Senior CBI Agent Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) has just arrived at a crime scene in Crane Creek California when she gets a call from Director Gale Bertram (guest star Michael Gaston). When he tells her he’d like regular updates on the case Lisbon concludes that someone involved in the case must be ‘connected’. She’s right. The victim is filmmaker Amber Sutherland (Tyra Colar) who came to the town to make a campaign video for the town mayor, an influential friend of Bertram’s. Meanwhile, Jane who is running late to the crime scene is caught speeding. He tells the officer he’s with CBI. Unimpressed, the officer asks to see his license and registration. Jane tries to talk his way out of the situation. And when that doesn’t work, Jane flees the scene. Trying to diffuse the situation, Lisbon appeases local Chief Nail (Louis Hertham) promising that Jane will pay his ticket, to the latter’s protest.
Lisbon then learns that the victim was seen the previous day talking to a Ronald Crosswhite (Josh Randall). He is a man who killed his wife two years ago but got off due to a procedural mistake made by one of Chief Nail’s men. Lisbon and Jane go to talk to Crosswhite who tells them that the victim, Amanda was doing a documentary about his wrongful indictment. He insists that he was out for a drive when his wife was murdered in their home; that the incriminating surveillance footage which put him in his house at the time of the murder is wrong and that his wife’s killer is still out there. Later, Lisbon tells Jane that he’ll get arrested if he doesn’t pay his fine. The next morning Jane goes to the Crane Creek City hall to pay the ticket when Crosswhite enters. Taking hostages (including the Mayor’s wife) Crosswhite demands he not be arrested for killing Amber, and a new investigation be conducted in his wife’s murder.
In my “Red Alert Preview” , I stated:
What has my expectations soaring is…this episode was written by Jordan Harper; writer of season two’s ‘Redline’, one of my all-time favorite episodes. It had so many memorable characters…plenty of mentalism, some Jisbon moments, and an interesting case.
Harper also really played up Lisbon’s awesomeness in that episode and if the promos are any indication, I expect we’ll see that in ‘Red Alert’ too. As a Lisbon fan, I’m ecstatic. I’m sure Robin Tunney will rock the episode.
I am happy to say that my expectations were perfectly met. In ‘Red Alert’, Jordan Harper brings us one of the funniest and revealing episodes of the season.The episode even ends on a somewhat positive note; a sign, a hope that, as viewers, we can dare expect….you’ll see below. Anyway, 10/10.
Detailed AKA humongous review (spoilers galore)
I had a lot of trouble writing this particular review. It wasn’t that the episode was complicated per say, but it brought up a number of issues and established some behavioral patterns which needed to be addressed.
Issue #1: Jane’s Disregard for Rules
Jane’s disdain for rules is a pretty well known aspect of his character. I’ve always assumed it was directly related to his ego; that because he’s so smart, Jane thinks he isn’t required to abide by the same laws that govern others. Rather, he has his own code of ethics which he follows and he expects others (i.e. Lisbon) to accept that. When she doesn’t, it results in the few times Jane is ever truly annoyed with her (Season 1, ‘Red Flame’).
But Jane’s annoyance here seems to be a bit excessive, which brings me to issue #2.
Issue #2: Jane’s Crankiness with Lisbon
When Lisbon tells Jane that she’ll be taking him to City Hall to pay his speeding ticket, Jane smiles and tells her self-assuredly that he made his feelings very clear on the matter. His confidence is quickly replaced with shock when Lisbon states that she sanctioned his arrest if he doesn’t. When she adds that they (CBI employees) are citizens too, not above the law, Jane bites off:
“Oh well, thanks for that Ghandi. What I don’t appreciate is this cheap police state tactics.”
Simon Baker made a very interesting choice for his characters reaction here. It’s like Jane’s insulted Lisbon is forcing him to comply with the law, when, as a cop, it’s only natural for her to do so. Could it really just be because his ego can’t handle being coerced to do something against his will?
A couple of days ago, commenter All-I-Need and I had a discussion in the comments of “Bloodhounds” about how Jane’s ego may just be a cover to hide his insecurity; that he actually fears Lisbon might one day decide he’s more trouble than he’s worth.
In light of that discussion, and Jane’s childish behavior in this episode, a possibility presented itself to me: Perhaps bending the rules, and getting others to do the same for him, is Jane’s way of seeking validation somehow; like getting others to treat him differently makes him feel special; his way of affirming his importance.
And while it may seem hard to believe that Jane of all people is insecure, what really drove the point home for me was the utterly shocked (betrayed!) look on his face at Lisbon’s threat. He may have acted annoyed, but I think he also hurt. Like he’s disappointed Lisbon didn’t do more to get him out of it.
