The California Bureau of Investigations new case is the murder of Jeremy Reese, a botanist, in Clearlake. Suspicion first falls on his boss, whom CBI consultant Patrick Jane (Baker) and Senior Agent Teresa Lisbon (Tunney) learn he’d had an argument with. But the case is complicated by the fact that Reese was working two jobs: one at an organic marijuana farm owned by Matthew Gold (Troy Ruptash), and another coming up with a new strain of marijuana at a high tech lab. Meanwhile, Cho’s first time helping out Agent Tamsin Wade (Monique Gabriela Curnen) in the newly established Rapid Response Team at CBI has him running into an old flame.
Panama Red is one of my new favorite episodes this season. The case was interesting and had lots of good old fashioned Mentalist humor. The guest stars are great, including not one, but *three* recurring characters. The direction is perfection and there is plenty of continuity. The music is sublime at times, playfully flirty at others. And the performances…well, let’s just say the actors gave us a subtext party in this one. And it is all thanks to the script. Like Grossenbacher before him (who sadly has criminally only given one entry to this show so far) Michael Weiss’s foray into the Mentalist world was such that, by the time it was over, I was literally breathless with happiness. Welcome, Mr. Weiss. You’ve officially been brained. Which hopefully isn’t as painful as it sounds. At least, not this time: 9.5/10.
Detailed AKA Humungous Review (spoilers galore)
Some pretty heavy flailing is about to commence. You’ve been warned.
LISBON IS BADASS!
Both Cho AND Rigsby get a prominent role in this episode!
It’s back. My favorite show is back!!!
This has been a stellar season thus far, but also, an increasingly dark one. Just to be clear, I love the RJ plot as much as any other fan (or at least, I used to) but I completely and humbly disagree that the show should end with him getting caught (as seems to be where the show is headed). Episodes like this flaunt one of the show’s greatest assets: it’s freaking fun! Sure, it’s nice to have a run in with the Big Red every once in a while but Jane’s obsession doesn’t exactly make for easy viewing. And The Mentalist has always been a humorous show despite its dark premise. I’ve really missed it. Too much Red made me blue and I actually felt my heart break a little one episode at a time. Even Lisbon’s new plot with Vokler, while exciting, is depressing. An all powerful billionaire who wiped out an entire village and mercilessly watched as the only lead against him was choked to death? Ugh. Not even Black Cherry written by the comic genius Erica Green Swafford could bring me out of my funk. But getting two subsequent stand alone episodes seems to have done the trick. That, and the fact that Lisbon’s character remains successful not only in getting Jane more involved in the cases, but in regaining some of her long abandoned authority.
Take the beginning of this episode. Jane doesn’t show up for work. And when Lisbon calls him telling him he shouldn’t obsess like this, Jane tells her “I know I met Red John now, shook his hand.”
-Now I know the moment was graciously included to recap for viewers who may have missed an episode and subsequently where Jane’s at with his hunt for his family’s killer. But for us regulars, I found myself taking a page out of Charlotte’s book and thinking “I’m so over Red John”. Seriously, it’s more than I can handle not going back and re-watching all the episodes from the beginning to see which characters Jane shook hands with without being constantly tortured with this new clue. Thank god for the fact that the act didn’t necessarily have to have happened on screen, or us viewers would all probably become as obsessed as Jane is.
Lisbon tells Jane that they have a new case. And when he tries to distract her saying that she’s the one obsessing, she says she’ll text him the address and hangs up.
-Lisbon, acting like Jane’s boss, which she is, might be the best way to help him. If not for his sake, then for hers. It’s not like the Serious Crimes Unit can focus only on one case. And getting Jane out of his black perch can only be healthy.
Jane and the Victim Jeremy
We get to see the victim Jeremy through the eyes of his college professor Alice Burns (Susan Gibney) and very quickly a parallel is drawn between the two, the least of which being that both their names (that people called them with anyway) start with a J. Some were obviously intentional, others not so much, but I included all for fun.
