The series premiere of White Collar starts off with a bang – literally. A con artist nicknamed The Dutchman triggers a bank safety deposit box to blow up if it is opened. Peter Burke is the head FBI investigator on this case. He gets word that Neal Caffrey has escaped from prison and the police need his help to find him.
Neal escapes prison four months shy of completing his sentence. Why you ask? Simply put, for love. When he gets to his old apartment that he shared with his ex-girlfriend, it is empty. She left him and he has no idea where she is.
Peter and the entire squad show up to bring Neal back to prison for another four year sentence when Neal gives Peter just bait he needs to earn (some) freedom from jail – a clue to cracking the case on The Dutchman.
If Neal is able to help solve the case, he may be able to get his “get out of jail free” card – but there are limitations – an ankle bracelet and some pretty shabby accommodations. Given his choices, Neal gladly accepts.
Somehow, Neal ends up not only scoring some snazzy outfits (and looking very fine in a fedora) from a well to do Upper East Side woman, but also lands a gorgeous place to stay with her as well. Neal’s charisma and hotness makes it extremely believable that it could happen.
While on the hunt for The Dutchman, Peter totally (almost) forgets that his ten year anniversary with his wife (Tiffani Thiessen) is coming up. Peter has no clue on what to get her. With Neal at his side, he somehow thinks of the most romantic week long get away to Belize. Close call my friend, close call.
Back on the case, they contain a man in customs for bringing back a large amount of 1944 Snow White books, but before they can question him someone comes in and murders the guy. With Neal’s talent for solving puzzles, he realizes that the books are used for their paper to make replicas of the Spanish Victory Bonds.
On a lead from Mozzie, Neal’s best friend (Stanley from Sex and the City – love him!), they figure out that the criminal is an art restorer. Without a probable cause, they cannot get a warrant for searching the building that he is in. Running out of time, Neal uses his tracking device for good and is able to save the day and continue to use his wits to keep him out of prison - and gets himself a new job as Peter's sidekick!