Does White Collar's Peter Have the Goods on Neal? Series Boss Teases 'Twists and Turns'

On USA Network’s White Collar (Tuesdays at 9/8c), it’s a good idea to have a protection policy when working with a partner you can’t completely trust. And that’s precisely what Peter was handed last week when the FBI unearthed a partial manifest of the art on the Nazi U-boat.

That inventory list, series creator Jeff Eastin tells TVLine, “is Peter’s way of relaxing. He doesn’t have to accuse Neal, he doesn’t constantly have to wonder what Neal’s doing. If Neal has the treasure and he [fences it], Peter is going to know about it pretty quick. … [Peter] may be still slightly concerned that Neal did it, but he feels like he’s got protection with the list.”

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At the end of the season premiere, Neal and Mozzie were contemplating which piece of art to sell to fund their getaway, but they will soon catch on to the fact that Peter has the list. Being ever the cool and collected criminal, Neal is “not going to panic too much.” Instead, says Eastin, “He’s just watching Peter, [who] seems semi-relaxed,” thanks to his new “insurance” policy.

Despite the obstacle, Neal and Mozz are still gung-ho about high-tailing it to paradise — by figuring out how to snatch the list and selling off one of the pieces the FBI doesn’t know about — even if it means leaving behind friends.

“Initially, [Neal's] pretty sure he’s got what he wants, and he’s ready to go,” says Eastin. “But eventually, he will realize that there’s a little bit more here for him, and he’s going to hesitate.”

Is Eastin referring to Neal’s bromance with Peter or his romance with Sara? We’re betting on the former, seeing as Neal didn’t even bother to say goodbye to Sara when he first thought he and Mozzie were about to skip town. “It’s a new relationship,” Eastin explains. “I don’t know if he’s really contemplated what it means to him yet.”

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

Meanwhile, the other relationship in Neal’s life – the one with Peter – will undergo “some pretty good twists and turns” as Season 3 unspools.

Though Eastin likens the boys’ new dynamic to Season 1, “where Neal was going after Kate and Peter was constantly concerned about that,” he’s not worried about how to come back from this more suspicious stage in their relationship.

“We constantly have in mind that people like the show because of the relationship between Peter and Neal,” he notes. “So we work very hard to try to keep that, and not turn it into something so antagonistic that it’s not fun to watch.”

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28 Comments
  1. Ethan says:

    “romance with Sara” count me in the people that is not a fan of Neal and Sara. I would rather see the Sara character try to hit on Peter, like the actress, just not the role. Good story arc though with Neal going to his bad roots a little.

    • Lu says:

      Agree!!!
      She is a great character but not interesting enough for someone like Neal. He needs someone unexpected and who keeps him guessing. Someone with just as many shades as he has but sunnier & straighter than Alex.
      Sara is smart, beautiful, fierce, and just like almost every other female lead/supporting role in a law enforcement series.
      He just does not seem to be in the right place for serious romance this season and to know what he is really needing in a partner. He is still figuring himself out.

    • Kae says:

      I disagree. I like Sara and rather like her cat & mouse relationship with Neal. We haven’t seen a whole lot of her, but they’re attracted, but she’s fully aware of who he is and isn’t sure whether to trust him. But he needs more than Peter to feel a tie to this new life. Mozz and Alex represent the allure of the con life, while Sara and Peter are the pull to a new life. Plus, I love the relationship between El and Peter too much to want the writers to fool with that. There aren’t enough solid marriages portrayed on television as it is.

    • Emily says:

      Sara and Neal, no thank you. She’s kinda of a stage five clinger.
      With Kate dead I don’t care about Neal’s love life. Just the drama and action.

  2. Alex says:

    A little spoliery…but interesting tidbits of information! Seems like Neal’s really going to have the upper hand and Neal and Peter’s relationship will be tested…

  3. LG says:

    PLEASE don’t have Neal stay because of Sara. They have no chemistry and their relationship seems so forced – it needs to stay casual for me to even remotely buy it.

    Glad to hear the Peter/Neal relationship is at the front of the writers’ minds.

    • Haley says:

      If I had to choose a girl for Neal it would be Kate.
      Sare and Alex literally feel like they are the same person. All swooning for Neal. They lack chemistry.
      I love the Neal/Peter friendship, Neal/Moz but also Neal/Kate basically I miss Season one :(

  4. Ashley says:

    I can’t say I’m thrilled with how this season seems to be unfolding so far. After all the character and relationship developments of last season, the rewind to revisit the season 1 dynamic feels a bit forced. And I’m not a huge fan of the Neal/Sara relationship – it’s hard to convince me to root for them when he’s ready to take off without even thinking about her. I love “White Collar” enough to follow and trust the showrunners, but my wish is to see the repair of Neal and Peter’s relationship sooner rather than later.

