This Sunday at 10/9c, CBS’ The Mentalist will at long last solve a mystery — one not involving Red John so much as… a beige plastic bowl. That’s right: We are about to find out what J.J. LaRoche is hiding in the Tupperware container.
The mysterious tub was first alluded to in the procedural’s Season 3 finale, when Jane — having had a thief break into the home of the CBI’s Internal Affairs boss — leveraged the discovery of said item and its contents in a trade for a list of RJ suspects. Executive producer Daniel Cerone, who penned Sunday’s episode, titled “Red & Itchy,” says that while some on The Mentalist’s staff were content to leave the Tupperware’s contents a mystery, he craved resolution.
“Writers will often do things or create mysteries that are handy in the moment, and a lot of times they’re story devices – the classic MacGuffin, something everyone is chasing or provides a purpose to the story. And one of the big reasons why we planted that [Tupperware idea] was… to create a way for Jane to blackmail LaRoche in that season finale,” he explains to TVLine. “Now, some of the writers on this show believed that it’s better left to the imagination. If you’ve ever heard J.J. Abrams’ TED talk, he uses mystery boxes to tell stories, and I think many of our writers would have been happy to let it lie. But I felt compelled to open it.”
But can the contents of a food storage product possibly be worthy of such drama, and such concern for LaRoche, should his secret get out?”Absolutely,” Cerone insists. “If the secret of the box were to be revealed, LaRoche’s career would come to an end.”
Having written the episode that first introduced Pruitt Vince Taylor’s character to the CBI team, Cerone says, “I’ve always been fascinated by him, because the way I wrote him he was borderline Asperger’s Syndrome, somebody who was not a social animal but very smart and very driven. And what this episode does is turn a card over. And by the end of it, Jane and LaRoche go on a bit of a journey together. We learn some secrets about LaRoche that help us understand him better down the road” — including why he become an IA officer.
While we wouldn’t dare disclose here what lies inside, Cerone says that the matter of whether the contents required an airtight container “is one of the questions the episode explores,” and that the answer is “definitely darker-themed.” He also shares that while viewers will be let in on the secret, Jane will continue to keep it under wraps.
But the Tupperware tale is not the only storyline getting some resolution this Sunday. Reiterating that he is “someone who doesn’t like loose ends,” Cerone says the episode afforded an opportinity to tie up two of ‘em. “There’s another storyline that this episode will also close,” he teases. “It’s an open-ended storyline that occurred earlier this season and that I’m sure people thought wed had forgotten about, but we have not.”
Oh yeah, and the same episode also features a case to be cracked, though it’s almost incidental. “There’s a dead body at the beginning of the episode, but that mystery is solved by the end of Act 1,” Cerone says. “The driving mystery is what’s in the box.”