Marvel’s Daredevil: Retrospective Review for Season 1


Happy end of year, everyone! As a present, here’s a glimpse into what 2016 will be bringing into the blog!:) (This is especially dedicated to Kilgore Trout and Marta: Thanks for being hopeful!:) The analysis of the last season of TM is coming very soon, do not despair!😉 ) Warning: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. Also the show displays a fairly explicit amount of violence and sadism. Watch at your own risk.

Following the recent trend involving super heroes, ‘Marvel’s Daredevil’ is the adaptation of a comic book created in 1964.

As such, viewers can spot three layers of references that we’ll try to investigate here: firstly, there’s the logical progression of the show itself. As an independent story, parallels and character development, the consequences of decisions and events create a whole, rather coherent, insight into the protagonists’ minds. Also, as a comics adaptation, the retelling is enhanced by many and sometimes quite subtle nods to other characters and situations from earlier parts of the narrative. These cross-references give depth to the new setting, because they form a parallel with the original emotional background of the characters. Last but certainly not least, many throwbacks to the film noir and hard-boiled detective stories have thickened from the start. The particular atmosphere of the comic book and the show too follows this direction. It is particularly perceptible with the main characters, which basically mix different stereotypes of the film noir genre.

The characters: following the film noir codes

1) The protagonist: Matt Murdock/ the masked man eventually nicknamed Dardevil (Charlie Cox)

From the very beginning, viewers are aware that Matt is leading a double life: he’s struggling to balance his violent night job as a self- appointed vigilante with his budding career as a defense attorney. Yet those two very different sides have at least a few things in common, like loneliness, which is heavily implied when the battered crusader is woken up by a phone call from his best friend/associate Foggy. Both as a lawyer starting his firm and as a masked savior bursting from the shadows, under the excitement of getting some action, his morning afters are made of bruises that have him moaning in pain, instead of the sexy girl Foggy imagines in his bed. And secrecy can be added to the growing list as Matt is careful not to correct his friend’s assumption…

Of course, these traits are part of the chart of being an undercover super hero. One wouldn’t imagine hiding a super power without minimal discretion and protecting the people close to you by keeping them in the dark is common behavior in the secret identity business. Yet, his peculiar situation sets him apart even in the world of super heroes, just like his empowering disability doesn’t make him as coldly practical as his former mentor Stick. He’s not yet successful in his daytime career, which creates a contrast with well-off characters that have recently taken over our screens, like DC’s Batman and Arrow, or Marvel’s Iron Man. He’s not struggling either like Spiderman, even though the young hopping part-time photographer comes probably the closest to brooding Matty: like his red-and-blue colleague, until the finale, people tend to fear Matt and mistrust his goals and actions. He’s considered a criminal, a lack of public recognition in dire contrast with the popularity of a Captain America. Yet, Murdock’s masked alter ego is not as eagerly bad mouthed in the media as Spiderman, given that his mystery sparks the curiosity of helpful journalist Ben Urich… Murdock works nevertheless alone and is not at this point involved in any team (unlike the Green Lantern Corps, Fantastic Four, The Shield, Avengers, X-Men and so on), for even when his friends start investigating their shadier and shadier case, he’s mostly left out. His sense of justice is fueled by rage, but not incontrollable like Hulk, which makes him more deeply human than otherworldly Thor.

The lawyer

In fact, every aspect of Murdock’s life and personality is in conflict with another part of him: his hopefully bright future as an attorney is shadowed by his dangerous night job, whereas the violence and physical exertions involved in the latter contrast with the limitations usually associated with blindness. In spite of being unable to use his eyes, Matt sees the world more accurately and in darker colors than most people around him and, whereas this hidden despair makes him reach out and cling to the friendship of someone as frank and brightly cheerful as Foggy, it also makes him keep his pal at arm’s length… Matt is torn apart by these contracting pulls he experiences, as if his job as a lawyer described metaphorically his double life: every bit of him is battling against another instinct. One could almost sum up the important parts of his double career as legal cases, such as “Justice v. Law”, “Saving Victims v. Revelling in Violence”, “Good v. Bad”… until he’s forced to come to clean about his dirty secrets in the very aptly named 10th episode ‘Nelson v. Murdock’. The aggregation of bits of light and darkness that cling to him reminds of the brightened yet shadows-projecting shutters characteristic of the film noir atmosphere.

Indeed, lawyers are pretty frequent fellows in films noirs: in ‘Knock in Any Door’ (1949), iconic Humphrey Bogart roams the courtroom and saves a client who comes from the same impoverished background he managed to rise from, in a fashion a bit reminiscent to the vision of socially-oriented justice Matt and Foggy share. In ‘Illegal’, memorable film noir actor Edward G. Robinson plays a ruthless and conflicted former prosecuter who, after keeping himself from starting something with the woman he loved, ends up tangled in the activities of a crime boss. It finds a particular echo in episode 3, when Matt and Foggy were approached by Wesley to defend Fisk’s interest under the cover of staying “ethical, decent men, good lawyers”. Men of law also pop up in many other movies: ‘Hunt the Man Down’ (1951) or Hitchcock’s ‘The Paradine Case’ (1947) are examples. Given how film noirs focus on crime stories, defending or twisting the law after an arrest has been made is understandably an interesting aspect that questions both the deeper meaning of human justice concerning guilt and innocence, as well as the means to protect that justice. No surprise either that this kind of character and trial situations have been approached in murder mysteries, creating the courtroom mystery genre (among others, ‘Patrick Butler for the Defense’ by J. D. Carr in 1956 or an unusual example in ‘The Glass Village’ by Ellery Queen in 1954). Same on TV with the Perry Mason series, that started airing in 1957.

The legal implications of his suit-wearing persona has coined Daredevil’s plot since his comic books debuts: whereas he is introduced as a successful attorney for most episodes of his career on paper, the early volumes from the 60’s featured Foggy and Matt as young lawyers who just opened their law firm. In spite of liberties with other details, the show matches the source material in respect of progression and timeline. What is remarkable in Matt’s legal career here is that, even though it constitutes his daily life, his investment in his alternate identity tips the scale towards Daredevil. In many episodes, it looks like defense attorney Murdock is the mask, while the actually masked incarnation expresses Matt’s inner self. Behind the stated allegiance to law, his soul burns with a desire for justice that is really a thirst for revenge and emotional release. This ambivalence is based on a form of hypocrisy and a good dose of denial, as an angry Foggy points out when he discovers that his friend has been playing both fields, because Matt pretends to be the more prudent of them, when he’s actually hiding his violent streak and self-destructive pulsions.

The two faces he presents to the world are in conflict, but they are related to the same obsession, another film noir trait: both as a knight wearing a tie by day and as a pariah clad in black when the sun sets, he revels in fighting crime… Indeed, a quite evocative facet of the trial setting in film noir is the complex interaction with the crime world and especially with crime syndicates. In many films noirs, lawyers are more personally involved with murder (for instance ‘The Arnelo Affair’ and ‘Backlash’ in 1947), or even work directly for gangsters (‘Force of Evil’ in 1948). The ambiguity traditionally associated with appointed protectors of citizen rights enlightens how close secrets and violence might tempt Matt Murdock to dwelve in crime instead of simply fighting it…

The blurry line is suggested by the outfit Matt prepared for his nightly adventures: even though the scarf used as a mask may be a nod to the disguise he improvised in the Elektra arc in the comics (when her sheltered life started to unravel), the form fitting black top and pants look threatening. It reminds of the outfit that characterize many unknown attackers in popular culture (among many, maaaany others the neo noir movie ‘The Jagged Edge’, in 1985) and the one used for cat burglars in heist movies… this similarity insists again on Matt’s discretion and ambiguity. The ruthless, morally ambiguous vigilante.

To drive the point home, the first glimpse viewers get of Matt as an adult is when he’s confessing to a priest that he’s asking “forgiveness for what he’s about to do” before launching on an attack. He saves a group of girls from kidnappers affiliated with the Russian mafia, introducing the character of Turk (and maybe, fleetingly, his accomplice Grotto, the bigger man whom Matt sends flying in the water). Turk’s a small time criminal, whom comic book DD has many runs in with: Matt’s crouching stance before the moon, the silent yet swift and almost graceful attack, the stick he takes from the bad men and that he springs against a hard surface and his eerily ability to disappear from view reinforce the resemblance with many of Turk’s encounters with the hero on paper. But, behind the easy way he handles the situation, some details hint at his troubled psyche: while he comes across as a savior for the girls, he’s obviously more focused on beating the bad guys to a pulp than on comforting the victims, whom he almost threateningly sends off to the “first officer” they may see. He’s more looking for a justifiable reason to fight and to channel his pent up anger and sense of loss than acting out of a deep sense of justice.

The brutality is particularly noticeable when he crosses paths with Claire, a nurse who treats his injuries in episode 2. First, Matt shows an interestingly genuine part of himself to Claire, even more so than to Foggy. This honesty is paradoxally laced with refusal to let her in the official aspects of his life, which is why calls “Mike” for want of a real name: this detail reminds of the original storyline from the comics, when Matt posed as his more outgoing fake twin “Mike” in the 60’s and his then love interest Karen was attracted to this side of him. Back then too, the plot played with the idea that taking a fake identity expressed Matt’s true self more sincerely than his too polished attorney persona. This detail also matches the notion of the more or less evil double present in some movies from the noir era (Hitchock’s ‘The Wrong Man’ in 1956 or ‘Vertigo’ in 1958 for instance, or film noir ‘Among the Living’ in 1941)… Claire is a woman who knows his deepest secrets (his vigilantism, his face and his blindness), while conveniently being still in the dark regarding his identity, which is why he shows her his most troubled and cruel side. When facing the Russian mobster who has tracked them down, he plays with the man by telling him that he’s not just doing it for information about the boy he was trying to rescue, but because he enjoyed it. He then throws the man down the building onto a dumpster after getting what he wanted… Claire, who was shocked by how serious he was, attempted to reach out to him later by stating “I don’t believe you. What you said… I don’t believe you enjoy this.”

Therefore, even though DD is careful enough to try not to kill his adversaries, his relative lack of empathy when he’s immersed in the darkest part of his soul shows that he’s struggling not to cross the line. He comes across then as a spiritual successor of the violent vigilante type found in the neo-noir culture like ‘Death Wish’ in 1974 starring Charles Bronson or the portrayal of a cynical detective in ‘Dirty Harry’ in 1971 starring Clint Eastwood. Those depictions stem from the most morally ambiguous justice-seekers in films noirs, like the ruthless cop in ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’ (1950), yet Matt’s willingness to stay on the fringe of societe may make him closer to a violent hard-boiled detective like Mike Hammer, who doesn’t hesitate to take the law into his own hands, especially for revenge. Some Hammer novels, written by Mickey Spillane, were adapted for the screen, like ‘I, The Jury’ in 1953, or the darker ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ in 1955.

Religion

Like many films noirs that it emulates, the show starts with a confession to a priest. It alludes to many examples starting with a main character retelling the story of the events that led him to that point (‘Please Murder Me’, in 1956 or, to some extent ‘Dead Reckoning’ in 1947, where a Captain Murdock tells his life-story to a priest), and the way Matt narrates his past and, implicitly, what he’s still dealing with is a discreet nod to the classic monologue used by some P.I. in no less characteristic voice-overs. It also more obviously refers to the very important role of Catholic religion in many crime-related storyline. One major example is Hitchock’s ‘I Confess’(1952): like the murderer in that movie, Matt is seeking forgiveness for an act of violence, even though here he didn’t commit it yet, meaning implicitly that he wants someone to atone for his actions and, probably, to stop what he fears might become an enraged rampage.

Indeed, in his confession, Matt plays with a few interesting ideas: the reverence for his late father, that he perceives as a model, even in his most dangerous endeavors, and the notion that their common unadmitted thirst for blood equals the presence of the devil in them. Refering his violent streak as a different, evil, entity in him is a nod to demonic possession, yet Matt is not willing to part with that scary aspect of his personality: in direct opposition with the protagonist in ‘Angel Heart’ (1987), Matt is aware of the darkness in his core and revels in it to some extent… hence his spiritual and moral salvation depending on his willingness to reach for help, no matter how backhanded this attempt may be. Talking to a priest reminds about whom he is deep down. It works a bit like psychoanalysis for him for he’s trying to sort out who he wants to be.

Yet, Matt is still somewhat convinced that he’s under a kind of symbolic family curse: “my grandmother”, “the real Catholic, […] used to say ‘be careful of the Murdock boys, they got the devil in them”. He recalls how “ every now and then” “something indide of him would snap” and “his eyes would go dead and he’d start walking forward real slow, hands at his side, like he wasn’t afraid of anything”, cornering his frightened opponent in order to “let the devil out”. He concludes wistfully “what he was feeling deep inside, I didn’t understand it. Not back then.” Viewers get a glimpse of the metaphorical evil spirit possessing his mind when the priest tries to make him talk more precisely about the facts: as he prepares to leave, Matt puts the dark glasses on to indicate that he is blind (an echo to the flashback that explained his past in the very beginning of the episode). But the light casts a worrying red shade on them, giving the illusion that the glasses –and by extention the eyes behind- are glowing. The detail is taken from the comic book, but altogether the disquieting moment reminds a bit of the apparence given to Dracula in Coppola’s movie in 1991: under his young human form, the vampire protected his eyes (which would sometimes glow red) with blue glasses. Matt is therefore subtly linked to a demon, whose human looks only serves to distract and charms his victims… Same when he’s in courtroom in episode 3 when he listens to the heartbeat of one of the members of the jury: his specs cast a red shade over his eyes.

In the pilot, when he faces with Foggy their very first client, Karen Page, the insistence on his glasses is even more obvious: it emphasizes his blindness, but also the surnatural power he’s hiding, given that he’s able to hear the woman’s heart and to assess her sincerity. The suit and the sitting position, coupled with the calculating aura surrounding him when he interrogates her can be compared with the equally calm but slightly unsettling presence of Louis Cypher in ‘Angel Heart’ (even though Matt is cautious to put his stick against the wall every time he interrogates a suspect as a lawyer).

Other details hint at his demonic nature: in the opening credits, after a statue of Blind Justice and views of the city floating in a reddish darkness faintly lightened from above, there’s a weeping angel in front of a chuch, before Daredevil’s iconic outfit appears. Plus, the real estate agent stated that “blind people are “God’s mistake”… before meeting charming Matt and becoming more eager to please him. Both occurrences might indirectly refer to a character like Lucifer, the fallen angel. Later, as the characters are alluding to the terrible terrorist attacks against New York and how “this office was barely touched”, the expression used to describe the dramatic events is “death and destruction raining from the sky, nearly wiping Hell’s Kitchen off the map”… Although referring to Manhattan and the actual nearby place of the tragedy, the image brings to mind, in an very different context obviously, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by God (Genesis 19; New International Version): “the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah –from the Lord out of the heavens”. Again, the notion of destruction accompanies Murdock and sin in associated with the reconstruction of the city, shown in the story as being at the hands of criminal organisations.

This underlying red thread in his daily actions is why Matt’s interactions with Karen are meaningful. Before she accepted them as her lawyers, she scoffed “so what, you’re just a couple of good Samaritans?”, leading Murdock to suggest an agreement of sorts, which almost takes the appearance of a pact with the Devil: “you don’t have any money and we don’t have any clients… Maybe we can help each other”. The main difference with the dreadful bargain is that Matt genuinely wants to help her; he’s ready to defend her as an attorney and, later, to protect the proof she managed to retrieve in order to save her. The good intentions that guide his chosen path are perceptible in his apartment when he welcomes the frightened woman home. The first glimpse provided of his living quarters shows a yellow panelled window quite reminiscent of stained glasses in a church. Various playful allusions to Hell help them to get better acquainted, as Karen jokes about wanting to change her lent shirt, because she’s “a Hellion fan” and Matt explains that the almost blinding light coming from the huge advertising screen in front of his big living room windows allowed him to get “a hell of a discount” on the place… When she’s comfortable enough, he starts interrogating her again. She’s shocked almost speechless at how much he was able to guess, while he sits in front of her, unmoving and disquieting behind the reddened light playing on his glasses. The nearly hypnotic quality of their talk reminds again of Coppola’s Dracula, when he was charming Mina into trusting him and, later, when he managed to dine with her in order to make her remember events of her past life. Matt is similarly winning her trust and using it to force the truth out of her, but he’s not doing it for nefarious purposes: this part is left to the enigmatic Wesley, who’s also wearing glasses and a suit while threatening people. He resembles an evil businessman (again, like in ‘Angel Heart’), representing his mysterious “employer” and the contrast is made even more obvious by Matt’s wariness towards the “shark in a skin suit” when they meet in his office in episode 3.

Indeed, even though Matt perceives himself as tainted by evil, he’s reaching out for God and religion. He’s plagued by guilt (about his dad’s death, his instinct for violence and the actions he’s planning to take) and his whole ordeal through the season is a kind of quest for redemption, under the symbol of earning himself a new identity: after fighting the Kingpin and proving himself with a symbolical bloodied oath against crime, he’s christened with the nickname “Daredevil” by the medias, meaning that they’re saluting his fearlessness instead of the violence he used. There’s something Christic about Matt, which is hinted at by the fact that the Messiah’s name is used as a swearword by both Murdocks: like Jesus in the Bible, he’s a son left alone and who’s willing to save the world… only here, the notion de violence leads him to isolation, instead of companionship…

Interestingly, crime fighting and religion are present in many films noirs: ‘The Hoodlum Priest’ (1961) or ‘The Mightnight Story’ (1957) are examples where the two concepts are linked through the character of a Catholic priest. However, Father Lantom’s connection to the genre only serves to put emphasis on Matt’s real dad. Matt’s obsession for his late parent is latent through the pilot, because two other little boys were also impacted by crime: the man who was killed because of Karen’s suspicions “had a family, a little boy” and, at the end, the Russian mobsters kidnapped a boy in order to put pressure on his father, forcing DD to come to his rescue.

Fatherly figures: the boxer and the blind man

Moreover, the boxer is a proeminent figure in film noir imagery and viewers can recognozise echos of its depictions in Jack Murdock’s fate.

Boxers are often represented as dangerous, with a marked inclination for violence: as such, they embody the temptation of a corrupted society, luring film noir characters towards a life of brutality and rage, sometimes with the incentive of money from shady people. Movies like ‘Body and Soul’ (1947), ‘Iron Man’ (1951), ‘Champion (1949) or neo noir ‘Raging Bull’ (1980) exemplify the stereotype that matches Jack’s lack of control when fighting and, ultimately, how he chose winning his last ill-fated match in order to show Matt what is right, even though it led him ultimately to leave his disabled boy alone in a pretty dark world.

Indeed, boxers in movies are also victims of others’greed and of treacherous betting games. In ‘The Set-Up’ (1949), boxer Stocker is victim of a similar situation and is badly beaten up for making the same choice of refusing to cheat and to give up… ‘The Harder They Fall’ (1956) also insists on the corruption of the boxing world. Then, the precarity of the job and its seemingly inevitable links to the criminal world sometimes put boxers and former boxers at risk: ‘99 River Street’ (1953) and ‘Breakdown’ both present boxers who were framed for a crime they didn’t commit. They became collateral victims of other people’s wrong-doings, just like Jack Murdock, making them also tragic figures fighting for their life and freedom of conscience.

Another influence on Matt’s childhood is the mysterious Stick who helped him groom his fighting skills. He’s the mentor/coach who briefly took the orphaned boy under his wing before he realized Matty was getting emotionally attached to him. He left then, fueling even more Matt’s resentment and abandonment issues. Stick claims a lack of affection for his former protégé, but he kept the paper bracelet that Matt offered him: in that aspect, Matt is blinded to the truth hidden behind the knot of emotions that ties him to the old man.

Indeed, both Murdock and Stick (probably nicknamed in reference to the stick blind people usually carry) share more than an inability to be upfront with their deepest feelings. Both were eerily empowered by their physical disability and Matty could probably relate to his mentor in a way that he couldn’t with his dad, who was kept in the dark about the consequences the accident really had on his son. Both Stick and Matt illustrate the contrast between the powerlessness generally associated with blind people and the actual accute control and awareness it gave them over their body. It stems from a very old idea: it was a well-known topos in Antiquity that some blind people were gifted in another, more powerful way and were able to metaphorically “see” what others could not. In Norse mythology, god Odin had to sacrifice one of his eyes at Mimir’s well to drink from its water and adquire supernatural wisdom and knowledge. In Greek mythology, prophet Tiresias and poet Homer ( in his traditional depiction), even though or maybe because they were blinded to the human world, could get a glimpse of matters related to the gods and serve as intermediaries between them and mere mortals. It seems logic then that Matt admits to Karen that even though trauma recovery taught him to “value the differences” and “make no apologies” for what he lacks, he’d still “give anything to see the sky one more time”… Ironically, what myths sometimes considered as a gift to open a mind’s eye brought Matt closer to asserting the very thin moral line between light and dark in a very religious perspective.

At the same time, blindness also creates another tie with classic films noirs, as many plots involve blind characters such as a temporary blind Marlowe in ‘Murder, My Sweet’ (1944). Blindness or other kind of disabilities often appear in films noirs or thrillers, sometimes involving secondary characters (in ‘Walk Softly, Stranger’ in 1950, a small time criminal is reformed by the love of a paralyzed young woman; in ‘Sudden Danger’ in 1955, a blind man is accused of murder; in ‘Split Second’ in 1953, the protagonist has to fight a mute man; in ‘Cause For Alarm!’ in 1951, a woman takes dare of her bedridden husband until he dies suddenly leaving her in a very uncomfortable situation). Physical disability (very much like amnesia in other occurrences) frequently embodies the loneliness and helpless that characters face when struggling against the rest of the world, generally perceived as threatening in the noir atmosphere, which is why some thrillers use blindness to show how vulnerable their protagonists can be against a threat, like neo-noir thriller ‘Blink’ in 1994 or ‘Wait Until Dark’ starring Audrey Hepburn in 1967. Sometimes too, the main investigator is the one who is -generally temporarily- disabled and unable to move freely: for instance in Hitchock’s ‘Rear Window’ (1954) or in classic murder mysteries such as Ellery Queen’s ‘The Fourth Side of the Triangle’ or Josephine Tey’s ‘The Daughter of Time’ (1951). Generally speaking, getting characters (especially victims or protagonists) restricted by strongly felt physical limitations adds an edge to the danger which is why the device is so abundantly used in the realm of murder mystery story-telling… yet, in Matt’s case, it only illustrates how other people see him. The contrast between this preconception of him as needing help navigating an unfamiliar room or needing a dog and the reality behind his swift fighting prowesses is jarring and adds a measure of secrecy and manipulation to his character.

However, this aspect too benefits from a movie genre cliché featuring blind fighters. Western spaghetti ‘Blindman’ (1971) introduces a blind but skilled gunman for instance. But the closer occurrences involve blind martial artists: ‘Bind Fury’ in 1989 or its well-known Japanese model Zatoichi, a blind masseur and blademaster (in a long series of movies launched since 1962). Zatoichi undoubtly served as the archetype for Stick, even though the latter is far more disturbing, especially in his introductory scene in episode 7 when he talks Japanese before coldly beheading a man with a katana.

Japan also provides the explanation for the difference in how Matt and Stick interpret their relationship: Matt wanted an educator who served as a replacement for his dad, while Stick acted like his sensei, a master whom Matt was supposed to learn from and follow, but which also allowed Stick to escape any emotional involvement if he wanted to. In that perspective, the scenes where the old man teaches his pupil to change his vision of the world and to move remind of the iconic ‘Karate Kid’ series (started in 1984), although the relationship between sensei and kōhai lacks the warmth and moral standarts showed in the movies.

2) The associate: ‘Foggy’ Nelson (Elden Henson), best friend and moral counterpart

A classic plot device to ground up a volatile protagonist and make him more relatable to the audience is to pair him up with a calmer man whose influence would counterbalance the man’s edginess. After all, friendship is an important ingredient of tragedies when the hero is on the verge of madness: Pylades’ presence allowed Orestes not to face the consequences of his crime alone and Shakespeare made sure Hamlet could open a bit of his clouded psyche to viewers when talking to Horatio, whose concerned rationality couldn’t prevent his friend from losing his mind… And coincidentally, both occurrences deal with tragic characters resorting to violence in consequence of losing their father, just like Matt.

Friendships that balance two different kinds of characters are of course often used in the crime story-telling area. Mismatched partners abound: skilled loners paired with more normal and outgoing men (Conan Doyle’s Holmes and Watson), loose cannons latched on by-the-rule cops (buddy cop movie ‘Lethal Weapon’ in 1987) or family men obligated to cope with cynics (film noir ‘Between Mightnight and Dawn’ in 1950, or more recently the first season of TV show ‘True Detective’).

Interestingly, even though Matt’s subtle assurance and skills tend to attract the spotlight in their partnership and though Foggy referred to himself as his “wingman” when they became friends, Foggy’s qualities serve to remind viewers of Matt’s shortcomings. Nelson is frank to the point of humorous bluntness sometimes and honest in his friendship, which enlightens Murdock’s web of lies. He’s dedicated to their firm, while it feels like Matt is more often than not using it as a façade. While being supposedly less successful with the ladies, he’s able to try and pursue romantic relationships, even though he failed to take the step with Karen and fled into the comforting arms of his ex-girlfriend, whereas Matt has a problem with beautiful but dangerous women and is ultimately unable to commit to love. Last, not least, Foggy is able to bring himself to forgive, while Matt is stuck obsessing over the past for years.

Indeed, one important difference with this well-known partnership situation is that Foggy is not aware of the true nature of their friendship. Although he’s Matt’s sidekick in the courtroom, he doesn’t take any share in the real action, which he’s blissfully ignorant of. Yet, more than Murdock, he’s prone to taking charge of the legwork in the actual investigation concerning their client Elena Cardenas, which makes him much more involved with their case. Matt warns him off, for fear he would put himself in danger, as he doesn’t fully realize how deep the connection with Fisk runs.

When coming across an injured masked Matt, Foggy is livid at Murdock’s hypocritical carefulness regarding his safety, while he keeps taking suicidal risks himself. There’s a shift in Foggy’s trust afterwards, as he asks his former roommate: “what the hell do I know about Matt Murdock?”He starts doubting everything Matt ever told him, snarking that Claire, the nurse friend who just stitched him up, was hot “but I guess you already knew that, huh?” and bluntly asking “are you even really blind?”

Predicably, Matt’s blindness had indeed been the very first step that brought them to feel some camaraderie, because Foggy was very relaxed and accepting towards Matt’s difference. He openly commented on it and didn’t treat Matt differently, with uncomfortable embarrassement or as if he were “made of glass” like most people tend to do, which was illustrated in Matt’s first appearance as a blind man with the real state agent alternately calling him “God’s mistake” and fussing over him… On the contrary, Foggy insisted on the similarities between them –that they both came from Hell’s Kitchen- and valued other qualities, first calling Matt a hero for saving a man in the accident that cost him his eyes and then praising his looks, telling him that as he’ll be his wingman because“you’re gonna open up a whole caliber of women I’ve only dreamed of”. He immediately tried to set Matt at ease by valorizing his qualities and looking up to him: in a few words, Matt’s difference has become a mark of bravery and a subtle hooking up tactic, “the whole wounded, handsome duck thing”, making Matt’s success with the fairer sex a running joke through their years of friendship. And the better part is that Foggy offered his friendship as if it did not require any other thought, even implying that he would be the one beneficying from it…

What characterizes Foggy is his lack of jealousy towards the handsomer and more brilliant Murdock: he bows to him when Matt wants to take a case he got wary of (episode 3) and generally listens to him and lets him take the final decisions regarding their moral policy. He’s the one reaching out to Matt and trying to build his self-esteem, offering him delicately the comfort Matt needed after being left by the parental figures in his life (his mother, his father and his mentor). Foggy is an emotional pilar in his loneliness, the closest thing he has to a family, someone who’s been here for him through the years, from college to a lucrative but morally questionable internship and to building their own firm out of thin air. Foggy is even the more attached to their association, which is emphasized by his insistence at getting them a proper sign with their names on their door.

The truth is that Foggy probably knows Matt well enough to sense that there’s more than meet the eye in him: even though he doesn’t know about his abilities for most of their friendship, he knows there’s something “spooky” about how Matt is able to guess things. He also coincidentally compares them to the duo featured in 1986 movie ‘Top Gun’: “me and you, Maverick and Goose. No secrets”. Even though he doesn’t listen when Matt amends “Goose died and he was married”, Foggy has hit pretty close to home: Maverick was dangerously reckless due to his father’s death, just like Matt…

Foggy’s ideal of a companionship without secrets makes Matt’s lack of trust sting even more, to the point that Foggy starts questioning everything he knows about the other guy, even his involvement in criminal activities. He’s miffed at having been left out of the loop more than anything which is why he balks at seeing that Claire knows both sides of Matt’s life, when he does not; he’s not even calmed by Matt’s scoffing about confiding in him when they first met nor by his admittance that he didn’t even tell his dad after the accident. There’s something in Nelson’s insistence in bringing up Matt’s weakness for beautiful women that hints that he’s aware that his friend doesn’t give the same importance to their bond as he does (telling him in the pilot that “if there’s a stunning woman with questionable character in the room, Matt Murdock’s gonna find her and Foggy Nelson is gonna suffer” or asking him to “climb off whoever you’re on” and join him and Karen for a drink in episode 2). Still, his reluctant loyalty and devotion show as he doesn’t shut Matt out of his life or doesn’t even storm out. He keeps telling him rather harshly what he thinks about the whole mess but wants to hear the truth because he tries to understand. He ultimately covers up for him by keeping the charade when Karen calls. He did to her just what he hates Matt has been doing to him: “I just lied to someone that I care about”. And after vacillating in terminating the whole thing with Matt by symbolically putting their sign in the garbage, he decides to just stay by his side.

All in all, Foggy is often the one trying to help for unselfish reasons, unlike Matt who tries to starve off his violent instincts. In spite of his posture of claimed practicality and pretended greediness, he represents the moral ideal that Matt is looking for. Even though Matt seems to lead their relation, Foggy actually holds the cracking foundations of Matt’s life together. He’s the light to Matt’s brooding darkness, creating between the two of them a poignant but surprisingly hopeful chiaroscuro.

3) Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll): secretary, woman in distress and potential femme fatale

While Foggy’s character is pretty straightforward, Karen’s complex situation involves a mixing of different female figures in film noirs.

Firstly, her introduction in the pilot refers to a well-known theme: in those movies, many people are framed for murder after waking up near a corpse, often after a more or less mild case of amnesia. In ‘Whirlpool’ (1949), for instance, the protagonist cannot remember if she committed the crime; similarly, in ‘The Blue Gardenia’ (1953), a woman is not sure if she killed the man she was on a date with and who tried to make unwanted advances towards her. Same kind of situation in ‘Dark City’, a neo noir science fiction movie from 1998 and in the comics book series (and movie) ‘Sin City’ by Frank Miller –who worked superbly on the Daredevil comics- in ‘The Hard Goodbye’, Marv awakens to find the murdered body of Goldie, the woman he had spent the night with, and as a consequence the police suspects him of killing her. More generally, black-outs are often used in films noirs to cage characters in difficult situations and intensify the threatening atmosphere and the moral ambiguity on people who even doubt themselves.

Moreover, the disturbing setting at Karen’s apartment enlightens how dangerous she may be. It reverses the situation in ‘Decoy’ (1946) where the movie opens with a very treacherous femme fatale dying at her own apartment and confessing the reasons why she was killed to a doctor. Indeed, there’s something very suspicious about Karen when Matt and Foggy first meet her at the police precinct. It follows the lead of ‘The Maltese Falcon’ (1931, then remade in 1941 with Humphrey Bogart): Sam Spade and his partner Archer meet a female client whose intentions are definitely not what she claims them to be; same with ‘Accomplice’ in 1946: it features another dangerous femme fatale as the client of a private investigator. Foggy is completely aware of that aspect of Karen’s case, since he calls her “a stunning woman with questionable character”.

However, Matt knows better: given that he can detect her lies by listening to her heartbeat, he wants to protect her. Karen is actually a key witness in a white-collar crime involving her employer. She’s the classic pulp fiction-like woman in distress of the story, as well as the character wrongly accused, two types usually found in crime movies. Karen therefore impersonates in her introduction two opposite facets of the noir female character: for Foggy, she represents danger, while Matt only sees her as a victim. She’s good and bad, a lead to a potentially mortal case and the helpful, moral person who’s trying to put a stop to it.

To do so, she accepts to work for Foggy and Matt out of gratitude, changing once again her category. She becomes “the secretary”, a usual fixture in movies which often involve private eyes and attorney’s offices… But that kind of character can be ambiguous too, depending on their actions. One type describes secretaries spying on their employer (‘Criminal Court’ in 1946), or who have disturbing private agendas (Philip Marlowe meets one in the novel ‘The High Window’, written in 1942 and in its corresponding movie ‘The Brasher Doubloon’, in 1947). Characters can also embody the supportive female secretary, typically in love with her boss in a clichéd way: that’s the case with Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer and his assistant Velda.

As such, Karen’s tendency to investigate on her own follows this softer side of the stereotype: her talents for finding connections and her determination reminds of the protagonist in ‘Phantom Lady’ (1942, based on a novel by William Irish/Cornell Woolrich). Even though her primary motivation here is not to save the man she loves, Karen too starts becoming emotionally involved with one of her bosses …

Allied with Matt and Foggy, she represents the third aspect of hard boiled detectives’ work. Murdock uses violence and conducts ruthless interrogations among shady informants in the dead of the night –making him the brutal private eye-, Nelson reunites clues and conclusions like a detective performing an investigation, while Karen is still playing a secret double game by hiding some facts to her friends: she’s the one truly acting outside of the law. Following the model of many films noirs, she’s a loner, as her talk with Foggy at the bar hinted at: she is not at home in Hell’s Kitchen and she’s been trying to keep what she knows to herself… Indeed, at the climax of the series, she is confronted with the same moral choice that’s been plaguing Matt for the entire season. When Wesley kidnapped her and threatened to kill her loved ones if she doesn’t accept to work for Fisk and to do some damage control, she chooses to remedy the situation by shooting him. She commits murder, whereas Matt manages to rein his thirst for blood in… At the end, they both find themselves hiding a dangerous secret involving violence, but the difference if that Matt has gained a form of moral validation by being recognized by the police and the media, as well as being forgiven by Foggy. Karen on the other hand is left alone after choosing the same method that Wesley was willing to use. Even though she’s come closer to Matt and might one day reach a better understanding of the darkness surrounding him, she’s also distanced herself from the ideal of right and wrong that Matt has been pondering since his father’s sacrifice. Wesley was Karen’s personal adversary, who wanted her dead and insulted her at their first meeting in the office of Nelson and Murdock; yet, she’s chosen to get rid of him to make herself and everyone safe. It contrasts with how Matt chose to have his own archenemy arrested: he chose to focus on whom he was fighting, on righting some wrongs and protecting the city, instead of concentrating on fighting to relieve his overwhelming emotions. The moment with Wesley is made even more pivotal when compared to her fateful encounter with hitman Bullseye in the comic: both men were willing to let walk away alive, but they also threatened someone she cared for… and, when held at gunpoint, both told her that the weapon they discarded and that she grabbed was empty. The two occurrences ended in death, yet in a very different way: in the comics, Karen was hurt, while here, she emblematically loses the innocence that had her accept help from Nelson and Murdock in the first place. She’s guilty of the very same kind of crime she was first wrongly accused of.

From a moral standpoint, her role is therefore complementary to Claire’s influence on Matt. Claire Temple –whose name suggests light and whose surname alludes to religion- represents another cliché in the noir era. She’s the sweet woman who tries to save the endangered, ambiguous protagonist. Her job as a nurse completes the picture, as it finds an echo in movies like ‘Where Danger Lives’ (1950) –the story of a man who falls for a femme fatale, before getting back with his nicer nurse girlfriend-, ‘Backfire’ (1950) or ‘Kiss the Blood off My Hands’ (1948).

Yet, even though Claire’s presence might have bent Matt’s determination to fall into his darkest fantasies, she’s also aware that her influence is not enough and that she’s only getting emotionally involved with a man who closed his feelings off, especially after episode 4. The angel of mercy leaves to pop up in another Netflix show, ‘Jessica Jones’, realizing that she never really belonged with Murdock in the first place… In fact, in Marvel comic books, Claire Temple plays savior to an injured Luke Cage, who becomes her love interest, and, more generally, she comes across as a loose adaptation of the comic ‘Night Nurse’, who actually interacted with Daredevil at some point (for instance in ‘The King of Hell’s Kitchen’, vol 58).

Her character thus complements Karen and contrasts with her: both their romantic overtures –respectively with Matt and with Foggy- ended up not going anywhere, but Claire choose to leave to protect herself, while a tainted Karen stayed by Daredevil’s side.

4) The reporter: Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall)

Karen’s involvement brings to mind her accomplice in her secret investigation: like her, Ben Urich follows a number of well-known noir clichés.

Firstly, he’s a journalist teaming up with a woman, a notion used in ‘Abandoned’ (1949). Even though his job would make him an ambivalent character in some movies, like lawyers or secretaries (‘The Underworld Story’, 1950; ‘Sweet Smell of Success’, 1957; ‘The Glass Alibi’, 1946), Ben is devoted to his job and does it out of moral duty instead of hoping for personal gain. He’s not the voice-over/narrator of the story, as he often tends to do in DD comics, but he’s seen from the beginning as an observer of the criminal world. He knows informants and he’s aware that times have changed: Fisk’s presence in the underworld has brought new “rules”, as it is stated in his first and telling appearance in episode 3. The mention of said rules is part of a game metaphor –along with the playing cards he uses to identify the “players” in the scene in episode 9-, which defines his view of the job: he does not get involved, only sees and reports from the outside, like he symbolically watches the city from the river bank the first time viewers see him… It is further hinted at when his informant compares his criminal career to a play: they were “kings of the castle”, even with “bodies in the trunk”, which makes them similar to Macbeth… crime is a dangerous spectacle and, for the longest time, Ben is meant to be only a spectator and a critic of corruption and greed for power.

