I wrote this post after episode 6.8, where Patrick finally caught Red John. And even though I was disappointed by his identity, I’m glad that storyline is behind us. Episodes 6.9 and 10 have been different, in a really good way. Lighter, smart and fun- just the way we like our Patrick. Or let’s say we had enough of the depressed/darker Patrick. Since we are on a break, let’s say goodbye to RJ and celebrate the end of an era…
Warning: This post includes spoilers for The Mentalist pilot, finale and movies Fight Club and Identity
Ah, the good old days when we met Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) for the first time: the former psychic who joined CBI (the fictional California Bureau of Investigation) after a serial killer known as Red John killed his wife and daughter.
Remember that shocking and highly impressive first episode where he just figured the killer out from the mother’s expressions, her style and taste?
Remember that adorable, slightly cocky guy who asked all the controversial questions, made himself tea in the victim’s home and got the killer shot by his own wife after she found out what he did?
Good times. Gritty, complicated plots; sense of humor and lightness combined with repressed depression, grief and anger; a guy who made you laugh, smile and scratch your head while he solved cases fast so he and his team could have more time to figure out Red John’s identity and well, Patrick could kill him.
Interesting premise, awesome leading character, fun supporting characters, some terrific lines…
But then something happened along the way. Because after a while, nothing Jane did surprised us anymore. So it lost the shocking, or at least impossibly captivating effect. I used to want to watch 4-5 episodes in a row and that didn’t feel enough, until one a week seemed all right.
Still, like many fans, I held on. I wanted to know who Red John is. I also wanted to see a RJ-free Patrick.
But then something else happened. The show made too much of a big deal about Red John. They made him impossibly charismatic, manipulative, smart, dangerous, cunning, resourceful…You see where I’m going with this? Red John was like that killer in Se7en and more, always a couple of steps ahead.
He was so super influential that he had disciples. He had men and women willing to die & kill for him. So after a while, the cult leader Brett Stiles (Malcolm McDowell) seemed like a man who could pull it off. He had the resources. And while I didn’t see the charm and charisma, he already had a cult to do anything for him. So if the writers hadn’t given us a younger Red John, Stiles could have worked.
The longer the show lasted, the longer Red John story line got. He/she became more powerful, more influential. He got too big, dangerous and super-powerful for the show’s own good. And it came to the point where I just wanted them to get it over with. End of season 3 could have been the place to say goodbye…
One popular theory among fans was that PJ was Red John. Now, it would be spectacularly disappointing in many ways as we had come to accept and know Patrick as a decent, loving guy who, despite his faults, would do anything to protect his loved ones. A loving husband/father avenging the death of his loved ones revealed to be the killer? Nope, thanks.
A Dissociative Identity Disorder (aka Multiple Personality Disorder) “twist” would destroy the Patrick we grew to love, and would give us a not-welcome déjà vu feeling. It was once a great twist ending for books and movies. But even with Identity, I was disappointed. But now that I know who RJ is, PJ could be the better choice.
There was also the theory of one Patrick’s team members could be working for Red John. That wouldn’t work, as it would undermine Patrick’s intelligence and ability to read people.
When the 7 suspects were revealed, I didn’t like any of them for RJ. I wished that it would turn out to be a fake. That there would be a surprise.
There wasn’t. Now, of all the ones on the list, FBI agent Reede and Gale Bertrum are in deed worse candidates than the revealed Red John. They lack the charisma, IQ and the manipulative skills promised. They are also not eerie or scary one bit. Creepy, yes. Red John-level charisma? No way.
McAllister aka Red John showed up in season 1, as a sheriff of a town where one of the crimes was committed. He then showed up a couple of more times after the list, but that’s it.
McAllister being Red John feels like writers put the names in a box and then pulled with eyes closed and went ahead with the choice, no further questions asked.
Now, I’m not claiming I could have written a better show. But had I been on the writing/producing team, I’d have definitely voted for a different Red John. I’d also have a different list of suspects, if there absolutely had to be one. I’m not a big fan of the Blake association either.
Now that RJ is gone, I’m happy we moved on. Of course if this was a trick, they have this awesome Red John hidden somewhere that wasn’t on the list, I hope they won’t dedicate many episodes to it.
The Mentalist suffered from the serialized show curse. They made the big bad really big and bad, and in the end, we got a disappointing reveal and showdown.
I’m loving the happy Patrick. I hope RJ storyline died with the Blake Association storyline. Looking forward to the return of the show on January 5th.
How about you? How happy are you with the seasons, the identity of Red John and how he was revealed and taken out? Are you enjoying the post-RJ era?
Other Posts on The Mentalist
Other Posts on Simon Baker