'The Mentalist' finally catches up with Red John 

Spoiler Alert! Do not read this story if you have not watched Sunday's game-changing episode of "The Mentalist."

Put on your happy face: Red John is dead. 

Not only was the smiley face killer's identity a surprise until the very end -- it was Sheriff Thomas McCallister (Xander Berkeley) all along -- he died a magnificent death literally at the hands of Patrick Jane (Simon Baker). The episode, titled "Red John," puts an end to Jane's 10-year hunt for the man who murdered his wife, Angela, and daughter, Charlotte, and dozens of others. 

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    The Red Barn

    The Mentalist

    After six seasons, Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) will finally get revenge on the elusive Red John on "The Mentalist." Baker and executive producer Bruno Heller revisit the series' seminal moments exclusively for TODAY.

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    Where it began -

    Simon Baker and Robin Tunney are shown in the 2008 pilot episode of "The Mentalist." Patrick Jane (Baker) uses his powers of observation to solve crimes and Special Agent Teresa Lisbon (Tunney) resists him every step of the way. Creator Bruno Heller recalled the scene was shot in front of a house "around the corner from where I live." Baker said: "I think it's still my favorite episode. Little baby Robin, so sweet."
    Cliff Lipson / CBS
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    The phone call -

    In the first season episode "Red John's Friends," Patrick Jane hears the voice of Red John, who murdered his family, for the first time. "I remember this very clearly," executive producer Bruno Heller said. "Right after this moment is the first contact with Red John via a phone call. Also the cryptic 'he is a ma' on the wall in blood. Is he the man? Or many? Or magic?" Simon Baker recalled: "This was one with a locked door mystery that Jane solves with a fishing line and a newspaper. One of my favorite tricks."
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    First smiley face -

    "I cannot for the life of me recall why Red John hired a skywriter, but it was a fun gag," said the show's creator and executive producer Bruno Heller of this first-season episode, "Red John's Footsteps."
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    Red right hand -

    The murder of Agent Bosco (Terry Kinney) occurred right in their own office during the third-season episode "The Blood on his Hands." Simon Baker recalled it as a "sad day" and said Kinney was "great to work with. A wonderful actor that brought a lot to the part and the show." Heller said he wished the show could have kept Bosco but his death "gave us a great creepy confession scene."
    Cliff Lipson / CBS
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    Red John's first appearance -

    In season two's "Red Sky in the Morning," the first episode where Red John physically appeared, Patrick Jane was wrapped in cling-film and his archenemy recited William Blake's "The Tyger." "Baker did Red John's voice and it stuck," Heller said.
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    Visualize this -

    Patrick Jane v. Bret Stiles. Jane went up against the founder of Visualize when a member turned up dead in the third season's "The Blood on His Hands." Guest star Malcolm McDowell played Stiles. "Malcolm McDowell is--and I say this as a compliment--a rude, arrogant, devil-may-care bastard," executive producer Bruno Heller said. "He brings great edge and energy and wit to every scene he's in." .
    Cliff Lipson / CBS
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    Tiger Tiger, oops -

    Simon Baker made his directorial debut in the third season's "Red Moon." "The burnt guy said 'Tiger Tiger,' then died," recalled executive producer Bruno Heller. "But nobody on telly could hear what he said. Oops."
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    Red queen -

    In the third season's "Red Queen," the CBI investigates the murder of an antiques dealer. "(That's) Aunjanue Ellis with a gun at Baker's back," said executive producer Bruno Heller. "I think this is the one where Van Pelt's fiancee turns out to work for Red John."
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    Showdown at the mall -

    Bradley Whitford guest-starred in "Strawberries and Cream," the third season's two-part finale. Simon Baker says he "really enjoyed the way this showdown with Bradley Whitford played out. It is, to this day, one of my favorite scenes from the series. We were incredibly lucky to get someone as gifted as Bradley to play that role." Shooting in the mall "was a nightmare," added executive producer Bruno Heller. "Terrible sound and 500 people watching every take."
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    Right under your nose -

    A blogger (David Paymer) who has dedicated his life to finding a killer turns out to be the murderer in the fourth season's "Blinking Red Light." Simon Baker directed the episode: "What I thought was interesting about this episode was that it was the first time the audience was intentionally ahead of Jane with the knowledge that Paymer's character was the killer. The episode became about how Jane could stop him; a first for us in the series."
    Sonja Flemming / CBS
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    What happened here? -

    This scene from the fourth season's "Red is the new Black" is a mystery to those who created and performed it. "This is the first picture where I have absolutely no idea what is going on in the scene," said executive producer Bruno Heller. "That's Catherine Dent, though."
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    Tiny smiley face -

    Red John talked to a little girl in "Red Rover, Red Rover" in the fourth season. Executive producer Bruno Heller: "Creepy. The little girl has just spoken to Red John. (Simon) Baker is brilliant with kids and always gets a good scene from them." Maybe it's Baker's at-home training. The Australian actor has three children.
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    Sin City -

    "This (season 4 finale, 'The Crimson Hat') episode was interesting because we played with time in a way we hadn't before," Simon Baker said. "We leapt forward six months and Jane appeared to have lost his focus. It was the introduction of Lorelei Martins (Emmanuelle Chriqui), a complex character played in a sweet, broken way." The scene was shot in downtown Los Angeles, with the Mayan Theater standing in for a Vegas hotel. "We took Baker to Vegas for a couple of shots and it was mayhem on the Strip," executive producer Bruno Heller recalled. "Las Vegas tourists love Simon Baker too much."
    Michael Desmond / CBS
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    Get a clue -

