The seven Red John suspects were revealed on Sunday night’s The Mentalist finale. Or were they? With Red John seemingly knowing everything that’s in Patrick Jane’s head — including his list — how much can we trust that the elusive serial killer is really among those seven names? And what can we expect from The Mentalist in season 6? Below, creator Bruno Heller answers our burning questions about the finale and beyond.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: After all that craftiness on Patrick Jane’s part, Red John is still a step ahead of him. So can we really trust that the list is accurate if Red John is so willing to confirm it?
Bruno Heller: Yes, we can trust that list. As much as much as Red John has been one step ahead, Lorelei Martins’ intervention changed the game. So as much as Red John is trying to play from a position of strength in reality Jane has gotten a lot closer. This last episode of the season really sets us up for next season: The hunt is on, no messing about.
Once again, you’re making moves that make me wonder if Patrick Jane is Red John — after all, how else could he know that memory from inside his head? But by saying Red John is definitely on the list, can we rule out the theory held by some fans that Jane is actually Red John?
Heller: I would say that definitively: Jane is not Red John.
Sunday’s guest star (Michael Hogan) made a comment about Lisbon having romantic feelings for Jane. Will that get explored at all next season?
Heller: Certainly. To a degree, it’s always been explored. It’s an undercurrent there. As the next season goes on, yes, as the search for Red John culminates, those underlying feelings will come out.
And can you talk about the decision for Wayne and Grace to get back together?
Heller: They’ve always been in love with each other. As we get closer to Red John, all of the team members will start thinking about their major life decisions. That applies to both applies to Lisbon and Grace. They haven’t been able to look to their own feelings. As the show rolls on, those feelings will come to the fore.
When you learned that The Mentalist was renewed, did part of you hope it would be a final season order so you plan your end game?
Heller: That’s a good question. To the degree that certainty is always a nice thing, yes. But, no — in the sense that the show and the people involved in it are kind of a family and you never want to break up a family that’s happy and doing well. In that sense, we still have everything to play for. We try to make every episode as fun as we can.
Would Red John being caught necessarily mean the end of the show?
Heller: Let me put it this way: If and when Red John is caught, there’s an interesting life dilemma for Patrick Jane and the rest. I think it would be very odd if Red John falls dead and the show stops right there. Because the natural question is: What happens next? It’s either a big story or smaller story, depending. I mean, I know. But I would be cheating on the narrative if I told you all I had planned.
Overall, what can we expect next season?
Heller: Up until now if you’re comparing it to Moby Dick, which is one of the analogies I used to describe the length of the chase, next season the whale has been sighted and they’re in the small boats and chasing the whale. It’s much faster paced, more thrilling, more action, more surprises. We’ll still be delivering those mysteries every week. But just as you see with the last episode of the season, there’s no more tracking and more chasing.