Simon Baker, The Mentalist
The Mentalist's third season literally ended with a bang when Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) gunned down a man he believed to be Red John (Bradley Whitford), the serial killer who killed Jane's wife and child.
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But did he really kill Red John? "There's a lot of questions to be answered," creator Bruno Heller tells TVGuide.com of the Season 4 premiere (Thursday, 10/9c, CBS). "If that was Red John, then Red John was still one jump ahead of him because he was able to frame him for killing an innocent man."
Indeed, Jane pleads that Red John was holding him at gunpoint and received a call from his mole, the now-deceased FBI Agent O'Loughlin (Eric Winter), just moments before the fatal shooting. Unfortunately for Jane, no record of the call exists and the gun was nowhere to be found at the crime scene. So the next stop for Jane is prison, which Heller says Jane actually finds...enjoyable. "He's actually quite comfortable in that world. He likes the solitude," Heller says."He had been kind of taking the prison stay as a kind of spa-relaxation time out. There's time for him to think, and when he realizes that the case is more complicated than Lisbon [Robin Tunney] and the rest of the guys can handle, he gets himself out."
The Mentalist: Did Patrick Jane really kill Red John?
Complicating matters for the team is that, because of their participation in Jane's hunt for Red John's mole, they have all been suspended. "The team is also in deep trouble because they essentially engineered a disaster," Heller says. "An FBI agent is dead. It's not that they're going to go to jail for O'Loughlin's murder, but the FBI doesn't take kindly to any kind of bad PR or mess that they're not in control of."
That ultimately will lead to the hiring of a new CBI boss, Luther Wainright (Michael Rady). "He's a young guy who tries a completely different way of dealing with the CBI and Jane," Heller teases. "He's more a touchy-feely kind of guy. I think Jane finds it kind of refreshing. The guy's not stupid, and what Jane loves above anything else is a novel challenge. So any fresh target/victim/colleague/antagonist is meat and drink to him."
Is that to suggest Jane, after perhaps killing his nemesis, will have a new spring in his step? Not necessarily. "It's definitely a different Jane, but just in the sense that time changes everyone," Heller says. "He's a wiser. He's learned that a whole new level of cunning and manipulation is going to be required to keep moving forward."
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Could that mean that — gulp! — Red John is still out there? Did Jane really kill an innocent man? Heller promises that the premiere will give you a definitive answer. "By the end, we will at least know what Jane thinks," he says. "And Jane is a pretty smart guy."
The Mentalist premieres Thursday at 10/9c on CBS. Watch a sneak peek of the premirere below: