White Collar Boss on Neal's Dad Dilemma, a Shift in Peter's Morals and a Sara/Neal Reunion

White Collar - Season 4When last we saw White Collar, con man extraordinaire Neal had come to the realization that Treat Williams’ Sam was actually his long-missing father, James.

In Tuesday night’s Season 4.5 opener (USA Network, 10/9c), the two men will begin to hash out their issues — but as creator Jeff Eastin previews below, there’s still plenty of turmoil between them. Eastin also mentions a shake-up at the FBI that brings out Peter’s Caffrey-esque side and a possible reconciliation between Sara and the suave con artist — read on for all the details.

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TVLINE | The beginning of this season was about Neal figuring out who he is and how his father factors into that. What’s the journey this time around?
For Neal, it will be twofold. Mentally, it becomes about accepting this person in his life. It’s one of those things – be careful what you wish for. All his life, he’s wanted to know who his dad is… Now this person is standing in front of him, and he’s pretty pissed off about it — partly because James has essentially been lying to him since he showed up, saying he was somebody else. For Neal, that’s a real hard thing to reconcile.

As the season moves forward, you’ll see that Peter and Mozzie are the ones that are very encouraging to Neal, saying, “If anybody can understand showing up and lying to somebody for a period of time, it should be you because this is something you, especially, could probably end up doing in your life.” Between their help, he finally learns to accept James. But then, just as that’s happening, a lot of intrigue begins with James, and Neal really questioning who this guy is – not that he’s not his father because he is his father, but it becomes a lot more about, who is this guy really? Is he really here doing what he says he’s doing? Or is there an ulterior motive here? So for Neal, [it's] an emotional journey to accept the fact that this is his father and still continuing the theme of, if this guy’s my father, does that define who I am?

Then on the action/drama side, there’s still this pursuit of the evidence that Ellen left him, which ultimately will prove whether his dad was guilty or not. We have a pretty big finale that’s pretty emotionally cool. Also, we got to shoot in the Empire State Building.

TVLINE | That’s incredible.
Yeah. We got to shoot in the most iconic of New York places. It leads up to a pretty cool finale there. On Peter’s side, his big arc is he’s realized that the closer he gets to Neal, the more on the gray side he finds himself. A little bit of a spoiler is Hughes gets forced out by the evil forces. He convinces Peter that sometimes [he] needs to do what he believes in, not necessarily what the law says, but what he believes in his heart. So for Peter, it’s this realization that to save himself, his career, save Neal, he really has to embrace that Neal side of him that’s always been there.

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TVLINE | Neal’s father has been so absent in his life for so long. When he comes back, how does he adjust to having a fatherly presence?
Peter has always acted as a bit of a surrogate father to Neal anyway. So in Neal’s mind, for a while now, he’s had that father figure there. The hard part for Neal is comparing the father that he secretly wishes he had in Peter to the new guy who’s shown up, who is his biological father… Neal has to come to grips with the fact James is his father, not Peter, and as much as he wants to pretend and as much as he wishes [his] life mirrored Peter’s, he really doesn’t know what he wants. He wants that perfect life with Elizabeth. He wants the white picket fence and the dog and those things. A little part of him knows that that’s not for him, but it’s secretly what he tells himself he wants, and now this dad shows up who’s a whole lot different from Peter. For Neal, a lot about that self-reflection is… “Am I looking at a reflection of myself? Or is it too late for me to change [myself] to who I want [to be]?”

TVLINE | Is there more of a physical danger this season as a result of James’ involvement in the larger mystery arc?
Well yes, but not necessarily because of James. It’s sort of who James is in league with. The people that are after James show up and, through them, it gets real dangerous.

TVLINE | There’s a shot of Elizabeth with a gun in the promos.
Yeah. That’s pretty cool. I can’t say too much about that. She plays a pretty active role this year.

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whitecollar275TVLINE | What is the state of Neal’s love life in these last six episodes? He’s kissing Sara in the promo.
Sara’s back in Neal’s life. In an earlier season, she admits to Neal that she had a sister that disappeared much like Kate disappeared. I always felt that was a bonding thing between them. That comes up a little this year. She’s decided to pursue that. In that pursuit, her company, Sterling Bosch, has offered her a pretty huge promotion in the UK, and she is inclined to take it. At this point, her and Neal have decided to do more of a casual, friends-with-benefits type relationship, which they feel is a good way for them to maintain what they like about each other without the pressure of what usually causes them to break up. Fortunately or unfortunately, this pressure suddenly that Sara’s going to take a new job in the UK and they’ll probably never see each other again, it really pushes both of them to say, “Is this something worth saving? Or is this something we really want?” And like I said, we get to use the Empire State Building as our big iconic set piece at the end of the season, which turned out really great.

