First of all, sorry for the wait: the marvelous Reviewbrain and I were planning to write a review together to spice things up a bit and try to do justice to the last of the episodes of this tumultuous season, but real life got in the way… So, here is the review, as complete as I could: feel free to comment and don’t forget to grade it! Many thanks for our faithful and awesome readers and/or commenters for sticking with us for those exciting months; we hope to read you very soon! (Also, for those who are interested, I’m planning to do a recap of the principal themes running trough the five seasons of the show, but be patient, it takes A LOT of time… )
After spending one week working alone on his list of suspects for RJ, consultant Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) is joined by his partner agent Lisbon (Robin Tunney). While he refuses to tell her the names he came up with, both are soon facing another problem: a new victim has been added to the serial killer very own list, one that obligates Jane to take a painful trip down memory lane.
Unexpected, well-written, yet unsatisfactory and slightly frustrating, these are some of the many adjectives that may very well be applied to this episode. As a whole, it gives an eerie impression of being a bit slow and unnerving and doesn’t match the show’s usual atmosphere. Still, at the same time, it is extremely well connected to the storyline and the previous episodes and the more one digs in its writing, the more it becomes apparent that there are many subtleties hidden in its shadows… To put it simply, waiting for the next season after such a finale will be especially hard, no doubt about it! 9.3/10
Detailed AKA Humongous Review (spoilers galore)
VIS # 1: the opening
The very first moments of the episode are almost deceptively normal: Lisbon goes to get Jane in the attic to join the team. Still, there is a pretty big difference since this is apparently their first encounter after the one week of voluntary confinement then he asked of her in ‘Red and Itchy’: we get a timeline and, more importantly we viewers are as eager as Lisbon to learn what the clever consultant has come up with when he reveals he has managed to narrow his infamous list to a few names.
Interestingly, we are also reminded right away of the previous season ending: Jane is burning his board about RJ on the rooftop, just outside of his attic, like he did with his copy of the RJ file in ‘Red Rover, Red Rover’. Beside, while following Lisbon in the bullpen, he tells her that he’s tired because he hasn’t slept in a week: it reminds how lonely and unkempt Jane was in Vegas. Indeed, both ends of seasons are linked by the fact that Jane has crafted another clever trap to catch his nemesis. And his reluctance to share said plan with Lisbon alludes also to his six months silence. Yet, this time, he told her about his what he’s doing, he just doesn’t want to share the specifics… Those two have make progress in the trust/ reliance department and it shows when Lisbon comes to wake him up to inform him that RJ has stroke again: his sleepiness and disheveled appearance hints to his fragility, while Lisbon’s softness indicates that she fears how he will react to the news.
VIS # 2: Bret Partridge at the crime scene
Again, the crime scene alludes a bit to Jane’s escapade to Vegas as it takes place in a motel room: a woman has been killed in her bed, under the usual bloody smiley. Hard not to think that RJ’s message to Jane in ‘The Crimson Hat’ was sending him Lorelei, who ended up in bed with him… and whose corpse has been found naked under a sheet not so long ago. Again, RJ is trying to tell Jane something, the only difference is that this time Jane will take some time to decipher his terrible message…
One of the most interesting points is that, again, Partridge is the forensic tech in charge of the crime scene. His attitude is pretty similar than in his previous appearances: the man enjoys explaining his theories and his audience is a new tech working with him. It’s visible that Partridge fancies himself an expert on RJ as he discards almost immediately the new case as a genuine murder from the serial killer. He even affirms that RJ hasn’t killed in a while, since Lorelei’s death was a particular case (she worked with him, she was not a normal victim): the new guy doesn’t know it, but it also reminds us viewers that RJ had indeed stopped for a while, hence it hints that this case is particularly important and unexpected.
