It was a twist nobody saw coming—okay, at least we didn’t. On ‘White Collar’s winter finale, escaped con turned FBI consultant Neal Caffrey (Matthew Bomer) got closer to finding his missing ex-girlfriend Kate (Alexandra Daddario). She was under the control of a mysterious man, he learned—someone possibly even connected to the government. Then, in the episode’s final scene, Kate appeared…sitting across from none other than Caffrey’s Fed partner, Peter Burke (Tim DeKay). Tim took a break from shooting on location in New York to give us the scoop on what could be the ultimate double cross, hinting that we’ll learn a lot more about Agent Burke when the show returns to USA on Tues., Jan. 19 at 10 p.m./9C.
You’re a bad, bad man. Maybe.
You think so, huh?
Well, explain yourself. How was your Agent Burke there at the end of the winter finale with his partner’s missing girlfriend?
You’ll have to stay tuned. Just look back at prior episodes, look at people’s motivations, and question why would Peter be in the room with Kate. That’s all I’ll tell you. Okay, I’ll be honest with you: Kate is Peter’s daughter. No, I’m kidding. Kate, Neal and Peter have been having a three way for the last few years—no, I can’t tell you anything.
Let’s catch people up. Basically, what’s White Collar about?
This show is about pairing of an FBI agent and an ex con, and together they solve white-collar crimes. The ex con escaped from prison. He had a few months left on a four-year sentence. The only person who could catch him was Peter Burke, and he caught him. But while was he was working on catching him, he was working on another crime that Neal Caffrey could help him with. So he decided to pair up with Caffrey and allow him not to go back to prison and help solve white-collar crimes. But the reason Neal Caffrey escaped was that there was something amiss between him and his girlfriend, Kate. It was love that made him escape—or so he thought. And he has been looking for her ever since.
And what we discovered was that the man with a hold on Kate was Peter Burke.
No. All we know is that Peter Burke is alone with Kate and says “We need to talk about Neal.” That’s all we know. That’s all we know.
You’re saying it’s possible that Peter hasn’t been playing Neal the whole time?
Do you think he has?
I don’t know. It would add a fascinating, darker shade to Peter. All we knew before was that Peter was basically a nice guy who’d gone out on a limb to trust Neal and that they have a great partnership. It’d be really interesting if it turned out that Peter was actually pulling Neal’s strings.
Yeah, it would be an interesting layer. You’re very good. I cannot continue this conversation with you, because it’s all a big spoiler. You’re very good—you don’t really ask me. You just start having a conversation and I want to respond, but then I realize that any response would be the wrong answer.
Okay, then without getting too specific about what’s going on, let’s ask this: What did you know and when did you know it? Did you take the role because you knew the part was a bit more multi-layered than it first appeared?
No I didn’t. I can answer that. I did not know any of, for lack of a better term, let’s call it the Kate Anthology. I did not know to what degree Peter would be involved with that anthology. As an actor I didn’t even know how much that was going to continue throughout the show. I just thought that we would solve a case each week and maybe every so often Kate would appear here and there. But to what degree, I did not know. ['White Collar' creator] Jeff Eastin talked to me about it throughout the season, but he actually didn’t really mention anything to me about Peter’s involvement with Neal and Kate until much later on. When he did it excited me. I think it adds some nice drama.
So we can definitively say that Peter knows more than he’s let on about Kate, but we do not know that he’s pulling the strings?
That is perfect. That is a perfect statement, yes. Yes, because we have to assume the fact that he could be in the same room with Kate means that he certainly knows more about her than he has let on—or has certainly shared with Neal.
What’s the reaction been to the revelation that Agent Burke knows a bit more about Kate?
It’s been wonderful! I guess the biggest response that I’ve gotten is “It can’t be you! It can’t be you! Tell me it’s not you.” They don’t even want to entertain that thought. Friends call up screaming, “What? No! Tell me it’s not true! Say it ain’t so!”
They can’t bear the idea of a con being conned.
Yeah, the idea of the con being conned, like in The Sting. We’re still shooting in New York. It’s been wonderful because New Yorkers are so free with their opinion, and they tell you what they think of the show while you’re shooting on the street. It’s great when people come up and say, “We love your show. Can we get a picture?” You don’t get as many now simply because it’s 8 degrees. Not a lot of people want to sit around and watch people do six and or seven takes. It is freezing here now.
You’re suffering for your art.
Yes, exactly. Today, we were just begging for the director to let us wear gloves. He said, “You guys weren’t wearing gloves in the other scene.” We said, “Yeah, but they were in our pockets!”
You mentioned The Sting earlier. Do you watch a lot of con and heist movies?
I do and I’ve always loved those kinds of movies. There’s something about them that’s telling the audience to make sure you catch up or even try to get ahead of the story. I love that as an audience member, trying to figure it out before. There’s something about heist movies or capers movies—movies that don’t have a lot of violence in them—there’s that wink of the eye. They’re very tongue in cheek throughout the whole thing that makes it, I think, much more enjoyable to watch.
So what can we expect when the show comes back?
We pick up—I believe how it’s cut is that you will see the rest of that scene, because obviously that scene between Peter and Kate is not over. You will see the rest of that scene. And you’ll see how that ties into the other case that we have in the next episode.
So does that mean that we will know immediately how much Peter is involved in this?
Umm…when you say immediately what do you mean? Uh huh, two can play at this game.
Okay, how about this: Will Neal find out about Peter’s involvement anytime soon?
Neal will have a much, much better idea as to Peter’s involvement very soon. Very soon.
The tone of the show has been very buddy cop so far. Will it turn more adversarial with this twist?
It’s going…no, I think you’ll have both of those flavors still there. There’s always going to be a bit of an adversarial relationship simply because of the trust. I’ll answer it this way: You will still continue, I hope, to love watching scenes between Peter and Neal. If I give you any more answers than that, you’ll see a new actor playing the role of Peter.
Understood. Thanks, Tim!