“It’s been a long path to this final moment,” executive producer Bruno Heller tells ETonline. “But on the other hand, this is the kind of thing that can’t go on forever. We’re happy we had a long run and we’re still all friends. I love everyone involved and it’s been a beautiful experience.”
Designed to give the fans exactly what they’ve been waiting for, the series finale has Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) going full circle in his professional and personal life – closing on the anticipated wedding between Jane and Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney). ETonline has your exclusive first look at the first hour of the finale, where Jane is asked to be a faux psychic – a part he’s played before, only things didn’t turn out so well back then.
As we approach the end of The Mentalist, Heller and Tunney open up about the final day of filming, Jane and Lisbon’s fairy-tale wedding and if they’d ever be open to a reboot.
Robin Tunney: It’s incredibly unusual to spend the amount of time that we spent with each other, and to like each other more. I have so much affection for Bruno and Simon, and that’s really rare. We had such an amazing bond, and I’m also really grateful that the show is ending [on top] – it was in the top 10 [in the ratings] last week. I feel like this last season was a really strong one. We get to end on a high note and the fans still want more – what a way to go out.
Bruno Heller: The heart and soul of the show that was on the screen and offstage was Robin. Me and [Simon] and a lot of others on the show can be angry, dark people but Robin was the spiritual glue and the mom. We would not have lasted half this long if Robin hadn’t been a brilliant actor and a brilliant person.
That’s high praise coming from the boss.
Tunney: It’s sad. When you form a bond that’s so strong, I know I’m always going to know Bruno and that I’m always going to know Simon. The part of me that felt strange was I knew we would never be this close again. There’s a bit of sadness, sort of like, OK, what do you do now?
Take us back to that final day on set. What was the mood like? Was it a difficult day?
Tunney: For me it was more I wanted to rip the band-aid off because we knew we were finishing on that date for so long and there had been so much talk about it. Goodbyes were lasting a really long time and it was kind of emotional, but when they called the wrap, I cried. I wasn’t expecting to. It was emotional and lots of hugging everyone around you – big, burly gaffers, everyone was just that way. It was saying goodbye to a meaningful period of your life.
Heller: The last scene that wasn’t the goodbye scene was Lazarus, the serial killer, bursting into their log cabin and finds the cops. There were a lot of cops on the set and everybody who wanted to be there was on the set, and then there’s Robin, Simon, Tim [Kang] and Rock[mond Dunbar] having to act while this farewell scene is going on inches away from them behind camera. It was both a farewell party and a tough scene to shoot.
Tunney: It was kind of frenetic. There was a lot of energy.
What was lovely about this season was we got to go on a more personal journey with Jane and Lisbon – there was no Red John hanging over their heads – as they figured out their relationship and if they could have a future. Was season seven different in that way?
Heller: It was very much designed as an encore, a curtain call for the show and the audience. You don’t come out for the encore and do death metal or dark stuff. It was a thank you to the audience and a recognition that the romance between Jane and Lisbon that organically grew out of the relationship between Robin and Simon. It was a natural direction that I certainly never considered for the show when we first started – it just grew.
Tunney: Fans of TV shows are so committed to the characters and to the story. When you do something that’s drastic like this, bringing two characters together after six years of knowing them platonically, they can turn on you really easily. It’s a testament to the way in which the relationship was handled. As far as I can tell, people were quite happy with it moving snail-like and not overtly sexual immediately – that they stuck with us is amazing. People often don’t want the characters that they love to change and seeing them in a different light can throw people off.
The final episode tees up Jane and Lisbon’s wedding. Will old faces return? Will they get their happy ending?
Heller: It’s one of those sad, bittersweet weddings. No, I’m kidding! (Laughs.) It’s meant to be a happy ending and this story deserved a happy ending.
Tunney: And the fans deserved closure. There’s a definitive [ending]. You know what these people’s lives are going to be like and there are surprises. It’s our best version of a romantic comedy with some crime thrown in. It’s for the fans. There’s nothing more frustrating than being committed to something for seven years and they don’t give you definitive endings. It’s something we were so aware of during the entire season – what’s this finale going to be, how are we going to give these people the ending they deserve for all their years of watching? I was really happy when I saw it, I think it really works.
There’s a big trend right now of reprising shows from the past. Do you foresee 10 years down the line, a Mentalist 2.0?
Heller: Absolutely, it’s a date. We’ll all be there in 10 years. (Laughs.) Look, we don’t foresee it. Like Robin said, the show is still in the top 10 and it’s in the top 10 all over the world, and that is a testament to the enduring appeal of Robin and Simon. This is a business. I would love, love, love to work with Robin again, either playing Teresa Lisbon or Queen Elizabeth, if it comes to that. And Baker as well.
What will you miss most about The Mentalist? Are you looking forward to Jane and Lisbon’s wedding? Tell us your thoughts by tweeting Philiana Ng at @insidethetube, and don’t forget the #ETnow hashtag!
The Mentalist airs its two-hour series finale Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CBS.
Jane and Lisbon aren't the first Mentalist characters to tie the knot! ET was on the set in 2013 when Van Pelt and Rigsby said "I do." Watch the on-set interview below.