But Brett becomes far less secure when Jane enters the room. His wariness of Jane and his relative deference towards him are ambiguous: is he simply afraid of the man because of their latest confrontation in ‘Red Lacquer Polish’? Or is he playing the part of the inoffensive and rather incompetent tech who can’t be clever enough to be RJ? Either way, the regular viewers may remember that his name was on the list in ‘Black Cherry’ and Jane’s attitude towards him is even colder than before, which is an indication that Jane has really come to see him in a more sinister light than the infuriating ghoul he’s been dealing with since the pilot… It’s interesting that Jane tells Lisbon that he can feel that it’s a RJ crime scene: it foreshadows the psychic theme that will be running through the episode and gives to the moment an ominous vibe. The victim is still unidentified, she’s a “Jane Doe” whose baby has been taken. That makes her symbolically the second “Jane” woman who has fallen victim of RJ with her child, after Angela Jane, also killed in a bedroom….
Also, another reminder of a previous finale shows up when Jane notices a phone number written on the wall near the phone, which helps them identify the victim. In ‘Strawberry and Cream’, an address had been scribbled on the bathroom wall, leading Lisbon to a building where she’d been strapped to a bomb.
VIS # 3: a new insight in Jane’s past
After identifying the victim, Jane discovers that she was married to someone he knew years ago: it’s visible he’s unsettled by the news, still he accompanies Lisbon to what he defines as his hometown, the Stoney Ridge trailer park where he and his father had spent the winters when they weren’t travelling with their psychic show during his childhood. Here, he meets Sam and Pete, the friends he introduced to Lisbon in ‘Cackle-Bladder Blood’. Step by step, like in a Greek tragedy, Jane is realizing that the case is hitting very close to home, so to speak, and what began has a strange feeling becomes a nagging doubt, before morphing into fear.
An intriguing detail is that there is a yellow orchid-looking flower in a vase on the table while Jane and Lisbon are talking to Sam and Pete: it closes the arc involving Lorelei, since the first orchid appeared in ‘Devil’s Cherry’ when Jane was desperate after losing his precious lead to the serial killer. Here, his efforts have come to fruition and Jane is about to make a serious break thanks to her. Yet, at the same time, back then the flower was associated to the butterfly, a symbol of hope in the show: while hallucinating, Jane was starting to realize that he wanted something more than revenge. He wanted to start a new life, presumably with Lisbon… which leads us to expect another step too in regard to his relationship with his partner.
That also means we are given a few interesting details about Jane’s background. As it has been ironically foreshadowed in the carnie elements in the crime scene of Lorelei’s murder (‘There Will Be Blood’), ‘Red John is deliberately bringing (him) home” to face his childhood memories, like places he lived in (the town he considered like home) and people he was close to (his friends Sam and Pete, Lily…). The position of the Jane family in the carnie world is also clarified: in season 3, Jane told Lisbon that his father had a show with the carnies, but remained a bit vague about his status, while he insisted that Angela’s family had been carnie royalties… Here, he spontaneously admits that his family had been part of the carnie folks for a long time: to convince him to share information, he asks Pete “how long the Janes and the Turners have been travelling together?” Pete answers: “one hundred years now probably”. Jane has been willing to let Lisbon know this tidbit of personal information and he didn’t try to leave her out of the conversation with his old friends like he did back then when he distracted her with the elephant, which alone hints that they have entered news territories in the personal department.
VIS # 4: Jane and Lisbon in the car
Trust is once again under the spotlight in those two’s relationship. Even though this time around Jane has been letting his partner in from the start on his infamous list, he refuses to tell her who the very last names are. But his reasons for not telling her seem more genuine than they might have ever been. He isn’t trying to keep RJ to himself; he only fears that she would inadvertently sell them out. Because, in insight, there has been a precedent: she was responsible for the failure of Jane’s plan in ‘The Crimson Hat’. If she had put a better front when Luther tried to talk her in taking Jane back, Darcy wouldn’t have barged in the middle of their secret operation… Lisbon’s lack of dishonesty was the flaw in Jane’s plan and that may explain his willingness to play poker with her in ‘Red in Tooth and Claws’, as a mean to further evaluate her poker face and to help her get better at lying…
On the other hand, that lack of confidence in her ability to lie seems to really bother Lisbon, to the point that she asks him several times to come clean about his plans. Still, one may wonder to what extent she has proven to Jane that honesty she demands of him: given what Lisbon discovered in the previous episode about LaRoche, wouldn’t Jane’s reaction to her mentioning J.J. as a potential suspect be stronger if he knew what his friend did in the past? Maybe Lisbon has been keeping some things to herself too for good reasons… There has always been a very peculiar strand of trust between them.
