The Mentalist Red John Review


Synopsis

After FBI closes down CBI, Patrick Jane falls out of contact with everyone except Teresa Lisbon. CBI ex-head Gale Bertram (Michael Gaston), now being pursued as Red John contacts Jane and asks for a meeting. Jane heads over for the final showdown, but his progress is thwarted by FBI Agent Dennis Abbott who has issued an arrest warrant for the missing Mentalist.

Concise Verdict

I had quite a dilemma writing this one. First of all, while moderating comments on the blog, I had already been spoiled as to who the killer was (although, when guessing who the suspect is the most well known actor is usually the safest bet). Second, and it pains me to say this, but I didn’t really like the episode for reasons which I will list below (as they contain spoilers). Thankfully, however, Violet did and between the two of us we came up with what would hopefully be a fair review. But I take full responsibility for the final score. 7.5/10.

Detailed AKA Humungous Review (spoilers galore)

FBI Agent Dennis Abbott Question the Team

RB: Abbott arranges a meeting with Lisbon and her team where he tells them that he’ll be questioning them individually.  Basically, he threatens to expose whatever “questionable” decisions they’ve made to ensure him that they were not collaborating with their boss, Bertram. That is, unless they cooperate fully with the FBI.

Violet: In a way, his tactic reminds a bit of Darcy arresting them to get them to tell where Jane was in the desert… Here, he makes them come to their empty bullpen –which saddens Lisbon- and makes the team sit on foldable chairs: this is representative of their status. They lost their job, they don’t have any official authority anymore.

RB: To me, his hardline behaviour reminded me more of LaRoche. While just as unwavering as Darcy, Abbott here is in a position of higher authority, like LaRoche as head of Professional Standards was. And while Darcy was full of solid determination, she was never as overtly threatening as LaRoche was.

Violet: Plus the man has obviously done his research. The thing is, they all did questionable things under Jane’s guidance: not only following his schemes had lead them to do things bordering in the illegal, but Cho also took the law in his hands twice, when his former friend was killed in ‘Blood In, Blood Out’ and to help a child in ‘Rhapsody in Red’; plus he made himself an enemy of Tamsin Wade when he tried to protect his ex-girlfriend former hooker Summer. Rigsby killed his father’s murderer, and even if he was cleared, the case might still be suspicious since the team helped out later LaRoche, who did investigate him then. And Grace hacked the seven suspects’ phones and was engaged to a minion.

RB: You can see how nervous his words made everyone. Wayne and Grace don’t have the best poker faces. And even Cho seems affected. Only Lisbon is able to give an unaffected, albeit grim smile. Ironic, since it later becomes clear whom Abbot suspects the most of colluding with Jane.

Bertram at the shop

Violet: The scene when Bertram and his acolyte Cordero are entering the little shop in order to buy stuff and call Jane is packed with allusions. When the reporter is talking about Bertram/ RJ, the RJ smiley on the television screen looks like the one in Panzer’s murder scene, which may reflect that willingness to get closer to Jane, to make contact with him, as Bertram is precisely about to call him on his phone. Beside, after the newsflash, the shop owner changes channel and a Western film appears: the movie might foreshadow the gunshots Cordero and the cop who is entering shortly after are shooting at the other, the confrontation with outlaws and the duel between the protagonist and the bad guys, all elements present in the episode. Last, Gale’s hat and sunglasses remind viewers of the disguise Jane chose in the shop when he was on the lam with Lorelei: Cordero trying on some sunglasses put emphasis on the parallel…

RB: Two things struck me in this scene. First, Jane calling Bertram by his name as opposed to Red John when he contacted him. To me if felt like foreshadowing that Bertram wasn’t in fact RJ. I just don’t know if this was intentional or not, or if it was, what the purpose would be. I’d think the writers would have wanted the fact that Bertram wasn’t the real RJ to be a surprise. Or maybe they are recognizing what most viewers are already suspecting, that he isn’t RJ, and giving them a nod, letting them know that Jane is onto RJ ruse as well.

The second thing was the fact that when Bertram called Jane, Jane was in the CBI attic. It tickled me that while Abbott was below asking Lisbon where Jane was, not knowing he was a few floors above him.

He soon finds out, however. The police quickly trace the call Bertram was making to Jane’s phone and barge into his attic only to find it empty.

Violet: The FBI agents and SWAT team barging in the empty attic reminded of ‘Red Queen’: again, this alludes to the past Jane had with RJ and his attempts at getting him.

Abbott Confronts Lisbon

RB: Abbott’s attention is soon focused on Lisbon. He asks where Jane is and when she says she doesn’t know, he says that he doesn’t believe her.

Violet: He adds tells her that her “boyfriend” is colluding with Bertram and that she might be too. Lisbon’s answer is calm and assertive: “I am not. He is not.” Then she adds that he’s not her boyfriend. Abbot’s reply to this is intriguing: “it’s a damn shame, Teresa”… Is he telling her that he regrets the situation a cop like her is in? That he deplores her lack of cooperation? Or, as the familiarity of calling her by her first name hints at, is he telling her that she should have had a romance with her consultant while she could?

RB: If that last were true, then perhaps he is echoing some viewer’s thoughts J But I think the rest of his statement clarifies his meaning, “by all accounts you were a good cop”.

Violet: Like he did in front of the team, the man tries to pressure her into the suspect position, while playing on her personal emotions and her professional pride. He wants to push her into getting comfort from Jane, whom she claims she has no idea where he is. This has Lisbon rectifying that she still is.

RB: That was a great moment to a great scene. I loved how very in control Lisbon was, letting Abbott know that despite what he may think is not a dirty cop. Then there was how the scene was shot; how the camera followed her for a bit as she walked away for a bit before resting on Abbott, staring at her departing figure.

Mother Teresa and the Team

RB: Lisbon is leaving the CBI when Rigsby calls out to her in the parking lot. He and the others leave the SUV they were hiding in and tell her they heard Bertram contacted Jane and are laying low. Lisbon tells them that there aren’t any arrest warrants for them yet to which Cho replies “Give them time.”  When Grace asks where Jane is, she tells them not to ask.

Violet: Lisbon tries to comfort her team too: she gives them some very reasonable advice. She orders them to protect themselves and not to try to find Jane. What’s even more moving than her mother hen attitude is the others’ insistence in calling her “boss”… It’s obvious they feel protective of each other.

RB: I agree. There is a definite feeling of solidarity here. Even when they agree to Lisbon’s decree that it’s every man for himself now, Cho asks “So where is he?” And it’s not really surprising. The family theme has been brought on time and time again in the show, especially in the last season. And while some viewers felt it unprofessional how quickly the secret of the RJ suspects was leaked to the team in this season’s premiere, I felt it just more evidence of how close knit they all were. You can’t keep a secret in a close family. What I’m less sure of is if Lisbon actually responded to Cho here. The episode’s ending hints that she might have but I don’t think so. I think at this points she’s aware of the threat her team faces in Abbott and think she’d want to keep them from that.

Jane and Lisbon

Violet: The two partners meet in the park where they discussed Sophie Miller’s death.

RB: The bird theme was rampant here.

Violet: Again, pigeons are fed, this time by Jane. The last time, it was a woman and, in ‘Wedding in Red’, Jane was feeding ducks.

RB: Lisbon tells Jane he’s a wanted man to which he replies “I’d like to think so.” The tiny bit of humour (flirting?) goes a long way in the serious situation. Lisbon replies that she’s serious, that Abbott put out a warrant for his arrest. More humour is found when Lisbon asks Jane “are you going to tell me?” to which he responds “Oh, by the way Bertram called,” before clarifying to Lisbon that whatever the man wanted, he didn’t have the time to express. Lisbon informs Jane that he has to get rid of his phone, that the FBI will put a trace on it eventually. Jane reasons that he can’t until Bertram contacts him again, “It’s all very suspenseful.”

I absolutely loved Jane’s blasé attitude here conveyed beautifully by Baker’s purposefully bored tone. He must be positively excited and it almost seems like his feeding the pigeons is a way to calm himself down.

Violet: When Bertram calls to ask for a meeting in order to give Jane a little closure, with “no weapons, no tricks”, Jane is already testing the waters: he gauges Bertram’s reaction at the notion that he’s asking for a date (the criminal is amused, he answers « yes… no…” while chuckling).

RB: He further tests him when he asks him why he should trust him to which Bertram replies that he could have killed Jane many times but he didn’t. Jane here, doesn’t let Bertram know that only recently tried to get rid of him when he was unconscious, and goes along to set up a location. Bertram suggests a place but Jane states that he doesn’t know it. Jane then chooses a station which Bertram turns down as being too crowded.

Violet: Jane then tests Bertram’s reaction to a new location for the meeting: the church near the cemetery where Angela and Charlotte are buried. Gale’s relative lack of a reaction is telling given that RJ has used the place to send him a message in ‘Red Rover, Red Rover’ and that Jane tried to infuse his last confrontation with RJ with symbolism since he chose to have it in his Malibu property.

RB: I actually found Bertram’s response, “Of course I do” to be an admission of sorts as to the location’s significance. But it could have been for us viewers’ benefit since we got to see Bertram’s facial expression as opposed to Jane who only had his tone to go on. I know I immediately thought that Bertram’s response could only mean that this was Jane’s family’s final resting place, and suspected that the chapel there might be the church Jane was in when the previous episode ended in.

After Jane hangs up he tells Lisbon about his scheduled meeting with Lisbon.

Jane’s response at Lisbon’s worries explore some important parts of their relationship: he’s honest with her telling her that she knew that this day was coming and that it’s here. He tries to protect her by not making her an accessory to murder (“I don’t want you involved – I’m involved… – Not anymore”).

RB: We later find out that Jane is also protecting Lisbon by not being completely honest with her. Even before Bertram’s phone call, Lisbon suspects that Jane knew more than what he was letting on. She’s understandably confused at what Bertram was still doing in town; why he didn’t just flee the country, and voices disbelief that Jane has no conclusions of his own. Her attitude here might reflect more cynical/concerned viewers. Jane, despite how far he’s come is still hiding things from her. But now we know it is for her own good.

Violet:  Last, he asks for her gun and she gives it to him because she trusts him.

RB: This part actually drove me crazy. Jane doesn’t want Lisbon with him because he wants to protect her, yet he asks for her gun, which, if found at the scene will lead right back to her? Now Jane says he won’t use it, he only wants it as a prop (and he sticks to his word). But still, its mere presence at what he knows will be a crime scene can’t be good for her.

Violet: Lisbon followed his lead and allowed him to have his revenge. She didn’t stand in the way; instead, she stuck with him to the very end, choosing affection over the law. Was she thinking that this was their only opportunity to catch RJ? Or was it because Jane needed it? Was she telling the truth when she told him that the serial killer deserved no trial, in ‘Fire and Brimstone’?

RB: This last question is actually what immediately popped in my mind. In Fire and Brimstone, I had completely believed Lisbon’s words. That she believes RJ doesn’t believe in a trial, and I think the reason for this is, seeing how powerful he is, she knows he’d probably escape before he even makes it to trial. And I think then, like then, Jane understood this in her but kept her away not because he didn’t believe her but because he is protecting her.

Violet: Anyway, she covered as far as she could for his crime, as she did with Bosco. Once again, Jane’s influence on her and on the team has made visible their most admirable qualities, but it also gave them moral ambiguity. Hence their pleased and relieved reactions at realizing he escaped Abbott and when he tried to reach Lisbon when things were over.

RB: One could argue that Lisbon’s morality has always been in question. Or, at least, ever since we found out that she once covered for Bosco. I do think Lisbon truly believes in the law because one simply can’t take matters of life and death in their own hands, but when faced with criminals who are somehow above the law, like the man Bosco killed probably was, and Jane’s RJ undoubtedly is, she is not above looking the other way.

That is not to say I agree with her actions here. It would probably have been much easier to follow the law had she been dealing with someone she doesn’t love as much as Jane (or respected as much as Bosco). Emotions are obviously playing a big role here.

