White Collar Boss Previews 'Bad Boy' Neal's Big Season 3 Dilemma

White Collar‘s central bromance is about to be tested in a big way.

When the USA Network series returns this Tuesday at 9/8c, Peter and Neal will have their hands full with a whole lot of treasure and an equally great amount of distrust — between each other.

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Having discovered that someone stole the Nazi U-boat treasure for him and placed it in a warehouse, “The big mystery going into Season 3 is, what’s Neal going to do?” creator Jeff Eastin tells TVLine. “The idea was: If you give the greatest con man in the world the greatest treasure in the world, what’s he going to do with it?”

Although it may seem like Neal, who has formed a bond with Peter, would want to preserve his relationship with the G-man, giving up the priceless art and jewels will not be an easy thing to do. “Every waking, breathing moment [for Neal] has been about the big, final score, and he finally gets it,” points out Eastin. What Neal chooses to do next – “Is he going to go the route with Mozzie the criminal, or is he going the route with Peter and put on the white hat?” posits Eastin – is at the core of Season 3 and the network’s “Choose a side” ad campaign.

“We’d softened up him up a little too much, got him a little too close to the FBI,” Eastin notes, “so we had the idea to take him back to the bad boy he always has been.”

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As a result, Neal’s relationship with Peter will be tested, and getting back to a state of trust will be a challenge. “The tough part of the show always is to try to get us back to some normalcy,” says Eastin. “Since the show began, I think we’ve done a pretty good job of keeping the guys smiling at each other’s faces and then the second one leaves the room, them being distrustful. But the guys can still have a good time while they’re together.”

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While Peter and Neal’s relationship – and a bounty of booty – hangs in the balance, there is one mystery that will be resolved “very quickly”: Who stole the treasure for Neal? Eastin says there’s really only one suspect who could have done it.

“It just occurred to us that watching all of Season 2 back-to-back, there was one person that had wanted to do a long con all along, who’s wanted this forever,” he hints.

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Are you looking forward to the White Collar season premiere? Who do you think stole the treasure? And what do you think Neal will do with it? Hit the comments with your theories, and stay online with TVLine this summer as in the coming weeks we preview Peter’s great undercover adventure!