'The Mentalist' Red John episode: Creator, star answer 20 burning questions

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At what point did Xander Berkeley (McAllister) learn he was Red John and how did he react?
Heller: At the very last moment and he was thrilled.

Wouldn’t it might have been better for Red John to be captured so his other victims’ families could get some closure too?
Baker
: I like it. I like that idea. We’re going to steal that.
Heller: There you go. That’s where me and Baker disagree. I was like, “No, kill the guy.”
Baker: Not the only thing we disagree on.
Heller: Not the first, won’t be the last.
Baker: I think if you really looked at it, if there’s any kind of sense of regret ever about that thing, that would totally be it.
Heller: That’s the difference between me and Baker. I thought the only regret would be not to take longer killing him … it’s a good question, tough to play if that were [to happen]. My sense [it] either destroys you with guilt or you get a certain amount of strength from it. And I think Jane gets a certain amount of strength. This is not the first time he’s killed somebody. And like primitive men used to think, when you kill somebody, you take a certain amount of strength with them.

How will murdering Red John change Jane?
Heller
: Jane is this tragic figure who has gotten his heart’s desire. He’s found the sort of evil Grail he’s been chasing all these years, but what does that do to him as a person? Can he begin a new life? And what kind of life does he want for himself, and how will he define himself, now that that part of his life is over? … this fresh version of the show is about is what happens afterwards. In a very real sense, he’s a happier person, a weight has been taken off his shoulders. In that way, a weight has been taken off the show. So it’s going to be the same show, to some degree, but a show with less darkness at the edges, and more freedom to roam. Jane has more freedom and a sense of possibility and liberty.

Might Jane finally have a love life?
Heller: Might.

Will Jane and Lisbon (Robin Tunney) get closer now? 
Baker: Yeah, I think, absolutely.
Heller: They’ve been so engrossed in this massive task they haven’t really looked around at the people around them and think about who those people are what they really mean to them. Now Jane and Lisbon have a chance to take a breath and think about each other in a way that they haven’t before.

Is Jane going to face legal ramifications for killing Red John?
Heller: Yes, he is. You can’t go around killing people willy-nilly without some kind of ramifications. Very much so.

Will Jane continue to want to work in law enforcement?
Heller: Not immediately. I can tell you he’s going to be placed in a position where his personal desires are not the point. What he does in the future is not going to be entirely up to himself.

Will the show return to being a weekly crime procedural?
Heller: Yes, we’ll be returning to crime solving. Not necessarily the same kind of crime solving.

Will The Mentalist succeed without Red John?
Heller: Not really concerned … It felt to all of us like that chapter of the story was done. I think, frankly, the great asset of value of the show is in Baker’s head and what he does. Red John never even appears as a character until this last episode. He was a feeling in the show and an objective, but in terms of moment-by-moment pleasures of the show, those are delivered by Simon Baker and [the rest of the cast], not by Red John. I think it’s going to be a great show after Red John. Then it’s up to the audience to decide if they like it or not.

What does this mean for the other characters?
Heller: I hadn’t really thought of it in those terms. It’s a little like the children of divorce. What’s next? They’ve been enthralled in somebody else’s mission and now that mission is gone. They were in a world they didn’t choose and now that world is changing around them again.

Will we get more information about Red John?
Heller: We won’t be going back.  …  Once the curtain is drawn back from these evil Wizard of Oz characters they tend not to be very interesting dinner companions. They tend to be ego-maniacal one-track minds … There is a great deal of [backstory], if anyone waned to ask those questions, I’d be happy to answer. There’s a lot of questions about motivations and what [Red John] was doing and when and how… It makes for great Internet fodder, but it’s not very entertaining for a weekly TV audience.
Baker: When Red John dies there’s a part of Jane that dies in that moment as well. It’s kind of what he’s been about since we met him. It takes a little time to get back on his feet again. He doesn’t have a wife and kid, he doesn’t have a relationship with anyone other than those he worked with at the CBI and this perverse relationship/obsession with Red John, which is now over … In the very next episode there was a line that referenced Red John and I was pretty adamant about losing it. Because we’ve said “Red John” about 4 million times and 3 million in the last 7 episodes … It’s nice to have to have a good clean cut and not have Jane speak of him … Even if he speaks [of killing him], he doesn’t mention “Red” or “John” in same sentence.

Does this mean episode titles will no longer have variations on “red” in them?
Heller: Oh yes … very happy about that.

Check out my review of the “Red John” episode — what worked and what didn’t — and Jeff Jensen’s deep-dive into the Red John mythology and how it became increasingly tangled.

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