White Collar returned last week with an amazing episode and great start for the second half of season three. Tim DeKay plays Agent Peter Burke, who in that episode dealt with a kidnapped wife and Neal Caffrey lying to him for the first time.
I had the pleasure to speak with Tim recently about the future of Neal and Peter’s relationship, his first time directing an episode, and what to expect the rest of the season and beyond.
TheTwoCents: Now that Peter knows about Neal and the treasure and lying about it, how will this change their relationship for the future? What can we expect in the latter half of season three leading up to the probation hearing?
Tim DeKay: Well it really puts it to the test on a different level because the probation is going to come down to, no matter what other people say and other agencies say about Neal, to whether or not if Peter thinks Neal should have that commutation or not. And of course Neal is going to be on his best behavior. Other factors and other characters come into play to make Peter question that behavior and the past three years.
The one thing that Neal has never done to Peter is lie. He’ll never say he lied. I think Peter realizes ok, he didn’t, you didn’t steal the art, but you know who did, or you knew who did and you knew what was going on. And that to a degree is simply a lie of omission. But you know the conflict of the show is that Peter likes the guy and he roots for him. Peter roots for a better turn out of Neal’s life. I think what’s also important is that the writer’s make sure and I make sure is that the audience sees that Peter roots for Neal. And Peter wants this guy to do well. Now more than just a professional disappointment, he is a personal disappointment.
Part of Peter thinks is “where did I screw up?” What could I have done better? He has a personal interest in this guy now, but like I said, there other factors that come into play and Beau Bridges (Agent Kramer) is a guest star who’s got some information. You know Neal has some skeletons in his closet that will find their way out.
TTC: Some of my favorite moments on the show happen when Peter and Neal get involved hands on in a case, like in Burke’s Seven and Veiled Threat and working with Mozzie. Will we see more of this?
TD: Yes and I do, too. I’m glad you say that, it seems to be a fan favorite to see. I think the episode coming up is quote fun and of that “White Collar ilk,” where Neal goes “quote unquote” undercover. It’s always great when Neal goes undercover even though Peter told him not to go undercover, but now that he is undercover, begrudgingly Peter says that’s a good idea and you have to keep going with this and then somehow Neal says you know, my undercover would be better if Peter came undercover with me.
Then you have room for some great comedic moments and there’s a lot of heart that comes out when you see those two go undercover and underneath it all is that rat-tat snap where everybody’s in on it – the con. And that’s always fun to watch when Diana and Jones and Mozzie, everybody’s in on this con. It’s fun.
We are going to have those episodes this season. And that’s the thing the audience realizes is that no matter what tension happens between Peter and Neal, the heart of the show, the essence of the show, is the relationship, is what these two have together and we will never stray from this fact, at the heart of it, these two have a great time together. And love doing the hunt together.
TTC: Any story lines you’d like to explore in the future for Peter?
TD: You’re going to meet Elizabeth’s parents in an upcoming episode soon and how Peter feels about her parents. This brings out some fun, comedic moments I think. There’s a great part of Peter’s past is revealed as to how he feels about baseball in the episode I directed.
TTC: How was directing your first episode?
TD: It was thrilling, exciting, incredibly intense, stressful. Matt was great. He was so excited when he heard I was going to direct, he, Tiffani, Willie, Sharif, and Marsha, everybody came up to me and said they were so excited, couldn’t wait to work with me as a director. And they were wonderful. By the time you get to the third season, everybody really knows what they’re doing. I think part of my job was to stay out of the way. I’ll direct another episode this season. (Note: DeKay’s directed episode is the season’s penultimate episode, Stealing Home)
TTC: The show was picked up for a season four, anything you can share about the next season?
TD: We start shooting mid-March. Jeff Eastin, Matt Bomer and I sat down for lunch for him give us the arc for season four. It’s incredible, Jeff has these moments that he knows are going to play. He’s got a rough arc, but he has the last two minutes of season four in his head and how it will be shot. It’s amazing, fantastic. I can’t wait to shoot it.
TTC: Did he have that for season three as well?
TD: Yes. I say and so does Matt, season three’s finale is the biggest cliffhanger we’ve ever had. Every time I read a season finale, I think, where do we go from there? I remember when the plane blew up in season one, I thought that was way too fast, that shouldn’t happen until season six or seven, but of course, that’s why I’m an actor and not a writer.
TTC: You recently joined Twitter. Any plans on how you’ll use that it to interact with fans?
TD: Yes, I want to come up with an idea and with Tout, the people from Tout approached me.
I might have an employee of the week; a different crew member. It’ll be fun to introduce them to the fans. That way the fans get a sneak peek behind the scenes and of the set.
Don’t forget to tune in to White Collar on Tuesdays (tonight!), at 10:00 pm EST on USA.
Jules – News Editor