After nagging at his colleague and former lover Grace Van Pelt (Righetti) who was late at the crime scene, Wayne Rigsby (Yeoman) joins Cho (Kang) near the body. Since Jane (Baker) isn’t present, Rigsby proceeds to describe to him the specifics of the crime over the phone. They soon realize that the victim and her absent husband had been participating in a radio talk show for couples having problems.
Rebecca Perry Cutler gave us here a very well-written and well-though episode. When so many commenters have been complaining about the lack of progress in the relationship between the two lead characters, she answered to their pleas and even added an unexpected and audacious new turn of events in the Van Pelt/Rigsby storyline. It gives an interesting and much needed recap on personal questions before the season finale. Some deliciously sweet and addictive “Cupcakes” we got!
Detailed AKA Humongous Review (spoilers galore)
Two major arcs are entwined through the episode. They concern the two potential couples in the team: Rigsby and Van Pelt, whose relationship has been on and off in the history of the show and Jane and Lisbon, whose interaction gives off particularly ambiguous vibes here.
Lisbon and Jane: complicity/ intimacy…
VIS # 1: Jane in the attic, part I
For once, the episode doesn’t open up with the protagonist arriving at the crime scene, it’s a glimpse of Wayne and Grace’s tense relation that introduces the murder of the week. The male agent is bothered by his ex-lover’s new supposed new relationship and snaps at her for being late. As there is no sign of their consultant, Risgby calls him on the phone and discovers that the older man is –unsurprisingly- still holed up in his attic at the CBI building… In fact, Jane is studying the board and that right away reminds the viewers of the fact that Kirkland has a copy of it now.
While pacing his dusty very own headquarter, Jane accepts to help them out with the case, without leaving the room: Rigsby will be his ears and eyes. Variants of this scene have occurred thorough the seasons. For instance Jane has been blinded once and relied on the others’ eyes to unravel a mystery and even to drive a car (twice); he has also helped out Lisbon once to find a bomb on the phone, relying on her description and his prodigious memory… so this new form of investigating from afar is not completely unheard of from Jane, still it illustrates further his extensive skills and presents him again as an expert in his area, like in ‘Red in Teeth and Claws’ and in ‘Red, White and Blue’. Like fictional detective Nero Wolfe, whose books were seen in ‘Red Lacquer Nail Polish’, he acts as an “armchair detective” who lets the others do the legwork and collect the information while he takes over the task of analysing it and synthesizing it into a valid theory… Thus he’s able to deduce that the victim had couple problems; he’s focused from the start on the relationship the late Missy Roberts had with her husband. That’s why he guides Rigsby through the rooms susceptible of enlightening him: “I want to understand their relationship. Bedrooms say a lot”.
In the kitchen, Rigsby finds the ‘Red Velvet Cupcakes’ which gave its name to the episode. They are another example of Jane’s skills since he knows that Wayne has discreetly taken one of those « awesome looking cupcakes » and asks him to « put that cupcake back ». At the same time, they’re also the symbol of Missy’s unhappy marriage, since she disagreed with her husband about food as she loved to bake, whereas he was on a diet.
Right from the start, the plot seems centred on relationships. The red gerberas daisies -that are showed on the kitchen counter with insistence- confirm that impression. The red flowers link the scene to the general RJ arc; the daisies are also flowers generally connected to love. Plucking a daisy is indeed a well-known game to know if someone loves you or not and, amusingly, it matches the one Wayne will be later playing with Grace…
VIS # 2: Jane in the attic, part II
But the major goal of the scene is to present a stark contrast with the second time Jane’s called on the case. Indeed, later Lisbon comes to the attic door after the lead about the husband has been mostly discarded.