First, Alice tells Jane and Lisbon that while Jeremy worked in a pot farm, he didn’t smoke. It was simply an exciting research opportunity and a “good use for his skills”.
-This is kind of like Jane, who doesn’t always (if ever) believe in the law, but working at the CBI is a good way to apply his own talents.
We then learn that Jeremy had an argument with his boss but that he didn’t tell Alice what it was about, which she explains by saying “Jeremy could be secretive.”
-Baker is in top form here and makes interesting choices with his character which we’re able to witness due to director Guy Ferland’s generous direction. You see Jane’s eyes dart to Lisbon whom we are shown in the next shot. I guess it could be possible that Jane couldn’t help staring at Lisbon’s beautiful profile, but it’s more likely that Jane wanted to see her reaction at Alice’s words since secretive is (used to be?) such a perfect description of his own personality. But there’s nothing to see there. Lisbon doesn’t react to the statement.
When Lisbon asks if Jeremy had any enemies Alice says no adding “He was kind and generous to a fault.”
-Again, these words are perfect descriptions of Jane as well, although sadly it’s been a while since we’ve been treated to those traits; they’ve either been too fleeting or he’s been too busy chasing RJ.
Alice then explains her relationship with Jeremy to Jane saying that they were “pretend family” since his mother died a few years ago and her son lives in Texas.
-Here, the comparison goes further to encompass Jane’s relationships as well: His family is dead while Lisbon’s lives in another state. It’s been established since season three that she considers him family and the theme was also alluded to several times this season.
Rigsby the Green-Eyed Monster
Looks like we have a new love triangle on the show to replace the Grace-Craig -Rigsby one. And once again, poor Rigsby is the victim.
When Agent Tamsin Wade (Monique Gabriela Curnen) comes into the Serious Crimes to tell Cho (newest member of her Rapid Response team) that they’re up to bust a counterfeiting operation, Rigsby chimes in to tell her that they have work to do. The woman snarks “I’ll have him back in a few hours, dad” to which Rigsby responds: ”If you’re the rapid response team, shouldn’t you be sliding down fire poles not hanging around here for thirty minutes?”
Someone doesn’t like Wade very much. The question is why?
It could be her general playful demeanor, which by some might be taken as haughty. When she walks in she calls them “Ladies”. But we know that it was a joke and Cho didn’t seem upset, so why should Rigsby be?
I think that, as close as the CBI team is, Rigsby resents the fact that Tamsin insinuated herself so easily within them. Especially considering how reserved Cho usually is. Or it could be Rigsby fears she’s angling to have Cho join her team. Or maybe he’s just jealous she didn’t ask him to join the team. Whatever it is, as much as I thought I might like Wade in the previous episode, I don’t blame Rigsby for not being more open to her. Yes, she seems very cool. But she seems to be very aware of the fact too. Then there’s something about the way she tells Cho “I squared it with your cute boss.”
I’m all for mentioning how adorable Lisbon is. Heck, Jane, too. It’s just not realistic to not have more people point out how attractive they are (although, writers are getting better at pointing this out i.e. If it Bleeds, it Leads). But something about the way Tamsin said that line didn’t sit right with me. I wasn’t sure what until a later scene helped me out…
Cho, Summer and Tamsin Wade
During the bust, Cho runs into his former confidential informant (and secret lover) Summer Edgecombe. Pregnant, and in town for her wedding, she tells Cho she had nothing to do with the operation; was just going on a ride with her friend.
As much as I liked Summer I always questioned if she and Cho were really good together. It’s hard to know what to make of her at times. Like in this episode. I honestly couldn’t tell if she was lying or not when she told Cho that she had no idea what her counterfeiting friend Chuck (James Jordan) was up to when he asked her to come along with him. I mean, seriously? Then there’s the fact that Summer seemed oblivious to Cho’s ambivalence (pain?) at seeing her pregnant and engaged. Rigsby’s words to Cho, that he dodged a bullet when he let her get away, represent what some viewers might think. Tougher viewers might even agree with Tamsin’s decision to charge Summer, despite Cho insisting that she should let her go and that she’s innocent; not the accomplice of the counterfeiters.
