The Mentalist’s Jack Plotnick on Brett Partridge’s true fate

Mentalist Red John weapon

Once again I reached out to ‘The Mentalist’s’ Jack Plotnick (the now late Brett Partridge), this time about his character’s demise. Really dead, or faking it? And was he the voice of Red John back in “Red Sky in the Morning?”


First of all, let me explain that photo above. I’m including that here because I have no freakin’ clue what it is, thought it’s apparently whatever Red John used to kill Brett Partridge. Or to hurt Lisbon. Anyone have an idea? Anyway, onto the point of this post. …

I — alone with many other believers in Brett Partridge as Red John — was pretty damned disappointed in the latest episode of The Mentalist, as we saw the creepy forensics man taken down by the real Red John. (Not disappointed in the episode itself, but that outcome of it.) I didn’t want to believe it. I replayed the scene over a few times, tying to see if there was a chance Partridge was faking it. That maybe he was the one who pulled Lisbon aside in the dark. Then the promo for next week’s episode hit: “the list is now down to six Red John suspects.” What?! No! Partridge could still be alive, dammit!

“I know! I’ll ask the actor, Jack Plotnick himself! He’ll know!”

Me: “Hey Jack! Wow that was a wild episode. So does this mean it’s the end of your time on Mentalist?”
Plotnick: “Yep. That’s it for me! Ah well, all good things must come to a (bloody) end. ;-P”
Me: “Aw … so there’s no chance of your character faking it? All is confirmed the next episode?”
JP: “…as a door nail.”

Gasp! It’s true … he’s officially done! Kaput. Over and out. Brett Partridge is through as being a Red John suspect.

Brett Partridge is through as being a Red John suspect.

But … I’m still skeptical. Not that he could be Red John or that even Plotnick will come back to reprise his role, but that Partridge is merely another cog in the giant Red John wheel-o-death. Why else would he have called out “Tiger, Tiger” (as Red John recited back in the “Red Sky in the Morning” episode)? What, was Red John dressed as a tiger?

I went on to ask Plotnick about one other thing he previously refused to discuss, but now with his character gone …

Me: “OK one last question: was that your voice on the phone either in previous seasons or last night’s?”
JP: “No, it was not.”

Well now, that’s put to bed. But could it be that Plotnick is just being kept seriously in the dark and will be back some day? I say it’s rather unlikely.

So what do you think? With Partridge now gone, who’s your top choice for Red John? Entertainment Weekly has a great interview with creator Bruno Heller on this most recent episode and what to expect later this season. It sure sounds like we might see a conclusion to this mystery this season, or at least get very close to an endgame.

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Photo Credit: CBS

18 Comments on “The Mentalist’s Jack Plotnick on Brett Partridge’s true fate

  1. Is this the final season for the show, or are they just wrapping up the Red John story? All the promos make it seem like it’s the end, one way or another.

    • The expectation is that they are going to wrap up the Red John storyline midseason. There’s also a couple actors leaving the show at that point.

      Whether or not the show maintains once those two things happen will probably define if the show returns :)

  2. I still think it’s Partridge and that his death in the season premiere is a ruse.

    It’s like the plot of the book “And Then There Were None” where all of the suspects supposedly died, only to have one of them turn out to be the killer, after they staged their own death.

    Bruno Heller has stated that “[i]t was very important that Partridge die at this point in the story.” And I think that is so that he would no longer be a suspect.

    The way Partridge died, also does not seem in keeping with a Red John murder. He was found in a closet? No red smiley face to strike terror into the person that finds him before the body is discovered? That’s his classic M.O. and this doesn’t resonate with that. Also Partridge is partially alive when Lisbon finds him. Alive enough to quote William Blake. When is the last time Red John left someone half-dead?

    I think Partridge is Red John, and is working with someone, who helped him stage his own death to cast off suspicion. Bruno Heller stated of the final scene of episode 1 that “embedded in that scene is a big clue to the identity of Red John that will pay off big time later.”

    If you watch closely. The person who Jane is talking two is different from the person holding the phone, indicating that there are two people there. The person who paints the smiley face on Lisbon is not the real Red John. First, he paints it on her face (huh?), Second, he uses only two fingers instead of three (which both Jane and Partridge would know), finally, he paints the smiley face counter clockwise, not clockwise like in other Red John murders. That is the clue that I think Heller wants to give, but he distracts us with the red herring of the bloody blade.

    One other clue which may or may not be relevant is the title of the next episode Black Winged Red Bird which refers to a Scarlet Tanager. The Scarlet Tanager is a poem written by James Russell Lowell, a romantic poet like William Blake who wrote “The Tyger” which Red John often quotes as well as painted “A Brace of Partridge.”