Like the first time, Jane is reluctant and tries to chalk off the clues which tend to innocent Kip Roberts as forged ones. He seems pretty eager to dismiss the case in order to concentrate in his main activity: catching RJ. Indeed, his apparent nonchalance is refuted by his awareness of his surrounding: like he did with Cho in the previous episode, he recognizes Lisbon before even hearing her voice. Same with his lake of activity: Lisbon assumes he’s working on his list, but actually he’s lounging on his makeshift bed and reading. He almost looks like a lazy and unenthusiastic teenager whose mother is knocking on his bedroom door because dinner is ready… still, that’s again an appearance because it seems that Jane just doesn’t want to leave the attic, either because he waits for Kirkland to make a move, or because he had falsified the board in order to trick him in the last episode and is now guarding the real one… Either way, the shot from above him while he’s reading reminds of the view we’d have from a camera surveillance. As commenters C Hill, Old Man and Zee pointed out for ‘Behind the Red Curtain, the filming tends to suggest that he’s being watched.
Since Jane has decided to ignore her attempts at convincing him, Lisbon then plays her last card: she tells him the magic words “I need you”… Jane pauses and abruptly comes with her, to her great surprise. He answers her plea with a heartfelt: « it’s nice to be needed. Anything for you, Lisbon »… So he refused to come for professional reasons like solving the case, yet he doesn’t hesitate when she makes the matter personal and reach out for his help. It’s the same pattern than when she asked him to help her get Volker: she told him “I need your help” and in the next episode he was all over the place trying to get the bad guy and subtly threatening him. Now, things go a notch further: Lisbon is not threatened by anyone like was by Volker and the case doesn’t involve a mass murderer. Plus, it isn’t his “help” that he requests because she has no other mean to get to the truth: it’s just him. Things are indeed getting pretty personal and they are aware of the change: they briefly look at each other and a myriad of emotions are expressed in Lisbon’s face, before settling with a mix of smugness and surprise. It’s a meaningful moment.
In fact, their complicity is in dire contrast with Rigsby’s jealousy and the couple problems the victim faced. Their closeness shines even through a later scene, when, after following her o the field and interrogating the Missy’s sister, he discovers another titbit of information about Lisbon: she knows the radio talk show the victim and her husband attended to, « Prescription for Love »… When Lisbon caught her consultant staring meaningfully at her, she tries to plays it off as something she “listened to in [her] car a few times”. Jane tells her he would go to the radio station and he’d leave her the “shady baker” Missy worked for. And then Lisbon betrays her interest in coming too, to Jane’s great delight («Ahaha, that’s ‘cause you’re a fan”). He proceeds to tease her merciless, adding “it’s fine Lisbon, we all have our guilty pleasures”. He’s very gleeful to learn something new about her…
VIS # 3: Jane and Lisbon at the radio studio
At the radio studio, Jane and Lisbon are mistaken for a couple auditioning for a session… Lisbon answers bluntly with a awkward “we’re not a couple, please” and, faced with the receptionist’s expressionless stare, Jane remarks helpfully “what she means is that our is more of a platonic love”. He’s obviously teasing her and annoying the woman at her desk since he keeps stuffing his pockets with sweets.
Still, his matter-of-fact tone might remind us viewers that he may be a bit serious: after all, he has confessed in the previous season finale that he loves her (in whatever sense that “love” has to be taken); and indeed, whatever they have is “platonic”, they haven’t been and are not sleeping together. So he’s announcing to the world that they have feelings for each other, but that they’re not acting on them (no sex, no actual relationship)… He’s acknowledging for the first time with words that there may be something going on between them, and does it as a joke… like he did somehow when he pretended not to remember what he said in ‘The Crimson Hat’, he’s making progress but still takes care of staying in the grey zone… And he deepens the impression that he’s teasing her when, after she has flashed her badge as a response, he adds for the receptionist that “she’s very excited” to see the love doctor she listens to on the radio.
Jane is very jovial in this episode, may it be because he knows he’s making progress on the RJ investigation and it cheers him up, or because Lisbon took a step towards him. Anyway, his attentions are concentrated of her.
VIS # 4: Jane and the love doctor
After provoking a bit the control freak producer, Jane becomes serious again when they interrogate Buddy Hennings, the lover doctor who had been counselling the Missy and Kip. He’s actually the second love specialist Jane has met, the first being Erica Flynn, and the atmosphere of the scene and in the studio is pretty different: there is not some much seduction there as questions being asked and answered…
Interestingly, there is a red poster behind them and there are various elements in the same color in the studio (as there ware in the reception area), therefore almost every shot features a glimpse of a reddish object behind them during the talk. Which is pretty fruitful, but not on the murder aspect.
