The following article features plenty of spoilers, so please stop reading if you haven’t caught the episode, yet. Are you still with us? Good, let’s talk about tonight’s shocking series of events.

It’s not often that a network procedural is gutsy enough to kill off one of its main characters. However, CBS’ The Mentalist is currently airing its seventh and final season, and there are no rules or restrictions tying the series down. With only three episodes left, the show featured a chain of events that will have ramifications for Jane and the team moving forward. In tonight’s startling episode, “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” the team was forced to say goodbye to one of its newest and brightest team members. Unfortunately, new FBI agent Michelle Vega was killed in the line of fire.

”vega”

Early on in the episode, it seemed like business as usual. Cho has been prepping to take over for Abbott in the office and was asked to take charge on the latest case, which involved tracking down some thieves who robbed an armored car. One clue led to another, and Agents Cho and Vega were tasked with looking into a diner that might just lead them to the robbers. Fortunately or unfortunately, the robbers were on hand when they arrived and things got sour when Cho and Vega tried to confront them. In a really sad scene, Vega was shot in the chest and then asked her mentor, Cho if she had ”messed up”. Then she faded away, as Cho held her wound and asked her to continue breathing.

The Mentalist actually has been cleverly leading up to Vega’s death all season. Since she first entered the office, she has had some trouble doing what she was told. For instance, Cho once asked her to stay in the car during a parking garage chase, but she got out and ended up saving the day. Moments like these have made her a valuable asset to the team, but this time, her intuition didn’t help the young character out of a sticky situation.

Though Vega just joined the team at the beginning of the season, The Mentalist’s writers had planted enough seeds to make Vega’s death particularly affecting for the team. Wiley had a pretty huge crush on Vega. Cho looked to her as someone he could mentor. And Jane himself was fond of the new FBI agent. But it’s Jane that has seemed discontent with his job for much of the season now. He and Lisbon are currently together, and now that Jane has someone he cares for again, he’s been working to be happy and make their relationship work. Part of this has included slowly trying to encourage Lisbon to quit law enforcement and move someplace warm and pleasant. He's worried about the dangerous lifestyle and losing someone again.

”jane

It wasn’t necessary to write something as dramatic as tonight’s episode to get the point across. There are only a few episodes left of The Mentalist. But the effect Vega’s death had on Patrick Jane was seriously intense, and left us feeling almost as heartbroken as he was.
I can’t do this anymore. I can’t watch you do this work. That could’ve been you in that coffin. I can’t go through that again.

This time around, like everytime, Lisbon tried to console him, explain how she loves and is tied to her work. However, this time Jane didn't want to listen. The threat of losing someone was just too much for him to handle. And while we don’t know where The Mentalist will traverse through its final few episodes, there seems to be a clear endgame. All the heartbreak Jane has experienced, and all of the lonely feelings will either convince him to leave law enforcement once and for all, or it will cause him to come to terms with his demons and realize it's what he was born to do. Either way, he can't end the series with mixed emotions. He either needs to be all-in or all-out on solving crime. Vega's death will help push him to that decision, and while it's sad to see her go, that sadness is probably in the best interests of the series.

You can catch new episodes of CBS' The Mentalist on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET. Photo [email protected] Warner Bros. and CBS

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