There's a line from Tarantino's “Kill Bill: Volume 1” that comes to mind here: "You didn't think it was gonna be that easy, did you?"
Yahoo TV spoke with "The Mentalist" writer Ken Woodruff about this week's episode, “Fire and Brimstone." But first, a quick recap of our Red John situation.
Last time we saw Patrick Jane, he had just discovered that the person who hired then killed the PI who tried to bug the CBI had a tattoo with three dots on his left shoulder. So now we know Red John has an easily identifiable tattoo; simple enough, right? Jane arranges to have the remaining five suspects gathered in one place, Agatha Christie-style, to get them all topless. Kind of like a strip club that features only doughy, middle-aged guys.
But wait! It turns out there are not one, but three doughy, middle-aged guys with dot tattoos on their shoulders. They are, in fact, the three suspects we saw conspiring in Bertram's office earlier this season. That means Gale Bertram, Thomas McAllister, and Reede Smith are all part of Tyger Tyger. Which means that whoever killed the PI (and also Partridge, whose last words were “Tyger Tyger”) was a member of the conspiracy, and may or may not be Red John.
We also learn that Smith is afraid of heights, and pretty much everyone on the list has proven to be an excellent whistler. Pretty much everyone on the list has good reason to be considered a prime suspect, except for Bret Stiles, who is dying of cancer. Which is why we're pretty sure he's Red John. As of fifteen minutes ago. An hour ago, we were sure it was McAllister. Yesterday, we were 100 percent that it was Smith.
Writer Ken Woodruff says he enjoyed making this episode, especially when all the guest stars finally met up. “That was a really fun scene to shoot. To have all of those five actors and [star] Simon [Baker] there in the same room at the same time. I felt like it was sort of a coup.” Woodruff relishes these Red John episodes because they're a change of pace, and “I think the actors look forward to them as well, to get to stretch new muscles and play different types of scenes.”
Woodruff has been with the show since Episode 2 of the series, and loves the collaborative atmosphere that show creator Bruno Heller has created. Writers are encouraged to do their own “independent study,” in his words, but also to use other writers, directors, producers, and even the actors as resources. “I bounce ideas off a lot of people, particularly the actors and particularly Simon.”
Go behind the scenes of tonight's episode of "The Mentalist" right here:
Baker has directed four episodes of the show, including Episode 9 of this season and an episode last season that was written by Woodruff which, like this episode, features very little of Jane's trademark lightness. “He has really, really great ideas; he's a very accomplished director and a great storyteller,” he says of Baker.
This last run of episodes has been fun for Woodruff: “I think they're easier, to be honest with you. Making a Red John episode a good episode is easier than starting from scratch.” Enjoy it while you can, Ken — we've only got two more episodes until Red John is revealed.
"The Mentalist" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on CBS.
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