After Lisbon leaves to answer her phone, Jane asks Buddy if it was Missy who wanted help with her marriage, not Kip. Hennings answers that “in the beginning, he was going along to get along, but he turned the corner”, explaining: “in the first few sessions he was very distant, very uncooperative, to anyone but Missy… But after a couple of sessions, he developed an attentiveness for the work I hadn’t seen before. He really changed.” Jane is sceptic and remarks: “well, you know, maybe he was covering that he felt guilty for something, like having an affair.” Henning disagrees and maintains good-naturedly that he thinks the therapy was working.
Ok, so, are they talking of the victim’s marriage or about Jane’s reaction concerning his work spouse during the events involving Lorelei? Because that’s an almost exact description of Jane’s behavior in the few lasts episodes: he’s been trying to shut Lisbon out of his interrogations of Lorelei, and very “uncooperatively” organised the woman’s escape behind his partner’s back. Then, he “turned the corner” too when Lisbon confronted him in ‘There Will Be Blood’ about the mess he created and his feelings for the other woman: since then, his “attentiveness” for keeping her on his side has increased, and there is a kind of paroxysm in this episode. Therefore, it’s rather intriguing that Jane himself pointed out that he may have acted that way because he was feeling “guilty for […] having an affair” since it was Lorelei who endangered his working/personal relation with his partner… It’s almost as if he was admitting too that he may be feeling guilty for keeping his agenda while being so close to Lisbon.
That angle is developed a bit more later, when they find at last the missing husband in a hotel room. The red corridor leads them to a jungle-themed room where Kip is restrained on the bed with a black-leather-clap dominatrix entertaining him… Jane is thrilled and comments: “jungle theme. It’s classy.” In some twisted way, Kip endangering his marriage with a SM affair in a pseudo-jungle décor and trying to cover up for it reminds a bit of Jane: he’s putting his closeness with Lisbon at risk by obsessing with his hurtful masochist struggle with RJ the tiger. The similarity also is deepened by the detail of Missy being like a second mother for her sister, a role Lisbon has assumed for her brothers during her teenage years…
VIS # 5: Jane watches the video
Back at the studio, Jane finds himself again in a room decorated with reddish elements: this time, it’s a brick wall in Buddy’s office. The wheels in his mind are already working when he sees the poster on the wall featuring two feet with different woman shoes… several details already pointed out toward the feet angle and the connection seems even more visible in his mind when he watches the video of the session Kid and Missy had with Hennings: Jane freezes the frame where it’s obvious that Hennings has been staring at the golden stilettos on Missy’s feet…
Again, that moment reminds us of the episode with Erica: Jane had been watching the video of Sarah, whose love life the pretty widow was helping to improve… And the same thing occurs here: Jane finds a clue in the manner the interview has been progressing and discovers that the so-called love specialist is flawed. In Erica’s case, she was helping people find true love, while she kept seducing men she didn’t care about and she killed her husband because he was planning to stop her business… Buddy, on the other hand, helps couple overcome their problems, whereas he compulsively loves feet and keeps staring at a “patient” in front of her husband. Worst, he was also having an affair with her, endangering his own couple. That’s a rather cynic vision of love therapy. Moreover, the episode isn’t focused on seduction like it was with Erica, but more on problematic and complicated relationships and as so it matches the evolution of his friendship with Lisbon… probably even with the sexual undertones. One may wonder if the progression from a seduction episode to a couple therapy one is a way to subtly indicate that, because of the hardships they’ve been encountering, their bond has matured into something deeper and more significant…
Anyway, Jane’s plan is motion: he offers Van Pelt an unexpected gift in a red/dark pink box (like the pink donuts box in the previous episode). Jane seems eager to give gifts to his team, may they be useful or just for fun: he bought them all something from the museum gift shop not so long ago; since we didn’t get Grace’s reaction back then, we can infer that she liked her fossil because she considers her unexpected present as a nice surprise. Jane might also have spoiled them a bit because Lisbon endearingly asks “nothing for me?” He answers: “Trust me, you won’t like it” while Van Pelt uncovers a pair of black stilettos… Like she has been in the past seasons, the gorgeous red-headed is used by her consultant as distracting candy-eye in one of his schemes… and, even though it isn’t the most appropriate of gifts from a coworker, Grace tries them on good-naturedly. To reassure her boss who is a little wary of his action, Jane then quotes Sherlock Holmes and announces to his own Watson that “the game is afoot” before comically correcting “two feet” in reference to the shoes… Again, his relation with Lisbon is indirectly put under the spotlight: she’s his Watson, his partner, she expects a gift too and he knows her well enough to infer what her tastes are in shoes. She, on the other hand, wants to know what he’s doing: she’s back to being a bit wary of him.