Yet, he’s also a kind man, willing to excuse from any blame the “kids” of the man whom he incriminates in his article, like the informant remembers. Ulrich is thus immediately linked to the idea of family and wanting to protect it; as the other man tells him, it “used to be if you killed a man, you sent his wife flowers… Now they just send his wife with him”… This explains the foreboding warning that Ulrich receives at the end of the secret meeting: “take a pass on this one, Benny, some fights will just get you bloody”… Ben’s fate is therefore announced in this first introduction -the rough patch he’s going through with his ill wife and his difficulties helping her by struggling with the hospital and insurances, and his ultimate death at the hands of the man he’s been investigating…

Ben Ulrich is an old-school journalist, who uses old fashioned vocabulary with his boss (like “girlie mag”) and who still believes that newspapers are meant to bring news to people, to keep them informed instead of just diverting them as his boss wants, by reusing endlessly the same articles without in-deep research, like a “fluff piece” about a possible subway line with a poll about the preferred color, “like M&M’s”… Ulrich is the only one who wants to do “a real story” and “to connect the dots”, to keep playing the game… even though “it doesn’t sell papers” anymore.

All in all, Ben comes closer to a reporter to the 50’s, eager to keep writing “the hell out of the news” and, as it is customary in films noirs, who’s going through a professional and personal crisis. His career as a hot shot reporter is behind him and he refuses for the biggest part of the season to change his ways. Plus, his wife being at the hospital with a straining illness that affects her memory shakes even deeper his world… Ben is teetering on the edge of losing everything (like the reporter in the movie ‘Appointment with a Shadow’, 1957) , but, unlike the typical film noir loser who turns to alcohol, he holds his head high and keeps going as far as he can. He then throws himself in investigating whatever clue he can find on what is happening in the criminal world, much like the protagonist in ‘The First Deadly Sin’ (1980) does to cope with his wife’s illness and the threat of retirement…

His dedication links him to the figure of the crusading reporter, a man who uses the power of words and publication to fight crime, like in ‘Big Town after Dark’ (1947), ‘High Tide’ (1947), ‘The Sellout’ (1952), ‘Deadline – U.S.A.’ (1952), ‘Jigsaw’ (1949). What makes his fate more tragic is that his flair and work are not taken as seriously as they ought to, which means that he’s forced to work in the shadows with Karen’s help in order to uncover the truth.

That secrecy establishes an interesting similarity with Matt’s activity. He’s also connected to him by the threat of losing his closest loved one, like Matt lost his father, and he spends time in the hospital where Claire’s working. He too displays integrity in his line of work: it’s about justice, not money. Alluding to deep friendship and openness between the super hero and the reporter in the comics, Ben is intrigued by Matt in his masked man persona. He’s one of the few who doubts his guilt and, when he finally meets Murdock the lawyer, he seizes him up in a telling manner… Unfortunately, Ben’s demise doesn’t allow them to become long-time friends and confidents. However, given that his –sudden and disheartening- death becomes a turning point in the investigation, his character gets to define part of the story, a characteristic for someone who, in true noir fashion, has often played narrator for DD’s adventures on paper.

Last, not least, Ben’s incorruptibility echoes his counterpart in the comics –especially when things started getting very ugly for Matt, he had no part in it and snapped out of the paralyzing intimidation brought upon him after he witnessed a corrupted cop being tortured for wanting to talk. In that respect, his attitude contrasts with the hords of cops on Fisk’s payroll, which is a usual occurrence in classic crime films as well (‘The Case Against Brooklyn’, 1958; ‘The Racket’, 1928).

5) The gangster/ villain: Wilson Fisk, aka “the Kingpin” (Vincent d’Onofrio)

Gangsters are usual features in classic movies: indeed, many films noir depict the violent rise and fall of mob bosses, like for instance ‘Baby Face Nelson’ (1957), ‘New York Confidential’ (1955) or even earlier examples such as ‘Little Caesar’ (1931), ‘The Public Enemy’ (1931) or ‘Scarface’ (1932) and its better known version by Brian de Palma in 1983.

Nonetheless, many things set Fisk apart. His obsessive morning routine, which helps him regain an appearance of calm after recurring nightmares, is inspired by the beginning of ‘American Psycho’ (2000) –which served also as reference for the opening credits of TV show Dexter… Yet, while these occurrences put emphasis on the dangerousness of both killers –with cold detachment in the movie and playfully suggested sadism in the show-, the routine in DD hints more at Wilson’s torment than at his impassiveness. It indicates that he’s a ruthless killer, who can behead a man with no hint of remorse, or who did murder and dismember his own father, but he’s not a cold-blooded psychopath. His barely repressed brutality and anger stems from a childhood traumatism and the taboo of murdering his violent dad: like the repeated dismemberment he’s committing, his soul is falling apart.

That is why he seeks validation by creating deep relations laced with abiding affection. Wesley for instance both is a very devoted second in command who sullies his own hands in order to protect his employer and is privy to far more personal matters: he knows Fisk’s mother and is to some extent aware of the danger she may present when he discovers that Karen and Ben had been visiting her. He also plays the part of a trustworthy confident when Fisk is struggling between the demands of his business associates and his blooming love for Vanessa … Of course, even though Fisk cares for Wesley –to the point of committing a dreadful murder to avenge him-Vanessa is the defining presence in his life: whereas in the comics, in the happier years of their love story, she cared for him in spite of his criminal activities and wanted him to retire, in the show, she’s supportive because she shares his vision for the sake of loving him. She’s probably acting like the real femme fatale of the storyline.

Interestingly, Vanessa learns to know him through art, because they meet in her art gallery in front of a white monochrome painting (episode 3). When she asks him how the painting makes him feel, joking about it representing “a rabbit in a snowstorm”, he simply answers “it makes me feel alone”… Later Fisk has purchased the painting and has hanged it in his bedroom to watch it after his nightmares. The textured monochrome reminds him of the wall his dad forced him to stare at while he started beating his mom up: it was the last empty vision of an awful and helpless normalcy he knew before snapping and committing parricide. It makes him feel alone because it symbolizes the moment he crossed the line into accepting violence. As such, the white painting serves to reveal Fisk’s darkest secret, but also the deep trauma that lead him to become a ruthless criminal; like in Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, it shows what really lies inside his soul behind the zen-like powerful appearance he tries to keep up.

Wilson therefore shares Matt’s obsessions: he is haunted by his father’s ghost, even though his is more a counter-model than the man he looks up too; he strives not to be like him, failing to see how his violent tendencies create a similarity between himself and the man he consider as evil. On the contrary, Matt wants to be worth the sacrifice his father made and perceive his fighting as something that links him to the devil people used to see in him when he was boxing. Like Matt, Wilson’s conflicted inner self has been shaped by the childhood trauma of losing that role model, yet, Matt’s legacy was one of care and self-sacrifice (which is why Matt has become blind in the first place). Fisk’s dad only taught him to use people and hurt them. Wilson’s birthright is one of destruction, one that he refuses to acknowledge, which is why he takes refuge in the notion of saving the city.

Like Matt, again, he’s obsessed by making the city a symbol of what he wants for himself: it represents power and control for him, covered by the claims of wanting to protect it. Matt too tethers on the edge between saving and destroying what he cares for and has chosen brutality as release, because fighting others also represents fighting his self-destructive tendencies an the guilt he’s running away from. Fisk’s release is giving death to people, hitting and hurting them until something snaps in their body and they die, like it did when he killed his father. Violence takes a very different aspect for them: Matt only breaks bones and avoids killing (such a scene opens and closes the pilot), while Fisks’ rage knows no bound once unlashed and he goes as far as cutting a head off with a car door by forceful blows.

More than Fisk’s web of crime à la Moriarty, it’s probably that parallel between the hero who wants to believe he knows no pity and the villain who clutches to the claim that he’s doing the right thing in the end that makes him the foe who defines Matt’s mission. Like in a Hitchock movie, both men are bound by a telling duality: they are lonely men who feel guilty and who try to make sense of their childhood by redeeming themselves through violence and through a city that comes to represent both their shadowed psyche and the family they’ve been deprived of. Fisk embodies what Matt could have become and a part of himself he’s afraid of, a man manipulating everything from the shadows and tempted to get rid of those who stand in his way…

The parallel is particularly expressed through two essential notions: choice and religion.

Making decisions is a favorite concept of Fisk, but every person in the storyline is confronted with the difficulty of wanting doing the right thing or not. In the pilot, there are minor occurrences that set the theme: the very first scene in the modern timeline shows Turk explaining to his prisoners that they’ll get a bucket if they behave or be hurt if they don’t; later, Foggy explains teasingly to their reluctant cop friend that their divergences cannot be explained by “career choices”, but because they never got along.

In fact, almost every important subplot is symbolized by a moral crossroad: Jack Murdock made a choice by fighting fairly his last match instead of accepting money to lose. This idea was heavily underlined when the deal was offered to him (“he don’t want to do it, he don’t do it”, “man makes his choice and we make ours” in ep 2).

Many times, characters tend to feel overwhelmed by circumstances and they justify decisions they fear or regret by telling that they didn’t have a choice. The feeling of being robbed from the ability to choose a path instead of being ushered into one can be found in many scenes: in episode 8, when Karen and Matt decide to start fighting legally to protect the firm and their ideal of justice, she asks him “do we have a choice?” He simply answers “not so much”… It gets even more obvious in episode 10 when the flashback showing how Matt and Foggy left the prestigious firm they were working for is merged with the modern storyline, as Matt is attempting to justify that he “didn’t think [he] had a choice” when he started his double life or when he told Claire about it instead of confiding in his best friend… Also a distressed Ben starts to realize in the same episode when facing the reality of his wife’s lucidity slowly slipping away from him, “there’s nothing worse feeling choices are made for us”…

But others try to shake that feeling and push the people they care for into making decisions instead of going with the flow. In episode 7, Stick tells Matty that “smart is making the right decision at the right time”, and that he needs to let go of his guilt about his dad’s fate because “we all pay for our choices, kid… Maybe your old man fought for you, maybe he did it for himself. The only thing you know for sure is that he’s gone now”, so it’s “time to stop taking a beating and start giving one”.

In that perspective, the fate of the Russian thug that Matt tried to save from Fisk is telling. At first, he and his brother follow Fisk’s instructions, even though Wesley silkily lures them into thinking that “the choice of how we proceed is yours” (ep 4). But later, when he finds himself at a dead end, Matt tells him to “choose a side”. When the man answers “I choose my own”, Matt retorts “not an option, Fisk made sure of that”, which leads the criminal to do the right thing and help Matt get out of the situation alive.

Wilson follows the same path. He struggles to make a decision regarding his life when Vanessa’s love started changing his priorities. Madame Gao then warns him to “choose and choose wisely. Or others shall choose for you”. Others only represent fate and its crushing power to some extent: Wilson sums up her advice to Wesley with these words “it was something Gao said to me: I had to choose a path or fate would choose for me”. Decision making is at the forefront of his thoughts, for he reflects in episode 8 that “being informed knowing facts as they are not how we wish to perceive them can tip the balance between life and death”. And it’s his choice to step into the light, to abandon his “foolish” decision of dreaming of changing the city from the shadow, because he “can no longer do it alone” that forces the others to opt for a line of action too: “ I cannot keep living in the shadows afraid of the light, none of us can. None of us should be forced to: we must resist those who would have us live in fear”…

In the end, thus, Karen too was asked to take action. Wesley commented “you made a choice and that choice has brought you here on this night, at this particular moment in time. Perhaps that’s the way it was always gonna be. Perhaps we’re destined to follow a path none of us can see, only vaguely sense, as it takes our hand, guiding us towards the inevitable… ”

The mystical/philosophical willfulness only adds to the impression that they’re all trapped in a Greek tragedy, given that each of them tries to struggle against crushing circumstances, though their efforts only serve to force others to make decisions that would later impact them. In a way, they all finally realize that there’s only one solution in the overpowering age-old dilemma of human nature: to not let themselves be robbed of their ability to choose and to deal with the consequences. This is why the tone changes in the final episodes: in ep 12, Karen advices Matt to try to mend things with Foggy; when he tells her that they’re no longer speaking to each other and that “it’s his choice”, she retorts “only if you let it be”. Same with Vanessa when she at first refuses to let her protective dangerous lover get her out of the country: she insists “I know being with you would be complicated. I made that choice… One I still make”. Later too, Urich refused to cower from Fisk when he comes to his home to say “I promise I’ll be honest with you, Mr. Urich… whether you choose to believe, that’s up to you”. His last decision was to start publishing the truth on the internet and he didn’t hesitate to tell it to his enemy’s face, even though it cost him his life. In the finale, Matt and Karen sum the whole conclusion up: “a lot of decisions I’d give anything to go back and change… but I can’t. None of us can. It’s like I told Foggy, all we can do is move forward together”.

Of course, Wilson Fisk and Matt Murdock appear as the two faces of the same coin in regard to choices. The notion of blindness corroborates both the ambiguity of their respective positions and that feeling of helplessness that they both resent. There are many other blind characters in the story and many of them work indirectly for Fisk: their blindness is an act of faith in the dream he claims to promote. In the same manner, Fisk is not blind, but his vision is stuck to the representation of a wall he’s still staring at. This is why Matt’s crucial speech in court works for both his character and for Fisk, as well as for the others who accompany their struggle. He talks about “questions of morality, of right and wrong, good and evil. Sometimes, the delineation between the two is a sharp line. Sometimes it’s a blur and often it’s like pornography: you just know when you see it.” By posing the question of his client’s guilt not as a moral problem, but as a legal one, with witnesses and conclusions, he too forces the jury to make a decision regarding the case and his own moral involvement in what he plans to do later: “beyond these walls, he may well face a judgment of his own making. But here, in this courtroom, the judgment is yours and yours alone”. Of course, the moral line gets even blurrier when that “hell of a speech” buys the hitman a jail free card, which will only lead him to commit gory suicide for fear of consequences after telling Matt Fisk’s name…

Somehow, the moral questioning finds a solution in the larger picture. Firstly, codes in films noirs demand that the successful criminal mastermind finds his demise: therefore Fisk’s spectacular downfall follows the classic “crime doesn’t pay” logic, as he progressively loses his reputation, his chance at happiness and his freedom. The moral quality also finds a resonating echo in the religious aspect of Wilson’s character.

Indeed, like Matt is attracted to evilness, Wilson lures himself into thinking that he is a benefactor on a mission. When watching him state that he’s no longer “afraid of the light”, Karen and her friends see him as a “psycho Jesus” and with Matt she hopes that “if there is a God and if he cares at all about any of us, Fisk will get what he deserves”. Later, when Fisk decides to kill Urich, the latter denies that the world around them is too preoccupied with futilities to care about the truth: he says “guess I have more faith in humanity”, which Wilson comments with the line “so did Christ, if I recall”. Wilson Fisk embodies an interesting version of the Antechrist, who deceives himself and others into believing in him, before the real messianic hero defeats him. He’s a fallen angel too, a man who wanted to be good, but who was soiled by his greed for power and his addiction for violence: like Lucifer, his pride in his dream kept him from facing the blackness of his soul…

Actually, Fisk only realizes that he’s not pure at heart and that means do not justify the end when he is first arrested. When he’s taken away, he starts telling his guards about the story of the Good Samaritan –the same Karen alluded to when she accepted to take Matt and Foggy as her lawyers. During years, Fisk lured himself into thinking he was the Samaritan who helped the injured traveler whom everyone ignored: lamenting that “how even the best of men can be deceived by their true nature”, he comes to accept that he was all along “the ill intent who set upon the traveler on a road that he should not have been on”. He illustrates this statement by having some of the guards killed off by the ones he corrupted, once again symbolically hurting innocent “travelers”. The power that his seated position conveys and his assurance contrast with the relieved but small scale celebration held by Karen, Matt and Foggy. When he rises from the dark police van illuminated by spots of red, he looks evil, walking among dead bodies and destruction, his black coat floating behind him … His new assumed confidence is in opposition with the new outfit that Matt dones: the hero is seen from inside the box he’s staring into and which reminds of the one where he’s been keeping his father’s old boxing outfit.

The progression of Wilson’s new persona was foreshadowed by a talk Matt had with Father Lantom. When Matt asked the priest if he believed the Devil existed in this world, the man explained that when he was young, he believed he was just a “minor figure in the grand scheme”, because “in the scripture, the Hebrew word “Satan” actually means “adversary”. It’s applied to any antagonist: angels and humans, serpents and kings… Medieval theologians reinterpreted those passages to be about a single monstrous enemy”. Yet, years later, during the very murderous conflict in Rwanda, he met such a monster in the person of a militia commander who took pleasure in talking for hours to a respected village elder, “a holy man”, before “he dragged him out in front of his village and hacked him to pieces along with his entire family”: in that cold-blooded monster, he “saw the Devil”, “he walks among us taking many forms”… Interestingly, the pattern of conversing with an intended victim and proclaiming his respect before killing him in a shocking manner is exactly what made Ben’s murder chilling.

Yet, Lantom’s first comprehension of the concept of Devil expresses a fascinating connection with the storytelling that characterizes comics. Indeed, in other kind of stories, the characters have the ability to move on (like Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ or more recently, Jane in the TV show ‘The Mentalist’): here, the concept is different, because others are the ones defining the characters’ role in the story. Hero and villain are not that different, they’re both lonely men who express their suffering, grief and feeling of inadequacy through violence. But each of them gets his part because of the other: the Messianic criminal and the unfeeling devil who saves people in back-alleys find their path by meeting and comparing their life goals. This way of telling a story with roles more than personalities reminds of the beginning of the comic book era, back in the 60’s, where villains were only defined with stereotypes and by comparison with the good guys: actions were more telling than character development. Back then, villains simply acted like bad guys because they were villains, basically: the part defined their personality, they often had no more pressing motives, because the plot was more important than any subtleties of character development, which explains the relative status quo… later, particularly since the Golden Age, inner conflicts started to be the key of many heroes’ dealing with the complexity of life, making them more relatable (like Spiderman or Daredevil especially after the Elektra arc for instance). Hence Fisk discovering his villainy after society assigned him the part of the bad guy when he was arrested: he’s following the rules of the comics genre regarding villains, leading to a reflection on this kind of storytelling somehow reminiscent of the bad guy’s motives in the movie ‘Unbreakable’ (2000).

A lack of colors inspired by films noirs: a city of night and a world of blood and fire

In addition to modeling the main characters on film noir figures, many other details add to the reference: the lighting, especially, or unusual and quite graphic camera angles (for instance in the pilot in the scene where Matt wakes up or when the focus is on his glasses during Karen’s interrogation).

One of the most interesting setting and source of visual effects is the localization: the dark city that takes a mysterious and busy life at night is the classic scenery of crime movies since the 30’s. Among many others, titles like ‘Whispering City’ (1947),, ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’, ‘Panic in the Streets’ (1950)’City That Never Sleeps’ (1952), ‘Crime in the Streets’ (1956) or ‘City of Fear’ (1959) link the darkness of night and crime to the mysterious wonders of urban modernity. It conveys an impression of betrayal and vague despair largely used in pulp fiction and that fits easily in the noir atmosphere.

The show uses the background of Hell’s Kitchen by offering a variety of settings: back streets, docks, construction sites, dumpsters match the mood or the situation of the characters, from observing from a distance, to domineering the city or getting beaten up in a corner. The presence of the city is also hinted at from inside the buildings: the light from the street, white or often yellow, comes from outside, while the inside of the rooms is left in shadows as a symbol of the inner darkness the characters are living in.

As it is, the city almost becomes another character of the storyline. It gets a traumatic background it’s recovering from, like Matt, Fisk and Karen; the timeline the destruction of part of New York also adds a modern, realistic and dramatic atmosphere to the rebuilding that’s taking place. Karen sees it as a threat after being attacked too and tells Foggy “I don’t see the city anymore. All I see are its dark corners… I look around this room and all I see are threats”. On the contrary, hopeful Foggy sees the faces of the people he’s grown to know and care for and whom he names before offering his secretary to “stay out all night” to alleviate her fears, “here, in the lights of Hell’s Kitchen”. He adds wistfully “this city will protect us! This city’s beautiful” (ep 2). The familiarity of his district also created a connection when he first met Murdock: as neighbors, he already knew about him and was eager to make a friend of him.

On the contrary, Fisk’s love makes the city a project that crystallizes what he wants for himself, a form of violent redemption ripped from others. Wesley tries to explain it to Karen: whereas he does not like “the crush of the unwashed garbage stacked on the sidewalk, the air that seems to adhere to your skin, the layer of filth you can never completely wash away”, he tells her that his employer “loves this city, in a way you and I never could”, “almost, I suspect as he loves his mother”. And, like he does for her, he’s willing to commit atrocities in order to protect it. Yet, when Fisk comes to terms with the fact that he’s not a benefactor, but an enemy of Hell’s Kitchen, he admits he’s not the Samaritan when helped a traveler simply because the man “was his neighbor” and “he loved his city and all the people in it”. When he fights Daredevil, he yells at him “this city doesn’t deserve a better tomorrow, it deserves to drown in its filth! It deserves people like my father! People like you!” And Matt only retorts “this is my city, my family”. The city becomes then an object of affection, a surrogate family that needs protecting and that allows his inhabitants to find their true self. It becomes the setting of an age old battle between literal and metaphorical light and dark.

Another effect used in the show is the relative lack of colors: yet, while films noirs used black and white to create a graphic ambiance, here the show tends to focus on shades of red.

The color red is heavily present in many scenes. In the opening credits, the figures of statues or buildings appear as they’ve being covered in a thick dark red substance which hints at how blind Matt perceives the world around him. It also conveys the impression that the whole city is covered in blood or painting, with symbolical representations, like the blind Justice holding the weighting scale and the sword (a reference to both his job as a lawyer and as vigilante, who’s tempted to fancy himself judge and executioner at the very beginning of the story). Then, various buildings used as settings in the comics –a water tower, skyscrapers, Brooklyn bridge, buildings, a church and its weeping angel – before ending on DD, whose head first takes shape slowly. All those things seem to emerge from a reddish darkness.

Following an aesthetics à la Frank Miller, blood takes an almost mystical connotation, in many scenes where it is used with an artistic intention. Matt’s and the Kingpin’s addiction to violence expressed itself through repeated hits and sometimes, drops of blood reinforce the connection with cruelty, for instance when Karen is introduced, holding a knife in her bloodied hands; when Matt as a kid is asked to stitch up his dad’s swollen face; when a drop of blood falls from Matt’s lip into the rain water in the pilot or when blood is seeping from the dumpster in episode 2.

Red is the color of aggression and it characterizes the devil Matt sees in himself, behind his crimson glasses. It catalyses the anger and rage primarily directed towards death and the feeling of helplessness. This is why Karen’s hair is tainted red when she’s standing in Matt’s flat, which lightening is curiously and telling inversed, since the room is dark and the light coming from outside is blinding white.

Nevertheless, another meaning is mixed in with the violence: blood also represents Jack Murdock’s deepest life lesson to his son: that he needs to keep fighting and not give up. It becomes apparent in the fighting scene Matt gets at the end of the pilot, as his father tells him in a flashback “get up, Matty! Let’s go, finish up!” As the older man explains later (in episode 2) when he shows his new suit to his son, “good thing about red, they can’t tell how much you’re bleeding”. It’s that courageous legacy that Daredevil, ‘The Man Without Fear’, chooses to allude to when he gets a new suit: fearless red replaces the black clothes of his insecurity. Red is what Matt gets for prize of his suffering: his relation to his late dad takes as much the form of unforgettable blood ties as of a debt of blood.

The second important color of the story is also a shade of red: it is fire. It refers to the religious theme that binds Matt to his past (devil, Hell’s Kitchen and his searching soul). Fire too is associated to violence, but more importantly it represents Matt’s ambiguity. Indeed, he “sees” the world through shapes made of flames… It hints at his obsession given that he’s somehow characteristically blind to other, more pacific shades. The idea is further developed by the number of blind men through the episodes, from the Chinese workers purposely blinded to Karen scratching the eye of the guard who was trying to strangle her.

Emphasis is put on blindness too by the other colors characters briefly refer to and that reflect a state of mind: Wesley wonders about college girl’s taste for “Monet T-shirts”, asking whether they like the “open composition and the spontaneity reflecting this transformative time in their life” or if “maybe they just like the color blue”… Same art connection in Fisk’s fixation for a white painting embodying the wall from his nightmares, in contrast to the one Vanessa presents to Matt. This crimson monochrome is “a sea of tonal reds. The color of anger, of rage, but also the color of the heart, of love, hope”. Both men are trapped in one single color that represents their partial and cruel vision of the world.

Conclusion :

Interestingly, the show manages to recreate the atmosphere of the comics while retelling its major points in a different arrangement. Characters that rendered Murdock’s world familiar to readers, especially in the Miller era, are introduced in the background: immoral and blundering Turk is the first thug DD beats up; the bar where Foggy takes Karen is Rosie’s, the watering hole where criminals used to meet. The original Night Nurse meets briefly Urich in ‘The King of Hell’s Kitchen, 58’, drawn by Alek Maleev. Melvin Potter used to be the Gladiator on paper: his affection for Miss Betsy was also redeeming there, because Melvin stopped being a super villain to reform and become a costume-designer. Moreover, in the books, he was forced to work for Fisk when he threatened his daughter. The protective outfit he designs for DD in the show is a combination between the iconic skin-tight red costume and the armored black one the hero wore for a period.

Other moments allude to scenes from the comics. When two corrupted cops killed a witness in an interrogation room, one might venture to recognize the idea as inspired from the cold blooded murder of a nurse in front of Ben Urich and Glori (Matt’s girlfriend at the time), when DD’s life started to really fall apart because the Kingpin published his secret identity. Same with the Blind Justice statue in the credits: it bears some resemblance with the one drawn by John Quesada in the first page of ‘Parts of the Hole, 1’. In episode ‘Guardian Devil, 8’ in the comics version, DD leaves a priest in the middle of a confession to get into battle mode, like he does in the show: there are also flashes of red too coming from his costume underneath his clothes.

Some characters’ storylines are summarized and a changed: for instance, Ulrich’s career at DD’s side is far longer in the comics and Foggy needs decades to figure out the double life of his associate. As for the Kingpin’s side of the story, it was his henchman Linch who tried to murder Vanessa (and caused a spell of amnesia): after retiring in Japan, Wilson decided under her influence to give the names of his former accomplices. His second-in-command got the idea to shake him into resuming his activities (‘The Kingpin Must Die, DD#170); Wesley was too loyal to plan such a thing, so the dubious honor was offered to Leland, who thus never got an opportunity to become a super villain under the name of “The Owl”… A few other details were taken from this same pivotal moment in DD’s career on paper: he stopped a car by launching his leg through the windshield –slightly reminiscent of his last battle with Wilson on the show- and he ended up in a dumpster truck after fighting hitman Bullseye. When Daredevil was beaten by the Kingpin in the comics, Fisk asked Turk and his friend to dump him in the water too, more or less like he does earlier in the show.

The romance between Karen and Matt is also subtly hinted at in the show. The Mike nickname is a nod to this part of his life in the comic book, as well probably as Karen’s outfit when she starts working as a secretary for them in episode 3, since her blouse and the floating large skirt with a big belt reminds a bit of her style from the 60’s. Here, Karen starts flirting with Foggy and Matt is not presented as a potential rival yet, but she thinks him handsomer (which is implicit when she starts confiding in Elena Cardenas and mistakes which handsome lawyer the sweet older woman is referring to). Her violent streak, tenacity and secrecy creates a bond between them: she trusts him to and doesn’t hesitate to get half naked in front of him in his apartment, believing that he can’t see her (viewers can conclude later that she was mistaken after the whole “world in fire” confession to Claire)… At the end of the pilot too, like Matt, she makes a reference to her grandmother: she cooks for the two lawyers and tells them “it is my grandmother’s recipe, and she made me promise only to serve it to my future husband”… talk about teasing viewers!

Other fleeting moments foreshadow directions that the show may take later: one allusion to Matt’s missing mother in episode 7 when Matty is orphaned (“what’s about the mother, is she dead? –No, she’s… well, that’s another story”) hints at further emotional turmoil for Murdock. But the biggest allusion is directed at Matt’s attraction to some “stunning woman of questionable character”. The ghost of Elektra, his first love, is still present in the background. Other details put discreet emphasis on the suggestion: Matt’s black scarf that serves as a mask may refer to the one he tied on his upper face when his dream girl started having problems. Plus, Nobu fighting as a ninja is a nod from the red ninjas working for the Hand, the same organization that trained Elektra: Matt fighting and killing him more particularly remind of Kirigi, the immortal ninja that she tried to prevent from assassinating her former lover.

Last, not least, there are other nods to the Marvel universe, for instance when Karen tells that she’s a “Hellion fan” in the pilot. Several groups in Marvel Comics have been named Hellions indeed. But the more visible indirect allusions are to Miller’s other works: beheading/dismembering bodies, as done by men like Fisk or Stick, is a recurring pattern in ‘Sin City’ -for instance when it involves the frightening and mysterious Kevin. In the volume ‘The Big Fat Kill’, particularly, assassin Miho slices off a low-life’s head while jumping from the top of his car: this startlingly daring drawing is probably a kind of model to Fisk’s violent beheading with a car door, which shows a gratifying attention to detail and atmosphere.

Daredevil returns April, 2016. Look forward to more writing on this series!

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Mentalist Finale Brown Shag Carpet-White Orchids Review


‘Brown Shag Carpet’

Synopsis

Following the events of ‘Byzantium’, the team is chasing a serial killer who’s obsessed with the after-life. That leads Jane (Baker) to pull his psychic act as a bait to lure their prey in. Meanwhile, this step in the limelight leads Jane to come to terms with life-changing decisions regarding his relation with his girlfriend Lisbon (Tunney).

Concise Verdict

This ending for Season 7 comes as a two-parter, like it was for S3 (‘Strawberry and Cream’) and S4 (with the diptych ‘Red Rover, Red Rover’/‘The Crimson Hat’). It doubles as the series finale and rivals ‘Blue Bird’, the other potential ending intended for the story, for the closure and the fulfilling emotional commitment both provide. A new door opens for Jane and he accepts at long last to grab a new chance at happiness. The storyline concludes on a cheerful and moving goodbye to faithful viewers from the home-coming wayward consultant and his extended family.

Detailed AKA Humungous Review (Spoilers Galore)

Right from the start, the episode is one for tests. After finding Gabriel’s body, when Lisbon asks Jane why the killer would care if he was a real psychic, Jane answers that “he wants one for some reason and Gabriel didn’t pass the test”. It echoes Jane’s own wanderings in the emotional turmoil represented by the wilderness, since it was a nod to Jesus being tested and tempted by the devil. This double episode is the final test for Jane: after crossing path with death in a way reminding of his previous failings, fate will determine the new path he’ll take from now on.

VIS#1: Jane shows his love nest cabin to Lisbon

The storyline opens with a random couple half-arguing about the possibility that the rumored serial killer –whose killings have been made public- may be sitting outside their house. They state that “serial killers don’t sit in cars, they lurk in the shadows”…. which is ironical, since the actual killer strikes when the husband goes out to check on the suspicious yet innocent bystander. The husband has put himself in danger by getting out, but it is his wife who is taken from inside the house. It draws a troubling parallel with Jane’s family, targeted in the security of their home… and the man finds the front door alarmingly open, just like Jane met his fate under the guise of a closed door. How not to be reminded that Jane fears for a repeat by having Lisbon taken from him too?

This frightening opening is in dire contrast with the cheerful serenity surrounding the isolated cabin that Jane bought and that he is eager to show to Lisbon… In response to the way he’d been drifting apart after the shock of Vega’s death, he tells his beloved: “it’s a little shack that I’m gonna renovate. Make some additions… We both knew things had to change: I couldn’t make you quit and I need something to do”. Lisbon is surprised and a little bit skeptical (“so you’re gonna build us a house…”), but the sudden decision has been building up for some time. Their increased intimacy is expressed by the endearing way he closes her eyes to surprise her and her playful question “did you buy me another horse?”, which is of course a cute reminder of the pony he gave her for her birthday when she was still his boss. Plus the fresh air he wants her to “breath in” to try and make her impressions as good as possible is a nod to his familiar love for nature (and her wariness in front of it): having a house in the middle of this kind of environment is implicitly his way to meet her in the middle, instead of making her leave in a long boat trip like he alluded to in the beginning of the season…

Yet, Lisbon’s lack of enthusiasm propels him to explain: “when I’m done, if nothing else, we have a place to live. It’s a start”. Indeed, it’s a start in more ways than one: it’s the first hint he’s given her that he’s ready to stay in a long-term commitment after freaking out, but it’s also a new start for him, given that it would be the first real home he’ll be allowing himself after the debacle at the Malibu house… He’s willing to prove himself to her again, not by talking about what’s in his head, but by showing her that he’s trying to progress and make amends… The fastest way to hint at his will to share her life and start anew is to build a house: like the teacup, the “shack” will be renovated as the visible sign of his mended self. And again, this action echoes the progress of their relationship as they’ve been playing with the idea of moving in together for a few episodes, like when they visited the killer’s house as potential buyers in ‘The Silver Briefcase’ or as hinted by Jane’s fascination with her childhood ‘Little Yellow House’…

An interesting point is that, if Jane’s ready to prove his commitment to Lisbon, it doesn’t involve staying where she wants him to be, though. When she asks him if he wants to quit the FBI, he answers “maybe, I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet”. In a way, it shows that he’s having a more adult reaction than the flying reflex that leaded him to take a break when he was emotionally distraught: he doesn’t have to have all the answers yet. He’s just showing that he’s willing to make the effort and to start thinking about what he wants from life instead of just conning his way out of difficulties or hiding behind his fears. And given the trouble he always had to let her know of his thinking process when it got too touchy, the fact that he’s understood how important it is to share this with the woman he chose as his companion is an indication that he’s grown as a person.

Lisbon is able to sense the progress, yet she’s also afraid that he might take off again without as much as a warning. She tells him that she’s “glad”, albeit understandably shocked by his new acquisition, but that she needs to make sure that he’s “committed to this, to us”, probably because she’s dealt with enough of his lies to know that his word may not be enough. In that line of logic, she dares to broach a subject she never mentioned before: “are you gonna take off your wedding ring? It just, it seems like you don’t want to let go of it…” When she sees his stress over the question, she backpedals “I understand why it’s difficult for you”, leading Jane to answer rather lamely “it’s just that I’m used to it”.

It’s interesting that Lisbon basically asked for that as a sign of commitment for him, whereas she never seemed to mind much the offending object binding him to another woman and another life. She’s been extremely understanding on this point, certainly due to her own history with this dark part of Jane’s life: as the leading officer on the investigation on his family’s murder for more than a decade, she’s also part of this past, even more so considering her nurturing nature and the concern that she felt towards the revengeful widower that she took under her wing. But it looks like having Jane give her the cold shoulder made her greedier, as it happened when Pike entered her life and Jane started hiding his jealousy. As soon as she could, she turned tables on him: before Michelle’s death, it’s been Jane pressuring her to change her life in order to protect her, while now she’s the one pressuring him into giving her more than he thinks he’s ready for… Like it was after his escapade in Vegas and the surge of feelings his two-year long hiatus provided, this last break was probably an eye opener for her. She wants something more instead of risking him not answering her calls again and she no longer feels afraid to demand it. In a way, it shows how much more secure she feels about herself and her relationship with her stubborn lover: after the debacle with Lorelei, she couldn’t bring herself to be straightforward with her feelings for him, just like she blew cold (the plane argument) and hot (the socks) on him when he got back from Venezuela, which lead to a misunderstanding on what she really wanted and Jane clinging to status quo. Now, after having admitted out loud that she loved him (‘Little Yellow House’) and what they had was good (‘Copper Bullet’), she has no claims in asking him to give her more too, in making their relationship progress. By asking him a token of his faith in them, she’s thus willing to back give her trust.

VIS#2: the plan to catch the serial killer

But Lisbon is not the only one getting bolder: the villain is too. Things get ugly when they’re called at a new crime scene: the serial killer they are after since the previous episode has made another victim, whose body he didn’t bother hiding this time. His “playful” display for the FBI to find is briefly enhanced by how the scene is shot from the dark tunnel towards the light; even though it gives the impression that the killer is creepily watching them, it also hints at Jane’s willingness to step out of the darkness and into the light. Plus, the association with the well known “light at the end of the tunnel” that some people have seen after near-death experiences brings forward the notion of death and resurrection, an important theme in the series (cf. the questions of psychics and the afterlife and the reference to Jesus Christ in ‘Byzantium’ for instance). In that same perspective, the difference in the killer’s ways gives them another clue. His pattern is roughly the same, yet since the body is not decayed, they can spot a puncture wound along with the usual missing fingernail: he’s been taking “a cup of blood” from his victim… This choice of words immediately links the murderer to a vampire. Wylie later presents the vampire theory as the most popular online, leading them to investigate a potential link with the occult; this connection is based on the murderer’s interest in Gabriel as a psychic and the fact that “he is stealing blood from a corpse; he’s got to be doing something weird with it”. Interestingly, the “vampire” aspect might also be a nod to Bret Stiles’ golden chalice filled with blood during the Visualize ceremony in ‘Fire and Brimstone’. Indeed, both the cult leader and the vampire use blood as a mean to gain immortality and/or resurrection: Bret promised “I will return” to his followers, while the vampire is an undead/immortal creature. Therefore, they hint at Jane’s fear of Lisbon dying and the Christian references involved with Jane’s wanderings in the wilderness, as well as the psychic angle used in the previous episode.

