Episode Title: 'Wanted'
Writer: Jeff Eastin
Director: Paul Holahan
At the office, Peter (Tim DeKay) spots an agent snooping around Neal's desk. He's soon introduced to the man, Agent Kyle Collins (Mekhi Phifer) from the Office of International Affairs. Collins tells Peter he's determined to find Neal and suggests that Peter's not telling the bureau everything he knows.
Elsewhere, Neal (Matt Bomer), now going by the alias "James Maine" goes for a stroll in a small island town, purchasing a new hat and stopping by a coffee shop to talk to the beautiful owner. Though she's obviously charmed by Neal, the woman is certain Neal isn't being truthful about who he is.
Back in New York, Peter decides to tail Collins in hopes of contacting Neal to warn him. He spots Collins attempting to talk to Ellen Parker, Neal's father's former partner. After Collins leaves, Peter tries to explain the situation to Ellen, but she sends him away.
On the island, Peter and Mozzie (Willie Garson) meet with Dobbs, who runs a protection racket for fugitives. He promises to keep the pair invisible for a sizable fee. Neal requests that Dobbs tell one of his cronies to stop ripping off a local boy named Hector, who sells fruit. That night, Neal has Hector bring the cafe owner to the beach where he's waiting for her.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen) manages to convince Ellen to talk to Peter. When Peter tells her it was him who signaled Neal to run, she tells him about an emergency pager she can use to contact Neal. When the pager goes off, Neal calls and Peter answers, to his surprise. Peter warns him about Collins, but Neal is not concerned. He tells Peter he's protected where he is and that his life in New York, and their partnership, is over.
The next day, Peter has Diana (Marsha Thomason) and Jones (Sharif Atkins) over to analyze the call, which he recorded. The trio uses a number of clues to deduce that Neal is in Cape Verde. Peter suggests they come up with a plan to bring Neal home but later that day, Collins busts into the Burke home with a swarm of agents and finds the map with Cape Verde circled.
Now put on leave after trying to track down Neal on his own, Peter decides to follow Collins to Cape Verde. When Collins arrives, Moz is warned by Hector, so he and Neal prepare to make their escape. Meanwhile, Collins and Peter have a run-in at the cafe. Hector steals Peter's wallet and leads him to Neal and Moz. The three come up with a plan to flee the island by boat. However, the entire town is after Neal thanks to a handsome reward offered by Collins.
The three run through the streets, but are soon separated. Neal gets a ride form the cafe owner to Dobbs' place where he asks for transport off the island. Meanwhile, Moz brokers a deal with a boat captain, but Neal has yet to arrive. When it gets late, Neal becomes concerned about escaping. Dobbs berates him for luring government officials to the island just as Collins arrives to pull a gun on Neal.
We've spent the past three season observing the reformed, civilized if somewhat caged Neal Caffrey living life in New York as an informant and analyst for the FBI. Now it's time to see what Neal or rather "James" is like down what was once considered the road not taken… to an island paradise with no extradition policy.
While Neal and Moz spend lazy days sipping belinis, building sandcastle replicas of New York and neglecting their facial hair, Peter's trying to beat the heat brought on by new FBI baddie, Agent Kyle Collins (Mekhi Phifer) who's determined to take Neal in, dead or alive.
Coming into season four with Neal and Mozzie on the lamb and loaded, thanks to a priceless art collection, it seemed like a chance for 'White Collar' to take the story into an interesting new direction. Unfortunately, the premiere felt like a retread of last season's finale, except this time it's Mekhi Phifer hunting Neal instead of Beau Bridges.
That said, Phifer makes for a pretty good villain. His character's intensity and arrogance makes him both dislikable and engaging. But will Agent Collin's presence, Neal's decision to flee the country and Peter's role in his survival have any real bearing on the story by season's end? If it all amounts to Neal, Mozzie and Peter back in New York cracking cases of stolen Egyptian antiques, will it even matter?
Of course, Neal and Mozzie have to return to New York for the show to work as it does but there needs to be some sort of shift in the paradigm to keep 'White Collar' as fresh and crisp as one of Neal's designer three-piece numbers. Peter's been pushing some serious boundaries at work, making him question the ethics of the bureau. Perhaps he hangs up "the suit" for a while and starts a consulting firm with Neal and Moz? Really, it doesn't matter so much which direction 'White Collar' takes this season, as long as it's a new one.