Mentalist Red Moon Review


Synopsis

CBI Agent Teresa Lisbon (Tunney) and Patrick Jane (Baker) arrive at a grisly crime scene in a country town. Three people have been murdered using three different methods. Tensions are running high with the local sheriff Mullery (guest star Chris Ellis) who knew the victims. Two were fellow cops, and the third, a local girl named Keeley is his nephew’s fiancée. Lisbon is apprehensive about taking the case, even before Keeley’s fiancée Todd (Josh Braaten) swears to kill whomever was responsible for her murder. Jane however stops Lisbon from handing it to the FBI, saying that he wants the case “or vice versa”, though he is unsure why. Things get even more interesting (and amusing) when a local astrologer and psychic Ellis Mars (John Billingsley) decides to help out in the investigation.

Concise Verdict

This was an ‘Oh my God’ episode. As in, perfect 10/10.

Detailed (aka humongous) Review (spoilers galore)

Episodes written by series creator Bruno Heller are well-told tales that usually highlight the entire show’s premise. And this one is no exception. It pokes fun at psychics, has plenty of mind games and  Jisbon (Jane/Lisbon) banter. The acting is superb, including the side characters; John Billingsley was hilarious. I think I’ve said this before, but the casting of guest stars on this show is very impressive- it is obviously done very carefully). We also get an allusion to the show’s main antagonist.

However, the Mentalist usually puts a positive spin on its cases; some even end happily; unless the case is related to Red John. But Red Moon is a dark episode. This follows the tone of most of the season so far. We’ve had a couple of lighter episodes (‘Pink Chanel Suit’, ‘Red Hot’), but RJ’s shadow has been very prevalent since the season’s premiere. So it shouldn’t have been surprising when it turned out that Jane’s archenemy was involved in this episode as well.  In retrospect, there were there were plenty of  hints; Jane wanting the case in the first place, a witness talking about a bad omen, Jane in his hotel room thinking about Red John rather than the case at hand, and the overall grave tone throughout the episode. But it was shocking. Personally, I only suspected Red John’s involvement when Todd was about to kill Jane. He said the reason he became a serial killer would blow Jane’s mind.  At that moment I thought that only information on Red John could do that; or a gunshot to the head; as what seemed about to happen.

Mr. Heller wisely inserts some relief  througout; the episode actually starts with a decidedly adorable moment when Jane spots a deer and calls Lisbon over to see it, much to her dismay: “Does it bite?” There were a few other scenes as well but they barely take the edge off seeing Todd burn alive at the end; or the chill of hearing him quote Red John’s mantra; Blake’s poem “Tiger, Tiger” before he died.

As all Red John episodes, Red Moon also gives a clue regarding the main antagonist. The episodes also contains very important scenes (VIS) I suspect will be pivotal for the season if not for the entire series.

The first VIS is a candid conversation between Jane and Lisbon where they lay their cards on the table regarding their respective intentions towards Red John. This has been done once before (season one’s ‘Red Flame’) when Jane told Lisbon that he intends on cutting and bleeding Red John to death when he finds him. Lisbon responded that she will stop him and see that Red John gets taken into custody. Failing that, she will arrest Jane.

In Red Moon Jane and Lisbon reiterate their positions, but with minor (yet significant) variations. This time they don’t accept each other’s intentions stoically (as they had before).  Instead Jane tries to get Lisbon to accept his decision. She not only refuses, but goes as far as stating that she thinks he’ll change his mind when the time comes.

Another change is the semantics used. In Jane’s case the difference is slight. He states that he’ll “exact” his revenge on Red John without going into the gory details of how. I have two possible theories for this, but they tie in to the second VIS below so I’ve discussed them there. Lisbon’s response is more telling. She says that she’ll stop Jane from doing “anything foolish”. Unlike in ‘Red Flame’ her determination here seems to stem out of concern for Jane, rather than simply wanting to uphold the law.

Perhaps the biggest difference is how comparatively more invested they seem now. Of course, both Jane and Lisbon downplay their emotions, but the tension is there. One can only think this is due to the friendship they have developed since the last time they discussed Red John.  Lisbon now considers Jane family (as stated in Red Sky at Night) while Jane has stated that he will always be there for Lisbon, that he will always protect her (‘Carnelian Inc.’, ‘Blood Money’.

Should Lisbon stand in the way of Jane’s revenge, he will either have to break his promise of killing Red John, or his promise to protect her.I think Jane’s frustration with Lisbon’s stand is largely due to how aware he is of this fact, and the choice it entails. He’s already lost a vital link to Red John to save Lisbon once before (‘Red John’s Footsteps’).  However, after Jane’s recent run-in with the murderer (‘Red Sky in the Morning’) he seems evermore volatile. Perhaps Jane fears that should a similar situation occur, he may not be able to make the same choice. Alternatively, a more positive interpretation could be that he knows he’ll be unable to stop himself from protecting Lisbon, and that’s why he’s upset; because, ultimately, she is his weakness.

