Daddy issues will reign supreme when White Collar Season 4 returns next week, as we last saw Neal Caffrey come to the conclusion that Sam is actually his father, James.
But the question remains: Can this man trusted? And because Elizabeth gets involved in next week’s winter premiere, can we expect to see a lot more of Tiffani Amber Thiessen going forward?
We sat down with series creator Jeff Eastin last week after the TCA panel for his new summer series, Graceland, to get the scoop on what happens next for Neal and whether a classic White Collar cliffhanger is on the way...
TV Fanatic: Is the Neal/father story that going to take us through the rest of the season? What can we expect moving forward?
Jeff Eastin: Yeah. Neal’s wanted to know who his father is. We set that up for a long time and as he’s doing this suddenly ‘here’s your dad’ and hand it to him. The problem becomes he says, ‘Screw you. You’ve been here and you’ve been lying to me this whole time.’ So Neal’s not really happy about it.
Peter isn’t feeling happy about it either at the beginning, but Elizabeth calls him on it and says ‘Look, you know in your mind you’re [like] Neal’s father.’ ‘Yeah, yeah’ and she’s like, ‘Look Neal has this chance you should give it to him. You should encourage him’ and so he does encourage him.
Then Peter and Mozzie start having their doubts about James and then that’s when Neal has finally embraced him as a dad and so now he’s mad at them and things sort of tumble forward. Let’s just say at the end Peter and Neal team up and get very close.
TVF: How challenging is it for you and your writers to find a way to get Elizabeth in the story because she is somewhat outside the FBI world?
JE: When she was pregnant back in [White Collar Season 2], that was a challenge... I would say it’s never a real big challenge. For us, the big challenge is we’ve done four seasons, but because these midseason finales, I have to do eight of those. So we kind of blow them up.
Now it’s been nine times or something like that and it’s always tough to try to restore that balance. To me, the balance that I like is they’re smiling [then] Neal leaves the room, and Peter’s kind of ‘You’re up to something’ and it’s very hard to maintain that without getting people just going ‘Neal, you’re an asshole. Look what Peter’s done for you.’
So that’s always the biggest challenge we face is just trying to get back to a place... so many people have been just like ‘Can’t they just be buddies and everything be happy?’
TVF: Can we expect the end of this White Collar season to wrap things up or is it going to be one of those nice cliff hangers that lead us into the next season?
JE: It’s pretty good. It’s a cliffhanger, a pretty good one.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.