White Collar's Tim DeKay: 'It's Game On, Neal'

Will Neal take the treasure and run? That’s the question at the center of White Collar‘s current season (airing on USA Network, Tuesdays at 9/8c). But the bigger question is: Will TV’s best bromance ever be able to gain back the trust?

It may be difficult to repair the damage from the tense cat-and-mouse game Peter (played by Tim DeKay) and Neal (Matt Bomer) have been playing, but DeKay feels confident the two will work it. After all, these guys “love each other,” he points out. But that doesn’t mean G-man Peter can skirt his FBI duties and ignore his instincts about what his not-so-former con man partner may be up to when the Suit’s not watching.

TVLine chatted with DeKay about what he thinks of this new relationship twist, what Peter really knows, and the new mentor coming in to give Peter a reality check.

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TVLINE | Peter and Neal’s relationship is in a very interesting place this year. It’s probably the most tense it’s been since Season 1. Where is it headed?
I can’t give you a spoiler, but you’re right. It’s one thing when you don’t trust somebody that you’ve never been with. But after two years of being with somebody, you get close to this person. Now that Peter doesn’t trust Neal, it’s different energy between the two because not only is Peter professionally affected by this, but he’s personally affected as well. I also think that the show will always make sure that no matter what the outcome of this particular season, you’ll never lose the sense that Peter and Neal would still enjoy hanging out together and solving crimes even though there is the element of the lost art on the Nazi sub.

TVLINE | So you definitely think they can come back from this?
I do think so, yeah. Because these two guys, at the heart of it, love each other. They’d take a bullet for the other one.

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TVLINE | When I spoke to [series creator] Jeff Eastin, he said Neal will be torn between wanting to take off and realizing he has something to stay for. Will Peter be similarly torn about what to do?
He will be, yes. That’s something I talked [about] with Jeff a lot. It’s a process that Peter has to take because he has this feeling that Neal may have the artwork. He hopes that his instinct that Neal is up to something is wrong, because Peter doesn’t want this. But he has to do this job, and if there’s artwork out there that has to be brought to its proper owner, then that has to be done. But yeah, there’s a part of Peter that hopes he’s wrong on this pursuit.

TVLINE | There was a winking smile at the end of “Deadline.” How much is Peter aware of what Neal is up to and what he has in his possession?
That’s great that you saw that; it was a really fun moment. We were hoping the audience would come to their own conclusion [about] as to whether or not Peter knows exactly who Neal is talking to [on the cell phone] or not. It is one of those where I don’t know if he has the artwork or not, but anything related to the artwork on my end, I’m going to be one step ahead of you. … It’s game on, Neal. Game on.

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TVLINE | Will Peter be calling on Melissa (Anna Chlumsky) from Art Crimes again?
He will. Also the character Kramer that Peter mentions, from Art Crimes, will be introduced in the show [played by guest star Beau Bridges].

TVLINE | What does Kramer think of Peter and Neal’s relationship?
Kramer understands. He can see that Peter and Neal are very close. He talks about the reputation that Peter and Neal have as far as solving crimes, and their closing a case record is fantastic. But he also is warning Peter, as a mentor, “You gotta be careful.” He doesn’t say, “Once a con, always a con,” but he is certainly the other side of Peter. Kramer is there to remind Peter what his job is and where Neal used to be as a person.

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19 Comments
  1. Lex says:

    I think Peter and Neal’s dynamic has been great this season! While I love the bromance, I think it’s certainly interesting to see what each of them will do. We’ve seen Neal make the right choices before, and in those scenes with Moz in the last few episodes, we’ve seen him obviously hesitant about where he thinks his home truly is. On the other hand, though, we’ve seen that Neal definitely still has that ‘bad boy con artist’ streak, and we’ve seen Peter color outside of the lines a bit before with Neal (ie. when he saved him in the Dr’s office in Season 1, after Neal’s drugged up confession), so I definitely think this season will be amazing, as far as .. how far is one willing to go for the other. How much is one willing to look past their true natures to the obvious bond they have with each other.