Later, Jane talks with the couple who was interviewed when he was at the studio. He gives advices to the boyfriend, once again next to a red wall: the young man is dominated by his girlfriend (he’s even holding her bag while talking to Jane). The consultant asks « when was the last time you were completely honest with her, the last time you disagreed with her? », adds that « she will respect » him if he holds his ground and that « women love a strong man »… are those the beliefs behind his relation with Lisbon? Is he antagonising her to earn her respect, misbehaving to prove her he’s strong? Maybe those words aren’t mean to be compared to his own attitude, but they are nonetheless a bit intriguing… Either way, we didn’t get to see if his counselling worked: either because the young man convinced his girlfriend or because they broke off, the couple cancelled the session, thus giving “Dwayne and Stace” the opportunity to pose as a couple.
Wayne and Grace: it is love
A major discussion has been building up between Van Pelt and Rigsby since the very beginning of ‘Red Velvet Cupcakes’: he was jealous when she was late because of her supposed “hot date” with Duncan the night before. During a stake-out, Grace attempted to talk it out in the car but he was reluctant to go to the bottom of things and he only said “I’ve been feeling kinda weird since you’ve been back” and explains that he’s been thinking about her before asking her if she has been thinking about him too. That Grace wanted to discuss the matter was a sign of her increased maturity since the beginning of their story: in the early stage of their relationship, she simply avoided the subject of his interest in her… Also, Van Pelt is the more prone at calmly discussing a situation with her former lover: the car conversation reminded that she was the one who instigated the talk about him moving on after their break-up just before having an accident with O’Laughlin; it was her who tried to put him at ease in the car outside a bar when he was dealing with his troublesome father in ‘Like A Red-Headed Stepchild’. On the contrary, Wayne tends to tell her what he thinks during rather abrupt outbursts: telling her he loved her when she was about to get married, asking her to have a talk with him when she’s about to leave the office in ‘Red Letter Day’…
Still, both share a past and obviously care for the other: Grace has kept on her desk the orchid he gave her in the previous episode while he still remembers her size in shoes.
VIS # 6: Grace and Wayne have their long overdue talk… on air
That may explain how things got out of end during their fake session with Buddy Hennings. First, the couple follows the plan and simply states that they have “communication problems”. When Buddy asks them to elaborate, Rigsby helpfully and comically explains that they have “problems talking to each other”. But half-truths don’t do the trick and they are soon forced to share a bit more of their real history… Making Lisbon quite uncomfortable when Buddy asks them how the sex was. Indeed, the scene is laced with snippets of Jane and Lisbon listening to the talk show in the car: at first, they shared an amused glance at their friend’s situation. But after the sex question, Lisbon is obviously embarrassed and remarks “we shouldn’t be listening to this, really.” But Jane doesn’t share her scruples about listening on colleagues (“Oh, come on, Lisbon, don’t be such a prude!,”). Their opposed views on the question of privacy show there and it reflect a sensible tension in the car.