I have to disagree at least with the last. Even if by that point I wasn’t sure that I completely bought Summer’s story (she’s lied before), I felt Wade was being unnecessarily hard on her. Simply put, there was no evidence against Summer. She was standing outside a garage where a crime was being committed? So what?
Wade telling Cho she heard Summer was a lot more than just his CI made my earlier reservation with her comment kick in again. Could it be that Tamsin was jealous? That she arrested Summer to flex her muscles against Cho’s former CI and see what his reaction would be?
Maybe. She’s obviously into Cho for reasons beyond needing him in her new unit. If that’s true then maybe her mentioning Cho’s boss was cute earlier was also meant as a test. She wants to see how available he is.
Cho knows Summer enough to fight for her freedom. When Wade refuses to listen to him, Cho takes matters into his own hands. He finds Chuck, the perpetrator who escaped the bust, and gets him to make a deal with, of all people, ADA Osvaldo Ardiles (David Norona).
Regular viewers will remember the charismatic Osvaldo and Cho’s last run in didn’t go too well. But it seems like the air got cleared completely since then. Chuck agrees to testify for Osvaldo in exchange for immunity and Summer’s freedom.
This doesn’t go over well with the over zealous Agent Wade. She admonishes Cho for going behind her back and when he apologizes and says it won’t happen again, she replies “You got that right”.
I wonder if her statement was referring to Cho’s role in her team (was she dis-inviting his services?), or if it was her way of throwing water on any sparks that might be between them, or both. At her displeasure, you can’t help but wonder if Cho thinks he did the right thing; if Summer had been worth it.
Thankfully, he doesn’t wonder for long. While the former call-girl had been known to lie in the past, she wasn’t in this episode. Summer drives up in her wedding limousine with her fiance to introduce him to Cho, thank him, and say good bye.
It’s a very, very sweet scene that I think explains a lot of Summer’s character. The way she was able to quickly move on from Cho (So Long and Thanks for all the Red Snapper was only 12 episodes ago, and she’s eight months pregnant) isn’t so much due to lack of feeling as much as it is due to her innocent nature. I’m glad we got to meet her husband (to be) as it shows us what kind of man she needed: stable, patient, grounded. Cho’s own hidden well of passionate emotion (displayed in the altercation which led to their separation) shows that he’s perhaps not as well equipped to handle her. But her husband, whom Summer won’t kiss Cho on account that he gets “crazy-jealous” (hyperbole I believe/hope), seems to have been able to temper her somewhat, in a good way. Seeing her so happy, seeing Cho smile, obviously happy for her, just melted my old cynical heart.
Sigh. What an awesome episode.
But we get one last treat before it ended.
Lisbon, about to leave her office, is looking for her keys when Jane shows up and tells her they’re on her desk. Lisbon spots the puzzle box which the victim had made and only Jane knows how to open. The man gives her a barely contained grin, obviously looking forward to Lisbon’s inability to open the box and him sweeping in and “rescuing” her by opening the box for her. To Jane’s dismay, Lisbon takes a hammer from inside her desk and smashes the box open. Jane is shocked and disturbed. “You keep a hammer in your desk?!”
Lisbon then utters the best line of the entire episode:
“You only think you know everything about me.”
Seriously, how beautiful was that? You go, girl. And Jane’s reaction was awesome.
This was so hard to decide this time around. The entire episode was crazy enjoyable, start to finish, but these were my favorites; please share yours in the comments.
The winner: Lisbon and Jane question Alice Burns
I chose this one because of its beautifully moving music, the riveting acting of guest star Susan Gibney (she almost made me cry when she stops to collect herself in one scene) and the reactions to her that Jane was allowed to have. One example is when Jane surmises that Alice is ill and asks her “What are you sick with?”