It shows further when Jane threatens to tell her three of her secrets as proof that she can’t tell a lie. At first she accepts, then she thinks better of it and tells him that she refuses to play his mind games. He comments “wise call” … He’s been turning things into a game indeed, bantering with her and trying to distract her from the serious question he’s been left unanswered. But one can wonder what he was about to reveal about her: was it another tidbit of personal information like when he revealed her he knew she hadn’t told the truth about her holidays plans back in the early seasons? Or was it something more intimate, like the fetish talk he initiated in ‘Red Velvet Cupcakes’? Interestingly, the following scene features Rigsby telling Cho one of his secrets (his relationship with Van Pelt), while the stoic man already interjects that he already knows they’re having sex… Is that a way to hint that one of those Lisbon secrets that Jane knew about concerns her feelings?
VIS # 5: Lisbon and Jane meet Sean Barlow
After finally convincing Pete to give them a lead, Jane is once again confronted by his past: this time it’s Sean Barlow, a former friend/associate of his father. Even before meeting him, he’s introduced as an ambiguous and shady character by his association with Alex Jane, whom viewers know as a cold-hearted conman (‘Throwing Fire’). Another step in taken both in the investigation and in the realization of the bigger picture RJ has been painting for him: Jane and Lisbon drive to Venice Beach in Los Angeles to meet the psychic. Jane seems more and more unsettled; while he let Lisbon interrogate Pete and Sam with him, he asked her to let him talk to Pete alone when they returned and, now, he asks her to wait outside, which she refuses.
The dialog with the sinister man showed Bruno Heller’s mastery at broaching a character in a few deep lines. Indeed, the older man seems pretty eager to plant the seeds of doubt in their minds, particularly Lisbon’s.
1) First, he showers Lisbon with details about her secretive partner: under the pretext of talking about the rather safe topic of Patrick’s “wicked” great-grandfather who he “loved”, Barlow tries to prepare Lisbon for his little speech about the man himself. Because wickedness and being lovable are two characteristics her Jane owns in spade too… When Lisbon swallows the bait and asks about the “wicked” part, Barlow introduces a less safe topic: the fact that the Janes (including Patrick) are no-believers (which he gets Teresa to agree is “a sad thing”) who use the faith others have to steal from them… It’s pretty interesting that he uses present tense to describe the Janes’ cons since, given that he’s “been following (Jane’s) doings”, he must know that he stopped his psychic act a decade ago… Are there out there other members of the Jane family ? Or is he implying that Patrick, who is presented as intrinsically a conman, is also trying to manipulate Teresa’s faith and affection to get something out of her?
2) That smiling albeit less than friendly little introduction helps him pose as the real psychic, who would give them valuable advice. His second step is to get in the open the very sensitive question of Lisbon’s feelings: to prove to her that him not having an alibi for his niece’s murder isn’t really significant, he swiftly turns the tables by reading where herself was that night: “Laying in bed, think of Patrick”… What was presented as a psychic reading can be explained: he may have deduced it from their obvious closeness. After all, Patrick trusts her enough to accept to let her accompany him here, and if Paddy’s behavior in ‘Fugue in Red’ is any indication of his ways before meeting Angela, Barlow couldn’t think of any reason either for a cop to stick up with him other than wanting to sleep with him… That would make it an educated guess. The last possibility would be that Lisbon has been watched that night, which may have interesting and pretty dark implications about the older man… Those three possibilities match the usual tricks of a fake psychic: observation, educated guesses and inside information via an accomplice. Either way, that line about Lisbon laying in bed thinking of her partner and being “a little bit in love with him” is embarrassingly ambiguous for Lisbon: of course she would be thinking about Jane, who was keeping to himself RJ’s possible identity. Yet the mention of the bed adds a rather suggestive note that hints that Barlow is really able to read her most intimate thoughts.