Wayne and Grace resume their “rocky history”: Rigsby attacks first and lets his anger surface when he evoked their break up because she thought the job was more important. He then adds that she “got engaged to a maniac”. It’s obvious that Rigsby has absolutely not moved on about those parts of their past that he resented as betrayals, given how eager he is to confront his former lover about them. But soon, tables are turned and he has to give explanations about the baby he had with Sarah, when he and Grace were “totally off”. That’s the pivotal moment when Van Pelt shows how much more mature she has become over the years and after the tragedies brought in her life. She calmly explains: “For the record, I’m not angry about the baby. I just found weird that you had a baby with someone you barely knew”. She tells him that she loved him and we get that wonderful insight in her mind: “when we were together, we were kids. I was a young naïve girl. I wasn’t ready to commit to you. It wasn’t about the job, it was an outlet [...] We’re not the same, but that’s ok. I like who I am now. I like who you are. You’re a man.” Rigsby only answers that his feelings for her haven’t changed.
It’s really amusing that all the drama between those two could be summed up in one scene; it makes a great show indeed as Buddy and Jane pointed out… Beside, that incredibly straightforward and thorough talk enlightens how different those two are: even though he tried to built a life without her with Sarah and Ben, Wayne hasn’t moved on. It seems Sarah was right in refusing his proposal: he’s not in touch with his feelings, pines after a past he hasn’t been able to renounce to. Meanwhile, Grace has learnt to distance herself from her mistakes and has grown up: contrary to Rigsby, she’s aware of his progress as well as her own and respects him and herself for that. What a character development since her difficult grief in the past season!
All the while, Jane and Lisbon are in the car, listening. Jane is amused and Lisbon embarrassedly looks through the window, but she’s interested in what is happening. Both share an occasional glance which betrays their complicity, but the fact that they’re looking at the other quite often when he/she isn’t looking and their lack of verbal comments also indicate that they’re pretty tense. The question is why: are they overwhelmed by those details about their co-workers? Or, given how close Jane’s actions appeared to be to Kip’s in the recap Buddy gave him of his session, is that very personal talk making them think about their own past and the mistakes they have done?
VIS # 7: both arcs get a conclusion
After the real killer is arrested, she is interrogated back in the CBI building. She fits under the category of the unrepentant murderers we have been acquainted to recently: her words that « it felt good » remind of those the killer in ‘Red Letter Day’ uttered to Jane. Same with the creepy murderers in ‘Red, White and Blue’ and in ‘Red Lacquer Polish’: they were all unremorseful and blamed others for their acts. Is that a way to suggest that Jane’s revenge is getting close and that it will “feel good” too? That may explain the cheerfulness he showed in this episode and maybe, maybe his willingness to get even closer to Lisbon, since he might be hoping that his quest will be over soon…
Either way, after the case is closed, Lisbon is lingering in the kitchen and seems to be seeking Jane’s company. The woman seems pretty dejected –she was probably more a fan of Buddy than she was willing to let on. Jane picks up on her thoughtfulness right away and understands it has something to do with the foot fetish that was bothering her in the car. Since he’s not prone to let her get away such a titillating subject, he tells her: “your brows are furrowed and you have that squinty look in your eye. You want to talk to me about that foot fetish, but the Catholic schoolgirl in you tells you it’s not appropriate.” Her answer is honest and things get oddly personal: “you’re right. I don’t get it. I can’t wrap my mind around it”. Jane only answers that “everyone has that thing, that’s just…that’s human nature.” Alas, poor Lisbon didn’t realize where this conversation was heading and that her nosy consultant is eager to know more about her than just her preferences in radio stations; she fells right in the trap and lets slip “I don’t”. Jane begins to prod her: “oh, come on, Lisbon, don’t deny yourself that freedom. There is definitely something out there that works for you, that flukes your switch… Like turtlenecks” That makes Lisbon clamp up at once: “you’re right: it isn’t appropriate.” As she exits the room, Jane gleefully repeats that it’s turtlenecks, very happy to have made her angry after needling his very professional team leader into a sex talk.
