White Collar's Tim DeKay: In Season 5, Peter and Neal 'Have Got to Address Their Relationship'

White Collar Season 5 SpoilersThe tables have turned on White Collar.

In tonight’s Season 5 premiere (USA Network, 9/8c), FBI agent Peter Burke is the one behind bars while con man Neal Caffrey concocts a scheme to free him. The aftermath will force the partners/pals to spill how they really feel about each other as a new G-man ultimately steps in to monitor Neal.

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“You’ll see the biggest changes in this season,” star Tim DeKay previews below.

The actor also dishes about his character’s big epiphany, the lawman’s undercover gigs and Peter and Elizabeth’s future.

TVLINE | How are Peter and Neal dealing with the aftermath of the finale?
Peter and Neal are dealing with this in a huge way. Peter is behind bars, and their roles have been reversed. Peter appropriately says, “The irony of this is not lost on me.” How Peter gets out and how Peter believes he gets out is what will propel us through the whole season.

TVLINE | Having been to jail and spent so much time with Neal over these past seasons, is there a change in Peter going forward?
There is a change in Peter. Peter has evolved into a different person from the pilot, certainly, because of his relationship with Neal. I don’t think Peter ever realized that this guy he had been chasing for years would become one of his closest friends. And yet, he’s a friend that he doesn’t trust. Now that he has gone to prison because of his closeness to this guy, Peter has to strongly examine his relationship with Neal and how it will continue.

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TVLINE | This isn’t the first time we’ve seen some distrust between the two of them. How’s the arc between them this season different?
This distrust is literally related to Peter’s life and Peter’s career. Before, the distrust was about, “I think you stole something. I don’t think you did.” A third party was involved in that distrust. Now, it’s extremely personal, and it’s about Peter’s career and Peter’s life. And because it comes so much to a head, Peter and Neal will, eventually, reveal their cards to each other and talk about their relationship in a way that they never talked about it. It’s interesting because these guys have always gone about without ever really saying, “Hey, you matter a lot to me. You’re one of my best friends, but I don’t trust you.” They never had to say that, address their relationship. It’s just been a given and a silent understanding and a wonderful one. This season, they’ve got to address it. It’s great and exciting as to how they get that addressed.

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TVLINE | There’s a new partner coming in for Neal, played by Warren Kole (Common Law). What does that mean for Peter and Neal when they’re not working together?
Peter has mixed feelings. Neal needed a new handler, and it is a great thing when Peter realizes what needs to be done as far as this new handler is concerned. While Peter realizes the current situation calls for a new handler, Peter is jealous, he misses the chase and the stakeouts and going out there with his buddy and solving crimes. He misses it, but he also needs it. The right thing to do is to have this change.

TVLINE | Are there any Peter undercover identities you can tease?
He shows up as a Polish hit man in one of the episodes. And I played a little hockey in the past, so the writers realized that and made sure that they put Peter out on the ice.

TVLINE | And what’s in store for Peter and Elizabeth this season?
Their marriage is on solid ground, and they’re headed in a very new direction, to a new place, to a new space. The plan is for them to move, and a lot of changes come about for them that they are embracing and excited about.