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AT first, the pursuit of serial killer Red John gave Patrick Jane’s (Simon Baker) character that much more intensity as viewers immersed themselves in Bruno Heller’s (Rome) The Mentalist.
Here was a “psychic” offering his services to the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI), working closely with Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney), Kimball Cho (Tim Kang), Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) and Grace van Pelt (Amanda Righetti). Of course, much of this generosity was linked to his desire to find the man who murdered his wife and daughter.
Over the seasons, fans have grown to adore Jane’s risk-taking shenanigans amid his trademark theatrics in unmasking killers. He also has a certain charm.
And up until season five, he reached a series of dead ends in drawing out the man who loves painting those happy faces at his crime scenes.
While it was spellbinding to watch Jane go through the possible leads – those working for this genius serial killer such as his disciple Lorelei Martins – it never amounted to anything. Heck, Jane even went to jail for allegedly killing Red John.
The sixth instalment started with Jane’s Red John list becoming known to the team. He earmarked Bret Stiles, the Visualize leader; Gale Bertram, the director of the CBI; Reede Smith, an FBI agent working in California, Bob Kirkland, an agent for Homeland security, Ray Haffner, a former supervising agent at the CBI; Thomas McAllister (a sheriff who has worked a case with the CBI); and Brett Partridge, a forensic investigator at the CBI.
Although viewers love whodunits, dragging this hunt for Red John over five seasons has been a ridiculous ploy by Heller. He has turned the cat-and-mouse excitement into sheer boredom.
He has turned Jane into a Sherlock Holmes “detective” and he can’t seem to close this one case that’s so close to home. Really?
Thankfully, the wait is almost over.
In a chat with Collider.com, Heller said: “For me, it was about giving Patrick Jane exactly what he’s 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. I think it’s what the audience wanted, so that’s what we gave him.”
About bloody time!
Baker continued: “You can look at any plot and pick holes in it and analyse it and pull it apart until the cows come home. For me, I did feel this sense of pressure because of having worked towards this for so many years. It had been something that had really pushed the character, from the very beginning.”
On how the writing team prepped for the big reveal, Heller noted: “I’m not sure. It just emerged over the last couple of years. There were always three or four possibilities and it just happened, really.”
Baker sheds light on his character finally getting closure. He offered: “I’ve always been invested in what my character does and how he reacts to his personal story, which is the Red John story. Not as much with what’s thrown at him, but his response to it. The challenge, and the most difficult part of working on this show, has been playing this tragic character who has a very raw and unprotected emotional side to him, but also this whimsical, tap-dancery thing going on with it, with a sense of humour as bravado.”
Of course, while Jane might have settled his score with Red John, there are legal ramifications he has to contend with.
After this mammoth build-up of a mastermind serial killer, I hope viewers aren’t going to feel cheated when Jane’s tormentor is finally unmasked!
• The Mentalist airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Wednesdays at 8.30pm.