That “turtleneck” thing is pretty ambiguous: is Jane just fishing for information? Or is he alluding to the man Lisbon has been most interested in so far in the show, Walter Mashburn, who coincidently was wearing a red turtleneck in ‘Red Hot’ when he managed to seduce her? If the comment was indeed referring to good old Mash, one may wonder if Jane was purposely trying to provoke Lisbon… or, if he was evoking the past of his relationship with Teresa too: given how both Grace and Rigsby have expressed repressed jealousy about the other’s affairs, are we to consider that Jane is slyly doing the same in bringing on her fling with Mashburn? Or is that talk only yet another way to tease the shippers by linking Lisbon’s sexual preferences with another man? It’s not the first time that Jane would have been interested in her love life and her relations with other men (Mashburn, Bosco, her former fiancé…), but here things seem to get more personal: he’s asking her something very private about her, not trying to grasp how her past love stories worked… And, whatever the reason, that scene hints once more that Jane is the one willing to make them make progress towards a still unexplored “something more”: he is the once who keeps trying to get her to loosen up with him, calling her “prude” and “Catholic schoolgirl”, like he was the one who used the love word, who asked her to call him Patrick (‘Devil’s Cherry’). In this episode, he admitted that he would do anything for her; while she’s the one who keep being hesitant and wary, of this plans, but probably of his true intentions too. She never asks him to elaborate: she didn’t push the matter further when he said he didn’t remember what he had told her in ‘The Crimson Hat’; she didn’t comment either on Lorelei’s words that he was “a little bit in love with her’ (except for yelling that she was not his girlfriend, that is…). Here, she doesn’t verbally react to anything he’s blurting: neither to the “anything for you” nor to the “platonic love” part. She also lets slide the “prude” comment and his interest for her possible fetish… She only stops talking to him and gives their interaction in this episode an interesting conclusion: she leaves the room angry, unlike in the beginning when he came to her. There is metaphorically as well as visually a push and pull movement between them… and that is a way to sum up their level of intimacy for the season finale…
Also, it’s pretty funny that the episode enlightens various sorts of sexual quirks/ “guilty pleasures”… A physical one (the foot fetish), a reaction to a particular touch (“when she hits me, it turns me on”), a cloth that turns on (turtlenecks)… That may makes one wonder what Jane’s “switch” is as other categories are left without explicit examples… Indeed, since the beginning of the season, Jane has been hinting that he likes commanding women: he told Lisbon “I like it when you get all authoritarian on me” (‘Not One Red Cent’); he commented that Lisbon’s determination to get Volker was giving him goosebumps; he even told Lorelei that he admired strong women (‘Red Sails in the Sunset’). Still, it seems that the real thing that works as a switch and makes him change his course of actions are three magic words: “I need you”…
Meanwhile, Grace decided to take the matter with Wayne in her own hands: after putting on some other sexy shoes, she goes to Rigsby’s home and kisses him. Both enter the house in a passionate embrace… Therefore, it seems that the scenes between both potential couples are responding to the other, like they did when the former lovers were in a session and their colleagues were listening to them in the car. When Rigsby and Grace are tensed around each other and need to talk it out, Jane comes as Lisbon calls him and teases her merciless. Then, when Lisbon is aggravated and walks away from her irreverent consultant, Grace joins her lover and kisses him senseless. Both couples complete each other.
Honorable Mentions: Everyone was awesome, from the cast to the wonderful writer. Director David Barrett did a remarkable job, especially with that striking shot from bellow when the killer put on bullet in Missy’s foot. And not to mention Blake Neely’s inspiring music: his melody in the kitchen at the end when Jane starts getting more personal does a lot to give its atmosphere to the scene.
-« it’s nice to be needed. Anything for you, Lisbon » Jane to Lisbon. Seriously, how sweeter can the man get?
- “What she means is that ours is more of a platonic love”. Jane, to the receptionist was had mistaken him and Lisbon for a couple seeking help. Again, seriously? How much more of a tease for Lisbon (and for shippers) can the man get?
- “Yes, that is something that does exist…” Jane on the radio, when citing the California Bureau of Investigation.