As to the rest of the team, we know ex-gang member Cho believes in situations where one takes the law in his own hands. Rigsby’s had his own taste for vengeance. Grace? Being a person of religion could play both ways here depending on one’s own interpretation; you could either “turn the other cheek”, or go with “eye for an eye”. In fact, the same could be said for Lisbon, or even Jane if that’s all he took from his visit in the church in the previous episode.

FBI Agent Abbott

Violet: Abbott’s attitude towards Jane is pretty telling. Whereas Darcy tried clumsily to make him confess his involvement, Abbott knows them well and proves it when he managed to find Jane by following Lisbon, based on his theory that he’s her “boyfriend” and that they will make contact at some point (hence putting a bug in her car to monitor her meeting with him). He deduces from Jane’s panicky eagerness to leave – promising on his honor that he would come back- that he’s planning to meet Bertram: he understands their motivations. Lisbon cares for Jane so she will help him; Jane wants RJ so he will try to meet him. Even when Teresa then the team rush him, he tries to diffuse the situation when they get into a standoff with the FBI (like in a Western again) and let Jane go when she whispers that he take her car.

He calmly tells her afterwards that her car is bugged and arrests them. He might or not have counted on their complete support to Jane, anyway the agent is clever enough to take it in stride. He even comments that their screw ups make his life easier… And he later proves his ability to think outside of the box by asking for a paper map to a helpless younger agent and pinpointing Jane’s location.

The showdown

Religion is a primordial aspect of the scene: the driver who brings him to the cemetery has a crucifix hanging in his car; a statue of Jesus in front of the church… He meets Bertram inside only to be told that the man has no idea who RJ is, but that he plans to kill Jane… Of course, Gale is the one who end up dead, as McAllister, the real RJ, had used him as a decoy, like he did with Carter.  His brief funeral oration is indicative of RJ’s state of mind: « poor fellow, smart but dumb ». McAllister considers himself very clever and powerful, but this opinion contrasts violently with Jane’s: he calls him a delusional sexually depraved egomaniac sociopath, which fuels McAllister’s anger. It’s almost like each of them is confessing the other’s sins in this first and last official confrontation: McAllister states that that “obnoxious judgement” about him is what caused his family to die. His irritation hints at a kind of hurt at Jane’s rejection. When he presses his advantage by asking Jane who he is to judge him, Jane simply answers “nobody”. On the contrary, Thomas gloats: “you can’t imagine someone smarter than you… I have no delusions, I built a secret empire, I control the lives of thousand of people, my world is life and death.” While Jane doesn’t want to know why he did what he did nor how he did his tricks, McAllister is eager to get praised for his intelligence: Jane concedes that the psychic card was a nice trick; he also understood that his reason to kill Partridge was that he used the man to substitute his DNA with a body he had in ice… and the second part of what happened in the empty house is revealed when the killer cowers in fear at the pigeon Jane took from his jacket: he was indeed interrupted by the birds when he had Lisbon in his power. The power play is irrevocably reversed now and McAllister begs for mercy, stating “you’re not like me, you’re a good man”, in total opposition of what he stood for all those years and what he tried to make Jane become. The widower replies: “I have to say I’m a little disappointed”.

When a woman distracts Jane long enough by attacking him, McAllister runs away and Jane chases after him and he no longer can hide behind his minions. There’s an interesting progression: everyone believes Jane is the police and Thomas is the criminal. Nobody guesses they’re witnessing a murder, the only sense that McAllister is dangerous. In the cemetery, a woman tells Jane where his prey fled to –complementing the female minion in the church. When he manages to leave the cemetery, he’s spotted by a young girl in a house: the woman and her children symbolize in a way his victims as the girl is more or less the same age the dreamed Charlotte was, and Jane’s family was killed in their house full of modern bay windows… It’s obvious RJ is only getting his comeuppance, as suggested by the pigeon landing on the mother Mary’s hand in the church. And the roles are again reversed in the detail that it’s Jane who avoids calling the police.

The contrast is even more noticeable when Jane catches him: McAllister’s whining « please don’t kill me, let me live” only enlightens further Jane’s determination, visible when he firmly tells that he doesn’t care about the list of the Blake association members. After all those occurrence when he had been obsessing over lists, he’s finally stopped. The various lists/ notebooks he’s used in cases, the list of guards who might have helped to take Lorelei away, the list of men he shook hands with, the seven suspects list, everything came to that moment when Jane tells he doesn’t care about the list of members. He only wants RJ’s final words to be that he was sorry for killing his family. His shifting of Jane’s perspective is also apparent in the way he handles the gun after strangling the man: even probably deliberating if he should end his own life, he chooses again to differentiate his fate from his adversary’s. And that’s probably what the team and Lisbon understand when they hear her phone ringing: he’s done the deed and survived. While RJ’s accomplice is seen fleeing from the cemetery without caring any further, Jane’s friends have stuck by his side until the very end.

 This final links together many themes associated with the serial killer which concludes both his life and his antagonism with Jane:

- good/evil. The beliefs RJ has imposed on his followers are shattered when he admits Jane is “a good person” unlike him and when he shows that he fears death; in opposition to his assessment that there was no hell or afterlife in the limo in ‘The Crimson Hat’. Contrary to what Bret Stiles told Jane, a dying man can fear death…

- religion: the church, the candle used to hit the minion, the pigeon as a message from God on the statue of Mary.

- the game: Jane and RJ disagreeing on whether or not it was a game

- hunting: Jane chasing his wounded prey and killing him in a park

- magic: the pigeon used as a distraction as if it was a magic trick

- the birds theme, obviously…

- the color red: the decoration on the candle, the blood of the serial killer

- the ocean: alluded to since RJ was killed near a pond.

Beside, the story of his quest is also resumed by the three kinds of weapons involved in the confrontation: the gun – like the one which he shot Carter with; the blade the minion tried to use on him, à la RJ; the chocking reminds of how the killer (presumably RJ) of P.I. Kira Tinsley tried to silence her at first.

Last, it appeared that Jane was mostly right in his very first reading of RJ in that television talk show: the serial killer was indeed a sad little man and, while McAllister called him a “worm”, he was the one who ended up wriggling on the floor. It may be unintentional, but it has a kind of ironic poetry to it… His myth has shattered like the glass panel he passed through.

Post-mortem of RJ

It was to be expected, RJ was just an ordinary mal man: in spite of his followers’ adoration, Carter remarked that he was not the Devil, but a rather “normal” man. Lorelei also insisted that he had his weaknesses… Plus, there were different clues pointing at McAllister.

1) The explosion, aka the bomb and the shirt: like Jane pointed out, McAllister waited to be far enough from Stiles and Haffner (and the fake DNA proof he planted) to detonate the bomb. Moreover, the reason Lisbon let Bertram escape after the explosion was because he had hidden his telltale tattoo under his shirt. On the contrary, Smith didn’t: he was still in his undershirt while Gale had put his shirt back, because he probably knew there was a plan in motion and that he would need to fly out of the scene. After all, he called someone (RJ?) on the phone after being told that Jane was planning to confront his nemesis, therefore he must have received instructions: that’s probably why he was so close to Jane when Lisbon barged in, he was about to finish him off. Now, the thing is that at the end of ‘Fire and Brimstone’, McAllister was seen walking while readjusting his Sheriff green shirt too… And last thing: if he was not standing close to Haffner and Stiles, how come his corpse was supposed to have been burned to a crisp too? He could have died to an injury, but the body should have been mostly intact, like the three other men around him.

There is also the fact that fake deaths were a common occurrence of the show: RJ using Carter to make believe he was no more, plus the strings of fake deaths in the last seasons (‘Rubby Slippers’, ‘The Red Shirt’, ‘Red Lacquer Nail Polish’) prepared viewers for this moment.

2) “Thomas” was both Gale’s fake identity in ‘The Great Red Dragon’ and McAllister’s first name. As commenter Shady007 pointed out in the comments for the 2nd part of the post about the major themes of the show, Thomas the Apostle is also called ‘Didymus’, which means “twin”. Therefore, the two men were linked: Bertram was posing as his “twin”, his substitute. And the expression “a doubting Thomas” alludes to the Saint’s reluctance to believe that Christ had resurrected before confirming it by examining his injuries: it might have been a way to warn us that we should been careful with what we were told too. The whole thing was a smoke screen and there was a “resurrection” in the making too… It reminds of the season premiere, with Jane asking if he had two heads and the stunt the killer pulled with the two guns.

3) The pigeons of course, were indicative of his phobia.

4) The church is also a reminder of their previous meeting, when Thomas saved his life by killing the man who threatened Jane. He did the same thing in the S2 finale by killing the young couple who had Jane wrapped on a chair by plastic.

Jane has obviously been aware of RJ’s real identity for some time, because he stated that RJ committed an error by staging the explosion. He may have knew since he came out of the hospital to learn that there were only two other survivors. It’s probably why he claimed publicly that RJ was Bertram: he was the perfect scapegoat and it distracted the police attention since Jane had probably never intended to get to his nemesis legally. As always, he kept the information close to the vest. When he went to church in the previous episode, he set the stage for his confrontation; when he met Lisbon at the park, he already caught a pigeon while waiting for her since she didn’t see him do it. He anticipated being frisked, hence the second gun he asked from Lisbon: two weapons, like he had in the guest house and like RJ himself had both the bomb plus his gun as a Sheriff. Further proof of his suspicions is that he looked around in the search when he entered to meet Bertram…

Jane also proved to be fundamentally different from his nemesis, in spite of what Rebecca and Lorelei had claimed:

- Jane usually acts like a coward, yet he’s pretty courageous, since he went into the church alone, even though he knew he would be surrounded by killers, contrary to RJ who had two accomplices with him and who begged for his life.

- McAllister admitted: “you’re not like me, you’re a good man”.

- Jane used his deep insecurity to acquire a dose of humility: he’s “nobody”. He made progress in the pride department. The line also alludes to Odysseus telling the Cyclops that he’s “Nobody” in order to trick the monster who wanted to kill him (cf. also FBI “Agent Nemo” who took Lorelei away last season).

- He asked the man if he was sorry: he wants to avenge his family. There’s no pride involved here.

We got an interesting glimpse into RJ’s mind: his vanity explains his hunger for power. His need for being recognized for his actions underlines his deep lack of self-confidence: it explains why he felt undermined enough by Jane’s cutting reading to kill his family. It also enlightens why he chose women he had power upon: Rebecca was broken; Rosalind was blind and very lonely. Both needed reassurance, which allowed him to assume a domineering role in their lives. But Lorelei was attractive but rather out of his league: he sensed her inner fragility and managed to break her completely in order to make her his.

Last, the contrast between his sorry self and the greater image he wanted to give off shed a new light on why he kept Jane alive all those years instead of ending the game before. His pursuit was stimulating and Jane’s interest must have felt flattering. His narcissism was fed by this brilliant man thinking highly of his capacities. He therefore didn’t try to break him further by killing off Lisbon: he was probably interrupted by pigeons, but on the other hand he never attempted to kill her directly beforehand. His minions had attacked her before, but the man himself didn’t until he was angered by Lorelei’s death.

Same with the subtext of sexual attraction binding the serial killer to Jane, the “kind of love” Stiles alluded to and that was illustrated by sharing his lover Lorelei with him. Jane is aware of it since he asked Bertram if their meeting was “a date” and since he told Thomas that he was “sexually depraved”. McAllister who revels in admiration, was also fascinated by the same aspect of Jane’s personality. And McAllister was the only one of the three last suspects who tried to befriend Jane. Reede Smith was only angry at him and the best Jane could get from him was a truce. Gale Bertram liked Jane and admired him, but he never really tried to uses his position to get closer. But McAllister played with him when they first met (even though his character certainly wasn’t chosen as RJ at the time), then he asked Jane to call him by his first name (in the premiere) and competed with him playfully in observing clues on the corpse in ‘Wedding in Red’. He was seeking his attention. He also tried to get closer physically, by meeting him in the woods, following him (which allowed him to save his life) and offering him his hand to get back on the roof. And when Jane called him on his phone, he reminded Thomas that he had offered him his help. RJ’s need for admiration from his adversary, this sin of pride which ironically caused Jane’s downfall in the pilot, was also perceptible in his willingness to explain his acts to Jane when he finally met him as himself: he selfishly wants to impress him, while the fake RJs urged the consultant to get closure (Bertram, over the phone) and to go on with his valuable life (Carter). Those were only pretexts to get to him, obviously, but the difference is nonetheless telling.