TVLINE | Any fun cases or episodes coming up that you’re excited about?
There’s several, but one would be Neal and Sara kissing by the fountain. That’s an episode where they both get kidnapped together, which is a fun one. It ended up turning out very well. And then the last couple leading up to the finale are really, really good, just because of all the stuff inside the Empire State Building. We got the whole tour and the history and everything else that we get to play into a little bit, and [we really like] the vistas of Neal and Sara at the top. We had access to what they call the 103rd floor that only like celebrities are allowed to go to. As a matter of fact, while we were filming there, we had to shut down for about a half an hour because Adam Sandler brought his family up and wanted to show them. That shut us down for a few minutes, which was actually kind of cool.

TVLINE | At this point, are there any places that you want to film at that you haven’t been able to?
Not really. There’s the High Line in New York, which is that park there that we’ve been trying to shoot at. I’d love to do [that]. I don’t think there’s any problem. I think that’s a matter of scheduling on our part. But we shot at Yankee Stadium last year. We got the Empire State Building. We’ve done a lot of iconic New York. Russian Tea Room would be fun. Madison Square Garden, maybe.

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58 Comments
  1. Olivia says:

    I’m watching season 2, so maybe this was told and I don’t know it (I don’t mind spoilers), but why don’t Peter and Elizabeth have children?

    • Eve says:

      That was never addressed as far as I remember.

    • DramaMomma says:

      They have never talked about on the show, but the producers have said they aren’t in a rush to go down that road. Tiffani Thiessen has said not every couple wants kids and likes that that the show hasn’t made a big deal of kids or no kids.

    • Annie-Claude says:

      They consider the dog as being their son, but there was nothing about actual kids.

    • JBC says:

      I am kind of glad that White Collar has portrayed a well adjusted contented couple without kids. I have a few “couple friends” that for various reasons don’t have children. Good representation of society.

  2. Alex says:

    Love White Collar so much, though the first half of the season felt quite dragged out, to the obvious realization that “Sam” was Neal’s father. Looking forward to seeing where they go from here, and to the more “morally grey” side of Peter!

  3. Patamar2 says:

    With respect: will be glad to see Sara leave so we can get back to business. Neal loves women & treats them all with respect & kindness. To limit him to one at this point & to Sara, who most of the viewers dislike, would be a huge mistake.

    Looking forward to this part of the season & how Peter & Neal handle things.

    • JBC says:

      I hope she is leaving but this article doesn’t convince me. Ever since her “rushed” in entrance in Season 2.5 so many fans have been hoping that they would conclude her arc on WC. The character of Sara Ellis didn’t work and to say that she and Neal were bonding about Kate and her missing sister, seems so ridiculous. A missing girlfriend who wasn’t missing for that long and Peter knew how to find her, compared to a sister in your family who you didn’t see since you were 13. I don’t think it is even close. Just another way to justify this character into the show.. Another thing about Sara was she was suppose to have testified at his bond trial, but in the pilot he said he was never arrested for art theft. She also said she was an only child. Then we had the whiplash romance.. a hot time in the archives and then it is true love???? Never bought it.
      I WISH THE ACTRESS WELL, IT IS NOTHING AGAINST HER PERSONALLY, but this character didn’t belong the way she was pushed into the storyline and then it was obvious she just didn’t belong in future episdodes. She happens to be the love interest with the least chemistry with Matt. She is attractive but they didn’t do her any favors by rushing her into the show, trying to fit her in, making her a regular. They needed to take their time if they wanted to use her in White Collar and give her a much better storyline. It was also HURTFUL to the WC fandom that when people expressed their dislike of the character from the start that they were not listened to. Then there was a group of fans that follow Ms. Burton and started watching when she came on, and when you read some of their comments they didn’t even know what was happening in the show. Some constantly brought up OTH, which honestly I thought was some kind of text thing at first as I had never seen the actress or other show before. Ok, so enough about that. If they really write her out of WC so be it, but I won’t hold my breath as the showrunner really likes his character that he created. I will always be a WC fan, but honestly, and I am not a hater. Most of the shows featuring Sara Ellis have truly lessened my enjoyment.