Simon Baker killed me with his tone here. Remember the Jane that used to care about things besides Red John? He still exists. His gentle, soft, CARING questioning (like in the pilot with Juniper) is what makes him a fantastic mentalist, and (in my humble opinion) an especially likable and special character. Cause otherwise, he’s just House. Who is a total jerk. And while Jane can be an even bigger jerk, it is not the only aspect of his personality.
It could be that Jane’s demeanor with Alice here is due to the fact that she didn’t make the mistake of pushing his buttons. Or that he was behaving himself in an attempt to get back on Lisbon’s good side. Or that Alice was already cooperating so he didn’t need to rile her up. Regardless of the reason, we desperately need more of ‘kind’ Jane as opposed to Jane the jerk. It is just not realistic for all the people Jane questions to be idiots or sleazes who deserve (in his opinion anyway) to be played. It really is okay if some, like Alice here, actually bring out the best side of him. More than okay. It’s gold.
Speaking of gold, I just want to add how much I appreciated the scene ending on Jane’s face as he strokes the trick box. Baker’s face is wonderfully expressive; you can just see him thinking about all the methods he’ll enjoy using trying to open it. Sensitive, inquisitive, amused…I love this Jane. I miss this Jane, dammit.
First Runner Up: Cho and Summer say goodbye…again.
Again, this was such a sweet, hopeful, scene that I couldn’t help but love it. Summer looks absolutely adorable in her little white wedding dress. And Cho looks very happy for her. His dimple actually shows as he smiles at her and tells her goodbye and good luck. Then, as the couple is driven off, his smile falls, you can’t help but wonder if he doesn’t feels a tiny bit of regret too. The lovely music is wonderfully appropriate to the emotions: simultaneously uplifting and bittersweet.
Second Runner Up: Rigsby Gets High
First of all I loved the continuity of Rigsby being a great sport and going undercover. This scene was reminiscent of one of this shows best episodes, the classic Red Hair and Silver Tape. Once again, Jane and Lisbon sit in a hotel room watching Rigsby on camera. In the aforementioned episode, it was doubly amusing since he was obviously crushing on his acting partner of the time, Grace. In Panama Red, the laughs come from the fact that Rigsby has to smoke some weed to pull off his act. The results are hilarious. Yeoman was fantastic as were Tunney and Baker.
Casting was really great in this one. From Nicole Bilderback and Jack Laufer to Micheal Whaley as Elwood and James Jordan as Chuck. They were all perfect for their roles and helped keep the interest level high in scenes that might have been boring with lesser talent.
I particular enjoyed the delivery of Micheal Whaley. He was impressive as the no-nonsense security guard and had good comedic timing as well.
Susan Gibney stood out the most, however. With an easy, beautiful, ironic smile that lights up her whole face and a wry delivery that made her character exceedingly likable, she was an absolute delight.
Samaire Armstrong (who really is pregnant!) was charming as well. She was very convincing as the misunderstood, free-spirited Summer finally settling down once she found the love of her life.
David Norona’s Osvaldo Ardiles continues to be a welcome presence on this show. I just hope he doesn’t disappear like that other ADA Nicki; Mozhan Marno’s character.
Tim Kang as the strong, mostly silent Cho never fails to impress. But he is equally riveting when he lets his character’s emotions show every once in a while; his smile is especially powerful. It’s like unleashing a secret weapon on viewers; you keep forgetting he has one.
As talented a director as Baker might be, he truly shines as an actor and this episode gave us so much Baker-candy in the form of his acting prowess. It has been so long since we saw him play something other than manipulative and/or obsessed (see….well, entire review for more details) and I was completely riveted to his every expression. It doesn’t hurt that he never looked better too.
Like Baker, Yeoman’s comedic talent has also been in hiding for a while now. I loved seeing it emerge so beautifully in this episode. I literally laughed out loud in the scene he got high.
