This week on The Mentalist — in the penultimate episode of the long-running Red John storyline — the suspect list was narrowed down to two, and then one. And then… Patrick Jane decided to “let go” of the pursuit that dominated his life for years.
Picking up after the big bang at Jane’s house, Lisbon ran inside to find bodies/body parts, including her unconscious partner. Later, it was revealed that three of the dead bodies had been ID’d as Stiles, Haffner and McAllister — leaving possi-Johns Bertram and Smith, both of whom had shoulder tattoos, on the lam. Bertram tried/failed to get to Jane at the hospital, while Smith nursed a hastily tended-to wound.
Before Bertram’s goon could snuff him, Smith turned himself into CBI and fessed up the details of the Blake Association aka a covert cabal of dirty cops/judges/etc. The CBI then attempts to stealthily grab Bertram, but the Blake Association instead floods the scene with SWAT team members, allowing the target to slip away. Before the CBI can plan their next move, FBI Supervisory Agent Dennis Abbott (new series regular Rockmond Dunbar) storms onto the scene and shuts their office down, claiming that if their boss was dirty, who’s to say they aren’t as well.
“Gale Bertram is being hunted, and he is the head of a law enforcement agency,” notes Mentalist co-producer Jordan Harper , who wrote the episode. “Because of that, actions have to be taken.”
To drive home the seriousness of the CBI’s dismantling, Harper points out, “The scene opens with Jane’s couch being carted out, which was an idea from [director] Chris Long. That goes a tremendous distance towards underscoring that we’re not joking here.” Another telling touch came courtesy of series star Simon Baker. “During rehearsals, he had the idea of the teacup breaking. Again, these aren’t idle decisions. We are trying to send a message.”
And what about the message Jane sent Lisbon at the end, declaring his decision to give up the hunt? “He’s very clear that he’s not quitting. He’s letting go. And there’s a huge difference,” Harper stresses. Employing a martial arts analogy, the scribe says, “In Judo, there’s the idea not to always push, because while you may feel in control, you’re using your energy and that doesn’t mean you’re going to get your way. To ‘let go’ means to allow things to happen. To move with the flow.”
Meaning, maybe Red John will come to Jane, craving final closure as much as his longtime pursuer does? “I think that’s an interesting idea,” Harper allows.
Looking ahead to next Sunday’s episode, the grand finale of the CBS drama’s Red John storyline, Harper confirms that there’s “tremendous significance” to where where we last saw Jane, seated in a chapel. And as for the eventual face-off between serial killer and adversary, Harper promises it will be a battle of wits worthy of the two men.
“Both Jane and Red John have always fancied themselves as the ‘smartest guys in the room,'” he notes. “And one of them is right.”