      • JBC says:

        Addendum :”Another thing about Sara was she was suppose to have testified at his bond trial, but in the pilot he said he was never arrested for art theft”, my point is, She was after him for the Raphael, so he wasn’t on trial for art theft, so what did she testify about?

        • Jake says:

          By stating that Hillarie Burton brought fans to the show while she was on it, you negate half of your argument for getting rid of her. While some of the original fans dislike Sara, she has expand the audience to new people. So it would make sense to keep her on the show.

          • JBC says:

            There were many fans that left the show after “Sara” continued on. So in reality it didn’t expand the fanbase.

          • JBC says:

            What I think will really expand this fanbase as we go forward is the Netflix Effect and that is a good thing in my opinion.

      • just because YOU DONT like her the sara Caracter – cant write All the fans dislike her -totally not True! Not true – please stay correct -YOu just dont like her.

        Dont assume your opions is what all the fans feel ! me and all my friends love the Sara caracter and the eps with both Neal and Sara are the best eps in the season .

      • write your views ore polity – as they are only your views !!!!

        Me and a lot of people i now – LOVE absolutely adore those two Caracters togehter …and every ep where neal and sara work togehter is great .

        Please stay focussed – you dont like her – fine – But there are a lot of people WHO DO LIKE HER A LOT !!!!

        YES SARA RULES !!!!!!! GO FOR SARA /NEAL TOGETHER !!!

    • rainey13 says:

      “With respect” a lot of us like the character of Sara Ellis. She’s tough and independent and can hold her own with Neal. The fact that a very vocal handful of people have gone from board to board to complain about Sara doesn’t mean that “most” fans dislike her. Now personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing her take the overseas posting – not because I don’t like her, but because, after all of the Kate drama, to have Neal’s first relationship become permanent would just seem too unlikely. Plus, I’d love to see him play the field – I want a scene where he’s picking someone up in a bar or club and the anklet comes up. His explanation would be great fun :-)

      • Deena says:

        “The fact that a very vocal handful of people have gone from board to board to complain about Sara doesn’t mean that “most” fans dislike her.”

        Thank you! She’s not my favorite character on the show but I certainly don’t think she derailed the whole series the way some people talk. Plus she was a part of Neal’s struggle into what kind of person he is, the conman or the white picket fence guy. I don’t understand why people have so much vile towards this character.

      • Thanks yes with respect -my thoughts excately cant write ” MOST ” fans dont like the sara Caracter – Just because YOU ( one person) doesnt like her .

      • videl says:

        ” The fact that a very vocal handful of people have gone from board to board to complain about Sara doesn’t mean that “most” fans dislike her.” how do you know that it is just handful of people?done some research?the polls on her are nt very favorable, at best 50/50, so I wouldnt say most people like her. Going with your way of thinking, I can say that it is just some crazed OTH fans that go around internet singing praises on her

    • Ella says:

      Most of the viewers?! Whatever, dude. I, for one, LOVE Sara, and really look forward to the episodes she is in. She is a strong, kickass woman who both compliments and balances Neal and I have not seen any female character on the show rival her in that respect. Can’t WAIT for their scenes together, their chemistry is insane.

      • Thank you – ELLA , Me to i love the Sara Caracter the Actress also portrays her perfectly and this strong independent caracter she plays does well for Neals caracter and the SHOW .

        Again to the dude writing ” Most ” people dont like her ABSOLUTLY NOT Cool – to assume what we ALL like or like dont like.

      • I totally agree with you. I really like the “Sara” character, and feel she’s the only one who really understands Neal, is willing to “color outside the lines” (Mozzie’s words), and yet has a strong moral compass (“I won’t cross any line that I can’t come back from.”). I think her chemistry with Neal is outstanding. I can’t stand the Alex or Kate characters (shallow and only ‘want’ something from Neal, mostly materialistic). I will be very sorry if the writers decide to have Sara leave for the UK and end her ‘relationship’ with Neal. I don’t want Neal to just flit from one woman to the next; he needs a strong woman in his life, w/smarts and a sense of humor, like Elizabeth is to Peter.

