'Mentalist' Postmortem: Red John's Identity, CBI's Future and Jane's Next Move
[Warning: Major spoilers from Sunday's episode. Do not proceed if you have not watched.]
Has Red John been unmasked?
Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) and Co. whittled down their list of Red John suspects to one name by the end of Sunday's episode, "The Great Red Dragon": CBI Director Gale Bertram (Michael Gaston). Jane made his discovery known to the public through a press conference broadcast on television, prompting Bertram to go on the run.
The Red John search -- one that kicked off when the series debuted in 2008 -- may be nearing its end, but the conflict is much larger than anticipated with the shutdown of the CBI and the FBI's takeover. The writer of Sunday's episode, Jordan Harper, talks to The Hollywood Reporter about the repercussions of Jane's public declaration, whether Bertram is Red John, a world without CBI and next week's "big, big" episode.
What was the most challenging thing to get right?
The hardest part was knitting together the episode that comes before it and the episode that comes after it, at least that was the first challenge. I really saw this as the middle part of a trilogy, so I had to make sure I delivered on both those fronts. The episode basically takes place entirely at a spring, which is not the normal tempo for The Mentalist. I had a lot to get done and I wanted it to be fun to watch. There's a version of this story that could have been told with a lot of exposition and less shootouts, but I wanted to do the shootouts.
What was your favorite scene or moment to write?
There are a lot of things about this episode I really, really liked. I think director Elodie Keene and our crew did a great job with the shootout with Owain [Yeoman, who plays Rigsby,] and Amanda [Righetti, who plays Van Pelt]. It was by far the most intricate action scene I had ever written and while it comes off as chaotic on the screen, it was anything but in the planning. I really enjoyed introducing Rockmond Dunbar as FBI Agent Dennis Abbot, and we will be needing him again.
This episode knocks off several Red John suspects right off the bat following last week's explosion, leaving Bertram as the person Jane, Lisbon and the rest of the CBI team believe is the culprit. Are they correct?
You'll have to watch and see. I don't want to tip anything from the upcoming episode other than Jane has a lot going on in his head and he's going to have even more going on in the next episode.
Was it particularly difficult killing three Red John suspects -- Sheriff Tom McAllister, Visualize leader Bret Stiles and FBI Agent Ray Haffner -- at the beginning of the hour? Was that always the plan?
To be honest, that was one of the easiest things I had to come up with because Ken Woodruff wrote the episode before mine [titled "Fire and Brimstone"]. All I had to do was write, "Fade in. The house has blown up." I will say, less body parts made it in than were on-set that day, which was a personal regret of mine. I understand that you can't get everything out of life but there was more than a foot there. Our show isn't normally that gory but we wanted to make very clear that that was a human foot and there were dead bodies in there. Choreographing Lisbon coming into that scene and how fast her mind has to move from who survived this, did anyone survive this to Smith surviving it to thinking Smith is Red John, not knowing there were other people with tattoos, she's exactly where Jane the episode before that. And keeping track of what everybody knows and don't know in that time span was very challenging.
Jane's press conference revealing to the public the identity of Red John was a big move. What does that mean for everyone involved moving forward?
One of the reasons that that is an important scene is Jane knows and as the audience quickly sees, he's exposing the leader of the CBI as a killer and that's something that will have repercussions and does in the episode. It's not something he does idly.
You touched on Abbot's entrance to the fold, with him shutting down the CBI and relieving everyone of their duties. What is Jane and Co.'s next move and what is their state of mind at the moment?