White Collar Boss on Neal's Dad Dilemma, a Shift in Peter's Morals and a Sara/Neal Reunion
White Collar Recap: He Did a Bad, Bad Thing
When last we saw White Collar, con man extraordinaire Neal had come to the realization that Treat Williams’ Sam was actually his long-missing father, James.
In Tuesday night’s Season 4.5 opener (USA Network, 10/9c), the two men will begin to hash out their issues — but as creator Jeff Eastin previews below, there’s still plenty of turmoil between them. Eastin also mentions a shake-up at the FBI that brings out Peter’s Caffrey-esque side and a possible reconciliation between Sara and the suave con artist — read on for all the details.
TVLINE | The beginning of this season was about Neal figuring out who he is and how his father factors into that. What’s the journey this time around?
For Neal, it will be twofold. Mentally, it becomes about accepting this person in his life. It’s one of those things – be careful what you wish for. All his life, he’s wanted to know who his dad is… Now this person is standing in front of him, and he’s pretty pissed off about it — partly because James has essentially been lying to him since he showed up, saying he was somebody else. For Neal, that’s a real hard thing to reconcile.
As the season moves forward, you’ll see that Peter and Mozzie are the ones that are very encouraging to Neal, saying, “If anybody can understand showing up and lying to somebody for a period of time, it should be you because this is something you, especially, could probably end up doing in your life.” Between their help, he finally learns to accept James. But then, just as that’s happening, a lot of intrigue begins with James, and Neal really questioning who this guy is – not that he’s not his father because he is his father, but it becomes a lot more about, who is this guy really? Is he really here doing what he says he’s doing? Or is there an ulterior motive here? So for Neal, [it's] an emotional journey to accept the fact that this is his father and still continuing the theme of, if this guy’s my father, does that define who I am?
Then on the action/drama side, there’s still this pursuit of the evidence that Ellen left him, which ultimately will prove whether his dad was guilty or not. We have a pretty big finale that’s pretty emotionally cool. Also, we got to shoot in the Empire State Building.
TVLINE | That’s incredible.
Yeah. We got to shoot in the most iconic of New York places. It leads up to a pretty cool finale there. On Peter’s side, his big arc is he’s realized that the closer he gets to Neal, the more on the gray side he finds himself. A little bit of a spoiler is Hughes gets forced out by the evil forces. He convinces Peter that sometimes [he] needs to do what he believes in, not necessarily what the law says, but what he believes in his heart. So for Peter, it’s this realization that to save himself, his career, save Neal, he really has to embrace that Neal side of him that’s always been there.
TVLINE | Neal’s father has been so absent in his life for so long. When he comes back, how does he adjust to having a fatherly presence?
Peter has always acted as a bit of a surrogate father to Neal anyway. So in Neal’s mind, for a while now, he’s had that father figure there. The hard part for Neal is comparing the father that he secretly wishes he had in Peter to the new guy who’s shown up, who is his biological father… Neal has to come to grips with the fact James is his father, not Peter, and as much as he wants to pretend and as much as he wishes [his] life mirrored Peter’s, he really doesn’t know what he wants. He wants that perfect life with Elizabeth. He wants the white picket fence and the dog and those things. A little part of him knows that that’s not for him, but it’s secretly what he tells himself he wants, and now this dad shows up who’s a whole lot different from Peter. For Neal, a lot about that self-reflection is… “Am I looking at a reflection of myself? Or is it too late for me to change [myself] to who I want [to be]?”