Major spoilers follow. So, if you haven’t watched tonight’s “Red John” episode, then go no further!
Hopefully if you’re reading this article then you just watched the biggest episode, so far, in the history of ‘The Mentalist.’ Just moments ago, and after five and a half seasons of Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) hunting down the serial killer who murdered his wife and daughter, fans learned the true identity and fate of Red John.
So, who was the madman Red John? It was none other than Sheriff McAllister, played by Xander Berkeley, who has quite the knack for playing crazy. Yes, McAllister faked his death, pinned the Red John identity on Bertram, then finally emerged to Jane as the man who took the lives of his family. Not only did Jane come face to face with Red John, but he also decided his fate. Ultimately, Jane took Red John’s life by strangling him to death in one of the most emotional and gripping scenes throughout the series.
Why did creator Bruno Heller choose McAllister as Red John? What’s next for Jane? What happens to Lisbon, Van Pelt, Rigsby and Cho? Luckily, we have some answers for you, in addition to these we revealed the other day. This past Tuesday, we joined a conference call with Heller and Baker to discuss Red John and all the major questions fans were sure to have. Here we go.
What did Heller hope to achieve from this episode?
As Heller told reporters, it was important that the story ended in a way that satisfied fans and Patrick Jane, “[It was about] giving a real pleasing emotional closure to that story. For me, it was about giving Patrick Jane exactly what he had hunted for all these years.”
As for Baker, it was more about killing Red John in the right way, “The way we did it was important, because it was very important to me, because I felt like to pull a trigger is just pulling a trigger and the gun does the killing, but to actually grapple with someone and kill them with your hands is far more intimate.” Side note: Heller also revealed that the last scene between Red John and Jane was “written and directed” by Baker.
When did Heller decide to name McAllister Red John?
“I’m not sure. It kind of just emerged over the last couple of years,” Heller said. “There was always three or four possibilities, and it just happened, really. It seemed like the natural correct choice.”
How will killing Red John affect Jane, and the rest of the characters?
“For the other characters, it’s a little like the children of divorce,” Heller said. “What’s next? They’ve been enthralled to somebody else’s mission and now that mission is gone. They were in a world that they didn’t choose, and now they’re in a world that is changing around them.” Heller also added, “Jane has big questions to answer about what he’s going to do with himself, and Lisbon (Robin Tunney), Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti), Cho (Tim Kang) and Rigsby (Owain Yeoman), also have to make those choices.”
Clearly, this will affect Jane more than the others, and as Baker said, “When Red John dies, there’s a large part of Jane that dies in that moment as well.” It will take time for Jane “to get back on his feet,” especially since Jane has no wife, no kid, no relationship (other than with the CBI), and no more “perverse obsession/relationship” with Red John. Heller added, “Jane’s life as he knows it is over, but it’s the beginning of a new life.”
One of the bigger questions is: will there be legal ramifications for Jane killing Red John?
Obviously, yes. Heller put it nicely, “You can’t go around killing people willy-nilly without some kind of ramifications.”
Will Jane and Lisbon’s relationship remain strong?
As Baker told TVRage, “Absolutely, and I think even stronger.” Per Heller, “They’ve been so engrossed in this massive task ahead of them that they haven’t really looked around, and looked at the people alongside them, and thought about who those people are and what they mean to them. Now, Jane and Lisbon have a chance to take a breath and think about each other in a way that they haven’t before.”
Is Jane really psychic? What about Red John, who admitted he knew Jane’s list of suspects because he was indeed psychic?
For those who think Jane is really psychic, Heller told TVRage, “God bless them … I would say to those people, psychics don’t exist, but the human capacity for understanding and affection and empathizing and sympathizing with other people is not supernatural, but natural, and it’s an amazing power.” Regarding Red John, we may never find out, as Heller wishes to keep “that thread dangling.”
What can we expect from future episodes?
Not only did Heller describe the rest of the season as a “fresh version of the show” and that it will be the “same show, to some degree” with “less darkness at the edges,” but he also noted that “Jane [will be] a happier person. A weight has been taken off his shoulders, and to that degree, a weight has been taken off the show.” Fans will also see that Jane has more freedom to do his own thing and he “might” even have a love life. For those wondering if Jane will still be solving crimes and/or have a desire to work in law enforcement, Baker said, “I don’t think. Not immediately.”
Finally, can ‘The Mentalist’ live without Red John?
Heller isn’t “really concerned” with that notion, “because if [it doesn’t], then that’s what happens. It felt very much to all of us like that chapter of the story was done. Frankly, I think the great asset and value of the show is in Baker’s head and half of what he does. Red John never even appeared, as a character, physically, until the last episode. He was a feeling in the show … but in terms of the moment by moment pleasures of the show those are delivered by Simon Baker and his people, not by Red John.”
For those still speculating that Red John is still alive, Heller affirmed that “Red John is dead.” Going forward, Heller also confirmed that they “won’t be going back” to the Red John storyline, and there will be rarely, if any, mention of the serial killer.
Were you satisfied with the Red John reveal? Will you stick around for future episodes?
‘The Mentalist’ airs Sundays at 10/9c on CBS.