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.”

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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.”