    "Kevin Corrigan gives you the best and oddest line delivery of any actor working," executive producer Bruno Heller said of the season five episode, "Red Sails in the Sunset." "Mysterious and cool. This is the episode in which Jane gets the clue that will eventually solve the case."
    Robert Voets / WARNER BROS.
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    Put on a happy face -

    "All I recall about this one was there was a very long debate about big the smiley face should be. I have no idea why," says executive producer Bruno Heller. The scene is from fifth-season episode "The Red Barn."
    Best Possible Screen Grab
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    Beat down -

    In the fifth season's "There Will Be Blood," there sure was a lot of it. "Emmanuelle Chriqui got to be a real bad-ass on this one," executive producer Bruno Heller recalled. "It was hard to get her to beat people as hard as needed because she is a gentle soul."
    Robert Voets / WARNER BROS.
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    The jig is up -

    An important episode for fans, "Reg John's Rules" answered some key questions in the fifth season. "I was pretty happy about the audience getting some tangible informationm" Simon Baker said. "A process of elimination. It was something the fans could hold onto and look forward to." Executive producer Bruno Heller said the revelations "took a lot of storytelling courage. No vamping or misdirection was possible once we've laid the names out."
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    Scary Lisbon -

    In the sixth season's "Desert Rose," there is a "strong if oblique clue as to who Red John really is," said executive producer Bruno Heller. "This was a nice scene. Genuinely scary, which we tend to avoid." Simon Baker referred to it as a "horrifying image." "Love Robin and love what she has done with the character over the course of the series," he said. "Her level of commitment and professionalism is unmatched. I've been blessed to be her screen partner for these six years. Thank you, Miss Tunney."
    Sonja Flemming
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    Another one gone -

    Kevin Corrigan returned in the sixth season's "Redlisted" only for his character to be killed off. "He gets killed by Drew Powell as FBI Agent Smith," executive producer Bruno Heller said. "They do a lovely scene together. It's rare for two guest actors to do scenes without the principals and hold the frame so strongly." Although he's not a fan of torture scenes, Simon Baker said Corrigan "made this one a lot more fun. He brought a breath of freesh air to the set, inventive and risky as an actor.His death scene was so nicely understated. I was very disappointed that he was killed off."
    Darren Michaels / WARNER BROS.
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    The Three Amigos -

    A lot happened in the sixth season's "Fire and Brimstone." Executive producer Bruno Heller called this a "big scene." "If this stuff doesn't play, the series is in trouble," Heller said. "(Simon) Baker pulled it together brilliantly." Baker: "And then there were three, with three dots. A room full of interesting guys. I really enjoyed working with all of these guys. All very different and unique. It's one of the best parts of working on a series for a long period of time--getting to watch different actors and the different appraoches they have to their work."
    Sonja Flemming / CBS
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    Red John splatter logo -

    The series' iconic symbol for its Red John villain means different things to different people. Simon Baker: "Such a dark and creepy symbol. I loved it from the moment I first saw it. It has been the identifying brand of the series." Executive producer Bruno Heller: "If I never see another smiley face, I will not be unhappy."
    CBS

It was a well-executed conclusion to the mystery that's driven the CBS series from the beginning: After shooting Red John in the stomach but not killing him, Jane strangles his nemesis to death after getting him to admit that he's sorry for killing his family and that he is afraid to die. 

The camera focused on Jane's face for the gruesome moment, and the Emmy-nominated Baker delivered a poignant sense of relief.

"That last scene between the two of them was very much written and directed by Simon," executive producer Bruno Heller said during a press call last week. "The emotion that he brought to that, the feeling. With all that pressure and story that’s gone by and all the baggage, I think he did a beautiful, beautiful, intimate killing there. It’s hard but good to watch."

Baker said Jane made the decision long ago to avenge his family's death, so when he finally gets the opportunity, he doesn't let his emotions get the best of him. 

"He made that decision and in his head that was going to happen," Baker said. "What we didn’t know is how he was going to react and whether or not he could go through with it and in what fashion. So, to me, that was just jumping off a cliff, really, and jumping off a cliff to the point where he got what he’s wanted for so long. He’s got Red John within his grasp, literally. He doesn’t take a moment to hesitate. But when he’s on top of him, it's the idea of just shutting him up. Jane just wants to get on with the job."

When Red John dies, a part of Jane dies as well, Baker said. Now that the case is closed, Jane and the series will move in a new direction, Heller said. The Dec. 1 episode flashes forward two years and will explore whether Jane has found gratification and the consequences he must face.

"In a very real sense, Jane is a happier person, weight’s been taken off his shoulders and to that degree, a weight has been taken off the show," Heller said. "It’s going to be the same show to some degree but with less darkness at the edges and more freedom to roam. Jane has more freedom and a sense of possibilities."

In the new world, the California Bureau of Investigations has been dissolved and its team members will be scattered around the country. Jane, who called Lisbon (Robin Tunney) to tell her he was going to miss her at the end of Sunday's episode, is not in the United States. Heller compared the rest of the show's characters to the children of divorce.

"They were in a world that didn’t choose and now they’re in a world that’s changing around them, again, not of their own volition," he said. The series will eventually return to crime-solving, but not crimes in California, Heller added.

As the creator of the show, Heller said he never considered the option of Jane allowing Red John to live.

"For me, it was about giving Patrick Jane exactly what he had hunted for all these years," Heller said. "He wanted revenge and he got it. And I think that’s what the audience wanted so that’s what we gave them."

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