So…there you have it. The Red John saga of The Mentalist is over.
Like, really over.
If you watched The Mentalist Season 6 Episode 8 - and if you didn’t, stop reading this NOW or else you’re going to be spoiled big time - you know Gale Bertram was actually NOT the man Patrick Jane has been hunting since the series premiere.
Instead, it was a character we thought died in the explosion in Jane’s house in The Mentalist Season 6 Episode 6: Sheriff Thomas McAllister, played by Xander Berkeley.
In a conference call last week, creator Bruno Heller and star Simon Baker jumped on the phone with the press to talk about the end of the storyline and what we can expect moving forward on the series.
Baker, who has been inside the skin of Patrick Jane for five and a half years, said he definitely had some strong feelings going into this conclusion.
“For me, I did feel the sense of pressure because we’d been kind of working towards this for a number of years and it was something that had pushed the character from the very beginning in 2008," he said. "I just felt I’ve got to somehow live up to that in that one moment.”
And while Jane could have killed McAllister in a number of ways, Baker explained why the manner in which it played out was the best route: “I felt like to pull a trigger is just pulling the trigger and the gun does the killing but to actually grapple with someone and kill them with your hands is far more intimate.”
Heller gave Baker props for the way the final Red John scene went down.
“I should say that how that last scene between the two of them went was very much written and directed by Simon," he said. "The emotion that he brought to that and the feeling and with all that pressure and with all the story that’s gone by and all the baggage…it’s hard but good to watch, I think.”
The executive producer, who also penned the seminal episode, commented that he didn’t know exactly when the identity of Red John came to him: “It just kind of emerged over the last couple of years. There were always three or four possibilities and it just happened, really. It seemed like the natural, correct choice.”
Undoubtedly, the character of Jane is going to go through some big changes now that Red John is out of his life for good. But how personal was the end of the storyline for Baker?
Said the actor: “It’s been really strange because whatever happens in the course of a series, there’s reasons and things that you sign on to that show for and there’s very important elements to the character that you make a connection with immediately and a lot of those things were laid to rest in this episode so it did feel incredibly personal to me.”
Baker added that “the challenge and the most difficult part of working on this show [has been] playing this tragic character that has a very raw and unprotected emotional side to him but has this whimsical, tap-dancery thing going on with a kind of sense of humor and bravada.
"To dance between the two tones of the show has always been very challenging for me and complicated. I get very, very protective of the personal stuff with that character so, yes, things like the tea cup and all of that and, obviously, how we kill him and all that sort of stuff, Bruno knows that I’m going to be waiting outside the door to weigh in on all that stuff.”
As for that harrowing final scene where Jane takes McAllister’s life with his bare hands, Baker explained: “The character had made a decision that he was going to kill Red John from the first time we ever saw him and so he made that decision and in his head that was going to happen. What we didn’t know was how he was going to react and whether or not he could go through with it and in what fashion.”
As an actor getting to this scene, Baker said, “to me, that was just jumping off a cliff, really, and jumping off a cliff to the point where it’s like [Jane’s] got what he wants and what he’s wanted for so long…
"You’ve got to try to be there and be alive in the moment but going forward from there when you achieve your objective, then what happens? A lot of the time you focus so much energy on trying to achieve your objective but you don’t really consider how it’s going leave you standing afterwards. And my favorite part of that is the transition out of this. Now, okay, that’s done. What do I have to live for and where do I go from here? Was it that gratifying for Jane?
"There’s all of those questions and I think we sort of deal with that in a lot of ways in the next episode afterwards.”
Moving forward, Heller and Baker teased what is to come on the rest of The Mentalist Season 6.
“What this fresh version of the show is about is what happens afterward in a very real sense,” Heller previewd. “Jane is a happier person, a weight has been taken off his shoulders and, in that, a weight has been taken off the show. It’s going to be the same show to some degree but it’s going to be a show with less darkness at the edges and more freedom to roam and Jane has more freedom and more sense of possibility and liberty.”
And, because we’re all dying to know, when asked if Jane may now have a love life Heller would only say: “He might.”
Are you excited to see what’s coming next on The Mentalist? Or do you think the show is going to miss having Red John drive so much story?
The Mentalist airs at 10/9c every Sunday on CBS.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.