the most brilliant thing on television but it's fun and charming all due to the great relationship and chemistry between Peter and Neal. Take that away and there would be no show!

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