NOTE: Once again this review was written by Violet, an avid reader and commenter to this blog. I would like to thank her for her unique (as always) perspective and generous contribution. You’re the best. -Reviewbrain
At a crime scene in Northeast Sacramento Lisbon (Tunney) calls Jane (Baker) (who is enthralled watching the moon) over to where a young woman’s body was found shot to death. They examine the corpse of Eleanor (Jessica Alvarado) and Jane assumes almost immediately that she was a musician who played a string instrument based on the callouses on her fingers. Jane later reveals himself as an eager music lover and begins his investigation with the Northern California Symphony Orchestra whom the victim used to play the violin with. Meanwhile, Cho (Tim Kang) meets a kid, Anthony Rome (Kwesi Boakye) who steals his keys and his car. After being found by the police, the kid is sent to the CBI to be watched after by none other than our impassive Cho.
This episode was comparable and at the time in great contrast with the last one: after Rigsby’s little dive into introspection, it’s now Cho’s turn to be under the spotlight. He also has to deal with a troublesome character ; a (very) young delinquent. But, while “Like A Red-headed Stepchild” (“LARS”) was written a bit erratically, Rhapsody in Red (RIR) fared much better.
The storyline was also similar, with a strict division of the show in two plots, Jane’s and Cho’s. And here’s another difference can be found. In RIR both storylines are given equal attention and the investigation isn’t underrated like it was in “LARS”. The impression of balance is further accentuated by an almost total parallelism between those plots; their moments coincide like two parallel lines which hardly ever touch: Lisbon is mostly the element linking them. Very cleverly and carefully done. Another point contributes to create unity: the theme of music. It’s displayed from the beginning until the very end; concentrated in Jane’s plot (with the setting, him listening Brahms –a rhapsody composer- played by the victim,…), it radiates into the story. The title, an obvious reference to George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, hints from the start that the whole episode is, metaphorically speaking, a rhapsody, with its rhythm and fantasy, and that Jane is the conductor.
Finally this episode also stands out by having the murder case unravel slightly differently than in an average episode. Here, Jane doesn’t keep information to himself. Instead, like a classic whodunit, we can follow his reasoning step by step until the very end where the suspect is revealed in a classic confrontation.
Therefore, the charm of this episode indubitably comes from the very well-thought writing. Although there are a few pet peeves, they are truly « pet » because they did not detract from an otherwise perfect episode. Even the weirdest scenes, seemingly a bit artificial (Jane “playing” the drums or the bass), support the whimsical theme of the episode and also serves as a contrast to what viewers know will be a highly emotional and tension filled season finale. Truly well played Mr. Appelbaum. 10/10.
Detailed AKA Humongous Analysis (spoilers galore)
First, our beloved continuity: this episode is linked to the previous one by an allusion to the now slight uneasiness between Rigsby and Grace. Alphonse (the kid Cho was watching) wants to run away from CBI so he creates a diversion by sending Rigsby a lusty message from Van Pelt’s phone. Rigsby, thinking Van Pelt is mocking him, goes to confront her. This amusing ruse shows that Rigsby still feels insecure about his confession. They have visibly not spoken about Rigsby’s confession the previous episode nor has the tension been resolved.
Now, let’s get a glimpse at the two mentioned plots: they will be discussed separately, since they have very little actual contact. First will be Jane’s, since he does most of the investigation.
In general, the case isn’t very often the most interesting aspect of the show, it’s frequently only a pretext for a greater exploration (character development, dramatic plots, etc). But the best episodes are the ones which manage to maintain interest throughout, as is achieved here. The case is made appealing by Jane’s dedication to it. It is funny and coexists with the character interaction and moments much more serenely than in the previous episodes.
There were three distinct themes in this case:
1) Jane and the team
Jane almost doesn’t interact with the team, except for some very brief moments. Like when he eagerly offers to catch the stolen car up with his DS and Cho simply ignores him or when he interrogates the mother with Van Pelt. For example, when Lisbon finds him in the bullpen enjoying music, he’s alone. Same thing with the DA assistant scene, he is hiding in her office and leaves just when the other arrives. The phases of the investigation are separated between the team and him: they get to search the better part of Eleanor’s private life, while he deals almost exclusively with the professional part. Now was this done by the writer to find some balance between the components of the plot? Or is it a way to hint that Jane has effectively managed to distance himself from them and he wants to enjoy some private time without having to deal with them?