Back in the bullpen, they get another surprise in the person of Rick Tork, from the Santa Fe office. He’s going to help them on the case because they’re short-handed. Said Tork worked briefly with Jane and Cho in the SCU under the supervision of Ray Haffner in ‘Little Red Notebook’, when Lisbon was almost fired by Bertram. Tork’s memories from that time are far from good. Jane’s used his complex over his short stature to get him into a fight with a coworker in order to undermine Haffner’s new team: “he’ll never tell you what he’s up to; whatever he does, you’ll look like an idiot. And always keep your hand on your wallet”… It’s noteworthy that Tork is one of the rare secondary characters from the CBI era that doesn’t get killed off after crossing paths with the new team –unlike Ardiles, LaRoche and creepy Haibach. As such, he shows indirectly how Jane’s gotten more at peace with his past, because when he first met Tork he was trying to make up with Lisbon for the consequences of his restless actions, like he’s doing here… Both Tork and Jane get therefore an occasion to evaluate how much the consultant has changed, which is bound to give them closure. Before that, though, Jane gets his comeuppance when Tork suggests that they need to set a decoy psychic to lure their killer out. And that Jane should be the bait, of course. Jane is miffed by the idea and leaves the room (“Uh, not a psychic, dude”) and his team members get very protective of him because “the last time Jane tried something like that, it didn’t go well”. Tork only then remembers about “the wife and kid”.

Meanwhile, Lisbon follows Jane to offer some comfort. She doesn’t pry, because she knows it’s still a very sensitive topic, which hints that their couple is not yet over that part of Jane’s history. So, she only informs him that they got Gabriel’s autopsy report back: he had tiny tumors in the brain that caused seizures and delusions, which explains why he was so convinced that his gift was real. By satisfying Jane’s curiosity over the kid’s unexplainable sincerity when he tried to cold read him, Lisbon tries to reassure him by showing him that he was right again: “there’s no such thing as psychics”… It was his mantra to justify his conman ways that got his family killed, so it’s no wonder Lisbon chose this angle to offer support. When she broaches the hurtful topic again, she doesn’t mention Tork’s suggestion or which memories it brought to mind. Instead, she sidesteps by apologizing for having brought the ring up earlier at the cabin: she feels bad for pressuring him into moving on and Tork’s lack of sensibility has awakened this feeling of guilt. Jane simply tells her that he’s okay. Obviously, talking about his way of (not) dealing with the loss of family is not something Lisbon has dared to do sooner in their relationship; this makes one wonder about the status each of them gives to their love story, compared with his idealized married life with Angela.

On the other hand, this disagreement with Tork is also subtly oriented towards Jane’s future: the mention of how he provoked the demise of his loved ones echoes his fears of getting Lisbon killed on the job. Plus, when Tork was told about the investigation, a detail suggests something for Jane’s relationship with her: the buried first victims were killed “between two and nine months ago”. Nine months is the standard duration for a pregnancy. Again, life/birth and death are linked as it has been with the underlying concept of resurrection.

VIS#3: Jane’s psychic act

In spite of his reluctance, when a man is mistakenly killed by a frightened citizen, Jane is convinced that he should follow Tork’s plan to avoid more collateral victims of the panic over the serial killer. While Lisbon argues over his dangerous decision to risk the same fate as Gabriel in the hands of the murderer, Jane tells her: “I appreciate your spirited defense, but it’s not necessary”. The tables have turned, since he was before the one trying to stop his brave Teresa from playing the target… Plus the word “spirited” alludes indirectly to the psychic world Jane’s once again about to enter, another nod to the death/life theme coursing through the episode.

This aspect is discreetly hinted at when Jane is preparing to take part in a TV show. One of the news announced is that “according to state forestry officials, once the bear was tranquillized, he was relocated to a wilderness area”… The wildlife might be a nod to the RJ-related tiger, but it’s interesting that the anecdotic fate of that bear matches Jane’s: he too is more tranquil after coming to terms with his fears and he’s “relocated” himself to a “wilderness area” by buying his large cabin.

The TV show itself –with its dark red setting- is reminiscent of the act Jane pulled in the flashback from the pilot and which got his family killed. The anchorman alludes to it by mentioning Jane’s experience with shows (“oh, you’ve done this before? –Yep”) as well as the long-standing game metaphor, which was used to symbolize RJ’s interactions with the consultant: “all right, I’m gonna throw you a couple easy questions, we’ll have some fun, just keep the ball in the air”… The progression of the scene is in direct opposition with the pilot: back then, Jane showed his skills, then answered to the interview about his work with the police on RJ. Here, he’s first introduced as “a psychic who works with the FBI” –enhancing that he’s no longer a conman seeking glory and money, but part of law enforcement- then he’s asked to explain how he works: “what is a psychic? What is it you do?”

For a fleeting moment, Jane is throw back in the decisive moment of his past, looking straight at the camera with an anguished music playing. This moment reminds of his tormented performances in Karen Cross’ shows, both in ‘Red Carpet Treatment’ (another “carpet” episode where his forced to live again that fateful first interview about RJ) and ‘Blinking Red Light’ (where his drastic choice concerning Panzer lead him to his first serious occasion to approach the man… and where his staring at the camera was equally, if more sinisterly, significant). Then he comes back to the far brighter-present and starts cold-reading the host, telling Dan “your wife… just had a baby… a girl, I believe”. The choice of this particular point regarding Dan is interesting: of course, a personal and emotionally charged detail has more impact on the mark and the audience, but this description of Dan’s family situation, being the happy father of a daughter, matches the one Jane lost when he did the same interview years before. Moreover, it also hints for the second time at the presence of a baby… Jane adds about the baby girl “her name begins with a vowel, “a”…, “Alexan” “A… Alexa” right?” It echoes the encounter he had before entering the wilderness: when he was away from Lisbon in the previous episode, he guessed that the kind bartender’s name started with an “a” too. His first guess was “Angela”, his late wife’s first name, while, now, he’s got enough distance to choose another one. The fact that he accepted to start facing his fears and his grief at long last shows that he’s really moving on instead on hiding emotionally like he’s been doing for years. It’s the last step of letting go: he’s finally able to give his “congratulations” to a happy father instead of chasing guilty parents as he’s been doing since the very first case in the pilot with the abusive father.

Jane’s credibility as a psychic is further set up with another interview, in the afternoon this time. He’s facing two women who are hanging on his lips. He tells to one of them “your aunt passed away about a year ago”. It echoes his performance with a member of the audience with a deceased loved one in the interview from the flashback. Yet, back then, he told the woman that her father asked her “to forgive him”, that he was “deeply sorry”, whereas now this soul he’s supposed to be talking to doesn’t seek redemption: “she used to help people” and “she really wants you to be happy because she loves you very much”. Basically, he’s telling her what he feels like his own family would be hoping for him: that’s what his hallucinated ghost Charlotte meant to tell him and what his carnie friends/family insisted on in ‘Copper Bullet’. That also represents that he’s made peace and finally mourned them in the process of moving on.

Those TV appearances therefore contrast with the badmouthing he did against RJ in the past. Now, he’s not seen “slaughtering” another killer “in the media”, but he’s showing his skills peacefully, he’s accepted this part of him and the past it entails. Before, it just caused death –his family’s, Panzer’s, even Kristina Fry ended up in a half-death after following the same path-, yet now he does it in order to save lives. He’s putting himself at risk to protect others instead of acting in the name of greed or of a vengeful and somewhat selfish hidden agenda. That’s why the interviews follow the course of a day: he starts with Dan in ‘Austin Today’, probably in the morning; he’s in the afternoon edition later and finishes in a “Night Talk” on the radio: these interviews follow the steps of his career at the CBI. ‘Austin Today’ reminds of the pilot and a little bit of his performance to catch a shady anchorman in ‘If It Bleeds, It Leads’ in the Volker arc. The two female journalists remind of Karen Cross and the radio show is a nod to ‘Red Velvet Cupcakes’. All in all, in the course of a day, he’s experiencing again the same situations, but with a new goal and a new peace of mind which symbolizes again that he’s finished his grieving process.

The radio interview is undoubtedly the most telling. First, Jane states his position as part of a team: like he’s been doing for years, he explains that he’s not a cop. Still, unlike his previous insistence about not being “above or below” of Lisbon or the other agents, but “on the side”, now he just tells much more humbly “I’m not a detective, I don’t do police work. I’m just trying to help my colleagues understand this man”. The contrast is great with his attention-seeking behavior in the TV show from the pilot… The difference is made even more blatant when Jane describes “cautiously” the serial killer –instead of pretending to force himself to look into the “terrible cold, dark flame” of “true demonic evil” like he did back then when he used to lay it on thick with the mystical aspect of his persona… He says “I would say that he’s obviously angry, probably in a lot of pain, but I think he’s trying to get in touch with someone from the other side”, because “who isn’t?” He doesn’t insult his prey this time, there’s no “ugly, tormented little man”. He only describes the emotional state of the man, who’s “angry”, “in pain” and seeking comfort from a dead loved one: it’s a far more understanding point of view than the “lonely soul, sad, very sad” that he used for RJ. Of course, it’s intended as a bait to lure the psychic seeking murderer to him, so it makes sense Jane is subtler and kinder in his reading, even more so when his past arrogance cost him so much. Yet at the same time, it shows that Jane himself has become less angry and thus less confronting: he’s more mature than he used to be.

When Jane begins taking calls, the first woman to talk to him is an “Anna Marie” whose names come from the Bible: Mary/Marie is Jesus’ mother while Ann is her own mother, which entwines the baby/family aspect with the story of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Anna in the Old Testament is also the name of a prophetess who spoke as the redemption brought by the child to come. But of course, the caller who’s most interesting and loaded with Biblical meaning is Lazarus who “rose from the dead” as one of Jesus’ performed miracles: his name can be linked to the notion of avoiding death, just like the vampire, which already hints at the secret motives behind the killings… The mysterious man dives straight into questioning Jane’s knowledge about “the man the FBI is hunting”, in complete contrast with the previous callers’ more personal worries. When Jane starts asking questions himself about what the man might know, the other simply remarks “you’re the one who knows everything”, because “you claim to be in contact with his spirit”… Underneath the slightly ironic phrasing –given that Jane has already guessed that he’s talking with the killer-, the man can’t mask his very real interest in Jane’s supposed gift. That is meaningful, because it reminds of how Jane’s comments on RJ lead the late serial killer to make contact too, in a most gruesome way. Plus RJ’s first direct contact with vengeful Jane was also by phone: he called after killing off Renfrew/Jane’s first real lead to taunt him with his laugh in ‘Red John’s Friends’.

Jane further tests the waters by making Lazarus admit that he spoke to another psychic before: “he was a complete fake. You could practically see it written on him”. This comment is obviously dark humor: it’s a way to hint that he was the one who killed Gabriel and who “wrote” the word “fake” on his corpse… In a way, Gabriel thus reaped the same consequences than Jane did when he provoked RJ: he was labeled as fake (echoing the sarcastic letter RJ left pinned on the bedroom door) and his career ended in bloodshed… which in turn means that Jane might avoid following the same path since Lazarus wants to believe in his abilities. Unlike RJ who wanted to set himself as god or at least who presented himself as sent by him, playing on Blake references, Lazarus believes “in spirits very much, just not everybody who claims to be in touch with them”. Jane’s therefore been given a chance to put things to right. He’s rewriting his past with RJ, this time avoiding making the same mistakes, in order to gain a different ending. He’s literally facing the past that been plaguing him for years and he’s finally fully ready to deal with it, hence his statement that nobody haunts him when Lazarus asks him: even though the man remarks “there must be spirits in your life”, Jane answers “fortunately, they leave me alone”. He’s spelling out that he’s finished mourning, in case the many hints were not clear enough.

However, Jane’s strength of mind is tested when the new woman in his life is in danger, just like Angela was: Lisbon is coming back at his place and asks over the phone “did you leave the door of the Airstream open this morning?” This moment ends the long string of phone calls between them when he was afraid to have her get killed ever since S1 ‘Redwood’ (‘Strawberry and Cream’, ‘Red All Over’, ‘The Desert Rose’ for instance). It also happens to be the first phone conversation they have since he stopped ignoring her calls: he had felt the need to get away from the FBI for fear of what danger might befall her, while now he’s presented with the very same possibility that he did try to run away from. Unlike with Angela, here he can stand by Lisbon instead of letting her face danger alone; when she opens the door in the same way that he was about to open that fateful bedroom door years ago, he tells her “okay, stop, don’t go anywhere near it, don’t do anything until someone gets there”. He insists “you’re not hanging up”. Yet, like it was with the couple in the opening of the episode, it’s the apparently safest one who’s actually in danger: the killer has set his eyes on Jane. Lazarus crashes his car against the one the consultant is in. It’s what Michelle did with their suspect in ‘Copper Bullet’: the scent of death is looming closer over him. Jane’s kidnapped like he was during his ordeal with Kirkland (‘Red Listed’) and the scene has also shades of his risky encounter with Lorelei in the limo in ‘The Crimson Hat’.

Later, the team makes plans to get him back and orders are given. Interestingly, one of the agents who’s given a specific task is called Elias. This is another version of prophet Elijah’s name, whom John the Baptist –who used to preach in that wilderness that brought peace to Jane- was compared to when he announced the Day of Judgment and that the Messiah was coming… It also symbolizes how Jane is getting over his fears about death by getting committed to a new life. Nonetheless, Elias has a different attitude towards sin than Jesus: while the latter forgives the sinner, Elias is more willing to call the fire of a vengeful justice on the Samaritan who doesn’t respect him enough to be a good host (Luke, 9, 51-56). It foreshadows Jane’s own behavior towards the bad “host” that made him captive and threatens to kill him… Last amusing point: Elias is also known for having resurrected people as a miracle (King 4, 35; 17, 17-24), which again hints at the thing Lazarus is after…

The second agent mentioned by name is trickier: Merrick might or might not allude to Joseph Merrick, better known as the ‘Elephant Man’, a man whose physical deformities lead him to be exhibited in 19th century fairs. If this name is more than a simple coincidence, it might allude both to Jane’s past carny life and to his efforts to become human again –an important theme of the 1980 movie based on Merrick and directed by David Lynch: indeed, in ‘Blue Bird’, he admitted to a scornful Lisbon that he’d “forgotten how to act like a normal human being”. Now, he’s trying to go further into this form of redemption by accepting both his past and future. By forgiving himself, he’s willing to commit himself to her fully.

VIS#4: Jane and Lazarus

While Abbott is telling Lisbon how sorry he is not to have listened to her misgivings concerning this dangerous plan, Jane is held captive in Lazarus’ den. His position, tied up on a chair, reminds of all the other occurrences when he’s been kidnapped and at the mercy of a dangerous criminal (with Kirkland; when he was saved by RJ in S2 ‘Red Sky in the Morning’; in S2 ‘Bleeding Heart’). He’s forced to buy some time, study his abductor and use his wits to get out of the situation, in the vein of S3 ‘Ball of Fire’. Thus, he’s observing intensely his surroundings. He remarks “interesting place. Could do with a little update”: the decoration of the room, including the brown shag carpet, is indeed pretty old fashioned. It’s like it’s been frozen in time, without Lazarus making any change, like an echo of Jane’s empty house in Malibu used to be, with the bedroom containing only a mattress and the dreadful smiley face: Lazarus too is too caught up in his history to move on. The situation enlightens his character and way of life, because it reminds of RJ’s career in crime – a parallel enhanced by him asking Jane if he’s a liar like Gabriel was, then telling him to prove that he isn’t. It also makes him a bit similar to Jane who used to reach for darkness out of distress. Plus, the consultant stays intriguingly true to his word with the man during their talk; he said “I’m not lying” and he keeps indeed telling the truth, explaining that he doesn’t know that Lazarus has kept the room unchanged since his father’s days because of a spirit but because of the outdated furniture…

The similarities are developed when Jane cold reads Lazarus. His mother died when he was very young and he was raised by his father. As far as viewers know, that probably matches Jane’s own carny childhood even as he adds that Lazarus’ father was “strict”, mirroring how Jane’s abusive father tried to make him a conman… This detail is even more interesting since it also corresponds with what Jane deduced from Vega’s father: fatherhood has been particularly stressed on recently and those three examples give a different perspective on what those dads taught to their children. Vega’s father used to be loyal and tried to raise Vega in the respect of rules; as an adult, she had to learn how to bend them in order to become her own woman… On the other hand, Jane’s dad had taught his son how to live in the margin of society, but the consequences that befell him lead Jane to change and become less selfish and more moral, even if he doesn’t always follow the letter of the law. On the contrary, Lazarus has apparently not reached the point where he chose to make his own choices: he’s still completely under the influence of what he’s been raised to be, which proves to be very dark in his case… As such, Lazarus is the inverted reflection of what Jane could have become had he not decided to use his free will for the better. Indeed, Jane insists that Lazarus now feels that he “deserved it”: “he was right to punish you”. Again, Jane’s telling the truth: he doesn’t play the psychic yet, he just says “It’s what I’m getting from you”. This odd honesty hints that Jane’s no longer a conman: he’s seeking justice instead.

But the consultant keeps talking and progressively puts up his best performance in getting in someone’s head: “you didn’t have any friends when you were a kid. You usually ate alone, not because people wouldn’t sit with you, but because you were disgusted by the sounds they made when they ate. Sometimes, other people don’t feel real to you: they’re like robots wearing human skin.” He adds “you’re an exterminator. Yet, again, it doesn’t feel real. It’s like a movie being projected on a screen”. This “impressive” and eerily intimate description of Lazarus’ misophonia and more especially his generally distanced state of mind might be based on something that Jane could spot in the room. Even though the titles on the shelves are too small to read, one can wonder if there could be some classic science fictions novels featuring human-looking robots like ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ by Philipp K. Dick, some of Isaac Asimov’s works or even an old copy of the 1984 movie ‘The Terminator’ (the man’s work as an “ex-terminator” might be a nod). It would fit since this movie’s storyline involves an (still unborn) character who’s destined to be the savior of humanity; two possible futures await this futuristic Messiah: either his mother is killed by an human-skinned android before he’s born, or he’s saved by his father, two options that respectively hint at Lazarus’ disgust with humans and his motivations. Anyway, Jane is perceptive enough to understand the man’s detachment and loneliness; in a way, it matches Jane’s own isolation in middle of the mind games he used to play on others, before he decided to open up and let Lisbon in. Then he too probably used to see other people as somewhat different from him, given that he was the smartest in the room and others were just marks… The way he also used someone else’s story- instead of a science-fiction based metaphor- to avoid telling the truth to Dr Wagner in the pilot might have hinted at the same avoidance of reality he was tempted to hide behind.

In spite of being already half-convinced that Jane has a gift, Lazarus isn’t much into introspection and he doesn’t lose sight of his real goal for targeting him: “I don’t need to know about me: I want contact with another”. He insists to a skeptic Jane that “the spirit is here, if you don’t know that, then you’re a fraud”, “just like the other one”, “a liar and a cheat”. His obsessive eagerness is of course Jane’s clue fort snooping some more: the resourceful consultant understands that the answer to his plight is “here”, inside the place instead of inside the man’s head… Therefore, when Lazarus goes out, Jane accepts the water bottle that he was offered earlier. In addition of earning a tiny little bit of the man’s trust by asking for a small favor, like he advised Lisbon to do in ‘The Greybar Hotel’, the bottle cap can be used as a tool to pull a nail off the table. This clever way to get his freedom of movement ties back to two aspects previously hinted at in the earlier seasons. First, there’s the idea that he’s been locked down in his self-imposed obsession for years, just like he’s about to discover that Lazarus is too. Then the hammer concept was linked to his relationship with Lisbon. Back in the previous season, that tool suggested that his tendency to take her for granted by simply keeping her occupied with “nailing” bad guys, for instance in ‘The Golden Hammer’, was about to smash his chance at happiness to bits; now, the fact that he can take the nail off without an actual tool might symbolize that he has managed to get over this propensity, by listening to her wishes and trying to play more by her rules. Again, it may be an indirect sign that he’s made progress in many (if not every) aspects of his personality.

It enlightens even more clearly how Lazarus mirrors Jane’s past attitude, like RJ tended to do, only this time the emphasis is on the differences rather than the similarities. Lazarus has obviously lost someone dear and is at a different point in his mourning process (in addition to living in isolation, he shows signs of anger, denial and a willingness to bargain to bring the spirit back), whereas Jane has reached acceptance and he’s thus freed from the nastier and more destructive parts of his grieving. This is why the book he looks at in the shelf is accurately titled “Full Circle”: seeing the state Lazarus has put himself in by refusing to accept death, Jane can fully distance himself from his part of his life. By facing a situation rather comparable to the one he lived through, involving the danger of becoming a monster himself that was always lingering at the corner of his long-standing fight against RJ, he can let go of the last shreds of this phase: he’s able to gain more objectivity and detachment towards himself by studying Lazarus. Especially when he sees the length of Lazarus’ insanity: the man is keeping the two years old desiccated body of his father in a little storage area on the side of the room Jane is locked in, just like the serial killer in Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’. That was what the man hinted at when he said that “the spirit is here”. It’s also the hidden reason for the choice of “Lazarus” as his own nickname since he wants to bring the dead man back to life and he identifies with him, albeit in a smaller scale than ‘Psycho’ character Norman Bates. This is further hinted by the name “Joe” that he shares with his father “big Joe”, not to mention that it starts with the same letter as (Red) John…
When the younger Joe comes back, Jane ups his psychic act, prompted by the various bits of new knowledge he collected. He tells him that his father “says thank you for keeping him, for taking care of him. The passing over was hard, but now he’s good. His back doesn’t hurt anymore, he feels better now than he ever did when Dr Hannigan was feeding him his meds”. The words echo what Gabriel told Wylie about Vega’s spirit which wanted him to stop feeling sad over her death. Also, interestingly, big Joe’s doctor shares his name with the rough agent who first told Jane to move on by starting a new family when he met Lisbon in ‘Red Dawn’: past and future are again connected. The time she took him in is thus linked to the new start he’s willing to take now. To put Lazarus’s alleged “doubts” to rest, Jane also tells him about “a lake” called “Pickasee” and that “he didn’t catch a fish that day”, but “you caught a fish, a small one”. This reminds of course of the recurring fishing theme representing the struggle with RJ.
Lazarus then explains why he’s keeping the mummified corpse: “there’s something in me… A voice… And when it starts, I can’t ignore it… I can’t think about anything else until I go out, find someone… And then it goes away again. For a while. Is that your voice, Daddy? Is that you in me? Are you sending me out? Am I doing this for you?” Like Bates in ‘Psycho’, Joe is convinced that the serial killer part of himself is actually his dad, like he lacks so much substance himself that he’s only a receptacle to the older man’s will, because as Jane put it earlier he thinks that he deserves it. He’s again distancing himself from the world around him: himself, the “robots” that he kills and those disturbing and obsessive impulses that plague his mind. He still lives in a nightmarish dream world focused on his father.

Plus, that idea that he’s sent out to kill for his father reminds of how Jane’s been implicitly compared to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Joe’s killing rampage is brought by a “voice” that he believes to be his dad, just like the prince of Denmark was convinced to set up a murderous revenge plan by his father’s ghost, a notion used for Jane’s quest in ‘Something Rotten in Redmund’. Again, it’s a situation that Jane has gotten over with and that he managed to turn into a happy ending instead of the tragedy Joe is heading to. Lazarus then appears as a counter-model: by looking into the abyss, or rather here by listening to its darkest advices, he has been tainted. His nickname instead of being linked to the biblical idea of light and resurrection as it should, only indicates that he’s already dead inside, because evil has made him a monster too by staring for too long into the Death’s eyes. Hence the concept of haunting spirits, of undead vampires-like creatures attached to his acts. It makes him in complete opposition with Jane, whose introspective wanderings have been conductive to embrace his own mortality in order to start living again. Ironically, Jane’s taken the better part of his close encounter with death and murder: instead of following RJ’s steps through hell, he’s chosen to listen to Carter’s sarcastic and hurtful words of letting go of his pain and start anew, at the very end of ‘Strawberry and Cream’.

This contrast is also intriguing in the way both grieving men managed to handle their fate. Joe doesn’t really have answers to explain his killings, he’s full of questions, which reminds of Jane’s refusal to ask anything of RJ. Yet Jane asks him his reasons and even though he only gets an enigmatic answer from Joe and even if he doesn’t press any further (it doesn’t really matter if he’s suffering from a really bad case of undiagnosed schizophrenia or some other mental disorder), the fact remains that this time Patrick’s mind is clear and devoid of passion enough to act as an investigator instead of out of revenge like he did before. This could explain why Jane chose not to lie to him outright, but to just give an artfully presented version of the truth.

That doesn’t stop him though for trying to put an abrupt stop to Lazarus’ career by setting a mortal trap of gum on the unscrewed light bulb once he’s left alone for an hour. Jane still believes that he’s got the right to play vigilante and the fact that the guy took him as a prisoner doesn’t make him question his desire to bring justice onto his head. When his kidnapper comes back, Jane tells him “if you want answers, they’re in that room. You can go in or not. It’s up to you” This time, it’s Joe’s turn to be standing in front of a door with a dead body behind: the step he’ll choose to take will decide on his fate. And, again, true to his word, Jane is not really lying per se: ironically, by getting himself killed, Jane would have Joe reunited with his father… It is probably noteworthy too that Jane is not the one in front of the crucial door this time –given that he was not aware that it was meaningful when he opened it while snooping for information. His own significant door was opened in ‘Blue Bird’ when he decided to step in the plane to grab at his chance to happiness. Now, it’s up to Lisbon to be left to decide to open the potentially threatening door of the Airstream, or to Lazarus who’s reenacting Jane’s past actions. Jane is past that point in his life: he’s come to forgive himself. In the same manner, he’s no longer the one who’s plagued with guilt in this episode; instead, it’s Tork who’s been feeling a sense of responsibility for having hatched the plan and having failed to protect their consultant, which leads Abbott to tell him to go home and that it wasn’t his fault.

The storage room explodes just as Lisbon comes running into the scene after having tracked the address down through Joseph Keller Sr.’s file. Lazarus’ father had been indeed suspected of being a serial killer too before suddenly falling “off the map”. The last name “Keller” might be playing with that notion in association with the “J” reminding of RJ: both father and son bear their wrong-doings in their real name, whereas it was Red John’s nickname that was meaningful… The scene obviously reminds of her desperate attempt to rescue him in ‘Fire and Brimstone’ –before the explosion, which wasn’t orchestrated by Jane back then. Things come full circle here too as Lisbon concludes their adventure with the words “don’t ever do that to me again, ever”.

This ‘Brown Shag Carpet’ also brings to a close the list of episodes involving floor covering. The previous instances were ‘Red Carpet Treatment’ (in which Jane was offered a gun to achieve revenge), ‘Pink Chanel Suit’ (Jane carrying a rolled carpet in lieu of a corpse out of the judge’s house and generally messing the investigation up) and ‘Redacted’ (in which Jane asserted that the hidden treasure was actually a precious rug, but only after hiring a burglar to break into LaRoche’s home…). All of those occurrences have taken place in Season 3 and showed how far Jane’s obsessive streak had leaden him. As such, the carpets might represent Jane’s immobility, his inability to move on. Yet, here, it’s the killer who’s trapped in a fanatical quest: his father’s brown shag carpet in the room where he keeps Jane, near the mummy, symbolizes this binding and debilitating past, while the ‘White Orchids’ coming up afterwards bring a reminder of Jane’s past, but also the long-standing barely acknowledged hope for something more. Jane leaving the mortiferous carpet behind along with his despair ends the shows on a happier note than he may have had hoped for.

At the same time that Jane’s been playing mind games and getting closure, his coworkers were busy looking for him while displaying how much they’ve learnt from him. Cho and Wylie teamed up to investigate the lead involving local black magic and occult. Both were the most emotionally involved in Vega’s death, it thus stands to reason they were very eager to try something, even as weird as that something might look. And here too, the nods to the past are visible: Cho explained to his young agent what a “Grimoire” is, which both reminds viewers of his uncomfortable encounter with a witch in S1 ‘Red Rum’ as well as it is a discreet allusion to Jane’s various books and notebooks through the series. Like the letter pinned by RJ on the bedroom door in the pilot, this last “magical textbook” opens new (and happier) possibilities…

Later, Wylie showed how much their charismatic consultant has influenced him: he was able to get the reluctant shopkeeper to trust him by bargaining his protection. She accepted to give them precious information on who would look for human blood and why. Even though he had seemed so uncertain on the field in the previous episode, Wylie was able to become a better, more confident member of law enforcement due to Jane’s teaching.

But the most startling example is provided by Lisbon. Earlier episodes showed how well groomed she’s been in the art of using manipulation in order to close a case (‘The Greybar Hotel’, ‘Black Market’, ‘The Silver Briefcase’). Here, after Wylie and Cho had found a man involved in the black magic aspect of buying human blood, she dismissed Abbott’s claims that the man already requested an attorney: she insisted ruthlessly “I don’t care”, “we don’t have time for this”, “let me talk to him”. Then, she cold read him: “you’re hiding something”, “I never would have noticed something like this before, but I’ve been working for a very long time with somebody who’s good at seeing into people what they’re thinking, feeling”. She was able to guess what he was hiding, “something violent or sexual, maybe both. But judging by how freaked out you are, I’d say it’s something really bad”. She was not above threatening the man, like Jane did so many times, to her chagrin: “I don’t think you understand how important this is to me. You give me a name, you can walk out of that door right now; you don’t and I will dig up every dirty secret you have”, “I will tell everybody you know: your coworkers, your friends, your family”, “you’re not gonna be able to hide”. She even added to show her cold determination “it’s not a threat, it’s a promise” and “my boss is right back there. Tell him, get me fired, ruin my career, I don’t care. I want those names”. Her worry-induced restless lack of regard for rule contrasts with her way of handling Jane’s disappearances in their CBI days. For instance in ‘Ball of Fire’, she was careful to hide her very real worry under professionalism, whereas here, she didn’t care about façades and even used her fear and anger to frighten her prey. She’s become much more open with her emotions.

Plus, by chasing after her lover’s trail, Lisbon was already proving that she doesn’t need him anymore in her professional life: what Jane has been trying to teach her for years (more notably since ‘Blinking Red Light’) has come to fruition and, surprisingly, this implicitly gives Jane space to invest more deeply the personal side of their relation. Indeed, for years, the main thing that bounded them together was their job, to the point that Lorelei commented that he was reduced to working cases with the CBI because he was “a little bit in love” with Teresa… Now that this need for his enlightening knowledge of the human mind is no longer as needed as it used to, they are to develop a union centered on their affection alone, instead of hiding behind the long-standing half-lie of getting along because “he closes cases”. In a way, Lisbon is therefore also tacitly committing herself more completely to him as a man she loves, instead of as a coworker she happens to date…

Once again, this ties back to their shared past of darkness, since he only started grooming her in order to manipulate her more easily to his views and to prepare her for his leaving the team at the end of his quest. The expression used earlier in the investigation to describe one way of getting blood is telling: “cutting yourself open” reminds of what Jane told Lisbon that he planned to do to RJ in ‘Red Flame’ (“when I catch Red John, I’m going to cut him open and then watch him die slowly, like he did with my wife and child”). It might also be a nod to Jane’s suicidal tendencies that have been more or less hinted at in the series (‘Red John’). Yet, as it systematically happens in this finale, this painful reminder is turned into a more positive one: this time, Lisbon’s grooming no longer implies sinister purposes, but it means getting Jane back for getting their happily ever after. Plus a detail is amusing: Lisbon managed to get “eight names” out of their unwilling witness. Given how often the “seven” number was used to refer to the last season (or to the seven suspects on Jane’s list of RJ candidates), the number eight here implies that they keep going with their happier life even after the closing episode.

‘White Orchids’

The conclusion to the fright caused by the kidnapping and the detonation is shown 24 hours later, when Jane is signing the lease for the house, the very first real home he’s acquired since his Malibu residence, after the shabby string of motel rooms/attic/Airstream. It’s a house that needs repair, just like the Lisbon old family home that he had been looking at in ‘Yellow Little House’.
It’s a sign of freedom and it’s stressed out by the real estate agent joking “now usually this is where I hand over the keys, but there aren’t any”. It obviously refers to the bad state the cabin is in, but it may also be a nod to the many keys that appeared through the series to show how Jane had been locked up by his obsession with revenge: there is no need for that kind of “keys” for him now that he has learnt to get free from his pain…

VIS#5: Jane’s proposal

Once he’s secured this haven in dire need of remodeling, Jane takes another big step into moving forward. Lisbon has been dropping not so subtle hints that she wants him to prove his commitment so he kills two birds with one stone by talking her about his wedding ring, the taboo topic that Lisbon is feeling sorry for bring up.

When they’re admiring the antic house and bantering about how the slanting to the left might be due to an optical illusion, Teresa notices suddenly that he’s not wearing his ring. Jane answers in a deceptively easy fashion: “I’m not married”, then keeps talking about the slanting of the house (“the ground is slanty, so it makes the structure look like it’s leaning, but it is, in fact, not”). When he gathers his wits, he broaches the real matter at hand: “this ring has been with me for a very long time and it has obvious significance with my past”. The ring has been indeed a token of his lost family and a symbol of his quest for revenge: Jane’s been using it for years to fence off women willing to distract him for his self-imposed reclusion and it was precisely the object that Lisbon mentioned to try and awaken memories of his past during his fugue state. Staying symbolically “married” instead of accepting that he was a widower was Jane’s way to avoid getting emotionally involved in normal human interactions during his CBI years. He explained to Kim in ‘My Blue Heaven’ that he was still wearing it because he didn’t know how to talk about his grief and the things he did after losing his wife. Jane being a creature of habit, it stands to reason that he would be reluctant to step forward without this comforting, familiar security blanket… Like the broken teacup, that has been lovingly mended, those items no longer show the narrowed life he had in the CBI, but the stability he longs for and finally achieves by incorporating to a new life those past emotions he used to avoid.

Yet Jane takes the plunge by adding swiftly “it also represents meeting you: if I didn’t have this ring, I would never have met you. So in a sense, it has the potential to represent my future as well”. Like he did with the vest in his three-piece suit, which used to be an emotional armor, a part of the façade he put between him and the world to keep his distance, Jane has managed to turn this emblem of his inability to reach for others into something much more emotionally charged. Indeed, he got his vests back after Lisbon told him she liked them (‘The Greybar Hotel’), so they’ve become a mean to please his lover. In the same manner the ring serves now to build something that would bind them closely together: “I’m not expecting you would ever wear it, but I want to share it with you and I want it to represent our future together. I want you to be my wife. Will you marry me?” the meaning of this powerful moment can be summed up by the title: ‘White Orchids’ are flowers used for marriage decoration but in the course of the series they’ve echoed Jane’s hope for a new beginning, most particularly since the Lorelei arc (see among others the post about ‘TM Major Themes, Symbols and Arcs: Part 2 –Seasons 3, 4 and 5’ for further reference as well as the reviews for the corresponding episodes).

Interestingly, the ring, along with the vest and the teacup, are quite similar to the magic items given to the characters of some fairy tales. In the perspective of initiation, these objects become filled with the meaningful wisdom that the protagonists acquired on their way. Jane has learnt to live again and the talisman guiding him in his destructive mission has turned into a symbol of the love he’s earned during his progression. Just like Dorothy and her ‘Ruby Slipper’ in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, he happened to have carried all along with him the means to going back home: his golden ring represents the capacity of loving again he’s been denying himself for too long… But here, Jane’s progress on a path of hardship is therefore no longer represented by his worn-out brown shoes, as it had been until ‘Blue Bird’; he’s no longer walking away from his deepest wishes, but instead he’s risen above his doubts by a more introspective reflection. He’s gained the power to use gold instead of shoes. Like Frost’s poem told viewers, ‘Nothing Gold Can’t Stay’ and his new-found happiness is bound to disappear at some point, but for Jane embracing its fragility also means understanding how valuable it still is to get it back.

Lisbon’s reaction is very different to her hesitation after Pike asked her the same question. She’s moved and agrees at once with enthusiasm. When Jane admits that he’s “glad” because he was “a little nervous”, she’s surprised: “oh, come on, you knew I was gonna say yes”. Jane’s next words are a confession that she’s probably been waiting for years to hear: “no, even after all these years, you’re still a mystery to me”. That closes the chapter of Jane’s attempts at “reading her like a book” as he once said he could: ever since ‘Red Flame’ in Season 1, he’s been trying to prove to her (and to himself) that he could handle her as a predictable creature, causing her alternatively to be on her guard or angered by it (she enjoyed the shock on his face when she showed him the hammer in her desk drawer in S5 ‘Panama Red’)… His truthful admission that she’s indeed the most mysterious character of them both should have felt gratifying had she not been already overwhelmed with joy, laugher and kisses.

The wedding planning: light and darkness mingled

As a consequence, whereas Joe Keller was heading towards a tragedy à la ‘Hamlet’, the end of Jane’s journey looks more like a Shakespearian comedy that parallels the romantic comedy vibe of ‘Blue Bird’. Indeed, in addition of the typical underlying threat of death intricately woven in a plot that takes place in a scenery featuring nature (the cabin), there’s a mixing of different atmospheres characteristic of the Bard’s plays. This latter point reminds of the series’ usual tone of a dark storyline interlaced with humor, while insisting for once on the more positive aspect. While Jane and Lisbon are inundated with the cheerful and funny aspect of their romance, they’re under the illusion that their latest enemy is dead. On the other hand, evil Lazarus is following their love story step by step with the prospect of ruining it: if we were for instance to compare the episode with one of the most famous of Shakespeare’s comedies, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, Lazarus would be the ill-intentioned Don Pedro planning to crash their wedding and crush their happy ending… Meanwhile, here too the main couple is be too occupied by their friends’ more benevolent yet slightly annoying projects for them to notice that something is amiss.