- “First person to call will receive 10 000$ cash money. Yes, folks, we’re talking… Ah, I just got word from my producer that this is *not* the amount of the prize. It’s actually 20$. And the chance to guest DJ for the radio station for a day. A day of your choosing, that’s right, folks. DJ spot during drive time.” Jane asking for a witness on air. Completed with a velvety voice (‘Red Velvet’ too…) and some pretty hilarious reactions in the background, particularly the producer freaking out and frenetically taping on the glass, which of course doesn’t faze one bit Smooth Talking Jane…
- “It’s a webcast, not Steven Spielperg”, the irritated producer to Jane, upon hearing his complains about the video of the victim’s session.
- “They’re not sexy and they’re beige” blunt Cho to Rigsby who is helplessly searching for a sexy pair of golden shoes in the victim’s wardrobe.
- “It didn’t work out” Grace to Buddy, about her engagement to O’Laughlin. Understatement of the year…
- “Yes, because he was a homicidal maniac”, Rigsby to Grace, in response to the above.
- “Amazing foot. And an amazing shoe” Buddy to Grace, while massaging her foot. Creepy compliment.
- “It’s kind of an obvious thing.” Jane to Lisbon asking him how he knew about Buddy’s foot fetish.
-“I wouldn’t be asking if it was” Lisbon to the above. I love when Lisbon doesn’t like that Jane is feeling patronizing…
-“It was an unexpected act” Jane, upon realising that the real killer was threatening to shoot Buddy and Grace. Because he hadn’t planned to let his colleague be alone with a dangerous murderer in the first place, of course…
The Winner: the talk between Van Pelt and Rigbsy. Really powerful. Kinda reconciles you with on and off couples and drama…
First Runner Up: Jane trying to get Lisbon to open up about her fetish of all things. The idea is too hilarious and titillating to pass up.
Second Runner Up: Jane trying to gather witnesses by talking on the radio. I admit that scene is one of my all times favorites, it really cracked me up! The mixing between Jane’s playful fake seriousness and the producer freaking out behind his window is typically what makes Jane such a great and endearing character.
Conclusion: in the comments for the previous episode, Estatica pointed out that the book that Jane was reading in VIS#2 was “A Tale of Two Cities” by Dickens. I chose to include a part about in the review in guise of a side-note/conclusion, since it doesn’t entirely belong with the plot… Thanks to Estatica, Rose UK and Suzjazz for their precious input!
1) The book storyline takes place during the troubled times of the French Revolution and we can determine a similarity with the current season in TM, since the characters met a paroxysm in the quest for RJ and in terms of personal relationships. The intervention of Kirkland, the FBI team, Lorelei as well as the ambiguous actions of Bertram create an atmosphere of general suspicion which finds some intriguing echoes in the book: “The Dover mail was in its usual genial position that the guard suspected the passengers, the passengers suspected one another and the guard, they all suspected everybody else, and the coachman was sure of nothing but the horses”… almost everyone is potentially a suspect with Jane’s list and the viewers are forced to consider how little they know about the show characters: “ a wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other”, to borrow Dickens’ words…
2) Various details from the “Tale” make a curious appearance during season 5. For instance, to continue the theme of troubled times, Dickens mentions to two personifications: the “Woodman” (who is Fate) and the “Farmer” (an image of Death)… death and farm, that reminds of ‘The Red Barn’ where RJ made his debuts… Another detail is that a major part of the storyline of the English book takes place in France; Jane is known to fancy French expressions, but recently he has used two which weren’t part of his repertory so far: “bon voyage” in ‘Red Lacquer Nail Polish’ (an episode which included various references to this country, from the Impressionist art gallery to the mention of Monaco), and “bon point” to Buddy Hennings in ‘Red Velvet Cupcakes’ where the book is seen.
In the previous episode, Jane had a toothpick in his mouth and used it to set a trap for Kirkland’s men; Mme Defarge, the antagonist, who was seeking revenge for the death of her family, was using a toothpick for her very first appearance in the book.
Same with a detail concerning Lisbon: her fainting in ‘Red in Teeth and Claws’ in front of flesh-eating bugs is reminiscent of Lucie Manette fainting during the trial of Charles Darnay (whom she would marry afterwards), while the audience at the Old Bailey made sounds which made the author compare them to flies.
