July 10th, 2012
09:29 AM ET
Where in the world is Neal Caffrey?
That's the question “White Collar” fans have been asking since the season 3 finale cliffhanger, and they're finally going to learn the answer to that question when "White Collar's" con-man-turned-FBI-consultant reappears in an exotic location in Tuesday's season 4 premiere.
The USA series revolves around Neal (Matt Bomer) and his successful partnership with FBI agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), who was the one who caught him. Instead of serving a prison sentence, Neal uses his expertise as a con man to help Peter solve white-collar crimes.
Peter’s serious, no-nonsense demeanor initially clashed with Neal’s charming and sly nature, but they soon become steadfast friends.
When we last saw him, Neal was up for commutation of his sentence. At his hearing, he told the committee that he liked his life in New York City and he liked working with the FBI. But Peter’s mentor, Agent Kramer (Beau Bridges), didn't believe him, and wanted to take him to D.C. to keep a closer eye on him.
When Peter silently signaled Neal about Kramer, Neal panicked, cut off his tracking ankle monitor and was shown in the last scene boarding a plane with Mozzie (Willie Garson), his close friend and fellow con artist.
Now, Neal is a wanted man and Peter and his team have decided to “cross the line” to find him and save him before the FBI locks him up for good.
“White Collar” creator Jeff Eastin said in an interview in May that with each season, more clues to Neal’s past will be revealed.
“We’re really focusing on Neal’s background,” Eastin told CNN. “‘Is Neal Caffrey really his name?’ will be answered.”
While the promos show a tense and worried Peter, they also show Neal and Mozzie enjoying sunny weather in a quaint town and donning vacation-appropriate attire, as opposed to the dapper suits Neal usually wears. If you listen carefully, you’ll also hear Spanish phrases being used, so that narrows their geography down a bit.
Of course, not all is well in paradise, and we'll see Mekhi Phifer guest-starring as a man hunter who is close to catching Neal.
One of the things Eastin has worried about was ensuring that viewers saw Neal's humanity. It was the reason he added the character of Kate Moreau, Neal’s ex-girlfriend who dies in a plane explosion, in season 1, to show us more of his vulnerable side.
In season 2, we saw Neal and Sara Ellis (Hilarie Burton), an insurance investigator who testified against Neal, enter into a romantic relationship while working on a case together, only to break it off in season 3 because of Neal’s secrets. And in his new location, Neal is seen wooing Maya (Mia Maestro, from “Alias”), who calls Neal “New York.”
The character's multiple interactions with women aren't surprising, considering that he's played by the swoon-worthy Bomer. Eastin said that the actor, who also stars as a male stripper with Channing Tatum in “Magic Mike,” is one of the biggest magnets on the show for new audiences.
“Ultimately, because Matt has been doing so much, we are going to have a lot of people coming to the show to see him,” Eastin said. “(The plan is to) keep doing what we are doing, to not exclude new viewers.”
He added: “Once we get that acceptability of the show, why not make it a lot more … drop the case of the week and go with more mythology.”
Other guest stars to look out for this season are Laura Vandervoot (“Smallville”), Michael Weston (“House”), Rebecca Mader (“Lost"), Perrey Reeves (“Entourage”) and Gloria Votsis, who will return as Alex Hunter, a thief who was once involved with Neal.
About this blog
Our daily cheat-sheet for breaking celebrity news, Hollywood buzz and your pop-culture obsessions.