The second VIS is the conversation Jane has with Todd in his attic after Todd attacks a suspect in Keeley’s murder. Jane tells Todd that Hightower wants to charge him with assault unless he swears he won’t pursue personal vengeance. When Todd says he can’t do that, Jane offers him some free advice:

“If you truly want revenge you have to be hard, you have to be dishonest, and devious and cold. You can’t let people see what’s in your heart.”

Yikes. Goosebumps anyone? I sincerely hope that Jane was just putting on an act because he had already started suspecting Todd of being the culprit. This is supported by his next scene with Lisbon. After Todd convinces Hightower that he’s sorry and leaves, Lisbon states rather than asks that it was all BS and hopes Jane knows what he’s doing. He answers that he’s 78% sure. So, yeah, it might have just been Jane building a rapport with a suspect to lay a trap for him later.

On the other hand, Jane was way too serious when he made the above statement. He’s also too good of a liar (or Simon is too good of an actor). After all, when Hightower asks Jane if he thinks he can convince Todd of getting over his lust for vengeance, he answers “I know I can. I’ve been there”. Now Lisbon (and the viewers) know he is lying through his teeth, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable (though it is very disturbing) that Jane’s advice to Todd was based on his own plan for revenge.

And this is where my I’m going discuss why Jane didn’t share the gory details of his revenge with Lisbon this time around.

It’s been established that Jane’s keeping information from Lisbon: Red John’s “Tiger, tiger” message, and the gun he got as a gift from another bereaved husband (in Red Carpet Treatment).

A practical reason could be because Jane isn’t planning on cutting Red John anymore, rather he’s going to shoot him.  In this episode we see Jane for the first time handle a gun like he knows how to. Has he been practicing or did he have Cho or Rigsby show him how to for the sake of the trap he set for Todd? I hope it was the latter. I don’t like the combination of Jane and guns- it takes away from his character.

But if we are to take Jane’s advice to Todd seriously, it opens up a more disturbing possibility. That he’s hiding a colder, crueler side of himself from Lisbon. But why? Jane’s past excuse for keeping things from Lisbon has always been the same; to protect her. But now a more obvious possibility presents itself: so she won’t get in his way.

On the other hand, if that were the case, then he shouldn’t have told her of his plan for vengeance in the first place. Unless of course, he wants her to have prior knowledge in the hope that it will somehow soften the blow she’ll get when he does achieve his goal. Or, a more optimistic (and perhaps therefore unrealistic) interpretation, could be that he wants her to know because on a subconscious level he wants her to stop him.

Ugh. The interpretations are endless. I’d hate to be Lisbon.

The third VIS is the last scene of the episode when Todd recites the opening of Blake’s poem (which seems to be Red John’s mantra) before he dies. This leads both the viewers and Jane to a realization that has been building up for a while now; Red John’s reach is wide and strong. And I’d be remiss to not mention that Red John obviously has allies in law enforcement (as well as in Visualize, as suggested in the episode The Blood on His Hands).

I mean, Sheriff Hardy (from season one’s finale Red John’s footsteps) was Red John’s accomplice. So was  Rebecca (from His Right Red Hand) who worked at CBI. And when she was caught she was killed there by an unknown uniformed officer (either Red John or another accomplice). Now we have another of his accomplices who was a serial cop killer also killed at CBI. There is a definite pattern here, and I find it hard to believe that Jane doesn’t see it. I just hope he shares it with Lisbon before her life is endangered. Brett Stiles (in ‘The Blood on His Hands’) mentioned that Red John’s need to take everything Jane holds dear seems like an act of love. Now if a psycho like Rebecca (from ‘Ball of Fire’) realized that Lisbon was important to Jane and kidnapped her with the intent of killing her in front of him, wouldn’t Red John be even likelier to notice that fact? Could he have had Todd kill cops as a warning to Jane? Time will surely tell.

Honorable Mentions:

Simon Baker directed this episode, and I must say did an excellent job of it. I wasn’t able to find a single wardrobe malfunction, lighting, or editing inconsistency, which, sadly, can’t be said for all the episodes. I’m thinking Mr. Heller should have him pulling double duty from now on.

Josh Braaten who plays Todd did a fantastic job. I never would have believed that the mourning fiancee swearing vengence was the actual killer. Except when Braaten shows Todd’s true colors he was just as convincing. Very wide acting range there. I expect he’ll be getting a lot of jobs after this.