3) At the same time, Barlow’s remark about Jane being “secretive and controlling” is also a way to make her feel the strain of their relationship: it reminds of Brett Stiles’ words that Jane has been taking over her team and her life. Even more since both men might have implied that their unbalanced relationship was affecting her work, Brett by mentioning her team, Barlow by comparing her nightly thoughts to his alibi (suggesting that somehow that kind of thoughts is kind of prohibited).
4) Since Jane stays impassive and tries to bring up again the crime, Barlow then broaches another subject to destabilize him: RJ is a psychic, that’s why he is always a step ahead of him. That seems the main point he’s been trying to make all along. Following his logic Barlow himself is a real psychic, so he’s able to detect another as RJ., Plus, Jane is not to be trusted: he’s from a family of lying thieves and his judgment is not sound because his all-knowing nemesis has already mastered his mind… That theory is admittedly a way to tell Jane that his niece hasn’t been a victim of the serial killer (it’s probable that he wants to indirectly incriminate Roddy Turner, whom he hates), yet his insistence may hint that the mysterious man has another goal in mind when trying to spook and manipulate Jane and Lisbon…
VIS # 6: Jane and Lisbon in the car after talking with Barlow
Sometime after leaving the older man, Jane and Lisbon are again talking in the car. Instead of calmly addressing the huge elephant in the room (Lisbon’s feelings), they both start talking at the same time. Jane lets her start and when she begins to utter something he might not like (“I can’t work like this”), he interrupts her. He tells her what he wanted to let her know: that Barlow was right, that he’s “secretive and controlling”. That’s a way to apologize to her for what he asks her to do and the things he’s been hiding from her: that’s probably his most sincere apology to her ever, far deeper than the blanket “I’m sorry” he gave her after the Vegas/Lorelei debacle in ‘The Crimson Ticket’… Still, he focuses on the part of Sean’s talk that concerned him: in doing so, he carefully avoids the part that was about her and her love for him…
In a way, that talk which turned in a non-talk echoes the scene where Lisbon asked Jane what he meant when he told her he loved her before shooting at her (‘The Crimson Hat’): he answer was to deflect her question, just like here he puts emphasis in his fault to avoid asking her about her feelings.
Which leads us to another point: what was Lisbon about to tell him? That she couldn’t keep avoiding the matter of their mutual feelings anymore? That she couldn’t keep accepting that he only told her part of the truth at best, like he was doing with his list? Or that she was tired of working with him when it’s becoming apparent that there was not enough trust and too many feelings between them? Like those mysterious secrets Jane threatened to reveal about her earlier, this question will remain unanswered as well. Anyway, it seems that those meaningful talks both of them keep having in cars since the beginning are shifting towards dangerous territory: before, they concerned quite serious matters, like revenge or RJ (‘Red Moon’) ; about Lorelei in ‘The Crimson Ticket’), still, they’re turning more and more personal. In a way, it reminds of the tension-filled moments in the car when listening to the radio talk-show in ‘Red Velvet Cupcakes’.
But purposely and insistently not telling anything about something is also a form of acknowledgement. Jane used the pretext of not remembering what he said, even though he kept using afterwards every occasion to prove her how well his memory palace worked. Lisbon let alone Lorelei’s remark that he was in love with her, yet she yelled that she was not “his girlfriend’. In the same manner, Jane not asking her about her own feelings towards him is an indirect way of letting her know that he knows about them, that Barlow was right about them too, yet he chooses to ignore the pending matter in favour of preserving their status quo… at least for now.
VIS # 7: the ending
1) inside information: Jane doesn’t remember telling anyone about this particular memory, yet he could have let it slip when he had his breakdown after the murders. It’s pretty probable that Sophie Miller has asked him about his past and/or other relatives during therapy. Even if he didn’t specifically told her about the scene with the little Lily, he might have mentioned her at some moment… Given RJ’s interest in Jane, there is a pretty good possibility that he has read her files and/or asked someone from her staff.
2) observation: someone may have known Jane at the time and recalled that he might have been even a bit moved by the little girl. Someone like Barlow himself: a sinister man who only considered his niece as a property and who may fits the profile of RJ’s cold and sociopathic accomplices.