From there, the plot follows then two directions, one laced with deadly plans, the other merrier.

1) Lazarus

The killer is lurking, quite like RJ had been for years. Like McAllister in ‘Red John’, he’s survived the explosion and he’s chasing after Jane, not stopping at killing collateral victims ruthlessly in his obsessive hunting. It might be worth remarking that, like RJ pretended to have given “purpose and meaning” to Jane’s life by killing his family (inferred by Rebecca’s words in ‘His Red Right Hand’), Jane has given its real meaning to the name “Lazarus”: what was only an impossible project involving his father has become reality for the serial killer, who’s really come back from the dead, at least from the agents’ point of view… Joe represents more clearly than ever the past that Jane has put behind. He’s linked to fire (cf. ‘Tyger, tyger burning bright”) and wears the mark of the beast under the form of fresh burnt marks instead of the three-dots Blake tattoo. As he says himself, his careful surveillance of what Jane’s up to is a “bad omen” since he threatens to force Jane back on the same tragic path he used to tread through. By playing with fire and taunting a serial killer for the second time, Jane is in danger of having again his new family ripped off from him.

2) Lisbon and Jane

The happy couple follows hastily and in quite a messy way the main points of a traditional wedding checklist. Those follow a bit more closely the bride’s steps (whereas the focus has been more on Jane so far) are presented with a humorous twist due to Lisbon’s wariness of how grand the event is getting.

The first official step is informing the team of their engagement. It also means announcing formally that they’ve been a couple for months… That doesn’t come as a great surprise for Abbott, matchmaker extraordinaire between two jobs, or for Cho who’s been more aware of his coworkers’ feelings this time (“I told you” he says, even though Abbott corrects “no you didn’t”). That leaves the role of the clueless colleague to Wylie, who later confesses to Cho that he didn’t see it coming. The couple hurries to insist that they don’t want “any wedding fuss”: “we’re just gonna slip away quietly in the next couple of days”.

The happy mood is dampened in the next scene when a determined and badly burnt Keller shows up in a shop. A song can be heard faintly as he limps his way around the store: it’s Tom Jone’s ‘It’s Not Unusual’, a 1965 hit that matches the old-fashioned setting of his dad’s house. The upbeat lyrics hint at the danger of heartbreak that might befall the lovebirds (“It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone/ It’s not unusual to have fun with anyone/ But when I see you hanging around with anyone/ It’s not unusual to see me cry, I want to die”).

Yet, oblivious to the threat, Lisbon keeps announcing the great news, this time to a more personal audience. As she contacts her brothers, they’re enthusiastic. Their first question is about their long-time estranged brother Tommy; Lisbon tells them that she left him a message but “he’s chasing a bail jumper in Alaska”. They comment simply “well, you snooze, you lose. We’re gonna miss him at the bachelor party, though”. As heartwarming as this effort to act like a family again may be, it leads to the prickly announcement: “there is no bachelor party”, “we’re getting married the day after tomorrow, just me and Jane and the Justice of the Peace: no big wedding, no guests”, “we want to get married quietly”… Stan and Jimmy are bewildered: “we’ll be quiet, but we’re gonna be there, T.” When they understand that they can’t argue with their stubborn big sister, family man Stan (sporting a cross matching Lisbon’s necklace) decides to make her feel guilty as she’s probably still feeling bad for avoiding family events for years: “if we’re not there, Mom’s gonna spin in her grave like a freaking crankshaft”, “she’ll be crying for shame”… Jimmy tries to reason him, but it only results in making Lisbon feel worse: “why would you want to be there if she doesn’t want us there?” The two overgrown kids start mock fighting: “you’re a sad, bitter man, Jimmy Lisbon”. This might or not be a moving echo to Jane’s reading of RJ as an “ugly, tormented little man, a lonely soul, sad, very sad”. Jimmy keeps fighting his bro and laughing “I smile through it”, “I smile through the sadness” (which is maybe a distant nod to the blood smiley that plagued Jane’s memories).

Jane spots immediately that Lisbon is worried because she ended up inviting them to the wedding. He just agrees that they’re family and eases the mood up by teasing her about asking how he did know what she had on her mind (“when we’re married, do you think you might stop asking that question?”). Lisbon nevertheless comments that, since her brothers are coming, “it feels funny not to invite just a couple of members from the team”. She’s torn between what feels right and their wish to “keep it small”… Jane tells her kindly “invite away, we’re gonna need a few more guests just to dilute the alcohol content”. They decide to settle on “just three or four” more guests, that promptly escalade to “just 8 or 9 close friends at the courthouse”. It is the official start of Teresa Lisbon’s ‘Doomsday of the Uncontrollable Guest List’… In spite of Jane’s misgivings, they are not fully aware that they’re tempting fate (“it’s not like we’re hiring a caterer, we don’t have a gift registry of anything…”) and they decide to head “to O’Malley’s bar afterwards. Or we could go to a restaurant”. O’Malley was the bar the team gathered at in ‘Strawberry and Cream’ to discuss their secret plan. Since this particular bar was located in Sacramento, it might be a pet peeve or a discreet allusion to their CBI days.

Then Jane takes upon himself to get her a ring. He explains that the old wedding band that served for his unusual proposal is “for us: you need one for you”. He wants to choose it alone as to not “waste time bickering” since he has “better taste”, but takes into consideration Lisbon’s plea for it not to be “too gauche”. Of course, Jane’s resourceful conman ways are a great help when he spots at the store the jeweler trying to trick the young couple before him by giving them a cheap replica instead of the genuine diamond they came with. The family theme is again explored by the lovebirds’ claim that the diamond they want to put in a necklace is a family heirloom (from a grandmother) and the maternity idea is subtly played with the second occurrence of the name “Anne”, which belongs to the Virgin’s mother in the New Testament. Jane steps in jovially, saves the day by uncovering the sleight-of-hand move called “French drop” that he witnessed and blackmails the dishonest jeweler into showing him his “very best selection, please” adding as an afterthought “nothing too gauche”.

His secrecy only heightens Lisbon’s curiosity over the ring. So, when they are busy with tedious bureaucracy at the County Clerk Office, he jokes “I could just give you the ring and we could elope” while making a show of touching the hidden box through his pocket. She playfully asks “you got a ring?”, then proceeds to poke his pocket while insisting “you gonna show it to me?” (Warning to Jane: physical teasing and poking tendencies appear to run deep in the Lisbon family. Judging by her brothers it can only get worse the more familiar she grows after marriage… Please refrain from starting any tickle fight and watch your ribs!)

Of course, Teresa can’t get over her shock when seeing his gift and readily believes that it’s too big to be real. Then when he assures her that it is real, she freaks out “oh my, are you out of your mind?”, “well, it’s gorgeous, but it’s too much, I can’t accept it”. Even though she managed before to give back the pricey emeralds that he offered her in ‘Red Handed’, this time he insists “you can accept it and you will. It’s yours, I want you to have it.” Those heartfelt words contrast with the clerk’s matter of fact statement that “we’ll need confirmation that the ceremony’s been performed within 72 hours or you will need to refile” and Jane delights sarcastically “who said romance is dead?”… The moment is laced with another allusion to their shared past: Jane’s wish for a romantic elopement followed by an honeymoon in Fiji is a nod to his island days and to his plans for running away on a boat to a no less exotic beach in Polynesia in ‘The Silver Briefcase’, only this time it’s not the temptation to escape the risks of reality that motivate him, but the eagerness to spend quality time with his beloved bride.

The rest of the planning takes place from Lisbon’s point of view and it displays how deep her relations with the people in her life have become. It’s thus easy to notice how much character development she underwent, from the workaholic loner from the pilot to the “popular” girl whose wedding everyone comments and wants to attend. The amusing part is of course her aggravated look at the orgy of wedding vocabulary and the way things are going out of hand.

1- With Abbott

Her former boss is happy to offer his house to stage the ceremony, which contrasts greatly with how harsh he’s been with Lisbon on their very first encounter in the CBI. Back then, he mistrusted Lisbon because of her supposed relation with Jane. It’s this very same involvement with a man whom he’s come to respect that he’s giving his blessing to now, putting emphasis on how a new leaf in their life has been turned. Both have earned his consideration; even though his suspicions about their mutual feelings at the CBI were well-founded, his own indulgence in Jane’s schemes has implicitly shown that he understands now how love was probably not the only reason why Lisbon followed her consultant’s lead.

Dennis has since then become protective of them. He’s pushed Jane into following his heart in the end of Season 6; he’s now offering to host the “casual wedding” and later he’s “covering the rental [of the tables] and the bartender and the caterer” as a wedding gift. All in all, Abbott is the closest they have to a nurturing parental figure who’s welcoming them into their new condition. Even if his rather fatherly role is not to guide the bride to Jane directly, his hand in sponsoring the event’s preparations financially goes far enough to both show his thankfulness for their help in ‘Copper Bullet’ and to place him as the godfather of their union.

2- With Cho

If Dennis plays the doting father, Cho acts as the friend/family member/bridesmaid/fashion consultant helping her choose her wedding dress, for Lisbon doesn’t have any real female friends in the FBI after Kim left. After all, Cho was already her fake-fiancé when they went undercover as a couple in a jewel store in ‘Black Market’. It foreboded Jane choosing the actual ring in an earlier scene. Cho is her oldest friend in the FBI team and the only available member of the SCU at hand at such short notice, but it’s nonetheless very telling that she felt comfortable enough to ask for his help in such a personal matter even more since he’s now technically her supervising agent. Her relaxed clothing when she asked him, only clad in her dark green form-fitting top with no jacket, speaks enough of how natural the question feels. In ‘Bloodstream’, when he was placed in a position of authority above her for the first time, he told her that, unlike her, he didn’t want walls between his team and him; isn’t that heartwarmingly ironic that now the only thing standing between her and this close stoic friend at a decisive moment in her womanly life is the door of a dressing room?

Of course, the fact that loafer-lover Lisbon has upgraded her wardrobe in the recent months to more feminine or even sexier outfits than her old reliable pantsuits doesn’t mean that she has any idea of what kind of gown she wants. Cho’s opinions on the different styles she tries on are as laconic as funny: “makes you look short”, “snow cone”, “slutty elf” sum up how difficult it is for petite Teresa to find her dream dress. At the end, the man decides to save time and he chooses for her, probably thinking that he has better taste just like did Jane about the ring: “you want a simple piece with clean lines, maybe something vintage and off-white”. Lisbon is relieved and simply agrees to ask the attendant for “what he said”.

Very pleased with her former second-in-command-turned-boss’s sage advice, Lisbon thanks him and tells him “I asked you along because I thought you’d be honest. I had no idea you were such a fashion expert”. This may be a nod to his seductive countenance when he rocked stylish clothes in ‘Crimson Casanova’. Kimball explains: “not me. My mom could run up a designer shop before breakfast, she cut her cloth by eye.” Emboldened and touched by this rare confidence, Lisbon discloses some personal information on her own: “my mom had a sewing machine, but it was always in hock…” Cho tells her then something very sweet: “she’d be proud of you”, even dressed in a far too revealing wedding gown. This allusion to her family ties back to her yielding to her brothers’ pressure for fear of what her mom would have wanted: like Jane, Lisbon has overcome the bad memories of her own tragedy and she’s now able to think about it with more serenity than she had showed in the pilot.

3- With Wylie

Wylie too achieved some peace of mind with his own tragedy. There’s some progress concerning how difficult he finds to accept Vega’s death. When he announced to Cho his decision to request a transfer in the Salt Lake City office, Cho familiarly smacked him over his head and told him to stop feeling sorry for himself and that making some mistakes is normal. As for his sadness about Michelle, he insists “you miss Vega. Now remember who she was: she’d never run away from a challenge like this and neither should you.” He concludes “I have to rebuild the team and I want to start with people that I know and trust, so stick around”, before adding almost fatherly “I’m asking you to stay, Wylie”. Cho already proves that he will be a stern but protective leader, just like he did with Michelle. Abbott who’s just “spinning” his “wheels here”, waiting for his new job to begin, can rest assured that the future of team looks encouraging, with or without Jane and even with the new dynamic brought by Lisbon putting more energy in her home.

Now that Wylie feels better about himself and his place in the team, his liveliness can be directed to more pressing matters… which is to say stressing Lisbon out by becoming her unofficial wedding planner. When she demands that he must keep the news to himself as to not hurt anyone’s feelings, for they want to keep is small, he starts his eager yet demoralizing mission by asking her if there is a “gift registry” or a “trousseau” (which leaves her puzzled). Later, at Abbott’s place, he’s already making arrangements: “you’d probably prefer to hold the ceremony outside and there isn’t really a room inside big enough”. Indeed, “a lot of people are talking about it” and the list has grown exponentially: from the “15 people” that Lisbon remembers inviting, they’ve reached the nerve-racking number of “mhm, more like 25, or…” He’s quick to try to reassure her: “I don’t think people are waiting for, like, a printed invitation seeing as there isn’t one. But, hey! On the plus side, you’re popular, girl!” There also a “menu” and the corresponding caterer that she didn’t ask for, of course…

4- With the most prominent members of the ever growing list of guests AKA her family

Lisbon’s wariness at being unable to stop more and more people from attending her wedding reaches a depressing peak when her brothers arrive with their whole family. Lisbon expresses her lack of gusto by those heartfelt words: “wow! You all came! So many people…” Jimmy even found himself a very giddy and annoying fiancée, who immediately launches on a distressed Lisbon exclaiming “I am so freaked out to meet you at last! We’re gonna be sisters! Yay! Yay!” Lisbon explains to her energetic relatives: “sorry, I’m freaking out right now”. Yet, despite her misgiving about what is now shaping to be a bigger wedding than she wished for, their enthusiasm at being with her shows that they’ve come a long way to become a close-knit family again.

The second family eager to share the happy event is her old team. When she announced them the good news to Grace and Wayne, they comment that “the news is spreading fast through the CBI grapevine” so they “had to call and say congratulations”. Wayne, who’s been teasing Jane about how they had always thought he and the fair agent Lisbon would end up together in ‘White as the Driven Snow’, says “so you and Jane, huh? We always knew”. Grace corrects “We always knew? I always knew!” Obviously, romantic Grace is the reason why oblivious Rigsby could have guessed a potential love story that had escaped Cho’s notice at the time…They accept gleefully the invitation (“we wouldn’t miss it for anything”) and think about how they’ll manage to get rid of their kids with “a little child-care juggling”. Rigsby even jokes “you know, worst comes to worst, we’ll just bring the little monkeys with us and keep them locked in the rental car”. It shows both how happy they are with their new life and how attached they still feel to Teresa, who remained a close friend through the years (cf. ‘My Blue Heaven’).

Their interaction implies that Lisbon is now at peace with that part of her past too. Even thought she lost her job at the CBI and had to face discredit to the point of being relegated in a small town Sheriff office, she’s gotten closure over her broken career. The professional image she worked so hard to project is somewhat restored as the “CBI grapevine” readily shares the news: people find the information interesting, which hints that she’s “popular” there too. Moreover, the fact that she’s the one who reaches for others might hint that people could be more taken in by her, because she was genuinely liked. After all, she always had good relations with others agents onscreen, even ones who had taken over her team like late Haffner (before he started getting creepy) and now Tork. In a way, one can wonder if in hindsight her care for duty and her genuine kindness may not be more fondly remembered by people who enjoyed celebrating her ten-year anniversary with the CBI (‘The Red Barn’) than her unruly and whimsical consultant who had a hand in the loss of their jobs… Anyway, the leaf is turned for the better since Teresa has been achieved her happy ending, like Grace and Wayne before her. More than the Lisbon brothers, these two represent what she wants from married life: to be able to get along merrily with her loved one and their family. This comforting domestic sight matches what she used not to want to acknowledge that she wished for in her younger years, from the horrendous pink bridesmaid dress Jane forced on her, because he guessed it was a secret desire of hers, to her discreet envy when Rigsby started being a doting dad.

Family has been a main theme of the last season. Family may often be a bad influence that holds you back (the Bittakers in ‘The White of His Eyes’; Lazarus); it may keep you stuck in neutral, overwhelmed by doubts about doing what they would approve of (Jane; Vega wondering about her actions under Jane’s guidance, until she took a decision, unlike Lazarus). But it can also be the very people who will support you (Lisbon and the team) and for whom you want to be a better person (the Stopparts in ‘The White of His Eyes’; Jane becoming again a normal human being for Lisbon). All in all, family is a way to build future with one’s past, like the young couple in the jeweler store who wants to make a necklace from a grandmother’s ring: it’s exactly what Lisbon and Jane are trying to do.

Finally the two plots of the episodes, featuring respectively evil Lazarus and the happy couple, meet when Lazarus tries to pinpoint where Jane is. As he calls Tork, pretending to be the TV show host that he just murdered, he’s been told that Jane “is pretty unfindable these days, he’s getting married in a few days”. This line contrasts with Jane’s words to Lisbon that he tries “to be more findable these days” at the end of ‘Byzantium’ after his Airstream escapade. Indeed, there’s a role reversal, for Jane is no longer the one chasing restlessly after his nemesis: this time, Lazarus is the one searching for him.

The role reversal continues when the team is alerted that Lazarus is alive and kicking his way onto warpath: in pure Jane’s fashion, they decide to keep the lovebirds in the dark because they can handle it without worrying them. They agree to lure the killer in by using their friends’ wedding as bait, just like Jane would do:”postpone the wedding? We’re the FBI!” In a way, that’s payback for all the times Jane (and Lisbon) didn’t let the team in their discoveries, especially about RJ being alive too, for example after the debacle with Carter or after Jane realized that Bertram was just a decoy for McAllister in ‘Red John’. Their main reason is not as selfish as Jane’s used to be though: they know that he and Teresa are “in a good space right now. If Lisbon found out that this case isn’t closed, it’s likely that she’ll cancel the wedding and join the hunt”. They decide therefore that “there’s plenty of time to tell them after”… which means that Abbott will probably add the names of more agents to the guest list in order be inconspicuous: “four, but now I think we should probably have more… at least ten” armed agents watching “the front and backyards and the surrounding neighborhoods”. Amusingly, Dennis’ listing for the party keeps growing, in parallel with the real guest list…

Of course, Jane is quickly able to spot that he’s been lying to when Abbott tells him that he was talking with Cho and Tork about “nothing special”. The perceptive consultant only says “I won’t pursue the point because you would tell me if it was something important”. He then lets Abbott wheedle him on a safer topic: “you know, I’ve been getting some calls about you and my bosses want to know if you’re sticking around”. There’s “no pressure” from his part (a dig at Pike’s favorite expression for planning his future…), yet he explains “if you’re going, there is some legal stuff that we need to handle to expunge that deal that we made.” Jane understands the need for talking about the deal written on “the napkin” when he left his island, but he reflects “I’m getting married tomorrow. Then I’m building a house and, beyond that, I genuinely have no idea. And I can’t do this job forever, but it’s gonna be tough to give up.” Abbott comments that “it’s hard giving up making a difference, huh?”, though Jane amends “no, everyone makes a difference. Hard to give up the chase.” Jane’s aware that the team doesn’t really need him: he’s past the need to prove that he’s the smartest in the room. Instead, he’s aware that what drives him is his tendency to focus on the man hunt provided by cornering bad guys as well as the intellectual stimulation offered by investigating a case. Lisbon remarked this very accurately when he first mentioned quitting ‘The Silver Briefcase’: “it’s not gonna be as easy to walk away as you think”, because “you enjoy the mental simulation far more than you let on”. It’s probably the secret reason why he was capable to devote himself so completely and for so many years to the pursuit of his goal in the RJ era: concentrating his clever mind on chasing down a shadow was a way to distract himself for the pain. On this point too it’s then a new beginning for him, for he should try to find some interests in life other than playing mind games on marks, may they be criminals or credulous people.

Yet, Jane is not quite over that peculiarity of him because he has no qualms in manipulating his friend into telling him what he’s trying to hide. He agrees with Dennis that “it has been very good working” with him. It’s in way as to make the other man feel guilty. He insists “I really appreciate your honesty. I love you for that” until Dennis relents and acquiesces “okay you got me: I was lying, there is something I need to talk to you about”.

Once he knows that he’s about to be targeted at the wedding, he goes to try and convince Lisbon to really avoid the risky situation by eloping. With her too, his old treacherous habits insensibly lead him to hide the ugly truth at first in order not to frighten her. He finds his grumpy dulcinea in Abbott’s garden moping in the middle of several elaborated bouquets of white roses and orchids mingled with pastel colored flowers. Jane tries to gauge the situation and tries to distract his tear-stricken fiancée by commenting cautiously: “nice flowers”. Lisbon recites “they’re centerpieces. It’s a Sylvan theme”. Seeing that she’s even more distraught by this statement, he senses that the problem is that the wedding preparations have gotten out of hand: “how many people are actually coming to this thing? –Nobody knows exactly”. Lisbon exclaims “how did this happen? This is not what I wanted. Well, I like the Sylvan theme… We should have eloped like you said”. All the while, he’s stroking her arm in a soothing motion. After she affirms that her family wouldn’t care (“I just talked to them at the hotel. They found a minibar, they’re like cavemen arguing over a dead antelope”), Jane seizes this golden opportunity to make her get her out of the killer’s way without alarming her: “let’s run, huh? We’ll tell nobody, just the judge. I’ll have her meet us at our little cabin tomorrow morning”, already planning to “get someone, a park ranger” as a witness. Lisbon is overjoyed by the perspective of giving the slip to their not-so-wanted guests, which fits the old habit for secrecy and plotting that has cemented their couple over the years: “you know what? Let’s do it!”, “it’s our life, damnit!”, “I’m gonna go get my dress and I’m gonna go to the Airstream, I’ll meet you here”. She even tells him that she loves him and kisses him by way of thanks, convinced that she is that her comforting and seemingly perfect fiancé is only trying to make her happy.

Lisbon’s candidness leads him then to spill the beans. The hastiness of his explanation makes the scene even funnier “well, there’s another very good reason why she should elope, all right? Keller is apparently still alive and he’s mad at me for some reason…” Lisbon is floored, so he keeps taking “yeah, so Cho and his people are gonna stake out of this house. When Keller shows up, they’ll nab him”. Even though Lisbon is at once assured that married life with Jane will never get dull, one may understand that this revelation fails to make her very satisfied with her groom. Yet the amusing part is that she’s not as much scared for their life as annoyed by his almost-lie: “you were gonna withhold this information from me?” She even lets slip that her main fear is still about attending to the too many guests by saying “you were gonna deprive me of a guilt-free elopement?” Jane protests “I just told you!” but that doesn’t cut it: “you almost didn’t! From now on, we need to be 100% honest with each other”, mirroring an old worry that has plagued her since the very start of the show. This claim might echoes her statement that she didn’t trust him 100% in ‘Scarlet Ribbons’ when he started being more open to her about his plans after killing Carter. Nonetheless, here he only agrees and seals this promise with a series of heartfelt sweet kisses. They decide to hurry away (“I’m gonna go get my dress, fire up the Airstream”).

This cute and comical discussion enlightens that the focus has shifted. Keller’s predatory and murderous intends are emphasized by the stone eagle at the gate when he slips into the judge’s trunk to get to the place where’s the marriage will be held, nevertheless, they’re less worried about the danger than they’re eager to enjoy their important day peacefully. They’re trying to get the wedding they want and to start their married life on the best, most thoughtful way possible; they’re already past the excitement of the chase. In that perspective, Keller is already bound to fail, all the more since the burnt mark he’s wearing makes him easy to spot. It gives the team time to prepare for his arrival.

VIS#6: the big day/ the ending

The tension is increasing as Jane is deep breathing in front of the pound in his new property. He’s contemplative, clad in his usual suit, with a satiny tie. A delicately veiled Lisbon gets out of the Airstream with her dress on, looking wonderful if slightly out of place. They promise each other “no matter what happens, from this point on”, “we will always look on the bright side”. It’s Jane’s commitment not to fall into despair again. Interestingly, the bouquet Lisbon is sporting is an arrangement of wild-looking flowers with white anemones. Anemones are traditionally associated with fading hope. This pretty dark meaning derivates from Greek mythology, because these usually dark red flowers were supposed to have sprung from the blood of Adonis, whose death had left Aphrodite inconsolable, just like Jane had once been. Yet, following Jane’s example, the flower can turn to a brighter meaning of anticipation and good luck for the couple’s plans.

They walk together through the shrubbery to the fateful door of the shack. This time, it’s not death by a serial killer that awaits them inside: when Lazarus sneaks behind them, he’s surprised (along with viewers) to see a trap set for him. The team and reinforcement are ready to arrest him. Unlike in ‘Strawberry and Cream’ with O’Laughlin’s shocking attack, they didn’t get caught unaware by the killer in the cabin… Some things will never change: Teresa looks badass as an armed bride who mutters “and see how much better things turn out when you’re honest with me?”, while Jane is hiding behind her. They’re comfortable enough in their unconventional respective roles for Jane to swiftly replace her gun by her bouquet in order to get on with the main event… There’s no place for bitterness in Jane’s heart: he tells “no hard feelings” to a shocked Keller and ushers Lisbon hastily towards the exit; even though did play vigilante by trying to kill him, he didn’t do it out of revenge or anguish, like he did with Carter, McAllister or even Panzer. The marriage takes place without a hitch, the guests gathered in front of the cabin. Grace holds the bouquet as the bridesmaid, like she once asked Lisbon to be hers. The couple kisses, they cheer and there’s much hugging.

By nightfall, the guests all dance cheerfully on a makeshift platform in the middle of the woods. The touching party shows the characters of the old team, the FBI coworkers and Lisbon’s family enjoying themselves together, which draws a tinge of nostalgia given that it’s also goodbye to viewers. Grace and Wayne are wildly dancing as the very much in love couple they are, then they take a selfie with Cho to commemorate the event. Abbott and Wylie are happily dancing alone, the latter probably trying to forget that he was reluctant to show his skills on the dance floor to Michelle not so long ago. The Lisbon brothers entertain their respective ladies.

All the while the upbeat song ‘September’ by Earth, Wind and Fire plays, its lyrics giving a glimpse of the happily ever after Patrick and Teresa are about to experience: “do you remember the 21st night of September?/ Love was changing the minds of pretenders/While chasing the clouds away”… For them too, viewers hope there won’t ever be “a cloudy day” anymore and that their future will make come true the lines “my thoughts are with you/ Holding hands with your heart to see you/ Only blue talk and love/ Remember how we knew love was here to stay?/Now December found the love that we shared in September”.

A bright and long-lasting future is indeed on its way, given that Lisbon takes the opportunity of being cuddled alone near the pond, more or less where he proposed to her, to give him her own share of good news. She places her now ring-laden hand on her belly, telling him without words that she’s pregnant. After a moment of surprise, he beams and kisses her. It’s his answers to Pike’s question about what future he could give to Teresa in the season premiere and it comes full circle with the pilot full of broken families –the victims’ ones and Jane’s- and empty houses. The soon-to-be-remodeled cabin and the baby to come are both a promise for hope, in complete opposition with the broken homes in the very first scene of the show with the deserted kitchen where Jane was wandering alone and in the end of the episode with the Malibu residence. The very last shot of the series shows their long, tight hug and his smiling face: the lengthy path leading back to home ends on this hopeful note.

Conclusion: Biblical references

Three implicit allusions to Jesus Christ can be associated with Jane and the rebirth of his happiness and hope.

1) Jane performs miracles: achieving redemption

Like Jesus revealed himself as the Messiah to the world through seven miracles, Jane proves that he’s earned his forgiveness for his past sins by achieving as many meaningful actions:

1-Jesus changed water into wine (John 2, 1-11); Jane used a water bottle to free himself when he was prisoner.

2- Jesus healed a royal official’s sick son (John, 4, 46-53); Jane started his psychic act by talking about family members on TV, healing part of the host’s grief over the loss of a loved one.

3- While Jesus healed a paralytic at Bethesda on the Sabbath (John 5, 1-29), it’s through Jane’s teachings that his team has been able to “stand” on their own two legs when he’s missing, even when they are blocked by a lack of plausible leads (Wylie insisting to follow a weird flimsy black magic connection, Lisbon threatening their only witness to get names). They’ve learnt to “walk” unorthodox paths to get results.

4- Jesus fed the multitude (John 6, 1-14), Jane manages to assuage Lisbon’s worries about the extended guest lists and finally holds a marriage with their close friends.

5- Jane was not able to walk on water like Jesus (John 6, 16-24), yet he convinces Lisbon that the house doesn’t slant when they look at it from the other side of the pond: it’s just an optical illusion that gives him the opportunity to display his ring-less finger and helps him not to fret about his proposal.

6- Jesus healed the blind (John 9, 1-17); Jane’s observation skills were a great help for the young couple who didn’t see the sleigh-of-hand of the unscrupulous jeweler.

7- Last, not least: Jesus resurrects Lazarus (John, 11, 1-45). This is part of Jane’s healing process: facing Lazarus and making him enter what he hoped will be his tomb makes Jane move forward. Plus, by surviving the explosion, Lazarus has symbolically raised from the dead, making Jane’s last miracle complete in calmly causing the man’s downfall without anymore disturbance on his own private life.

2) Back in the Garden of Eden: his past sins as a conman are forgiven and he can start anew

As Lisbon has remarked, this wedding has been graced with a Sylvan theme, may it be at Abbott’s place or as where has actually taken place at the cabin. Indeed, instead of the white centerpieces, they’re surrounded by woods and nature. In the same manner, the white roses representing purity and spirituality, the white orchids symbolizing a new beginning and the gentle colored roses, which convey an impression of joy and loveliness, are replaced with more brightly colored flowers giving a wilder aura and equally evocative anemones: they’ve manage to make their own “Sylvan theme” by including the meaning of their history to the moment.
It’s no surprise then to find some deep symbolism behind the wild setting. In ‘Byzantium’, Jane fist saw it as the Christian wilderness that tested him and helped him into starting to find answers to the doubts he was plagued with. Now, it’s the place where he’s willing to reach for happiness again, his own locus amoenus, a place where he can get joy, peace and love in the middle of nature. The trees are traditionally associated with personal growth (letting go of his pain in his case) and roots (getting married again and having a family): they bind the past and the future together.

Interestingly, Jane’s original sin was to taunt RJ and, in a deleted scene from the pilot, he added the detail to his description of the serial killer that he had a lemon tree growing near his house. This was alluded to by the many lemons associated with Jane’s quest in the first seasons: that fruit tree was the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis, 2-3) and it caused Jane to be banished from his family life, his own Garden of Eden and to suffer: “the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (all translations are from the New International Version). In the show, RJ plays God by manipulating Jane like a puppet in a game of death, then after Jane has proven to be a valuable adversary, RJ assumed the role of the serpent who was trying to tempt Jane into joining him by listening to his conception of the world, devoid of good and evil (‘The Crimson Hat’).

Now, Eden has been restored and the promise for redemption has been fulfilled. Jane follows the steps of what has been announced by an angel in the Book of Revelation (22): “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. […]. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever ». The river finds an echo in the pond: it’s really associated to life since Jane chose its bank to propose and he received the news of his paternity here too.

As such, Jane has earned the right to get back into his Garden of Eden, in his case a family life. Even though no tree is singled out during the episode, Jane’s symbolically gained access to the other tree in the garden, the Tree of Life guarded by angels (Genesis 3, 24: “After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life”). It concludes Jane’s wandering through biblical trees, from the oaks and cedars from the Lorelei arc to the now reclaimed wilderness: like the orchids, they started as a sign of his struggle between hope and obsession, until they fully became an emblem of his newfound happiness. In that perspective, they are following faithfully the general shift of meaning of the reminders of his past during this episode. Jane may not have gained faith in God and the afterlife, but he’s found hope in the future by getting into his forest of life. He’s gotten back his innocence and those plants now carry and support his world, like many primordial trees do in different mythologies.

For him, those wild woods have been a place for choosing the path he wants to follow and get to grow as a person: all in all, it’s once again very close to the symbolism of fairy tales. In a way, that kiss Jane and Lisbon exchanged as a promise of happiness definitely frees Jane from his demons: he has been like a Sleeping Beauty waiting in wilderness (as he actually did sleep there in ‘Byzantium’) for someone who will love him enough to reach for him and awaken him. And, last, not least, tree is also associated with genealogy and hints at Jane being a father again.

3) The child to be born: hope for a better future

The baby that Lisbon carries also fits the intricate net of references to the Bible, because it reminds of the birth of Jesus. Like the holy child, the baby’s presence may have been announced by Gabriel. In Luke, 1, 19-26, the archangel first visits Zechariah to let him know that God had sent a son who would be John the Baptist to his wife Elizabeth -who shares her name with a reporter in ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’. Then, he foretells the same event to Mary (whose name is mentioned twice in this episode and who’s a character in ‘The Greybar Hotel’), wife of Joseph whom the Kellers, father and son are named after.

In the show, the same happens in hindsight: self-proclaimed psychic Gabriel told Jane “your cure will come with the number three”. Three is the number of the members of his new family after Lisbon told him: it’s the hope for this new life they’ve created that certainly definitely dissipates the remaining shadows. Plus, the idea of fatherhood has been played with for some time now. For instance, Jane wondered on which model parents should be in ‘The White of His Eyes’, whereas watching her boyfriend play with a kid triggered Lisbon’s first “I love you”.

A last parallel can thus be found in what the holy child represents, for it matches the meaning baby Jane holds for its parents. In Matthew, 1, 18, Jesus is to be called “Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’”, whereas in John, 3, 16, the child is a promise of redemption and salvation:”for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

With so great expectations and so high a mission, we can only hope that the Jane heir/heiress won’t be as prone to get into mischief as Daddy…😉

Here endth the final review for TM. There will be soon a last post about the themes of the 7th season, which shall serve as conclusion for the series.:) Thank you for reading and for supporting the blog!


Mentalist Byzantium Review


Synopsis

After a young couple is murdered by a mysterious killer, an even more puzzling psychic claims to have information on the case. Meanwhile, Jane is still dealing with his demons and has to make a choice regarding his life with Lisbon in the FBI.

Concise Verdict

Jordan Harper and Marisa Wegrzyn have managed to mix an interesting measure of continuity in the new challenge presented to Jane: it looks like the beginning of the conclusion of the show, with Jane starting to heal in a deeper level, not because of external actions, revenge or Lisbon’s love, but through introspection, while staying faithful to the logic behind a character prone to flying and to being selfish. At the same time, his progress as an individual gets more attention, especially in relation to his past as a phony psychic. All in all, it’s an intriguing episode, full of meaningful symbolism that paves the way for the finale.

Detailed AKA Humungous Review (Spoiler Galore)

VIS#1: The opening

A young couple is on a date: they’re sitting alone in a car, talking about the possibility of one of them leaving to study abroad in Greece (“okay, so where should I go? –You, you should stay. Study abroad is overrated…”). It obviously echoes the last conversation between Jane and Lisbon since, in both cases, leaving is a danger to the relationship. The parallel is even more visible when, as a repeat of Jane’s fears regarding Lisbon’s safety, the couple is suddenly attacked by a mysterious killer. They try to escape but they’re finally both murdered as a tragic example in the series of failed relationships developed in the most recent episodes… Interestingly, this double murder is probably inspired by the first killings attributed to the Zodiac killer in the 60’s: two high school students were parked in a well known lovers’ lane (Lake Herman Road) when the killer exited a second car and attacked them. Both students ended up dead in spite of an attempt to escape, just like the college students of the episode tried to drive away from danger. It already hints that the unknown murderer is a serial killer… Later, after the FBI has been called by the rangers to investigate, they’re told the killer moved one of the victims, maybe because he “tried to take the body up the hill and got to that steep part and realized it wasn’t gonna happen”. This chilling possibility is also a clue that the murderer might be a body collector in some way, which is confirmed by the fingernail that the killer took with him.

The lack of traces and the horrendous nature of the murders make Cho comment that they could “use Jane’s read on this” but Lisbon hasn’t heard from him “since the funeral”… Viewers also learn that Abbott is still leaving soon and as a consequence the team is shorthanded: “now’s not the time for one of his disappearing acts”. Apparently, Cho is not really worried about Jane, because the consultant has disappeared on them many times already, shortly during cases, or for longer periods of time when he spent six months in Vegas and two years in his island. Lisbon’s lack of comment in Jane’s reasons both for leaving and for not contacting her are more intriguing: she probably doesn’t want to display her romantic connection to the man of course, but she’s also worried and angry like she was in ‘The Crimson Hat’. Jane’s actions are interwoven with past cases through the setting of the double murder: the lovers’ lane location reminds of the murders in ‘Rose Colored Glasses’ and the comment that “sometimes national parks are used by drug cultivators. Now maybe these kids were at the wrong place at the wrong time” is a nod to the investigation in ‘Aingavite Baa’, both episodes taking place in S2 after the traumatic death of Bosco’s team, just like this one deals with the aftermath of Vega’s death.

Indeed, Jane’s silence is a way to put distance between him and his lover, like Lisbon attempted to silence her pain back then. Plus, his isolation in the Grand Canyon, drinking tea from a mug at the entrance of the Airstream hints that he’s trying to find solace but he’s stuck in unfamiliar territory –hence the mug-, like he was in Vegas when trying to drink himself to oblivion in a shabby motel room. Yet, unlike in Vegas when Lisbon wanted him to contact her first, here she decides at Abbott’s insistence to force him to come back. Her bossy side and her underlying anger shows in the way she handles it: she just issues a fake warrant for his arrest in Texas, the charge being “failure to appear”. Jane finds the ironic barb funny when he’s actually arrested and sent back to her but when his identity is confirmed his regret at being Patrick Jane “all day, every day, unfortunately” already indicates that he’s not ready to man up and assume his role by her side.

