When “The Mentalist” creator Bruno Heller and stars Simon Baker and Robin Tunney spoke with Zap2it this week (May 9), one of the questions we had was about crafting a season finale that could also serve as a series ender. The show was one of only a handful of current series CBS hadn’t renewed, and Heller had prepared accordingly.
“I’m not giving away any secrets when I say neither of them die,” Heller tells says of Jane (Baker) and Lisbon (Tunney). “It’s very much written and designed as a perfect season ender, a perfect series ender, but it also opens up a whole new chapter, a very different chapter that will be compelling TV.”
That’s a good thing, because on Saturday “The Mentalist” was renewed for a seventh season — the only of CBS’ bubble shows to make the cut for 2014-15.
“‘The Mentalist’ is a baby that I and Simon and Robin have been nurturing for many years,” Heller says. “So if we get another season, we’re sort of sending him to college. We’re not going to send him to a c****y college and give him a c*** car and say goodbye. The last season of ‘The Mentalist’ will be the best season of ‘The Mentalist.'”
Before the May 18 finale, though, there’s the matter of Lisbon’s potential move to Washington with fellow Agent Pike (guest star Pedro Pascal), which gets closer in Sunday’s episode, “Black Hearts.” Jane’s and Lisbon’s feelings for each other have long bubbled just under the surface, and Pike may force them to the surface — if Jane can bring himself to let them.
“There are two relationships really. There’s the relationship between the characters and there’s the working relationship, which has always been in pretty good shape, and only ever really improved,” Baker says. “[That has] kind of helped and informed in some ways the relationship between the characters. So the good thing is we get on really well as people — we actually genuinely like each other, even though we’ve spent so much time with each other [laughs]. We’re able to discuss a little bit more the nuances of what’s going on between the two characters.”
Tunney adds she’s glad Pike is actually a good guy, which gives Lisbon a real choice.
“Sometimes … it’s like, OK, you don’t want the character to end up with that guy because he’s a Lothario or a liar,” Tunney says. “Making [Pike] a genuinely nice, sensitive guy was great. Because it’s not about that guy being bad for Lisbon, it’s about Jane’s feelings and their feelings toward each other. I think that’s often what [shows] do — you have your regulars, and you bring in this new person and he has to be a hideous human being in order to justify them not ending up together. I thought it was interesting they made him a nice guy.”
As for whether Jane will be able to declare himself? Heller says it won’t necessarily be easy.
“He’d gotten into a comfort zone, or a rut if you like, where the relationship with Lisbon was enough as it is,” Heller says. “It was comforting and it was secure and it was there and it was safe, and he didn’t have to reveal himself. What Pike did was force the issue. It’s one thing to never declare your love, but for Jane to suddenly start visualizing a world in which she wasn’t there under any circumstances really puts the world in perspective for him at that point. He realizes that he has to act, or not, as the case may be. But it certainly forces him to make that decision.”
“The Mentalist” airs at 10 p.m. ET/PT Sunday on CBS.