Of course, there could be another reason for Jane’s umbrage. Jane has expressly stated that he trusts Lisbon (Season 2 ‘Carnelian Inc’.). And he always seems to be seeing how far he can push her. A cynical interpretation would be that Jane does this because he wants to see if he can manipulate Lisbon into helping him with his revenge. But more and more I’m beginning to feel it’s actually because Jane wants to feel that there is someone he can depend on; someone he cares about who also cares about him, someone who knows him and is willing to do things for him. That would explain how personally Jane took Lisbon’s ultimatum: He counted on her to get him out of paying and was let down when she didn’t.
It would also explain why when Jane was taken hostage with the others, he gets irked with Lisbon when she tells him to ask Crosswhite to release an injured woman:
“I never thought of that. That’s a great idea,” he deadpans, then widens his eyes to let her know he’s being sarcastic, shaking his head.
It’s like he’s insulted Lisbon didn’t know he’d already tried that. It entails that he thinks she should know him better than that, which goes back to him wanting to be close to someone, and that person happens to be Lisbon.
Of course, he could just be frustrated over the situation.
Perhaps the likeliest possibility is that Lisbon’s law abiding reminds Jane that he’ll one day have to stand against her to achieve his revenge on Red John. In ‘Red Moon’, much to Jane’s annoyance, Lisbon expressed her expectation that Jane would eventually change his mind about revenge. His acting out could be him subconsciously wanting to remind Lisbon of his disregard for the law, how serious he is about his revenge, and that she should prepare (mentally) herself for that day.
Finally, there’s another more positive interpretation for Jane’s frustration with Lisbon. If we go by the assumption that Jane thinks his intelligence is what excludes him from having to follow regulations, then maybe Jane recognizes Lisbon is an intelligent woman and therefore considers the law beneath her and that, like himself, she shouldn’t have to follow rules.
It has been hinted at before. In “Red Sky at Night”, when Lisbon says that a victim (a no-good lobbyist) deserves justice like everybody else, Jane responds: “You’re a cop you have to say that, you don’t really believe it.”
In ‘Red Moon’, when she says that when they catch Red John they’ll put him in jail and try him legally, he says “I just assumed you took that judge and jury stuff with a grain of salt.”
In this episode, he mocks her after she warns Van Pelt to be careful when questioning the Mayor’s wife: “Teresa Lisbon, toughest gal west of the pay cuts and you’re scared of a small town Mayor and his wife.”
Now Jane could just want to corrupt Lisbon so she’ll be more likely to cut him slack. But I don’t think so. There just seems to be something more personal about it. It’s almost like he’s willing to forgive her following the law because she’s a cop and therefore is obliged to (as opposed to citizen consultants who don’t *sarcasm*). But more often he seems upset with her for not going by her own instincts when he knows she’s smart to make her own choices.
Which do you think is most likely conclusion?
Issue #3 Lisbon’s Awesomeness
While it may not be clear why Jane likes breaking rules, it is very clear why Lisbon does so in this episode. When her authority is taken away by the local mayor, Lisbon tries to persuade Bertram to put her back in charge. It’s not a power play; she genuinely disagrees with the plan Chief Nail wants to use to handle the hostage situation. She says it is dangerous and she doesn’t want people to get hurt. Unable to convince Bertram, Lisbon gives an informal tip to a reporter that CBI is bowing to local pressure. The news reaches Bertram who is then forced to return jurisdiction to Lisbon to disprove the claim.
I was so happy with how Lisbon handled the situation. We know Lisbon is smart, and we finally get to see that. Plus, we get to see how Lisbon truly loves her job because it allows her to help people. Her giving the reporter the anonymous tip could have gotten her suspended, or even fired, but Lisbon wouldn’t have cared if it means she can save the hostages. The woman is a saint.
I also love how, unlike Jane, Lisbon doesn’t need constant praise and recognition for her work. She is, in that sense (and all others actually) a perfect foil to Jane. But when Lisbon is commended on a job well done, her face simply lights up (Season 2’s ‘Red All Over’). Here, it was so nice seeing the Director calling her on her ‘smart play’. Lisbon certainly deserves it, though in the end she looks mostly relieved than pleased.
And despite the fact that Lisbon could have easily vindicated herself from Jane’s mocking (which he had been doing the whole episode), by telling him what she did, she does not. It speaks to her strength of character; Teresa Lisbon does not need nor desire Jane’s approval which makes her even more awesome than I thought she was. No doubt she doesn’t want Jane to know that she is perfectly capable of breaking the rules for a cause she deems worthy. Jane pesters her enough as it is without further encouragement.
