In recent years basic cable networks have begun producing more and more quality programming. Last night the USA network brought back one of its biggest contributors to this development. “White Collar” debuted its fourth season and it couldn’t have come quick enough. Season 3 left us with shrewd con-man Neil Caffrey fleeing the country even before his sentence can be commuted. FBI agent Kramer had other plans for Neil and intended on bringing further charges against the elusive thief in a scheme to force him to continue his work for the bureau. But feeling that Peter Burke, Neil’s lifelong pursuer, has grown too close to the criminal during their partnership, Kramer arranges for Neil to be placed under his sole supervision. Burke risks his job with the FBI, doing everything he can to afford Neil a chance to escape without the punishment that Peter feels is undeserved. Caffrey cuts his ankle monitor and he and best friend Mozzie are off on a plane to whereabouts unknown with a cache of stolen Nazi treasure.
Season four drops us on the archipelago of Cape Verde off the west coast of Africa. It’s been six weeks and Neil seems to have adjusted to his new lifestyle precisely as you would expect from the world’s greatest con-man. He’s procured a new identity, luxurious abode, protection from the resident crime lord Henry Dobbs, even a flirtation with the “only woman in the entire archipelago” not interested in him. Meanwhile, back in New York, Peter is attempting to track Caffrey down. Before the persistent Kyle Collins, agent from the Office of International Affairs, brings him back to the country by any means necessary. Burke befriends Ellen Parker, an acquaintance of Neil’s father, and the only person left with any connection to Caffrey and where he may have fled.
Peter manages to get in contact with Neil and warn him of Agent Collins’ dogged pursuit, all the while using his own cunning to deduce where the thief is hiding. Collins, expecting Burke to be one step ahead in the pursuit of Neil, conducts a search of the agent’s home. This thoroughly upsets Peter’s wife Elizabeth who is played by the lovely Tiffany Thiessen. As well as upsetting yours truly. Because NO ONE should mess with Kelly Kapowski! Collins discovers a map pinpointing Neil’s location. Maybe Peter shouldn’t have left the key to finding Neil rolled up in a poster tube with a giant red circle around the archipelago, but I digress. He then hops the first flight to the island nation with Peter right on his heels.
After arriving in Cape Verde the action in this episode begins to pick up. Collins discovers that Burke has arrived on the island, presumably to assist Neil in evading arrest. In an effort to exert his authority, Collins publicly offers a bounty of $500,000 for the return of his fugitive. Stating that he doesn’t care in what condition Neil is brought to justice. Caffrey meets with Peter by means of a young child sent to steal Peter’s wallet and lead him to a safe location where the two, joined by Mozzie, plan an escape from the island. Peter joins Mozzie in securing transport off the island. While Caffrey fights his way through a mob of locals looking to make a fortune by delivering the thief to his pursuer. Neil makes his way to the estate of Henry Dobbs, seeking a safe escort for their impromptu emigration. Dobbs has not taken kindly to the appearance of a US government agent on “his” island and quickly turns on Caffrey. Agent Collins appears, weapon at the ready, and we are left to wait another week to see how the master criminal will manage his escape this time.
With action, intrigue, foreshadowing of a storyline delving deeper into Neil’s secretive past, and the inevitable cliffhanger, season 4 of White Collar looks to deliver in the same manner it has during its past three seasons. Leaving no question as to why this show has become one of the USA network’s highest rated programs.