Despite the post title, this discussion is not about love triangles relating to the shows canon romantic couple, Agents Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) and Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeoman). Rather it explores the relationships of Teresa Lisbon and Patrick Jane. This post was inspired by All-I-Need (whom I’ve owed a ‘Red Sky in the Morning’ review for almost a year now-I hope this makes up for it), by SamJMarquez (via a twitter discussion) and by all hopelessly romantic fans wanting/needing some perspective.
A large part of what makes the Mentalist so compelling is the wonderful camaraderie between its lead characters consultant Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) and Special Agent Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney). Despite the as of yet strictly platonic relationship between these two,a number of fans worldwide have mixed feelings ranging from bitter disappointment to actual rage whenever a character of the opposite sex approaches either of these friends.
The characters Kristina Frye (Leslie Hope) and Walter Mashburn (Currie Graham) in particular have gotten some hate for precisely this reason. And while Currie Graham’s charm quickly won over even the most die-hard Jane/Lisbon shippers, Kristina remains a mostly disliked character. As the Jane-Lisbon-Mashburn dynamic has already been discussed in the Red Hot review, it’s only fair to discuss the Kristina-Jane-Lisbon dynamic too . This will be done chronologically in an objective manner.
Episode ‘Seeing Red’: Summary
Kristina Frye was first introduced in season one as a victim’s psychic’. Jane “ex-fake psychic” is of course highly irritated with her insistence that she’s the real deal and can “communicate with departed souls”. She also rubs him the wrong way when she does a reading of him. When she starts making accurate predictions relating to the case Jane tells Lisbon that they should arrest her; that she’s probably the killer. Lisbon soothes him somewhat by saying that Kristina is just a good guesser. She then calls Jane out on how his real annoyance with the woman stems from the fact that she’s just as good a mentalist as he is, maybe better. Jane admits this somewhat: “Mind you, not better than me, but she is good. And it’s the good ones that are most dangerous.”
Jane later uses Kristina in his plot to catch the killer. At the end of the episode she walks up to a satisfied Jane in the bullpen and asks Jane if they can speak in private. He resignedly takes her to one of the interrogation rooms. She makes him promise that he won’t interrupt her before she talks. He does, and Kristina starts out by saying that his wife contacted her. Jane is understandably peeved.
“Oh,hang on,” he starts to interrupt, but she raises a finger to silence him before continuing.
“Ever since Red John killed your family there’s been something about that night’s events that’s been haunting you, yes? Yes?”
Jane agrees. Kristina then tells him that his wife said to tell him that his daughter never woke up, that she didn’t feel any pain or fear. Jane’s face subtly changes from bemusement to quiet fury as she continues to speak.
“You done channeling? That’s it?”
When she affirms, he thanks her tersely and looks firmly away from her. Krisitina leaves, saying her goodbye at the door.
Once alone, Jane’s face crumbles in pain and he starts to weep in small contained gasps. It is a heartbreaking moment.
Analysis: I find Kristina’s words to be very unlikely, if not impossible. Red John tortures his victims. As Jane elaborated in Flame Red, RJ cut his family open and had them die slowly. I doubt anyone can remain asleep through that.
So why’d Kristina say something that’s obviously a lie?
I can only imagine she wanted to get to Jane, either out of: a) misguided kindness or b) to stick it to him for his blatant derision of her and what she does.
The first theory is supported by the fact that Kristina seemed attracted to Jane. At one point in the case when she was questioned for having a connection to another suspect she explained that they “had sex on more than one occasion,” adding “We had fun. He’s a good time,” shifting her eyes to look at Jane.
Poker face Jane doesn’t react to her statement but the look in his eye hints that he understood her not so subtle offer. There’s no way to be sure, but considering how annoyed he was by her throughout the episode, it wouldn’t be farfetched to say that he found the offer unappealing. In retrospect and given Jane’s almost asexual nature, this becomes even more likely.
As to Kristina, this exchange suggests that she found Jane attractive and was interested in him on a personal level. If that were true, then it could be another reason for why she wanted to reassure him of his fears regarding his family’s death. Maybe she thought if she told him what she thought he wanted to hear, he’d start to move on.
On the other hand, she could have been using her sexuality in an attempt to manipulate Jane. This supports the theory that her comments on his family’s death could have been intentionally cruel; she wanted to rub salt in an obvious wound to show Jane that he’s not as impenetrable to her talents as he thinks he is.
Perhaps this is what Jane meant when he said she was dangerous…
To be fair, however, there’s seems to be no motive to support the possibility that she was being deliberately malicious.