Issue #4 Bertram’s Pragmatism
In the season premiere, Hightower tells Lisbon “Bertram’s all bottom line, he won’t let personal issues intrude.” It was nice that this claim was reinforced in this episode. Despite Lisbon’s actions, Bertram isn’t angry with her because in the end, everything worked out thanks to her actions. It’s a nice piece of continuity and one that actually made me appreciate the character. He’s not very likable, but at least he’s not vindictive. Especially when compared with how sulky Jane was over having to pay one speeding ticket which brings me to…
Issue #5 Jane’s Continued Tardiness
The reason Jane got the much debated ticket was because he was running late to the crime scene. This isn’t the first time. Jane’s been running late all season (‘Red Sky at Night’, ‘The Blood on His Hands’, ‘Pink Chanel Suit’, and now ‘Red Alert’). I can only assume the writers are purposely trying to establish a pattern here. It would be nice if we knew what it was indicative of. My guess is that he’s been spending more time at his home in Malibu (6 and a half hour drive away from Sacramento) and that’s why he’s always behind the others. Now why he would do that could be because he’s..
Issue # 6 Jane’s Rethinking Revenge?!
Crosswhite is about to be taken into custody, after he witnesses his wife’s murderers confession. But before he leaves he and Jane have the following conversation:
Jane: “Hey, uh, sorry about the whole jail thing, but you did take a bunch of people hostage.”
Crosswhite: “I don’t care, jail doesn’t mean anything to me now.”
Jane: “Yeah, well, we’ll see how you feel about that in a couple of years.”
Crosswhite: “I’ll be fine. I can breathe again.”
Okay, what is going on? After beating us on the head all season with bereaved men, real, or fake, (Max Winter ‘Red Carpet Treatment’, Todd Johnson ‘Red Moon’) whom Jane felts were kindred spirits, when he actually comes across one who’s going to jail as a result of finding his wife’s murder, Jane tells the man he might change his mind about it being worth it?!
What can this mean? Is Jane starting to find the weight of revenge unbearable; continuity for when he went to a support group, under the guise of being undercover (Jolly Red Elf) to talk about his addiction? Has the concept of jail suddenly become particularly unsavory for him? Is he starting to actually see a life after the capture of Red John? Or does Jane only want revenge provided he gets away with it (like Max Winter in Red Carpet Treatment?)
Is it just to keep us guessing? Is it to show that Jane’s passion is fluctuating?
Could this be why Jane is so annoyed with Lisbon this episode? Could her words, her hope for him, be getting through to him despite himself?
The fact that the episode ends on Jane, going to Lisbon’s office, for the sole purpose of bantering with her about not paying the ticket, obviously enjoying himself, suggests that Jane realized that maybe, despite himself, he actually has something to lose now if he pursues unlawful vengeance.
God, I hope so…
I’m open to other interpretations if readers have them. Please let me know what your thoughts are in the comments.
The winner: The opening scene, from when Lisbon says that someone in the case is connected, telling Rigsby he jinxed them, to when Chief Nail tells them his officer is pursuing a suspect ‘acting crazy’.
Lisbon: “See what you did!?”
Ms. Tunney is an absolute delight.
1st runner up: Jane, Lisbon, Chief Nail, and Sergeant Riley at the beginning scene. Lisbon trying to fix things with the chief, Jane fighting with her and everyone else, the ‘underling’ incident’: hilarious.
2nd runner up: Jane and Ronald Crosswhite during the hostage situation, when Jane asks him for the second time why he seems so guilty if he didn’t kill his wife. He tells Jane that he lied to his wife about quitting smoking, that he had been out smoking when she was killed; that if he been there she wouldn’t have died. It is interesting that Jane tells him: “Have you ever considered that the killer was waiting for yo to leave?” Oh, Jane. I wish you could console yourself as well as you can others.
“I mean is this really necessary. Aren’t we all part of the justice league. Do you think Aquaman would give Batman a ticket?”-Jane.
“Meh. Speedtraps. Legalized extortion. You want people to slow down, park out in the open where they can see you but no. you lay in wait like thieves in the night.”-Jane.
“Looks like we both have a little problem controlling our underlings.” –Chief to Lisbon about Jane.
“Underling? Really? Lisbon would you explain to this man I’m a consultant. I’m not below or above I am to the side.” – Jane to Lisbon about the above quote.
“I’d love to chat with you Lisbon but there’s a man here with a large gun wants to talk to you.”- Jane.
“I would like to pay this ticket, but under protest.” – Jane to City Hall clerk Zack.
“Nobody pays any other way.”- Zack.
“What are you, like five? A little patience here.” Jane to Zack, after he asked him if he had a plan.
Enough with the thrillers please, leave something for the finale!