3) educated guess: the Barlows were close friends of his family. Given that Jane had a difficult father who probably wasn’t prone to affection, and that he’s been presented in ‘Throwing Fire’ as a sensitive kid, it would be rather logical that he would identify and focus on Lily’s happy relation with her father, who died shortly afterwards, a relation that he probably didn’t have with his own and that his younger self might have been craving.
The thing in those three possible explanations is that RJ didn’t need to know *that* specific memory: when Jane would recognize the young Lily, he would necessarily have some memories of her, crystallised and idealized by the time that had passed. It was almost automatic that her death would hit very close to home for Jane. And he would hence be more susceptible to believe the second part of RJ’s prediction: that he knew beforehand the seven names on the list… which he could have known either by 1) making more than one video with Lorelei (Kirkland’s stealing information would then confirm which version was to be used) for example, 2) by writing down the names of the men who couldn’t be eliminated as suspects (it would be faster for him, since he’s been keeping tabs on the consultant and since he already knew what characteristics were bound to be more suspicious). Or 3) he knew which men were most suspicious because every one of them is hiding something… like that they are all working for him (see Bertram and Kirkland working closely together).
Anyway, what is certain is that RJ can’t be a real psychic: first because the show hasn’t given any hints that it might favor the supernatural route. Then because what RJ did to Kristina in S3 indicates irony towards her line of work: that he would share it would be a bit illogical; but mostly because he admitted in the video that he knew about the list because “Lorelei told” him. And his way to lead Jane to his minion ensured that Jane found her: even if it was an easy guess given Jane’s cleverness with cases, the red-headed middle-aged woman matched Lennon’s status somehow as a social worker/shelter employee.
That leads us to the song at the ending. It’s “Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart” by Gene Pitney:
“Something`s gotten hold of my heart
Keeping my soul and my senses apart
Something`s gotten into my life
Cutting its way through my dreams like a knife
Turning me up, turning me down
Making me smile and making me frown”.
Those lyrics obviously match what Jane must feel towards the looming threat that represents the video he’s watching while Lisbon is returning the baby girl to her father. Yet, it may also hold other meanings: it was featured in 1967, which corresponds more or less to Jane’s birth, meaning that the song is a way to allude to his childhood too. Moreover, it’s a love song and Lisbon is visible when the lyrics begin playing: she’s also in Jane’s thoughts at the moment. It’s even more convincing when we read the rest of the lyrics which aren’t heard in the show:
“Yeah something has invaded my nights
Painting my sleep with a colour so bright
Changing the grey, changing the blue
Scarlet for me and scarlet for you”…
Jane may be afraid that RJ’s threats may be directed towards Lisbon at some point: there may be some “scarlet” for both of them in the future; they’re both in danger.
Last, the word “knife” (RJ’s favorite MO) is sang when the camera focuses on Barlow brooding alone: is that a way to hint that Barlow has played a sinister part in RJ’s plan, since afterwards the last word sung, “frown” resonates with Jane’s pensive and worried face on screen?
2) Seven usual (or less usual) suspects:
In sync with Lorelei enouncing the seven names predicted by RJ in Jane’s list, Lisbon puts down the seven pictures matching those names, a bit like one would their cards when winning a poker game, enlightening once more the notions of strategy and bluff simmering in this season. And now, the two partners are facing:
1- Bret Stiles: the leader of Visualize is a bit old for having been at the farm to paint the first smiley in ‘The Red Barn’, yet his past is pretty dark; it’s been alluded to in ‘His Thoughts Were Red Thoughts’ that he might have something to do with the death of the former cult leader. Bret has showed since the beginning a marked interest for Jane; he’s been watching him and his team and has been taunting him with the fact that he has inside information (about Kristina in the beginning of season 3). He’s also known for recruiting law enforcement officers and has even tried to convert Grace when she was still feeling down about Craig’s death/betrayal… Actually, Stiles is probably the more plausible candidate for a charismatic Moriarty Mentalist-like –actor Malcom McDowell even commented about having been thinking that his character was RJ when viewers were convinced that Carter was the serial killer, if I recall correctly.
