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[Warning: Spoilers ahead from Sunday’s episode, “Wedding in Red.”]
Wedding bells are upon us on The Mentalist.
It was six years in the making, but Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) and Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) finally tied the knot. But their wedding wasn’t exactly by the book. With the CBI team called in to investigate a murder that took place at the same destination where a wedding was about to be held, the case began to take its toll on Rigsby and Van Pelt. Through Rigsby’s quick thinking, his impromptu proposal at the wedding reception took everyone by surprise. Their no-frills wedding was intimate and simple.
The Red John mystery also took center stage, with Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) and Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) focusing on suspect Sheriff Tom McAllister (Xander Berkeley), who has appeared only twice before, after finding out that the culprit wasn’t fond of heights.
In a chat with The Hollywood Reporter, executive producer and writer of Sunday’s episode Daniel Cerone breaks down the key storylines and discusses what’s next.
What challenges did you face as you sat down to write this episode, knowing it was a big one for fans?
This was one of the harder stories I’ve ever had to break because it was really three big stories. On the one hand, you see that we are truly exploring one of the Red John suspects and that very much provided the tension and danger of the episode. On the other hand, it’s the wedding of Rigsby and Van Pelt, which has been six years in the making. That’s a huge emotional story, and that provided the heart of the episode. But on top of all that, we have a homicide. At the end of the day, we are a crime procedural and we can’t really shortchange that. The challenge was combining all three of those into a satisfying story and still giving each storyline the weight and worth that it deserves.
Were there discussions on how you wanted to handle the Rigsby/Van Pelt wedding?
There were definitely discussions, but for me, I enjoy the kind of drama that sort of hits you sideways and perhaps unexpectedly. With promotion and publicity, it’s not a surprise that Rigsby and Van Pelt will get together in this episode. But the way we bring it up in the episode can be surprising. It’s not a coincidence that they are getting married the same week that we’re having a homicide investigation at a wedding reception. In fact, the homicide in this case is the casual element that forces Rigsby and Van Pelt into the world of a big wedding and stirs up a lot of [feelings] and forces them to face a lot of their hopes and dreams. It’s been six years, with ups and downs like any relationship, yet here they are, still together; there have been psychopathic fiances and baby mamas. For a long time, what kept them apart was there were no office relationships permitted at the CBI, and once that fell to the wayside, as writers, it was the question of what’s stopping them? Why can’t we get them together? I felt it was a very honest thing to explore where they were in this universe where they could take that step.
Now that Rigsby and Van Pelt are married, do other characters — especially Jane and Lisbon — warm to the idea of taking the next step?
Yeah, Lisbon and Jane is something we discuss as writers. It’s something we’re very aware the fans have interest in. In terms of the future, with what happens after Red John and the dynamics and the relationships, that is something we’re still exploring. We’re very much aware of the interest and desire of Lisbon and Jane. They have a great need for each other, and they’re each other’s support systems because they’ve been through so much together. It’s fair to say we’ll explore different aspects of their relationship.
What’s next for Rigsby and Van Pelt as a married couple?
We’re going to have some fun with them initially getting married, having to deal with issues that new couples deal with. But beyond that, in terms of the back half of the season, we’re still exploring where that goes.
Since we know the identity of Red John will be revealed later this season, and this episode focused solely on Sheriff McAllister, was that a particular challenge focusing on one suspect?
It was fun! The things we’ve been teasing and hinting for five, six years, we get to dig in and write. Narrowing the list down to names and putting faces on those and being able to get to know those suspects in really what amounts to a handful of episodes. It’s exciting for us. Some of these people will start falling off the list very quickly too. One already has. We’re trying to build some momentum that is going to propel us to a midseason climax and this is the first step, exploring Sheriff McAllister.
What was your favorite scene to write?
I really enjoyed a couple of the Jane/McAllister scenes, the tension that exists there, but at the end of the day, it was the emotional stuff that I got caught up in, writing Rigsby’s abrupt proposal. And in particular when Van Pelt sits down with the bride and convinces her she needs to get married because Van Pelt has experience with giving up on a relationship when she shouldn’t have.
The Mentalist airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on CBS.
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Michael K. Williams