[Warning: The following article contains spoilers from Sunday's episode ofThe Mentalist. Read at your own risk!]
After five seasons of on-and-off romantic tension on The Mentalist, Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) and Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) finally tied the knot on Sunday's episode, after being inspired by another couple's wedding. (Fortunately, Rigsby and Van Pelt's nuptials weren't marred by the murder of a family member the night before, however.)
"It's been fun exploring the relationship," executive producer Daniel Cerone tells TVGuide.com. "From the beginning [creator Bruno Heller] had a plan for the show to run many years, and we didn't want to get them together permanently too soon, because we wanted to sort of play all the drama that exists in real relationships, in terms of missteps and mistakes and failures and fears. And we feel like we've really mined that over the years, and mined it honestly."
So what finally made them take the plunge, and how long will the newlyweds' honeymoon period last? Check out our full interview with Cerone to get answers to those burning questions and more:
They finally did it! What made the writers and producers decide to have Rigsby and Van Pelt get hitched?
Daniel Cerone: The hopeful heartbeat of the show has always been the Rigsby and Van Pelt relationship. That relationship and that interest and chemistry was alive from the very first stages of the show. ... Once we made the decision to get them back together ... there really was nothing to prevent us from taking the organic last step into the marriage. It sort of creeped up on us in the same way that we're hoping it creeps up on the characters. ... And in that same fashion, we tried to bring that question up organically between them in the episode. Like, "OK, we're back together. What is stopping us?"
It's been widely reported that Owain Yeoman and Amanda Righetti are leaving the show, though CBS hasn't confirmed that. Do you see this as not only a happy ending to their story line, but also a final gift to their fans?
Cerone: Without commenting on what the future holds, I do think it's a gift. I think whatever happens with them, this is an important step, and we feel like this is earned. We feel like we're ridden the ups and downs and we've been on this roller coaster with them. ... This should be a reward, both for [the characters] within the reality of our show, and for the fans who've sort of cheered for them all along. It is a happy ending for them.
What finally brings Rigsby around? Is it safe to assume that he had no idea Van Pelt still carried such a torch for him until he overhears her conversation in the interrogation room?
Cerone: We've always written him as a guy's guy, and, in a sense, that means clueless, particularly when it comes to romance and relationships. ... Van Pelt's dropping hints, as a woman often does in a relationship, and [he] is just missing the hints. That sort of opened up the opportunity for us to have a homicide occur in a wedding environment, which organically places them right into the hothouse. I mean, throwing Rigsby and Van Pelt into a wedding environment is like throwing Colonel Sanders into the chicken coop. It's going to bring stuff up. ... The fact that they're investigating a homicide that takes place the day before a wedding that stirs up all these emotions in Rigsby and Van Pelt that they have to confront.
What can we expect going forward as they adjust to married life?
Cerone: We are, at the end of the day, a procedural show, and any character stories that we do have to wrap around cases. So, even in this episode, we had to fold the wedding into a weekly homicide case. But in terms of their happiness, in terms of their togetherness, we want to present a completely happy and fulfilled Rigsby and Van Pelt. ... We want it to be real. We're having a little fun in some future episodes. They're dealing with some early issues that newlyweds often deal with ... the new emotions and the new reality of their situation.
So they get at least a little bit of a honeymoon period?
Cerone: They don't have a great, long honeymoon. We give them a mini one, because Red John is afoot and that's a story that we're tracking closely. So we don't want to take our foot off the pedal, in terms of the suspense of the early season with the Red John storyline.
Speaking of the Red John storyline, Sheriff McAllister (Xander Berkeley) is the suspect this episode focuses on. Is his dislike of birds a clue or Easter egg, given that there were several birds in the house where Red John lured Lisbon (Robin Tunney) in the season premiere?
Cerone: I will say, yes, that's an Easter egg. But I will also say that there will be multiple Easter eggs for various Red John suspects. Some will pay off and prove fruitful, and some will not. But we do want viewers leaning forward and paying attention, and to those who are paying attention, we anticipate a satisfying payoff. ... The good news is fans don't have to pay attention for that much longer, because in the first third of the season we're bringing this whole thing to a head.
Were you happy to see Rigsby and Van Pelt finally get hitched? And do you think the case for McAllister being Red John is stronger or weaker after this week's episode? Post your thoughts in the comments!
The Mentalist airs Sundays at 10/9c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)