The fact that Jane’s attention helped create the RJ myth and flattered his vanity is definitely linked to the murder of the serial killer. Like he wanted him to, RJ finally had Jane where he implicitly wanted him: focused on him, touching him in a rather intimate way (strangling him); they’re in close contact, looking at the other in the eyes. Like actor Simon Baker said in an interview a few days ago, the act of killing him reminds of a sex scene: Jane is above the other man, breathing hard, while McAllister is grunting. Jane’s breathing escalate in a kind of “release” when the deed is done, symbolizing both the result of RJ’s fascination in him and his need for being “released” from his guilt and his old life.

We can also infer some educated guesses from what we learned on RJ. Of course, it is obvious that every detail of RJ’s true nature was made up progressively, but some questions seem to receive at least some lead to a possible answer. It’s plausible for instance that not every minion that came across Jane knew of their master’s true identity. Rebecca admitted that she knew him, as for Hardy who labelled him a friend, and his lover Lorelei. We can deduce that Carter met him too, since he heard of details on Angela and Charlotte and Lennon brought Miranda to him. In retrospective, the very closed up Blake association might explain the heterogeneity between the minions: there might have been psychopaths on one hand and bad cops only receiving orders on the other. Indeed Craig was neither a psychopath nor a broken man. He seemed to fit more the type who had a dark secret to hide. Did he know who he was serving, like Cordero? Or was he only part of the Blake conspiracy like Smith and did he receive the order to seduce Grace and get information out of her and to kill Todd Johnson when he became a liability without really understanding the full implication of what he was doing? Either way, while he didn’t really the psychological standards of RJ’s followers, his possible involvement in the corrupted association raises a pet peeve, as Grace should have seen the tattoo on his shoulder at the time. Guess the writers didn’t imagine that detail at the time… The other possibility is that he was convinced by RJ’s religion, like Haffner was by Visualize: in this case, he would be closer to Gupta, who was able to kill coldly for his faith but wasn’t interested in murdering people without a purpose (or so he told to Lisbon at least).

Still, Todd Johnson might have been aware both of the conspiracy (“Tyger, Tyger”; “it would blow your mind”) and of RJ’s identity because he tried to approach Jane with the revenge angle.

Same with the connection with Stiles and Visualize: RJ spent some time in the barn and got the idea of creating some spiritual concurrence infiltrated too in the law enforcement agency. This may be why Stiles knew of his activities: his own agents living among cops and collecting information for him may have come across members of the Blake association. He may even have some spies in it, which may be how he got the address where Kristina was held captive.

Lastly, about RJ’s knowing the seven names on the list, he may have simply but astutely guessed them. He knew how Patrick’s mind works. Kirkland knew Bertram so it’s logical to infer that McAllister was aware of his activities and of the fact that he had been keeping tabs on Jane for years. He was a good enough suspect. Stiles revealed that he knew things about the serial killer: even though he couldn’t be at the barn, Jane had been suspicious of him from the start. Same logic with Haffner, who ha worked with them briefly after the debacle with Carter and had been Lisbon’s friend for years: he was obviously the one passing information on them to Stiles. He gloated to Lisbon that he had connections in the CBI even after he quitted so he could have very easily learnt everything he had wanted about them for years. This goes for the outsiders, because we know now that every one of the three remaining suspects was working for him… they were certainly the Blake members closest to Jane –no other colleague was mentioned as a member-, so it was easy to pick them up. Now, the real genius was to suppose Jane would have guessed he was a potential suspect, given that the small town sheriff had made no effort to see him again. In addition to fitting the criteria, he had to have guessed that Jane sensed that something was off with him. After all, RJ was a clever man…

Pet Peeves:

Violet: In spite of McAllister not being a wrong or illogical choice, the ending might leave a dissatisfying and disorientating impression, probably because it’s a bit hard to reconcile this rather mild-mannered and overall pitiful version of the serial killer with the evil monster shrouded in mystery who shocked Kristina into catatonia, who seduced Lorelei to the dark side, who butchered Eileen and so many others and who severed Sophie Miller’s head. I can’t help but think that they should have shown something to make us see directly what he was able to do, like they did with Bertram slaughtering the poor bartender. A flashback would have been nice at this point, or a gory remark like the talk they had about gutting animals not so long ago… This RJ was a bit to clean, in my humble opinion.

RB: Ugh, where to start…like Violet, I just didn’t buy McAllister as RJ. And I don’t think it was the actor’s fault (Xander Berkley’s reputation speaks for itself) as much as how not enough continuity was infused in RJ’s conversation with Jane.  For example, we’ve been led to believe that RJ wanted to retire via Carter, and for all ends and purposes his killing had stopped until Jane colluded with him to kill Panzer. But there was no mention of that here whatsoever. RJ mentioned that Jane’s pride  is what caused his family’s death; in fact it was RJ’s pride that was hurt so much he couldn’t handle the insult and had to retaliate. But where was RJ’s pride at the end? No lording over Jane the fact that he gave him a chance to move on with his life via Carter? In fact, no mention of Carter whatsoever!

-Speaking of Carter, Strawberries and Cream was a perfectly written, directed, and cast episode. At the time, the writers could have decided to end the RJ arc. They didn’t. In the review of Scarlett Ribbons, I wrote:

If we go with the idea that RJ really is alive, then there are both pros and cons to the situation.

Pros:

  • Many viewers were concerned that The Mentalist without Red John wouldn’t work; the reasoning being you can’t have Batman without the Joker. If he’s still alive, there’s no need to worry about whom will fill RJ’s shoes as Jane’s new arch nemesis.
  • Story-wise, the decision makes sense. If Mentalist is to have seven seasons, then we’re in the middle of the series; a good time for the story’s climax; which Strawberries and Cream undoubtedly was.
  • Speaking of the season three finale, I don’t think the fact that Timothy Carter was not Red John detracts from the powerfulness of that episode. After all, Jane and the entire CBI team thought he was RJ.
  • Making Jane (and viewers) think that he shot RJ was a like having the ultimate fire drill. An experiment, if you will, for writers to see how best to handle the final showdown. I am very interested to say how Jane acts given a do-over.
  • Lisbon’s absence during the showdown in Strawberries and Cream, while very clever, felt wrong. RJ not being dead provides an opportunity to remedy this.

Cons:

  • Many viewers (including moi) had genuinely fallen for the idea that Red John was dead. We had all summer to get used to it. Now we’re suddenly being told that he’s not. I used to take pride in the fact that Mentalist writers have an honest relationship with their viewers. If it’s our interest they’re trying to keep, they shouldn’t fear, we’ll always keep watching. Really, there’s no need to mislead us. Unless they wanted us to feel the same anticlimax that Jane did. If so, mission accomplished.
  • Crying wolf can get old very quickly. Next time really should be the real deal.
  • Now that Jane’s been acquitted of killing Red John, he can hardly use the same defense for when he actually does kill the murderer.

-My main frustration with episode Red John is that it failed to meet the high expectations the writers gave me after an episode like Strawberries and Cream. Also, it neither followed through on the pros nor did it remedy the cons listed above. Now, regardless of whether we agree killing RJ is the right or wrong thing to do, we’ve already seen Jane take his revenge once. What’s the point of repeating the same thing again? I don’t want to undermine the character growth we’ve seen in Jane in season’s four and five, except, this episode kind of did just that. Also, given the chance for a do-over, the audience expects to see something new. There just wasn’t enough new in this episode for me.

-We’ve seen Jane mess things up for CBI and fix them back up before. But this time I’m afraid the team compromised themselves past the point of any believable resolution. I’m glad Jane has found a loving family who is willing to risk their careers and freedom so that he can have his revenge. But there is just so little common sense in that that I’m angry they were put in this situation in the first place. I really can’t see any realistic resolution for this; especially now that Haffner is dead and Lisbon has no admirer offering her a job.  Methinks much suspension of reality will be needed to get through the next few episodes.

-Speaking of Haffner, what was up with all his threats to Lisbon and Grace about them going to regret their actions? Was he just warning them of the hole the RJ investigation was digging for them? It seemed like he knew too much to just have him die without addressing his threats.

-And what about all the other characters that seem like an afterthought now? Mancini? The judge and other influential people Lisbon was introduced to in the poker game? Then you’ve got fantastic guest actors like J.J. LaRoche and Walter Mashburn who would have been great allies for Jane in the final showdown. It just seems like such a waste not to use such well rounded characters by phenomenal actors. But then, even Lisbon wasn’t worthy of being present in the final scene…

-Then there’s the fact that the set up to this episode was not nearly as tight and perfect as the set up to S & C. At the time of episode The Red Tattoo, we didn’t know who it was that killed Kira Tinsley. Now we can assume it’s either RJ or one of his lackeys (who, as far as we’ve seen are all in law enforcement). We’re supposed to believe that these big burly men had a hard time putting down a (maybe) 120 pound (probably less) woman? It just doesn’t make any sense. Also, why the heck would he hire a private investigator when he’s got “hundreds, maybe thousands”   members in the Blake Society?

- How did the team know where to find Jane and Lisbon? Did they follow her?

-Jane swore “on his honor” to turn himself in. Somehow, I don’t see that happening after his calling Lisbon and leaving her a message of “I’ll miss you.”

-I’m sorry, but as good as Xander Berkely is, he is nowhere near as believable a Red John as Bradley Whitford.

-I could go on but I’d much rather move on to what I did like about the episode…

Best Lines

“Hey?!” Bertram’s surprised utterance when he was shot was probably my favourite moment in the entire episode. In my humble opinion, Michael Gaston would have made a much more intriguing RJ. You never knew if he was truly dense or just acting the part. And I certainly enjoyed his scenes with Jane more than I did with McAllister.

“It’s totally fair. Game’s over, I won.” McAllister’s statement to Jane in RJ’s creepy voice was awesome. It was so very sudden and disturbing and was only ruined by my thinking “No way in the world that was Xander Berkley’s real voice”. Again, part of why I couldn’t buy him as RJ.

“You see? For no reason at all you’re rude and contemptuous.” RJ to Jane. Yeah, I think Jane has plenty of reason’s, McA.

Best Scenes

The team arguing in the FBI car after they were cuffed was hilarious. Whether it was Grace and Wayne bickering or if it was Cho ribbing Wayne over being polite to the FBI agents.

The moment Jane took out the pigeon from his jacket was phenomenal. A moment of clarity where all the bird symbolism this season came to an ultimate climax. Now we know why Lisbon is still alive, the birds saved her.

6x09(1)

Image by Chizuruchibi. Copyright Reviewbrain December, 2013. Not to be used without permission.

And now we know why Jane chose the church, he had a gun hidden in it previously. Then there was the dove perching on the statue of Mary. It was all very beautiful. In fact, I wish that would have been the end of the episode. But perhaps the subsequent chase between Jane and RJ was plot-wise necessary. Maybe all the witnesses will play a role.

Conclusion

Violet: This rather low key ending of the elusive serial killer entails an interesting conclusion: RJ was only a human being, and a pitiful one at that. The criminal’s myth is shattered, the pathetic man appeared behind the fearless mask, like Jane had been hiding his broken soul behind a charming and carefree façade. RJ was dull and weak, not powerful as he was made out to be: the criminal and his crimes are condemned and despised, at the exact moment Jane is committing a crime himself. As always, the show is wrapping Jane’s quest in ambiguity, from its beginning to its end.