As to Lisbon, for her part she seemed amused by Jane’s reaction to Kristina. Both she and Van Pelt hid smiles when the psychic read Jane. At this point nothing suggests she was affected in any way by Kristina’s presence in Jane’s life. This remains true during the team’s next encounter with Kristina as well…
Episode ‘Red Letter’: Summary
The second time Jane runs into Kristina is when she works with him as a fellow consultant on a case. Jane and Lisbon arrive at a crime scene to learn that the local Sherriff is used to relying on psychic Kristina’s help.
Considering how their last encounter ended Jane is understandably dismayed when he learns of Kristina’s presence. But despite his wariness, the two immediately start to banter when Jane reads the Sheriff who sulkily states “I thought you said you weren’t psychic.” To which Kristina states: “Oh he is, he’s just afraid to admit it”. Jane in turn points out the clues he used to learn about the Sherriff, all the while mocking Kristina’s communication with spirits. Lisbon finally tells the Sherriff “Let’s give them time to catch up shall we?”
-Again, there is nothing in this episode to suggest Lisbon was jealous or affected in any way by the banter between Jane and Kristina. I found that wonderfully refreshing. The role of the pining woman does not seem to suit her.
Jane and Kristina work somewhat harmoniously on the case. Jane, again, manipulates Kristina and uses her to solve the case. But she insists that rather than playing along with him, she was just doing what the spirits told her. Jane is as skeptical as ever.
Sometime during the case, Jane is walking the hall at CBI with Hightower and stops to look into Lisbon’s office where she’s talking to Kristina. Hightower follows his gaze and the two have the following exchange:
Hightower: “She likes you, that one.”
Jane: “Which one?”
Hightower (firmly) : “The blond one.”
Jane (double takes): “What?!”
Hightower: “And you like her.”
Jane then says he’s not sure where Hightower is going with this conversation, to which she replies he knows exactly where she’s going, and asks him straight out of he considers dating again. “Do you?” she repeats the question when he doesn’t answer. Jane, surprised at being put on the spot, asks “How did we get to this point so quickly?” Hightower states that she just thinks “It would be a good thing” before changing the subject when Lisbon and Kristina join them.
At the end of the episode, Jane asks Kristina out for coffee, which she declines saying that she has to meets someone, adding “maybe next time”. At Jane’s rejected posture Kristina hastily adds “Sorry, not maybe, definitely next time. Some time soon. Call me” before leaving with a big grin on her face. Jane’s own smile disappears as he watches her walking away, and is replaced by a look that seems equal parts disbelief and fear at the step he just took.
Hightower demeanor suggests that she’d wanted to give Jane this advice for a while now and the chemistry between him and Kristina gave her the chance to do so.
But to Jane, the question was random. He was understandably surprised at having his celibacy being put on the spot. He also seemed very self conscious. It’s like he knows his lack of personal life is not normal and was embarrassed by the fact. This seems especially true when we consider what he told Lisbon in season two’s earlier episode, ‘Redline’: “I feel that way too sometimes (jealous, resentful). Why does everyone else get to have a normal life?”
So Jane asking out Kristina could have been an attempt at normalcy. She represents a good opportunity to do so, since the two had enjoyed each other’s company. Her attraction to Jane was much more obvious in their second meeting and Jane seemed more intrigued than annoyed by her this time. Perhaps he was enjoying the game of trying to figure out how Kristina came about her accurate predictions, perhaps he was attracted to her as well. It’s hard to tell.
But one thing I have no doubt of is that Jane would never have asked Kristina out if not for Hightower’s prompt.
Jane’s relationship with Hightower is fascinating. Perhaps he enjoys the challenge she represents as suggested by his “She’s good” comment when Hightower first came to CBI. The fact that Hightower was obviously impressed with him is probably what allowed Jane to concede to her own abilities- Jane’s ego seems unable to resist people who appreciate his talent (i.e. Mashburn). Even when Hightower punished Jane by suspending Lisbon in Blood Money, Jane seemed more surprised than angry with Hightower. Perhaps because she had already told him she would do so, Jane couldn’t blame her. In that sense, Hightower was like a mother trying to find creative ways to control her wayward son.
Perhaps it was this motherly instinct which had Hightower interfere in Jane’s personal life and encourage him to date again. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the possibility that Hightower pushing Jane to date Kristina could also be due to wanting to create distance between him and Lisbon. She seemed to find their closeness grating and had tried to create friction/set boundaries between them in the past. Maybe she wanted to avoid another Rigsby/Van Pelt scenario.