        • JBC says:

          Everyone has differing opinions about Sara on White Collar, but at this late date, to even bring up Kate who has been off the show and a killed off character since S1 is strange to me. I am glad that the writers have brought some fresh faces this season and last. I Love Alex and love to have her show up anytime, just their history in the show from S1 makes her belong in the WC world and it is wonderful to have her around relationship or not. I also liked Raquel and even though she and Alex are criminals, as is Neal, whose to say that those lovely ladies couldn’t reform. I also enjoyed Neal with Maya and Sophie. So it has always seemed better for White Collar to not FOCUS so much on the romantic sub plots but to keep them off to the side which seems to work much better. It fell flat when they tried to give him a girlfriend in S3 and it wasn’t so much fun to watch anymore. IMO if they had started Sara in the first season as part of the full time cast and they had an on and off relationship, it would have felt organic and natural in the show. It was their mistake to just force her in as a love interest. Sara worked best as a foil.

      • coolassang says:

        Same here… we love Sara. Love her character and her chemistry with the cast. She’s strong, smart & challenges Neal in a great way… she’s the Yin to his Yang, and we love her part in the show.

      • Marie says:

        The only Neal/Sara scene I’m looking forward to is the last one, and it can’t come soon enough for me. I’ll be so happy to see the end of the undeveloped, overused, completely ridiculous Sara Ellis. Even Eastin can’t think of anything else to do with this waste of time.

      • bernie says:

        There is no show without Sarah. She brought all the One Tree Hill Fans. I won’t watch white collar without Sarah.

  4. ruby says:

    Glad the show is back!!!am I the only one who doesn’t care about his daddy problems??leave that stuff for 90210..and please when will gloria votsis(Alex) come back??I miss the chemistry she has with neal..And thank God sara might be leaving..good actress,but zero chemistry with neal.

    • rainey13 says:

      Neal’s family – or lack thereof – has been a huge part of the story from the beginning of the show. I’m glad we’re finally going to get some answers. And unfortunately, I think the writers kind of burned bridges for Alex with Ancient History. She’d now a fugitive, presumably with an active warrant out for her, so it’s going to be hard to bring her back.

      • JBC says:

        Don’t forget Alex has some powerful friends. Reference: Home Invasion Season 1 She absolutely could be written back in.

  5. Lorena says:

    I need to be tuesday now!!!

  6. cami says:

    Neal and Sara! I’m so glad that they’re going to have more episodes together. I love them!

  7. Suz says:

    I loved the first half of season 4 and also Neal’s daddy issues!! I love learning about Neal’s history and how he personally deals with it and how it also affects his relationship with Peter. I’m really surprised people aren’t interested in this, well to each his own. I’m so excited for the rest of season 4 and really look forward to season 5. White Collar is still my favorite TV show!!

  8. AS says:

    The season started great, but the whole “daddy issues” are not that interesting. I been over Sara since day 1, why does she keep coming back? I miss when this show used to be fun and witty. I really wish they be as fun as Suits. White Collar had so much potential. Matt is such a good actor and they just don’t give him anything interesting to do anymore.

  9. JBC says:

    I am glad that they are exploring Neal’s family situation and it is interesting how his father shows up after Ellen’s murder and all of a sudden Neal needs to deal with a new reality. I like that this will effect the Peter and Neal dynamic somehow and I like seeing that play out. Tim DeKay and Matt Bomer rock it in the chemistry dept. and I love seeing their characters go through the different emotions and development of their friendship. The biggest thing is that in watching Neal and Peter in the story, you can really buy what they are “selling” to the audience. Great acting.

  10. ruby says:

    SUITS»»WC

    • AmyCat says:

      ??? In what universe?

      “Suits” is okay, but if I had to pick ONE show to watch every week, it’d be “White Collar”.

      • “Suits” is an awful show, mostly because the main characters have no positive redeeming values, and are selfish, egotistical men. I watched a couple of episodes, was thoroughly turned off, could care less about such un-empathetic characters. Junk!

  11. Sophia says:

    So happy to read all of those things about Sara, glad to see her finally get more involved in this season! Very curious to see how their relationship develops… I’m a little over this daddy-thing, it’s taking a bit too long, but I suppose the months and months of hiatus may have had a little something to do with that. All in all: Looking forward to the final episodes of season 4!

  12. A says:

    I usually love the majority of USA shows however I just hate their scheduling. 16 episodes is such a weird number and taking a huge ass break to only come back for 6 episodes and go on another 5 month hiatus is just annoying. And don’t get me started on Psych and their delays. Anyways, glad at least that White Collar is back. Love the show.

  13. MGL says:

    Love the show and love Neal’s character, but do not like Sara. The chemistry is not there. When the show first started the whole idea of kate was so romantic, and then trying to find who caused her death, but Sara’s character brings nothing to the show. I hope they don’t focus too much on her.

