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The Mentalist Insider's Blog "Black Helicopters"

Posted on Mar 5, 2014 03:30pm

613 - Black Helicopters

Erika Green Swafford

As someone who spent their formative year in Texas, (I’ve got the awkward “Go Texan Day” school photos to prove it.) I was intrigued when we decided to base the new FBI team out of Austin. Everyone has pre-conceived notions about Texas - the big personalities, the wide open spaces, the ten gallon hats… the glorious barbeque. For my first episode in this new, post-CBI world, I wanted to write something that gave a nod to some of that iconic Texas.

The episode was directed by the super talented and fellow Texan, Randy Zisk. As we moved further along into production, all sorts of secret Texans and lovers of things Texan started revealing themselves – from the guest cast, to members of the crew, to people who provide services to the show. A distinct drawl began to form within the conversations as we connected through our shared love of frito pies, queso, kolaches, and Blue Bell ice cream. Thankfully, Texas delicacies were in short supply at craft services or someone would have had to roll me home everyday.

We are still introducing the new world to you all and there will continue to be new characters and locales that will enrich the episodes and make recurring appearances. In “Black Helicopters” you see the first appearance of Jane’s Airstream. This silver streak has personality plus and is ready to roll. To be honest, I think it needs its own series. (A crime fighting Airstream? Yes, please.) It plays heavily in this episode.

During the shooting of “Black Helicopters”, which took place just after Thanksgiving, the world lost the inimitable Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. (Rest in peace, Mr. Mandela.) Several months prior to the shooting, as I was formulating the story, I had the idea to put one of the characters in a “Free Nelson Mandela” T-Shirt. Our fantastic costume department made that a reality and it gave a lot of people on set pause as a scene with the T-shirt was filmed on the day reports of Mr. Mandela’s passing came in.

I decided to title the episode “Black Helicopters” in reference to the paranoia that takes hold of certain people when they see them flying in the air. It’s a theme that runs through the episode along with some interesting revelations about the team.

I thoroughly enjoyed working on this episode and hope y’all like it too.

Yours in bbq brisket on butcher paper,

Writer Erika Green Swafford