But she also seems to genuinely care about Jane. Probably, as a mother she senses his need for guidance hence her encouragement.
Whether Hightower’s motives for encouraging Jane were motherly or managerial, Jane took her advice. I think this, more than anything, suggests that she had his best intentions in mind. I doubt Jane would have listened to her if he didn’t sense that.
But if Jane’s look at the end of the episode is anything to go by, then he was most certainly not ready to date again. But perhaps he thought it was like dreading to jump into a pool. You know it’ll be cold at first, but that fun afterwards will be worth it. Sadly it was not to be.
Episode ‘Red Sky in the Morning’: Summary + Analysis
Jane does not take Kristina out for coffee, like he offered. Instead they go to an Italian Restaurant. Jane compliments her on her appearance. Kristina states that he looked the same as always, causing Jane to laugh nervously and joke “This is my dating outfit.” Kristina then asks him if this is his first date after his wife died. Jane’s reply is mildly defensive and bemused “Do I seem out of practice?” but before Kristina can answer they are interrupted by the waiter. Kristina then channels the waiter’s mother, to Jane’s great annoyance.
- Jane/Lisbon fans were all over the fact that Jane took Kristina out to a restaurant when he’d stated in season one that he would never seduce Lisbon over a meal; that he thought it was very sophomoric. Personally I see no reason to read into the fact that Jane took Kristina to a restaurant with his harboring a secret passion for Lisbon. I do however, find the choice interesting. In the previous episode Jane asked Kristina out for coffee (casual). I wonder how that got turned into a dinner date (by comparison, more serious). Did Kristina suggest it when he called her? Could that be how she was later able to read the waiter; she’d made a previous arrangement with him? Or was it Jane’s idea? If so, what was the reason behind the choice? The Italian restaurant was a bit sophomoric and seems too cliché for someone like Jane. Was Jane so out of his element that he fell back on the traditional idea of a date; he chose the restaurant and Kristina later scoped out the waiter?
Or is the restaurant choice of no consequence and Kristina really is a psychic?
Either way, Jane was nervous. But clairvoyant Kristina is enjoying herself too much to notice. In the midst of a Jane telling her the story of the time he spent in jail (Season 2 ‘Black Gold, Red Blood’) she starts laughing unstoppably. Jane excuses himself to go to the bathroom. Once there, he locks the door, paces, then washes his hands and twists his wedding ring before heading back out. He starts to end the date when he is interrupted by a phone call from Van Pelt with a possible Red John case.
-If it wasn’t clear from Jane’s earlier demeanor how uncomfortable he was, his bathroom break certainly proved it. Washing his hands and the twisting of his ring is also symbolic of guilt; he still feels married.
Jane returns to Kristina and starts to end the date when he is interrupted by a phone call from Van Pelt with a possible Red John case. Kristina tags along to CBI and starts “channel” her way into the case. Jane seethes quietly at her attempt to insinuate herself and finally asks to speak to Hightower alone. He tells her that if she allows Kristina to consult, he will quit.
Hightower asks him what his problem is. Jane replies that all Kristina does is clever guesswork. Madeline responds with one of my favorite quotes in the episode: “Then essentially she has the same skills as you, without all the drama.” She softens the blow by asking “What’s the deal?” Jane answers simply: “Red John is mine.” Here, Madeline relents. “I hear you.” Jane relieved, thanks her.
-Jane and Hightower’s conversation is refreshingly candid and once again shows that Jane is not as indifferently confident as he pretends (of course Jane’s insecurity has pretty much become canon in season 3). Here he was obviously feeling threatened by Kristina (as in episode ‘Seeing Red’) and when Hightower relents to his request to not let the psychic on the case, he looks and sounds extremely relieved, like he wasn’t sure she would pick him. Poor guy. As to Lisbon, again (to my delight) there was no indication whatsoever to show that she feels one way or another towards Jane’s date nor his relationship with Kristina; at least not until that point in the episode.
Kristina manages to set Red John’s sights on her when she appeals to him on television to get help. Jane is understandably furious with her as is Hightower. Kristina tries to appease their worry and anger, putting up a strong front stating that Red John won’t come after her. Jane tells Hightower that Kristina needs to be protected. Lisbon states that he team will supervise the officers who will bodyguard Kristina. She and Jane take the first shift. While there at her home/office/spa, Jane remarks “Nice place, huh? Tasteful. ”
-This comment is a far cry from Jane’s derision of Frye’s old temple (episode ‘Seeing Red’). The change could indicate a change in his opinion of Kristina. Or he could have just been impressed with her new place (which admittedly is nicer), or he was just making conversation. Or maybe Jane’s comment on Kristina’s house and his request for Lisbon’s opinion on it was an indirect request for Lisbon’s opinion on the woman who currently piqued Jane’s interest.