  2. KMG says:

    I agree.. I really like the new spin on their relationship. Let’s face it, bottom line is that Neal is a thief and con man who’s willing to break the rules, and Peter is a straight-arrow FBI agent. Near the end of last season, the two of them had gotten to be so chummy you practically expected them to re-create the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp! I like the fact that they still like each other, that they still work well together, and that they still respect each other… but that they both are guarding secrets and that they both know they can’t fully trust each other. Makes it much more fun to watch their interactions and know that almost every conversation has an underlying subtext.

    • Justin says:

      Well said, I couldn’t agree more. Neal is a con man, first and foremost. Finding this treasure was the score of a lifetime, and for a successful thief like Neal to just leave it behind would’ve been stupid. Hey, they still respect and work with each other, but this cat-and-mouse game was inevitable.

  3. Mandy says:

    I love having Anna Chlumsky on the show! She is fun. Her interactions with Neil were fun.

  4. timotey says:

    I’m one of the few who don’t like the current distrust between Peter and Neal. I admit that because of that, I moved the show from my “watch ASAP” to “watch whenever” list. I very much preferred it when Peter and Neal went against a common outside enemy. As it is now, everything Neal does is tinged with hidden agenda – be it Neal’s dinner at Diana’s or his talk with Elizabeth etc. It feels like this is not the Neal I fell in love with, who did stupid things for the love of his life, not because of money. And considering he wanted to stay at the end of S1 and not leave with Kate (as he told Peter in 201), that he is considering leaving for money is… it’s pretty OOC, IMHO.

    • Sarah says:

      I agree with timotey. Still watch, but don’t enjoy the current developments. This isn’t the same Neal from the earlier 2 seasons.

    • XK says:

      Honestly, my wife and I stopped watching shortly into S2, because we got tired of the constant distrust between the two. There’d be an episode where it showed they were clearly friends and could trust each other, followed by them once more at odds and working against each other. Just did not feel like believable character development.

    • Lynda says:

      Is money the motivating factor here, or is it Mozzie? Neal had opportunity to snag the treasure, or at least a portion of it, he wasn’t in his tracker after all – but he didn’t do it, didn’t even seem to consider it. It wasn’t until Mozzie showed up in his loft that this whole thing started. And how could he possibly share the location of the treasure with Peter now, knowing that Mozzie’s the one who stole it? It’s STILL all about relationships to me.

      • Chatty says:

        You took the words right out of my mouth, Lynda. Neal’s relationship with Mozzie has been established for years. No way was he going to rat him out to the feds, and he knows that the ‘little guy’ cannot get rid of that massive treasure without his help. I mean, really, how many times has Mozzie helped him out? I think this season shows how complicated friendship and loyalties can be. For me, this is not about Neal wanting the treasure, it’s about him being torn between two men to whom he is indebted in very different ways. Neal loves them both and is trying to preserve what they mean to him. It’s an impossible situation, betray the man who would do anything for him or the man who gave him a new lease on life? I want to know how this will end!

      • mallory says:

        Good call, Lynda!!

    • Lex says:

      I think you’ll find that they still do go against common enemies. I mean, look. I don’t LIKE the distrust there (and I was pissed that Peter accused Neal of stealing the treasure in the first place), but what I like is that they’re showing that a part of Neal will always be Neal Caffrey, con man extraordinaire, and a part of Peter will always be the ever vigilant FBI agent. I also think you’ll see that not EVERYTHING Neal does now has a hidden agenda — I think Jeff Eastin is, in a real, true-to-life, comprehensive way showing us that even though these two love each other, even though they both know they’d take a bullet for each other, that change doesn’t happen overnight.

      In real life, none of us all of a sudden change our habits and natures. It takes time, people fall off the wagon, people have doubts and self-doubts. So, obviously, your opinion is your opinion, but .. let’s try to remember that these two aren’t Starsky and Hutch, or whatever other buddy cop comparison you want to throw in there.