Beside, him being RJ would put Jane’s character under a very interesting light, since he befriended him to some extent… It would give intriguing shades of an unexpected moral dilemma, reminiscent of the Hitchcockian atmosphere of ‘Red Sails in The Sunset’: what would be more ironic than Jane secretly meeting his nemesis to ask his help in breaking their common mistress out of jail (in order to catch the man himself, no less)? That would be a very interesting situation… It’s also quite remarkable that Stiles gave him pretty much the same advice as Carter: when Jane asked him the favor of getting Lorelei out of jail, he told the younger man: “let this be my favor to you: let it go. The whole idea. It’s just not worth it.” Carter’s advice when he was posing as RJ was to build himself a new life: ““Forget about me. I’m not worth ruining your life over”… is it a coincidence that RJ had indeed stopped killing except for answering to Jane’s manoeuvres (the morgue guy in Rosalind Harker’s closet, Panzer, Lorelei), like Partridge pointed out, and that his announced new set of killings is a response to him changing “the rules”?
Also, Brett commented in ‘Red Sails in The Sunset’ that “any task can be accomplished as long as it’s broken down into manageable pieces”, foreshadowing Jane’s huge work in reducing the numbers of the people he met in a decade to an handful of possible suspects…
2- Gale Bertram: the director of the CBI has been a prime suspect ever since he quoted Blake in season 3 and his behavior has been increasingly suspicious since the poker game in ‘Red in Tooth And Claws’. Again, if he turned out to be RJ, it would be interesting that Jane helped him in getting better at bluffing and masking his strategy in a poker game… the irony! The man also is a pragmatist who doesn’t bother much with feelings: he tried to let Jane rot in jail after Carter’s murder (which means his goal and RJ’s were the same at the time: to get rid of Jane); he tried to separate him from his best ally, Lisbon, by replacing her by Haffner, a man working for Visualize… And, of course, he collaborates pretty closely with Kirkland. So far, he is the man who has the more connections with the other suspects: Kirkland, Haffner, Reede Smith (who works for Alexa Schultz, which whom Bertram stroke a deal), Partridge (who is a CBI employee)… A fairly intriguing point given that his name may be a reference to Christie’s “At Bertram’s Hotel”, a novel featuring a secret criminal organisation hidden in a seemingly benign environment…
3- Bob Kirkland is another character who has been suspected for a long time: he’s been watching Jane since he got a job as a consultant for the CBI and he spied on his list of candidates for RJ. And Lisbon herself, who liked the man at first, considers him odd now and is aware that he doesn’t tell anything useful… It’s becoming pretty obvious that the man is investigating for personal purposes, even though the question of his goal remains unknown: is he trying to get RJ for himself, or is he trying to cover the serial killer tracks? The murder of Lennon after asking him if he recognized him as well as his weird collaboration with Bertram seem to point to a dark interpretation. Still, things aren’t clear enough: neither he nor Bertram showed any sign of being subordinated to the other; they knew each other enough to make personal commentaries, but so far it’s rather hard to infer a lot of their interaction… Either way, the fact that Kirkland knew about Jane’s board might give an explanation to RJ’s eerie accuracy in guessing which names were on the list.
Still, there is an important flaw in that theory: like it’s been noted many times before, Stiles would be a bit obvious as RJ and Bertram would not seem clever enough to compete with Jane… and the same could be applied to Kirkland. If we are to believe RJ is brilliant enough to stay two steps ahead of Jane, is that plausible that he’d turn out to be someone like Bob, who managed in a few episodes to attract Lisbon’s distrust and to tip his hand to Jane (who was suspicious after Lennon’s sudden death and who is aware that his attic has been visited)?
4- The same applies to Raymond Haffner, who couldn’t even hide his connection to Visualize from Lisbon. His embarrassment when she asked him about having stayed at the farm when he was a “kid” makes him at the same time pretty suspicious and a bit too obvious as a possible RJ… In fact it’s even worse with him, since he has the two flaws described above: he’s too obvious and not clever enough. So, except if he’s very good at hiding his true colors, he would be more credible as a handyman than as a criminal genius. But who knows?