Best scenes

Just to clarify, in an episode like this, every scene is fantastic. However, some still stood out more than others, and I literally had to force myself to stick with just three, though I found a loophole and combined some that were interrelated.

The winner: Jane and Lisbon’s Red John discussion in the car. This scene highlighted the reason why Jane and Lisbon can’t ever get together. These are two people who care about each other but are not seeing eye to eye on a dangerous issue.  It’s quite a tense moment. Baker and Tunney are incredible in it, the former displaying Jane’s rarely seen serious side while the latter illustrates Lisbon’s strength and determination-no easy task in the face of Jane’s hard eyes and unyielding promise of vengeance. I’m sure all the audience was rooting for Lisbon here. Conversely, the scene also shows why a Lisbon/Jane romance could be possible. The fact that Jane is telling Lisbon of his plan to kill Red John, and her telling him that she’ll stop him is a huge (though perhaps unconventional)  testament of their respective trust and regard. This trust is made even more obvious when Jane flat-out lies to Hightower in front of Lisbon about being over revenge. Although, his throwing the lie in her face might also be considered an abuse of trust; it’s almost like he’s taunting Lisbon, knowing she won’t tell Hightower about his plans.

1st runner up: Todd and Jane’s revenge discussion in the attic. See the second VIS above for details.

2nd runner up: The opening scene with the deer. Having this scene was genius. It made the next scene even more morbid by comparison, and also served to lighten an otherwise dark and gloomy episode. I’m also going to include the second breather scene: when Jane went to wake Lisbon up in the middle of the night to tell her his plan.  She slide’s open the floor length window and we see her sleepy in a jersey. Jane is embarrassed at her state and seems to be a gentleman about it, averting his eys. But when she goes back inside to change he cutely looks for an opening in her curtain to sneak a peek. Yes, Simon Baker is so endearing he makes peeping seem adorable. The man should be locked up.  Seriously though, here’s a question for Jisbon fans: could this scene have been included to hint at a growing physical attraction on Jane’s part?

Best Lines:

“You could have killed me.” Lisbon, to Jane about the deer.

“Don’t get me started.” -Jane, in reply to Mars’s suggestion that he might be more open-minded than Lisbon when it comes to psychics.

“I have spent enough time with that creep. Staring into the abyss, you know, it’s not healthy.”- Jane.

Pet Peeves (yes, there is one):

1- I find it a bit out of character that Lisbon insists Jane talks to Todd, even after he tells her that he  doesn’t want to, that it’s unhealthy (see above quote). This should have immediately alerted Lisbon that something was seriously disturbing him about Todd (I think). After all, since when does Jane care about what’s healthy for him? Also, her reason that the case would go smoother if Todd talks doesn’t seem to hold any water. He’s already confessed to Jane that he did it. What more did they need?

2- For the love of God, Mr. Heller, please slow the series down already! You’re not going to have much of an audience if you throw them into cardiac arrest every couple of episodes. I’m just saying….I honestly miss the lighter (and just as enjoyable) episodes from season one and two. Can we get some episodes closer in vibe to ‘Rose-Colored Glasses’, ‘Red Sauce’, ‘Red Handed’, and ‘Code Red’ please?

Seeing as the next episode is a Christmas themed one I’m hoping my wish will come true. The preview certainly doesn’t hint at any people getting burned alive or Simon Baker scaring the &%@# out of us with his terrifyingly serious tone talking about filleting anyone. I miss Simon Baker’s smile, so yes, more of that please, and Ms. Tunny’s too. Thank you very much.

So, onto the polls. Also, feel free to leave comments. I’d appreciate help in navigating the mine field that is Patrick Jane’s intentions and feelings.

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Screenwriter, producer, compulsive critic, editor, artist, language lover, student of life, pacifist, parent. View all posts by reviewbrain

4 responses to “Mentalist Red Moon Review

  • violet

    Hi! Thanks a lot for your absolutely delightful and enlightening analysis! I was impatiently expecting your point of view on this particular episode, but wahhh! You really made me think about it, so I hope you don’t mind if I now share my thoughts with you…

    First, Jane’s advice to Todd is a new example of that chilling yet moving brotherhood of widowers the shows seems to enjoy (offering support, giving advices, giving a gun, helping not to be arrested for assault,…).
    Jane’s worlds: “If you truly want revenge you have to be hard, you have to be dishonest, and devious and cold. You can’t let people see what’s in your heart.” Well, that summarizes pretty well Jane’s own usual behavior, so I’m not so sure he was putting an act… Let’s face it: he is cold, manipulative, and proves it when he lies to Hightower just in front of Lisbon, knowing she wouldn’t tell. Jane seems to have a peculiar and self-centered logic about people, including Lisbon: even if he cares for them or trusts them to a certain point, he still can use them. As if one thing didn’t affect the other.
    Therefore, it is quite difficult to estimate his level of honesty in that scene. The question is, when did he start suspecting Todd? Did he find a clue before the indication about the moon and the uniform button? Or did he think Todd was sincere? That may explain his attitude when he refuses to speak to him after he was arrested: he would have been fooled at first. Or he could as well simply find him disgusting (as he has told Todd in the motel room) for killing his wife-to-be. Jane is indeed particularly intolerant for men who didn’t seem to respect their women; a clear example is in the very first episode, when he lets the victim’s family fall apart, the two men being involved in adultery… As if he is trying to punish the others for not cherishing enough what himself couldn’t preserve.