RB: I’m not sure that was the writer’s intent, however. It seems like we are supposed to very much be sympathetic with what Jane is doing, but I really don’t feel that way. The thing is, as a viewer, I preferred Jane when he was a character I was able to both emphasize and sympathize with. So many people have suffered as Jane has suffered, but not all have seen fit to take the law into their own hands. Just because Jane somehow can’t bring himself to move on unless he takes his own vengeance doesn’t make it okay;  at least, not in a so called civil society.  And the way Simon Baker played him, like he is delighting in Jane’s vengeance grates on me a bit. It’s not what I would have wanted for Jane. RJ tells him he’s a better man than he is, and that’s true. But RJ’s not really a good example to compare Jane with. Was it too much to hope for to have the bar be raised a bit higher where ethics are concerned? Or are we supposed to believe, that if even Saint Lisbon agrees with what Jane is doing, then it was the right thing to do?

Violet: The conclusion of Jane’s actions is also perceptible in the subtext of his scenes with Lisbon: their meeting in the park echoed the many intimate conversations they had over the years. They used to take place in her now no longer existent office, which glass walls were taken away while Lisbon was standing in the bullpen, or in the attic, now empty of Jane’s presence –symbolically, he was last seen here when Bertram called him the first time: his thinking room was emptied when he got his last serious lead. The scene concluded the trust arc, because he was asking for complete trust here: she knew he was armed, that he wanted to kill, that he refused to tell her where he was going, yet she accepted his actions and helped him. In the course of a few years, she went from not trusting him (S1 finale), to not trusting him hundred percent (after Carter’s death), to this act of absolute faith. Even though her predictions from season 2 were confirmed: at the time, after being suspended because of him, she admitted she had known from the start that he would cost her her career… it is done, she is no longer a cop nor a CBI agent, and she got arrested because of him.

Their second moment, the message left on her phone refers to all the talks they had over the phone, like when she was in danger -when she was trying to find a bomb in a living room in the earlier seasons; when she was alone with a killer in a cabin in S1; when she was with O’Laughlin in ‘Strawberry and Cream’ and, more recently, when he was trying to reach her and RJ called him back in the premiere. In this last occurrence, Jane was trying to apologize for his outburst after she entrusted Grace (and the team by extension) with the seven suspects list. Time proved that he could indeed fully trust them.

It also echoes the times he tried to tell her goodbye: the scene in front of the elevator in ‘Red Rover, Red Rover’ and his “I’ll keep in touch” in the previous episode. Plus, his emotional scene in the sunset is alluded to indirectly with the notion of missing her. In four sentences, he tells her everything: the factual “it’s over” might also mean that his life among them is over. “It’s done” is in not so many words the confession that he killed his nemesis: he’s honest with her. His reassurance that it’s going “to be ok” is more sincere than the same line told also over the phone after stranding her in ‘Fire and Brimstone’: this time, he’s got a real chance at something new and he acquired it by telling her the truth instead of tricking her. His “I’ll miss you” ends the period of his life on a note of genuine affection, along with the remembrance of his family in the fleeting image of a woman and her little girl in the background. It is the most sincere he ever would get because he no longer needs her and therefore has no reason to lie any longer.

RB: Very true, and very sad as well. To me, this moment felt like the only reason Jane had to stay at CBI was killing RJ. And that, despite all the bonds of friendships he made, ultimately, his vengeance was more important. It was very disappointing.

Violet: That last image hints that Jane got closure less because of the murder than because he implicitly forgave himself. He may let go of the guilt, having killed without getting literally blood on his hands unlike Lady Macbeth, those hands that had shaken RJ’s ones unknowingly. Facing that self-important RJ, he had to know that it was not his hubris that caused his loss, not really, because RJ is only human, not a god hell-bent in punishing him. It was McAllister’s own inflated pride that caused the death of his family. He was the one who couldn’t stand someone smarter (“I’ll show you clever” in the video he made of Lorelei). During the confrontation, Jane stayed calmer than he’d ever been when getting close to his goal; he had no crazy look in his eyes, like he did when he first confirmed McAllister’s identity in the guest house. In a sense, he may have accepted the necessity of “letting go”, like he told Lisbon after the downfall of the CBI: maybe not of his goal, but of its blindly obsessive nature. He thought with calm, refused to acknowledge RJ’s reasons. He refused to die by his own hand and chose to live instead. He called Lisbon to tell her goodbye; all things he never did before. Maybe the maturity he acquired wasn’t directed to refusing to murder his nemesis, like I had hoped all along, but to realize and choose that his life had not to stop when he achieved it.

RB: True, but, again, we’ve already gone through this after Strawberries and Cream. Jane thought he had killed RJ, but didn’t want his life to be over. He decided to live and turn himself in. The only difference this time is his decision that he deserve to live the life of a runaway.

Violet: Which leads us to what will happen now. In Revelation, 21 we can read:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.””

“It is done” indeed, as Jane put it: no more deaths by RJ, no more mourning or pain: “the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars” are all burning in hell for crimes. All things new: the end of an old corrupted world and hopefully the beginning of something more fulfilling for them all, a new heaven.

RB: That would be nice. I for one wasn’t one of the people who watched the show just to witness the cat and mouse game between Jane and RJ, rather, I enjoy Jane’s interactions with the team and anyone and everyone else. Not to mention, the interesting cases. I look forward to going back to great one offs, and whatever resolution there is for the show.

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51 responses to “The Mentalist Red John Review

  • MikeH

    Nice review and thoughts. I’m surprised that there was no mention of the mother and daughter walking hand-in-hand across the cemetery at the end. Weren’t they meant to be Angela and Charlotte (or maybe some allusion to them)?

  • reviewbrain

    Thank you! Actually, Violet mentioned them in the last few paragraphs. And yes, I immediately thought of Angela and Charlotte too :)

  • Valentine0214

    Thank you, Reviewbrain and Violet, for the excellent review. I, too, was a little disappointed with the choice for Red John although I had decided weeks ago that he was the logical choice. What gripped me was Simon Baker’s acting in the death scene. The up close and hands-on murder sent chills down my spine. If he had chosen to use a gun or a knife, it would not have been nearly as satisfying.

    In Red Hair and Silver Tape (the episode where we first see McAllister), Jane tells the victim’s brother that it is far worse to be sorry than to be dead. That is why he MAKES Red John admit that he is sorry before he makes him dead. I never thought of Jane as a coward as some did because of his aversion to violence, but I’ve never thought he was particularly strong either. But in that scene we see his left hand, with the wedding ring that represents the life he lost, a direct lead to his heart, and Jane kills the man WITH HIS BARE HANDS. Straddling him the way he did brought all kinds of sexual comparisons to me and the process and the look on Jane’s face looked orgasmic to me. Jane calls Red John a sexual pervert and I always felt Red John felt an attraction to Jane.

    Whatever the problems with the episode, it kept me riveted and hyperventilating at times. The acting was great!

  • MikeH

    Ahhh! Now I see that. For me, this was the pivotal scene in the entire episode. Much more revealing than McAllister being RJ. And Violet’s mentioning of Revelation 21 I think is spot on… maybe where they are getting the title from for the next episode.

  • zee

    Reviewbrain, I enjoyed your ‘rantings’ section and you are really generous on the score points. So many frustrations that I find increasingly unworthy to mention.

    Violet, again your literary allusions are far more superior than what the show actually is. Recently, It’s as if I’m experiencing two different stories. (This is largely due to recent excerpts of Heller admitting some stuff about the show… )

    Good stuff I’d like to mention: Good “Red’dance”! As disquieting it was to witness Jane murder someone, it *had* to be done. Let us fans move on from here and hope for the best.

  • windsparrow

    Excellent review, Violet and reviewbrain!

    For myself, I found it well within Jane’s habits to swear on his honor in order to get his way, but having no intention of following through on the promise to turn himself in. I’m a little saddened by Lisbon’s swearing her own honor for him, when she could have no expectation that he would be back.

    Jane killing McAllister with his bare hands was as creepy a thing as I have ever seen on this show.

  • windsparrow

    Reviewbrain wrote in response to MikeH, “Actually, Violet mentioned them in the last few paragraphs. And yes, I immediately thought of Angela and Charlotte too”

    There was also an older couple, walking hand in hand after the mother and daughter. I believe that Heller has stated that the people shown at the end were symbols of all that Jane had lost.

  • rita

    Great review violet & reviewbrain, interesting points raised. I know that this episode has made some people very angryand disappointed, but I enjoyed it, I have watched several times, and on the whole, the parts that I felt weak (the ones you mentioned) were outweighed by the brilliant acting from all concerned, and the last scene. I think that if Jane HAD let RJ be taken by the FBI, some how, something would have happened to let him get away with it….the Blake association was just too big. I think it was a very bold thing for the writers to do, to kill off a major character (even though he was never actually listed in the cast list, he overshadowed every episode)

    The most memorable scenes for me were the one with Lisbon in the Bull pen looking around, you could see that in her imagination the empty room was filled with desks and people, she could hear the sounds of teasing, arguments, laughter and the general bustle, and when she looked in ‘Jane’s corner’ she looked so wistful at all that was lost. I loved how she kept her cool when Abbott was trying to get a rise out of her, and rattle her into an indescretion. And of course the end scene, when after Jane ran by we could see his whole life, the life he lost, the woman and child representing Angela and Charlotte, the man and his child, representing him and his daughter playing in the park and the older couple arm in arm, that could have been him and Angela in their later years…..all lost because of RJ.

    When Jane was looming over RJ at the end and had his hand around his neck, I think that is the first time we have heard Jane use the term ‘My wife Angela and my daughter Charlotte’ it is almost as if he couldn’t name them out loud, the names were too precious for that.

    Finally, I am glad that he rang Lisbon, even if she couldn’t take the call at that moment, usually he just disappears leaving her wondering, but this time at least he gave some thought to the people he was leaving behind, by not going back they could still try to use the ‘deniability card’ though I’m not too sure of the success they will have.

    Again a great review, thank you.

  • Rose UK

    Very glad that you (RB & Violet) joined forces for such a pivotal and important episode – felt very fitting!! :) Also interesting to read your somewhat opposing viewpoints, which probably sum up the two main responses to the episode. Thank you so much.

    For myself, after the initial horror of having managed to spoiler MYSELF by clicking on a link that had a picture of McAllister on it just before I watched the episode (I know), I realised that A) I wasn’t that surprised (given that we’ve gone over each suspect with a fine-tooth comb); and B) I wasn’t actually that bothered about RJ’s identity in the end. Any of them could be made to fit at least some of the clues. I discovered that for me it has ultimately always been a question of *what* Jane would do at the moment of catching him, not *who* the monster was. And the answer left me feeling a bit glum, tbh…

    I largely agree with RB and Zee about the resolution and pet peeves (I also wanted other strong characters back to assist in the finale). That said, Violet’s defense of the episode has opened my eyes to some of the choices made (e.g. I didn’t understand why so much time was spent running around until Violet pointed out the hunting/hunted metaphor, so I’m fine with that now!). I know that RJ was supposed to be exposed as just a man – pathetic, weak, powerless – rather than some kind of god, but I had hoped for some kind of real battle of wits for the final showdown. Instead we essentially got an impossibly quiet pigeon and RJ falling for two of the oldest tricks in the book (Jane choosing the location, and responding to “I want to show you something”). These are all things that can plausibly be explained away, but that was my instinctive reaction.

    Oh well!

    I’m depressing myself a little, so let me tell you what I liked:

    – The tension, the drama
    – The team closing ranks for Jane! Without asking for anything in return. That’s the epitome of friendship, and I hope Jane gets to repay this. I really am going to miss the team dynamic; I like all their characters. I especially liked the bickering in Abbott’s car, with Mother Teresa telling her kids to be quiet, and Cho stuck in the middle with a look on his face, like, “These people are idiots”.
    – Speaking of which, CHO! Sorry, but how awesome was he this episode? He was such an amazing contrast to Jane that I nearly jumped the J/L ship and hopped aboard the Lisbon/Cho express! ;) He was loyal, steadfast, brave, he took action, and he was the first to put his neck on the line (selfless) for the people he cared about, no hesitation. Whereas Jane just sort of leaves Lisbon in a mess. (Although you could argue that they both went into it with their eyes open; they made their decisions.)
    – The acting. Especially SB at the end.

    PS Also bummed they killed off Stiles and Haffner, though I understand it was necessary in order to work as a clue. :( Will we ever find out how Stiles knew about Kristina?! ;)

  • KM

    Thank you for the review. I actually loved this episode.