Vega’s death is still too fresh in everyone’s memory and it keeps affecting their actions: like Jane is fleeing in fear and Lisbon refuses to deal with her feelings, Cho turns to violence to vent his pain. When the stoic new team leader accompany the ranger in the forest to arrest two suspicious brothers who dab in poaching, he becomes a bit brutal when arresting one of the suspects, to the point that the ranger calls him on it. This violence has traces of the post-traumatic stress disorder that plagued Grace after the debacle with her fiancé and it also reminds of his brutality in ‘Blood In, Blood Out’, after one of his former friends was killed -also after Bosco’s demise. The incident also ties the episode with two important themes. The brothers are a family, which is an important notion introduced both in criminals (the Bittakers in ‘The White of His Eyes’) and from the protagonists’ perspective (Lisbon’s brothers; Jane’s carny friends; the team acting as Michelle’s family at the funeral). Also, the hunting metaphor used in the RJ era is alluded to by the poacher cutting one of his preys open: it’s a nod to Jane’s conversation with McAllister about gutting and skinning in ‘Wedding in Red’ and it too hints again at the current murderer being a serial killer.

VIS#2: The Psychic

While the team is busy dealing with their repressed emotions, an unexpected witness steps in the bullpen in front of a baffled Wylie: Gabriel, a supposed psychic, is introduced by his sister as having “seen” the crime. He’s “shy” so his sister had to “drag him over here” because “doesn’t like talking”: his subdued appearance contrasts with the boasting presence of the other psychics of the show, Jane in his younger days, Kristina Frye, Ellis Mars in ‘Red Moon’ and the spiritual advisor in ‘Pretty Red Balloon’. Yet, he’s as eager as them to prove his gift by telling a skeptical Wylie “the crying is loud. I hear you crying inside”… When brought to Abbott and Lisbon, he tells the boss that he’s leaving: “you’re moving on. You’re going to a new place” but “you have doubts inside you haven’t told anybody” to which Lisbon retorts “everybody has doubts when they’re going through a change in their life”. Interestingly, Gabriel doesn’t try to cold-read Lisbon, either because he realized she wouldn’t believe him anyway or because she’s learnt to be much more guarded and less translucent after learning from Jane how to play the same trick… Yet, it’s obvious that the young man knows something about the murderer, since he’s able to tell them that the man wanted to take his victims with him. Because he couldn’t, he “took a piece of them instead: fingertips”. His explanation is that six months ago, he spoke to a man: “he had so much wrongness in him, I could hardly look at him. It was like staring at the sun. I’ve been waiting ever since for something like this to happen.” Gabriel is unable to give a description (“he was a man, he was white. Sorry, I’m not good with faces, I only see what’s inside”) but what he says reminds of Jane’s psychic act in the pilot: ‘true demonic evil burns like fire. It burns with a terrible cold, dark flame. I force myself to look into that flame and I see an image of the evildoer, in this case Red John… He’s an ugly, tormented little man, a lonely soul. Sad, very sad”.

Anyway, Lisbon is not fooled by his act and she and Abbott try to rationalize it (“maybe he’s friends with the crime tech, or maybe he’s the killer”): they realize Gabriel is probably using this case as a career-making opportunity, like Mars tried to. Lisbon is particularly reticent to see him as “an actual honest-to-god psychic”, because of “years of experience” dealing with Jane –who is precisely exiting the elevator in front of her- have taught her better.

The talk between the two lovers consists mainly at first in avoiding the issue: they talk about the Grand Canyon and how Jane’s tea is until Lisbon ironically adds “I would have mailed you your cup, but I didn’t know where you were”. It’s a nod to him drinking from a mug in his Airstream and to the fact that the teacup is a symbol of their glued back together relationship. As such, Lisbon wouldn’t have kept it this time had he left for good: when he protests “well, you knew I’d be back”, she retorts “no, I didn’t: I can’t read minds”. It’s a barb at his psychic days reawaken by meeting Gabriel as well as a reproach at his lack of communication, both when he left her at the cemetery and during his one week vanishing. Soon, she makes her anger and her worries known: “the first time I called you, I though “he missed my call”. The second time, I though “he’s busy. Okay, he’ll call me back”. The third time, I thought “he’s dead, he is dead in a ditch on the side of the road”. This dreadful possibility reflects the fate of the two victims as well as it reminds of their talk in the church after he left for Vegas: she was worried sick back then and she told him “I tried calling you hundreds of times, begging you to talk to me, begging you to get help. Not a reply, not a word, not a text”. Like in that occasion, his “sorry” seems a rather lame reply, just like his “I didn’t mean to scare you”, because he couldn’t ignore that she would be scared after the dramatic funeral. Like in ‘The Crimson Hat’, his silence is a form of “betrayal”, because he inflicted on her the same fear he was reproaching her to force on him by wanting to be a cop: she’s in danger in her line of job, but by leaving and not contacting her, he’s made her live again the sleepless period of worried emptiness she experienced when she thought he was going through the darkest of depressions. He’s also made her face her fear of him leaving her again: in her speech, she’s using against him his very reason for leaving.

Jane’s only justification is “I’m working through something and I just need space to think”, adding a bit bitterly “I can’t soldier on like you, Lisbon”. He resents Lisbon for not following him blindly in his vague quest for peace of mind and for clinking to her work… She answers “we’re all upset. I can’t just run away from my work here. This job is too important to me”. She’s willing to help him “figure things out” but he tells her he just needs “time”. She agrees “okay, time’s good, I can give you time” but demands “one thing” from him: “don’t ignore my phone calls” to which he agrees is only “fair”. All in all, they’ve not solved anything but she accepted his need for solitude and he acknowledged her worry. They’ve proved to the other that their relationship still mattered.

Like commenter Rose remarked some time ago, Jane is prone to give into his flying reflex every time the daily life he’s crafted is threatened. He’s spent so much time fleeing from emotionally difficult situations that he needs to learn how to properly deal with them, because every new one brings back this grief and loneliness he’s been avoiding for more than a decade. As a result, moving on from his demons means that he has to finish his mourning process first: following the five stage of grief, he’s gone through denial and isolation when he was under the care of Sophie Miller; anger was his motivation for entering the CBI and finding RJ and he started a form of bargaining when he started facing his past as a psychic or when he imagined Charlotte forgiving him and urging him to build a new life. He’s still going through it when he made his deal with the FBI and when he started dating Lisbon: if he doesn’t make the same mistakes, Lisbon will be safe and everything will be fine… Now, he’s going through a bout of depression because everything is bound to come to an end at some time and he knows he can’t avoid it: he’s slowly learning to accept the mortality of his world, and acceptance means he’s ready to deal with it and to seek happiness even if that means he’ll lose it one day. In the meanwhile, he’s still running away from his own emotions, telling Abbott that he’s “not back, just stopping by”… Yet, Dennis knows him well enough to catch his interest: he knows that meeting Gabriel, who’s basically a younger version of his previous self will be an intellectual challenge worthy of distracting him from his impasse.

When meeting Gabriel, Jane sees him as mentally stimulating: right away, the psychic is able to say he’s not a FBI agent, because he’s “not stupid” and he’s able to tell because of the way Jane dresses, his posture, the way he cuts his hair, “any number of things”. Jane, as “a student of the form” just wants to shake his hand, which draws an interesting parallel with McAllister: he’s studying the psychic as a possible criminal like RJ used to do with him. Soon, it becomes a subdued battle of wills, with Jane telling him “I don’t think you’re a fraud. You are a fraud” and asking him to make a “prediction” and Gabriel retorting “there’s a thing inside you, it’s eating you. A thing that’s lingered in your mind for many years.” Jane ironically answers “that’s called the human condition.” Gabriel retorts that his “cure will come with the number three”, echoing the number of unanswered phone calls it took to Lisbon to start really worrying for his safety. Jane is not really fazed and he tells Abbott that the young man is “obviously not a real psychic, but he knows what he’s doing. He’s very smart very controlled… Either that or he’s an insane killer. I’d keep an eye on him”. His reaction is therefore interesting, because in the past, he’s always been angered by fake psychics who reminded him of his past self and his greedy manipulations. Plus, like Kristina Frye, Gabriel’s act is pretty convincing, much more than Ellis Mars had been. Now, Jane is much calmer and more intrigued than really irritated: he didn’t even utter his old mantra “there’s no such thing as real psychics”.
Meanwhile, the remaining members of the team also look for a way to deal with the sense of loss: Abbott talks to Cho about the fact that he came a little strong on one of their suspects and advices him to talk to someone, because it helps him. Cho refuses therapy, but is thankful for the talk and Abbott’s understanding nature. On the other hand, Wylie asks Cho if he can come with him to investigate: he knows they’re shorthanded and he wants to be useful. After he accepts, Wylie looks around but there’s nobody to be happy for him: Vega is still missed…

VIS#3: Jane at the bar

At night, Jane is still busy avoiding reality in a bar: he’s playing pinball, like he was playing Foosball in ‘The White of His Eyes’ with Lisbon. When the bartender tells him she’s kicking him out, he protests that he has a free game here which she nicely accepts to let him play. He tries to guess her name “Angela? Amy?”, because “a person with the initials A.P.J. has all the high scores on that machine over there.” It’s not a coincidence that the first name on his mind is his late wife’s, since mourning is at the heart of his predicament: he wouldn’t be as terrified of losing Lisbon if he accepted what had happened to Angela in the first place… Without really coming onto him, the woman’s attitude is nice and warm enough to pass for a tiny bit flirty and it distracts him from Lisbon’s call: in that aspect –and even if nothing will come out of this short meeting- the moment reminds a bit of the introduction of Lorelei’s character in ‘The Crimson Hat’. Plus, Jane wins “three free games” which makes him think of Gabriel: “he thinks he’s gonna impress me with a three”, explaining “well, three’s meaningful to you” “because three is meaningful to everyone. I say three and you’re impressed because you have three kids”. Interestingly, three must be meaningful for him too, because it was the number of members in his family: he, Angela and their daughter… The woman is in awe and, noticing that he’s drunk quite a bit, offers him to “sleep it off on the couch in the back. Keys will be there in the morning, coffee and aspirin too.” Jane refuses that “very generous offer” and tells her he needs to clear his head. He also denies being a psychic: “that is the one thing I am very sure I am not”. He ends up looking at the moon outside, in the nature, in contrast with the city lights in the next shot which only makes his self-imposed loneliness clear.

The next day, he awakens in what looks like a field of dry hay because a dog comes to him. It’s a Dalmatian dog, whose black and white skin enlightens the duality theme running through the series. Plus, spending the night in nature was something Jane did with Lorelei too: they slept on a deserted beach when he broke her out of jail in ‘Red Sails in The Sunset’.

Later again, his wanderings with his new friend bring him in the middle of nowhere: he’s standing in front of a pond. There’s an abandoned wooden cabin on the other side and a sign tells that the land is for sale. Some wild birds fish in the pond when Jane is called by Abbott. This peaceful and a bit surreal moment tie together two important themes –maybe for the last time: those birds and the water echo Jane’s long standing obsession and his willingness to overcome it.

Plus, commenter Rose noticed that this scene reminded of how Jesus was tested in the wilderness in the Bible (Matthew 4:1-11). He had been led by the Spirit into wilderness to be tempted and tested by the devil. After fasting forty days, the devil told him to turn some stones to bread, since he was the Son of God. Jesus refused for “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. Then the devil tempted him to hump from a pinnacle in the holy city: if he was the Son of God, he was to thrown himself down and to order the angels to break his fall by lifting him with their hands. Jesus declined again because “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test”. The third temptation came when the devil took him to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, promising to give them to him if he bowed down and worshipped him. Jesus answered: “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’”, which ended the test of his free will.

In a way, Jane’s steps follow the three questions imposed to Jesus: the test of hunger was alluded to by the free games he won at pinball. It was an opportunity to stay longer out of the reality, but he finally refused them. Then he could have relied on a woman, whom he called “Angela” as an echo to God’s angels, to feel better: there was no mention of turning to her arms to find solace like he did to Lorelei, but accepting her help would have only prolonged his separation to Lisbon, who’s the woman he usually trusts to protect him: in a way, by sleeping on another woman’s couch, it was his loyalty to Lisbon that was tested… Then, the third step is taken when he sees the land for sell, like the kingdoms of the world: he could buy it as the promised land of his Exodus and make his loneliness permanent… Yet he answers Abbott call, tells him he’s ready to come back, even though he has no idea where he is. In that line of reasoning, Gabriel is right and three was the lucky number that brought him his cure under the form of a religious-like test in the wilderness… though on the other hand, that cabin might very well have reminded him of his plans for the failed weekend with Lisbon, since he wanted to go to a rustic cabin with her. His reason for wanting to come back then would have been that seeing himself reach a place like this alone made him realize how much he really missed her, when he had no real necessity to be apart.

Interestingly, this moment in the story of Jesus is also mentioned in William Blake’s poetry. In ‘The Everlasting Gospel’, he asks for instance
[…] Was Jesus gentle, or did He
Give any marks of gentility?
When twelve years old He ran away,
And left His parents in dismay.
When after three days’ sorrow found,
Loud as Sinai’s trumpet-sound:
‘No earthly parents I confess—
My Heavenly Father’s business!
Ye understand not what I say,
And, angry, force Me to obey.
Obedience is a duty then,
And favour gains with God and men.’
John from the wilderness loud cried;
Satan gloried in his pride. […]

The number three is repeated at every step taken by Jesus as the number of days he ran from his parents. This glorified Jesus is a prideful one who doesn’t embodies what Blake believes in: “I am sure this Jesus will not do,/ Either for Englishman or Jew”. This “False Christ” finds an echo here in Gabriel’s character, who admits he’s “not stupid” and even though he pretends to be shy, seeks attention.

VIS#4: Gabriel and Michelle

Indeed, while Jane is finding his way in the wilderness, Cho and Wylie keep watch over Gabriel’s house. Wylie is surprised by the lack of action in the field and grabs Cho’s book, asking if it’s “any good”. Cho answers “it’s Dostoevsky”. It’s probably no coincidence that this classic writer studied human reactions when facing crime (‘Crime and Punishment’): the figure of Christ and religion and the question of free will are dominant in his work (like in ‘The Brothers Karamazov’), just like this episode is suffused with them. As a matter of fact, as commenter Kilgore Trout remarked about the previous episode on the poem ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ and the concept of Felix Culpa: “while humankind knew perfection in Eden, it was through the Fall that it realized far more in terms of life experience and meaning. Without the knowledge of good and evil man essentially had no choice, no free will”. The mention of Dostoevsky stresses this out for Jane: having known full happiness and having lost it to RJ, he’s come to a better understanding of his “human nature” like he said to Gabriel. Coming to term with his grief will bring him a better acceptance of the limitations of his condition and how to live to the fullest while he still can.

Religion is also at the heart of Gabriel’s character: he’s presented as a Fake Christ who is called like an angel. Gabriel’s the archangel in charge of delivering the word of God: he was the one who foretold the births of John the Baptist and of Jesus to Mary, whereas Michelle alluded to the archangel who fought evil. In a way, the season thus opened with a lost Mary who awakened Jane’s fears for Lisbon’s safety in ‘The Graybar Hotel’, while his Christ-like healing was prophesized by Gabriel.

The young man’s own Christ-like presence is stressed by his actions: he’s been introduced by his devoted sister who followed him like Jesus’ companions and his mother Mary; when talking to his neighbor, he’s simply sitting on the porch of the house in a humble attitude. The woman comes to him for love advice because she trusts his judgment; in a way, she’s his Mary Magdalene: “it’s crazy, I know. But I used to date this guy and Gabriel told me he was married and he had never met him. He just knew. I don’t believe in psychics but I believe in Gabriel.”

Having sensed that Wylie misses Michelle and is coming in the field because he’s tired of being back in the office when he could be useful, Gabriel talks to him alone: while seemingly having a seizure, he delivers words that are supposed to come from Wylie’s dead loved one in a true psychic way: “she says she’s okay, she says she’s okay”, “the pain is all gone, okay?” “you shouldn’t be sad anymore”. The touching of his abdomen in the place where Michelle was shot sells the trick to Wylie who asks “are you talking about Michelle?” Gabriel then adds that he sees “red clay. It’s white bones and they’re wrapped in red clay”. The red clay echoes again ‘The Everlasting Gospel’ by Blake, where the clay is associated with the Devil:

Then was perfected His galling pride.
In three nights He devour’d His prey,
And still He devours the body of clay;
For dust and clay is the Serpent’s meat,
Which never was made for Man to eat.

At Jason’s insistence, Lisbon accepts to search an era “known for its red-clay deposits” even though she insists that “Gabriel’s not a real psychic”. When she asks him what Gabriel said to make him believe his vision, she comments “Vega’s death was on the news. It’s no secret”, “he’s not a real psychic”, but Wylie is unconvinced “you can’t know that. I mean you can’t know that for sure”. He just wants to believe that Michelle is okay “wherever she is”. Lisbon going on a “wild goose chase” therefore matches Jane’s own quest in nature inhabited by wild birds: she’s giving her friend “a shot in the dark” and, as Abbott comments upon calling Jane, they’re “running a ghost ship right now”, whereas the consultant has no idea where he is, even though he is “trying to be more findable these days” at his lover’s request. The parallel between the two ends of the situation is enlightened by the presence of dogs: there’s a Dalmatian with Jane, representing the friendly side of the animal, while there’s a German Shepherd searching for human remains with Lisbon. Dogs are also sometimes seen as the guardian of the underworld: Cerberus guarded the gate of the Greek underworld, while the Egyptian god Anubis was the dog-like jackal-headed guide who helped the souls of the departed, for instance. As watchdogs of the underworld, the two canine companions of the characters are thus linked to finding a way to deal with the death of a loved one: it works for Wylie and for Jane and the Shepherd also uncovers the buried bodies of five more victims with removed fingernails; the murderer who is now classified as a “serial killer” and there are now seven victims, which is a nod to the last season of the show.
Jane arrives upon that frightening discovery and tells her that he’s back: “it means that I’m figuring stuff out”. He adds “it’s good to see you” which she repeats: it’s an allusion to the talk in the church in ‘The Crimson Hat’, since he greeted her with a simple “good to see you” after scaring her with a practical joke. Now, his first words are an apology: “I know I missed your call, I didn’t mean to”. In a way, he’s came back to her near open graves, like he told her goodbye in a cemetery: things are coming full circle.

VIS#5: talking on TV

Realizing that Gabriel’s lead was not pure intuition and that he knows something, they bring him into headquarters for being interrogated. He remarks immediately that Jane has changed: “there’s something different about you from the last time we talked. You look lighter, less conflicted. Number three: you saw it and found an answer, huh?”

Jane’s change of attitude towards psychics is even more palpable here: he doesn’t get sarcastic or biting like he used to. He doesn’t either try to manipulate the young man; instead, he lets him know that he understands how he works: “the number three is incredibly common, Gabriel. We see it everywhere. Red clay, a little rarer…” When the young man retorts “I didn’t want to be right”, trying to pass his skills as a cursed gift, Jane tells him “of course you did” and adds mockingly “yeah, visions are a real drag, I know how you feel.” He finally reveals “you know, I used to be you, Gabriel” in a calm, dispassionate voice that doesn’t betray anymore any struggle with his conscience. He then proceeds to cold-read the other man, who’s so surprised he reacts like his marks (“who told you all that? My sister?”). When he feels cornered by Jane who can understand his “little tricks”, he blurts out his trump card: “I had another vision you should know about: I saw that the killer is going to kill again, tonight. And if you won’t listen to me, I’ll tell everyone, okay, I have to warn people”. Jane’s reply is that he can’t leave, because he’s still studying him out: “I came in here to figure out if you are just a fraud or if you are a monster”… When Jane gets out of the room though, his words to Abbott are a little more ambiguous: “he’s not a fraud”, but he’s not really psychic either”… So Abbott asks him “what is he?”, Jane admits “I don’t know. We have to keep him here”.

There are two possibilities. Firstly, Gabriel might be so wrapped up in his psychic act that he’s convinced he’s the real thing, which will place him in that ambiguous category reserved for Kristina Frye, whose tricks Jane wasn’t able to explain and who was so confident that RJ could convince her that she was dead and could only be reached through a psychic session. Or he’s an accomplice or acquaintance of the killer, one way or another and he’s using his inside knowledge to stop the other while earning fame for himself.
Problem is, they have nothing to keep him here. They’re forced to release him and the young man is true to his word. He offers to the awaiting cameras a little speech: “I had a vision that helped them find five bodies today. They don’t have any suspects. FBI thinks it was me; they want to frame me, they want to hide the truth. There’s a serial killer out there: he’s a man with an evil heart and an appetite to kill. He’s not done killing. He won’t stop and he can’t stop, he’s gonna kill again.” Gabriel is doing the same thing that Jane did in the pilot: he’s tipping his hand to the killer and taunting him under the guise of warning people. Like Kristina before, he doesn’t seem to realize that what he does is dangerous because he’s stepped in the spotlight. The killer may now come after him and his loved ones: Jane was right, Gabriel was so eager to impress his audience that he acted just like Jane did when he was younger and less experienced.

Somehow, this scene was foretold by Jane talking to the reporter during the hostage situation in the previous episode. Only then, the name of the journalist “Elisabeth” was reminiscent of the Old Testament, while now it’s the New Testament that is referenced because Jane has progressed beyond his yearning for running away in his Exodus-like quest for emotional and physical security.

VIS#6: the ending

As a consequence after his little outburst in front of the reporters, Cho and Wylie are again on stake-out duty in front of Gabriel’s house. Suddenly, a movement in the shadows attracts Cho’s attention; it’s the neighbor who was running because she was scared. She explains: “Gabriel was on the news and said there was a serial killer on the loose and then I saw you lurking”. This remark is doubly intriguing: the woman was afraid, because she implicitly assumed that Gabriel was in danger after his interview, something the so-called psychic apparently failed to predict… Plus, her presence served as a distraction to separate the two agents since Cho running after her made Wylie more vulnerable again, this time to an attack. Thus, the neighbor, on purpose or not, gave an opportunity to act to the serial killer… Could she be the inside source that Gabriel used for his predictions? Did he get the clue about bones and clay from his talk with her? Could the serial killer be one of the men she was or had been dating and had Gabriel understood what was really going on with him?

Either way, the killer takes that opportunity and hits Wylie: in the house, they later find the sister killed (like Jane’s family) and Gabriel is missing (like Kristina Frye), which makes them suspect that the attacker might be him. Again, he’s either a fraud who’s fallen victim of his own tricks, or a monster…

The attack made Wylie doubt his abilities in the field: he’s still comparing himself to Vega and his assault probably reminded him of the dangers inherent to the job that cost his coworker her life. He tells Cho “I don’t think I’m cut out for the field”. Cho dismisses his worries: “you’re gonna get banged up every one in a while”, asking “you want to go back to the office and answer phones?” The idea of staying behind in a deserted bullpen makes Wylie think again: “I want to stay”. Obviously, he prefers danger to loneliness –just like Jane chooses in the end. When Cho tells him to go inside the house to meet up with Jane, the consultant hypnotizes him into remembering who attacked him. The lack of details contrasts with Jane’s very detailed description of his attacker in ‘Little Yellow House’: the roles are reversed now that Wylie takes a more active part in the investigation. The hypnosis scene is pure classic Jane trick and he’s able to make the young agent focus on an impression: “a faint scent”. Like he mentioned once before, scents are great vectors of memory and the clue reminds of how Jane was able to identify the killer in ‘Redwood’. Indeed, the scent reminded Wylie of his “Uncle’s fishing shed”, even though there was no actual fish involved: it’s not a coincidence that the fishing detail matches one of the biggest themes of the series too… Jason is finally able to pinpoint the exact scent: “beer, it smells like old, spilled beer” which leads them to an abandoned brewery “only a mile from where the bodies were found”.

There, in a silent scene, they find the body of a butchered Gabriel hanging by his wrists from the ceiling. The word “fake” is carved on his forearm; it is reminiscent of the smiley written in letters of blood and of the letter on the door addressing the “dirty money-grubbing fraud” that RJ left behind in Jane’s bedroom. The “fake” comment is both a comment on Gabriel’s visions and an implicit jab given that, even though he was right, he wasn’t able to foretell that he’d be the actual victim this time. It therefore further echoes RJ’s words: “if you were a real psychic instead of a dishonest little worm, you wouldn’t need to open the door to see what I’ve done to your lovely wife and child”. The atmosphere of the gory crime scene also matches the one surrounding the abandoned corpses left in warehouses by RJ (Panzer’s body in ‘Blinking Red Light’, even more given that the man committed the same error than Gabriel and taunted a serial killer on TV and Lorelei in ‘There Will Be Blood’), as well as the theatrical display of the morgue attendant’s corpse in Rosalind’s house in ‘Always Bet on Red’. Interestingly, Gabriel’s cadaver has again a Christ-like vibe to it, especially with the cuts on his body and the bloodied naked foot: it might mean that the mysterious killer took his toenail to add to his collection, but it also reminds of the colonel’s wife, whose bloodied beige shoe was the focal point of the violent murder in ‘The Silver Briefcase’… It might mean that things have come full circle in that perspective too: Jane has somehow gotten over his fear and he’s able to concentrate on investigating again.

Conclusion

After living again relieving his most traumatic experience and most feared scenario through the eyes of a younger version of him, Jane’s finally able to gain some distance… He realized that he’s more experienced, he’s not prey of not the same prideful attitude or the same mistakes that plagued his past: he’s changed… This is showed in the choice of the title of this episode: “Byzantium” is a dark purple that doesn’t appear in the show; instead, it’s an allusion to Yeat’s poem ‘Sailing to Byzantium’.
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.
.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.
.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.
.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

This poem echoes Jane’s life experience: he left behind the dying generations who were focused on love (Angela and Charlotte and more recently Vega who started dating Wylie) and the birds and fishes scattered through his quest (found in the cabin with the fishing wild birds on the pond). They represent the past he’s overcame, the brilliant glory he was yearning for in his younger years, in the “summer” of his life attuned to the “sensual music” of his earthly desires. Now, he’s one of the “old men” at the fall of his life: he knows he’s powerless to protect the people he loves (“An aged man is but a paltry thing,/ A tattered coat upon a stick”), but he’s also wiser. He’s learnt to observe the world and is a “student of the form” (“Nor is there singing school but studying/ Monuments of its own magnificence”): he observes and think, until he’s able to achieve a new, deeper level of gold, not the dawn whose gold couldn’t stay in the previous episode, but one which brings him a greater degree emotional fulfillment. Like the poet, Jane has therefore arrived at the conclusion of his spiritual journey –symbolized by his shoes before which now are alluded to by the missing shoe on Gabriel’s foot- that ties to the sea theme since he’s “sailing” towards an ideal happiness. In a second poem, simply called ‘Byzantium’ and written by Yeats a few years after ‘Sailing to Byzantium’, the results may be visible, even though the writing is more obscure: Jane along with the poet has managed a mystical union, the former with a new form of happiness at Lisbon’s side, the latter through appreciation of historical and eternal works of art. They’ve become a golden bird that has become immune to the deadly violence of the perishing world, in contrast with the peaceful marveling at spiritual beauty:
The unpurged images of day recede;
The Emperor’s drunken soldiery are abed;
Night resonance recedes, night walkers’ song
After great cathedral gong;
A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains
All that man is,
All mere complexities,
The fury and the mire of human veins.

Before me floats an image, man or shade,
Shade more than man, more image than a shade;
For Hades’ bobbin bound in mummy-cloth
May unwind the winding path;
A mouth that has no moisture and no breath
Breathless mouths may summon;
I hail the superhuman;
I call it death-in-life and life-in-death.

Miracle, bird or golden handiwork,
More miracle than bird or handiwork,
Planted on the star-lit golden bough,
Can like the cocks of Hades crow,
Or, by the moon embittered, scorn aloud
In glory of changeless metal
Common bird or petal
And all complexities of mire or blood.

At midnight on the Emperor’s pavement flit
Flames that no faggot feeds, nor steel has lit,
Nor storm disturbs, flames begotten of flame,
Where blood-begotten spirits come
And all complexities of fury leave,
Dying into a dance,
An agony of trance,
An agony of flame that cannot singe a sleeve.

Astraddle on the dolphin’s mire and blood,
Spirit after Spirit! The smithies break the flood.
The golden smithies of the Emperor!
Marbles of the dancing floor
Break bitter furies of complexity,
Those images that yet
Fresh images beget,
That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea.


Mentalist Nothing Gold Can Stay Review


Synopsis

While investigating the case of a brutal armored car robbery and generally getting on happily with their respective projects, the team is shaken by an unexpected event: Michelle Vega (Josie Loren) is killed by one of the criminals they were trying to arrest.

Concise Verdict

The ‘Bullet’ mentioned in the vague threats of the more recent episodes has finally found a target: Vega is the very first team member killed in the show and no need to say it makes this episode very emotional… Even more so since writer Alex Berger also signed her first scene at character development in ‘Green Light’ when she started stopping seeking her father’s shadow behind rules and approval… After tragedy stoke, bonds are strained and boundaries change: all in all, ‘‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ presents a sinister echo to ‘Nothing But Blues Skies’: it’s a reset button for the team, with altered dynamics and Jane threatening to fly the now painful premises.

Detailed AKA Humungous Review (Spoilers galore)

The violence displayed on the robbery contrasts with Jane and Lisbon cheerfully discussing their plans for a romantic weekend. This jarring note hints at unsettling events right from the star. Interestingly, their plans are a consequence of their talk at the end of the previous episode: Lisbon told him to focus on “what’s going on right now” because what they had was “very, very good”. Jane is therefore trying to work their disagreement out spending some nice time alone, out of work. Unsurprisingly, his choice for a dreamy getaway is getting them isolated from the world in a “rustic, charming, very romantic” little cabin. As usual, Lisbon is not depicted as a nature-loving girl, so she immediately picks up on the description: “rustic as in no running water?”… This detail reminds of her prison girl talk with Marie in ‘The Greybar Hotel’: back then, she commented about the life the girl was sharing with her outlaw of a boyfriend that “wild is one thing, no shower is another”. More than some demand for comfort in the choice of their lovers’ nest, with “the kind of place that leaves a mint on the pillow”, it’s implicitly their whole relationship and the dangers inherent to it that are about to be called into question, even more since ‘The Greybar Hotel’ started Jane’s round of worries about his sweetheart’s safety…

When the consultant starts interrogating witnesses under Cho’s supervision, viewers get treated to a classic cheeky Jane moment … In a few sentences, Jane manages to rub the whole bunch of witnesses off by asking right away “which one of you was the accomplice to the robbery this morning” and reading their reactions… The moment features that impertinent side that he used to display in the CBI era. It also shows Cho’s announced new charge of leader since Abbott is planning to leave because the stoic agent funnily defends Jane’s way of doing things by remarking that it’s not outrageous “not really, not yet” . On the other hand, Jane’s rapid and callous solving of the point is quite reminiscent of the case he cracked in record time at the beginning of ‘Blue Bird’, that is when he was about to lose Lisbon because she was walking out his life, which is quite telling of fears and foreshadowing of future events…

The second layer of subtext in that moment is Jane’s speech regarding guilt: he tells his marks that guilt is “physical, increased perspiration, racing heart”. Guilt has been his trademark emotion for years and is probably part of his current issue with Lisbon since he’s worried that she’ll get hurt like Angela and Charlotte were. Maybe he’s even terrified that one of his plans might be responsible for it because he’s the brain behind the team, just like his conman acted caused his family’s death… that much is hinted at when notes that “when I just shook your hands, most of you were relatively calm”, given that hands have been linked to guilt during his quest for revenge (Lady Macbeth, the handshake clue to RJ’s identity). One way of another, the menace he’s been afraid of is getting closer…

Meanwhile, the continuity with the happy party at the ending of ‘Copper Bullet’ is guaranteed by many changes, such as Abbott being content to let Cho direct the investigation because he’ll be in charge soon enough and Wylie finally gathering the courage to ask Michelle out. And she accepts, which shows how she has warmed up to the idea of getting closer after asking him to dance. A detail also brings attention to the connection with the previous events: Abbott is told that Jane “just said he was running an errand”. It was the same excuse Vega used for leaving the bullpen when she started tailing Peterson after convincing Cho to let her in the plan. It indicated that the focus is on her and her assumed choice to be a part of the team.

Wylie

The young agent’s interaction with Michelle leads him to go to Abbott for advice. Dennis is a sound expert on love matters since he’s been happily married to his college sweetheart for 17 years old. Although Jason might not be aware of it, he was also Jane’s official Cupid into earning Lisbon’s favors… He willingly takes the same part for Wylie and states right away that he knows the young man asked her out: his explanation for this knowledge is an amused “this isn’t my first rodeo”. This line hints again at cowboys and, through them, at the danger idea brought by the allusions to Western movies in the previous episodes… Same with Wylie’s comment that he doesn’t really know what kind of restaurant he should choose, arguing “I don’t want to tip my hand”: this reference to poker is a nod to the game metaphor from the RJ era and a way to convey an unsettling impression in the middle that joyful occasion… However, Dennis advice echoes Lisbon’s consideration for details and mints on pillows: “keep it casual. Not a hole in a wall, you know? Tablecloths, not necessarily white…” Is it reading too much into that line to see it as a subtle reminder of Lisbon’s description of her date with Pike in ‘Silver Wings of Time” with “cloth napkins and everything” after Jane asked her if his rival was taking her someplace nice? If that’s the case, it’s a clever way to foreshadow how this first date with Michelle is doomed from the start… The talk anyway ends up with Abbott reassuring the hopeful young man: “she already said yes, that was the hard part. Just try to have fun”.

Cho

Cho too has a meaningful moment in relation with Vega: without being as personal as Wylie’s progress with the brunette, his talk with her in the car shows how much their relation has been veering towards genuine friendship. Indeed, when Vega starts commenting about his new leadership position, she asks him “are you excited?” As he retorts that he doesn’t “really think about it that way”, she presses on “isn’t this something you’ve wanted your entire career?”, “so be excited about it”. Her gentle prodding turns to teasing when he tells her that the main change he’s going to make is “a new rule: rookie agents are seen and not heard”, which she brushes off (“good luck with that”). Cho turns his head to hide his half-smile from her: their wit makes them equals in a way. Since she faced him and his protectiveness of feeling “responsible” for her, she turned the tables and made their bond evolve from seeking him out for approbation and guidance to something more akin to a partnership. Plus, she’s happy for him and Cho likes her as a person obviously for he’s taken her under his wing and is amused by her eagerness.

Jane and Lisbon

Meanwhile, in the “fishbowl”, Jane meets Lisbon. He’s prepared a surprise to please her. As he offers her a gift box full of those mints she wanted, he tells her he made reservations for their weekend “at the Alhambra: resortish style place, room service, high-thread-count sheets… I think you’re gonna like it”. He wanted to indulge in her wish to have a high-end weekend –like he planned to at the ‘Blue Bird’- in order to spend time alone with her. He’s eager to make her happy, even though she’s aware that he would have preferred something more “rustic” (“yeah, I’ll find a tree”). His dismissal of his own desires is probably a way to make up with what he’d done to anger her in the first place: he’s willing to prove to her that she’s important and that, in spite of his fears and manipulations, he’s attuned to her needs… And one may wonder if both their insistence with bed-related details (“pillow” and “sheets”) is not a way to imply how they want to spend this time alone, given how little cuddling time those two get onscreen. Too bad this luxurious hotel as an ominous name in context: the original “Alhambra” is an ancient Moorish palace in Granada (Spain), whose name means “red house/castle”, tying it up with the red thread and threat from Jane’s history… Once again, danger, fear and the ghost of revenge are lurking.

The notion of partnership is also mentioned in that brief moment between the lovers: as Lisbon can follow Jane’s steps in cold-reading the criminals’ non-verbal clues in the video of the robbery, he acknowledges her “good eye” as a sign that her own set of skills is getting is par with his. She’s his equal. On the other hand, the gang is not as well equipped: both Jane and Lisbon manage to define a flaw in their team. The one in charge –the “Alpha”- doesn’t trust the new crew member whose “big gun stands out” during the violent assault… Plus the Alpha apparently works with his brother, who’s the third member of their organization: trust, bond and defiance are closely woven together in the dangerous trio. Plus, it’s probably only a meaningless detail but it’s still intriguing that Jane’s eye caught onto the fact that they were brothers because of a similar walk due to a lift on the left shoe –even more since it’s that clue that later tips Vega onto identifying the group. Indeed, Jane’s shoes are a long-standing symbol for his journey through tragedy and received special attention in ‘Blue Bird’: it might be a way to hint that his life is about to make a new leap in an unexpected direction as well as attracting viewers’ attention on the important theme of family…

VIS#1 The turning point: Vega is killed

Things take a sudden turn for the worst when Vega and Cho check a dinner in the hopes of spotting their men. Some red elements like walls and booths and the redhead waitress hint at the looming threat as well as the poster “eat, sleep, fish” behind their suspects alludes to the old fishing/sea theme mentioned in ‘Little Yellow House’. Indeed, the menace gets very pressing when the two agents recognize the three gang members and confront them: a violent gunfire ensues, very much like it would happen in a saloon in a Western movie. Interestingly, Vega recognizes the Alpha because of his shoe: in the movie ‘Rio Bravo’ (already referenced in the season), Wayne’s sheriff character and his deputy also plan to recognize their suspect because his boots are covered in mud when he managed to hide in the saloon. The two men enter separately, the sheriff from the back door while the deputy takes the main entrance (just like Vega stays in the dinning room while Cho pursues two of their suspects through the back storage room). The difference is that the deputy is able to spot and kill the hidden man who was planning to shoot at them from above… Vega isn’t not as lucky and when Cho comes back after the men had managed to escape, he finds her injured on the floor with the patrons gathered around her. He wasn’t here to protect here, which will probably weigh on his conscience later.