Guy Ferland’s direction makes the most out of the fantastically talented (and beautiful) cast and catches their best moments. We were given many reaction shots, but deftly so without them being shoved in our faces. At times it almost felt like I was standing right next to team. Grace’s screen time was understandably limited- the actress’s pregnancy is getting harder to hide but the shots she was in were very well done.
Blake Neely’s beautiful tunes are, as always, the perfect accompaniment to this show. It’s been a while since an episode made me tear up both in sadness (Jane questioning Alice), and happiness (Cho/Summer end scene) and the music had a lot to do with that. As we say on twitter: #gratitude
Last, but certainly not least, is writer Michael Weiss. If I knew his address I’d send him a basket of flowers. His interesting and fun script truly made my day.
Icings on the Cake
- Rigsby eating is one of my favorite things in the world.
- Jane trying to get Lisbon to eat is another.
- I liked Cho pulling Lisbon from where blood was dripping; mostly cause I heart their friendship but also because it almost felt symbolic.
- Jane is on his couch again. My favorite canon pairing ever.
-Jane asks Matthew Gold how he can get weed. When Gold tells Jane he gets in their co-op if he has a condition they can help with, Lisbon nods at Gold, glancing at Jane, with an “Oh, yeah he does” expression on her face. The moment is priceless. Now I doubt Jane would dull his mind with weed, but the mere thought is hilarious.
-Like guest reviewer P said, I too find the recurring characters fascinating and love seeing them, or just hearing about them from time to time. I won’t even pretend the fact that this episode had so many of didn’t have me flailing.
-It was nice seeing Lisbon in action questioning Elwood. Her “cop to cop” line established common ground between them which allowed the man to share some information. But it’s not enough as as he later tells her she needs a court order “cop to cop”. Michael Whaley’s reading of the line was really great, as was Tunney’s “busted” expression afterwards.
-Rigsby helps Cho find and arrest Chuck, to help Summer, even if he never approved of their relationship. Bro-love anyone? Seriously, who doesn’t love Chigsby.
“I have what you coppers call ‘a lead’.” -Jane, to Lisbon.
“Hanging some buds.” -Lisbon repeating what Gold said, clearly unimpressed with marijuana farming. Tunney’s reading was awesome.
“Well, someone’s gotta do it.” – Jane, in reply to the above. Baker’s little hitch was fantastic too.
“Patrick Jane, a consultant. This isn’t my boss.” Jane, introducing himself and Lisbon. I’m willing to bet Jane just said this to rile Lisbon up, and/or see if she takes the bait.
“I’m Teresa Lisbon and I am his boss.”-Lisbon, giving her own introduction in response to Jane. She does take his bait, but I’m glad of it. It’s nice to know she remembers her place.
“Wow.” -Rigsby’s repeated response to seeing Summer, pregnant and engaged.
“You said that.” -Cho, in response to the above.
“It’s not yours is it?” Rigsby, to Cho, about Summer’s fetus.
“Police brutality! I’m not resisting!” Chuck when Cho takes him down. Hilarious. Especially since moments before the guy beat up Cho with a heavy wooden stick when he tried to arrest him.
“It’s always something with you guys. I wasn’t looking forward to prosecuting a pregnant woman anyway.” – Osvaldo Ardiles, when he realized why Cho wants Summer freed. Love the continuity on Ardiles’s wariness when it comes to the SCU.
“Could you pass the cheese, this is getting good.”-Jane.
“Say what you will about hippies. They throw a good funeral.” -Alice, to Jane.
“Boss is it okay if I sit down?” Rigsby, on weed, to Lisbon.
“You are sitting down Rigsby.” -Lisbon, in response to the above.
“Thank you Kimball. I promise I won’t bug you anymore. I’m going to be good.” -Summer. Aw! :’-)
“You keep a hammer in your desk?!” Jane, to Lisbon. Baker’s reading of this line was priceless. As are his facial expressions. Seeing Jane look disappointing, flummoxed, maybe even a little scared (of Lisbon) was just such a treat to watch.