    • ell says:

      Feel the same way. I rolled my eyes when I read, “Neal figures out Peter has the list”. This plot is interesting but also making Neal a bit unsympathetic. I really like Neal, but in this situation it’s very clear that Peter is the sympathetic figure. Neal’s not doing this for love, he’s doing it for money alone and apparently willing to screw over his friends to for it.

      P.S. Please bring back Alex and find some other role for Sara, they don’t have the chemistry to pull off the law abiding/criminal thing, instead they just feel like it would realistically end before it ever really began.

      • Ashley says:

        Exactly! I might buy Neal’s backslide if they played up an emotional angle – him being angry at Peter for suspecting him when he had nothing to do with the theft (the if-he-thinks-I-did-it-I-might-as-well-do-it motive) or him becoming romantically involved with Alex and is struggling between the pulls of his two lives. To have him do it solely for the money, and to have him screw over the people who have worked with him (Peter, Diana, Jones) and/or supported him (Elizabeth and, in a way, June) just makes him seem unsympathetic.
        -
        Honestly, the only thing I find interesting about all this was the implication, when he was leaving behind his FBI ID, that his real name isn’t Neal Caffrey. That might be a compelling story arc: after turning over the treasure to the FBI, he realizes he’s no longer Neal Caffrey the Art Thief and has to start sorting out how much of him is really that person and how much of him is the person he left behind when he was 18 (when the records for Neal Caffrey start).

        • Alice K says:

          Can’t agree more! Writers did such great job making Neal sympathetic in first two season, so after season 3 premiere I was frustrated and sad. After “It not about money, it’s about people” (s01e10), “I didn’t want to run anymore” (s02e01) and hangar scene in S1 finale (he was hesitant to leave even when *Kate* was waiting for him, for god’s sake), Neal in 301 seems not the Neal we know and love.

          I really hope they wouldn’t mess with friendship. I get “they like each other, but don’t trust each other” formula, but even in Pilot there was much more “like” than in “On guard”. I prefer Peter & Neal as a team working together against Fowler/Keller/Adler/whoever, not against each other.

          As for Sara, I actually liked her when she was guest-star-rival, but making her love interest and regular was over the top, now Sara is pretty annoying. Romance storyline feels unnecessary and very forced to me.

          Of course I’ll watch couple more eps to get a clearer picture, but right now I’m not exactly thrilled with this season – not sure I can fell sympathy to this new Neal, don’t like the rift between Neal &Peter and not a fan of Neal/Sara (or Neal/anyone for that matter, I watch buddy show and crime drama, not soap opera!)

        • Alex says:

          I dont think it was implied at all that his real name isn’t Neal. He was just leaving behind his FBI life. It is kind of suspicious though that Peter doesnt know anything about his life before he was 18. Would love to hear more about his childhood, and that “dirty cop” dad of his!

  5. teniba says:

    I am fan of Sara/Neal does he have to stay because of a girl he has just dating, both have ot yet realised what are their feelings… he would not even think about her as he was leaving this is normal after all but then there will be a break up soon and then he will have fling with someone else etc… and maybe he realised what Sara means to him, or not…

  6. Anna says:

    Great Article. I like Neal and Sara together. I think she is a good match for him and shows his growth as a character. I wish they would take the relationship a little slower though and not force it as hard. I think if they developed her character more them as a couple would be better

  7. Mark says:

    I like Sara’s chemistry with Neal better than I like Alex’s. I knew Neal would get a love interest eventually, so I’m kind of glad it’s not Alex; that was giving me Burn Notice vibes in a bad way.

  8. Barb says:

    Wasn’t thrilled about the backpeddling between Neal and Peter’s friendship. It showed growth the way it was proceeding and now with Moz’s ‘gift’ to Neal, that trust is now back to square one.

  9. MGL says:

    I am a fan of the Neal and Peter bromance, and hope they repair their friendship sooner as opposed to later. But I am not a fan of Neal and Sara. Liked Alex’s character much better. Peter represented one life and Mozzie and Alex the other. Hope to see Alex back sometime soon.

  10. Tim says:

    I’d rather see Sara as more of a 3rd string to the Peter/Neal relationship. By that I mean I wish she would help more on missions both by gathering information and even joining in on their law-abiding cons.

    • Alice K says:

      Agreed. I can tolerate her at the background, but don’t want romance storyline take over the show. I liked she has only a minute in premiere, hope it’ll continue the same way.

  11. peter says:

    it’s only me who thinks ”KATE IS NOT DEAD ”!!!!

