So it turnedout that Red John was not Jane's boss, CBI director Gale Bertram (Michael Gaston) but instead it was Thomas McAllister (Xander Berkeley). And by the end of last night's episode, Jane had killed Red John with his bare hands.
"It was a real pleasing emotional closer to that story," said "Mentalist" executive producer Bruno Heller. "For me it was giving Patrick Jane exactly what he had hunted for all these years. I didn't think it was a moment for cleverness or moral ambivalence. He wanted revenge and he got it."
Heller said there was no definitive identity to Red John at the beginning but that McAllister emerged as the leading contender over time. As to the timing of this revelation, Heller said "it just seemed like, from a story-telling point of view and an audience point of view, it was time tmove the story forward and the best way to move it forward in a way that's exciting to the audience is to move forward much faster than they think." (Cue the laughter from all those viewers who complained to me that they were tired of the search of Red John a year or two ago.)
And don't expect the show to go back and explain how Red John did everything he did over the years; Heller said it's time to move on. But how?
"Jane is a tragic figure who's gottenhis heart's desire, the evil grail he's been chasing all these years," Heller said. "What does that do to him as person? Can he begin a new life and what kind of life does he want for himself and how will he define himself not that that part of his life is over?"
Eventually the show will return to a case-of-the-week format, although the CBI set has been torn down ("Yes, we'll be returning eventualky to crime solving but not necessarily the same kind of crime solving"). With the Red John story done, could this be the last season of "The Mentalist"? It certainly seems like the end could be near.
"Tomorrow is never a given in this business," Heller said, noting that he'll be writing toward a season finale and not necessarily a series finale to air in May. "In a very real sense Jane is a happier person and a weight has been taken off his shoulders and a weight has been taken off the show. It's gonna be the same show to some degree but it's gonna be a show with less darkness at the edges and more freedom to roam."
First, of course, there will be ramifications for Jane killing Red John.
"When Red John dies, a large part of Jane dies in that moment as well," said Simon Baker. "I think it takes a little time for him to get back on his feet again. He doesn't have a wife and kids. He doesn't have relationships with anyone other than the people he worked with at CBI and this preverse relationship with Red John. Now that that's over, he doesn't have a lot other than the CBI people."