    • To MGL, luckily this only is your opinon . I find the opposite 100% they have extrem perfect , great lovely chemistry together. Cant wait until new eps with them together r come again .
      Opions can be so different right .

  14. Jodee says:

    I love this show. Not sure why so many people are against Sara. I like her and Neal together. Wayyyyy better than the other people he’s been with! One more day….

    • Gina says:

      She’s not a character, she’s a blank slate. There’s been no organic character growth; at any given moment, she simply changes to be whatever the particular storyline needs her to be. It’s jarring and annoying.

      • ONCE AGAIN !!! NO- THATS NOT TRUE – STOP BLAMING THIS -THE SARA CARACTER FOR EVERYTHING YOU MIGHT NOT LIKE AT THE SHOW !

      • Marie says:

        I agree with you 100%. Sara has had more personalities than Neal has ties and not one of her grim personas has the slightest bit of charm, wit, charisma, or sense of fun. She is hopelesly outclassed on this show, and I am just sick of her standing around with her mouth hanging open. She looks like she constantly has a bad smell under her nose. She needs to go off by herself to look for the sister she chased away!

  15. Deena says:

    Do not trust Neal’s daddy AT ALL. Hope Peter & Mozzie are supportive but cautious.

  16. Marie says:

    I think Sara’s leaving would be the best thing to happen to the show. She is the most ridiculous character, and she brings nothing to the show. She’s just an odd fifth wheel who shows up when Eastin feels compelled to give Burton something to do. I have enjoyed this season much better than last season, but when Sara comes back, the season will be over for me. I just can’t watch Burton’s painful attempts to make this character work.

    But I don’t believe Jeff will give up on her – he was so nasty to fans who don’t like her that he’s clearly crushing on Burton in a big way. If you don’t like Sara/Hillarie, he doesn’t care about your opinion.

  17. whitecollar123 says:

    New to WC. Just finished watching all the episodes, thanks to Netflix and Amazon. This is the first show that I am enjoying in years and am officially a fan. Sorry Sara fans but still can’t warm up to her. I like the character on paper. Its mainly the actress that somehow bugs me. Making faces and emoting are two different things. And why does she smirk perpetually, no matter what the scene is? Sorry Hilarie, I’m sure she is a nice person and will evolve as an actress. But that’s just my opinion, I’m sure there are plenty who love her. Neal will hopefully fall for someone as hard as he did with Kate. Isn’t one of his endearing qualities, being a hopeless romantic? I love Neal and Mozzie. I have watched their exchanges over and over! Seriously, whoever writes Mozzie’s lines has to be as unique as Mozzie. Looking forward to seeing how Peter and El help Neal with his daddy-issues. Jamess seems pretty badass, the way he punched that guy in one of the promos!

  18. Ventus Astrum says:

    This past winter, Hilarie Burton was in a Hallmark Channel Christmas tv movie called “Naughty or Nice”. It was terrific! She did a very good job carrying the movie on her shoulders as the lead character. To me, this speaks of the quality of the writing & directing. She had a well delineated character and well written scenes to work with. Also, the directer obviously knew how to coax out the best performance from her.
    My best guess is that the WhiCo writers don’t really know how to write for her Sara character, and the director doesn’t really know how to direct Hilarie in the scenes as her character.
    She was just wonderful in the Hallmark movie! (and I am speaking as someone who usually can’t stand Hallmark’s sappy Christmas movies)
    I can only hope that they’ve given her better material to work with this season on WhiCo, and that the directors will do a better job with instructing her as to what they want from her.

    • JBC says:

      I saw that movie on Hallmark. It was good and I think Hilarie Burton did a decent job in it.
      I really don’t think though that it is the Directors fault that Hilarie Burton can’t pull off the character of “Sara Ellis” in White Collar. That would mean that every episode she has been on has a bad director, DON”T THINK SO, as the rest of the cast seem to do an excellent job portraying their characters, with those same Directors. The writing for “Sara” has never been good, because they made her a forced in character. She needs to be on a show where she can have a character that can be organic to the show.

  19. Shaunna Hamilton says:

    When is season 4 of white collar be out in the UK please.

  20. Shaunna Hamilton says:

    When will season 4 f white collar be out in Uk Please.

  21. of course like your website however you have to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find it very troublesome to tell the truth then again I will surely come back again.%7

  22. Jessica says:

    SARA SUCKS

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