To catch a thief is hard. But to catch a thief on the new season of White Collar is going to be a tad more difficult.
The third season premiere, airing Tuesday at 9/8c on USA, picks up right where the show left off three months ago when Neal (Matt Bomer) discovered billions of dollars of stolen art and jewelry left in a warehouse for him by an anonymous friend. After getting our hands on the episode early we pick five (non-spoilery) reasons to get excited for what's ahead.
1. Neal faces temptation: The tagline for the new season says it all: "Choose a side." While Neal has always struggled to balance his two personas -- as an expert con-man and as a reformed FBI criminal consultant -- last season's stunning cliff-hanger sets up his biggest challenge yet. Judging from the smile on his face in the last frame of Season 2, Neal isn't going to just turn the stolen goods in and call it a day. But with a suspicious Peter (Tim DeKay) close on his tail and the huge amount of money (or jail time, depending on how you look at it) hanging in the balance, watching Neal try to walk both sides of the line should prove more entertaining and tricky than ever.
2. A partnership is about to be tested: Once upon a time Peter and Neal were enemies — the former an FBI agent and the latter a skilled criminal with quite the rap sheet. But ever since Neal first felt the rough, metal touch of a police anklet and agreed to work for the good guys two years ago, he and Peter have developed quite the buddy-cop routine. Peter's past trust issues with Neal have normally blown over within an episode or two, but now their close bond makes Season 3 the perfect time to really test their relationship and change their dynamics. The mysteriously delivered booty from Adler's U-boat is too great for Neal to push aside and that tiny piece of Neal's Chrysler Building painting Peter found is too big a piece of evidence to ignore.
3. Mozzie gets the spotlight treatment: Whether he's serving as Neal's con-wingman and closest confidante or playing a hilarious foil to the FBI "suits," Mozzie (Willie Garson) has become an essential part of the FBI team (even if he'll never, ever admit it thanks to his unbridled distaste for the law). But despite the fact that Neal's longtime partner-in-crime went so far as to take a bullet for the music box, there's still a lot left to be desired about this fan favorite. Luckily, he plays a big role in the season premiere and with a Mozzie-centered flashback episode coming up this season, it looks like it's finally his time to shine.
4. Neal and Sara are so on: Yes, we get it: Neal loved Kate. He became a con-man for Kate. He almost died for Kate. And he got caught by the FBI for Kate. But now that the mystery surrounding his first love's murder is closed, it's nice to see New York City's most dashing criminal interested in someone alive and you know, accessible. While it's still very unclear exactly what the terms are of his "relationship" — and we use that term loosely — with Sara (Hilarie Burton), there are definitely sparks flying fast and freely between these two in the season premiere. And now that Burton has been promoted to series regular, we can only expect to see those sparks fly on a more regular basis. But lest fans forget, Sara once testified against Neal in an art theft case, so his recently acquired collection should prove an interesting and very complicating detail.
5. Nothing is as it seems: If there's one message to take away from the Season 3 premiere, it's that looks can be deceiving and if there's one man who knows this better, it's the man of a thousand cons and an impressive collection of aliases, Neal Caffrey. So the best part about the new season of White Collar? We can say without a shadow of a doubt that we have absolutely no idea what's going to happen. But we're ready, and waiting, to find out.