“White Collar” has had a storied history leading into its sixth and final season -- complete with thieves, dangerous relationships, fistfights and plenty of high-class villains. Now, tasked with putting a cherry on top of this fan-favorite television show, creator Jeff Eastin wanted to break the mold and make the “White Collar” finale something to be remembered for a good long time.
Speaking to International Business Times, Eastin said that he didn’t want to look at the finale as just one isolated hour of television. With only a limited number of episodes in the sixth season, he saw it as an opportunity to do something a little different.
“What was kind of fantastic about this final season is we’re doing six episodes instead of the full 13. It gave us an opportunity to tell one story and hopefully tell it really well. This time we thought, ‘Let’s not do villain of the week. Let’s make it like a miniseries,’” he said. “We dive into, what I hope, is a really entertaining story, unlike a lot of previous seasons, where it gets told over one or two episodes, this one takes a full six.”
For those who don’t watch “White Collar” or maybe only watched a couple of seasons, Eastin says that won’t stop you from enjoying the final six episodes.
“Watching this one, you’ll be able to watch it as one big story. If you gave up on ‘White Collar,’ if you want to come back and watch the finale, it will hold together, and it will make sense. Hopefully, there's callbacks and stuff to the rest of the series that die-hard fans will enjoy a little more,” he later continued. “I would say the nice thing about this year is you don’t have to familiarize yourself. If you know the key players [Neal, Peter, Mozzie and Elizabeth], if you know these guys, then I think you’ll like this year. This season is really all-inclusive.”
When last we left Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) and Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer), things looked grim. After Burke learned that his request to free Caffrey was rejected, he had a change of heart about moving to D.C. for a new job. His wife Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen) was still moving for a job but promised a long-distance relationship. Meanwhile, an angry Neal confronted a man who he thought was tailing him. Suddenly, the con man that audiences love was being stuffed into the back of a van with a bag over his head and, scariest of all, his anklet removed.
Fans have been waiting for a resolution to this mysterious scene since the Season 5 finale in January 2013. Eastin says that they won’t be disappointed with the result, claiming Season 6 picks up “just moments after Neal’s kidnapping.”
It will remain unclear until the Nov. 6 return of “White Collar” who has taken Neal, but Eastin confirmed that a lot of key players and villains will be returning to the show for its farewell run. This includes Keller (Ross McCall), whom the creator called his “favorite villain they’ve had on the show.” In an interview with TV Line, Eastin teased a criminal organization called the Pink Panthers. Based on a real group, Eastin promises that Neal and Peter are up against their toughest villains yet in Season 6.
As many show creators know, a bad finale can completely taint the rest of the series. With that in mind, we asked Eastin which series finales influenced the way he looked at the end of “White Collar.”
“I looked closely at ‘M*A*S*H.’ It’s a little more of a serious ending for a comedic series, but that’s something we liked. ‘The Shield’ was one that I looked at very seriously. Obviously, ‘The Sopranos’ was another one,” he said. “In fact, we contemplated doing a finale that had a fantasy aspect to it. Like a sliding door version. We played with that for a while, but we decided to hold out until we found something that we liked better and we went with that. I’m really happy with it.”
“White Collar” debuted in 2009 and captured America’s attention right out of the gate. The series earned several People’s Choice Award nominations and big ratings in the beginning of its run, which stayed consistent throughout its five-year run, according to Variety. Eastin says that the show’s success can be almost 100 percent attributed to the fans.
“People stuck with us and that’s one thing that ... I mean, how do you say ‘thank you’ for something like that?” he told IBTimes. “It’s so nice to have people who know the show so well. Oftentimes, we’d go to our fans to ask them questions about the show. I’d put it out on Twitter and two seconds later they’d have an answer. I hope this finale is a love letter to them.”
The show creator also joked that he hopes those who dislike the finale will forgive him. With the final moments cloaked in mystery, Eastin was able to share a few details about what it was like on set when they finally wrapped. He told IBTimes about the most surreal moment while filming the final episode in which art imitated life.
“I can’t say who was crying or for what reason, but the last scenes we shot were of some of the characters crying,” he said. “Then you look over and you see cameramen crying, script supervisors bawling their eyes out. Everybody was there, for the most part, for the full six years. That’s a lot of time to spend with people and have it just end.”
Although “White Collar” is coming to a close as an episodic series, we asked Eastin if he sees Neal and Peter continuing past the show’s Dec. 18 end date. He wasn’t able to say much, for fear of spoiling his own finale, but he did give a minor tease.
“I will say that, when it comes to Neal, nothing is ever what it seems. As far as coming back for a TV movie or something like that afterwards ... there’s always prequels.”