Lisbon’s response? “To me it looks like we’re about to pay way too much money to get our legs waxed.”
-I adored this quote; Lisbon could have been talking to one of girlfriends here (if she has any). Since it’s Jane though, her response almost sounded like a girl indirectly telling her (male) best friend that she disapproved of his girlfriend. Personally I think Lisbon’s catty response here is less indicative of jealousy (there had been none at all) and more indicative of how annoyed she was with Kristina for the mess she made.
Kristina walks in behind Lisbon as she makes her “too much money for a leg wax” comment. Jane too late tries to alert Lisbon that she’s being overheard, but Kristina surprises Lisbon when she offers them lunch. Lisbon accepts. Jane declines.
-Lisbon is always the one declining food while Jane’s main source of nourishment seems to be the food he eats at suspects/victims homes. Lisbon accepting food shows how embarrassed she was at being overheard. Foodie Jane giving up a meal shows how upset he is. Kristina realizes this as she apologizes for putting herself in danger hence making Jane feel compelled to protect. Jane agrees to eat if she stops “making a fuss.” Satisfied, Kristina leaves. Note: watch Lisbon’s annoyed face in the background, suggesting her residual annoyance with the woman, again, presumably, for her indifferent attitude when she was putting them through the trouble of having to protect her and causing Jane so much grief.
Kristina’s façade finally crumbles when Red John kills the woman who interviewed her. Jane and Lisbon go to check the crime scene scene. After Jane confirms that RJ is in fact the culprit he wants to hurry back to stay with Kristina. Lisbon tries to reassure him that RJ won’t go after her, and if he does she has many cops protecting her. “You really wanna wait around Kristina’s house waiting for Red John to show up?” She tries to get Jane to return with her to CBI and work their current case. Jane refuses saying that there’s nothing useful he can do there. Lisbon finally gives up: “Fine, go wait for Red John. It’s not a good idea though.”
-Lisbon’s stance here is a sure sign of her worry over Jane over the predicament Kristina caused.
I don’t think a love triangle ever existed between Lisbon, Jane and Kristina. Any negativity Lisbon may or may not harbor towards Kristina is a direct result of the psychic’s actions which led to a lot of grief for Jane. This is a natural response any close friend or family member would have for the sake of someone they care about. As to Jane, he no doubt cared about Kristina as shown by how frantic he was when she disappeared, but he was never in love with her. At the time of their date he was still in love with his wife.
Season three saw a dramatic shift between Jane and Lisbon. First with Jane distancing himself from Lisbon, out of fear that Red John will once again hurt someone he’s close to. Perhaps this fear is what led Jane to cheer on Mashburn’s courting of Lisbon. He wanted Lisbon to be preoccupied with another man to deter RJ from thinking that Jane harbored any special feelings (either friendship or romance) towards her. But their joint hostage situation in ‘Ball of Fire’ brought them back closer than ever only to have their friendship put to the test once more in Red Moon (via different revenge views). Jane himself tested their friendship in ‘Blood for Blood’ perhaps to gauge the limits of Lisbon’s character, patience and feelings towards him, preparing her for the day he killed Red John. Now that he has, it remains to be seen if their friendship will remain intact. In the finale, Jane used a ruse to begin to express the depth of his emotions towards Lisbon; like he did in Code Red. The fact that Jane never articulated those emotions outright does not mean they are not there. Jane loves Lisbon, as she loves him. I do not doubt this whatsoever. Whether his feelings are romantically inclined doesn’t matter in the least. She is currently the most important person in his life.
Jane also seems more emotionally attached to Lisbon than vice-versa. This phenomenon started back in season two since ‘Red Badge’, and increased in intensity after Bosco asked Jane to take care of Lisbon before he died (if, in fact that was what he said)- see Jane/Lisbon moments for all the instances Jane tried to help Lisbon.) Even Jane pushing her towards Mashburn in Red Hot could be defined as taking care of her; he wanted her to be happy. It will be interesting to see how Jane will react in the future if a man approaches Lisbon romantically, now that Red John is out of the picture.
As to Lisbon, I think she’ll be more than willing to continue holding Jane at arm’s length despite her increased understanding of Jane’s personality (see how she shied away from his gratitude in Redacted). She has yet to display any romantic inclination towards him (embarrassment doesn’t count) for oh so many reasons.
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