2) Jane and music
Jane’s love for music is subtly connected with some previous episodes. In season one he once listened to jazz when driving his car with Lisbon (‘Carnelian Inc’). He also listened to the victim’s mp3 player in “Redwood” and in that same episode, the only memory viewers were ever shown of his family was that of his wife teaching their daughter to play the piano. Again, the RJ’s plot is implicitly present in subtext ; the killer also likes music.
Some scenes at CBI showing Jane listening music are also disseminated during the episode. It’s interesting that he isn’t brooding, but seems active, seated at this table or in Lisbon’s office. He isn’t on his couch or in the attic. Sure, it would be more difficult to move his arms in rhythm while lying on his couch, but above all that marks his willingness to be invested in the case: in the opener, he snaps out of this poetic trance with the word “Work” and the music he’s listening to was played by the victim.
But Jane’s interest and happy demeanor could be a result of something more than just his love for music.
3) Jane and Lisbon
In “LARS”, Jane and Lisbon seemed more certain of their relationship. Here, he also seems to have more confidence in himself. Like I said, Jane pulls the strings of the investigation, he leads metaphorically the orchestra, just like he gives them the tempo in the ending scene.
The episode also gives some more insight in their friendship: she’s still a little dubious of his methods. But what is really significant is how Jane (relatively) tries to stay within the limitations of the law.
First, he follows as Lisbon questions the witnesses. When she tells him it’s how the work is done he offers an alternative method. He brandishes what he tells the crowd is a $100 for information to observe their reactions and pick out which bystander might be useful. It works.
Later Jane goes to a party hosted for the orchestra, and calls Lisbon over after he sets the stage to have the victims lover be revealed. Lisbon arrives just in time to hear a woman gossip to them about how the conductor was having an affair with the victim and that he was abusing her. Jane of course feigns surprise at this information but Lisbon knows him better and gives him a simple “You. Why ?”
Lisbon’s reaction in this scene is telling. She immediately understands that Jane is lying and asks him straight out why to which he answers he’s trying to lure out the real lover. Once more, Jane is relatively benign here. While his actions are just indelicate with the law, he takes some liberty (falsely accusing someone could get him a complaint), but he doesn’t do anything outright illegal.
The fight scene was really amusing. Jane watching while our strong Lisbon awkwardly stands and tries to stop the lamest fight (wrestling on the floor) in the show’s history. The moment reminds a little the lightness in season two’s “Rose-Colored Glasses”, when Jane caused havoc in the high school reunion where a guy he had been giving advices to began a fight. Jane had the same sheepish expression. But, it is in great contrast to how Jane needlessly started a fight in ‘Bloodsport’ which Lisbon had to diffuse. While in Bloodsport Jane was completely unconcerned and unapologetic, here he is somewhat concerned and tells Lisbon that he’s ready to call for back-up if she needs it.
The difference can’t be a coincidence. Is it too far fetched to assume, like in “LARS”, that Jane is still showing some respect for Lisbon’s authority and trying to please her after she saved him in ‘Redacted’ ?
There has been some indication of this. As stated in the previous review, Jane’s happiness recalls his attitude at the beginning of episode “Red Gold” and how well behaved he was after (in the previous episode) Lisbon made him happy.
This also fits in with something Jane said to Hightower in season two about Lisbon: “When she’s unhappy, I’m less happy”. There is now enough evidence to safely take that statement even further : when Jane’s pleased with Lisbon, he’s happy.
Later, Jane gives Lisbon a flower from the bouquets he ordered. Her reaction is to be wary ; she asks him if the flower squirts water. He answers that there is no trick, the only trick is that he guessed the killer.
Jane said almost exactly the same thing at the hospital in “Bloodstream”, his discovering the murderer was his congratulation gift for her getting her job back.
And this flower, a hydrangea (or hortensia) is another example of how well-written the story was: the simple and obvious meaning is that it came from the bouquets he ordered to discover who the killer is-a petal from the same flower was found near the victim’s body. So Jane giving Lisbon one is obviously a choice motivated by the case.
But at the same time, blue hortensias are often used in weddings. For the viewers, that could also be a discreet allusion to the upcoming ceremony. Finally, there exists a potential hidden connotation: in the language of flowers, a hortensia symbolizes heartfelt emotions and thankfulness to someone who has an understanding nature. So, the meaning of the gesture could also be gratitude from Jane to Lisbon’s attitude, particularly after “Redacted”.
There are multiple layers of meaning here and this simple gesture can be understood in as many ways as the viewer desires.
Cho’s plot which deals with low class criminality contrasts with that of an elitist orchestra. The two parts are connected by the victim and a line from her mother who tells Jane and Grace that “most kids never make it out of this neighborhood.”
