Ding-dong, Red John is gone!
After a five-year long manhunt, The Mentalist finally revealed the series' ultimate big bad as Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) discovered Napa Sheriff Thomas McAllister (Xander Berkeley) was the man who murdered his wife and daughter ten years ago, bringing one of TV's biggest mysteries to a close.
And the creative team behind the CBS drama felt that revenge is a dish best served in the same episode as the reveal as Jane ended the hour strangling Red John, before running off into the unknown for the first time in the series' history. While we've already provided you with scoop on how Red John's exit will impact Patrick Jane moving forward, we also talked to the series' creator Bruno Heller about why he decided to reveal the killer's identity now and how he decided it would be McAllister. Plus, Simon Baker admits why he's excited that Red John is finally gone from Jane's life.
Viewers have wondered from "very early on in the first season" when the show would reveal Red John's identity, and Heller explains that the writers' room found themselves asking when was the right time to bring the story to a close, as well.
"There was no functional, formal protocol moment, where we said, ‘Okay, when this happens, we will set about closing off that chapter.' It's like a marriage, or any kind of partnership. How long is Red John driving the story forward, and at what point does it become an anchor? It just seemed like this was the right time. Ultimately, that's a subjective choice. It just seemed like, from a storytelling point of view and from the audience's point of view, it was time to move the story forward."
And Baker says he's really "this last five to six months of working on the show" as it was building towards the big reveal. "It has felt like the enthusiasm I had in the first season because it's new and fresh, from week to week, and it's going somewhere," he explains. "Sometimes the frustration for me, as an actor, is that we're not going anywhere or moving forward. This was definitely going somewhere. The stakes are higher, and it gives me something to do that I can really get my teeth into."
So is Heller at all nervous about the show not being able to live on without the Red John of it all?
"I'm not really concerned. If it can't, then that's what happens," Heller says. "It felt very much to all of us like that chapter of the story was done… I think it's gonna be a great show after Red John. It's up to the audience to decide, if they like it or not."
As for how Heller, who penned the pivotal episode, ultimately came to the decision that McAllister would be Red John, he says, "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."
Heller says fans shouldn't expect to hear a lot of mentions of Red John moving forward. "One of the things you discover when these figures of great evil are unmasked in real life is they tend not to be very interesting," he explains. "They tend to be egomaniacal, one-track minds. There are a lot of questions about motivation, and what he was doing when and how, and how that connects to other things. That makes great Internet fodder, but it's not very entertaining for the weekly TV audience."
And Baker welcomes the change of pace for the series, admitting, "I think it's really nice to have a clean cut and not mention Red John at all for a while. Even if [Jane] speaks of the [death], he doesn't mention Red or John in the same sentence."
The Mentalist airs Sunday at 10 p.m. on CBS.