No contest. Patrick Jane killing Red John was the shocker event of The Mentalist's season ender Thursday night. But RJ wasn't the only corpse left lying there when the dust settled. In another stunning development, FBI agent Craig O'Laughlin (Eric Winter) was revealed to be Red John's mole and he, too, was shot dead, leaving his fiancée, CBI agent Grace Van Pelt, with some major trust issues. "This is a life-changing, mind-bending experience for Van Pelt," says creator-exec producer Bruno Heller. "She will certainly come back next fall very damaged in some ways, but in other ways she will come out of this stronger and more ferocious." Oh, yeah? Tell that to Amanda Righetti, the flame-haired beauty who plays Van Pelt. TV Guide Magazine spoke with the actress, who doesn't know what to think about her character's crappy luck with men.
TV Guide Magazine: After all this, you'd think Van Pelt would be pretty screwed up. She already had the wedding dress! Will this destroy her confidence, both personally and professionally?
Righetti: That's kinda my question! How will she ever survive as a detective with such rotten radar? And I can't imagine her ever trusting a man again. She's always had daddy problems. And O'Laughlin isn't her first bad boyfriend. It might be time to give up. [Laughs] Van Pelt might have to try girls.
TV Guide Magazine: Then there's the Patrick Jane problem.
Righetti: Right! This isn't just about O'Laughlin being Red John's mole. Everyone on the CBI team will be reeling because Patrick killed Red John. Where do we go from here? How can he ever solve crimes with CBI again? This forces a huge change in the dynamics of the series and every character. [Laughs] It's nice to always shake up your show at the end of the season but this is pretty insane!
TV Guide Magazine: Not to rush things but, with O'Laughlin dead, doesn't this leave the door open for another shot at the Rigsby-Van Pelt romance?
Righetti: C'mon! I think Van Pelt is over him. She's moving on.
TV Guide Magazine: Yeah, but the fans aren't! We want those two back together!
Righetti: I think the shock of discovering O'Laughlin's true character certainly leaves the door open for the friendship between Rigsby and Van Pelt to get stronger. No matter what happened in their romantic past, she still values his opinions. She looks to him for guidance. But there's still a big barrier between them so...another romance? No.
TV Guide Magazine: But Rigsby's been such a gentleman through all this. He kept quiet when O'Laughlin didn't try to protect Van Pelt in that shoot-out. Granted, that might not have been the best decision knowing what we know now, but he's been a real prince. You sure you don't want to reconsider this?
Righetti: He has been a prince! But resuming a romance with him is not the right reason to break up the team. It's against CBI rules. They can't be together! Maybe that will change, but right now — considering where they both are in their careers — the timing isn't right. We'll see what happens down the line. Maybe Rigsby and Van Pelt will try it again. [Laughs] Maybe they'll be smarter the second time around and not tell anybody about it!