Tuesday night’s mid-season finale of White Collar finally unmasked Neal’s father, and the mystery man was much closer than the con artist realized. Peter’s discovery that the real Sam had actually passed away a while ago blew Treat Williams’ character’s cover. And when a DNA matched confirmed it, Neal realized he’d been working alongside his pops for a while.
The big twist wasn’t a complete shocker, admits executive producer Jeff Eastin.
“We’re going to get a lot of, ‘Oh, I knew it!’” he tells TVLine. Such is the price you pay for having savvy, intelligent viewers. But there is one thing the audience doesn’t know for certain: whether Sam really is the man Neal has been seeking for so long. Could he actually be a bad guy who has somehow gotten his hands on dad and his blood?
“You’ll just have to wait and see,” replies Eastin coyly, only allowing that “things can happen. You never know. I won’t dissuade any of the crazy theories. They may be right.”
If the show isn’t pulling a fast one on fans, then the former cop’s motives for keeping his true identity secret will be explored when White Collar returns in January, says the EP, adding that Williams appears “in a good chunk of the second half” of the fourth season.
Whether Sam’s presence will be a positive or negative for his son in the episodes ahead remains unclear. “Neal goes back and forth on that,” previews Eastin. “For a good portion of the season, he thinks it’s a very good thing, finally getting to know who he is. And then there will be some twists and turns in that as the [Season 4 winter] finale approaches.”
In the process, Neal’s relationship with Peter will continue to take some hits. “In a lot of ways, Peter is a surrogate dad [to Neal],” explains Eastin. “Now that real dad is on the scene, some of those issues start to come out – not just for Neal, but for Peter, also. On Peter’s side, there’s a little bit of, I wouldn’t call it jealousy, but almost concern. It’s sort of like Neal is his adopted son, and the birth father shows up and is taking him back.”
Having a new paternal figure step into the crime-solving partners’ lives will be “very tough for both of them,” he continues. “A lot of the trust issues that they have come from that.”
White Collar fans, do you think Sam is really Neal’s dad? And what do you hope this means for his other “dad,” Peter?Follow @VladaGelman