Cho takes her in his arms and presses her injury –which has probably pierced a lung- in an attempt to stop the bleeding. He tries to calm her by talking and ends up repeating endlessly the same lines like a distraught mantra “come here”, “keep breathing”, “I know”, “you’re okay”, “good”… he’s almost fatherly, using with her the same words one would with a frightened child, calling her “Michelle” to put emphasis on how personal the moment is. Vega doesn’t seem to fully realize her state as she first wants to take her phone to call for an ambulance, but she soon asks a heart-breaking question: “did I mess up?” Cho tells her “no, you did good, okay? You did good”. Her last words end up being “I did?” It shows to viewers the reason why she felt drawn to Cho in the first place: his stern but reassuring presence reminded her of her father; the “mess up” also reminds of their first contact when her recklessness and lies made him angry at her. Things are coming full circle in a poignant few words when she’s starting to lose consciousness in his embrace and his “you did good” line referring to the job morph into “you’re doing good” when he gets her to focus on staying with him (“just keep breathing for me”), then to “look at me” when he feels that she’s slipping away…

The outcome is shown at the hospital in a completely silent scene except for Blake Neely’s very slow tune: Lisbon is running in slow motion in the hallway (like she did in ‘Bloodstream’, when Cho was too appointed new team leader after she unknowingly insulted their new boss LaRoche), Jane close behind her. Abbott standing motionless in front of the door then Cho waiting for them already indicate that they have bad news: Michelle has passed away. Their expressions show their different way to deal with the tragedy: Lisbon’s face expresses shock and grief. Jane lowers his head, centered on his emotions, while a sad Abbott looks at Cho, who’s completely focused on Vega’s pale dead face.

Wylie’s tears

Wylie’s reaction is shown immediately afterwards: he’s sitting alone in the bullpen and doesn’t move or react when other agents walk by. He ten looks at her desk when the phone starts ringing: there’s on one to answer it anymore. The Austin homicide agent who’s now in charge of the investigation tells him “I’m very sorry for your loss” and later Lisbon hugs him, acknowledging that he’s most affected by the tragedy since he’d been creating personal ties with the young woman.

His grief stricken lack of activity contrasts with Abbott’s attitude in front on the man who wants to take the case from them: even though he’s polite and cooperative, Dennis outright tells him “but this case is ours and these men, they belong to us”. He’s even more eager to keep the case that he didn’t even get the chance to talk to Vega that day…

Cho’s guilt

As Cho is waiting to be interrogated, he’s displaying another emotion: the blood on his shirt and on his hands hint that he’s feeling guilty for not protecting the rookie. He’s already told her once that he felt responsible for her and he was moreover in charge of the case; his bloodied hands are thus reminiscent of Lady Macbeth’s guilty conscience, even though he’s not really at fault. Plus, his appearance is a distant echo to Lisbon’s own bloodied shirt after discovering that Bosco and his men were shot by a RJ minion in ‘His Red Right Hand’.

Just as Lisbon acknowledged Wylie’s pain as somewhat leading the mourning given that he’d been her love interest, Abbott refers to Kimball to know more about Vega’s family: he’s the one able to tell that the next-of-kin in her file, “an aunt in Tampa”, is her only living relative and that she’s her father’s sister. Cho even furthers take side as surrogate family by telling that he’ll call the woman: he considers it his responsibility. When alone on Abbott’s office, he starts crying when he sees her file on the screen. The image of him finally making the call in a composed voice, shot through the window and framed by two littler glass panels give even more solemnity to the moment.

Jane and Lisbon are falling apart

Vega’s demise has unexpected consequences on the other coworkers: Jane is drinking his tea alone in the kitchen instead of seeking comfort close to his sweetheart. When she comes into the room asking for coffee, he tells her they’re out of it, yet she refuses his offer to have a cup of tea… Before Jane had been seen many times preparing a mug of coffee for her, but now he’s again centered on the pain and fear plaguing his thoughts and he’s closing himself off.

On the other hand, Lisbon broaches immediately the subject on her mind: “you don’t believe in the afterlife at all, do you?” Given that the theme was an important part of Jane’s grief after losing his family, Lisbon’s question ties the current situation to his past tragedy. When he confirms that he does not, she pushes further “I do. Do you think that’s foolish?” Again, he denies and she explains “I just need to believe that she’s someplace”. She’s in need of comfort and the only form of soothing he can provide her is by touching her arm –not even hugging her like she did with Wylie… Both are in need of the other’s presence, but a certain distance is growing between them… which is why Jane stays in the kitchen drinking his tea and watches her go with Abbott as she’s called for the investigation. When he finally joins the remaining team members and the homicide detective in their talk about the criminals’ whereabouts, he tells them “maybe we should all just take a breath”, echoing Cho’s words to the dying Vega. He explains to the agents who are eager for action “when you’re hunting a wounded animal, you just don’t start chasing it immediately. You’ll drive it to the ground”. Two more old themes are alluded to in that conversation: the hunting theme –linked to revenge- and the theme of birds (the possibility to send helicopters is mentioned with the line “a couple of birds in the air”); the latter is altogether associated with the hunt, with RJ’s ultimate demise and Jane’s hope for a new life by Lisbon’s side (‘Blue Bird’).

VIS#2 Jane’s methods are questioned again: are they enough to keep everyone safe?

1) Jane’s plan

While Wylie had been listening to the operation, a female dark-haired agent with a ponytail can be seen behind him: it’s an allusion to the missing Vega, just like both Abbott and Cho sitting in cars with the seat at their side remaining empty is a nod to Cho and Vega’s last friendly conversation before the catastrophe. Her loss is at the heart of the operation, because the whole team is trying to avenge her.

Yet the level of grief only increases as the criminals are cornered, for they take a woman then a man hostages. Plus Tommy, the Alpha’s brother, is injured: the blood on his torso and his brother’s comforting words “okay, it’s gonna be okay” while taking his hand draw a parallel with Vega’s last moments.

Jane understands the situation and remarks that “they’re in there because he was trying to get medicine for his brother, that’s compassion”. Nevertheless, instead of demanding a trade for a hostage, Jane plans to manipulate their feelings. He wants to use the Ace’s desperation to save his brother against the new member’s eagerness for money: “we drive an edge between them. Divide to conquer”. In order to do so, he plants a listening device in the pizza that Cho delivers to the bad guys trapped in one of their hostage’s house.

2) Cho’s counteroffensive

Yet, while Jane is busy playing mastermind, Cho took this opportunity to take a look inside. He asks for a word in private with Abbott and tells him that he wants to take them out. He’s aware that Jane doesn’t really have a plan: “he’s improvising”. He states “Now, I’ve followed Jane down a lot of paths, but I’m not sure he’s right this time.”

Abbott correctly surmises that it’s “about payback for Vega” and Cho simply answers “maybe. What if it is?” The older man prudently decides to let “Jane’s plan play out for a little bit”, but orders Cho to “talk to SWAT, let them know we might go in.” He realizes that, as much as Cho is right about Jane and about the urgency of the situation, he’s also recklessly out for revenge, like he was in ‘Blood In, Blood Out’: when one of his friends is targeted, Cho lets free rein to his wild streak… He’s briefly following into Jane’s footsteps, like Rigsby had been with his father’s killer; only now Jane is not as eager to avenge their lost friend as he is to protect his beloved…

3) Jane talks with the TV reporter

Blissfully unaware that he’s being passed over by his friends, the consultant pulls all the stops to mess with the mind of the criminals. To mislead them, he’s willing to use the TV crew in front of the house, in the same way he used Karen Cross’ show in the CBI. He tells the woman that he’s a “well-placed source” and that they’re secretly negotiating with one of the hostage takers, a fake news she relays on air for the benefit of the distrusting Sellers, the dangerous new gang member who killed Vega. He doesn’t care about hurting the hostages or about his accomplice’s endangered life: Seller’s only in for the money and his own greed leads him to believe that Ace may have been making a deal and selling him out…

The names of the news reporters might also prove remarkable: it may be a coincidence, but the leading man is called “George”, as the Christian Saint who fought the dragon that represented Evil. It used to be Jane’s position, but now it’s Lisbon’s, since she wants to keep stopping bad guys (hence Jane marveling at one of her clever remarks on Peterson’s skimming in ‘Copper Bullet’ by saying “by George, I think she got it”). And the news lady’s called “Elizabeth”, who’s Aaron’s wife in the Bible. Her name is associated with “seven” in Hebrew, making it another nod to the last season, but more interestingly she’s part of the Exodus history. Indeed, Aaron was alluded to in ‘The Silver Briefcase’ for it was the colonel’s first name. As explained in the review for that episode, Aaron was Moses’ older brother and helped him to lead their people out of Egypt, but they had a disagreement over how to worship God (Exodus, 32, 1-5). This divergence was a symbol for the different positions held by Jane, who wants to quit and make his own ‘Exodus’ real, and Lisbon, who wants to stay in the FBI. The Exodus was also hinted at by another character’s name in ‘The White of His Eyes’, when Jane decided to take measures to force Lisbon into safety: one of the Bittakers was called Caleb. Caleb was in the Old Testament one of Moses’ men who first saw the Promised Land after he was sent to explore Canaan; he was also the one who praised it with Joshua (Numbers 14, 6-9). In a nutshell, the journalists’ names sum up both Jane’s and Lisbon’s respective opinion on the matter of quitting law enforcement…

Moreover, the whole setting with Jane using the reporters to curb the situation to his advantage is reminiscent of Lisbon doing the same thing in ‘Red Alert’ to force Bertram to give her control of the operation. Back there too, a hot-headed cop with guilt issues wanted to take the hostage taker out by shooting him… and shades of the not so bad guy’s personality can be glimpsed into the altercation between the two angered accomplices here as Jane succeeds in driving an edge between them: the violent one who takes his rage on the male hostage is in direct contrast with the other one who simply asks the excited female captive to “sit down”…

4) Jane’s suicidal initiative

As things progress, the similarities with ‘Red Alert’ get more obvious. Indeed, Jane quickly realizes that he’s losing control of thesituation. Even when he pleads that he only needs a little more time, Abbott answers him “I’m sorry, Jane, I’ve tried”… Problem is that Jane wanted to avoid Lisbon getting into the dangerous house… So, when his smarts aren’t enough to keep her out of trouble, he resorts to more direct methods, telling her “don’t go with them” and taking her by the arm before adding “you don’t have to”. Lisbon disagrees but her usual reassurances don’t work on him: he knows that she can’t foretell if anyone will be hurt and Vega’s fate is too fresh in his mind for him to react rationally… Out of anger and fear, he takes a spur-of-the-moment decision as soon as she leaves at Cho’s order: he walks himself straight to the house, ignoring the others’ call to stop. If he can’t convince her to stay put, he’d force her to by taking the risks instead of her… Since he doesn’t have much time for finessing this out, he goes straight to the point with the surprised Ace when the man opens the door: he can help him and his brother, but he has to release a hostage first. His determining argument is “I am FBI, take me instead”, given that he’s “more valuable, better leverage”… he goes as far as pleading to the man to take him in: “come on, it’s a good deal”. Like in ‘Red Alert’, the criminal is not entirely cold-blooded and accepts to release the male hostage instead of keeping the three of them: he knows he doesn’t have much time because someone inside is bleeding to death, like it was back then. Again, the moment echoes a bit the movie ‘Rio Bravo’ ending with the criminal gang being out powered during a trading of hostages…

Outside, Lisbon tries to pacify the other infuriated cops: “I am just as angry as you are, but he’s just going in there, let him have some time”. She understands Jane’s plan and wants to avoid getting him in further danger in a potential gunfight. She explains that he’s trying to drive an edge between these two guys, giving him a vote of confidence (“if anybody can do that, it’s Jane”).

Jane’s improvised plan is to do the reverse of what he did to calm the panicky hostage in ‘Red Alert’: he’s driving the bad guys into a corner by causing their only remaining civil captive to have a panic attack. By messing with their mind, he manages to convince the men to free her in order to avoid the cops -who are listening on them- to barge in to save her from a supposed diabetic coma… While Ace is leading her outside, Jane manipulates the other by talking about how much money they took, causing his two marks to get into a violent argument. In the end, in the two criminals are killed another silent scene, except for the sound of the bullets: Ace is taken out by his ruthless accomplice, while the latter is shot by Cho. Ironically, the only one who makes it out of it alive is the injured brother, unlike Vega.

VIS#3 The funeral: saying goodbye

One last silent scene takes place in the cemetery when the team along with a number of other law enforcers gives Vega the last tributes: the music is drowning out the words. The official and well-attended funeral contrasts with the deserted graveyard in the opening of ‘Copper Bullet’ in the same way that this sad ending is in direct opposition with the joyous gathering to celebrate their victory.

Abbott and Cho are carrying the coffin as the higher ranked people in the team, whereas Jane’s walking alone, Lisbon preferring to stay by Wylie’s side… The distance between them fades a little as they’re sitting as a group to listen to the priest and when each of them –except Jane, at least onscreen- shovels some dirt onto the coffin as Michelle’s professional family. Abbott is comforting Wylie when they leave, Cho walking alone nearby.

Lisbon finds her lover crouched near a tree and she tells him that she’d like to postpone their plans for the weekend because “it just doesn’t feel right”. She’s aware that “places like this must be hard for” him, given the loss of his whole family, but she’s still taken aback when Jane tells her “I can’t do this anymore”. He pours his heart out, helped by the emotion from burying their friend: “I can’t watch you do this work. I mean it, it could have been you in that coffin. I don’t, I can’t go through that again”. Lisbon is right: the funeral has awakened painful memories for Jane, but what she didn’t expect is that he would take out his fear on their relationship. Even more since she’s probably still smarting from his latest stunt after all: “Jane, you were the one who walked in that house”. He was the one who was more in danger to catch a bullet than her. But Jane’s peculiar logic comes into play: “yes, so that you wouldn’t”. The difference is that in Jane’s mind, his life is not worth much: “me dying, it’s, it doesn’t hurt me”, a self-deprecating point of view illustrated many times by the risks he was willing to take to kill his nemesis –and by the temptation of suicide lurking after the deed was done… Lisbon tries to state reasonably “you can’t keep pulling me from the path of oncoming trains”, “because there’s always new train coming every day”… Jane’s solution is more drastic than simply accepting the dangers inherent to her job –and to life itself-: “I’m leaving. You can come with me or stay here, but I have to go”. He’s taking himself out of the situation before getting even more hurt, since he cannot bend her to his will… As she asks him where he’s going, he simply answers “someplace nice” before kissing her on the cheek. Lisbon keeps watching him go with tears on her eyes… Each of their most deep-seated fears has become real: Jane lost her to danger (since she didn’t follow him), which was his main motive for not confessing his feelings in the previous season, and Lisbon couldn’t keep him from leaving her, the very reason why she didn’t want to get close to him before he made his love clear. Yet neither wants to understand the other’s point of view… They’re both centered on not losing the other and are blinded by that.

Conclusion: a ray of hope in the darkness

Two texts are referred to during that episode. The first one is quoted in the title; it’s a poem written by Robert Frost in 1923:

“Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”

In that poem, nature (with the metaphor of the Fall), and religion (the lost Eden) are combined to draw an history of humankind doomed to suffer and fail since everything is only ephemeral: “nothing gold can stay” means that every ounce of beauty and happiness is condemned from the start to end. It reflects both Vega’s demise when she was starting to become a valuable part of the team (hence the falling leaves when they were carrying her coffin) as well as Jane’s fears concerning Lisbon’s possible death which keep him from focusing on what they have right now. That piece of poetry is reminiscent of Blake’s ‘Tyger, Tyger’, given that the divine creation brings in itself its own demise, just like for Blake good and evil were tied together as a guarantee of balance: in their own different ways, both poets build a picture of the world defined by religion, in a rather dark perspective since the all things good are bound to have drastic limitations. There’s nothing absolute.

Eden for Jane is thus no longer that past he shared with his family and which met an end because of his own original sin: it’s the new life he managed to craft for himself, with his new team and Lisbon’s love. This life full of hope was crystallized in ‘Blue Bird’ and ‘Nothing But Blue Skies’, but in Jane’s mind it is somehow destined to end in death and violence too… Vega’s fate only confirmed this fear: time ineluctably takes people from him and it gets even faster in their line of job. On the other hand, it’s interesting that Death chose the rookie as its victim, since her name is telling: Michelle is the French feminine for Michel/Michael, the name used for Kirkland’s twin for it referred to the Archangel who fought Satan in the Book of Revelation. Yet, it may be another of the angel’s role that’s called into action here, since Michael is also the one in charge of saving innocent souls from the Devil and carrying them to heaven. This, associated with the fact that “Vega” is actually a star, makes for a positive symbol: Michelle is linked to the sky and to heaven (hence maybe her cheeky remark to Cho in the car “we’re wearing jetpacks”). The poem is also related to the religious concept of felix culpa (from Saint Augustine’s texts and in the “Exultet” in Catholic Easter liturgy): it’s the original fault that convinced God to send the Messiah on Earth, so paradoxically that sin is somewhat blessed. Meaning that something good can come of an unfortunate event. The notion of felix culpa is also linked to the Exodus: without exile, there would be no promised land after all… Even more since “gold” for Jane has not so happy connotations of leaving Lisbon on a cliff at sunset and of clinking to his wedding band… Maybe once the conflicting emotions have settled down he would be ready for a more permanent emotional commitment instead of living in fear and regret.

The other meaningful text is the song playing at the funeral, “Letters From The Sky”, by Civil Twilight:

“One of these days the sky’s gonna break
And everything will escape and I’ll know
One of these days the mountains
Are gonna fall into the sea and they’ll know

That you and I were made for this
I was made to taste your kiss
We were made to never fall away
Never fall away

One of these days letters are gonna fall
From the sky telling us all to go free
But until that day I’ll find a way
To let everybody know that you’re coming back
You’re coming back for me

‘Cause even though you left me here
I have nothing left to fear
These are only walls that hold me here
Hold me here, hold me here, hold me here
Only walls that hold me here

One day soon I’ll hold you like the sun holds the moon
And we will hear those planes overhead
And we won’t have to be scared
‘Cause we won’t have to be scared
We won’t have to be, yeah, scared, no

You’re coming back for me”

The idea of Eden and happiness coming to an end (“One of these days the sky’s gonna break/And everything will escape”) is associated with departure and return: Vega’s, in Lisbon’s conception of a rewarding afterlife, or Jane’s, given that he probably took the decision to leave during the funeral. The lyrics therefore tell viewers that he’ll come back to her (“I’ll find a way/To let everybody know that you’re coming back/ You’re coming back for me”) and that he’ll have no more reason to be afraid of losing her, nor Lisbon of him leaving her (“we won’t have to be scared”). The song foreshadows Jane’s heart-wrenching decision to go away, while also hinting that it won’t last. Interestingly, his leaving out of fear was also hinted by the location of Vega’s demise since she was shot at the “Tastee Pancake House”. Pancakes were the food Pike used to seduce Lisbon into going on a date with him: back then too, Jane had been on the verge of losing her because he couldn’t face his fears, until he found the courage to accept the risk of living fully again.


Mentalist Copper Bullet Review


Synopsis

Bill Peterson (Dylan Baker), Abbott’s former boss turned nasty nemesis, digs up some evidence that Abbott committed a murder years ago. Jane decides to take the matter into his own hands and with help from the team, elaborates a layered scheme in order to save his friend.

Concise Verdict

After Jane’s manipulation in ‘The White of His Eye’, writer Tom Donaghy chose to deliver another nostalgic glimpse into Jane’s old character, who always stays one step ahead with secret drawer type of plans. At the same time, questions are still raised about lies and trust –on many levels- and the moral perspective is interesting: the murder case this time involves Abbot’s old crime (the corpse being represented by the desiccated skeleton in the coffin) and it’s already solved. Yet the real crime the investigation focuses on is Peterson’s theft of drug money for years. This implied double standard parallels Jane’s actions in the closed RJ case, and coupled with the team moments, it makes this episode a pretty intriguing one.

Detailed AKA Humungous Review (Spoilers Galore)

VIS#1: the opening

Right from the start, the episode deals with couple troubles treated in parallel, as both Abbott and Jane tried to protect their beloved from danger.

Indeed, in the deserted Rio Bravo cemetery, Bill Peterson is true to his word to make Abbott pay for not obeying his blackmail in ‘Green Light’ and he’s looking for evidence to convict his former protégé… To obtain it, he’s eager to dig Abbott’s past up along with his victim’s decayed body. He’s planning to search the skull for the bullet that would incriminate him, even going as far as check if the item is in there with his own hand before the tech moves in to remove it… This ‘Copper Bullet’ continues the notion of Western movies and battles (along with later Wylie comparing the man’s house security with Fort Knox and the team wanting to leave Vega behind to “hold the fort out here”) that hint that a violent dangerous confrontation is still to be expected sometimes in the future. Moreover, Lisbon’s been grazed by a bullet too in the previous episode which caused Jane to panic in the shot-related ‘The White of His Eyes’… And the metal mentioned in the title reminds of ‘The Silver Briefcase’, an episode that also showed the team investigating a case outside of the normal regulations to catch a criminal hiding among law enforcement members… From silver to copper, the metal shade is slowly turning to that golden color reminiscent of heartbreaking sunsets on cliffs or on paradisiacal beaches like Jane dreams of and of course of his forlorn wedding ring.

This scene at the desolated cemetery contrasts with the next one, in the city at night… Lisbon and Jane are eating ice cream and talking about the events in ‘The White of His Eyes’ that probably took place the same day or the day before–because, even though Teresa’s not wearing the same black suit as when the discussion started in the bullpen, that dark red shirt and tan jacket were seen in the previous episode. Interestingly, they’re not sharing like they did at the end of ‘Orange Blossom Ice Cream’ when they reconciled after Erica managed to wedge somewhat of an edge between them and like in ‘The Red Shirt’ when he was making unacknowledged overtures to her. Both times he was trying to be more open with her and make her see his point of view, like he’s now, but they still eat their vanilla cones separately, because there’s a distance born of his breach of trust. But they’re working on it: they try to talk about Jane’s choice in a calm manner, like an adult couple willing to face their disagreements.

Jane insists that the “mission” was “accomplished” and “everything turned out exactly as we planned” and that “no one was hurt”, “except the bad guy”… until Lisbon points out the main problem: he removed her from the action when things got more heated. He explains that he “was concerned” about her safety, but she states that he doesn’t get that she’s a FBI agent. For her, it sums up the issue: Jane cannot accept that danger is an inherent part of her job that she comprehends and accepts. It’s part of her life and she’s dealt with it for years. Yet she doesn’t get herself what are Jane’s motivations in that respect. They’re not on the same wavelength here, because he refused far too often to open up to her in the past, both on his feelings and on his fear of the past repeating itself, and she hasn’t taken the measure of how deep his terror runs. On the other hand, she clings to a surface justification for his actions –the issue with her job, that he’s been bringing up for some time to get her to quit- probably because it’s safer than to think that there’s a real and more difficult problem she’d had to deal with. Thinking that he’s his usual disrespectful self that likes to mess with her job and overall authority is easier than to address grieving issues she’s not good with. Indeed, her usual grieving pattern is to sweep the feeling under the carpet –Bosco, for instance- and she avoided the family house after her father’s suicide brought the situation down. Moreover, she probably doesn’t realize what Jane is feeling, because she never thought of herself as meaning so much for anyone. Her surprise at hearing Gregg’s wife tell her that she left him heartbroken was genuine. And her mother and father’s deaths were different from Jane’s loss: she probably doesn’t feel like they were taken from her in the same way as the haven provided by Angela and Charlotte was wrenched from Jane. Hers were linked to getting into abuse and breaking free of it. She wouldn’t be terrified of it repeating itself, or she wouldn’t have taken a broken Jane under her wing especially after he started showing his darker manipulative tendencies…

They’re interrupted by the news that Peterson is making a move against Abbott. Lisbon’s obviously in the loop both regarding the murder and the threats made by Peterson, which proves Jane’s transparency with her. It contrasts with the other times when he was saving his boss’s career, like in ‘Blood Money’. In ‘Little Red book’ too, for instance, after Lisbon got fired in reaction of his killing a man in a mall, he took action behind her back, mostly, because she wouldn’t go along with making fools of Haffner and his men. Now, both Abbott and Lisbon give him carte blanche and the team is fully cooperating. The news is spreading in one to one confidences and Abbott even notices that “everyone’s whispering”.

Proof is further showed of Teresa’s involvement when she waits at the door for Jane to finish talking with Dennis. She’s worried that their boss would lose his job and that he could go to prison. Jane assures her than they’ll prevent it, but his posture sprawled on the couch does not make his statement very convincing: she tells him that “this is serious’. His only answer is mysterious: “I know. Don’t you love it when the stakes are high?” Once again, the poker game metaphor characterizes his actions.

On the other hand, Abbott explains the situation to Lena and apologizes profusely. He’s sorry and he says her “I should have told you everything”, “it’s my fault”. Lena supports him and tells him “you don’t have to apologize, not to me, not to anyone”: it’s “this person” who’s trying to bring him down that makes her angry. Both are willing to lose their job to protect to other, him by telling Peterson that he’s resigning, her by letting go of her dream situation. Abbot is horrified by the prospect and tells her that he doesn’t want to have her quit because of him –which is an interesting line, given that Jane wants precisely that from Lisbon…- and he’s even ready to go along with the story that they’re separated: in other words, he’s eager to sacrifice both his job and his private life to protect her… As Jane puts it when entering the office, they’re both offering to fall on their sword for the other, in the most chivalrous and in their case useless kind of way, since Jane’s lucid enough to guess that Peterson won’t stop until he destroyed them both.

As the distraught lovebirds place themselves into Jane’s scheming hands, his skills are once again called into question. In the previous episode, Ken mentioned that he needed Jane’s charm, a detail that surprised Jane enough to ask if he should feel insulted or flattered, whereas now Lena outright tells him that Dennis told her that he has “one of the trickiest and most devious mind he’s worked with”… It’s not his intelligence that’s called for, but his ability to trick and manipulate people, as the “charm” remark hinted at. Jane replies in the same kind too: “I didn’t come here to be flattered, but please, go on”. Lena then tells him that Abbott considers him as a friend and that “he would trust [Jane] with his life” which softens the blow… Jane wants to protect them so much that he decides not to tell them what he has in mind, in order to give them deniability. He’s using the very same method he used to enforce on Lisbon in the CBI era: earning her trust in protecting her by lying to her and keeping her in the dark… the very same thing he’s been trying to do in the previous episode.

Meanwhile, as Wylie, who’s “awful at keeping secrets” has told Cho, they’re all investigating discreetly Peterson’s life in order to find a flaw. The man is divorced – a failed relationship again…- and have expensive tastes like tennis, scuba-diving in the Caribbean and French wine… which reinforces Jane’s previous assumption that he’s keeping an hidden stash of dirty money. Not to mention that those Caribbean paradise islands remind of Jane’s dream of sailing to beaches in Polynesia… and therefore also hint at the double-edged metaphor of sea linked with his obsession with his history. In order to reel the corrupt man in, Jane is precisely planning to “catch up with an old friend” and reunite with his past: the scheme is therefore two-folds, as Jane will “take care of the bullet” that their mark dug out the tomb, while Wylie and the others should “dig down on Peterson”… That digging hints that the two parts are matching, yet the implications and link with death and past are telling.
The only person who’s left out is Vega, the newbie, even though Cho is almost as bad as Wylie in distracting Vega’s suspicions away from their not-case with his one word answers… Interestingly, her first guess for him not wanting to tell her is “did I do something wrong?”, an allusion to her previous issues with the older agent.

VIS#2: Jane meets Pete

That old friend Jane is meeting with is Peter, the carny buddy he introduced to Lisbon in ‘Cackle-Bladder Blood’ and who’s made another appearance with his wife Sam in ‘Red John’s Rules’. Like then, the men greet each other with friendly teasing and insults and Peter Barsocky even alludes to the former episode by telling that he’s “as fat and wrinkled as Daisy the amazing elephant”, the same one who got Lisbon entranced and distracted enough for Jane to give her the slip. Jane paid for his and presumably Sam’s first class tickets and fancy hotel room and Peter’s relaxing at the pool. His fish themed shirt is another nod to the fishing/sea theme that had been running since the RJ era…
Apparently, Jane is eager to inform the man that he’s “seeing someone”. Instead of coming as a shock for Pete, who knew Angela and whose last apparition involved Jane realizing that his nemesis was targeting people from his childhood, the man correctly surmises that Jane’s sweetheart is that “pretty brunette who come around with you a couple of years back… the cop” and explains that he already knew that “she was sweet on” Jane. Is he referring to his first meeting with the one he used to call “Pepper”, before she handcuffed him to his own truck? Or to the discussion about Lily Barlow, whose uncle was also able to guess that she was lying on her bed at night, thinking of Patrick? His remark is ambiguous enough to let in the shadow the moment when he started suspecting Lisbon’s feelings, but it anyway put emphasis on the fact that one more character saw what was going on between them at the time, in addition to Grace, Wayne and Abbott. It is a little disturbing that Pete doesn’t mention the letters that Jane sent to Lisbon through “carny friends”: is that a pet peeve or is the man sly enough not to mention his major clue in Jane’s reciprocating Lisbon’s interest?

One way or another, and even if the pretty brunette cop is a little “cranky” with Jane right now, Pete wholeheartedly approves of the relationship: he insists “you should be happy” and even dare to broach a touchy subject that obviously makes Jane’s uncomfortable by telling « maybe it’s time, you know, to take the ring off… There’s no shame in moving on, Angela would want you to”. This friendly and almost fatherly talk serves as a counterpoint to the meeting with Lisbon’s brothers in ‘Little Yellow House’: Jane obtains the approbation of his family through the words of someone who knew them and who’s cared for him for a long time.

As he used to do with Lisbon in the CBI, Jane quickly hides the personal question behind work: he tells Peter that he needs a favor in order to help a friend in need. Both seem to consider this as some “fun” “gag”, which enlightens where Jane’s conception of investigations as cons comes from…

VIS#3 Jane meets Peterson

Once this part of the plan is taken care of, Jane decides to visit Peterson. He likes to confront bad guys face to face obviously, since he did it with Lisbon’s adversary Volker and more recently with the colonel: when his friends are threatened, things get personal and he’s eager to let the other man know that he’s in the game… To continue this game allegory, Peterson is busy playing tennis at his club and Jane sneaks in to outright tell him that he’s not “gonna sit back and watch [him] destroy Dennis Abbott”. To make his words more hostile, he even touches the other’s dark blue, white and red “velour” sport jacket. The red color associated with the red polo underneath hint at a threat and Peterson’s behavior becomes accordingly more menacing: he grabs Patrick by the neck and stats that he doesn’t “a rat’s ass about Dennis Abbott”. He’s only seeing this as an opportunity for his career to get on a Congressman’s good side and “screwing Dennis Abbott, that’s just icing on the cake”. Yet, in spite of his cold words and his blatant interesting in money and saving his job, the repetition of Abbott’s full name indicates that things are actually very personal: he’s trying to get revenge because in his eyes, Abbott betrayed him by not “having his back” when he ordered him to…

It’s interesting to watch how different those two manipulative men act when trying to put pressure on others: Peterson is brutal and uses physical threatening, whereas Jane is sneakier. He provokes the other man by implicitly belittling him and the club employee comments that “he was very persuasive” when making her let him in, which echoes the remark about his charm. Plus, Jane’s “devious mind” had one single goal by ticking Bill off, since he wanted to get close and distract him enough to lift his cell phone.

The plan: breaking into Peterson’s house

Soon, the main part of the plan comes into play as the team decides that they need to get a look inside Peterson’s home, given that it’s the most likely place where he’d hide the money. It isn’t the first time Jane decides that breaking and entering is a good way to pursue his goal: the main difference is that now Lisbon is on his not-so lawful side of justice… For instance, he chose to lie to Rigsby and Cho when breaking into the empty house in ‘Redemption’ and his illegal search of their suspect in ‘Blood Money’ caused the clueless Lisbon to be suspended. Same when he chose to hire Culpepper to attempt a burglary into in LaRoche’s house to find the infamous list: any of those times, Lisbon wasn’t included in the plan and the reveal of his illicit activities caused quite the uproar even though she helped him in the end. Now, she’s the one to decipher how Peterson has been able to commit his “perfect crime” for years. He’s been “skimming”, stealing dirty money during low-level busts, something almost impossible to check giving that nobody would believe the convicted drug dealers had they a mind to tell.

Same when the operation is on motion: she’s Jane’s accomplice and she shares his goal and methods. She calls him on how he would figure out the pass code –a small measure of distrust that might catch viewers’ attention since it’s the second time his way of doing things is questioned this episode. His answer to her question is an airy “the way I figure things out” after using a rather simple plan: “pick the lock, open the door, see what happens” when “alarms give you a minute to 90-second grace period before they alert anyone”, then go and find where malicious Bill may have hidden is safe and open it… Is that me, or is it roughly the same basis that he used to rob the casino in ‘Pink Champagne on Ice’? Even the mirror illusion and the substitution are somewhat used after they later realize that they cannot open the biometric safe: they take money from the evidence room to stage some photos in order to give Peterson the illusion that they busted him…. It’s a trick on a large scale, plus Jane remarks when Lisbon guesses how he knew the pass code to the alarm that she’s “killing the magic here” by telling out loud. It is further proof that she’s getting as good as him. Indeed, unlike in the heist at the casino, she’s neither an assistant nor a trump card, now she’s his equal because she gets him and how his tricks work… On the other hand, the trick with the candlestick hiding a secret safe is a bit reminiscent of ‘Red Scare’ with its secret passageways: it gives to the episode an old school impression of familiarity. The same thing happens when Wylie asks for Abbott’s help into getting clearance to take a couple millions dollars from the evidence room; after being told “you know how Jane said h wouldn’t need your help?” Abbott only replies resignedly “he lied, didn’t he?” That’s classic Jane for you.

Meanwhile, Vega feels left out and she confronts Cho to let him know her feelings: “I’m here to protest my exclusion”, “if Abbott is in trouble, I want to help”. Cho flats out refuses and draws a line at getting her involved, even though he had no qualms about Wylie, because he doesn’t “feel responsible for him”. Vega retorts: “you’re not responsible for me”, even though Cho is worried for her career. It enlightens how the fatherly bond between them works both ways: he’s chosen to lie by omission to protect her for a “career killer”, just like Jane and Abbott did with someone they care about. He’s giving her deniability in case things go wrong. But Vega won’t leave it at that: like Lisbon, she understands and accepts the dangers of what she’s chosen to get involved in. She states ““listen, I’m a part of this team, or I’m not”. This talk is reminiscent of the one she had with Jane in ‘Green Light’: back then she questioned Jane’s methods too, before finally accepting to partake in the “fun” of his plans even though they wouldn’t have met with her stern father’s standards. Now she’s fully part of the team. It’s even hinted at by her pretext for leaving the bullpen: she tells Abbott that he has an errand to run, the same excuse Jane had given her to get her help… It’s a pivotal moment both for Vega and for Cho and it is emphasized by Cho’s line “what we’re discussing involves breaking about seven laws” and Michelle’s casual answer “as long as it’s only seven” echo Lisbon being lured to the 7th floor in the previous episode; it’s a discreet nod to the 7th and last season of the show and, as usual, it’s linked with transgression and tricks.

The same extended metaphor of tricks and performances that has been running during the whole operation is also mentioned when Vega is executing the traditional undercover job of the episode. She’s put a pair of glasses on to tail Peterson in the restaurant when he’s spitting his venomous revelations to the Congressman’s legislative director. She then can the other woman say “a hearing’s a tricky thing. It’s about showmanship. You display it, a little theatrics, if you will.”

As the plan unfolds, she’s later asked to stall him while the others break into the house and Wylie is busing gathering the money from the evidence room, pretty much like she was supposed to fake arresting Peterson in ‘Green Light’. And her method is reckless since she cannot think of another plan than to get the man involved in a car wreck, like she did in ‘Orange Blossom Ice Cream’: she’s as eager to prove herself to the other team members as she was back then, only now she doesn’t want to prove her skills as an agent but rather her trustworthiness and dedication. Unfortunately Peterson recognizes her and the schedule is getting even more airtight for the others. Cho and Lisbon hurry to tidy everything out in the house, Wylie rushes in with the cash and Jane actively fights all that frenzied tension by calmly sitting in the kitchen and eating a banana. He’s partaking in his age old habit of making himself cozy in the suspects’ home, like he did innumerable times when making himself some tea (‘Blood Money’, ‘Devil’s Cherry’) or a sandwich (in the pilot).

Nevertheless, Vega and Lisbon are not the only ones whose role in the team is being reaffirmed. As Abbott is worried by Michelle’s involvement, Jane tells him “what you did at Rio Bravo… you risked your life to take out a mass murderer that no one else could. No one else would. You did that because you’re a good man. Peterson is not a good man. He’s a greedy, corrupt bureaucrat with a very healthy sprinkling of sociopath on top”. Jane recognizes the similarities between himself who risked everything to take his own villain out and Abbott. They’re kindred spirits in vigilantism and the risks are very much present even now: “if we stop now, you’re going to prison, your wife’s going to lose her career and Peterson on his way to be being the head of the DEA… Is that what you want? It’s not what I want. And for what it’s worth, everyone else feels the same way”, so Abbott needs to “chin up” and “trust” them. The team is all gathering around their leader in his quest for justice, just like the SCU protected Jane when Abbott was threatening to arrest and stop him, even though they didn’t completely agree with the means he would be using. It’s a nice counterpoint and role reversal to their first meeting and in a way it concludes Abbott’s interactions with the unruly consultant. Once again, “trust” is the key word when interacting with the devilish consultant…

VIS#4: the reveal

After getting their much needed evidence (or rather fake evidence) on Peterson, Abbott goes to DC to reassure Lena. He knows that she’s terrified of the outcome but tells her that everything will be fine. His main argument is a declaration of faith, even though Lena states that they “need a miracle”: “I trust Jane and he hasn’t let me down so far”.