5- Reede Smith, the FBI agent working with Mancini for Alexa Schultz is another example of the writers’ taste for dramatic turns of events… and twisted sense of humor: indeed, the writing team spent last year hiatus leaking spoilers in order to build up some expectations about the new FBI agents introduced –briefly- in the season premiere. Still, the attention was purposely focused on Mancini, who antagonised Jane and showed a (slight) interest in Teresa. But who really paid attention to the more discreet Smith? What do we know about him after all? Only that he woks for Alexa, who in turn works for Kirkland or at least is not opposed to giving him information… It’s possible that RJ had hidden behind the appearance of a subaltern, while actually leading the game. It’s also plausible that he would have tipped Jane off about having a mole in the FBI in order to hide the fact that himself belonged here in fact…
And his first name might be a word play on Red/ Reede, since the sonorities are quite close. Moreover, I may very well be reading too much into this, but “Mr Smith” was the name of the serial killer in Steeman’s masterpiece, the classic murder mystery “The Murderer Lives At Number 21” (the novel, not the movie, whose storyline has been a bit changed): in the book, the elusive murderer manages to escape the police for a long time… because there are actually three of them working as a team and providing the others with alibis when the need arises…
6- Thomas McAllister was another almost forgotten character. He appeared in the second episode of the first season as a sheriff during a case. Like Partridge, he’s been introduced very early in the storyline, in opposition to Kirkland and Smith who are recent characters. That might do for a fairly ironic revelation too: imagine the reaction if viewers were to realize that RJ has been briefly introduced when they were not even familiar with the protagonist himself?
At the time, the guy seemed creepy enough to pass as the killer for Rigsby, who attacked him when he approached Grace (who was used as a bait for the murderer). McAllister taunted Jane when they met, calling him on his supposed “psychic powers”. Jane answered with his own brand of provocation, by winning several rounds of rock paper scissors, effectively proving his observational skills and ridiculing the sheriff at the same time. So, Jane has been playing another kind of game with the man, and has managed to twist the rules as well. Another interesting point is that that episode, ‘Red Hair And Silver Tape’ featured a married couple of killers going after young red-haired women… and that same sort of killers has been represented by Carter and his wife. Moreover, the minion in ‘Red John’s Rules’ has red hair too. Those little details might be overlooked, but since the three episodes have been written by Bruno Heller, it could very well make sense too…
7- Brett Partridge is the last name in the list and the only suspect featured in the episode. Jane despises him because he’s a ghoul and he often comes up with morbid fantasies as theories for the murder cases they are investigating. Still, the change of attitude that the consultant showed at the beginning of the episode indicated that he’s very aware that his inept behavior may be a façade. As the character has been discussed at length before, I’ll only remind that he showed a suspicious interest in RJ, an equally suspicious antagonism to Jane and that his name “Partridge” might be an allusion to Blake’s painting “A Brace Of Partridges”, which may explain the bird theme visible through the season.
As a conclusion, several details tend to hint that there might be an organisation of many men behind the name of “RJ”. On one hand the shadow of sect Visualize looming around at least two suspects –Haffner and Stiles- and the fact that some of them are effectively working together, and, in the other hand, the names of Bertram and Smith, might indicate that there could be more than one RJ in the list. After all, Renfrew wrote on the wall “He is man…” and a possible interpretation is that he wanted to tell Jane there were “many” men under the mask of the elusive killer. That may explain how RJ had come up with his own list: what if there were all RJ, assuming in turn the role of the master to seduce a new minion into submission so that they only knew one of them at the time? The concept isn’t new and it has been used in many classic murder mysteries, from Steeman to Agatha Christie’s “Crime of the Orient-Express”. And, yes, the idea is fun to toy with, even though it may be proven wrong in a few months…
Food for Thought:
This episode was a peak in Jane’s quest for finding RJ and it was enhanced by street names such as “Stoney Ridge” and “Ashley Ridge Road”.
It also contained many, many reminders of previous episodes interlaced with the main plot. For instance, ‘Strawberry and Cream’ was indirectly alluded to with the detail of the phone number leading to the minion scribbled on the wall. Back then, Gupta had written an address on the wall too; the contrast is that Jane managed to get in his way, only he did not this time. Miriam Gottlieb, the social worked who was friends with RJ has a similar status than Lennon, the shelter employee in ‘There Will Be Blood’, which consequences are showing in this episode. And Lisbon and Jane waiting for her in her house remind of Jane meeting Lorelei then Lisbon on Orchid Lane… Both in ‘The Crimson Hat’ and now, Lorelei has been delivering to Jane a message from her master.