    I thought it was wonderfully done. I appereciated the continued allegory of evil having to be absorbed in order for it to be overcome by the lamb and carried away by the goat.

    I think the death of RJ was the higher more merciful and just choice. The death serves a greater good to more souls. So no feelings of RJ’s death, the support of it, makes the characters any less mericiful or just. Perhaps I don’t see laws made by flawed men as determination of what is or is not moral? Even within the OT a murder could flee to towns designed as sanctuaries, where as long as the accused did not leave and the priest lived, than the accused had a future. Nice parallel to Jane’s race.

    According to Mr. Heller all the extras at the end, as Jane slowly runs past, are representatives of the life Jane and his family would have had: the mother and daughter; the father watching his child play; the elderly couple walking together in the park.

    It is not my nature to require every loose end to be wrapped up. I have not found life to work this way. Instead I have found that often the only closures and answers we get in life are the ones we choose for them. For me the final chapter of RJ is much like both life and bittersweet chocolate, and either by taste or choice, I found the sweetness and savor it.

    Cheers!

  • Rose UK

    I understand what you’re saying, KM, I truly do. I found myself thinking about your remarks about Dietrich Bonhoeffer in this context; the idea of ridding the world of evil by committing a sin yourself; about bearing that sin upon your shoulders (exactly: hence the lamb/martyr/Jesus/sacrifice idea) and about how failing to act is somehow condoning the evil, but… oh, I just struggled with it. That scene was so painful to watch. Did Jane kill RJ *primarily* to rid the world of evil, for the greater good? (Which is rather a precarious road to go down anyway, imo, because it could quite easily turn into some kind of Kirkland-style vigilante-ism). Or was it largely because he was still vengeful and had hatred in his heart? In my eyes, the motivation is an important factor in the choice. (Although I know that it wouldn’t be a case of one-or-the-other). I guess I agree with RB on this: “And the way Simon Baker played him, like he is delighting in Jane’s vengeance grates on me a bit. It’s not what I would have wanted for Jane. RJ tells him he’s a better man than he is, and that’s true. But RJ’s not really a good example to compare Jane with. Was it too much to hope for to have the bar be raised a bit higher where ethics are concerned?”

  • KM

    I forgot to say that I never had a vested interested in who RJ was. So I did not participate in guessing. And, for me and some others, including a long ago radio interview with Heller and comments by Baker, RJ was just an embodiment of Death. Death is many. Death is omni-powerful. Death is omniscient. Death is omnipresent. So the character of RJ needed to have those characteristics. And, at the same time Death is natural, it’s ordinary, it is banal, everyday. All that are born meet death, no-one truly knows him. No-one can describe him. Death walks besides us all. In this way I thought that Heller closed the chapter well in the 40 something minutes he was given.

    Had I been deeply invested in who RJ was I might have felt a greater sense of disappointment. As I am sure the back story of RJ might have been interesting, but I have long held that we all can be both monster and saint. And, terrible experiences may give some comfort as to why, but they don’t justify the choice. In the end what made RJ tick did not really interest me. That is likely my loss.

    Cheers!

  • Lugenia

    I was also conflicted by the ending. On the one hand, I feel Jane was justified in leaving because 1) the CBA had been disbanded 2) Agent Abbott seemed convinced that the very people who had exposed the Blake Association were complicit in the organization (bad writing?). But for the most part I felt the scene in The Great Red Dragon when the couch is taken out and the tea cup shattered as emblematic that the world the CBI team had occupied is over. There would be no coming back to life as it was before. I feel that each member of the team felt betrayed by Bertram and the other police officers who violated the law saw ruthlessly, and that Bertram was their boss- that he controlled their fates in terms of hiring and firing and disciplinary actions–was just insult to injury. I also see the team as pragmatists. They know Jane–probably better than he knows himself. That they agree with his actions suggests that they ally themselves with his cause–that killing RJ is the moral choice in a world that –truth be told–is more morally ambiguous than we sometimes would like to allow. And I do not think that this is a cynical reaction to human failure.
    I also saw the allusion to The Odyssey with Jane’s response to McA that “I am nobody.” I think that at this point and in the scene before–when Jane is on his knees begging–that Jane has been reduced in his estimation of self. His identity has been erased, in a manner of speaking, and now he has to rebuild himself. In parallel, so does each member of the team. Lisbon has to reconfigure her identity away from the job that has consumed so much of her life, as does the rest of the team. Since I am an introvert myself I see the work of reconstitution of self as primarily solitary. My family may be there to help me in some ways, but I have to find my own way back to the light. And that is what each member of the team has to do. The way to depict that dramatically is in Jane’s departure and the regrouping two years later. Whether this will work out is a matter the writers and the market (will audiences stick with the show?) will determine. But I see the merits in this path, although I acknowledge that the writing or editing/ directing left much to be desired in conveying this to viewers.

  • KM

    @Rose,
    I’d hazard a guess that the motivation behind killing RJ was many layered. And, revenge for his wife and daughter carried the lions share. The character of Jane felt he had the right to that justice. Only an anecdote, but I’ve served on juries where the family of the victim have asked for the death penalty. Some have had it awarded and others not.

    I did not walk away with the idea that Jane was delighting in his vengeance. I think the brief moment where he starts to bring the gun to his own head, I read that in the unfinished version that Jane puts it beneath his chin, suggests that it was a very troubled moment. And we see all that flash over Bakers’s face. I’ve seen the episode via CBS dot com in the double digits now (watching it up the episodes 30 day ratings demographics). Each watching reveals more, for me. And, it becomes darker and more tragic. Part of Jane, likely small, did not want to be there. He did not want to play the game. He wanted to end his relationship with RJ. Maybe my optimistic nature, a part of him wished that he could trust the law with RJ (The Blake’s made that a pipe dream). Hence, the decision to call Lisbon becomes more hopeful for me. I interpret Jane to have realized that ending his life would be a selfishness, and an act of cruelty to Lisbon and the team. And, thus he carries his choices away from them as he runs past the life that RJ chose to destroy. With that hope I hope that Jane tarnished and tainted will resurrect a better man when all the cards finally fall and the last chapter of The Mentalist has been read.

    Cheers!

  • reviewbrain

    Thank you so much for your thoughts. This is an episode where I’d appreciate as many logically sound arguments highlighting its positives as I can, and yours certainly helped. I do understand society is flawed and RJ would have probably escaped had he lived, but I just wished Jane’s peace of mind didn’t have to come at such a high (or low, depending on ones perspective) price.

  • reviewbrain

    Very interesting and makes me more hopeful. Thanks :) and yes, I would probably not have minded the episode as much had the writing been a bit better. Especially in controversial episodes, the writing has to be perfect to better support the decisions made (i.e. Blinking Red Light, S&C).

  • reviewbrain

    Rose, totally agree on motivations. Also, yes ;_;

  • Rose UK

    I really like the idea of reconstitution and rebuilding, Lugenia. We’ve had the fire of destruction, now it’s time for the purification. Dragon’s gone, let the phoenix rise!

    @ KM: It’s all about the individual and how they are able to heal, I guess. Some people need the maximum sentence to be imposed in order to move on, or to feel that the scales of justice have been rebalanced in some way; others find peace by forgiving the perpetrator (which I always find fairly amazing).

    I also don’t think that Jane is delighting in the vengeance as such; more so the game aspect of the vengeance… The way his eyes gleam as he comes face-to-face with his prey (or every time he makes a breakthrough). But he wasn’t gloating at the end, or taking pleasure in the murder.

    It will be really interesting to see how all the characters adjust to this huge event – although I await the rest of season 6 with some trepidation, partly because I viewed RJ as a series-ender and partly because I’m not good with change! Lol. ;)

  • Rose UK

    Sorry, just to clarify (because I’m aware it sounds like I’m contradicting myself): I think Jane killed RJ partly (mostly) as the result of a quest fuelled by vengeance and hatred, but this was not the primary emotion at the moment of the act.

  • reviewbrain

    One thing that came to mind as I was re-reading this comment: I would have bought the whole “ridding the world of evil” if it had been anyone other than Jane doing it. Call it a double standard if you will but no one else had that same personal need for vengeance. Although to be fair I do think its what the team was thinking when they stood up for Jane, that RJ needed to be killed.

  • chill

    I must say I”m a bit surprised by the reaction to Jane killing RJ and to the consideration of the idea that Jane took some kind of joy in it. Unless this is in reference to that Jane seemed to get some sort of orgasmic release to his revenge? I thought that was well done myself. Or that he was being disrespectful to the team, or that this was in some way a slap against Lisbon, etc. They knew what they were doing in aiding him at the end.

    I was surprised that the moment that Jane considered killing himself after he killed RJ wasn’t prominently mentioned in the review, too (or did I just miss it??). That was so much of the power of the final scene — that he exacted his revenge using his bare hands, that after he did he considered ending his own life (as if there was nothing left worth living for) and he then he didn’t. And why? Not because he was looking forward to a life on the run, but because of Lisbon. He then calls Lisbon and we see that heartbreaking scene symbolizing the parts of his life that never happened because of the way he used to be and because of RJ. I was hoping it was foreshadowing of the future with Jane and Lisbon, but Heller cruelly took that away from me! :)

    I agree that I would have loved to see some of the other characters in the end of this arc (especially LaRoche) — it’s the sad fact that the way things work, these actors are not always available.

    I agree with most of the rest of the review. My favorite line was also “Hey!” — plus that Gaston had to lay there probably for an entire day as a backdrop to the RJ/Jane scene. OK, I know it was probably a body double, but grant me a little bit of fun. :)

    And as far as Jane and Lisbon and salvation or redemption — Lisbon was never going to change Jane and keep him from exacting his revenge. But, as I alluded to above, she did change him, gave him a reason to live past his revenge, even if that life might be rocky for a while. As to the gun, and the actions of the team, once the CBI was shut down, what was there really left to lose? All that was left was to get RJ.

    So, was it perfect? No. Was it very good? Yes. I agree with those who were impressed or blown away by the acting — the execution — of the episode. Baker was very, very good. Tunney I don’t think is getting credit for a great job, too. The music and direction I thought were excellent as well.

    And, maybe if there is a season 7, we’ll get back to some of the holes or gaps that bother us all. And perhaps to who the woman was at the end who interrupted Jane.

    I have more, but this is already a novel!

    Thanks RB and Violet for this review and all you do!

  • reviewbrain

    Thanks Chill for your comments. I’m so glad others enjoyed the episode. As to Jane committing suicide, I’m pretty sure Violet mentioned it at the end; right before the bible passage how Jane refused to die by his own hand. Honestly, the thought never occurred to me that he would even consider it and I was surprised the writers even brought up the issue. Like I said, we’ve already seen that he has something to live for now (Lisbon) after S&C. If he didn’t shoot himself after killing Carter when he thought he was RJ then why would he now?

  • bloomingviolet2013

    Reviewbrain wrote: « If he didn’t shoot himself after killing Carter when he thought he was RJ then why would he now? »

    Oh, but even if he didn’t shoot himself then, he was certainly willing to end his life. He let the guards arrest with. He never resisted or tried to fly, he just waited for it while drinking his last cup of tea. He had to know he would end up with a life sentence or death penalty: had he wanted to avoid it, he would have chosen a less crowed place to commit murder.
    There was a progression in his attitude: he didn’t care about his death when he was in the cellar with Hardy and Lisbon berated him to almost getting killed. After the traumatic meeting with RJ in S2 and after his near-death experience in ‘Ball of Fire’ got him back on tracks and closer to Lisbon, he showed signs of regretting that he didn’t have other viable options than to sacrifice himself. He admitted his addiction in ‘Jolly Red Elf’ and he spilled in the matchmaking video that he wanted deep down to be free of his past. But that was wishful thinking, because he killed Carter knowing full well that his freedom and hopes were at stake.
    Actually, he only began to try and fight back when the cops told him Carter didn’t have a gun and he understood he had fallen in a trap: then he elaborated a plan with Lisbon and turned the jury in his favor. Because he understood he *didn’t* get his revenge. And only after getting his freedom and his old life back he started realizing that he could really have a new life, that everything had not to end with the end of his quest. He accepted to entertain the notion of wanting something more than just revenge. Still, even if he certainly didn’t want to die anymore at the time he pulled the trigger, he certainly thought his life would be over one way or another. After getting it back, the hope kept burning brighter, from the hint at the island, to the imaginary Charlotte who was trying to convince him to let go.

