If you watched The Mentalist on Thursday night, you saw the story revolve around Korean-American actor Tim Kang (Kimball Cho). You know you’ve seen Tim somewhere because he’s been in numerous commercials as “that guy.” Well, in the Thursday episode, Kimball Cho loses his former best friend David from what he thought was the result of gang banging. However, that wasn’t the case and the story reveals the reasons for David’s death as Kimball Cho hunts for the real killer. At the end of the show, Kimball shares his grief and regret to David’s mother and concludes the show speaking Korean….
“I’m sorry Mrs. Seung. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.”
See below for an interview with Tim Kang about Thursday’s episode.
Tonight’s episode is being set up as Cho’s big moment on the show. What more can you tease?
I think it does feel that way. I think what you have to look forward to is a side to him that, with the shooting and all the things that we saw in the preview, is that when the s*** hits the fan — and the s*** definitely does hit the fan — instead of this divorced sort of approach to his work, you know, “Work is work, and I’m going to be very professional about it,” some of those emotions tend to seep into what he’s doing, and the loss of control and the efforts to maintain control is something that we’re gonna see. And I think that’s a fun journey that we go on. Like, oh s***! Is he going to lose his s***? Wait a minute. This is totally unlike how he handles himself day-to-day. So it’s just another facet to who he is. He’s not an automaton; he’s not a robot [laughs]. As much as people like to say, “Geez, do you ever smile? Are you a robot out there?” He’s not. He feels very deepy, and I think that we’re gonna get to see that a lot more from this episode.
And Cho has a girlfriend! Where the hell has he been hiding her?
[laughs] I think it’s fairly new. It’s something that has developed within the past few months, within the time line of the show. So they’ve reached a point of being fairly comfortable and interacting with each other. But it’s not like he’s been hiding her for three years or anything like that. It’s definitely sort of a brand new thing.
I know a love interest is something that you’ve wanted to see develop for a long time — and I think fans have, too.
Yeah. I don’t know if it was specifically a love interest; it was just something in his past that I’ve wanted to explore further, whether that’s a love interest, or a long-lost cousin or what have you. Just something. And in this episode, it turned out to be a couple of things — not just a girlfriend, not just a long-lost friend or any of that. So we get to see a lot of Cho’s past, which is nice.
Are we going to see more of this in future episodes? I was shocked when they showed Cho’s apartment in the preview.
[laughs] Right. True. Well, that’s actually Elise’s apartment, so we still don’t know … We don’t get to take a look at the piggy bank; we don’t get to take a look at any of the other stuff that we sort of referenced earlier. But hopefully. Again, that’s something that’s up to the writers. But it’s definitely a treat to delve into his past.
Right, because Cho’s sort of the odd man out in all of this; everyone else already has a backstory going on.
Yeah. I feel like that’s a good thing. But on the flip side of that, I’m also happy with the way that things are going, because Cho … he’s the ultimate team player. But he is more than capable, and actually prefers operating on his own. He’s sort of a lone-wolf character. I don’t see him as really depending on too many other people. So it kind of fits with the character; however, it also fits that he has a girlfriend and a life outside of the CBI.
Is there anything within Cho’s backstory that you would love the writers to develop?
Something in terms of his military background would be great, because in this upcoming episode, we get to see [that] his formative years were being spent being a gangster; being a punk. And I would love to go into the military part of it to see that transformation from this loose canon gangster kid to the disciplined military guy. It would be nice to see that transition and how he handled authority, let’s say, during his first day of boot camp or whatever. That would be an interesting thing to see. Maybe he got screamed at by his drill Sargeant or whatever, more than others because of his attitude, [with] him trying to buck authority and all that sort of thing. Also, his career in the police department after he got out of the army would be nice to see. And then probably Lisbon coming in and recruiting him from the police department into the CBI. That would also be something very interesting, I think.
I want to talk about my favorite episode of the season: ‘His Red Right Hand,’ which eventually ended with Bosco dead and Minelli retiring. Were you shocked when you initially read the script?
Absolutely. And plus, it was really great to work with those guys. It was a shock, storyline-wise, that we were losing these two great characters all in one go. But again, the powers that be just felt that that was a necessary thing. I personally thought that we could have had a little bit more stuff for them. But it did absolutely make sense, and did work the way that it happened. But certainly, I was in a little bit of, like, “Oh, wow! Okay. I’ll see you later, Terry! I’ll see you later, Greg!” But yeah. Those guys are so great and they took it all in stride.
Do you think there’s room for Gregory Itzin to return?
Absolutely. I mean, in the storyline, it was too much for him at the moment to lose three agents all in one go, and it’s understandable that something like that, especially after your track record of losing not a single agent in your entire tenure, in your term — it’s something that will shake you, and I’m sure that if that’s a storytline we want to explore, it’s certainly possible.
Minelli will be replaced by a new head of CBI, played by Aunjanue Ellis. Have you worked with her yet?
Yeah, I have worked with her briefly. She’s a fantastic actress; she’s really sweet. I haven’t actually had a chance to trade lines with her, but we did a scene …. This upcoming episode that we’re starting to shoot on Monday, I believe, is our first formal introduction to her character, Madeline Hightower.
How is Hightower going to change the dynamic of CBI?
I think, for Hightower, she is very much similar to Cho’s take on the unit, on taking care of business. Cho’s take on it is, “You know what, Jane? You’re gonna do your crazy stuff. As long as it gets the job done, and you’re gonna do it in an expeditious manner, then let’s do it; let’s do whatever crazy shenanigans you want to cook up and let’s get the bad guy. Done deal.” And I think Hightower kind of appreciates that in Jane, the fact that yes, his approach is unorthodox, but he gets the job done, and she doesn’t let Jane’s quirkiness and some of those oddball qualities about him get to her. As long as he’s producing, as long as he’s closing cases, he’s good; he’s golden. So I think in that sense, it’s a little different. But then again, Lisbon obviously had a bit of a disadvantage with Minelli tripping in her hair constantly about, you know, keep him in line; keep him in line; keep him in line. Hightower is actually flipping it and going, “You know what? You can do whatever you want. Just get the job done.” So that’s sort of a different approach, I think, to handling Jane and a unit as a whole.
She sounds like a love interest for Cho waiting to happen.
[laughs] Right. Absolutely! [laughs]
What was your take on Lisbon’s decision to ignore Rigsby and Van Pelt’s relationship? How will it change the unit? Because obviously, they’re not going to stop hooking up.
Well, that actually remains to be seen, because they both obviously passionately care about their carers and each other. I think it’s gonna kind of boil down to choices, the simple choice [of] one or the other; you can’t have both. So they’re basically going to be pushed up against a wall and they’re gonna be forced to make a decision on career, girlfriend or career, boyfriend; how should we handle this? And it’s that sort of struggle that’s gonna make that interaction interesting.
Apart from the big episode, Red John has been mostly MIA this season. When should we expect his return?
I think Red John is definitely gonna make another visit before this season is up — if not a couple more visits. And as far as storylines or plot, I think that he’s gonna continue to tease Jane … I mean, he’s basically making Jane twist in the wind, and he’s enjoying every minute of it. I think right now he is following the unit’s progress and case load and that kind of thing, and [he's] just keeping tabs on Jane, I think. And there will be moments in the future for him to sort of “strike” … And I think it’s going to be interesting to also see how Hightower manages that crisis, that kind of a situation, because of the fact that, as soon as you bring in Red John, Jane becomes a completely rogue agent. He just goes off the reservation and just goes crazy, so I think it’ll be very interesting to see how she handles it as well.