Although it’s not obvious in the episode, that part isn’t devoid either of subtext. We know that Cho used to be a young criminal, so we can assume that he can identify to some extend with Anthony. There is even a mention that he was with the Playboys gang. This episode is therefore another illustration of one of the season themes : the characters confronting their past. Still, that is done quite differently than it was for Rigsby, and the atmosphere is far lighter.
This plot is difficult to divide in separated scenes, so it’ll be analyzed by groups of scenes and defining moments in the storyline.
1) The setting : the kid steals Cho’s car and is brought to the CBI. The action is prepared, we get to know the challenging young delinquent. The atmosphere is rather comical: it’s so rare to see the imperturbable Cho overwhelmed by the situation, and to make us watch the kid at his place behind the wheel was inspired. Cho ignoring Jane and his offer to get in his car to chase the teen was hilarious. Afterwards, Cho as a very reluctant babysitter was a funny contrast with Lisbon’s performance with Hightower’s children.
2) At the bullpen, Anthony almost manages to pull out a plan for escaping that Jane would have been proud of… The humor is still present: Cho brings him a hamburger; and when Anthony unexpectedly protests that he’s a vegetarian, Cho remedies to the problem with his usual blunt style, by opening the burger and taking the meat off with his hand. Also, the kid sending Rigsby a fake message for distracting him was cute: the childish simplicity of « I want you baby come to me » was endearing; we can wonder if he sensed some tension between them or if he only assumed things… The cops finally realize that no one is watching their little prisoner and they run after him: again, funny development, because the tall and strong Rigsby is distanced and that’s finally Cho who corners him. That could almost pass for a parody of their usual chase scene… And, clever detail, him accepting to give them information on the victim’s ex-boyfriend adds a justification to them keeping him around.
3) Cho and Anthony finally come to an understanding in a key scene: Cho tries to make him sleep in what seems to be a mixing between a holding cell and a interrogation room (is the bed for suspects or is it a kind of emergency bedroom for night pullers?). The kid struggles and wants to run away but Cho firmly holds him and makes him talk: Anthony’s father, Lawrence Rome is in jail for a crime he didn’t commit and the kid is trying to find the man who could provide his dad’s alibi. That altercation makes one of the most dramatic moment of the episode and denotes a shift in their relationship, they somehow come to a form of trust. Cho goes and sees the father in jail and promises to find the witness.
4) Back at headquarter, the DA assistant Osvaldo Ardiles (David Norona) who’s on Rome’s case pays them a visit. He tells Lisbon that they need to talk about Cho. The next scene shows the DA, Cho and Lisbon sitting together where he explains that he’s trying to get Rome to flip on his gang bosses in the South Side Mafia in exchange for freedom. Cho tells the DA that he knows more about how gangs work and that Rome won’t flip because then he’ll get killed. Ardiles asks Lisbon if he needs to “take this upstairs” to which she answers no. In a rare occurrence, she stands against her team member and tells Cho that they shouldn’t get involved since it’s not their case. The scene hints that they know Ardiles quite well. They probably are used to such meetings about Jane. That’s suggested by how hastily the consultant left when the ADA. It’s also shown by how Lisbon called the DA by his first name.
5) Cho’ solo… Like a lonely avenger, he dismisses the direct orders from his boss, saves the kid from juvenile services and brutally arrests the needed witness. It’s visible that he has gotten personally involved because he doesn’t hesitate to punch when another man who chooses to interpose and to protest. It’s strange to watch him rebelling, since that’s usually Jane’s part. Hence, second confrontation with Ardiles. The man tells him there would be no more favors from the DA office: « you’ve screwed things for your people, my friend ». Given the amount of complaints about Jane, we can suppose there would be consequences. This pre-conclusion ends with as bittersweet victory, because Ardiles also states that the Social Mafia gang will only become stronger.
6) The conclusion: Anthony’s father Lawrence thanks Cho who answers “you have a chance, don’t mess it up”. The humor is back when the kid thanks and hugs “Mr Rigsby”. As Wayne finds it weird, Cho, ever the blunt and impassive one, tells him to check his pockets: the kid is a clever pickpocket. The scene ends up with Cho smiling and laughing alone after Rigsby chases the pair. This ending is quite hopeful: the father seems to have become responsible enough to change his life for the love of his son. That takes place almost in front of Rigsby and there is a gap with the man’s relation with his own father in the previous episode. In both cases, the father is a criminal, but here he is willing to change for his son.
