Mentalist Bloodsport Review


Synopsis

Agent Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) and his date are attending a mixed martial arts contest in Oakland California. The contestants are Manny Flaco (Rey Valentin) and Rowdy Merriman (Jake McLaughlin). Manny beats Rowdy who falls, out like a light, the same time a woman’s body is discovered backstage. Special Agent Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) and Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) arrive on the scene. Manny’s promoter Len Artash (Vasili Boganzianos) tells them the victim’s name is Charlotte Mitchell. She’s a journalist who was writing a book on the fight. While the team searches for suspects with a motive to kill Charlotte, the head of the Professional Standards Unit J.J. Laroche (Pruitt Taylor Vince) zeros in on Rigsby as his new suspect in the murder of Todd Johnson.  

Concise Verdict

This episode was a well told tale with plenty of red herrings, nice character moments, and amazing guest stars. 8.5/10.

Detailed (aka humongous) Review (spoilers galore):

Watching “Bloodsport”, I was reminded of one of the comments to my “Mentalist Expectations for 2011” post. I had been worried that Laroche’s investigation into the team might mean that a title character will turn out to be Red John’s accomplice. Commenter Mary stated:

“I don’t *think* they’ll actually go there… so I’m cautiously excited for seeing them get investigated anyway. “One of our own” plots are kind of a cliche, but they’re a cliche for a reason: they can be a really effective way of creating tension and revealing character”.

I am happy to say that (so far), she’s right.  Writer Eoghan Mahony uses Laroche’s investigation to create friction between Cho and Rigsby, giving us insight into both their characters in the process.  

I was excited to see Rigsby in the opening scene. He is one of the least developed characters on the show. All we know is that Rigsby’s father was part of a motorcycle gang (season two’s “Red Menace”), that he likes rules (Season one’s “Blood Brothers”), and that he has a brutal streak and used to “get hurt” (according to Jane in season one’s “Russet Potatoes”).

“Bloodsport” provides viewers some more details. His father was part of the “Iron Gods” motorcycle gang and was convicted of manslaughter; among other things. Laroche asks if Rigsby is in contact with his father; he denies it. Laroche then confronts him with evidence that his father contacted him a couple of years ago. Rigsby admits that his father needed his help to sort out a misunderstanding with his parole officer. When Laroche tells Cho he wants to see him, Rigsby knows the cat’s out of the bag. He confesses to Cho that he used him to create an alibi for his father; that he lied to his father’s parole officer, telling him that the three of them were together. Cho is then placed in the position of either backing up Rigsby’s story, perjuring himself, or telling the truth and ending his friend’s career.

Now we know that Rigsby is a man who respects rules. This is evidenced by how long it took him to act on his feelings for Grace (because inter-office dating was against protocol) and the fact that he is always the most reluctant (aside from Lisbon) to play along Jane’s unorthodox schemes. Jane even called him a ‘wuss’ in the season two premiere. “Bloodsport” gives us a possible explanation for Rigsby’s attitude; he’s afraid he’ll end up a criminal like his father.   When Laroche mentioned that criminal behavior can be hereditary, he definitely hit a nerve with the young agent.

So it is interesting that ‘straight edge’ Rigsby lied to protect his father. On the other hand, it is not that surprising.  Rigsby comes across as a fiercely loyal (and decent) person. Even if his father abused him as a child ( if we are to believe Jane’s claim, then it’s not unreasonable to assume that Rigsby’s criminal father was the one that hurt him), it is easy to believe that he’d help him.

What is surprising is the insight we got into Cho’s character. We know that Cho used to be a gang member. We have also seen him play along willingly with Jane’s schemes. So it is a little intriguing how upset he got over Rigsby’s behavior. He even straight up told Rigsby that he wouldn’t lie to Laroche for him.

But he does, of course. Despite Cho’s impassive demeanor, he cares about Rigsby. It remains to be seen if the partnership will suffer for it a bit. At the end of the episode Rigsby thanks Cho; he doesn’t respond.  

Honorable Mentions: Jake McLaughlin who plays Rowdy was awesome. Seriously, watching this guy act was pure pleasure; he provided the comic relief in this episode and did an excellent job of it. This is even more notable since that’s usually Baker’s job (alas, Jane is dreadfully glum this season). Other guest stars who also stood out were Richard Roundtree as the seasoned trainer Floyd Benton and Paola Turbay as Manny’s tough and long-suffering wife Beatriz. Finally, Robert Pine was very sympathetic as the bereaved victim’s father.

Best scenes

The winner: Cho’s questioning of Rowdy Merriman. Rowdy is absolutely hilarious. Again, McLaughlin who plays him was amazing.

1st runner up: Lisbon’s questioning of Floyd Benton and how insulted he was that she’d think he’d kill someone over something as mundane as steroid abuse.

2nd runner up: The opening scene with Rigsby and his date. It was funny how obviously uncomfortable he was at her violent cheering. And his flinching at her punches might be further evidence to support the theory that he was abused. Though, to be fair, most people would react the same to her raucous behavior.

Best Lines

“I got nothing to hide. I’m straight thug and I’m proud of it.” -Rowdy Merriman.

“Police and fine women always think they got a right to be wherever they’re at. And you ain’t no fine woman.”- Floyd Benton, explaining to Jane how he knew he was with the police.

“That is so hot. I would love to see you hit someone.”- Rigsby’s date. Though, for the sake of accuracy, his reaction to this line is what made me choose it. The look on his face was priceless.

Pet Peeves  

1- The Mentalist seems to be sexing it up this season. In the season’s premiere, the victim’s wife wore some very low cut tops. Then in this episode, the camera focuses on a half naked woman holding up the boards showing the fight’s rounds. This promiscuity is in stark contrast with how the cameras shied away from the scantily clad waitresses in season one’s “Red Handed”. I must say I am unimpressed. The Mentalist is too good a show to use such blatant fan service; it cheapens it.

2- This was an ‘easy to follow episode’ as opposed to the heavier ones like “Red Moon”. I’m not really sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing; a little variety never hurt anyone. But I think I’d just appreciate a balance between episodes that leave me squeezing my brains out for comprehension and ones where I can just sit and have everything spelled out for me. I once compared this season to a roller coaster, and I now have a clearer idea why. Unlike the previous seasons where most episodes followed a similar cadence, this season’s episodes vary greatly in pace; the result is an almost sporadic season so far with very little harmony. I hope to see more of a balance in the future. Thankfully, “Bloodsport” seems to be taking the the season into that direction. Despite Laroche’s disturbing presence, there was less darkness, less urgency in this episode. I think it’s due to Mahony’s clever script. The A plot focuses more on the side characters (Lisbon and Jane almost fall into the background in comparison), allowing the episode to take a lighter tone, falling back into its  normal rhythm without Jane having to go through a dramatic character change (i.e. suddenly forgetting his Red John troubles and returning to his normal, relatively cheerful self).

3- Speaking of Jane, does he know that Rigsby was a suspect?  If he had Laroche’s suspect list, then the answer is yes. How come we don’t see his reaction to Rigsby’s investigation? Maybe he’s just letting the investigation run its course. After all, he probably doesn’t want Laroche to know he has the list.

Onto the polls. I am undecided as to the last two pet peeves so help me out here:

 

 

About reviewbrain

Screenwriter, independent producer, compulsive critic, editor, artist, language lover, student of life, pacifist, parent. View all posts by reviewbrain

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