White Collar‘s Season 3 finale finally delivered a verdict on Neal’s fate, and it did not go as expected.
Rather than being set free or having to complete his sentence with the FBI, Neal’s future took a third route: He cut his anklet and fled after getting the nod to do so from Peter, who had just learned of Kramer’s plans to keep Neal working for him, in D.C., for the rest of his life.
Where is the con man headed? What happens to Peter’s career now that he’s sacrificed the law to keep his C.I./pal out of his mentor’s hands? And is that trip to Roosevelt Island just the tip of the iceberg in uncovering the real Neal Caffrey? TVLine went to creator Jeff Eastin to gets answers.
TVLINE | In the finale, the show went to a place it’s never been before, with Roosevelt Island.
And the first episode back in Season 4 won’t take place in New York. It won’t take place on American soil.
TVLINE | Do you see it as almost like a prequel to Season 1, where Peter has to chase Neal again?
A little bit. There’s definitely a parallel to the first time Peter caught Neal. The difference here is Peter gave Neal the nod to go. That nod really changes everything. … The hula girl is a pretty good indication of where Season 4 starts out. He’s tracking Neal for a different reason than he was the first time.
TVLINE | Peter sacrificed the law and what he believes in for Neal. How will this affect his career?
That’s a lot of what happens in Season 4. There’ll be some serious ramifications for Peter.
TVLINE | It felt like Peter and Neal were coming to some middle ground in this episode. Neal’s become better, but Peter is becoming more like Neal.
That was a lot of it. Peter was always a by-the-book guy, so for him to start realizing that grey is a color too…. The guys definitely merged a bit. Unfortunately, Peter works for the FBI, and they’re not a grey organization. They’re black-and-white. He went too far. The law says you gotta be prosecuted for doing [the crime] no matter if you’re a whole different person two years later. But Peter believes that Neal has really changed and wants to help him with that. Unfortunately, Peter probably stepped too far out of bounds.
TVLINE | What will be the state of Peter and Neal’s relationship in Season 4 given everything they’ve been through?
In a lot of ways, it strengthens it going into Season 4. They’ve done this together. They realize how much they do rely upon each other. Again, it comes down to realizing exactly who each of them is.
TVLINE | When Peter changes his mind and says Neal should be free, does he really believe that? Or is he saying that because of what Kramer has in store?
Tim [DeKay] and I talked a lot about that. In that moment in time, he believed it.
TVLINE | You planted some seeds with Neal’s visit to Roosevelt Island. Is exploring Neal’s family one of your goals for next season?
Season 4 will rely heavily on Neal’s pursuit of his family.
TVLINE | So he doesn’t know where they are?
No. A lot of the big questions will be, Is his real name Neal Caffrey? If a fan of the show wants to guess, I wouldn’t do it if I were them. I don’t think the answer is what they think it is, no matter what they think it is. To a certain extent you might be right, but you won’t be right for the reasons you think. The discovery of who Neal was becomes a big part of Season 4.
TVLINE | Now that he’s on the run, will we see people from his past like Alex?
It’s very possible.
White Collar fans, what did you think of the season finale? Are you excited for Season 4 and to learn more about Neal’s family?