Moreover, Cho’s bravado attitude also contrasts with the trust Rigsby has showed for Lisbon, even though his was a private matter. Cho isn’t even directly concerned with Lawrence Rome’s case, yet he goes against a direct order and seems to have less respect for her position as a leader. Is that due to their exchange of situation in “Bloodstream”?
Still, in spite of the plot being resolutely turned towards action and humor, there are some hints at character development. Twice in the same episode, Cho more or less tacitly makes deals that he doesn’t keep: to Anthony, who has accepted to talk about the case for getting out, he straightforwardly says they had no deal. That’s normal, but what is less expected is that with the DA assistant, he plays with words, telling that he agreed he shouldn’t interfere, not that he wouldn’t. Cho here plays as if he was a freelancer, he follows his own rules, even though he gets positive results. He is very autonomic: he has chosen not to follow the orders, he hardly interacts with the others (except for the kid), he only warns Rigsby at the end after he has been had, he puts the protection for his people at risk. All this makes his situation very particular and disturbing…
On the other hand, watching our impassive Cho keeping in his arms a struggling kid was very powerful… The only other moments when he couldn’t keep his calm were in “Blood in Blood out” (season 2), and in season 3 when Rigsby told him he used him as an alibi for his father (“Bloodsport”). Also, to some extent, when he was suddenly promoted head of the unit. But, in those occurrences, the impression was more negative: in “BIBO”, he was in a rage and refused Lisbon’s help; he showed then a quite troubling face, not really caring about consequences when angered. In “Bloodsport” he angrily refused at first to lie for his friend and was quite resentful for some time. In “Bloodstream”, he was a little ambivalent and Rigsby even called him “scary”. He had some harsh words towards Lisbon (“I don’t want walls between me and my team”) but sincerely tried to protect her position and at the end, even smiled at her when leaving after she declined the invitation to go for a drink with them. He obviously wanted to help her and didn’t react very smoothly when she kept saying everything was fine. In both cases, he supported Rigsby and Lisbon, but his attitude was still a little… off, for lack of a better term. The only example of a completely generous help from him is in this episode, when he isn’t really concerned.
So, there is always a mix when Cho is involved: he can be quite nice (and smile charmingly), but, at the same time, he still maintains distance with the others, even his friends. It’s somewhat difficult to appreciate if it is only due to an uneasiness at communicating (I can remember Elise telling him at home that he was even more silent than usual) or that he is in fact a little cold…
To wrap it up, the conclusion of each plot puts the other in perspective: Cho punches a guy/ Jane gives a flower; Cho confronts the DA assistant/ Jane reveals the murderer; both end with a smile, Cho alone and satisfied/ Jane happily playing with the musicians. It was a very lovely double conclusion, light and smiling.
The end of this season has then followed a well-thought rhythm: there has been a pressure building up until the climax that was “Redacted”; then the change of nature of the tension in “LARS” brought a sort of relief; now this episode is visibly lighter and seems a reminder of the not so overly stressed Jane we had some time ago, just before the dramatic finale. The same goes for the characters: the writers have been actively trying to restore the balance between the omnipresent Jane and the team, giving more space for Rigsby, Cho and Van Pelt and her wedding hopes. Once again in preparation for the finale…
And, last remark, Ron, the discreet CBI agent, makes a new appearance… he has been more present lately. Is that a hint? Or are they just fueling our paranoia?
The winner: Cho and Lisbon in front of the assistant attorney. We are used to see Jane having problems and being the uncontrollable member of the team: watching Cho in his place, trying to defend his right to help a man who was innocent was even more powerful. We identify with him here and that scene makes the entire plot with Anthony deeper, because it’s clear that Cho has to make a choice between obeying rules and his conscience. Without this confrontation, this part of the story would only have been a funny semi-private investigation from Cho. After it, it becomes quite a serious matter that enlightens his character and could have consequences for him and the team.
1st runner up: Jane’s first meeting with the orchestra. He approaches the members of the Northern California Symphony Orchestra during a rehearsal and starts interrogating informally one of the musicians. When the conductor of the orchestra arrives, Jane observes the interaction between him and his musicians, mostly him snapping at them. He then interrupts to accuse the maestro of being a cold hearted murderer. The suspect protests, Jane insists and remarks that he could also be innocent. To further prove his point, Jane starts to rhythmically play the drums, in front of the disbelieving musicians.
