The Mentalist moved forward in the hunt for serial killer Red John on Sunday, offering fans a sudden and shocking death along the way.
In the episode, titled "Red Listed," someone steals Patrick Jane's fake list of Red John suspects, one that she made to throw off anyone who might want to interfere with her search. Soon after the list is taken, the people on it start to show up dead.
The episode starts with one of those unlucky people on the list, Benjamin Marx, who has been found dead underneath a bridge. For those who remember back to Season 4, Marx is the man who was buried alive by Jane to get him to confess to murder.
FBI Agent Reede Smith, himself one of the seven Red John suspects, said he think Patrick is responsible for the murder.
Patrick tells Teresa about the fake list and how it turned up missing, leading the two to suspect that someone high up the police rankings could be behind the murder.
The team decides to warn the others on the list that they may be in danger, but aren't quick enough to save Richard Haibach, who is captured and tortured.
It turns out that it is Bob Kirkland who has captured Richard, and brings Patrick to where Richard is being held. Kirkland turns the tables on Patrick to try to get information about the real list of suspects. It turns out that Kirkland's brother was killed by Red John, and he's been on a personal mission to find the killer. Eventally Theresa and Madalin arrive in time to save Patrick, and Kirkland is taken into custody.
As the episode ends, Kirkland is put into the back of a police van and stripped, then taken out by a police officer and told to run. The officer then shoots and kills Kirkland, officially and brutally eliminating him from the list of Red John suspects.
If fans noticed that Sunday's episode of The Mentalist had a bit of a darker tone, the show's writers said that was by design. The Red John episodes take the show on a bit of a departure from its normal comic, neatly-wrapped-up nature, said writer Rebecca Cutter.
"I really enjoy writing the humor; I love writing Jane's dialogue," Cutter said, adding that she had to cut some of the jokes to go along with the darker episode. "This whole season has been a little gorier than normal. There are other shows out there where cutting off fingers is no big deal; that's like nothing. But on our show, that's darker than we usually go."
Fans had a bit of a reprieve from the tension last week, when Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) and Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) ended years of their on-again off-again relationship and finally got married.
The bits that fans learned in Sunday's episode about the Red John conspiracy will gain more meaning later on in the season, Cutter added.
"That all will come to bear a lot, coming down into the final episode, when we reveal who Red John is," she said. "All of that will blow up and be explored very thoroughly and have bigger implications for CBI."
The Mentalist is expected to wrap up the Red John saga this year.