By: Vlada Gelman
Some shows have a great first season and then buckle under the pressure in season two. Other shows take the time between seasons to reflect and come back bigger and stronger in season two. Having watched the first two episodes of WHITE COLLAR’s new season, which premieres Tuesday, July 13, at 9 p.m. on USA Network, I’m happy to report that the series falls under the latter category. The writers have figured out what really works for the show (and what doesn’t) and have emphasized those elements. Here are just a couple of ways in which season two of WHITE COLLAR is better than season one (mild spoilers ahead):
As much as I loved Natalie Morales in The Middleman, she was sorely miscast as an FBI agent on WHITE COLLAR. Morales has since departed WHITE COLLAR for NBC’s PARKS AND RECREATION (her departure will be explained in the season premiere), opening the door for Marsha Thomason’s welcome return as FBI Agent Diana.
“She’s a fantastic actress and gorgeous and so great to have on this show,” Matt Bomer (Neal) said of Thomason during a conference call.
Thomson is confident, smart and sexy in the role and clearly game for anything. Her return improves the show in two really big ways. Diana is critical to the ongoing mystery of the music box, adding clever twists to that storyline. She also opens up new and interesting sides of Peter and especially Neal in the second episode back. The two share a scene that is uncharacteristically soft and revealing and shows off a wonderful, new side of Neal’s character.
In season one, Bomer was forced to sell the love story of Neal and Kate all by himself and while he did a fine job, it was hard to care about a character we hardly ever saw and barely got to know. In the new season, the show manages to hold onto that love story — Neal is now concerned with finding out who killed Kate and struggling with “whether to do the right thing legally or what he feels is right and just” to avenge her death, said Bomer — but also leaves room for him to move on. The mysterious Alex will be back, and there will be plenty of other opportunities to flirt with guest stars of the week and maybe even Hilarie Burton, who joins the show for a recurring guest arc as “an insurance repo man, who’s basically out to settle an old score between herself and Neal,” according to Bomer. Kate’s death also shows us a side of Neal that’s slightly on edge and frayed.
Peter and Neal’s friendship.
This season, more than ever, you really get the sense as a viewer that Neal and Peter care about each other and truly are friends. Their deepening relationship only enriches the show and adds emotional complexity.
“I just get the feeling that these two care for each other very much, and with that, they’re going to have a good time together,” said Tim DeKay (Peter).” They’re going to be hurt by each other, and are going to possibly not trust each other to greater degrees than previously or lesser degrees than previously.”
Willie Garson’s memorable, hilarious sidekick character is around more than ever and even helping out Peter. Could Neal and Peter’s growing friendship actually be a threesome? It certainly seems like Peter and Mozzie are developing a relationship of their own.
“What we find at the beginning of season two is that now Peter can actually use Mozzie in moderation,” said Garson. “We’ll be playing a lot more with that and how much I can be involved with the FBI.”
We’ll also learn more about Mozzie, including where in lives (“Mozzie doesn’t live in one place,” Garson hinted), and “what makes him tick, how he got this way.” Look for Mozzie and Tiffani Thiessen’s Elizabeth to team up again and for guest star Diane Farr to catch Mozzie’s eye.
Move over Nick Offerman, Bradley Whitford and Tom Selleck. There’s a new mustache in town.
“I honestly think the twisted mind of [creator] Jeff Eastin thought, ‘Oh, I bet DeKay would look goofy with a mustache. Let me write that,’” DeKay joked.
And that’s all I’m going to say about the mustache.
You can catch a brand new season of WHITE COLLAR Tuesdays at 9PM on USA
Vlada resides in Los Angeles, where there are stars in the sky and on the ground. She has worked for Entertainment Weekly, TVWeek and The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, CA, and contributes to the LA Times Show Tracker blog. She runs the TV blog Staying In and can be found on Twitter: @stayingin.