Unsurprisingly, Peterson is here too to sabotage Lena’s hearing. The change of dynamic and the tension between him and his former employee is palpable: he calls the younger man “Abbott” instead of “Dennis” as he used to patronize him with. It’s emphasized by the other man still calling him “Bill”, as a reminder of their former familiarity and an indirect way to let him know he’s not afraid of his threats… Indeed, both are holding two kinds of evidence above the other’s head: Bill has the ‘Copper Bullet’ he fished in the drug lord’s skull and Abbott has a series of photos of Peterson’s cat on an impressive heap of banknotes and firearms. He’s showing them his cell phone, which is also a nod to the fact that Jane has stolen the man’s phone earlier: he’s been doubly tricked… Abbott seems very self-assured and states “it seems we both have secrets. Cute kitty by the way.” Peterson is rightly stricken and frantically looks for an empty room to talk more privately; that alone is an implicit confession and he’s well aware of the danger of his situation.

Once alone with his unexpected blackmailer, he checks that Abbott has no listening device before remarking –rightly- that they’ve broken into his home to perform an illegal search. He’s not fooled by Dennis’ statement that he has people that will account for every minute of his time: he suspects that it was “Jane or one of those other idiots” but also knows that Abbott has won, because making a fuss over it will only cause an internal investigation from the DA, which could only prove fatal to him given his wrongdoings. He’s trapped in a corner and the only way out that he can see is to assume that Abbott is as greedy as he is, since he didn’t hesitate to maneuver him with a clever blackmail just like he did himself. He offers him half of his stash – roughly the amount that Jane had guessed, amusingly- which makes some very nice and much more solid evidence against him after Vega has recorded it. His spirit is further broken when he realizes the whole charade has been a huge double bluff: first, he’s been tricked into confessing his sins; then, he hasn’t even the bullet anymore. The woman he has given it too wasn’t the real one: it was Jane’s carnie friend Sam, Pete’s wife. Jane had an ace up his sleeve the whole time since he had Peterson’s bullet since the day before and he just kept going because he wanted to get the man too. Like Bill considered destroying Abbott as icing on the cake of his career plans, Jane had caught him too in addition of the incriminating evidence that could send his friend to jail. To get this result, he used a clever substitution, like in the previous episode, with a woman wearing a pink jacket like key witness Lily Stoppard did, although in a lighter shade. This enlightens Jane’s skills and sense of justice as well as the writers ability to still surprise viewers who might think they’re used to their tricks after years of watching them… Peterson makes his exit from Abbott’s life with that line from his former protégé: “Bill, I can’t say how much I’m happy to say this: you’re under arrest” and Jane stresses that it’s “wonderful to see the government at work”.

Yet that rather moral if entertaining conclusion doesn’t mask the similarities between the events and some classic hard-boiled detective story: a man (not so) wrongly accused of murder, a dirty cop, a team of loners getting outside the limits of the law to fight an adversary in position of authority… As much as Bill’s cow-boy hat and the arid deserted little cemetery had a vague Western movie flavor, added to Abbott’s friends helping him out against all odds like the characters in the ‘Alamo’ and ‘Rio Bravo’ movies, the whole setting is more oriented towards film noir.

More precisely, there is some very strong resemblance with ‘The Long Goodbye’, a 1973 neo-noir movie featuring private-eye Philip Marlowe. In this movie, the protagonist tries to help a friend, Terry Lennox, who Marlowe thinks is wrongly accused of murdering his wife, like Abbott. Even though said friend commits suicide in Mexico –the country Bill had gone to in order to find evidence-, Marlowe’s still trying to uncover the truth. Interestingly, the same kind of story-telling is involved: some seemingly haphazardly gathered plot elements without much connection with one another form a rather confusing series of events that only the ending makes sense of. Indeed, Marlowe realizes that Terry has not died and that he has manipulated him in order to cover his crimes. It’s the same kind of plot twist that we have at the end when Jane reveals that he was stringing Peterson all along with a fake contact to the Congressman: that fact alone makes the whole episode become meaningful in a new level because it explains what he asked for Pete’s help and why he was so confident all along, going as far as eating a banana in a crisis situation. He knew that he had Peterson eating out the palm of his hand already since Sam had got the bullet. Plus, the grey morality finds an interesting echo in the movie, as Augustine, a brutal gangster who was scammed by Terry, states that “it’s a minor crime, to kill your wife. The major crime is that he stole my money. Your friend stole my money, and the penalty for that is capital punishment”… isn’t that the same logic the characters are obeying to in the show? Bill’s long-standing thievery is considered more condemnable than Abbott’s murder, given both men’s personality. Bill’s deadly sin was greed, whereas Abbott’s action was a sacrifice for the sake of saving lives…

Some interesting details can be added to the comparison: the movie ends with Marlowe playing the harmonica after shooting Terry who told him “you’ll never learn, you’re a born loser”, just like Bill called the team “idiots” before his downfall and the episode finishes in music and dancing. A more intriguing detail is a running gag in the movie in the person of Marlowe’s tabby cat, who runs away after waking him up at an ungodly hour: the determining –and mocking- element Jane adds to the supposed photos to convince Peterson that it’s really his secret stash that they’ve been raiding is a grey tabby cat that has been running around the house and annoying Cho. The presence of that “cute kitty” in the house only enlightens how lonely Bill is when compared with Abbott and his team members: he’s divorced, there’s no one waiting for him at home except the feline and he has no friends, only marks and adversaries…

VIS#5: the ending

In direct opposition to this ghastly self-imposed isolation, Jane thanks his carnie makeshift family with a group hug in front of the elevator. After they refuse to let him drive them to the airport, they thank him for the “good, clean fun, like old times” and Sam takes that opportunity to get him to talk about his “sweetheart, that little brunette”: she adds her approbation to Pete’s by giving a piece of advice to Jane, “don’t screw it up, Patrick”, “life’s too short”. Interestingly, it could be interpreted too like a more cheerful echo to Jane’s fears about Lisbon’s safety…

The team decides to celebrate their victory by going to a country rock party and gather around a congratulatory drink, a bit like the SCU did once during case closed pizza with the expensive wine Jane smuggled out of the mansion in ‘Red Scare’. Abbott offers a thankful toast “to friends” and when he’s too moved to find his words, Lena supplies “we’re forever in your debt”. Like in ‘Red Scare’ too, the friendly rejoicing gets more romantic when Vega decides to drag her admirer to check out the waffle truck, reminding of how Van Pelt and her lovestruck Rigsby ended up making out the kitchen… Indeed, there’s no kissing here, but after a bit of teasing about their respective mad driving during the dash to outrun Peterson, Vega quickly changes her mind and insists on dancing, taking Wylie by surprise.
Cho’s in for a surprise too when Abbott comments that he’d be moving to DC in a couple of months to join Lena and when he tells the stoic man: “the unit, it’s yours. You’ll be in charge” “and I think you’re gonna do a great job”. Both seal the deal by chucking and shaking hands and Dennis too leaves to dances with his “baby”: he prefers his love over his career. Jane and Lisbon are happy for Cho and, hand on his back, Teresa sincerely congratulates her former employee turned future boss. Jane adds “you deserve it”. Maybe embarrassed by this emotional moment, Cho gets up smiling to get another taco, leaving the main couple alone.

Lisbon takes this opportunity to finish the conversation they were having at the beginning, about his manipulations to protect her. Jane’s half-heartedly tries to change the subject: “it got busy. Life throws you curve balls”, but this new game metaphor doesn’t distract Lisbon. She tells him that it’s “serious”, the same reproach she made when Jane was sprawled on his couch after talking to Abbott: given that he was already thinking of a plan to get the man out of trouble, one can wonder if he’s not trying to avoid getting back in trouble himself by broaching the terrifying topic with her. The man indeed doesn’t need to be reminded that the situation is serious on both accounts: he’s serious enough about it to want to downplay it in front of her, probably because he’s afraid she won’t understand. However, she gets to the heart of the problem: “I love you. And I also love what I do. You can’t be jealous of that.” She’s misunderstood his intentions, and, after some poking from her, he finally explains “I don’t want to lose you. I don’t know how I would react”. Lisbon acknowledges that neither of them knows what the future has in store for them, yet she prefers to “focus on what’s going on right now. Right here. It’s good. It’s very, very good”. In order to make him happier, she even offers him to dance and he replies “okay, one dance” She wants two which makes him tease “everything is a negotiation with you”. Which it is actually, since she gives as much as she demands from him and it’s probably the best thing that happened to him for a long time; nevertheless, that little repartee is also proof that this talk is not finished yet… He’s just letting her comfort him like he did in ‘The White of His Eyes’ when she was repeating him that everything would be fine before luring him to bed. The episode ends on a sweet note though, since they’re dancing like they were at the end of ‘Rose Colored Glasses’…

All in all, that ending feels very much like a conclusion. Again, it makes one think to the movie ‘The Long Goodbye’, which a famous catchphrase visible on its poster “nothing says goodbye like a bullet”. This ‘Copper Bullet’ may mean too that something has ended. Abbott is planning to leave happily to greener fields, Cho is on the verge of becoming the new team leader. His status towards his friends and the team dynamics are changing: for instance in relation to Lisbon, he’s now gotten seniority over her as well as a six-months full training that she didn’t go through when Jane made her part of his deal (as mentioned in ‘My Blue Heaven’). Lisbon is therefore relegated at a less official status, as a simple team member as well as Jane’s partner in work and in their private life. She’s getting a particular standing with the tricks Jane’s been teaching her and that’s becoming more apparent after her repeated psychic acts.

On the other hand, Lisbon’s position regarding her relationship has also slightly shifted: they’re not official yet, but it’s getting here. She’s not afraid to dance in pubic with him, at the risk of someone noticing: she’s even insisting, although she was the one who asked him to keep quiet about their love affair… Slowly, her couple is becoming more important than her career in her eyes. Being a cop is still a defining trait of her character in her mind, but it’s becoming more apparent that it’s a security blanket, a manifestation and justification of that fixer persona she’s build to help her get over her grief. Indeed, she’s now accepting to collaborate in Jane’s illegal actions, his tricks, all things she used to held against him in the first seasons when she was more by-the-book. She’s learnt to understand and to share his motivations and methods. Her career is no longer her priority, since she’s sincerely happy for her former subordinate: she doesn’t feel slighted. Could she slowly become accustomed to the idea of changing her life style, in spite of her protestations?

Jane too is changing, since he’s made an effort to reach out to his past and seeks the approbation for what remains of his family and, through them, of Angela. The comparison with ‘The Long Goodbye’ is particularly interesting here, since the other Phillip Marlowe story alluded to in the show was ‘The Maltese Falcon’ that served as a plot basis for ‘Cackle-Bladder Blood’. It was in that episode that Sammy and Pete made their very first appearance, along with Danny Ruskin, Angela’s brother, who was seething with anger, resentment and guilt. Now, the bitterness is solved: Jane’s gotten his family’s approbation and their help in his plan. From that meeting with Danny, to the talk about Barlow, the letters they smuggled to Lisbon and now their full acceptance, his friends have been less and less antagonistic. They represent what Jane’s feeling about himself in regard to his sorrow: moving on is acceptable now. He’s slowly admitting that he deserves happiness, hence the mention of his no-longer as meaningful wedding ring. His meeting with the imaginary ghost of Charlotte had been a way to talk himself into letting go of his revenge in order to focus on his life and find someone who would love him. Now, he’s still asking permission to his dead loved ones to let what they shared behind in order to build something new.

Vega has also set her boundaries: after keeping asking Cho if he was giving her the cold shoulder because she had done something wrong, which has been the dynamic she had been used to with him, she’s the one who realized that he is not responsible for her. It’s a reply to her seeking a fatherly figure in her job environment: now, she’s proven that she’s ready to make her own decisions. She’s become more independent and she doesn’t seek approbation on her choices. She’s grown emotionally. Her actions also echo her questions about Jane’s methods: she’s not wondering about the trick, she’s accepts that she’s a member of this team. In regard to Wylie too, her behavior has changed. The roles are somewhat reversed between them because he’s no longer making a move on her, but she’s been observing him when she was still in the dark about the situation and when he’d been avoiding her. She’s the one teasing him. She’s inviting him to eat something with her, in a private moment reminiscent of their game session in the previous episode, then to dance, with more romantic undertones. She’s setting him apart. Thus, on her side too, something has ended and a major change is occurring.

Under the appearance of a happy moment almost frozen in time, the team as we know it is telling goodbye and, in a way, Abbott’s cheerful toast to friendship is a faint echo to darker times, when the SCU too was holding a toast to their fallen comrade Sam Bosco in ‘His Red Right Hand’…

Pet Peeves

-Has Jane given back Peterson’s cell phone? How come the man didn’t suspect anything, after seeing first-hand his modus operandi of manipulating objects in ‘Green Light’?

-I understand that a bullet makes a very symbolic and meaningful piece of evidence against Abbott, but why hasn’t he just gotten rid of the gun that would have incriminated him instead? And how did Peterson justify that there hadn’t been any investigation when the murder occurred?


Mentalist The White of His Eyes Review


Synopsis

A hitman commits a quadruple homicide and Jane and Lisbon are called on the case along with the team. Problem is that as danger looms closer, Jane’s fierce protectiveness towards Lisbon, in spite of her independence and her sense of duty, may put a damper on their growing attachment.

Concise Verdict

With this episode, writer Erin Donovan offers an interesting addition to the season, as it nuances the very sweet domestic atmosphere between the two main characters. This is their first meaningful disagreement and it’s certainly more pivotal than a mere bump on the road to happiness… In fact, it was a welcome –if jarring for Lisbon- surprise to get back a shadow of the Jane we used to know from the early season… someone more manipulative and serving his own idea of right or wrong, someone who doesn’t really stop at not playing nice to get the result he desires, instead of the tamed wild beast he has seemed to become under Lisbon’s vigilance. Especially since his scheming nature is precisely focused now in keeping her safe.

Detailed AKA Humungous Review (spoilers galore)

VIS#1 the opening

The difference of mood with the hopeful ‘Little Yellow House’ is perceptible from the get go since Lisbon’s heart-to-heart with Jane is replaced on the screen by another less sweet pair. Indeed, a realtor is presenting an empty place to a potential buyer; said client happens to be actually a hitman who murders the other man in order to use the “killer view” the apartment affords on his planned victims’ location.

The impression of danger is suggested by the grey colors of the setting, without any bright spot unlike in the others episodes. Blake Neely’s unsettling music puts emphasis on the eerie calm of the cold-blooded killer, comparable to the composed attitude displayed by the colonel at the very beginning of ‘The Silver Briefcase’: here, the man is as silent as the collected colonel was when putting the crime scene in order. The careful directing by Rod Holcomb dramatizes the shooting, with the sun reflecting on the edge of the circle-cut glass when hitman “Lydon” aims through the window. The staccato-like drumming of the music gets underlined by the increased focus of the camera on the three fallen victims. It carries on as the killer is no longer at the window in the next frame: his retreating back is calmly going away, disappearing like a ghost and as detached as a businessman. The hit was fast and coldly done.

The shooting obviously refers to the title, ‘The White of His Eyes’, an almost-quote coming from the recounting of the historical battle of Bunker Hill during the siege of Boston in the American Revolutionary War. One of the most famous orders in war history was uttered there: “don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes”, meaning that soldiers should wait until they were close enough to the enemy to shot, the exact contrary of what the hit man did here. His aiming skills and equipment allowed him to attain his target from a far distance, a fact the team comment upon later. Plus, the allusion to the historical battle which ended being a colonial defeat again the British troops reminds of the Alamo battle (‘Green Light’). Those war backgrounds coupled with the diffuse yet insistent Western movies references scattered through the season hint that a major and dangerous confrontation is about to take place.

The focal point of this growing peril is obviously Jane’s team and more explicitly Lisbon –hence the FBI agents killed along with Edward Hu, the primary target. That much is suggested by Lydon pretending to be interested in a real estate purchase because it was actually a strategic place to carry the hit. It reminds of the fake house hunting Lisbon and Jane did in ‘The Silver Briefcase’ to get to the crime scene without drawing attention.

VIS#2: Lisbon and Jane share some free time

Meanwhile, in complete contrast with the chilling opening, Patrick and Teresa are enjoying some down time at a bar. A lot of red elements bring to viewers’ mind that danger is looming closer, though: Lisbon’s red blouse, the walls, the red and white little Foosball players, the waitress’s checkered shirt, the neon red signs reading “Eat” and “Texas”… As Lisbon and Jane keep playing Foosball, some other hints raise red flags, just like Lisbon shooting enthusiastically “you are going down!”, reminding of the three corpses falling in a heap. The whole game and winning discussion is basically a distant echo to one of the main themes of Jane’s interactions with his former nemesis…

Nevertheless, the moment is cheerful and carefree for the two lovers: as the friendly game progresses, Lisbon is showing more and more her feisty side (“I’m not competitive, I just like to win”), accusing him of cheating when things don’t go his way, which he denies, telling her “that was spinning, just spinning”. Her gleeful cheering at beating him (“did that hurt? What? did that hurt?”) emphasizes the amusing youthful competition between them, with cheating, showing off and humiliation, since “everybody here [is] watching the man get beat by the girl”. This new side of Lisbon, which was only hinted at in such occasions as the ending of ‘Red in Tooth and Claw’ when they played poker and she accused him of cheating too, shows how comfortable they are with each other: it’s not quite a role reversal, but almost, since she’s not afraid of displaying her playful and childish side, while he’s not hell bent on showing off his skills. That new level of ease is without any doubt a consequence of her confession at the end of the previous episode and two lines allude to their stay in Chicago (“there’s spinning in Chicago” and “never never play Foosball with a woman who raised three brothers”). The domestic moment is further developed when Jane leaves to pay for their check and orders chicken wings to go. They’re planning to eat them together at his or her place and it’s obviously a very usual occurrence.

Yet, the moment is shattered when they’re called on the hitman case that they’re precisely watching on the news. Furthermore, the details viewers get on the quadruple homicide match a bit their current situation. The main target was a witness in the murder of a man beaten to death by a Kelvin Bittaker “after a dispute in a bar”, just like the couple had been playfully bantering in a bar. Even before they’re truly involved in the investigation, they’re already stepping into the danger zone…

Moreover, the cheerful moment between the partners offers a startling contrast with the new scene. The still very detached professional assassin is destroying a photography of Hu, who he’s killed, whereas a second picture stays in the folder. Viewers are thus privy to the fact that the murder spree is not done, there’s another witness to get rid of. That knowledge is reminiscent of the Columbo-like progression of the plot in ‘The Silver Briefcase’ and it only increases the anxiety regarding the man.

Jane’s worries come into play

1) at the crime scene

But viewers are not the only ones who may suspect that something might go very wrong in this case. Slowly, Jane’s mind starts taking in the odds of things getting out of hand…

It starts at the crime scene, when he meets Ken Spackman, the Dallas FBI agent he teased in ‘Nothing But Blue Skies’, at the very start of his love affair with Lisbon (which makes the man’s presence an indication that this new investigation may become pivotal in the secret relationship). Jane keeps being cheeky, telling that he “missed that face” when he greets Ken. However, the lightness brought by his mischievous personality is tempered by the description of the crime, “four murders in under three minutes”, including two FBI agents, like them, who were “good men, good family men with young kids”… The killer left no clues behind him and vanished “like a ghost” too, which brings to mind RJ’s crimes: in Jane’s case, the serial killer murdered his family –making him the FBI agent who had a young kid- and left no trace to work on for years. Like RJ too, Kelvin Bittaker’s wrongdoings, that Edward Hu had been a witness of, was a disproportioned retribution to an offense from the first victim: Bittaker beat him to death over a simple spilled drink…

The other witness to the first murder, that woman whose photography “Lydon” kept in a folder, is a young mother, which insists on the family element of the case as well as it reminds of Angela. The fact that she’s a threat to Bittaker is interesting, for the sonority of the man’s name can be associated with the “bitter” feelings that plagued Jane for years as well as with the notion of “taking” someone from him… Indeed, the woman’s is Lily Stoppard and she shares her first name with Lily Barlow who was killed in ‘Red John’s Rules’ as a message to the consultant. If the analogy wasn’t clear enough, Jane deduces from “powered sugar” from beignets that hitman “Lydon” and the realtor “shook hands”, a major clue in Jane’s investigation on his nemesis…

Meanwhile, Spackman acknowledges Jane’s abilities and the two men banter back and forth… leading Ken to explain that he wants Jane to convince the woman to testify, in spite of the risks on her life, because “we could use a little charm”. Jane retorts that he doesn’t know if he “should be insulted or flattered”, to which Spackman’s answers “whatever works”… Jane feels “a little bit of both”: despite the darkening clouds gathering above his head, he’s still unaware enough to be his normal mocking self. Interesting still that after their first investigation, Spackman is more sensible to Jane’s endearing qualities than his cunning streak. The agent from Dallas gets more sympathetic with that remark than he was after almost insulting Lisbon the other time they got a case together.

2) the talk with the Stoppards

As Jane accepts to turn on the charm on their doubtful witness, he realizes that things are decidedly getting too close to home for comfort. The Stoppards deserve their name, as Lily is hell bent in stopping Bittaker, whereas her husband Matthew just wants to put a stop to the dangerous case. Spackman reassures them that it’s their choice and that the “door’s open”, an expression that probably takes Jane back to that awful moment when he discovered his family butchered behind his bedroom door. Indeed, Lily is feeling guilty for not saving the victim she saw getting murdered before her own eyes, like Jane had been for years for not saving his family. On the other hand, Matthew is worried sick about his wife because they’ve “got a baby at home and he’s only six months old”: Jane is clearly torn between feeling emotionally closer to the man –given that he’s been in the same place and understands his feelings, a similarity hinted at with the baby Jane was holding at the end of ‘Little Yellow House’- and his sense of justice and professional duty that consists on catching the bad guys with Lily’s help.

This is why he chooses that angle to talk the couple into giving in to Ken’s pleas: he asks what their baby name is and compliments that “Henry” is a “good, strong name”, thus attracting their confidence as a family, just like before his comment about how Matthew’s fears are “pretty darn reasonable” put little by little the man’s hostility and distrust to rest. He then proceeds to explain “I hate to talk to you about doing the right thing. Doing is the easy part, knowing what it is is tough”… he adds that he doesn’t “know what the right thing to do is”, but he ask them “in years from now, when you tell Henry this story, how will it go? Did the three of you take an evil killer off the street or did you play it safe? Is Henry’s birthright gonna be one of proud bravery or sensible caution? Tough call…”This question is very intriguing, because the smoothness of Jane’s reasoning makes one wonders whether Jane might have thought about the same dilemma, directed to his own past. Were he to have children with Lisbon, what will their “birthright” be? That of a thirst for revenge upon the other family that Jane loved? The justified action of taking another “evil killer off the street”? Or the law-abiding heritage that comes from Teresa? Either way, it looks like Jane may have taken Pike’s bitter remark to heart and started envisioning that “what feels like the right thing” might entail building something more fruitful with her. Unfortunately, the same tough choice about caution and doing the right thing no matter the risks also comes into play later, when he’s faced with the possibility of his worst fear happening as Lisbon might be killed on the job: like Matthew, Jane is terrified of his newfound lover being hurt at the hands of a ruthless killer… Even more since both women are selfless people who want to protect others.

When he and Spackman leave the room, the agent congratulates him on his “nice work”. He’s not aware that the case is pulling at Jane’s heartstrings and that he’s feeling a distressing similarity with the fearful husband; he just shrugs it off as one of Jane’s clever manipulations. Jane sets things straight by telling that he doesn’t want his word about protecting Lily, he only wants her safe.

2) the talk with the Bittakers

Mirroring that family love on the witness’s side, the interrogation of the Bittaker gang also focuses on family unity. When Abbott visits the violent Kelvin in jail, the younger man preens “my mama taught me never talk to strangers”, hinting at who the brain of the family really is. His indifference, then exuberant joy at hearing about the murders contrasts with Lily’s regrets and her determination to do what’s best for others. Again, his ironic “Hallelujah” might be reminiscent of RJ’s interest for religion…

Later, when Jane and Cho interrogate Mrs. Bittaker and her other equally unfriendly sons, Jane is delighted to find in her “a fabulous liar” and comments that talking to her is “like a master class in dishonesty”, which introduces in this episode the old theme of lies/truth and trust… Plus, the luxury cars in the garage are “Ferraris and Phantoms”, the latter reminding of the “ghost”-like hitman: through them, it’s the ghost of his broken past that is haunting Jane, made more perceptible by the red furniture in the grey room at the back.

The other preeminent theme of the episode being family, Jane sees with amusement how Belinda Bittaker tells her ill and rude son Ethan that she loves him and he picks on him as the weakest link of the gang. He tells him: “being a Bittaker middle child can’t be easy, and I sympathize. But you really do have to take control of these attention issues”… Is that a coincidence that the Bittaker brothers are three, just like the Lisbons? In a twisted way, that would make Belinda a less honest and kind-hearted Teresa, equally intent on getting her protégés out of trouble, but with completely different means. Hence Jane’s sarcastic comment that, in that morally reversed version of the Lisbons, Belinda has “wonderful family” and she “must be very proud”, something the woman correctly interprets as a sneer.

Nevertheless, Jane has gotten more positive results from his little chat with the less than tasteful family: he’s seen that the younger –and admittedly smarter- of the brothers is playing a “War Lord III” online video game. His shout of “head shot!” and his insulting comments to other players have grabbed his attention: indeed the shooting war game reminds of the violent murders and Jane suspects right away that the online connection might be a discreet way to make contact with the hit man. Plus, the game and its jungle setting are once again a reminder of notions associated with his pursuit of RJ the “tyger”, a deepened continual allusion that shows Jane’s obsession with losing his family. It therefore suggests that there might be a threat for the new couple.

VIS#3: in Louisiana

That menace is getting more precise when that new lead directs them to a woman in Louisiana. As Lisbon and Jane arrive there with Spackman, the latter orders to Patrick to stay by the car, to the consultant’s great displeasure. However, Jane progressively inches closer to his lover as the two armed agents separate: he’s noticed that the house isn’t as empty as it seems. He’s reluctant to leave Lisbon alone since Spackman covers the back of the frail bungalow. His presence thus prevents Lisbon from facing Lydon alone when the man opens the door and pretends to be the wanted woman’s cousin (even though her bloodied corpse is lying on the other room…). This moment is crucial, because that’s when Lisbon is directly in the line of fire and that much is expressed by two very telling elements: the fact that she knocks on the closed door (like Jane opened the bedroom one in the pilot) and Lydon’s lie about being part of his victim’s family.

Fortunately, Jane manages to cold read the man’s murderous intentions and puts Lisbon down with him, effectively saving her life. It’s Ken who is shot in the chest after discovering the body and trying to sneak from behind; he falls near the dead woman with the cut throat. Lisbon orders once again to Jane to stay behind with Spackman, and rushes after the murderer, ending lost in a jungle-like forest resembling the one in the game Caleb Bittaker had been playing. Jane’s presence by Ken’s side saves the man because he managed to calm the man enough to keep his heart rate down, preventing him from bleeding to death. Yet, Jane’s worries and guilt flare up when he notices a bullet hole visible on Lisbon’s sleeve: she’s almost gotten shot too.

The “arrogance” and fast and brutal reactions of the Bittaker make Abbott angry and he makes it his personal mission to “crush these people”. As a result, he decides to visit himself the criminal family with Cho in order to put stress on them by arresting Ethan, the sickly middle son, for supposedly violating his parole by consorting with his felon of a brother. It ends up in a power play with the mother who keeps denying knowing what he’s talking about. She states that whatever he may do, her son is “a citizen” who needs his dialyzes and Abbott’s “a lawman, a supervising agent” who is “too dam ethical” to let him die… As Abbott comments to Cho that they don’t know him (and his sometimes gray morality, for that matter), the woman insists that she will “bet her son on it”. This last uncaring remark added to Abbott’s “bluff” brings again the game metaphor to the forefront.

All in all, the only bright point of the day -and a continuation of the theme- is that Wily got himself a game date with his dream girl after Vega teased him on his tastes on online games. She promises to show him the “big boy game”, even if “some people just can’t handle that kind of pressure”: talking about “hot keys”, triggers and “a little one versus one [that] might clear this whole thing up”, with “pistols only”, brings them closer and all fired up to see to it “any day, any time”… Unconscious innuendo, someone?

Meanwhile, both sides of the crime in preparation are getting ready to take action: like in ‘The Silver Briefcase’ again, Lydon is coldly and methodically training in order to define the final details of his plan. On the other hand, the FBI team has understood that the attack will take place between the room and the car leading Lily to the court to testify. They therefore rehearse the moment when they’ll be taking that route to recognize the spots where Lydon might take a shoot at her. Lisbon takes the target’s place in the rehearsal, symbolizing Jane’s fear for her safety and she’s fake-shot at seven times: in Jane’s mind she’s in danger, as hinted at by the fearful face of Lily’s husband during the dummy run. An interesting detail here is how much Abbott and his men trust Jane: he’s the one elaborating the plan, directing the rehearsal and making tactical decisions. Sprawled on his couch like he used to in the old CBI days, he explains that “the general who chooses the field of battle wisely wins before the fighting starts”. In that “battle”, alluded to in the title, he’s the “general” who is able to define where Lydon is bound to attack, hence Jane’s also able preparing a trick beforehand to fool him. If the constant if implied analogy with ‘The Silver Briefcase’ was to be followed until its logical conclusion, then Lydon would be another colonel, while Jane’s superior skills rank him higher. Yet, Jane’s (only apparent) confidence and enigmatic remark are also a bit disturbing, because they remind of a time where he was far more reckless and inclined to play puppeteer with his coworkers…

VIS#3: in the airstream

A few hours later, in dire contrast with Jane’s worry, the night is starry and peaceful over the Silver Bucket. Jane’s still sleepless though. He’s staring outside the window of the Airstream in pretty much the same fashion he used to spend his night brooding his obsession away in his dusty attic. Only now, he’s not thinking of what he’s lost anymore, but he’s worried sick about what he might lose, which might lead him to the same secrecy and recklessness that used to characterize his behavior…

As Lisbon used to do when she was witnessing his insomnia and unhealthy habits back then, she tries to shake his sadness off. She’s sleeping in his little bed and she calls him back to her, reassuring him that “everything’s gonna be okay tomorrow” and it’s a “really good plan” and that they’re “gonna be safe” and “everybody will be fine, I promise”. She correctly surmises that his insomnia is about his fear of someone getting hurt and her motherly comfort apparently calms him enough to get him back to bed.

The comforting quality of the moment is nonetheless laced with humor when she offers to sing him the lullaby she used to sing to her little brothers when they couldn’t sing. Jane inexplicably freezes and utters with hesitation “I really… don’t want to hear that”… Lisbon still carries through when he’s settled by her side and she sings very badly Bon Jovi’s pop rock song ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ while Jane moans at her cringe-worthy voice. This mixing between her caring maternal concern and the underlying teasing of lovers is very sweet.

The lyrics of the song are pretty telling: “oh, oh, we’re halfway there. /Oh, oh, livin’ on a prayer,/ Take my hand and we’ll make it, I swear”. Indeed, they’re “halfway” through both the season and the development of their relationship, as they’re already past the honeymoon stage and the lingering doubts about their commitment and compatibility and past jealousy –courtesy to Pike and Erica. They’ve taken their first step into becoming an official couple by introducing Jane to Lisbon’s family as her boyfriend. It’s probably not a coincidence that Jane’s fears –the same he admitted had been keeping him from getting closer to her when he confessed his feelings for her in ‘Blue Bird’- resurface more visibly just after she told him she loved him too… As they did at the bar when they interrupted their Foosball playing, they might be reaching a half-time in their relationship. Another interesting aspect is that Lisbon’s kept faith in that nighttime hopeful “prayer”, even though the unusual choice of the rock song as a lullaby indicates how much she had to improvise as a teenage surrogate parent. As she used to be with her brothers, she’s the responsible adult, the fixer of people, the independent, strong one who knows how to bring comfort even in the dark world she grew up in… On the contrary, Jane has lived in fear for years: he refuses to sing along with her and when he joins her he’s talking about “the pain”… He hasn’t let go of his demons.

Yet, this humorous and intimate moment is endearing and funny, because it speaks of living together: it’s the very first time both are shown sleeping together –even if viewers could see her lay on his bed when he was ill. Their sleepwear also hints at how familiar they’ve become: he’s wearing old-fashioned pajamas, like he did once in the first season-, while she’s ditched the jersey for a more seductive satin babydoll that makes her alluring if not overly sexy. They’re completely acting as a couple at home even though they’re not in a real house.

The notion of house is meaningful here: Lisbon has given Jane a set of keys to her own house, but they’re still spending the night in his trailer. It’s certainly not the first time: after all they’ve spent only one morning after at Lisbon’s, at least onscreen (‘Nothing But Blue Skies’). This echoes with the office/apartment fake purchase in the beginning of the episode, with their undercover house hunting and with Jane being “a little envious” at Lisbon’s childhood house. Houses are a permanence fixture and, for them, are symbolic of a more stable life (just as Lisbon got a house when she decided to invest more time and attention in her private life during the hiatus). It contrasts with the homey but shabby ‘Silver Bucket’ which fragility is emphasized by the starry night sky above. Emotionally and relation-wise, they’re not yet to the point of having a house together: the provisory aspect of the trailer is symptomatic of their disagreement over the future, as they’ve yet to decide what to do of their lives. It’s a memento of Jane’s less than stellar childhood, in stark opposition with the yellow house and linked to running away with Angela: this attachment to something that is associated with fleeing (and which may even allow him to do just that) shows that he has not let go of his insecurities. He’s still clutching at a familiar emotional blanket, hence his deep fear of the darker parts of his past coming to life again when he realizes that he might lose another woman he loves. As long as he’s not faced those ghosts and that part of his that still lives in the past, he probably won’t manage to communicate fully with Teresa and they won’t make any further decisive progress.

While Jane is both metaphorically and literally in a dark place of worry, Lydon’s own “good plan” is unfolding: the man is changing his appearance as Jane knew he would. He’s shaving his head in a twisted and threatening parody of a morning routine, which is a continuation of the couple’s falling asleep in the previous scene. Both his and Jane’s plan are linked and respond to one another, in a very familiar dual pattern reminiscent of RJ’s pas de deux with the consultant.

VIS#4: the operation

As the team gets ready to take Lily safely out of the hotel room, the impression of danger gets more specific: she’s the target and like in her first apparition, she’s wearing a pink-reddish jack that makes her very noticeable among the gray and black outfits in the room.

Lily rather trusts the team’s abilities to protect her, but her husband is as reticent as ever. He demands guarantees that the plan will work and that they’re prepared enough and, when she left the room, he finally blurts: “if anything happens to her today, you know, and I could have stopped it…” Abbott is quick to reply that his wife wants to do this and they’ll do everything to keep her safe: “It was a good decision; you need to trust her on it, okay?” Jane’s worried face is visible in the foreground while Abbott is talking and it show how much of an impact his words have on him: like Matthew, he’s been feeling guilty for years for getting his family killed and now he’s faced with the same kind of situation. He’s afraid that Lisbon will get hurt, more badly than just a bullet grazing her arm, and he knows he’s the brain behind the scheme. He can prevent her from getting in the heat of the action… but that also means that he doesn’t “trust” her decision to do her job of protecting Lily.

This is why, after Lydon’s plan gets going with a smoke bomb used as a decoy, Jane sets his own smoke screen in place. The hitman is disguised as an EMT –with a dark blue uniform and an bright orange bag, which would have screamed danger in the RJ era- and he enters the building almost at the same time as Jane is leaving while glancing around to spot him. The consultant enters a surveillance van where Wylie is working his magic with screens and cameras. Jane has already warned his coworkers that Lydon must be wearing some kind of uniform and, soon he pretends to identify the man as an EMT on the 7th floor (an echo to the 7th season, maybe). The team and Lily are on the 6th and Lisbon volunteers to go get their suspect. It’s a false alert, but in the meantime Lydon has taken action and faked being shot in order to split the team. He takes one agent down and go for it in front of the elevator under a frightening red light. That’s when the subtlety of Jane’s plan is revealed: he too used a feint to get the man to reveal himself. They’ve substituted Lily for Vega, who’s wearing a wig and the eye-catching clothes. After the man is shot and the situation is under control, Lisbon comes back to find out that she missed the action… Her distressed expression when Jane asks where she is over the radio and her simple reply “I’m here, I’m just getting back with the team” indicate that she just realized that her absence was no coincidence…

Like many times before, Jane’s plan is based on a magic trick: a quick substitution, right under his audience/adversary’s eyes. It’s basically the same ruse used on the scene in ‘Pink Champagne on Ice” and the show aspect is stressed out by Abbott when he gloats in front of the arrested Mrs. Bittaker: “sometimes, people just see what they want to see”. Belinda applauses… But a major difference is that Lisbon is no longer his lovely assistant or the partner embodying the psychic of their little act: whereas in ‘Pink Champagne on Ice’ she was the secret weapon hidden in the magic box, now she’s been excluded from the action. She’s no longer the one who saves the day, but she’s been arbitrary lured behind the scene for her own sake. Jane’s played at the same time the director for his team and the conman with his own partner; he’s taken her cop identity from her.