The scene was great, Jane’s energetic accusations were unexpected this soon in the investigation, and his display of weirdness was endearing, funny, surreal and well… yeah, weird…
2nd runner up: the opener. It’s a difficult choice because the episode was funny and some other moments were very nice too, like the magical and unreal ending. But the opener is almost the only (very indirect) allusion to Red John, with, even more indirectly, the love Jane expresses for music. Jane is watching the beauty of the moon at its perigee, just like he was basking in the sun in “Every Rose has its Thorn”. This moment is especially graceful and poetic and reminded me of “Red Moon”, its almost opener with the deer and the subsequent ethereal scene in when a suspect explains how he saw for the last time his dream girl, seemingly riding to the moon. In “Red Moon”, the plot had it’s comical aspects (especially the fake psychic) and Red John seemed to be out of the scene, but the dramatic ending showed that the case was linked to him. There is a similar structure here: although this episode was lighter, the finale of the season will be dramatic and connected to him.
-Tim Kang gave us a powerful impersonation of Cho. He really did stand out.
-Baker, as always. He managed to stay in character with the weirdest lines ever and particularly eccentric moments…
-David Norona was very credible as DA assistant Oscar Ardiles. I wonder if he will become a recurrent character? Can we expect problems from him in next season?
-Marlene Forte as the victim’s mother was very believable and sympathatic. I can’t remember the last time I was so affected.
Icing’s on the Cake
I really liked how the music was radiating from Jane’s plot to become the theme of the episode, without even being mentioned in Cho’s plot. That gave a playful atmosphere. It adds an endearing aspect, with the episode seemingly repeating a musical pattern: Jane being at his desk listening to Brahms, then his joyous mood at the meeting with the orchestra when he slap the drums ; enjoying music again in Lisbon’s office and, at the end, when he cheers the musicians up by improvising with them (= Jane in the office/ with the orchestra /in the office/ with the orchestra). Also the ep starts with a poetic scene accompanied by the sound of a church bell and ends with that unreal ending with the jazzy improvisation. Music highlighted the structure of the episode.
“I agreed that I shouldn’t help, didn’t say that I wouldn’t”- Cho channeling his inner Jane…
“Now, Starsky. Let’s go get him. I’ll drive”- the blond Jane calling the dark haired Cho “Starsky” while getting in this vintage car for a chase… that was… incredible! I’m still smiling…
« Musicians, professional obsessives. Most kids spend their teens years having fun, you spend them practicing skills” –has Jane a judgmental vision of every profession? After doctors, musicians…
“Guilty people often fold up at that point… guilty people with a conscience, that is. Which means that you’re either innocent… or a cold heartless monster. Or both” So he’s either innocent or guilty… yeah, no kidding? And Jane manages to add insult to the accusation! That was hilarious…
-“Kieran isn’t so much feeling sick,/ as he’s feeling guilty sick/ with guilt/ because it was him who killed/ Eleanor” that rather odd line is almost cadenced like a rhyme or a song by Jane.
- We should have seen Lisbon’s reaction after Cho’s stunt. Why are the confrontations between her and the rebellious members of her team always missing, lately?
- Like in “Blood for Blood”, writer David Appelbaum seems to have a thing for taking quite abrupt liberties with procedure… especially with kids and the legal system of their guard: even if they couldn’t process him right away, why would the police let the CBI watch the kid if he stole one of their cars? “He stole your keys, he’s your problem”? What kind of logic is that? He wasn’t even a real witness for the murder. And, afterwards, Cho just has to tell that the man from Juvenile Service that he needs now to process Anthony for hitting him to stop the procedure, while the elevator doors close? That the serious Crime Unit, how a kid brutally struggling could ever pass for a serious crime? That was lame indeed…
- Between the last episode and this one, we have twice two plots starring separately Jane and someone from the team. That’s repetitive and redundant and only manages to give us, purposely or not, the impression that they are keeping each others at arms length. Moreover, the successions of these similarly built episodes makes Jane appear as an eccentric and troublesome character just placed in a contrasting environment (in jail, with the orchestra). The similarities are a little too obviously and we aren’t exactly as surprised by the plot as we should have been. That’s a pity…
- Are they all going to punch somebody? Lisbon in “Redacted”, Rigsby fighting with his father, now Cho… Is that a pattern or what?
Reviewbrain: I’d like to thank Violet once more for proving that she really was the perfect choice as guest reviewer. Thank you for your hard work and for keeping the reviews coming while I am otherwise engaged.
Now to really get fans in the mood for tomorrow’s finale, here are a few fan written fics about Jane and Lisbon’s infamous behind the scenes “Talk”. Both are by Little Mender and should be read in order as the second is a sequel for the first.
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