    So, yet, it makes sense that he thought about suicide at the end because it was the final decision, the one he had to have thought about many times and he knew that this time, his old life was already over (hence his distress at the broken teacup). He was not getting the status quo back: no matter what he chose, that was no longer a possibility… The progress he made pushed him in the hopeful direction nevertheless. Now, I don’t know if he did it not to hurt Lisbon any further, because her influence made him see things differently and hope for a better outcome at the very end or because the need to live had only become too strong to ignore over the years. Probably a bit of the three.

    Also, on a side note, concerning the notion of suicide, it has been an open question almost since the start of the show. Why did he get in the hospital where he met Sophie Miller: wa it just a breakdown, or did he try to hurt himself as the smiley on the wall of his room hinted at? I’m actually glad the notion has been alluded to in the end, because for me it was obvious than that had been Jane’s original plan when he left Sophie and came to the CBI. Get his hands on his nemesis, torture him to death then kill himself, as a way to punish the two responsibles for his family’s death.That’s why he held the gun in this thoughful manner….Or so I think at least. :)

    Sorry for rambling again… ;)

  • mosquitoinuk

    Hi RB and Violet, many thanks for this very measured and fair review. I’m a bit late to the party but would like to offer some comments anyway, I hope it isn’t too repetitive. Just like one of the commenters RB, I think you were over generous with the score :-S

    I am rather critical of this episode, but I genuinely wish I had liked it. Please bear with me.

    I must say that I’m with RB on every single point she mentions, which are points that I’ve mentioned myself and worried about for a while now. I’ll try to be structured and not too long:

    1.- McAllistair as RJ: Well, for me, it was the logical one. I was convinced about the pigeons, the fear of heights linking to pigeons, the left hand he offered Jane on the roof, etc. It was my intuition also that RJ did not kill Lisbon because of the birds. So, in that sense, you would think I’m happy with RJ. In fact, I am not. Apart from all the points RB mentions and all the clues, RJ was still for me a disappointment and a left field choice from the beginning. Sorry, but no. Continuity, clever hints, good set-up, etc. is what makes the chase in a show so (usually) well written as the Mentalist worth the prize. The stage for the final showdown was rather clumsy and we were fed so many new hints in the last episodes that…well. Never mind. Definitely not Strawberries and Cream.

    2.- Jane kills RJ: where do I start with this one? I, just like RB, thought that it was good enough that we had *already* seen Jane kill a man we believed to be RJ. We didn’t need to see it again. Noted, he could do it, it was still early days, Jane’s still learning, let’s move on. I was rooting for Jane to grow. To become the better man we thought he could be. We knew already that he had a rather worrying vigilante streak and this was so clear in “Red Listed” but seriously people, *seriously*, in his quest for revenge Patrick Jane actually killed or had quite a few people killed! I mean, let’s be honest here for 1 second: he killed RJ of course but he killed Carter and he got Haffner and Styles killed as well, let’s not even mention the collaterals that went crazy, got killed by other RJ’s minions etc. I am utterly gobsmacked at the lack of empathy and regret of those deaths (!) (not a word!) and to be quite frank, rather alarmed. Those deaths *were* his fault. The fact that Lisbon decided to overlook all this is…disappointing to say the last. I wanted PJ to *learn*. Did he? up to a point…but not nearly enough. In “Devil’s Cherry” Charlotte says something like: “you are still stuck in neutral…” oh dear, how true this was. I won’t even go into how he killed RJ. I echo from the bottom of my heart RB’s feelings and comments here. On a positive note on this rather gloomy commentary of mine, I must say that I think SB’s acting was superb. I might not liked what they did with Jane’s character, the acting I thought was excellent.

    3.- Lisbon and the team: Where do I start here? these people are part of the collaterals of Jane’s quest. I was hoping that Lisbon would rub off on him, it looks like the opposite was true. I’m with RB here in that it seems his reason to stay at the CBI was RJ. I hope it wasn’t but we were offered so little here. I feel for the team and Lisbon. I was convinced Jane would kill RJ, we were groomed in the previous episode (in my opinion), I mentioned that scene in which the team was on board (“are you OK if he kills him?” “yup”) and now, in this episode, at the end of all things, it turns out Lisbon was too. I am so incredibly disappointed with what the writers wrote for Lisbon. After all the discussions, all the “I’ll be there to stop you”, “I’ll put you in jail myself”…here we are, Lisbon just gave in. Don’t get me wrong, it is logical that she gave in, she told him as much in “Fire and Brimstone” but I felt a real pang of disappointment in Lisbon not fighting her way through this even if it was to lose in the end.

    A good positive points:

    – It is good in my opinion that this Abbott guy is here with them now. I quite like to have someone to bring down to earth to these CBI cops as there are a lot of issues to iron out here. Jane is a rogue individual and we believe he has a good heart but really, if you met him at a bar and he told you all the stuff he’s done, would you trust/like the guy? Abbott’s been set up as a “foe” and I don’t like him, but someone needs to start talking sense here. There is a law, there is a constitution, you know, there is a legal framework for society to exist so that humanity doesn’t descend into chaos…etc.

    – I quite liked the trick of the pigeon and RJ. I thought it was a “fantasist” touch and a bit unbelievable (after all, he was frisked by Cordero, and Cordero missed a pigeon in a pocket? really?) but I can live with this one, I thought it was surprising and amusing.

    I think I’ll stop here for the time being.

    Thank you to all the contributors for all your different views. Contrary to what you might expect, I’m really looking forward to a fresh start and I’ll be watching the new Mentalist 2.0!

  • mosquitoinuk

    @chill and RB” “If he didn’t shoot himself after killing Carter when he thought he was RJ then why would he now?”

    Indeed RB, indeed…it was paradoxical that he was thinking about killing himself when he didn’t consider it before. In fact, in S&C he was calm and collected, he had a sense of numbness, horror and accomplishment.

    Could it be the fact that he killed this man the way he did? the engagement and involvement of killing a man with a gun or your bare hands is different. With a gun, there is a transfer of the responsibility to the gun, even if you pull the trigger. Now, choking someone on the other hand…I’m not convinced Jane is so far gone at that point that he doesn’t realise he has become a bit of a monster.

  • Rose UK

    @ Mosquito. I hear you re: Lisbon. I kept expecting her voice to ring out behind him during the murder scene, but ultimately she didn’t turn out to be much of a player in the final moments. I understand why she chose Jane over the law, because he was more important to her, but I also thought that she might try to protect him from the personal (not necessarily legal) ramifications he would experience by committing the deed. But in the end, she chose to let him go and make his own decisions. (Which I suppose ties in quite well with the idea of freedom/letting go/release that I was pondering over in Violet’s recent “Themes” post.)

    I also know what you mean about suddenly trying to stick too many clues in. In seasons 1 – 3, we had very few clues on the whole – and Timothy Carter had never even made an appearance! Yet it all worked beautifully. I think part of the problem is that I much preferred the ‘man v man’ aspect of the early seasons, rather than ‘man v man + Mysterious Association of Minions’. It worked better, imo, when it had more of a Sherlock/Moriarty vibe.

    @ CHill & KM & others. I am somewhat heartened by your thoughts about Jane and the phone call, and what that represented! It’s a small glimmer of hope. ;)

    Another little moment I liked was when the team (led by Cho) appear out of nowhere and get into a stand-off with the FBI, and Jane and Lisbon exchange little looks in the background – in their typical non-verbal communication fashion. Jane looks both touchingly surprised and pleased, and Lisbon is all, “I had no idea about this.”

  • ortforshort

    The way this whole RJ thing played out this year was about as bad an ending as I could have possibly feared. Between X-Files, Lost, Fringe, Elementary, I no longer expect anything but disappointment in wrapping up a long series of episodes to a “resolution”. I find that the méthode de la journée de rigueur is to throw whatever you can against the wall and whatever sticks, sticks. This was such a disappointment that it’s hard to know where to start. Making a stranger, McAllister, RJ was a total cop out, so to speak. Why after six or so years of building this up just to rush to a remarkably flimsy conclusion is just beyond me. Did the show lose all of it’s writers? I would have loved to have seen an episode with Jane and Lisbon reviewing all of the evidence that Jane had, jsut so that we would all be on the same page moving forward, for example. It seems that Lisbon, and us, were supposed to take Jane’s conclusions completely on faith. It could have been so interesting to reconstruct the entire case, weighing the evidence as we went. It wouldn’t have even taken that long to do. I presume that this wasn’t done in an episode is because it wasn’t done by the writers to begin with. They had built RJ into a superman and then picked a stranger to be RJ because none of the folks we knew on the show measured up or made sense. What was the trick that McAllister used to predict Jane’s seven suspects. There were so many holes in this, it made Swiss Cheese look solid. Don’t know if I’ll make any more comments about this here – it’s better off forgotten. Just another show that we got strung along to no consequence. I’m sure the writers will get kudos for this just like they did for the other shows. To me, no kudos are deserved. Anyone can concoct a bunch of random events just to string an audience along for ratings. An accomplishment for the writers is to tie all of that together into a coherent conclusion. A fraud is to do what was done to us over and over again – one series to the next. It’s sort of a microcosm of what our society has turned into as a whole. If you make money doing something, you are ordained a success – no matter how flawed the product. Pride in a job well done is worth nothing in our society.

  • MikeH

    One other quick comment after watching the episode yet again (this episode gets better and better with each subsequent viewing!) is that I loved the very beginning sequence with Lisbon. We see the ending of last week’s episode with Lisbon standing at the elevator while Patrick leaves. She has her hair hanging down long. Then the scene morphs into her coming out of the elevator with her hair tied up and wearing what looks like the same clothes. I’m probably looking for something that isn’t there, but I’ve always thought that there was something telling when Lisbon had her hair either tied up or hanging down.

    As for the pigeon trick, Cordero never frisked Patrick’s arms. It was the old magic trick where the magician has something up his sleeves. No matter how farfetched this might be, I think this was what was alluded to with Patrick being able to sneak the pigeon into the church.

  • windsparrow

    @MikeH, I agree. I made sure to pay close attention to the frisking scene when I re-watched it. Cordero was doing a standard checking-for-ordinary-guns pat-down. He didn’t feel Jane’s arms. And up the sleeves is where I expect that bird was kept.

  • mosquitoinuk

    @MikeH and @windsparrow: this point is debatable…after all he did all sorts of running, etc., with that bird up to his sleeve then! but as I said, happy to let it be. I thought it was amusing. There are many other bones of contention in this episode…

  • canddee2012

    I don’t know if pigeons differ from chickens, but as a kid I could lay a chicken on its side, hold the chicken’s head down with its beak facing right and with my right hand make a line in the dirt right next to its beak. The bird would stay transfixed, never moving. We kids thought we had hypnotized it. The one I remember the most is that the bird stayed that way until I got bored and disturbed the chicken and took it back to the coop. Also, maybe there is something to the explanation that if birds are put in the dark, they will sleep. I know my grandmother covered her bird around six pm and he was down for the count. However, I did not peek inside to actually see what he was doing.

  • canddee2012

    Thank you both for your thoughtful review. Sorry I did not include it above.

  • canddee2012

    Oh my word!! I just went to Wikipedia and found that it is true. You can hypnotize a chicken. I was so shocked I didn’t read to see if that is true with all birds, or only with chickens.

