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'The Mentalist' Creator Bruno Heller Previews the Final Season: 'It's Very Much About the Future'
If you're a former fan of The Mentalist — someone who enjoyed the lighthearted banter, liked seeing bad people outsmarted by a born trickster, and rooted for Patrick Jane and Teresa Lisbon to get together — show creator Bruno Heller would like to cordially welcome you back for the show's victory lap.
Heller actually calls the final season (premiering Nov. 30) an “encore” and a chance to “deliver the old pleasures, all the classic moments of the show.” One is “very rarely given the chance to give that final flourish to a performance,” he says, so he and the cast are taking the opportunity to make the end of the show as fun as possible.
First and foremost: Red John is not coming back, no way, no how. “It's certainly a thematic and emotional part of the story,” Heller says, but “Red John himself does not reappear.”
Now Heller wants to explore, “How do you move on from that experience? How do you get back to real, happy life?” If Jane and company kept returning to him in their heads, “then Red John has defeated them.”So What Is The Last Season About?
“It’s very much about the future and not the past,” Heller hints. They won't be dwelling on old storylines, and “it's not so much about the ancillary characters.” Rather, it's “about Jane and Lisbon, if they can find a life for themselves.”
In this clip from the season premiere, we see Jane trying to break old habits. Even though he and Lisbon are now a couple, his reflex is still to keep things from her — more assistant than partner. That's part of the reason there's no room for bringing back old characters. “It's a 13-episode season," Heller says, "so that's not really a lot of time to sort out all of the emotional issues they have with each other and the world.”
But There Will Be Some Old Faces, Right?
We'll see Homeland's Morena Baccarin as the matchmaker/sociopath Erika Flynn by Episode 3, and Game of Thrones alum Pedro Pascal will be back as Agent Marcus Pike to throw a wrench into Jane and Lisbon's plan to keep their relationship quiet.
Abbott and Wiley will have expanded roles as well; in particular, we'll learn more about Abbott's life outside of the FBI, including his wife and family.
When asked if Rigsby and Van Pelt will return, Heller offers a flat “no.” But there are rumors that the show is still in negotiations with Owain Yeoman and Amanda Righetti, so make that a flat "maybe."
Who's the New Girl?
Josie Loren plays the new addition to the office: rookie agent Michelle Vega. Heller brought her on not only because she “brings a breath of fresh air into the FBI,” but also through her, "we get to see [Jane] through fresh eyes.”
“And,” adds Heller, “I guess I can say, not just Cho, but Wiley finds [her] invigorating.”
Love Triangle or... ?
So possibly, Vega finds herself caught between Cho and Wiley. Fans have long clamored for Cho to find a lasting love. Could this mean that he and Vega will get together? Or will he at least get together with somebody? “Yes and no,” says a cautious Heller. “There is a tragic journey for Cho — a very moving, tragic journey.”
Will We Ever See Jane's Daughter Again?
Jane got a measure of closure in Season 5 when an herbal tea caused him to hallucinate his daughter, Charlotte. Heller says she won't appear again, but does add that “family will definitely play into” this last season.
The “family” he's referring to may not be Jane's wife and daughter, but his parents, whose current whereabouts are unknown — to us, at least.
In one of this season's episodes, “we get to see Jane going back to that old persona,” says Heller. “Putting on the shiny suit, so to speak, and plying his old trade.” Perhaps Alex Jane is still alive and running carnival scams, forcing his son to go back one last time?
What About Lisbon?
“One of the great blessings of this last season is that we get to go out exactly as we want to,” says Heller. “It’s more the stuff that we've been wanting. For instance, one thing I've always wanted to be able to do is let Lisbon have a go at being a psychic. She gets to do that, which is great fun.”
Fun seems to be the message of these last 13 episodes of the show. “One of the things about getting rid of the Red John story is it allows us to play the essential lightness at heart of the show much more strongly. It's not a tragic, doom-laden show,” he emphasizes. “It's not about trauma. It's about hope, and that’s very much how we wanted to leave the show.”