Written by The Mentalist's Writer Daniel Cerone, for the weekly The Mentalist Insider's Blog
Ah, the wedding episode. But also the first episode in which we fully explore a Red John suspect. And then, oh yeah, there’s a homicide to solve! And not just solve, but solve in a fun mind-bending fashion.
Such are the joys and struggles of a Mentalist writer – although this type of episode is my favorite to write, because the challenge lies in weaving the various elements together so that they organically feed off and feed into each other. In Wedding in Red, Jane chooses a homicide because it’s in the Napa Valley jurisdiction of Sheriff Thomas McAllister, a Red John suspect. The tension of the episode comes from Jane’s careful study of McAllister, which culminates on the steep rooftop of an old church at night. I plan to send a commission of my script fee to the Hitchcock estate for inspiring the climax. The production challenge was perhaps the most daunting we’ve faced on this show. Using almost an entire sound stage, our production designer Mike Novotny built a towering bell tower, along with the entirety of slate-tiled church roof, which we digitally attached to the roof of an 1889 church in Pasadena.
The heart of the episode comes from Rigsby and Van Pelt. By design, the murder on tap occurs during a wedding rehearsal dinner, thereby tossing Rigsby and Van Pelt directly into the emotionally turbulent waters of a wedding, which is like tossing Colonel Sanders into a chicken coop. We realized once Rigsby and Van Pelt got back together, there really was nothing to prevent them from taking the final leap. The trick was finding a realistic way to fold that into a case, since we can’t stop a procedural show for a wedding. My favorite scene occurs when Jane asks Van Pelt to repair the damage he caused in the wedding. She has to dig deeply to convince the bereft bride not to let the one she loves get away, which is the mistake Van Pelt made. Amanda Righetti crushes this scene.
Finally, the humor of the episode, should anyone find cause to smile or at the very least smirk, comes from Jane mucking up a wedding. Naturally, he puts everything back together again, to the point of presiding over the guest couple’s ceremony. As writers, we’re always searching for new environments where we can turn Simon Baker lose to play, and a wedding was a natural. So anyway, it’s a meat and three episode, heavy in calories, and hopefully you’ll find something to your liking.