The final shot of Sunday’s (Nov. 24) episode of “The Mentalist” featured Patrick Jane running. But is he running away or toward something?
Maybe both, say series creator Bruno Heller and star Simon Baker, who plays Jane. After years of searching for Red John, the serial killer who murdered his family, Jane finally discovered his identity — Napa Sheriff Thomas McAllister (Xander Berkeley) — and made good on his promise to kill Red John.
So what comes next? Read on as Baker and Heller discuss the fallout for Jane and the CBI.
How will killing Red John affect Jane psychologically?
Heller: Jane is this tragic figure who has gotten his heart’s desire, has found the sort of evil grail he’s been chasing all these years. Now it’s very much a question of 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? How will he define himself now that part of his life is over?
Baker: The character made the decision to kill Red John from the first time we ever saw him. In his head, that was going to happen. What we didn’t know is how he would react and whether he would go through with it, and in what fashion. To me that was just jumping off a cliff. … [The death scene] is interesting because he’s got Red John within his grasp, literally — he doesn’t take a moment to hesitate. … When he’s on top of him, the idea of just shutting him up in that time is less about network television always wanting to explain everything, and Jane just wanting to get on with the job. …
Going forward from there [it’s about] when you achieve your objective, then what happens? … My favorite part of that is the transition out of it. That’s done, now what do I have to live for, and where do I go from here? Was it that gratifying for Jane? There’s all of those questions — we sort of deal with that in a lot of ways in the next episode.
Will there be any legal consequences for Jane?
Heller: You can’t go around killing people willy-nilly without some kind of ramification. Very much so.
Will Jane continue to work in law enforcement?
Baker: I don’t think, not immediately.
Heller: I can tell you he’s going to be placed in a position where his personal desires on that level are not to the point. He’s done something highly illegal — what he does in the future isn’t necessarily going to be entirely up to himself.
Even though Red John is dead, his disciples and the Blake Association are still out there. Will we hear from them again?
Heller: I never say never, but I would say I think the audience and the story demands that we step away from that trope for a while. The trouble with these sorts of stories where you’re playing tricks on the audience, with who-is-it mysteries, is you can get way too mysterious. There are people who said all the way along that Patrick Jane is Red John. When you’ve got that kind of elaborate thinking out there, it’s dangerous to come back to that story unless you’re coming back full force, because then maybe will start thinking, “Oh, maybe Red John’s not dead.” Red John is dead.