    Far from casting off my suspicion, Partridges apparent death only seals it more for me that he’s Red John. Bruno Heller also said that we would be disappointed when we found out who Red John was, and most people would probably be disappointed if big bad Red John turned out to be Fangoria watching Brett Partridge. lol

  3. That knife is a linoleum knife and it’s RJ’s signature instrument, but I’m sure Red John chose it and loves it because it looks like a Tyger’s claw.

  4. RJ didn’t pain a regular smiley face on Lisbon but rather a clown face. Might be more evidence of RJ’s background…

    And Bruno Heller, please bring back the Sean Barlow character!!!

    • I think the clown face is to show the fact that he was working as a carnie, similar to Patrick’s teenage background. I maintain that Red John is Patrick’s father.

  5. The reason RJ made the face look different than his regular smileys is because Lisbon’s face forced him to adapt…it isn’t a blank slate like a wall. FYI…If Partridge’s body is still there and he’s dead) then we know he is not RJ….however, he could have “sacrificed” himself for RJ.

  6. I don’t believe any of the suspects on that list are Red John. Red John is Wayne Rigsby. According to official FBI profiling techniques, a serial killer more often than not comes from a dysfunctional family, was beaten or abused by a family member, hates his father and/or mother, can display a fascination for fire as well as many other characteristics. Wayne Rigsby is the one character who has all of these traits. He came from an unhealthy family, a father who admittedly beat him, “no matter how many times I tried to straighten you out. .” a fascination for fire that eventually showed itself when he became an arson investigator for the San Diego County Police Department Arson Squad. When he killed the man who killed his father, he whispered to him, “Steven Rigsby says’hi'”. Just like Rebecca did when she killed Bosco, “Red John says ‘hi’.” He killed Marlon Hicks for repeatedly teasing him by calling him Bert. And the list can go on.

    • from the beginning I here in Brazil speak exactly the same thing for me is Red John Wayne Rigsby!!

  7. Partridge does not work for Red John and never did. Partridge never shook Jane’s hand. This, among many other reasons, is why if you looked closely, Partridge was never a true suspect to begin with. I do not think that Bertram is RJ, but I could be wrong. Bertram does not quite match RJ physically, and to me, his overall personality and behavior do not quite fit what I see in RJ. A few things, like his quoting of William Blake that one time a while back and his behavior tonight, keep him on my radar, just not heavily. Kirkland most likely works for RJ. He is a close ally, and a bit of a proxy,(stand-in) like Timothy Carter once was. He also killed Jason Lennon, who did not recognize Kirkland, and he would’ve had Kirkland been RJ. Also, he shook hands with Jane long after Lorelei was in prison. Reede Smith might very possibly be the “Friend in the FBI” that RJ mentioned back in the season 4 finale. After all, that “friend” has not been revealed or mentioned since then. But Smith…simply is not very smart, among other things. Bret Stiles is the leader of the Visualize group that RJ is a member of. Ally? Possibly. McAllister is an especially intriguing suspect, as he was a guy that I barely remember from all the way back in the second episode. I ultimately do not see it in him, either, however, as the rock paper scissors match I remember he had with Jane…and…well, his overall interaction with people in the episode…and physique…yep…it’s not there. Ray Haffner is Red John. He matches the presumed physique completely. He is a member of Visualize, and he mentioned (to Lisbon) being a “messed up kid in the past, and taken in by Visualize”. He is one of the few men on the list that actually shook hands with Jane. He also conveniently shows up again in “The Red Barn” episode, when those three men dead men in the barn (along with the red smiley face on the side of the barn) were discovered (and presumed to have died in 1988, proving that RJ killed long before ’98.). And also notice the way he replied to Lisbon at the end of that episode, when she asked him if he was at that farm back when he was a 21 year old “kid”, and Visualize ran the place. (The priest that Jane talked to by the elevator before hand did mention that the face on the barn was supposed to have been drawn by a “kid” between the ages of 16-30.) He said, “Teresa, we’re still friends, right? Why would you ask me that?” Haffner is also a former FBI agent, which would explain why RJ has a few friends and accomplices in the FBI, like O’laughlin and the other man(possibly Smith). Also, accomplices like Lorelei have always told Jane that he is so much like RJ, in that they are both very manipulatively smart. In the barn episode, Haffner tries to coax Lisbon into joining him in his new law firm that he was working establishing, and constantly uses logical reasoning to try and get her to take on a new and “better” job. He also mentions (well, sort of implies) that Jane is the true reason Lisbon wants to stay with the CBI, rather than the job itself. Smart thinking, right? I also remember a time before this where Haffner tried to convince/manipulate Cho to spy on Jane, and listing a number of things that he knows Jane is going to try to do to him and his team. He knows Jane kind of well, doesn’t he? Although he had never really worked with him before that. Oh yes…and three other little things…#1. Jane and RJ hate each other, right? One other small reason for RJ to dislike Jane….he almost lost his job because of him when Jane made his own team turn on each other. #2….go back to when Lorelei was reading off the names in the video…she read it at a fairly steady pace…except for when she got to the third name…if you watch….there is a slight delay before she says Haffner’s name…why? A little bit of disbelief and/or shock that she was actually supposed to read off the real name of her pal? Maybe. And finally….#3….RJ’s favorite alias…Roy Taglieferro. Roy. Ray…Roy…hmmm…I may or may not see a resemblance there. ;D And lastly…as for RJ’s voice…don’t let that fool you. Anybody could really be capable of altering their voice in unlikely ways. Well…I’m done. What do you all think?

