At the end of the White Collar Season 5 premiere, nearly everything had changed for Peter and Neal. What will happen next? BuddyTV was on the line when stars Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay spoke to a handful of journalists about the rest of the season. 

Neal’s Deal With the Devil

In the premiere, Neal had to make a deal with the devil himself (which is funny considering that Mark Sheppard is currently playing a demon on Supernatural) when he accepted Hagen’s help to get Peter out of prison. Now, Neal will have to live with those consequences. 

“Mark [Sheppard] is an amazing baddie,” Bomer said. “You know, it’s that deal with the devil. He has Neal under his thumb, which is obviously – especially for someone like Neal – not a very comfortable place for him to be. He has him at his beck and call and, you know, the – basically he can have Neal do whatever illicit behavior he doesn’t want to have to take responsibility for to himself. Neal can’t really put that much of a fight about it. I can’t go into too much detail without giving away certain episodes, but it’s not a fun place for Neal to be and really doesn’t have a leg to stand on in terms of opposition.”

Neal’s New Handler

In the next episode, Neal gets a new handler, played by Warren Kole – who starred in USA’s short-lived Common Law and earlier this year played one of Joe Carroll’s insane devotees on The Following

Now that he’s lost Peter as his handler, Neal is understandably reticent to work with someone new. 

“Neal’s initial reaction to Warren’s character Siegel is one of trepidation,” Bomer said. “Because [Siegel] is very by-the-books, by-the-numbers, and he’s an agent who’s gotten to where he is because he plays by the rules. And that’s – it’s obviously very threatening to Neal. And Warren did a great job of bringing lots of different aspects to the character and somehow making him charming and entertaining at the same time as being sort of a paint-inside-the-lines guy.”

As for Peter, he has his own concerns about Neal’s new handler. 

“Well, Peter was – he was concerned about this guy even though he brought him on,” DeKay said. “[Peter] felt that he would be right for Neal because he felt that Neal needed somebody that has a distance to Neal. Peter thought somebody from outside the New York Division would be better. But there was trepidation as well on Peter’s part because with that, with handing over the reins, he no longer get to, you know, no longer gets awry. And that’s something Peter was going to miss. But as Matt said, I thought Warren did a fantastic job playing the role, and was able to find the right tenor for what was needed on our show and the kind of genre that we have.”

Neal’s Story in Season 5: Best Intentions Going Awry

When asked to talk about where Neal is headed for the rest of this season, Bomer said: “This season for Neal is about best intentions going awry. And he’s feeling the sins of the father and, you know, has to skirt issues of trust to try to find some wiggle room to make reparations for what ultimately was his fault in terms of Peter’s future as an FBI agent, as a husband. 

“[What] I found the writers built over the course of this season which was interesting, was this sort of mounting resentment that he had these best intentions and was putting forth his best efforts and doing everything he knew how to help Peter, and that went, in his opinion, somewhat unappreciated.”

Neal’s Daddy Issues Are Put Away, For Now

The mystery of where Neal came from and who his parents were was somewhat resolved last season when he finally got to see his father again. Though he left Neal’s (and Peter’s) life in turmoil, don’t expect to see Neal’s dad again anytime soon. 

“That was a storyline that I feel like needed to be fleshed out at some point, you know, at a certain point as television series progress, and have everybody get a little bit more into people’s backstories. I think with someone like Neal, it’s a little dangerous if we start to know too much about him because he is, you know, essentially, Jeff said, an almost a fantastical character in some ways. 

“I had a blast playing out those storylines with Treat and, you know, putting some of those pieces together for Neal, but we will not be exploring that any further in this season.”

Season 5 Will Get Back to Basics

On the same subject, Bomer continued to say that this season will go back to the show’s core mythology. 

“This season really gets back to more of the early season White Collar mythology, strong themes of good versus evil and trust and without going into too much detail about Neal’s past. Although – what Neal experienced from his relationship with his father and the things that I got to explore with Treat really resonate throughout this season and ultimately the emphasis for everything that transpires this season — the sins of the father weighed pretty heavily into all the decisions Neal makes and sort of spur us into action this season. And so you feel that relationship even though it’s not there.”

Neal’s New Love Interest

Asked to talk about Neal’s new love interest in Season 5, Bomer said: “There is a really incredible girl who comes in Neal’s life named Rebecca Lowe played by the gorgeous and talented Bridget Regan, who is (initially) sort of atypical in terms of what Neal finds attractive in a woman, with the exception of the fact that she’s a redhead. And their relationship grows over the course of the season and I think the writers did a great job just making the character really multidimensional. And she’s – her character is sort of like an onion, every episode a new layer, peels off, and we get to – Neal gets to know more about her and becomes more attracted to her.”

Guest Stars: Damages Cast Members and Many More

When asked to talk about what guest stars were coming up on the show this season, both Bomer and DeKay were quick to start naming off some of their favorites. 

Bomer said: “There’s an amazing actress named Elizabeth Marvel who’s a great stage actress in New York and is also in a lot of the Coen Brothers movies. And she came on and played a psychiatrist in one episode. And Neal gets to have (similarly) fun scenes with her in her office undercover, and she was a blast to get to work with. We had an amazing time together. 

“We have Zachary Booth from Damages who’s great. Aforementioned Warren Kole, Mark Sheppard, Bridget Regan, and this cool other girl Kara Hayward from the movie Moonrise Kingdom who is really fine, sweet.”

“And another person that was great to play with was Zelijko Ivanek,” DeKay added. 

“Yes, great actor, on the New York stage a lot of times,” Bomer agreed. “And we just got the whole cast of Damages basically.”

What do you think now that you’ve read more about this season of White Collar? Are you excited to see the show get back to basics? How do you think Neal will get along with his new handler?

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(Image courtesy of USA)

Michelle Carlbert

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV