The end is near.
The concluding six episodes of White Collar Season 6 begin airing this week. And while that makes us all very sad, the series has rarely let us down, so it’s a safe bet that creator Jeff Eastin and stars Matt Bomer, Tim DeKay, Willie Garson and Tiffani Thiessen will give us a satisfying conclusion.
TV Fanatic was on the set this summer, giving me the chance to sit down with star Bomer in order to talk about letting Neal Caffrey go, along with what else is on the horizon for him after White Collar wraps up...
TV Fanatic: The last we saw, Neal was kidnapped. And we don’t know exactly who, we don’t exactly know the context but safe to say that we’ll get into all that pretty quickly going into the season premiere?
Matt Bomer: Yes, by the end of the premiere, you’ll have a pretty good understanding of why Neal was kidnapped, who kidnapped him, and what the resolution of that is. Neal is in a highly compromised position from the beginning of the season.
TVF: Would you say with these last six episodes, will fans feel a difference to the show since we’re moving to the end?
MB: You know, going into it, I thought they would and I think there is an implicit immediacy to it, but it does feel not status quo, but it’s still the same characters interacting. So, hopefully we’re still bringing to life a lot of the aspects of the show that people have enjoyed for the past five years, with an underlying sense of immediacy to it all.
TVF: Neal has talked about going straight and leaving the con game behind. Is that a big part of these last episodes?
MB: Of course, yeah. It had to be, that had to be resolved this season. That was my one MO going into the meeting with the writers, is that we needed to make some really clear-cut decisions in that direction. They’ve been really wonderful about it, and the ideas they’ve come up with have really impressed me. I hope that we’re able to execute them in a way the fans enjoy.
TVF: Do you think Mozzie and Neal’s relationship could sustain itself if one of them went straight and one of them stayed doing what they do?
MB: No. No, that’s sort of like an alcoholic being able to be best friends with their drinking buddies after they get sober. It’d be pretty tough.
TVF: The core relationship of the show has always been Neal and Peter. In some ways, we want them to always be together, but then again, you want to end up in the right place. What is your hope for saying good bye to these characters?
MB: It was important to me, I’m never a fan of shows that wrap everything up into a neat and tidy bow, and dot every I and cross every T. It was important to me that we leave the future of the characters largely to the imagination of the audience so that they can project onto it whatever they want it to be. And thankfully, the writers were able to come up with an ending that we had worked on together, that I think hopefully captures that.
TVF: Will we be seeing some of the old foes, because you all have left a nice trail of people over the years who could hold some grudges against the guys.
MB: There’s a really great symmetry about this season in that it bookends the first season in a lot of ways. One of our old foes comes back and is really the main villain of the season. He’s the real antagonist of the season, for Neal. And so, yeah, there are a lot of things that are questions that were asked in the pilot that are brought to a close, and there’s just a great, like I said, symmetry about the storyline.
TVF: How big a part does Neal’s freedom play in these episodes and how important is it to him?
MB: I’ve always thought of him like a caged fox, you know? His freedom is everything to him. Without it, he sort of starts to gnaw at his own leg and I think he’s getting to the point where he’d be willing to chew his leg off to be free.
TVF: When was the last time you went back and watched the pilot or any of those early episodes?
MB: My God, I couldn’t tell you. I’m not a huge fan of watching myself too much but you know, the pilot? Probably season one. I watch things once or twice and then I move on.
TVF: When I catch reruns, I can usually tell which season by your hair. It was different in the beginning.
MB: Longer, yeah.
TVF: What’s your memory then of shooting that first season? In some ways you shot that in a bubble and we all know so much has changed for you since then.
MB: I hope I always have that level of enthusiasm that everyone brought to the table in the first season. I think we’d all kicked around the TV business long enough to appreciate the opportunity that we had and to know that the dynamic we had on set was something unique and special and to nurture that.
And also, just that whole genesis of getting to know the character as you’re going and rolling with the punches and learning about doing so many episodes back to back, and getting to do walk and talks in the streets of New York when no one had any idea who you were and nobody even cared that you’re filming there. Something kind of wonderful about that and I’ll hold all six seasons close to my heart for sure. But there was sort of an innocence about that first season that you can’t really replicate once people start to tune in and see the show.
White Collar Season 6 airs Thursdays at 9/8c on USA.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.