Meet Red John?
It was one of the most iconic and idiosyncratic images to ever end a season: Patrick Jane sipping tea in the middle of a food court, gun laying on the table, raising his hands in the air as the police come to arrest him for shooting long-time nemesis Red John. If this had been the series finale, it would have been one of the best endings ever given to a series.
Until May of this year, after the season finale had long been filmed, neither the producers, writers, or cast of The Mentalist knew whether or not the series would be renewed for this season. One would think that renewing a series this good and this popular would be a slam dunk, but you never know what the network decision-makers are thinking.
That is quite fitting, because you never really know what the writers are thinking, either. Now that The Mentalist is indeed coming back for at least another year, the main question is whether the writers left themselves enough “wiggle room” to bring Red John back. The other question is whether or not they would want to.
The first thing this reminds me of is the “Miniature Killer” on CSI. They thought they had the “old man,” but it turned out later to be his foster daughter who was the real Miniature Killer. CBS has definitely set a precedent for teasing the capture of a nemesis, only to bring the nemesis back.
The death of Red John was a lot like the originally edited version of Stephen King’s book, “The Stand.” The story set up a battle of titanic proportions, only to have the antagonist self-destruct in the end.
Throughout the series so far, Red John has never made a mistake. Even when Jane has thought he was two steps ahead, he was really two steps behind. Are we to believe that a “genius” was not only stupid enough to show up at the meeting with Jane instead of sending a patsy or surrogate, but stupid enough to fall for Jane having a gun in his pocket?
Jane’s aversion to using guns is enough to justify falling for the trick, but one would still think that Red John himself would never actually go to the meeting.
In writing, from Horace to Dickens and Hemingway to Agatha Christie to first semester creative writing class to the popular culture of television and even professional wrestling, there is a concept that is always used. It is called “leading the reader.” To make a long story short, it consists of leaving a “bread crumb trail” for the reader or viewer to follow. Writers almost always adhere to this format.
If they introduce something that has no justification from what has transpired earlier in the script, it is called a deus ex machina. A deus ex machina is a term from ancient Roman poet Horace, who died in the year 8 AD. It means “God out of the machine” in Latin. When the Gods appeared in plays around his time, they were either lowered by a crane, or they appeared from a trapdoor in the stage, or “out of the machine.” Horace implored poets and playwrights not to used “God out of the machine” to resolve plots that couldn’t be resolved.
Red John’s uncharacteristic mistakes border on being a deus ex machina. This begs one last question. If the “Red John” that Jane shot was a surrogate or patsy, then who is Red John?
Patrick Jane Kills Red John?
Could it possibly be that the great enigma of The Mentalist TV series is that the protagonist and the antagonist are actually the same human being?
Is Patrick Jane the very criminal mastermind he is so obsessed with hunting? A split personality?
How do we explain the second season finale “Red Sky In The Morning”? This episode shows the first time Patrick Jane and Red John actually come face-to-face, and Red John cites a few lines from William Blake’s poem “The Tyger”
Patrick Jane Faces Red John For The First Time
The first verse of the poem, the words cited by Red John were:
|TYGER, tyger, burning bright
|In the forests of the night,
|What immortal hand or eye
|Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
What does this mean? It’s definitely a big clue, and in the context of the “Patrick Jane is Red John” theory, the events in the video and the poem could mean at least some of the following:
1) The masked person is an accomplice that may or may not know that Patrick Jane is Red John and is simply acting on orders.
2) Everything the audience sees in this scene is only the way it plays out in Patrick’s mind, and in reality he is not hopelessly tied to the chair and he’s the one that is really the masked man killing the students and inspiring fear.
3) The poem is Patrick’s darker self’s vision of himself, (Red John) or even of the good side, Patrick. The poem is a partner to “The Lamb” and the poet sits in awe of how the same God that created the innocent little lamb could have created the sleek, lethal tiger. Which side of Patrick is the Tiger? Maybe not even Patrick himself knows. The dark side may see the good side as dangerously as the good side may see the bad. This kind of confusion helps explain the fearful obsession between Red John and Patrick Jane.
Is this theory any good? Well, there are a lot of things wrong with it.
First of all, it’s pretty brutal to cast Patrick Jane as secretly a deranged killer capable of viciously murdering his own wife and daughter, not to mention the long list of other victims.
Second of all, it’s near impossible to explain events that transpire simultaneously in which Patrick Jane is in the company of Teresa Lisbon or another CBI agent as Red John acts. Could these all be accomplices? Yes. Is is likely? Not in this author’s opinion.
Thirdly, people connected to Red John don’t seem to behave in a way that indicates that RJ is Patrick Jane while they are in his presence. Rebecca, Agent Bosco’s secretary inside the CBI in the second season, for example, has no emotional connection with Jane but apparently does with the unidentified man that poisons her. The blind woman that was in love with “Roy” who is suspected to be Red John also seems to have no emotional connection with Jane.
Fourthly, the third season finale puts Jane physically in front of a man who has intimate knowledge of Red John’s crimes and provokes Jane into violent action.
