White Collar returned with Neal Caffrey (Matthew Bomer) straddling the line between legitimacy and crime while his FBI handler, Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), wavered between trust and cynicism of his charge.
The episode opened with Burke in prison after being framed at the end of the summer season. His wife (Tiffani Thiessen) was having a conversation with Caffrey and told him to do what he had to do to free him. Before he could, he was contacted by a mysterious person who turned out to be Curtis Hagen, whom Caffrey had put away in the first episode. After a bit of a chat, Hagen said that he could make the incarcerated FBI agent a free man. He acknowledged that he was the reason that the federal prosecutor was leaning so heavily on Burke, and then indicated that he could get him to let him go. In return, he asked Caffrey to do a quick 'smash and grab.' He added one more catch - get his father's confession on tape as the one who actually committed the shooting...even forge it if necessary.
Mozzie immediately jumped into the fray (well, as much as a geek who abhors physical activity can). He had also managed to crack Neil's tracking anklet. He got Caffrey to record a confession, using technology to make it sound like his fathers' voice. The plan worked and Burke was sprung. Burke believed that it was really Caffrey's father who called and he thanked him. Yet another layer of deceit between Caffrey and Burke, since Caffrey did nothing to dissuade the FBI agent. Hagen then called in his favor.
More intrigue: Burke got an offer from Boris McGiver (playing an unnamed higher-up) to become the head of White Collar. Always good to see McGiver when his character, Hersh, isn't getting his ass kicked on Person of Interest.
Hagen wanted Caffrey to get Welsh gold coins from a heavily guarded vault. What happened next involved some comedy with Mozzie wearing an awful wig and goatee, pretending to be a jumper. Caffrey played a fireman who was supposed to be rescuing him and got the building next to the vault evacuated. There were two sequences going on - Caffrey getting the coins and Mozzie finding out out that the suicide negotiator that was supposed to talk him down had even more insane conspiracy theories than he did.
Of course the plan went awry when an overzealous fireman probie made Caffrey hand over the oxygen tanks before he could steal away. It was White Collar 101: Thy most thought-through plan shall falleth through due to the most silly things ever. To make matters worse, the missing coins case was assigned to who? Three guesses.. OK. No. One guess. BURKE, of course. He asked Caffrey to consult, as well. Then of course, he tumbled on to the air tanks that Caffrey used to store the coins ('Why are there air tanks if there isn't a fire?").
Caffrey and Mozzie had to figure out how to save themselves and thwart Burke at the same time. They went to the firehouse and Caffrey got the coins out, but managed to stir Burke's suspicions.
The episode ended with Burke stepping down as Caffrey's handler, realizing that while he thought of Caffrey as a friend, he was still a criminal. He then gave him a new ankle braclet, much to Caffrey's chagrin. Oh, and Hagen revealed that he was really targeting Caffrey and had blackmail material on him from the job. His intention... get him paroled. Ah, White Collar, you and your twists.
The plot is afoot and it's interesting that they would bring Hagen back after all this time and to expect many to remember what part he played in the pilot episode. Not all of us have been with the show from the start. But then again, Mark Sheppard is riding a much larger wave of recognition after all those seasons of playing Crowley on Supernatural. He's playing another demon in this show, one who is always making deals. It's going to be an interesting ride.