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Upon first glance, the format of The Mentalist isn’t a whole lot different from other procedurals. Each season contains a majority of bottle, mystery of the week episodes interspersed with a few attempts at catching the big bad. What sets The Mentalist apart, however, is that the so-called big bad has been the same killer since the first episode of the first season. In fact, the title mentalist, Patrick Jane (Simon Baker), only spends time solving cases with the CBI in order to hunt for Red John, the serial killer who murdered his family.
Throughout the show’s run, Jane has slowly gotten closer to catching his nemesis. Thanks to Lorelei Martins (Emmanuelle Chriqui), our hero is now closer than ever. During Season 5, she off-handedly mentioned him shaking hands with Red John, though she refused to divulge his identity. Using timelines of the killings and other clues he’s previously gathered, Jane locked himself in his upstairs office at the CBI and was able to narrow the list of suspects down to seven: Bret Stiles, Gale Bertram, Ray Haffner, Reede Smith, Bob Kirkland, Sheriff Thomas McAllister and Brett Partridge.
Heading into the end of the season, Jane was convinced he finally had the upper hand on Red John, but in the final episode, the antagonist murdered Martins and revealed he’s well aware of the list.
As you can tell from the above promo, the Red John hunt is coming to an end. Season 6 is even subtitled Red John: The Final Chapter, which is perfect timing. I’m all for teasing out a storyline and making loyal viewers really earn it, but five seasons of hunting the same man was getting a little tiresome. More importantly, since each season increased Red John’s power, he’s now almost too scary, manipulative and intimidating. Far better for creator Bruno Heller to end the madness this year and allow future seasons to be dedicated to Jane trying to move on and perhaps meeting a new villain to obsess over.
Obviously, the Red John resolution is what people will tune into Season 6 for; however, I would like to see the show continue to offer some bottle episodes. Programs start to get into trouble when they drift away from their basic format, and the basic format of The Mentalist has always been a mix of Red John and routine murders. After all, in real life, it’s not as if Lisbon (Robin Tunney) and company would be allowed to avoid the basic responsibilities of their job in order to focus on one serial killer exclusively.
The new season of The Mentalist premieres on Sunday September 29 at 10 PM EST/ PST on CBS. You can check out the official description of the first episode below, or you can thumb your way through the gallery of still images...
While investigating the murder of a man who had been missing for two years, Jane and Lisbon secretly continue to narrow down the list of Red John suspects.