The botany/marijuana lingo was just a wee bit confusing as was the switch in the end. Also, I’d pegged Gold as the killer all along, though, for the life of me, I can’t tell why.
I’ve talked about how enjoyable this episode was ad-infinitum. Now it’s time to talk about how important it was.
Trust continues to prevail as a popular theme in this show. Tamsin Wade says she needs to know that she can trust Cho, which she can’t because he went behind her back to the DA. The thing is, while she trusted him enough to add him to her Rapid Response team, she still wouldn’t to take his word that Summer wasn’t involved.
Meanwhile, Cho trusts Rigsby enough to go with him and find Chuck, the guy that escaped the Rapid Response team’s raid, even though Rigsby isn’t involved in the case.
Summer loves her fiancee Marshall but doesn’t trust the knowledge that she was a call girl won’t ruin their relationship. It’s not unlike Jane who (still?) keeps things he feels might affect his relationship with Lisbon hidden from her. But while Summer changed her life, Jane has been actively trying to change Lisbon. While Jane needing someone to understand him has previously been noted as a possible reason for his “grooming” of Lisbon, we now have more information that might further support this theory
In this episode, at the victim’s service, when Jane tells Alice that he managed to open the victim’s puzzle box, she tells him, “He would have loved that you figured that out. He didn’t have a lot of people that could play at his level.” To which Jane replies, “Yeah, well it’s a curse some people live with.”
I’ve said it about Jane before: genius is a lonely place. But by grooming Lisbon, maybe it won’t be.
Jane also seems to want Lisbon to trust that everything will be all right in the end.
Lest people think this episode was a random stand alone, the writer had Jane say the following:
“You seem very obsessed with evaluating our status. Good, bad. We’re alive. The guy that made this (puzzle box) is dead. By comparison I think we’re doing very well.”
Whoa, mama! What a loaded sentence. Anyone else think that just maybe Jane is talking about more than just the case here? Lisbon sure thinks so, if her withering look to Jane is anything to go by.
Methinks Jane knows how much Lisbon is worrying about his RJ obsession, hence his use of the word, and is annoyed that this worry is manifesting itself in her being more strict with him.
Of course, Lisbon has other reasons for her changed demeanor. Season four saw Lisbon, overjoyed at Jane not being convicted, appreciating him, indulging him, and basically going along with whatever he did. But giving Jane all the leeway he wanted still didn’t get him to share his plans with Lisbon before he did his disappearing act. Nor did he tell her about his “relationship” with Lorelei, so it’s only realistic for her to revert to her no-nonsense boss-lady methods. If this is true, then it establishes a new theme for this season: Lisbon rebelling against Jane’s influence over her. This is symbolized by her breaking open the trick box instead of asking Jane to open it for her, as he obviously wanted her too. Like Jane’s earlier speech to Lisbon, it was a humorous moment but is also laced with some pretty serious subtext which reveals itself when Lisbon tells Jane he only thinks he knows everything about her.
I’ve always said Lisbon is more mysterious than Jane which is a particularly clever move on Heller’s part. If we are to remain suspenseful as to what will happen when RJ is ever found, we, like Jane, have to remain in the dark as to how she’ll act. How both of them will act, really. Either Jane will give in and let Lisbon arrest RJ, or Lisbon will help Jane get his revenge. Either way, having Lisbon, once again, be more than just Jane’s side-kick helps achieve that. The fact that genius Jane is still in the dark about aspects of Lisbon’s character keeps the show fresh and interesting.
Author’s Note: As always, thanks for reading. Please don’t forget to rate the review and share your own opinions in the comments. As we approach the end of another year I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this fantastic community of fans we’ve been blessed with. You are all fantastic and I love you. Be sure to come back on the 25th as Violet has a Christmas present for you all which I’ll post here. Or, simply “follow’ the blog to get an email the moment it is posted. Happy holidays!
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