White Collar is coming back to USA Network for one more season, or at least a fraction of a season. Season 6 will have its latest premiere date yet, and will only run for a mere six episodes in the name of allowing the show to wrap up its storylines and give itself a proper series finale. That’s good news for fans who had feared the show might end permanently on a cliffhanger, with Neal Caffrey having been kidnapped by unknown assailants. But thanks to the latest spoiler, coming directly from the head of the network himself, fans might have something bigger to worry about.
Despite the fact that White Collar centers on criminals and murders and FBI investigations and nonstop con games, the show has tended to be rather lighthearted for the most part. Career con-man Neal Caffrey and straight laced FBI agent Peter Burke make for the ultimate odd couple, working together to solve and prevent crime while acting as each others’ comedic foils. Neal’s best friend and Peter’s wife take turns serving as the show’ conscience and/or comic relief. It’s a “safe” enough show that when a new agent was introduced last season just to be killed off a few episodes later, it came as a surprise.
But now the head of USA Network, Chris McCumber, tells EW that the show will end on a “shocking” note and fans will “never forget” what happens. For a show that’s been all twists and turns throughout its five seasons, that particular spoiler is enough to send the minds of viewers reeling. What could be so shocking as to trump every other surprise the show has pulled over the years?
It could merely be that one of the core characters turns out to not be who they’ve said they are. But there’s also the possibility that White Collar creator Jeff Eastin has something of a different sort of his sleeve. Series finales give TV shows the opportunity to do the kinds of things they can’t do during the course of a series for fear of altering the premise to the point that the show can’t continue. Sometimes shows outthink themselves and use the finale to kill off a beloved character under the mistaken assumption that audiences will respond positively to it, but unless that’s been the modus operandi of the show all along, the audience reaction is typically a negative one.
Eastin just (Spoiler Alert) apparently killed off one of the main characters on his other show, Graceland, though that’s been a much darker vehicle from the outset. There’s no way White Collar kills off Peter Burke and leaves his wife as a widow. But there’s always the chance Neal Caffrey ends up dead when it’s all said and done. Such a stunt would likely be a phenomenal disappointment to fans, as it would be fully out of character with what the show has been all along. And that makes us think the “shocking” conclusion will merely be of the usual bait and switch variety. We won’t have long to wait to find out, as the White Collar season six premiere date is November 6th.