Currently in its third season, White Collar is a television show about an ex-convict named Neal Caffrey, played by Matt Bomer, who is offered a chance to mitigate his jail sentence by working for the FBI. He puts his expert knowledge of the underground world of art theft and forgery to good use when he becomes an adviser to special agent Peter Burke, played by Tim DeKay. As Caffrey attempts to acclimate to the world of the FBI, the viewer is forced to acknowledge the tension between his past and his present, creating an interesting dilemma that unfolds within each episode and across the series as a whole.
Over the course of the past two seasons, White Collar has succeeded in standing out amongst seemingly similar shows such as CSI and Law & Order by fleshing out recurring characters, those characters’ relationships with one another, and their respective histories as an additive to the cases in each episode.
Rather than playing off of Bomer’s good looks to reel in viewers the show, up until very recently in season three, focused on the budding friendship and business relationship between Caffrey and Burke. Due to the relative absence of sexual plotlines, the show had gained a wider range of viewers than the typical cable drama would. However, it seems that the writers of the show could only hold out for so long before placing Caffrey (who, despite being identified as a “ladies’ man,” hadn’t been getting much action) in steady romantic relationship that lacks depth. The time and attention the show must now invest in Caffrey’s romantic relationship with insurance investigator Sara Ellis (played by Hilarie Burton) takes away from the more important plotlines that revolve around his relationship with Burke, as well as the increasingly prominent inner conflicts he experiences in regards to his current position in the FBI and the man he used to be.
Whether or not Caffrey and Ellis’s relationship will have resonance later in the season remains to be seen, but for the time being, the show continues to entertain viewers by staying true to its usual charm, wit, and action. Along with each episode’s customary FBI case, relations between Caffrey and Burke are tested and fleshed out as Caffrey seriously considers venturing back into his former life of crime. It has become clear that the remainder of this season will have both casual viewers and fans alike clinging to the edges of their seats. Yes, White Collar has changed a bit since the first episode, but its large success thus far is a testament to the writing, producing, and acting put into it.
Meghan McCullough is a native New Yorker who has always had a deep interest in writing. She is continuing this passion as an English major at Amherst College.