  5. L. A. Richardson says:

    So far this season has been a refreshing treat! Not only do Peter, (Tim D.) and Neal (Matt B.) work 2gether 2 solve crimes but now Diane is involved in the “cat & mouse game in trying to find the missing Nazi artwork. All the back stories going on with each character makes them not only more entertaining but human as well.

  6. VentusAstrum says:

    I think that all the episodes they’re doing focusing on the supporting characters and giving them their moment in the sun to shine this season is great. And the main reason for that is this – As long as Neal and Mozzie are ogling the Nazi loot on their BloodPlunderCam, the writer’s can keep the bromance in the background for all I care, or they can just get rid of it until they decide to straighten out the mess they’ve made of things. Re: their stupid Nazi loot storyline, and the sledgehammer they took to the bromance when a few whacks with a mallet would have been sufficient.
    I can only hope that Neal will realize he’s getting mightily sick of Mozzie’s rude, crass intrusions into his relationship with Sara, and his lectures on how Neal can’t stay with Peter because of this, that, the other thing, blah, blah….and he’ll tell Mozzie to go take a hike.
    VentusAstrum

  7. Rose says:

    I love White Collar. Neal is torn between Peter and Mozzie. Neal can live without the treasure, but he needs the excitement of a con. Peter lets him pull cons that are legal. Mozzie is a tie to Neal’s old life, and one that Neal will never reject.

  8. davej says:

    I am also not a fan of this year’s fabricated tension between Neal and Peter. I loved their bromance. The best part of it was seeing the two of them rubbing off on each other with Neal following the rules and Peter breaking them just a little bit.

    My favorite part of the show is the bonding between Neal and Mozzi and Peter and people learning how to work together.

    I look forward to this nonsense ending.

  9. Cami says:

    I am liking this season the least of the three. I don’t like how Peter now seems to get the fun stuff of making the sting work all the time. Or tango with the pretty woman. It was utterly ridiculous that Neal — the best, most suave con man out there — was unable to convince a single woman to bid for him at the auction or that he needed Sara’s advice in how to woo women. And don’t get me started on Sara. Ugh. She’s White Collar’s version of Alias’ Lauren.

  10. Helen says:

    I agree fully with Lynda and Chatty. It’s not about the Treasure, it’s about the people. Neal is torn between Peter and Mozzie and he doesn’t want to betray either one. He owes them both; he loves them both.
    I also wish Mozzie would stop walking into Neal’s apt any time he wants. If Mozzie had walked into the apt when Peter was with Selena and started talking about the Treasure instead of a grappling hook, the whole plot would have been destroyed!
    I think Mozzie’s greed and not caring about anyone will turn Neal toward Peter eventually, because Neal cares about people and the life he has. And if a wedge develops between Neal and Mozzie, I have a feeling that eventually the picture of the Treasure on the computer cam will just be a picture and the Treasure will be gone, perhaps by Mozzie or someone else (Keller?) Remember Mozzie at the Italian Consulate took a picture and showed it on the computer cam when Neal was trying to steal the music box. He could do that again!

  11. Amy says:

    I have to admit at first I was not wild about the conflict between Neal and Peter especially Peter saved Neal’s life seconds before that, but the more I think about it rings true. Peter and Neal come from two radically different world that are in constant conflict. They will never fully trust each other because they don’t share the same view on life. I am finding I like this season better than I thought. And I like seeing Peter’s hidden skills, dancing and conning.

    I think Mozzie’s to ties NYC are greater than he admits. Peter has saved his butt several times and went to Elizabeth to comfort when Peter was in trouble. Heck he even saved Jones’ life.

    Also, Sara isn’t my favorite character but to compare her to Lauren on Alias is harsh. If she turns out to secretly evil and involved in Kate’s death okay but otherwise calm down.

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