Last night's White Collar season premiere offered a twist that sent the bromance between FBI Agent Peter Burke and conman turned consultant Neal Caffrey spinning.
The big question: Will Neal turn back to the dark side and if so, how will Peter and the audience react? Tim DeKay (Peter) admits "that was a big concern of ours."
With good reason. Will Peter's suspicions about Neal's role the art theft change the wonderful dynamic he and Neal have built over the last two seasons?
In part two of TV Fanatic's report from the White Collar set (here's part one), we discuss this and much more. If you haven't seen the premiere, spoilers lie ahead ...
DeKay says Peter "never trusts Neal completely, not in that department (when it comes to crime) but in other departments he trusts Neal implicitly."
The star also admits that these characters have formed such a strong bond by season three that Peter would take the betrayal personally.
"It's a double edged sword because there's a part of him that hopes he's wrong. That (Neal) didn't steal the art. Because (it means) not only does Neal screw up but Peter feels like he's failed somewhere in raising little Neal," he laughs.
For his part, Matt Bomer (Neal) is thrilled with the direction of season three.
"I'm really proud that our writers are going there," the actor told us. "I think it's important to remind the audience that Neal isn't just some friendly, aw shucks, every now and again he messes up, CI. That he really is a criminal."
"I'm glad they're steering the ship into murkier waters."But what about the friendship between Peter and Neal that the audience has grown to care so much about?
"The great thing is that the relationships, I feel, on the show are so strong that it can always get back to good."
And if Peter is the angel on Neal's one shoulder then pal Mozzie (played by Willie Garson) who is the mastermind behind the art heist is the devil on the other.
Garson explains, "I'm not the only bad angel." But was he surprised about Mozzie's role in the crime? "It's so Machiavellian. Really, was Mozzie just playing this all along? This is the biggest scam ever!"
But will the big score bring Mozzie and Neal even closer together, or drive a wedge through this unorthodox partnership?
"It's definitely like Mozzie is holding the hard criminal line of no complications, no connections to anyone. Our work here is done. Let's just go."
Garson admits that for the characters, "That's a big fight. That's a big struggle."
Bomer concurs: "To me, people who are struggling with demons or have some darker aspects of themselves, they're dealing with inner conflict, those are all things that to me are interesting. And I think Neal has a lot of that going on."
"It also just keeps him from being some perfect con who can pull off anything. He has a lot of achilles heals too."
This season's promos for White Collar declare "Choose a Side." We don't know which side Neal will choose but it looks like we'll get a hell of a ride along the way.
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.Tags: White Collar, Exclusives, Interviews, Spoilers