    • Very good analysis! I would only add that all of the people on Jane’s list had to have shaken hands w/ Jane (even if not on camera) or else they would not be on the list. Shaking hands w/ Jane is one of the criteria (along w/ physically being able to have been at the murder scenes etc.) to be on the list. So Partidridge had to have shaken hands with Jane. Though Partridge can no longer be considered a candidate to be RJ, I thought I would mention it.

  8. Please answer me! Where did you ask the actor Jack Plotnick? Please answer

  9. I personally think that it’s either McCallister or Haffner. The thing I CAN’T explain is his voice, why would he love Rebecca or Miranda.

  10. I think it’s Ray Haffner because:
    * He’s a polished whistler and the psychiatrist’s notes say he whistlers
    * “Roy” (written by Lorelei Martin’s sister) could have been “Ray” but as she was dying she didn’t get the middle letter written correctly
    * Haffner appears in every episode which has “Red” in it’s name
    * He’s witty and charming like Jane, and Lorelei Martins said Jane and RJ are alike
    * They shook hands before Jane learned it was someone he had already shaken hands with
    * He was a member of Visualize and was there when the murders were committed in the barn
    * He said he had a messed up childhood, as someone of RJ’s profile would have
    * He’s left-handed and the first episode of season 6, in which RJ is polishing the linoleum knife, shows that RJ is left-handed
    * His having worked in both the FBI and CBI enabled him to make connections
    * He has the physical strength needed to do some of the things that RJ did

  11. Some very good reasoning behind all your theories. A couple of years ago I posited that Red John will turn out to be Timothy Carter. Yes, Jane shot him, but Carter was wearing a kevlar vest and did not die. The two “guards” that took away his body were RJ minions. Even Patrick Jane was not entirely sure that Carter was dead, for he took the blind Rosalind Harker to the morgue to inspect Carter’s body. He was lying in his chamber and Rosalind felt his face, then told Jane: “I’ve never met this man.”
    But it was a ruse. Later, an FBI agent found the body of Baris Acar, the morgue attendant, on the floor of Rosalind’s closet. He is dead. WHY? Absolutely nobody on the show “The Mentalist” has mentioned Acar since his body was found. My theory is that the morgue attendant was killed to keep him quiet about the fact that Carter was alive, not dead, when Rosalind visited the morgue.
    I’ve thought and thought about it, and my theory is that Bruno is trying to make the big Red John reveal as sensational as possible. And WHAT would be more sensational than unmasking the “dead” Timothy Carter as Red John?


  12. I think Brett IS Red John and here is why:
    The killer wants to remove himself from the list of suspects, and what better way than fake being murdered. Also, this would make the series really exciting.
    Who else could have grabbed Lisbon? She had her back turned towards Brett, who she thought was dead.
    Why not kill Lisbon? Because Red Johan (Brett) wants to use her as a witness and knows she will tell Patrick. Patrick, of course, won’t fall for it.
    Only Brett’s cell was traced to the location of the murder. Not vital information, but important.

    The coolest thing that Lisbon could have done was to shoot Brett in the knee when she thought he was dead. I’ll bet he would have screamed, and she would know he was faking it.

    There are two great tricks here. One is the door opening, oposite where Brett was. And the other was Brett being locked in the closet. But both of these are simple tricks that can be planned, like simple magic tricks using strings. Patrick will reveal all this in the end.

    Finally, the show fetches a lot of inspiration from Columbo, and there is a case where a guy gets murdered and the room is locked from the inside, but a string was used to pull the lock. So this appears to be another idea copied of a Columbo show.

    It was Brett’s voice in the phone.