  • reviewbrain

    I’m going to have to disagree here, Violet :) I never thought Jane taking responsibility for murdering RJ and facing trial was equivalent to him ending his life. In fact, I considered it (and still do) to be perhaps the single most mature thing he had ever done on this show and was astounded and impressed with the decision. I fully believe Jane knew he could play on the emotions of the jury and walk away a free man-no one was going to convict him for killing RJ, especially not when RJ had a gun on him. You could argue the reason he fought, wasn’t because he realized RJ was still alive, but because he had to prove Carter was bad since the only proof (the gun, which was Jane’s get out of jail free card) was missing. To me, here, he was fighting for his freedom (which he thought he had in the bag) even more than he was because he realized RJ was still alive. Think about it. After Jane’s trial we didn’t see him investigate the RJ case. Not once. For all ends and purposes, he had let the matter go since RJ decided to retire and he was at least publicly dead. Even after Jane used RJ to kill Panzer, he *still* insisted that RJ was dead and only admitted he was still alive due to Darcy’s investigation.

    So no, I don’t think he fought life in prison because he found out RJ was still alive. I think the possibility of going to jail and/or even facing the death penalty never even occurred to him until he found out he was being charged for shooting an un-armed man; as opposed to an armed Red John in self defense.

    And I don’t think it’s realistic to have him consider suicide in this episode either. Why? Jane *ran* after he killed RJ. And I don’t think it’s a spoiler to assume that he escaped from the authorities, which he could only have done if he had planned for his escape ahead of time. No way he would have been able to get away from Abbott otherwise. And people who contemplate suicide usually don’t plan getaways.

    I do agree that there was a progression in the suicide theme, but I don’t think it’s been an issue for a while now. At least, not for the last two seasons.

  • reviewbrain

    I feel for you Ort. I really do. The writers could have ended the RJ arc beautifully with a ribbon on top with Strawberries and Cream. I have to agree that the only reason they continued with it is they were worried the ratings would have dropped without their main antagonist. But we’ve seen how new and perfectly evil ones can be created (Panzer). On the other hand, my own polls on this blog show that around 50 percent of viewers wanted RJ to be around till the end; unfortunately art isn’t art’s for art’s sake anymore. Shows that don’t have viewers get cancelled and they weren’t willing to take the risk.

    To be fair, however, it could have been much worse and unless you’re in the television writing business you can’t possible know how hard it is to churn out one episode after another on schedule. The episode wasn’t all bad either, they were a few great points (the pigeon trick), but to me, despite the great acting, the flaws were too glaring to be overlooked. In fact, if it wasn’t for Violet’s comments which pointed many things out to me, the episode’s rating would have been much lower.

    Personally speaking, I’ve been bored with the RJ plot for a while now. Like I said, I prefer the lighter one shots that the show has always been about (with a touch of darkness). I’ve been advocating for them for so long but no one listens to me :/ They just wanted it to get darker and darker (Jane killing RJ the way he did is proof of that). Now that it’s over, hopefully we can get back the funny sweet show I know and love.

  • KM

    @reviewbrain,
    I disagree about your opinion on that suicide ceased to be an issue, but cannot marshal an argument as it is only my perspective and that of those who watched with me being coupled with the word that before the final edit Jane placed the gun beneath his chin. So we will agree to disagree. Thank you so very much for your thoughts. And, as always I am open to being wrong.

    Cheers!

  • reviewbrain

    If that’s true, then I’m glad it didn’t make it on screen because it would’ve just been one more decision that would have made no sense to me whatsoever :p

  • Lou Ann

    Wonderful multi-sided review and comments. It was great that you alternated your comments and responded to one another, like a debate!

    My favorite parts were the prolonged chase and Baker’s portrayal of Jane’s murder/execution of RJ.

    I thought the car chases and foot chases were appropriate and well done. The filming of Jane’s driving as if from the passenger’s seat or just outside the car’s door were gripping.

    Baker’s athleticism, jumping over the railing as he leaves Lisbon’s car in the “care” of the teenagers, his running through yards and down streets, struck me and made me consider the writer’s choice to have the finale of the pursuit of RJ be a physical one.

    Jane’s plan was to use the pigeon as a distraction and then shoot down RJ with the hidden gun – mental trickery and a big weapon. (If his plan had played out the way he wanted it to, would he have just walked away or would he have sat down and waited for the feds to arrive, as in Strawberries and Cream?)

    Instead, he’s forced to resort to his physicality: a prolonged foot chase and finally the most intimate murder imaginable, no weapon but his bare hands (even though he was carrying a gun). After ten years of mental pursuit it comes down to plain old physical determination and perseverance.

    Also, there is a big difference between pulling a trigger and throttling a person. There was time to think twice with the latter, to have second thoughts and pull back from it. Choking RJ to death took so much more resolve and commitment, so I felt it was the most “fitting” way to bring closure to the RJ arc.

    Like others I was concerned that Lisbon’s gun at the crime scene would trace back to her and cause repercussions, but I noticed at the time that she drew the gun from her left hip or pocket. At the time I reconciled my concerns by thinking of this weapon as probably not her service weapon but possibly her own gun, maybe not even registered and not traceable to her. That was the only way I could reconcile it and not blame Jane for pulling possibly even more harm down on her career.

    Like many who have responded, I was blown away by Baker’s acting in the execution scene. All the hurt of ten years flowed across his face. Initially he showed glee that McA answered Yes to his questions, but I saw primarily sorrow on his face during the actual act of killing him. Sorrow for so many things, the life he could have led, the life he’s had to lead, and the life he is facing ahead, and I hope, the life he’s left his friends to lead.

    Thank you so much for such a great review.

  • canddee2012

    I have to disagree, Reviewbrain re the suicide contemplation. In my perception, Patrick has carried around guilt for his participation in the murders of his wife and daughter. After watching his amazing performance during the killing scene, tears making his cheeks wet, I felt he realized he had actually taken a human life. And, for a short time, thought of atoning for his part in his wife and daughter’s murder by taking his own life. It was subtle, but I do believe it was conveyed that he did consider suicide to atone. He then realized taking his own life would be pretty selfish. After all, his CBI family had given a lot; put their careers on the line, stood by and trusted him and last but surely not least …..Teresa Lisbon. We know he loves her. Therefore, he chose life. The saddest part for me was the message. He didn’t get to say I love you; she didn’t get to say I love you. Sorry. Shipper speak there. Anyway, that’s my take on it.

    I have to say that the episode has invoked so many responses, positive and negative, no doubt more than any other episode in the series.
    Thank you so much for having this site and giving us all a respectful place to share opinions even if we disagree sometimes. Also, my thanks to both you and Violet for all the caring you bring to the discussions.

  • Cece

    Well done, Reviewbrain and Violet, though I must admit to being on Team Reviewbrain as far as thoughts on the episode. I also pretty much agree with everything @mosquitoinuk said, who put it far more eloquently than I ever could. I was so optimistic going into season six, especially after reading that RJ was being killed off during November sweeps. RJ has been an albatross around the show’s neck since since it was revealed in 4×01 that he wasn’t dead, so I felt like no matter what happened during the first third of the season, it wouldn’t matter because afterward the show would actually be able to move forward. I was wrong. I was so very, very wrong. Nothing could’ve prepared me for how much I have loathed this season and this episode.

    Heller should’ve quit while he was ahead. He did it perfectly the first time. Strawberries and Cream was head and shoulders superior in every way. All keeping RJ alive did was give Heller & Co. two and a half more years to make the RJ plot even more ridiculous, convoluted and difficult to wrap up, not to mention an opportunity to assassinate the character of Teresa Lisbon. @mosquitoinuk was spot on in her assessment of 6×07, that we the audience were being groomed by the writers to accept that Jane committing coldblooded, premeditated murder was okay. It also feels like sheer laziness to me, that Heller and the other writers just did not want to deal with any ethical questions by the team, Lisbon in particular, even though they spent years setting that up.

    What absolutely made me see red (bad pun intended) this episode and for most of the season, is the abysmal way Lisbon has been written. Let me state for the record, that Lisbon is (Was? My feelings about this are very complicated and confused right now) far and away my favorite character, so saying this causes me great pain. I’ve said it in the comments to another review, that it feels as though this season the writers have dropped Lisbon’s IQ 20-30 points at various times (Lisbon’s ideas for RJ in 6×01, thinking RJ was psychic, RJ’s possible fear of heights, thinking Jane could divine whether or not someone was RJ after a brief conversation) in order to serve their story. After giving Jane a much needed smackdown in 6×01, it seemed that when RJ tazed her and painted her face, he also took the opportunity to remove whatever was left of her spine. Post 6×01, Lisbon wasn’t running the RJ investigation, she was allowing Jane to run it. She continued to allow Jane to run things even after his actions in 6×06, which shows an appalling lack of judgement and failure to do her job. As many others have pointed out, her disregard for and obliviousness to the deaths of Haffner and Stiles was stunning.

    I remember when Lisbon told Jane in season one, “If you try and do violence to him, I will try and stop you. If you succeed in doing violence to him, I will arrest you.” To think that six seasons later, when the time came, she basically said, “Do whatever you want. I won’t say boo. Here, take my gun,” enrages me. Not only that, but I find the way Lisbon has been written in comparison to Jane incredibly sexist. To have a strong female character in a position of authority turn into a lovesick fool willing to ignore all her morals and principles for the man she loves while he throws her breadcrumbs of affection and plays her like a violin to his own ends and doesn’t change in any truly significant way is disgusting. There’s a wise saying about relationships- Don’t ever allow someone to be your priority when you are their option. Jane was Lisbon’s priority and she was his option, which, obviously, he didn’t take.

    The introduction of Abbott, who I like and feel is desperately needed, has sadly served to highlight just how far Lisbon has fallen. He showed up, authoritative and In. Charge. and proceeded to run an excellent investigation, having to deal with not only the idiotic Blake organization, but an out of control, rogue unit while trying to catch a notorious serial killer. I’m hoping his purpose on the show will be to give the team a huge reality check about what it is to be a proper law enforcement officer, but I think it far more likely that he will only serve as a nemesis for Jane.

  • bloomingviolet2013

    But, Reviewbrain, you forget that in ‘Strawberry and Cream’ Jane wasn’t planning to kill *Carter* (who had a gun): he planned to confront Bertram, as a minion. He could only guess that maybe RJ would be present too, but couldn’t be sure how that would play out (namely if he would be here alone/ with some killers/ without a gun/ or if he would have to threaten Bertram with his weapon to force him to lead him to his master). Yet he brought purposely a gun with him and chose a very public place to meet Bertram. If RJ had showed up alone and unarmed, do you think Jane would have hesitated to shoot him, even for one second? I really think his lack of reaction in the police car later in ‘Scarlet Ribbons’ was both due to shock and to the fact that he knew there was a possibility that he may not be able get away with it. And I’m sure he was prepared for that possibility, even if he had hoped he could make it out of the situation as a free man. It’s a matter of interpretation, of course, but I really believe his willingness to live again was born from how the consequences of this murder played out. The emotional catharsis he got from killing Carter and managing to get his status quo back must have been great: in a sense, it was the same process he had made Lisbon go through in ‘Code Red’, thinking he may have failed completely and lost everything, only to get a new chance at life without conditions. An emotional roller-coaster with a life-affirming vibe to it. The difference is visible with his strategy in ‘The Crimson Hat': he had a gun too, he came alone, but this time he planned to have back-up waiting to save him. He was so sure he had lured RJ by promising him “his heart’s content” that he could have walked in alone, yet, this second time, he didn’t.
    Now, I’m aware that I may very well be wrong: it’s part of the ambiguous points of the show. :)

    “Why? Jane *ran* after he killed RJ. And I don’t think it’s a spoiler to assume that he escaped from the authorities, which he could only have done if he had planned for his escape ahead of time.”

    Yes, I thought the same thing, especially when I saw that he wasn’t taking his Citroen while leaving the meeting with Lisbon. I had a strong inkling that he was already planning his escape, in addition to not wanting to be found by the FBI before meeting Bertram; hence the less recognizable car… which of course could be explained also by the fact that the car crashed the FBI vehicle seconds after too: they wouldn’t have crashed the DS too after shattering the teacup. It would have been too much…
    I don’t really think either that he had the intention of killing himself then, just that he thought about it, because the notion must have been meaningful for him for years. To play out the idea in his head (or with a gun to his head as a matter of fact) is a way to take an ultimate step to get rid of that obsession, because he still felt responsible for his family’s death and it make sense the feeling would have to be expressed too after making good of his promise to kill their murderer. So, yes, I’m glad it was addressed.