    Second point, Jane’s closeness to Lisbon: in that episode, she’s his confident in the car and his accomplice in his scheme. He seems to trust her, as far as he can that is.
    For the conversation in the car, I like your view very much, it was very complete. I can’t also help but compare these rare but meaningful moments with the comments Agatha Christies put in Poirot’s mouth about criminals (and Jane’s mind has a criminal side): people, even the most secretive, always end speaking about themselves, revealing a part of themselves. That could apply to Jane: he can’t help but put off the mask sometimes, and be sporadically more himself, which is a sign of sanity. Lisbon is Jane’s opponent and probably his breather here, even if the whole scene is less than light…

    The other moment between them is far more amusing: Jane trying to play peeping-tom was indeed endearing. I’ve been surprised how natural he acts: he doesn’t seem concerned on trying to sneak a peek on his collegue and friend… Once more, Jane’s conscience seems to have its own rules and he doesn’t feel remorse to jump on every opportunity worth it. The disappointed look on his face at the end was priceless!
    That little moment shows us how little we know his deeper thoughts: what does he really think about Lisbon? Compare it with the other occasion he sees her in a sleeping outfit, the Lisbon jersey she wears in front of Dr Carmen. He seems composed and almost distant. But there is that quick glance he gives her in her office, after he has purposely interrupted Bosco and her. He is about to leave, she turns and bents over her desk and he intently glances at her, from head to toe. He looks like he’s almost ogling her. It always surprised me to find so little comments from shippers about that detail…

    In fact, I believe that that closeness has a particular meaning: the show is definitely building up the deep bond between those characters, excluding the rest of the team. Lisbon is Jane’s partner here, mentally, at work and maybe in a more emotional level. The team is accessorized, they are in the background in that episode, while we are focused on the main characters.
    Let’s give it a thought: we’ve seen another of Red John’s accomplices close to the police and a cop killer. Just like Hardy and Bosco’s secretary. Todds’ own murderer must be a cop too, since he was in custody, in the interrogation room, and they are in the CBI building (if I recall correctly)… I’ve read somewhere a spoiler that Bruno Heller planed to change something in the team dynamic (I don’t recall very much, but it was along these lines). Couldn’t it be that one of Jane’s close co-workers could be involved? That would explain the trusting mood with Lisbon and the somewhat distance with the rest of team: that would definitely build up a surprise for the viewers and at the same time hint at it. Well, I’m not really sure about the implications, but that episode, resuming the precedent position of Jane and Lisbon and giving us a glance of what’s in his head, seems to prepare for something very important. It could also give a subtlety to the almost ethereal opening scene with the deer: the episode begins with the light moment and ends with a shocked Jane, looking like a deer in headlights…

    Well, my comments seem rushed, but English is not my native language… Keep up the good work!!!

  • reviewbrain

    Wow. Thank you so much; you’ve got a pretty good perspective as well. Your totally right about janes conscience having his own set of rules. It’s why he hardly ever feels guilty about getting others in trouble. I do hope your wrong about someone on the team being involved but I can see how I would happen. But it’s way too soon for the writers to play wiu the dynamic like that. It’s only the third season. There’s really no need. I remember the series house which also changed the team at the third season and the show never recovered. I think with tv, the policy ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ should be used. And I hope the mentalist authors are wise enough to realize this. Can you imagine cho or rigsby or van pelt as traitors? Or dying? Ugh, way too melodramatic for a third season. I’m sure it would be well written but it’s not justified. The series is grat as it is they don’t need to screw it up to make it better. They’ll end up making it worse.

    Anyway, thank you so much for your insight. Is very well thought and articulated. I look forward to more comments from you:)

  • Sid

    Todd said at the beginning of the episode “I swear to God the man who did this will not live to see a courtroom.” Guess he was right…

  • Lou Ann

    Opening scene: Jane is always enthralled with nature, natural beauty, and natural phenomena; Lisbon is a city girl and totally clueless, plus way too intent on her profession to appreciate the beauty around her. Character development or foreshadowing?

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