Some fans have brought up some slight facts that could maybe possibly suggest a hint that Patrick Jane is Red John, however, the evidence against the case is much larger (in this author’s opinion) than any possible evidence presented in defense of this theory.
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Red John the ‘nickname’ of the serial killer and principal antagonist from the prime time television show The Mentalist. He (or she) has been linked to the murders of sixteen women and eight men as of the time of this writing. The victims include the television show’s protagonist’s (Patrick Jane) wife and daughter, a crime set five years before the television show’s pilot episode. It is unknown exactly how many victims Red John is guilty of or exactly when the killing spree began, but it is suspected to begin sometime around the year 1998. Click Here To See Latest Red John Theories
‘Red John‘ is known not to work alone, although the accomplices have a tendency to end up dead as soon as they become liabilities. The oldest known sidekick is Orville Tanner, the father of Dumar Tanner. The ‘famed’ psychic Patrick Jane was enlisted by the California police to try to get a profile of Red John to help track the killer down and bring the guilty party to justice, but Jane made the mistake of belittling the killer on television and paid for his ‘disrespect’ with the loss of his wife and daughter. His search for Red John has become his obsession, and he makes no claims that he will arrest the killer when discovered, as we can see in this conversation with Agent Teresa Lisbon:
Patrick Jane Declares Intentions Against Red John
Red John remains unseen, his face is always hidden in shadows, under hoods, hats or masks. In the first season finale Red John is seen escaping from an abondoned home that served as a prison to a young woman while Jane and Lisbon struggled against one of RJ’s accomplices. Red John also appeared in the second season finale dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt as he executed the film students Jane and Carter Peake in the presence of Patrick Jane, whom Red John ‘technically’ rescued.
During the season 3 finale, Patrick Jane has agent Teresa Lisbon redial the last number on one of Red John’s accomplices’ telephones and tell the person that answers that the accomplice is dead. A gentleman with a very plain, ordinary appearance (played by Bradley Whitford) reading a newspaper in the food court seated near Patrick answers his phone. Jane has Lisbon confirm the conversation, which matches what Jane saw the man say into his phone, so Patrick confronts him.
Initially, the man denies the situation, but drops some interesting hints that he really is indeed Red John. The man reveals details about the murders of Patrick’s wife and daughter, more specifically, the smell. This information spurs Jane into violent action and Patrick shoots the man with a gun that was hidden in his jacket pocket.
There has yet to be confirmation that the man was Red John, but since RJ is such an important element of the series which is set to go for seven seasons, it is most probably that the man was simply another accomplice, a tool by Red John possibly to test what Jane’s reaction would be to his revelation.
The identity of Red John remains a carefully guarded secret by the writers, and is completely unknown to the viewers, thus has become a topic of much debate. Red John is nearly always referred to as a “he” but there has yet been no evidence completely disproving that Red John could be a woman that simply uses many male accomplices.
All of Red John’s known accomplices refer to the killer as a ‘him’ and to this point none have given any appearance of lying about that fact, or to have expressed even the slightest doubt. The few moments where the audience has been shown what is believed to be Red John have been definitely given a masculine tone. All theories are plausible at this point, however, since very little conclusive evidence currently exists.
We have done exhaustive analyses of this elsewhere on the site, but the mystery is still as strong as it has been in at any time during the series. Writers of screenplays usually like to follow the elements of classical literature. These and some newer elements have been combined into a sort of de facto “rulebook” for writing. One of the most important elements is “leading the reader.”
In any creative writing class, writers are taught that everything that happens in a story must have precedent that leads the reader to a logical conclusion. In other words, everything has to make sense. At the end of pretty much any good murder mystery, one can go back and find clues that were well-hidden, but definitely there.
It is “against the rules” for a writer to bring something in from “left field.” There is even a name for it: Deus ex machina, or “God out of the machine.” This was introduced in Horace’s Ars Poetica, and is loosely taught as bringing in a solution to a problem that is totally outside of what has previously appeared in the story. This is great for Creative Writing 101, but what does it mean to us concerning Red John?
It means that, in all likelihood, the groundwork and clues are already present in previous episodes, or the clues will appear before Red John’s identity is revealed. In other words, we have already seen Red John, and there are plenty of clues that will all fit together in retrospect.
For better or worse, though, Heller has left so many clues that there is a body of “evidence” for just about anyone in the series being Red John. It would take a Red John clues spreadsheet covering where everyone was at the exact time of every Red John murder, thus eliminating suspects, to get a closer idea of who he really is.
How serious is Bruno Heller when he compares Red John to Moriarity?
There is a sub-question here: is Heller comparing Red John to the literary description of Moriarity or the versions of Moriarity that weren’t in Doyle’s original writings? Though Doyle only had Moriarity appear in one book, his “final one,” Moriarity is ubiquitous in all of the TV shows, movies, and cartoons based upon the Holmes series.
There is one thing common to all versions of Moriarity, though: he is always a step ahead of Holmes, but Holmes outsmarts him in the end. Another thing they all have in common is that they aren’t anyone already in Holmes’ life.
So, it comes down to this: if Heller is serious about Red John being Patrick Jane’s Moriarity, then he won’t be anyone who has appeared as a character so far.
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