    (And I’m really very happy to learn I have been useful in bringing up some positive points, Reviewbrain! :D Honestly, 7.5 is not that bad a rating for such a controversial episode… ;) )

  • ortforshort

    Reviewbrain – Thanks for your sympathy. Agreed that the RJ thing had run it’s course, but they could have ended it a zillion times better. As far as writers having to churn out episodes week after week. Well, we all have professions where we have to produce week in and week out.

  • reviewbrain

    Violet, we don’t know what capacity Jane was confronting Bertram as at the time. He only thought he killed Todd Johnson the same we he thought (I assume) RJ killed Kira Tinsley. And the reason he chose such a public place as the mall is because he didn’t want Cho and Rigsby (who were there for back up) to be spotted. I feel the way he confronted Bertram at the beginning meant that he actually suspected him of being RJ, and it was only after he realized Craig was the guilty party did it occur to him to have Lisbon use Craig’s phone to call RJ. Because of Bertram wasn’t him, them RJ’s obsession an curiosity with Jane would surely have him watching the scene play out.

    Anyway it’s just my take. And if the writers were to tell me themselves that Jane was in fact suicidal, I’d simply chalk up the issue as being one more thing they tacked on at the last minute since we’ve had absolutely no reason to consider it before this episode; not since season three, actually. With all the symbolism and themes we’ve gotten since then, you think they’d at least have given us an inkling if it was a planned decision. But your own post about themes and symbols up to this point didn’t mention suicide. Or did it and I just missed it? *_*

    @Candee2 Unfortunately, Jane has done so many heinous things in the past that he’s never felt sorry for. Does he even care that innocent Haffner died in his quest for vengeance? I doubt strangling his family’s killer would make a difference.

    I do wish I could believe your take on Jane during those last moments. I honestly do. I’d be a much happier person. I just can’t bring myself to. But I am taking great comfort in the fact that others can see things differently, in a more positive light. Thank you so much for your comments :)

  • bloomingviolet2013

    Reviewbrain wrote: « With all the symbolism and themes we’ve gotten since then, you think they’d at least have given us an inkling if it was a planned decision. But your own post about themes and symbols up to this point didn’t mention suicide. Or did it and I just missed it? *_* »

    LOL! You got me here! It didn’t… :D Well, I shouldn’t call it a theme really, but more a subtle undercurrent running through the show. In the same way, you could say that I didn’t tag RJ’s interest as a kind of sexual attraction back then, when I wrote the thing (at least I don’t think I was so forward in characterising it, but it’s been a long time, so maybe I was. The truth is I thought there was something of this kind in the vibe RJ gave about his lover’s lover but I didn’t want to be too assertive either…). The thing is I don’t think we can agree on this precise point concerning suicide, because I indistinctly felt something like that from Jane for years -coupled with his hidden depression and his guilt, his inability to move on- but I only was fully aware of it after the fact. Before that I’m not sure I would have used the bold word “suicidal” to describe Jane except for the S1 finale and for his meeting with Sophie Miller, but for me, yes, it was here all along, even though it was dimmed through his years with Lisbon and the team… So the moment with the gun made sense for me. But again, it’s just a question of interpretation…

    @ Ortforshort wrote “making a stranger, McAllister, RJ was a total cop out, so to speak.”

    To be fair, that was exactly what I thought about Kirkland and Smith. I wouldn’t have wanted Haffner either, because it would have meant that either Jane’s stunt to get Lisbon back in ‘Little Red Book’ was in fact RJ allowing it, or that Jane had already outsmarted him, which would have been even more disappointing. Since Stiles was too old to fit in almost any of the clues we got, we were stranded with McAllister and Bertram. I liked Bertram for the role, personally, but McAllister is ok too. He was the character who appeared the sooner in the show (which fits with his interest in Jane) and, after all, Carter was even more of a “stranger” than Thomas…
    But truth be told, I’m only discussing your point for the sake of discussion. I liked (not “loved”) the episode overall because it was coherent with the general storyline, themes and way of handling things in the show (like the fake death). Yet, I fully, heartily agree with you that it could have been done better. Honestly, I’m defending this episode because I feared it would be much, much worse: I was afraid they would go the spectacular grandiloquent and mostly tasteless route (a RJ ritualistic murder/ceremony close to the one in Visualize; the villain rambling while Jane was held captive; RJ taking Lisbon and threatening to hurt her in front of Jane with one or two more explosions in the background; a crossfire between Jane and the minions… yep, that kind of thing. Everything could have been possible after that “three dotted tattoo” idea… ). So yeah, I liked the episode mostly because I was relieved, as sad as it sounds… That and writing my part of the review helped me sort things out regarding my insatisfaction with the episode. :)

    And I agree to some extent about your remark concerning the fact that it *is* the writers’ job to churn out episodes week after week. Human flaws such as being tired, sometimes lacking creativity or enthusiasm *shouldn’t* interfere with it. Yet, it’s a sad fact that it does: it’s human nature… But Ort, for me at least you’re welcome to rant about it here as much as you like if you want to get it out of your system. I’m sure a lot of people including me would agree with you to some extent.

    @ MikeH, Windsparrow, Mosquito and Canddee, re: the pigeon thing. Jane probably kept it in his pocket, either hypnotized or calmed by the darkness (the idea of Jane hypnotizing the bird was very amusing, by the way, Canddee). Or he may have wrapped it up in his handkerchief to keep it from moving. He must have put it in his sleeve only before meeting Cordero. I liked that scene too because it was visually beautiful and because it was the proof that Jane knew it was McAllister all along.

    Zee wrote: “Violet, again your literary allusions are far more superior than what the show actually is. Recently, It’s as if I’m experiencing two different stories. (This is largely due to recent excerpts of Heller admitting some stuff about the show… )”

    Thanks Zee: it’ a pretty loaded compliment, lol… I didn’t read those comments from Heller, but I always thought he had the overall outcome planned out almost from the start like the mutual obsession between the two antagonists and RJ’s ambiguity towards Jane. In the S1 finale for instance, Jane was meant to be for him, while the girl was for Hardy, who planned to sequestrate and rape her in a twisted version of love and possession. Even though RJ probably planned to have his fun with Jane by torturing and killing him, the parallel between the two was pretty telling. And I think Heller planned that Jane would kill RJ and get away with it one way or another. The rest was thought out and elaborated little by little in relation to how many seasons were left, which they couldn’t count upon, and probably in relation to the fans’ reactions too.
    Still, I’m aware that my readings may sometimes –often- be very far stretched: it’s the nature of the beast when dealing with interpretations. It’s sometimes hard to decipher what is actually here and what you put in yourself because you want it to be here. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that.

  • Rose UK

    Wowsers, what an interesting debate. :) My two cents’ is that Jane has experienced various levels of indifference as to what would happen to him after RJ. That he didn’t much care one way or the other – death, prison, return to conman ways, whatever – as he would have nothing much to live for. This may or may not have encompassed the notion of suicide. Then you bring in factors such as Lisbon and the needle swings wildly back and forth. ;)

    @ Lou Ann: Interesting point about physical v mental strength, reducing the entire 10-year chase down to something at which Jane does not excel.

    @ RB/Candee/Cece/Mosquito: When you dig beneath the surface, I agree that Jane’s behaviour is pretty alarming. Have we ever seen him genuinely apologise? (Aside from the couple of brief “sorry”s he’s given Lisbon.) Have we ever seen him truly struggle with his conscience; consider that his actions might be wrong or unethical; grieve for the human collateral damage? I don’t think he cared at the time – it was all in the name of RJ and therefore worthwhile. I would love to see him address some of these issues now that the goal has been achieved and he has time to reflect on his path of destruction! Someone on another forum posted that he was basically RJ’s mirror image – that neither of them could have succeeded in what they did had it not been for the assistance of their “minions”. It was a strong word to use for poor Lisbon and the team, but sadly I saw the point!! (The other half of me – the more optimistic half – would like to point out that in Jane’s case you could just replace “minion” with “excellent, non-brainwashed friend” and have done with it). ;)

    @ Mike H: “Repeated viewings” – maybe this is the key! I’ve only seen it 1.5 times… ;)

  • mosquitoinuk

    @cece “What absolutely made me see red (bad pun intended) this episode and for most of the season, is the abysmal way Lisbon has been written”

    I totally agree with this comment. They’ll have the opportunity to redress all this nonsense in the episodes but whether they’ll do it, remains to be seen…

  • zomgphunk

    Disclaimer: I have not watched episode 9 yet. (This may be irrelevant, but who knows?)

    I think one should remember the Volker arc from the previous season.
    In particular, see reviewbrain’s very own review of Little Red Corvette http://reviewbrain.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/mentalist-little-red-corvette-review/ — some of the comments there seem strikingly similar to those here — note the 7.5/10. :)

    It seems to me like it explains part of Lisbon’s character so far in this season. For one, the fact that she went through a chase of her own surely made it easier for her to understand Jane’s determination.
    Perhaps even more important was the fact that he ultimately ‘went out of his way’ to help her catch Volker.

    Of course, that might not be enough to explain the way she seems to have been ‘re-wired’, how someone who believes in the law/the way the system works so much can suddenly overlook so much. Yet, I suspect that was the point of the first episode of this season: she *had* to go through such a traumatic event to consider changing her beliefs.

    At least, the above is how I can reconcile ‘past Lisbon’ and ‘current Lisbon’… I would be glad to know what you make of it. :)

  • Tringo

    Oh, great reviews again! And so many good points and ideas in the comments…I do love this blog of yours Rreviewbrain!
    This episode was so….well I both loved it and hated it.
    The acting was incredible. The last shot on SB’s face when he strangled RJ, wow. I can even recall it in my head right now. And the episode was in a way an episode for the character Jane. He wasn’t interested in any answers or to solve some clues that the show has shown, all he wanted was his revenge and that’s he got.
    The problem is that I am a puzzle-solver type of audience. I want answers and that would have been impossible to fit in 45 minutes, I know. I love the show and wish…o how i wish they had skipped this counting down thing to make it a surprise/ a big revelation about who Red John was. I know maybe they felt they had to do it to draw attention to the show. The puzzle-solving part in me didn’t need a great revelation, I would have liked to know ho he was a couple of episodes earlier and there by maybe got some answers before Jane found him. (and in a perfect world they would had decided who RJ was from the beginning and maybe let the actor know ;) )
    Well, I go with their decision to drop all these great clues and probably never mention them again since it would be to hard to try to make them all sum up in the end…and I’ll still continue to watch since it is one of the few shows I’ve seen all seasons of – I usually stop watching during the second when it is clear that most great ideas was already used in the first season. Some call the next episodes of the season the Mentalist 2.0 and in a way it is a new show. Will it work with the new characters and others leaving (I personally liked the Rigsby and Cho interaction as much as Jane and Lisbon) , and will Janes character be able to be interesting without the revenge or will he just be a clown…
    Thanks again for the great reviews!

  • Rose UK

    @ Zomgphunk: I like your point and am hanging onto it for dear life. (Maybe to it we could also add her feelings about Grace’s, Hightower’s, and even Wainwright’s various RJ-related mishaps, too.) ;)

  • Domenic Pugliano (@FLICKSTER77)

    Hi Reviewbrain !! = DD I wanted to say that this was a great review. You made so many interesting points. I must say that you shed some light on the question of why red John had not killed Lisbon, referring to being spooked by the pigeons.

    You also brought up a good point about Craig and the tattoo.

    regarding Jane borrowing Lisbon’ s gun as a prop. i also asked myself similar questions. The fact that it would be found at the scene of a crime. wouldnt that possibly cause her trouble just the same? Although that scene in the park between Jane and Lisbon was one of my favorites.

    i also very much liked that scene where the CBI team stood up for Jane.= DD
    XD

  • fotoeins

    Patty (Jane) & Reese (Lisbon) to be the latest recruits as FBI profilers? Smacks of Mulder & Scully: a lot less paranormal, but with all the longing for more.

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