'The Mentalist': 5 things you need to know about season 5 before tonight's premiere

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Image Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

An amateur detective with extraordinary powers of perception teams with a professional crime-fighter to solve murders and banter flirtatiously. Sounds like any number of shows on any given evening of television. Tonight on CBS, it’s The Mentalist, starring Simon Baker as the natural born Sherlock and Robin Tunney as his badge-carrying Watson. Your five things to know about season 5 (unless you don’t dig such tips and teases, so… SPOILER WARNING!):

New night, fresh start. After three years on Thursday at 10 p.m. (now occupied by Elementary, The Mentalist moves to Sunday at 10. Creator/showrunner Bruno Heller is treating the switch as a new beginning. An early episode — the 100th of the series — will be something of an origin story, chronicling Patrick Jane’s first adventure with the California Bureau of Investigation. In other words: A good time for newbies to jump aboard. It may also be a good time for lapsed fans to come back, as…

Red John Gets Revved Up. The defining, ongoing mystery at the heart of The Mentalist is Jane’s quest to nab — and kill — the ingenious and elusive serial killer that murdered his wife and child. After attentively building and attending to that tale during the first three seasons, The Mentalist eased up a bit during season 4 in an effort to be a little lighter, a little more accessible. Heller says season 5 will be different. “Things are going to move forward in a way they haven’t the past few seasons,” he says. “We are going to make one giant leap toward Red John by the end of [the year].” One early story: Jane will meet someone claiming to be his daughter. More revelations will follow, many of them provided by…

The Return Of Lorelei Martins. In the season 4 finale, after apparently giving up on the Red John quest (a ruse to bait the baddie into the open, or so Jane claimed), Patrick romanced an apparent kindred soul/femme fatale (Emmanuelle Chriqui) who turned out to be one of Red John’s many loyal disciples. These psycho fans tend to not last long when captured — they get killed or kill themselves — but Lorelei will be sticking around for awhile. “Jane is going to start working on her, and she is the key that will open the door to finding out who Red John is, where he is and how to get to him,” says Heller, adding that just because they’re now technically adversaries doesn’t mean Jane and Lorelei aren’t still attracted to each other. “We’ll keep playing that. She is hard to dislike,” laughs Heller. “And she has something Jane wants. Any romantic relationship pivots on the question of how much is love and how much is mutual advantage. In this case, both sides have agendas. But there is definitely a romantic edge to it.” By the way, Agent Lisbon? Not one bit happy about Jane’s conflict of interest… and maybe just a teensy bit jealous, too. Also displeased…?

The CBI’s New FBI “Colleagues.” Season 5 will see the CBI squad working — and clashing — with a trio of FBI agents also chasing Red John. Polly Walker from Rome plays the group’s boss; Ivan Sergei (Jack & Jill, Gravity) and Drew Powell (Southland, Straw Dogs) play a “lovely bizarro world version of Rigsby and Cho.” Speaking of which…

Breakup Blues. Cho (Tim Kang) split with informant-turned-girlfriend Summer (Samaire Armstrong) because of her drug issues, but he still pines for her — and will be seeing her again.  “When she shows up later in the season needing his help, he can’t help but to fall for it,” says Heller. Meanwhile, Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) has parted with the mother of his child and will be dealing with the ramifications. (He’ll also have to deal once again with his ex-con pop, played by William Forsythe, in an episode dealing with SoCal meth wars.) Any chance that Rigsby and CBI colleague/former flame Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) might rekindle their romance? “That’s a long game, those two,” says Heller. “[But] by end of the season there might be some movement there.”

Bonus Teases! Episode 2: Jane will encounter a young woman (Dove Cameron) who claims to be his daughter… or is she?! Also: Malcolm McDowell is slated to return this season, playing his popular CBI nemesis Brett Stiles, the shady leader of a Scientology-esque religion/cult. Also on tap to return this season: CBI agent J.J. LaRoche (Pruitt Taylor Vince) and retired CBI boss Virgil Minelli (Gregory Itzin)…

…who is this fan-theorist’s pick for Red John. Yours?

Twitter: @EWDocJensen

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