Mentalist Scoop: Craig Bierko Previews 'Creepy' Case, Morena Baccarin Teases Her 'Juicy' Encore

American Horror Story has nothing on The Mentalist, which this Thursday (CBS, 10/9c) has Jane collaborating with an alive “dead” man (played by Craig Bierko) to track down a would-be murderer.

Also on the horizon for the crime drama: the return of Erica Flynn, the vexing vixen-slash-murderous matchmaker played by Morena Baccarin.

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First up: This week, Bierko (Boston Legal) guest-stars as “Doc” Duggan, a retired pro football QB who is believed dead after someone blows up his car. Relishing the rare chance to pick the brain of a “murder victim who’s alive,” Jane, with Lisbon, work with Doc to deduce who might have tried to sack him for good. Ashley Williams (How I Met Your Mother) plays Doc’s ex-wife.

“He’s kind of a larger-than-life character, an ex-quarterback who’s got his own restaurant and bar,” Bierko says, examining Doc. “After he’s thought to have been killed, he’s hidden away at CBI as Jane tries to figure out what happened. And… that’s all I’m allowed to say!”

Indeed, Bierko grew most cryptic when pressed for other details on his visit and any twists involved, except to say that this Mentalist episode, as typical, “has got a lot of different spinning wheels,” and that the mystery surrounding Doc’s apparent brush with death “gets a little creepy.”

“I like playing guys who are sort of in that margin where you can’t quite figure out if they’re up for having a great time or if they’re hiding something a bit more diabolical,” he added. “And I will say that this kind of satisfied that itch a little bit…. It’ll be fun for the audience to try to figure out what really is going on.”

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Looking beyond The Mentalist‘s imminent holiday break (starting after the Dec. 15 episode): I recently asked Morena Baccarin (Homeland, V) about her upcoming encore as high-end matchmaker Erica Flynn, whom we last saw being arrested for murder in the April 2011 episode ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn.”

When TVLine first reported on Baccarin’s re-booking, the speculation was that the CBI may need to pay Erica a visit behind bars, perhaps for a consult on a new case. But as the actress herself muses, “She was apprehended and going to go to trial,  but you don’t know if she actually made it to prison. After all, she covered her tracks pretty well, and nobody could really prove anything….”

Baccarin had not quite yet gotten her hands on the actual script at the time I spoke to her, but said she had been told “it’s really juicy.”

Currently wowing Showtime viewers with her emotional scenes as Homeland‘s widow-no-more, Baccarin said of her Mentalist comeback, “It’ll be fun to do something completely different – get back to my evil roots a little bit!”