On the other hand, Dr Manette, who had been put in jail for many years because he had refused to caution the rape and murder of a young girl, suffered from PTS disorder and freaked out when he wasn’t locked up in the garret where he spent his days afterwards… like Jane took recently the habit to lock himself in his dusty attic with a padlock (we can see that he has to remove the padlock in order to exit the attic in VIS#2)… Manette’s making shoes obsessively; we saw Jane pretty upset about losing temporarily his old brown shoes and visited a cobbler who was pretty distraught by the bank robbery in the neighborhood (there was also a bank which makes a brief appearance in the book). And of course, the love doctor in here is obsessed with shoes.
3) That’s why similar plots are discernible too. About the Dr Manette, for example, Rose UK pointed out there was elements of comparison. At the beginning of the book, Lucie meets her damaged long lost father: her words when learning that he’s alive are “I’m going to see his ghost! It will be his ghost… not him!” and, when they meet, the old man progressively recognize his now grown up daughter while asking her “who are you”… Those aspects (the ghost-hallucination, of the daughter this time, the increasing doubts about her identity) are present too in ‘Devil’s Cherry’ when “Charlotte” meets Jane again. Again, Miss Manette tries to bring him back from his obsession: he’s “recalled to life”, a bit like Charlotte tried to shake her father out of his obsession by opening him to the possibility of a new life. As Rose UK remarked there is a major theme common to both stories: “the idea of imprisonment, or being trapped by yourself, your past, your circumstances, your superiors or authorities, and by things beyond your control, etc. And ultimately breaking free, of course. Bringing down the old order to usher in a new one.”
Another important theme is the duality: Darnay was falsely accused of being a traitor (like Jane’s intention were suspected since the RJ investigation was handled to Darcy), by his resemblance with his darker alter ego Carton is what saved him from being sentenced to death and ultimately to being executed since Carton willingly took his place at the end of the book. Many details (like the Bloody Mary in the previous episode or both assuming the role of partner for Lisbon at some point) trace a parallel between Jane and the mysterious Kirkland. Even more since both men have showed an interest in Lisbon (albeit the latter certainly had an hidden intention) like Darnay and Carton were both in love with Lucie. That might open many possibilities, like Estatica pointed out: « I’m tempted to think Jane and Kirkland share many similarities with Darnay and Carton. Is this a way of the writers letting us know that Kirkland may end sacrificing himself to that Jane has a chance to rebuild a new life? Or that Jane will end up sacrificing himself for Lisbon and the team?”
The different themes concerning family matters are also evoked: we have instances in the book of tragedy-causing/murderous families, whom many examples have been shown in recent episodes. Darnay’s father raped a girl and covered up her death by destroying her family, thus imprisoning Dr Manette who was a troublesome witness… years later, that revelation causes the innocent Darnay (who has become the doctor’s beloved son-in-law) to be trialed and sentenced to death.
Darnay is then also an example of a man who has rejected his cold blood-related family to the point of changing his name in order to find solace in a new chosen family, the Manettes. Same with Carton, who is a close family friend. That’s an important theme in the show.
We also have examples of estranged/ long lost family members: Dr Manette and Lucie bonded after not seeing the other for many years, like many characters did in TM (that mother and her daughter in ‘Behind the Red Curtain’) and that ended up in tragedy. The theme is also laced with revenge both for Manette and Madame Defarge, whose family was destroyed by Darnay’s father and who was seeking revenge on him and his family. Both characters show the two possible endings offered to Jane so far: to become a monster by killing the man who murdered his loved ones, at the risk of losing his own life in the process (like Madame Defarge), or as Estatica put it “to forgive” “and find happiness”.
And, of course, last but not least redemption is a major aspect of both stories: Carton redeems himself by sacrificing his life and that’s what Jane has been seeking all along.
On a side note, it is probably nothing more than an amusing detail for classic murder mysteries lovers but Madame Defarge has been alluded to in one of Agatha Christie’s book (“They came to Bahgdad”). Since two other literary works, Blake’s poems and Macbeth were quoted directly in the show and also featured prominently in her books, respectively in “Endless Night” and in “The Pale Horse”, we can guess TM writers share the same tastes in books than The Queen of Crime…
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