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This Red John Detail Still Seriously Bugs The Mentalist Fans

Don't you hate when you pretend to be a psychic, only to realize that you may have bitten off more than you can chew and end up earning the ire of a prolific serial killer? Yeah, happens to the best of us. 

Joking aside, "The Mentalist" primarily focuses on the efforts of Patrick Jane (Simon Baker), an independent consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation. What makes Jane so unique, though, is his tenure as a fake psychic medium and his ability to cold-read and profile individuals, which earns him somewhat of a celebrity status before the events of "The Mentalist."

Unfortunately, this newfound fame helps kick off the events leading up to "The Mentalist," when Jane appears on a television show and says that he has used his abilities to help the FBI profile a mysterious serial killer known as Red John (Xander Berkeley). This enrages Red John, and he kills Jane's wife and daughter, which directly leads to the main story of "The Mentalist" and Jane's obsession with bringing justice to the killer. Red John acts as a direct foil for many of the seasons of "The Mentalist," and he is able to attract several other like-minded killers to his cause, which only makes his apprehension that much more difficult. However, it seems as if some fans of "The Mentalist" still have some questions when it comes to Red John and the plot of the show.

Some fans have wondered why the team of The Mentalist didn't just focus on catching Red John

Starting the conversation on Reddit, u/Glittering-Dog-8682 asked, "I am only up to S3E22 but I can't help but think — why do they only briefly investigate Red John when he murders someone?! Why don't they continue to hunt like they do with any other murder? And are you telling me Jane wouldn't obsessively hunt down RJ leads above all else? It's bugging me."

This question immediately invoked a strong response from other fans on the subreddit r/TheMentalist, with u/Reality_Lord2 explaining that "The whole premise of the show is that Patrick is obsessively hunting down Red John. They exhaust their leads until they get a new one." u/Asha_Brea also felt the same way, and said that there are no new leads until Red John kills somebody. u/PopularDoor added, "The presumption is that Red John doesn't make silly obvious mistakes like this. I'm sure they did this basic investigation stuff off camera which obviously led to dead ends."

u/Dysmorphix provided another in-universe explanation and elaborated, "I think this is the case. He is so good at covering up situations and not making mistakes in the first place that once a lead hits a dead end, [they] just have to wait." u/unusual_arsenio also had a theory as to why it took so long to catch Red John and said, "I think it's because they can't do as much as they do with other cases. They always need a new lead to keep investigating, Red John's leads aren't going to reveal him easily and won't show his connections like usual murderers do in other cases."

The actor who played Red John thought his character was a red herring

One of the biggest questions in "The Mentalist" for many seasons is the real identity of Red John. There were many times in which Patrick Jane thought he had finally apprehended the elusive murderer, but more often than not, these were simply acolytes of Red John. It was only established very late in the show that Red John is actually Sheriff Thomas McAllister, who had been present in the show since the very beginning, meaning that Jane was much closer to his goal than he may have realized.

Speaking with The Mentalist Stuff, Xander Berkeley was asked if he knew that his Sheriff character was Red John, to which he replied, "Did I suspect? Well let me re-state that when I read the first draft of the second episode I thought, 'Ah, clever show, a whodunnit with a psychic dude and a cute sidekick.' They'll have bad-guys they gotta track down and red herrings to take them off the scent. McAllister is clearly a red-herring and kind of a clownish one at that and they cast me because I've played a lotta bad guys so people will automatically suspect me, but I'll still get to be funny and provide a bit of comic relief while holding the tension in place at these key moments."

Although Red John's identity took quite some time to uncover, the eventual reveal was well worth the wait, and it was nice to see Jane finally reach some closure and a sense of justice served, even if some fans may have wondered why it took so long. At least there are plenty of other shows like "The Mentalist" for fans to analyze deeply.