Interestingly, the whole plot of the episode is closely based on the events of ‘Blood Money’ in Season 2. Back then, the episode opened on Van Pelt ordering a hit on her former boyfriend Rigsby as a cover for identifying a hit man/serial killer –whose moustache and tools were alluded to by Lydon’s disguise. Jane’s recklessness in front of the judge after he’d broken in the suspect’s home resulted in Lisbon being suspended (the trial setting is hinted at by Lily and Hu being major witnesses for the prosecution). In order to help her to get back in Hightower’s good graces Jane called her near a warehouse to bust a gang whose boss happened to be a seemingly inoffensive and confused old lady, who used her son as a decoy: here, equally deceptive Belinda directs her sons and her unsavory business from a garage. But the most interesting point is that, after Lisbon took the brunt of his actions and both ended up stranded in the Mexican desert, she suddenly realized that he was trying to help her. Jane’s response to her surprise was “you know I’m always gonna save you, Lisbon. Whether you like it or not”. Lisbon retorted that she didn’t need to be saved and that she’d always known that working with him would end in disaster and that one day she’d be fired because of him; she nonetheless accepted it because they were catching a lot of bad guys… It was one of their very first fight and at the same time real discussion on screen and it was in hindsight a major step in their relation. Now, Lisbon’s job is no longer Jane’s priority: he no longer needs to protect her career to stay close to her, because he knows he has her love and devotion. Yet, Lisbon’s position is still valid: her career is still at stake; Jane wants her to stop being a cop, because his fears make him consider that “saving” her involves keeping her safe from any danger, even those she’s always accepted to face on the job. The similarity between the episodes at two very different moments of his life indicate that he’s still stuck in the terror that plagued him then: to protect her, he’s also still willing to manipulate her, because he considers he knows better and because deep down he doesn’t want to feel guilty and suffer in case things turn ugly again.

VIS#5: the ending

The moral conflict at the heart of the episode is summed up y Belinda’s remark to Abbott that he doesn’t have “the faintest idea about the love a parent has for a child”: love is her sovereign justification for the deaths she caused and her reasoning for not wanting to “throw” Kelvin “under a bus” to save her own skin. It was also Matthew’s reason for worrying about his family and Lily’s one for wanting to put Kelvin in jail. At the same time, love and protective instincts also pushed Jane into the path of lying again to his girlfriend.

Love and its failures at been represented by many pairs in the few last episodes… Yet, this time, Wylie’s discouraged admiration for Vega is not part of those examples. Taking Michelle at her words, he organizes a surprise gaming competition for the two of them. They share a pleasant and cheerful moment which comes as an echo of the main couple playing Foosball at the beginning: like Jane then, Wylie is playfully cheating and a Texas flag is visible behind them, just like the neon sign “Texas” decorated the bar.

In contrast, Jane and Lisbon aren’t doing so well. Abbott has been telling Belinda that she and her precious family are “all gonna go down together” and Wylie and Michelle too have been yelling to one another “you are going down” as Lisbon did when defeating Jane: is that a way to imply that the main characters’ relationship is going downhill too? One way or another, the jolly moment between the youngsters is in direct opposition with Lisbon’s gloomy isolation in the nearly empty bullpen. Her tensed expression when looking outside the window is emphasized by the darkened room and the anxious atmosphere is quite similar to Jane’s worried insomnia in the airstream: in one day, Jane’s actions have reversed the dynamics between them. The night before, Lisbon was eager to reassure him; now, she’s suffering the consequences of what he planned when she was sleeping… The connection between the scheme and this moment is underlined by the similar lines: he asked “where are you?” after Lydon’s downfall, whereas now they’re commenting “there you are. –Here I am”.

Jane detects immediately that something is wrong, just like she did when waking up. Lisbon is straight to the point and tells him that he must already know: the sore point is that he took her off on purpose. He explains that he wanted to protect her, which makes her angry: “Protect me? I’m an FBI agent”, “it’s my job”. He tries to placate her by repeating “I know” to whatever she says and concludes with a half-hearted “I’m sorry”. But Lisbon sees through what he doesn’t say and she asks him directly whether he’d do it again. He answers sincerely that he probably would, which Lisbon sees as a problem. Jane tries again to throw in a conciliatory line but Lisbon won’t have it: if he amends “its not a problem”, she corrects bluntly “a really big one”, because he can’t “do that”, he has to let her do her job. Lisbon is at a loss about how they would work together if he doesn’t understand her point. Jane’s final tentative line is “we’ll work it out”…

The parallel between the “work” issue and the necessity to “work it out” makes this talk a harsher version of the cheeky discussion that had a few time ago about quitting law enforcement to build a dream life elsewhere. Whereas making plans was a way to open up to the other then, it masked Jane’s insecurities and Lisbon’s worries about their first disagreement concerning the way each of them envisions their life together. It’s why work is now more than ever at the core of the problem that leaves them no longer cuddling under a blanket, but coldly separated in front of the elevator. In a way it reminds of their many separations in front of the CBI elevator too: in ‘Red Rover, Red Rover’, for instance, it was also Jane’s obsession to hide his true intentions and feelings behind lies and manipulation that kept them to get closer.

Jane and Lisbon are therefore the example of a falling apart relationship in the episode: the others pairs are doing better than them, Wylie and Vega are bonding; the almost arguing couple with worry/hope issues ends up in each other’s arms during the exchange with Michelle. But Patrick and Teresa deal with miscommunication and mistrust, because Jane lied and tricked her. He’s truly cheated, just like she accused him of doing when they were enjoying a friendly game and now it “hurts” them both to quote her playful provocations at the bar. He’s making decisions for her in the same way as Abbott has been deciding things on his own for his wife’s sake at the risk of living apart from her. Therefore Jane has committed the same kind breach of trust as some of the other characters who hurt their life partner in the previous episodes: the colonel, who was selfish in murdering his wife and didn’t trust his lover enough, and the jealous poker player from ‘Little Yellow House’ have also failed at communicating. At the same time, Lisbon’s at fault too, because she did not manage to hear what Jane was trying to tell her: her reassuring words were not enough to make him at ease and she should have understood that his pain run deeper than the worry he was displaying on the surface. After all, he did imply that he couldn’t deal with losing her: he said as much in the plane when he confessed to her, it scared him “for obvious reasons”. His willingness to make her quit her job reflects that overwhelming terror and, from his point of view, he had no other means to keep her safe since she wouldn’t listen to the hidden meaning he was trying to convey. Helping him get over or at least face that trauma born from the brutal loss of his family is also part of the fixing mission she has taken on her shoulders: it’s quite unfair to try to heal some scars –like the broken teacup- while expecting him to sweep the darkest pain under the carpet of that little silvery home they’ve been creating in the Airstream… It’s normal that she resents him for breaking her trust (and not trusting her either about the depth of his uneasiness with the situation), but working things out should be a two people’s task in their case… Now, Lisbon is blinded by anger and she gives him a piece of her mind like she did in ‘Green Thumb’: however, back then the argument left him as distressed at the perspective that she may be rejecting him. Her dressing down in the plane thus mostly served to prevent him to try and get closer even when she was hoping he would. Hopefully her resentment won’t have the same consequences now in the long run.

Anyway, it’s interesting that the successive endings of the episodes of the season outline the progress of their love affair: Pike’s question, the rooftop reunion after Erica’s meddling, the glued back together teacup, Lisbon’s “I love you” are important steps in the trust department. But this one shows how stuck up they’re still are in their old issues about mistrust and control. Only this time, Jane’s ulterior motive is to keep her safe, which is another indirect proof of love. He’s eager to make up with her, because he probably realizes that he might be losing her too by his own wrongdoings if they don’t reach an understanding soon.


Mentalist Little Yellow House Review


Synopsis

Upon learning that the FBI is looking for her little brother Jimmy (Robert Belushi) as a material witness in a murder case, Lisbon and Jane fly to her hometown Chicago to find him. It quickly becomes an emotional trip down memory lane as Lisbon is forced to face her old childhood house as well as the resentment of troublemaker Jimmy and her other brother, family man Stan (Derek Phillips).

Concise Verdict

Marisa Wegrzyn did a wonderful work in fleshing out Lisbon’s mysterious childhood. The picture she painted not only fitted with Lisbon’s personality and the few details we knew of the character scattered through rare episodes like ‘Red Tide’, ‘Code Red’, ‘Where in the World Is Carmine O’Brien?’ and ‘So Long, and Thanks for All the Red Snapper’, but it also brought to life a brighter side of her memories. The other episodes, even the one featuring Tommy, her other charming mutineer of a brother, showed her worry and uneasiness towards her family, as a kind of worn negative photography that she carries with her but doesn’t like to look at… While inside the old, messy, but well-loved ‘Little Yellow House’, Lisbon is finally able to let go of her sadness to step outside, where her family is waiting for her in a cheerful and affectionate party. All in all, it’s a very cute and heart-warming moment.

Detailed AKA Humungous Review (spoilers galore)

VIS#1 Jane plays with his team

When she enters the bullpen, Lisbon is greeted by a pleasant scene: Jane is teaching balance to Vega by making her keep a toy straight on the palm of her hand. Cho and Wylie are looking and Jane tells her to think about anything to keep her concentration. He proceeds to talk about s’mores made of “Graham crackers, chocolate, marshmallows toasted on a campfire”… until one of Cho’s remarks that “s’mores are better in a microwave” shocks Vega into dropping her toy. This light-hearted moment reminds of the ones he shared with his old team, playing with them and teaching them tricks, particularly as he’s wearing what looks like one of his old three-pieces suits and is later seen drinking from his old teacup. Jane always liked to show off his teaching skills and his method so far for bonding with his new teammates was to offer them toys (in ‘Black Helicopters’), so he’s giving to same attention to the rookie. But the colorful toy and the vivid image of “a campfire” also prepare viewers for the childhood memories about to assault Lisbon.

Indeed, Lisbon is soon approached by a woman with upsetting news: her youngest brother Jimmy is a fugitive. He’s fled after the Feds labeled him a witness in the murder of a judge’s son. After agreeing to convince him to turn him in, she gets Abbott’s authorization to go to Chicago to try to help. Her hesitation when asked if she’s close to him already indicated that she knows he won’t be looking for her help on his own –at least not hers, since he called their brother Stan-, so in true mother hen’s fashion, she’ll be the one looking for him… Interestingly, after showing that he related to Jane’s past, Abbott also shares similarities with Lisbon: “I’m the oldest of five”, “some days you want to strangle them… all of them, at the same time…” Like Lisbon explained in ‘The Greybar Hotel’ after defusing a fight, this experience hints at where the man got his leading skills and his protective streak. It also puts the Fed’s indiscretion at talking openly about a family matter in front of Lisbon’s coworkers into a less unprofessional light: instead of basking in gossip, Lisbon’s team wants to help.

On the other hand, Jane’s willingness to follow her is pretty sweet: he doesn’t assume that she needs his help and doesn’t sneak his way into her private life this time. Instead, both dance for a bit around the notion of “do you want (me) to come?” showing how dependent they’d become of the other, yet also how unsure they’re still about the other’s commitment. After Jane states that “fun’s overrated”, they come to an agreement: “we’ll do it together”. It’s a big change from the scheme Jane used in ‘Blue Bird’ to make her follow him: back then, the agreement was about making their last case together “fun”. Now, they can be more honest and trusting: there’s no need to hide behind false smiles.

VIS#2: Lisbon’s childhood, residual pain

1) The house: family life

That’s what Lisbon understands when arriving to her old childhood house, explaining “my parents bought this house when I was three. I lived here all through high school… I haven’t been here since my dad died.” Jane is understanding and mindful to cheer her up by admiring the house. He points out that he never lived in a house when he was a kid, so he’s a little envious… They quickly discover that Jimmy was her but the surprising part is that inside the house, the past is still alive: the key is hidden at the same place and inside an old book Jane finds some photography of her as a kid and a yellowed newspaper article about her as the “student of the week.” Captivated, he asks her where her room was and runs to it while holding the photo. He’s delighted to find here a “wall graffiti” made by her: a kid drawing of a perfect family with the father near the yellow house, a car, trees, flowers, a bird and a big dark-haired mother near little Teresa… Jane’s fascinated by Lisbon’s past, he’s always tried to unveil the mystery that shrouded her childhood, but this time he more openly displays the tenderness he feels when getting to know her better.

This also probably stems from the slight envy he admitted to feeling: his childhood was spent alone with an abusive and cold-hearted father in a trailer, the only place he ever called home was a trailer park (‘Red John’s Rules’), he doesn’t have any material souvenir from that time, so getting to feel the warmth of a family through the woman he loves grounds him into something he’s been yearning for and that he can now share with her. In that way too, Lisbon’s influence is setting his past at peace: her still tangible happy pre-tragedy childhood that she didn’t get rid of even when things went down reconciles him with the notion of family, which must be linked with bad memories from his less than stellar upbringing and the failure of his own attempt at building one. Indeed, it’s certainly no coincidence if Lisbon’s painting is made on a wall, just like RJ’s smiley: both the yellow house and Jane’s family residence keep the mark of a traumatic event that crushed the family living in it. Yet the smiley is a reminder of the tragedy, while the child’s drawing is one of what’s been lost from happier times, hinting that even though the ordeal has kept them from fully moving on so far, there’s still light at the end of the darkness; they’ll get there. As always, Blake Neely’s music skillfully enhances the nostalgia of the sweet moment, until it’s shattered by a man attacking Jane out of the blue.

Jane’s interest for the house matches Lisbon’s giddiness at pretend house hunting with the man in ‘The Silver Briefcase’. May them be focused on a past home or on a place to settled down as a new couple starting a life together, both cases are linked by the notion of moving on and maybe building a family (Lisbon remembering when their parents bought the house).

2) Brother Stan: how she left behind her family ties

The next logical step is visiting Stan Lisbon whom Jimmy’s gotten in touch with. Stan was the one responsible for the “disaster” inside the yellow house: he’s been willing to make repairs in order to move in with his family but obviously he’s not made much progress yet… His decision to live in the old house full of memories contrasts with Lisbon’s reluctance: while he’s okay with living there and while Jimmy seeks refuge inside too as in a reassuring haven, Teresa has not returned since their father’s suicide. It already indicated that they’ve different manners to deal with their past and the subsequent grief. Of the three, Lisbon has chosen the worst grieving process, apparently: she cut ties with her pain and ignored it instead of learning to live with it. As a consequence, her wounds have not fully healed yet which explains why her past has always been a touchy issue and why, unlike Stan and Tommy, she couldn’t get herself to have a family of her own even though she wanted one –her envy in front of Rigsby’s happiness and her willingness to follow Pike because he could give her a future showed well enough what she longed for.

On the other hand, the mess inside Stan’s current home hints that he’s not completely dealt with their history either: the baby and kid clutter hint that there are still personal matters he’s not put in order. Lisbon’s need to apologize to Jane for it is telling: “I’m sorry, my family is messy.” Jane’s acknowledgement that “messy people are good people” doesn’t reassure her: her defensive “I’m not messy” is met by an affectionate “you’re messy on the inside”. Lisbon’s control freak tendencies have indeed the same meaning than Stan’s untidiness: for years, she’s kept her stuff in unopened cardboards (‘Red Badge’) in an attempt to control her emotions instead of dealing with them, while her brother left everything in the open… Not to mention that the later discovery that Stan is going through a very difficult patch because he wanted to have money and do the right thing for his family explains that his “life is a mess” in more senses than one. Same when Jimmy accuses Lisbon of only calling him when she thinks he “messed up”: both men make efforts to compare with Lisbon’s strict moral standards represented by her orderliness and they end up in trouble for trying too hard.

Plus, amusingly Jane’s accepting remarks about messiness may remind faithful viewers of a different belief he expressed in ‘The Scarlett Letter’ about how messy women make good lovers. Is it reading too much into the line to wonder if he might implicitly be admitting to viewers that, even though she’s not privy to the joke, under her straightforward and sometimes uptight appearance Teresa must match his hopes in a more intimate setting?
Either way, the meeting with Stan and his family stirs up mixed feelings: from the start, there’s an edge lurking underneath the affection. Her sister-in-law Karen teases her about not wearing cowboy boots (she expected them “on the Chicago gal living in Texas”, a continuation nod to Abbott’s Western movies references in ‘Green Light’: in addition of it being part of a running joke about Texas clichés, it also shows that she’s in for a confrontation, which is why a poster featuring a cowboy can be seen later behind Jimmy when the scheme is being put on the road). But at the same time, it’s obvious Lisbon has not kept herself updated on the family status. She didn’t realized that her nephew Joey is already more than three years old: there’s already three more children in the family, Annie who’s too in a preschool age, the toddler Brian that Lisbon was cooing at and newborn Paul. Which leads viewers to wonder how she missed all those events since they know that she moved to Texas… she’s probably only been calling for serious matters (like Jimmy getting in trouble) and to tell them where they could get her in case something bad happened. After all, the very first time she mentioned getting in contact with one of her brothers was in Season 2 ‘Code Red’ when she thought she was dying. Getting them updated on matters like her love life and getting the man of her dreams seem too trivial, hence their surprise at meeting Jane as her boyfriend…

Indeed, Stan comments that “it’s fun to meet one of Teresa’s boyfriends” and launches on a tale about one of her previous boyfriends, Woody Squire a local bad boy wearing eyeliner and a ring, which he pierced himself on his lip: he got infected right before prom… Was Woody that “jerk” who Lisbon loved from –not so- afar but couldn’t dance with, as mentioned in ‘Red-Colored Glasses’? Actually Stan is so adamant to sticking to the well-known clichéd family hobby of embarrassing his sister in front of a new boyfriend that it feels a bit forced: he’s obviously clutching to it in order to avoid answering Lisbon’s question about their brother, “the one who’s in trouble with the federal government”… He’s siding with Jimmy’s plea for secrecy by telling that he “will be okay”: “I mean he’s dumb, but he’s not stupid” and “whatever Jimmy got into, he could handle it”… He remarks “not all of us are cops, T.” and calls her “boss” and, after inviting her to the christening of the baby he scoffs when she tells him she’ll try. There’s defiance towards her job and her commanding status: it doesn’t stem from jealousy, but from the awareness that her job is just a pretext: she’s been using it as an emotional barrier not to get close to people (he retorts to a startled Lisbon that he got a job too, yet he’s not busy all the time). This is why Stan feels more comfortable remembering the sister he knew from old memories and chatting with Jane than actually talking to her.

Meanwhile, Jane is already at work analyzing the man: he’s asking about his job and has probably understood he was hiding something. When they’re out, Lisbon calls Wylie back at headquarters to get information on the murder case Jimmy is involved in and Jane takes that opportunity to give him a “pretty detailed” description of his aggressor.

3) Brother Jimmy: the one who got in trouble

The trip continues at a bar where they hope to find some friends of the wayward Jimmy. As soon as Teresa steps inside, she’s warmly greeted by a former friend, a younger guy that she used to babysit and who starts recalling a trick he played on her once: he locked her out of the house and she threw a brick through a window to get back in. She was such a “straight arrow” that she paid for the window even though it wasn’t her fault. This memory is pretty enlightening: after the rebel streak expressed through her taste in men (her former bad boy boyfriend who foreshadowed Jane’s transgressions), her stubbornness in sticking to her task even at the cost of some misdemeanor from herself gives a new insight into her dealings with Jane, whom she also felt responsible for. Not letting go of her responsibilities and trying to enforce the right thing to do into her charge’s mind was indeed the basis of the trust vs. control saga, to quote Reviewbrain’s wonderfully accurate expression.

This is when Jane shows that he’s more than Teresa’s tame boyfriend: he’s covertly lifted the guy’s phone to check if Jimmy has been calling him. As he tells the younger man matter-of-factly, “you seem like a very nice kid, but you’re a terrible liar.” After Lisbon puts the younger man’s scruples at rest by insisting that it’s a family urgency, he spills the beans. Jane concludes the talk with another family note: “your mom called, you should probably call her back”. The consultant is hell-bent into reuniting family members, it seems.

Finally, the dynamic duo finds their prey and interestingly many details echo Jane’s chase for redemption: the red elements in the background in Stan’s house and at the bar, the birds at the lack and the fact that Jimmy is fishing all remind of themes of the RJ era which is a way to hint that more than her brother, it’s her whole past that Lisbon is trying to reach. The meeting goes even worse than it did with Stan, because in spite of calling her “sis”, James is adamant to stress out the distance between them: his reluctance to accept her help (“did I ask for your help?”) quickly turns in something bitterer: “it’s funny how I’m only your brother when you think I messed up. Look, talking to an FBI agent is not a great idea for me right now. Talking to the feds is gonna get me in hot water with a very dangerous guy. ” Obviously, he perceives Lisbon’s worry as controlling and disdainful and she’s part of the antagonistic group in his little run in with the law. He doesn’t trust her and, like Stan, he resents her job. He may not be so much aware that she’s only using it as a pretext to avoid them, because he seems to focus more on the position of authority. Interestingly, the same dynamic seemed at work with Tommy in ‘Where In The World Is Carmine O’Brien’ when he asked her to stop undermining his effort after he chose to follow her step in law enforcement as a bounty hunter. It looks like all three brothers realize that Teresa’s job is in the way of her love, but every one of them has a different attitude towards it: Stan is more mature and tries to put his affection forward, even though his resentment is visible. In Season 3 Tommy tried to get closer to her ideal brother by taking her as a model, even if that means his effort to be better than her involved cheating and tricking her: becoming a rival was an underhanded way to get her approval even if he never stated as much. Now, Jimmy is harsher -probably because he’s apparently not a father, which doesn’t give him insight into feeling responsible for someone- hence his more brutal confrontation: he misses Lisbon and is angry at her because of that. Her power status only enhances how bereft her absence in his life must make him feel. He’s looking for her attention, but only receives the wrong kind in a way that he feels is more judgmental than protective (“you’re gambling again? Are you playing poker? –Would you back off me for like one minute?”). Not to mention that his suspected gambling addiction might be a way to fulfill an emotional lack of consideration.

Again, Jane steps in and takes the matter in his own hands to put an end o the argument. After Jimmy tells him that being his “sister’s boyfriend isn’t really a position of authority” to him, Jane puts his cards on the table: he’s offering him a “deal”. He comes back to Texas with his sister and him and he’ll never have to testify because they’ll catch the killer. Jimmy is skeptic (“how do you swing that?”) and states “I don’t even know you, man, why should I trust you?” Jane’s answer is interesting: he says he’s trustworthy because he’s figured what the man in the house was after but he hasn’t told Lisbon. He’s willing to earn their trust by lying to Lisbon by omission… He amends “look, I don’t like keeping secrets from Teresa. I care about her. And I care about the people that she cares about”. It’s this “promise” to protect him that convinces the younger man and Jane is able to shake his hand and to yell to a worried Lisbon lurking nearby that they’re good.

Once Lisbon gets back in the bullpen with Jimmy in low, the atmosphere shifts to something more familiar: her little brother is reluctantly in awe of her success (“this is where you work? Fancy. It’s a step up from the fryer at Casper’s”). It’s enlightened by Lisbon’s beige pantsuit and light blue-gray shirt: her clothes match the FBI beige, metallic and glass walls. She literally fits in, emphasizing that she belongs here. It’s also amusing that Jimmy sees fit to hit on Vega, introducing himself in a flirty tone to which Vega simply replies to with a curt “can I help you?” The moment grabs Wylie’s attention as the poor guy is obviously not over his crush for his energetic coworker.
Lisbon gets him back in track and things get serious again when she interrogates him. Jimmy is surprised because she’s recording him and asks her if she’s going to read him his rights too: it’s an interrogation and Teresa hides her motherly protectiveness under a stern cop act. Fortunately, it gets better after the younger Lisbon starts talking and they get back in more familiar grounds. Jimmy admits he drove all the way from Oklahoma City to Dallas for a poker game and insists that “you’d drive three hours for a good game”. Lisbon primly denies it and Jimmy jokes “it must have been my other big sister, who taught me how to play cards”. It’s a nice reminder of Lisbon’s influence over him and his upbringing as well as her interest in poker during Season 5.

This detail shows how his rebellious streak and his knack for getting in trouble come from her: he’s learnt how to play from her and there’s no doubt that his passion for playing is a way to keep feeling close to her, like law enforcement was for Tommy, not to mention that Lisbon has the habit of helping them out, like she does for Jane. It nuances the by-the-book personality that she put forward for years: she’s been quite similar to her consultant from the start which weakens again Erica’s affirmation that she’s only attracted to his transgressions. The more her old self comes to light, the more it becomes apparent that she has that yearning for revolt in her too and that she can relate to him on a deeper level than the seductress ever suspected and made it look like.

VIS#3: undercover stunts

The main points of Jimmy’s revelations are a list of suspects and a connection to George Holiday, a “mobster in cowboy boots and a big-time gambler” –to continue the reference to cowboys and western movies. After Abbott made sure that the case is theirs to handle from now on, they decide in a meeting with Jimmy that Jane and Cho “will make friends with the mobster”. They two men end up at Holiday’s bar as two betting men with lots of cash. They manage to get the criminal’s attention and he goes as far as to give Jane some advice: “be more careful with your money… and your mouth”. Jane only thanks him in an ironical tone. They made contact and the man will remember him.

To further hook the mobster, Jane sends his secret weapon: a leather-clad Lisbon. Jane has noticed how the mobster interacted with the female bartender and Lisbon’s black sleeveless top and short skirt are enough to convince the man to make a move on this sexy stranger… until Jane arrives as her boyfriend. The fact that they go again undercover as a couple (after ‘The Greybar Hotel’, ‘Orange Blossom Ice Cream’ and ‘The Silver Briefcase’) may indicate his desire to make their relationship public, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make it convincing. After a few drinks with the friendly mobster, they start drunkenly bantering about Jane’s supposed lack of poker skills. While she tells that he’s “terrible at poker”, he insists that he’s after the “fun” even if it means he loses a lot of money. He states: “there’s the thing with cards: it’s like a showdown in the Wild West, kill or be killed. I mean, who doesn’t love that?” This half-admission to being hooked on gambling –as well as the new reference to western movies- makes the criminal business man even more interested: sensing an easy prey, he invites Jane to a “big” game.

Meanwhile, Jimmy makes sure the four other suspects are in too. Each of them is introduced by Lisbon and Cho reading of their files while the suspects are shown playing a poker game, in a way quite reminiscent of the double contradictory confession at the end of ‘The Silver Briefcase’… Jimmy uses the word that, to quote Jane, “makes every poker player smell blood”: there’s a “whale” –Jane himself- who loses big money and doesn’t care for winning. The prospect of cleaning him out is sure to lure all of them in. It’s also amusing that the technical gambling term “whale” reminds both of Lisbon’s fear of everything marine (“whales and storms and pirates” alike when Jane tried to talk her into leaving the FBI for brighter and larger horizons in ‘The Silver Briefcase’) and of Jane’s past obsession for revenge symbolized by ‘Moby Dick’: this episode is certainly pivotal in linking past ordeals and future possibilities in Teresa’s life.

The task of scouting the room where the game is to take place is given to Wylie and Vega. The younger agents pose as a feisty couple at the hotel. It may have been a way to tease them again… that is, had the potentially romantic suggestive mood not been shot down right away when Vega begins a domestic scene with her supposed boyfriend, about the room, his mother and whatever else crosses her mind. Those two once again represent one of the failed relationships in the growing list featured in the more recent episodes…

VIS# 4: family explanation

Unfortunately, Teresa is in for a nasty surprise: her brother Stan, who she thought was out of trouble, has been beaten up and his wife calls her out of despair. He refuses to tell them what happened to him and shows his family resemblance with Teresa by being too honest to manage a convincing lie in front of someone he cares about. Lisbon quickly surmises that it’s Jimmy’s fault and she hunts him down. Yet, it quickly appears that Jimmy is covering for his brother like the older Lisbon had been covering for him in front of their stern older sister. She understands that this secret was Jane’s leverage for convincing Jimmy to follow them but is nonetheless surprised at learning how deep in trouble Stan is. His business is not going so well and they needed money when Karen’s last pregnancy got tough, so he contracted a huge debt towards a loan shark. The man who attacked Jane came to collect the money and he finally managed to get his hands on Stan. It therefore appears that both her brothers (and Tommy too in the past) got in serious trouble to get her attention, but didn’t dare call for her help: her absence from their lives created a breach of trust on both sides, theirs for not relying on her, hers for not keeping in touch. Indeed, Jimmy admits that he covered for his brother because “he’s working so hard to be good… I just wanted you to be proud of him”. He doesn’t believe her when she affirms that she is and she insists “I’m proud of all of you”.

The talk shows that Lisbon was Jimmy’s primary motherly figure: he wants her approval. Just like Vega seeks her late father’s approbation in her daily job, Jimmy and his brothers want Lisbon to be proud of them, in order to fit her criteria as good people and maybe in the hopes to get her back. He’s obviously hurt when he points out “did you call me when I got my electrician’s license? You only call to yell at me, just like always.” Lisbon doesn’t understand that the real problem is that they miss her: she tries to focus on the yelling part of the reproach by justifying her actions. She had to be “tough” because “somebody had to be responsible and somebody had to be in charge”. Jimmy is however intent on making his point across: “yeah? You were in charge… then you left”.

All in all, Stan and Jimmy are still acting as kids who cover each other’s faults from “T.” (or “Reese” as Tommy called her before). They see her as another missing mother whom they cannot reach not matter how hard they try to make her proud. It’s probably not a coincidence that the writers David Appelbaum and now Marisa Wegrzyn chose to make them three manual workers (Tommy used to build decks, while Stan and Jimmy are respectively a home-remodeling contractor and an electrician): even though it may contrast with her brilliant career at the CBI and now at the FBI, they’re become builder/fixers just like she is. They fix things like she fixes situations born of murder and violence -and sometimes she fixes people too, like she did with Jane. Deep down, she’s a role model for the whole family, as hinted at by Tommy embracing law enforcement by becoming a bounty hunter and Annabeth’s eagerness to be a cop like her aunt.

Yet, Lisbon is not aware of her influence; she only sees the misbehaviors –that she takes as a personal failure in raising them- and the veiled animosity. This increases her guilt and unease with them because they’re part of a life she’s not over with and wants to forget. She needs to let go of her maternal worry and to trust them as adults but for that she has to accept those emotions she’s so bad at dealing with. Her emotional barrier was perceptible early on: in ‘Code Red’ in Season 2 her last message was to Tommy, to try to mend the bridge between the pair formed by Stan and Jimmy, who seem close, and Tommy himself, who looks more like a loner in their family. This message was again out of guilt from the parent who felt responsible for them and their mistakes, yet her emotional walls kept her from expressing her love with words rather than with actions and orders.

Despite her fight with Jimmy, Teresa’s priority is still to protect him and she wants to be here when the plan unfolds in case he might be in danger. Sensing her distraction, Jane has then a serious talk with her in his airstream when they’re preparing for the game. He’s very direct: “your brothers don’t hate you”; he explains that they’re not “mad” at her, they just miss her. Her wanting a new life is understandable: after her mom died, she left because she felt trapped. Jane is right: that’s exactly what she did with her former fiancé Gregg, she wanted a chance at being independent and free and she left everything behind to build a new life for herself. Hence her lack of a private life when Jane started working with her: she felt guilty for being selfish and for leaving her surrogate children to deal with their problems alone (“now Stan’s life is a mess, Jimmy’s got a gambling problem and God only knows what Tommy’s up to”). Jane is quick to reassure her: “they’ve got their problems but they’re good people and they wouldn’t even be here if you hadn’t loved and protected them when they were kids”. He’s helping her to deal with her guilt for failing at protecting her family, a feeling he knows too well since he reveled in it for more than a decade.
That moment enhances how trusting those two have become with each other: when she states that he figured out the truth about the intruder in the house and kept it from her, he doesn’t deny and just says “well it’s not my business”. He respects her family’s privacy and only interferes when he feels that she needs him to. She on the other hand is grateful and thanks him for his help: she’s even more open about her family problems than she was when Tommy showed up in an investigation. She’s come a long way since the era when she used to forbid him to pry in her private life. Now she trusts him with her troubles, doubts and most intimate thoughts and is happy to have his comfort and support. She doesn’t resent his half-truths and lies by omission because he was trying not to make a decision for them all by displaying his suspicions: he wanted them to come to the heart of the problem on their own.

VIS# 5: poker night

Back to the plan, sexy Teresa and gambling-for-fun-not-money Jane arrive to the hotel for the big game. The atmosphere is balanced between the seriousness underneath and the amusing moments like the talk about the busted toilets (a trick to force their suspect to get out of the room after busting him too) and Wylie’s eagerness to explain to a less than impressed Vega what a tell is (“subtle behaviors a player makes when he has a good or a bad hand. –I know what a tell is.”). Interestingly, Jane’s poker skills were at play in two others episodes with very different aims: in ‘Red-Handed’, he used them to flush out a killer during another big poker night. At the time he was alone, while now he has Lisbon by his side. Later, in ‘Red in Tooth And Claw’, he helped Bertram to better his bluffing technique (a tell inside a tell), in order to get Lisbon in his good graces and to convince him to let Van Pelt go to a computer training program: his goal was to help his team.

However, this scheme greatly differs from his previous performances: now it is Lisbon who is in the spotlight. Like in ‘Black Market’, she’s playing the psychic who can get in contact with murdered people and feel the darker aura of the killer, who she can tell is the one holding an ace. Jane is her assistant who explains that she’s “a little sensitive, a little psychic”: when someone asks “psychic?” he answers “almost”, which is an inside joke given that she’s still learning from him even if she’s getting better at pretending. Of course, her act is only a distraction because Jane is cheating and dealt aces to every player in order to determine which one will betray his guilt with his usual poker tell. It’s a trick that reminds of the one he used in ‘Red Dawn’ in his very first case with Lisbon. The comparison shows the role reversal his influence on her caused: now he’s happy to get the hand work whereas she gets the fun thrilling performance.

Phase two starts then: after their suspects go out to find some working washroom, he’s cornered by Cho who shows him Jane talking with the irate mobster. Yet, the man is not being told the truth about the murder: Jane’s just playing a mind game on him by revealing that he and his “honey” are leaving because there’s a hidden camera. Fear is stronger than logic and the suspect confesses: he suspected that his fiancée Heidi was cheating on him and figured that Nathan, the victim, was the lover since he was wearing one of his monogram embroidered shirts. As Nathan took a lot of money from him too that night, his anger boiled over and he beat him to death. The man is a poignant example of those failed relationships displayed in this season, since his crime was only born out of misguided distrust and lack of communication: actually, Nathan went for coffee with the fiancée and got coffee on his shirt, which prompted her to lend him the incriminating clothe… Had he just talked to her instead of refusing to trust her, Nathan would still be alive and the couple might have gotten over this difficult patch. It greatly contrasts with Lisbon accepting to talk of her most private insecurities with her lover.

Last point, the name “Heidi” might prove interesting, since it may be a reference to two well-known 19th century books for children: it put emphasis on the childhood memories running through the episode and, even though the killer’s jealousy can be linked to Peter’s anger at having to share his childhood friend with a new girl (which prompted him to push Klara’s wheelchair down a mountain slope), the most intriguing part of the book may be Heidi’s homesickness when she’s in the city, far away from her grandfather. To some extent, that yearning for coming back home to a loving family and happier times has probably been hiding in Lisbon’s heart for a long time and she’s starting to acknowledge it. Same with the “Little Yellow House” whose title may remind of the ‘Little House’ series, another 19th century classic of children literature based on childhood memories and nostalgia.

VIS# 6: the party

In an attempt to get closer to her family and to make up for her long absence, Lisbon goes to Stan’s baby christening party, bringing Jane as her date. The atmosphere is very different from the poker night, with people laughing light-heartedly around a barbecue. It contrasts with Jane’s private birthday party but displays the same happiness to be together. Jimmy teases her because “Texas girls drink margaritas” instead of beer and Stan regrets that her pierced ex Woody Squire couldn’t make it. Lisbon is relieved that his face looks better, because she’s “the only one who gets to punch” him and she wants him to let her help in with his debt troubles. Stan admits that they’re very impressed with her, what with Jimmy having seen her performance, which was certainly one of the goals Jane’s trick was aiming for: he wanted to show his family that Lisbon’s job is important and that she is good at it. Her absence makes more sense that way. Stan insists that he’s proud of her and they agree that they should “hang out more” like “normal people”. It’s probably no coincidence that Lisbon’s mother’s cross is openly on display on her décolleté and that the three of them are wearing one dark blue cloth making them match subtly: they’re back to being a family. Patrick also made a strong impression on the Lisbon family and this time, it’s not for teaching to their kids how to pick pockets like he did with Annabeth: Stan and Jimmy “like him. He’s a good guy”. They advice Lisbon not to mess this one up… It might or not be a veiled allusion to her former fiancé whom she run away from. Lisbon smiles at that and at the sight of Jane holding the baby: she’s fully getting her brothers’ approval, both on her career choice and on building a home with Jane.

When she gets a personal moment with her lover, she admits that she’s glad to be back home and works up the nerve for a deeper confession: “I don’t think I’ve said this. I mean, I know I haven’t said it, but I don’t really know if I need to, because you always know what I’m thinking…” finishing with “would you be surprised if I said I love you?”. Jane admits that he’d been lying if he said he wouldn’t be “moved by that” –a tender echo to her “say it again” in ‘Blue Bird’ – so she repeats more confidently “I love you, I said it”. He answers “I’m surprised”… Putting words on their emotions to express out loud what’s been untold for years is an important life-changing process for those two very secretive people and it gets an almost official value. The fact that Lisbon feels ready to acknowledge her feelings for him is also revealing of the absolute trust she places in him: she knows he’s not willing to hurt her. She finally accepted that he wants to protect her and that his love bounds him to her. On the other hand, his surprise at hearing her confession reminds of his shock at realizing that she kept and fixed his old teacup, an action that was already showing how deep her feelings for him had run for years: he didn’t think he deserved a second chance that is getting more real with each passing day. While the teacup was focused on the old CBI days, here her full admission is opening possibilities for the future. Only this time, the questions don’t touch their professional careers, but rather hint at a more personal topic, since her reactions at seeing him play with the baby showed that building a new loving family is not out of the question for her.


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