In The Mentalist's Penultimate Red John Episode, 'The World We've Built Gets Shaken to the Core'

The Mentalist Captures Red JohnThis Sunday on The Mentalist (CBS, 10/9c), Patrick Jane will quite possibly best his most incessant adversary ever: NFL overrun.

After being penalized by successive Sunday football delays and in one instance outright sidelined for a week, “My understanding is that’s not going to be a problem,” says co-producer Jordan Harper, who penned the penultimate episode of the Red John arc.

And it’s a good thing, too. When last we tuned in, Jane had lured the five remaining possi-Johns to his house, where it was revealed that Sheriff McAllister, Reede Smith and Gale Bertram all bear the “three dots” tattoo on their shoulders. Shortly after a shotgun-toting Jane separated the extra-suspect trio from Bret Stiles and Ray Haffner, we saw from outside that the gun went off. And then just as Lisbon arrived on the scene, the whole house went boom.

What exactly transpired inside? “The blanks that don’t get filled in [this week] will get filled in,” Harper answers.

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With the promise of the Red John mystery being wrapped up over the course of these first eight episodes of Season 6 (concluding No. 24 with an installment written by show boss Bruno Heller), Harper agrees that he and the other writers have sort of been “passing a baton” from one to another, each tackling a piece of the climactic arc.

“It’s obviously a more serialized set of stories than we’ve ever done in the past, so it’s been a tremendous amount of fun,” he shares. “Particularly [last week’]s ‘Fire & Brimstone,’ this one, ‘The Great Red Dragon,’ and the one following it, ‘Red John,’ which are basically seen as a trilogy” — meaning, Harper had to handle a specifically special set of circumstances. “There aren’t many things harder to write than the middle of a story,” he notes. “I was handed a cliffhanger ending, and had to tee up something for the next episode. It was very tricky fitting in both pieces of that puzzle while keeping the story moving.”

The end result of Harper’s efforts? “A lot of things happen in this episode that can’t be taken back, and things are going to change permanently,” he offers up.”The whole world we’ve built gets shaken to the core.”  Then, with a nudge, he confirms: “There are some deaths.”

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Speaking of the Grim Reaper: Harper, when presented with one Red John theory that’s swirling around, teases that the arguably uncertain fate of one “eliminated” candidate, Brett Partridge — who some fans still have in their virtual betting pool — will be addressed.

“One way or the other,” he previews, “there will be an answer to the fate of Brett Partridge — in one of my favorite scenes, actually, in an episode that’s full of big scenes.”