    • Jess says:

      Lol I’m right there with you. I don’t think she is
      Actually I’m kinda hoping she isn’t as well as thinking it.
      Season 1 was really amazing. Suspense, action and I loved Neal that way. I’m not really as hooked as I once was.
      Intially I didn’t like Kate I thought was betraying him, but she brought an element of mystery and the pull of Neal’s old con life.
      And he was so invested in their love.

      I don’t like Sara. Yeah she’s new and whatever. But there is no pull, no interest, no deep connection. I’m glad she’s only there for a few seconds otherwise I would be annoyed.

      I really want a Keller/Neal/Kate con job.

  12. TimW (No, not that one) says:

    I think that Sara is a critical relationship. Alex, and certainly Kate, are tied to an old life as a criminal. Sara’s insurance investigator is very nearly a cop, and she came in trusting Neil even less than Peter did. Her entire relationship with Neil is built around their collaboration catching frauds. (And his abs.) His work with her made her believe that he was more than the sum of his scams to that point. So whether or not she’s a more charismatic character than Alex (I think she is, but I won’t argue too hard if you say Alex wins), the balance she has struck with Neil is far, far more delicate than the one with Peter, who has stayed connected to Neil through things that would make Sara bolt. Which is why in the end, Neil and Peter are the center of the show, with Mozzie a very nice third wheel, even more interesting with Peter than he is with Neil. But anything that takes the focus off Neil and Peter is a distraction from the best part of the show — them leaning in together over a table to talk each other through their next steps together, surprising each other, pushing each other to think more clearly. We’ve never seen a relationship quite like this before. The rest, we kinda have.

  13. Justin says:

    I’m a big fan of the Neal and Peter bromance, but I like this rift between them right now because it presents a new, interesting twist. Neal has just scored the treasure of a lifetime, but being that he’s “trying to turn his life around”, what will he do, and will he get caught? I love the possible scenarios! Everything can’t be “good between them every season”. That would suck! As far as Neal and Sarah as a couple, I like it. I think Alex is a better fit for him, but mostly as a recurring character. Alex and Neal seem to do better as solo acts, not as a couple. Sara represents a different option that I’d like to see. However, I like Alex and would love to see more of her too.

  14. Kathy says:

    I am in the Neal/Sara Camp!!! ( It does help that I admire & respect Hilarie, I think she is great @ her job)

    I was very sad to see, that they will be “broken up” by the mid-season, but if Sara is only shown 1-2 minutes a show, then she Never will get a chance to win over more fans………..

    But I watch WC, because I LOVE Peter & Neal!!!!!
    I pray that the 2nd episode tonight, returns to why I loved this show, the Season Opener was really “hard” for me to enjoy…..

    ****** On a Personnal note: I have a real problem, with the
    Nazi Treasure( I work with Holocaust Survivors & their Families) and it just, it is just hard!!!

    But I have “faith” in the writers, that it will turn around.

  15. jody says:

    Where has the lightness and charm gone? I don’t even like these people. We accepted Neal as a criminal because of his good heart and his almost childlike loyalty to Peter as perhaps the first person who ever really wanted the best for him. Mozzie certainly does not and he was so much more interesting as a background character. Has anyone ever seen the old Streets of San Francisco? The occasional tension came from Keller’s and Stone’s differing backgrounds and ages not EVER from thinking the worst of each other as this new Peter seems determined to do. Mr. Eastin is correct in saying that he can do whatever he wishes with his characters, even destroy them. I can likewise do whatever I wish with my remote control, like find a show with characters written by someone who has a deeper understanding of real friendship.

    • Beth says:

      Mr. Eastin is correct in saying that he can do whatever he wishes with his characters, even destroy them. I can likewise do whatever I wish with my remote control, like find a show with characters written by someone who has a deeper understanding of real friendship.

      I agree. I haven’t enjoyed any of the episodes in Season 3 thus far. They’ve all left me terribly disappointed. Mr. Eastin should not lose sight of the fact that many people continue to tune in to his show to see the wonderful relationship between Neal and Peter. I don’t really care about Sara, Alex, Kate et.al. Mozzie has been annoying as well. I used to like these characters but I feel like they’ve all been taken over by bodysnatchers. Remember which side your bread is buttered on Mr. Eastin. Bring back the core of the show–which was the wonderful Neal and Peter dynamic. The Peter and Neal that you’ve created this season are unlikable and not fun to watch at all.

  16. JLC says:

    Totally agree with previous comments about Neal not staying because of Sara.

    However, a really epic twist would be if Elizabeth left with Mozzie and Neal. Or perhaps, when on the verge of foiling Neal’s plan, Peter in fact stitches Neal up and escapes with the plunder himself (though at that point, White Collar would admittedly have to end).

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