At the same time, Heller tried to gather the recurring themes that coursed through this season, giving it coherence:
1) the fisherman and fish theme which represents the struggle between Jane an his nemesis is alluded to (the fish tank Jane used to catch Miriam Gottlieb as well as Barlow having a workshop at Venice Beach).
2) There is a yellow orchid-looking flower on the table when Jane and Lisbon are talking to Sam and Pete (see above in VIS#3).
3) The complex family theme is represented by Patrick contacting people from his childhood, talking about the Janes (there were various examples of people meeting again long lost relatives in the recent episodes and every one ended in tragedy). Moreover, the notion of leaving an abusive blood-related family in favor of a more accepting surrogate is illustrated by Eileen, who chose love over the Barlows… like Jane did with Angela when he left the carnies.
4) Last, not least, many kind of spectacles has been present recently (musicals, magic shows, and so on). It may prepare us viewers for the idea that RJ is too putting a clever show for Jane: the whole psychic thing is a smoke screen.
Indeed, the episode seems to woven together the threads coursing through the season, as well as it opens possibilities for the new one: again, the question is left unanswered about who is the fish and who is the fisherman. Who will get the other first, Jane or RJ? The rules have changed and a new bloody and pressing game is beginning… Meanwhile, the orchid reminds of the possibility of a new love for Jane, tainted by the shadow of his nemesis looming over them… Yet, again, there is the surrogate family that is the team offering comfort and help for the duo: even if they choose not to confide in them, the three younger agents have proved they are more than eager to protect their friends… while they’re all faced with another darker “family” of minions helping out their enemy.
Honorable Mentions: again, the cast was as fabulous as ever, particularly Simon Baker and Robin Tunney whose complicity onscreen add much to the characters. Special mention too to Michael Hogan who impersonated the mysterious Sean Barlow with the right amount of unsettling friendliness and creepiness. Also, Blake Neeley’s melodies added much to the atmosphere of the episode, like director Chris Long’s powerful filming (the scene where time speeds up while Jane is sleeping) and Bruno Heller’s very subtle writing… Ok, is there someone on this team I won’t be tempted to mention? Like I said, they were all pretty great…
Pet Peeve… or not?
To be fair, I got the feeling when I first watched the episode that there was something artificial in the way the different themes and new elements were woven together, but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what … Upon watching it again, it dawned on me that Jane was unusually passive, towards his past (she lets Lisbon have a good look at his childhood, a thing he was more than reticent to share until then. He even talks about his father), but also in relation to Lisbon’s feelings (by simply not talking about them, he calmly lets her/us guess that he was already aware of them), and towards the new crime. He doesn’t really react to the slow realisation that he’s been lead on and even seems to weight the possibility that RJ has powers at some point, when he uncertainly accepts Lisbon’s assertions that what happens must be a coincidence… Like I said, it reminds of a Greek tragedy where the protagonist slowly discovers that he’s up against something much greater than him (fate/gods/…). Still, Jane is the kind of man who fights his fate, not a passive hero who struggles against destiny like a fish in a net: that passiveness is pretty unsettling. I really hope he will get back his pugnacity in the future: he will undoubtedly need it since if RJ keeps up his new game, I think “blood and tears” would be an accurate name for next season…
Reviewbrain: Or not…
I’ll be holding out for a happy ending Thank you to Mentalist cast/crew for making our favorite show. And thank you readers for being such awesome fans and a member of this fantastic community. Please don’t forget to reward Violet’s lovely efforts by rating her review. And please visit my artist @chizuruchibi on twitter. These two are the best partners a blogger can ever have. Love you both
*All material posted in this blog is the intellectual property of reviewbrain (unless otherwise stated). Readers are free to make use of the information provided they cite the source (this blog) either by name (reviewbrain’s blog) or by linking to it. Please extend the same courtesy to the authors of the comments as well (by mentioning their names) to ensure that credit is given where credit is due.