Mentalist Red Alert Review


Synopsis

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.

Concise Verdict

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.

Best Scenes

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.

Best Lines

“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.

Pet Peeves

Enough with the thrillers please, leave something for the finale!

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About reviewbrain

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

11 responses to “Mentalist Red Alert Review

  • Magena

    Issue # 6 Jane’s Rethinking Revenge?!
    He isn’t. Jane just thinks, it was a very stupid thing to do – taking hostages, I mean. (He said something like that to Crosswhite earlier.) It wasn’t necessary. Crosswhite should have found a better way to expose his wife’s murderer, a smarter one. Maybe in Jane’s opinion he isn’t going to jail because of the whole hostage thing but because of his stupidity and hot-headedness. Jane thinks that if somebody wants a revenge he has to be wise: controlled, cold, calm and collected not hysterical and gun-flourishing. Hence the words: “Yeah, well, we’ll see how you feel about that in a couple of years.”
    Sorry for My English, I hope You can understand it.

  • reviewbrain

    I must say I agree with you. After watching yesterday’s episode, I think you are perfectly right. In fact, a lot of the issues of ‘red alert’ have been adressed in ‘blood for blood’ and your comment is really helpful for that that episode too. Thank you.

  • All-I-need

    >>But more often he seems disappointed in her for not going by her own instincts when he knows she’s smart to make her own choices.<<
    That`s what you wrote. And isn`t that just fitting "Blood for Blood" where we had another situation quite like this?
    Okay, back to your episode review:
    I completely agree with you. In all things mentioned. However, I think Jane doesn`t exactly plan on going to jail. Reasons:
    1. Jane doesn`t think killing Red John is a crime, therefore in his eyes there`s no reason for going to jail.
    2. He`s already proven that he can easily break out, which means going to jail will be just a waste of time for him.
    3. My guess: since Jane is only living for revenge, once he has actually killed RJ there is no more reason for him to live, meaning he`ll just kill himself.
    Reason 3 makes me really wish you are right about Jane realizing he has something to lose now. "Something" being Lisbon (and the team), of course.
    I don´t think Jane is spending a lot of time at his Malibu home. If the drive really takes 6 hours, that would mean 12 hours driving there and back, not to mention the time he actually spends there. On the one hand, this would certainly explain him being late AND tired, but it would also mean that he can only be at the CBI every second day, more or less. I`m sure Lisbon or anyone else would have mentioned that. They never know when a case arises and having to drive for 6 hours to get to the crime scene migth be a bit much. I guess he can easily spend his weekends there (if he doesn´t work at the weekends, too). Personally, I think he only drives to Malibu when he`s really stressed, like in the pilot episode after what I guess was the first copycat (and the first reminder of RJ) he had, or his run-in with Red John where he is again back in Malibu.
    I`m already looking forward to your next review, it`s always so interesting to read what you think about those episodes.

  • reviewbrain

    I’ve been waiting for your comments 🙂 I posted this review a few hours before the episode aired, and I was surpised with how I was proven right, that Jane does seem to want Lisbon to think outside the box. But more on that later.
    I so, so hope you are wrong about Jane killing himself after catching red John. I much prefer magena’s comment that he plans on killing red John without being caught (ideally, I prefer red John getting killed in self defense, not murder). But Jane having nothing to live for is too sordid an idea for me; I refuse to believe it.

    About Malibu, it’s a six hour drive from there to Sacremento, but their crime scenes are all over California, not necessarily sacremento. I don’t think Jane is coming to work as regularly as he
    used to, or else he’d show up at crime scenes with Lisbon and the others (like in season one and two) rather than arriving later in his own car. This is something else we don’t know. Is he contracted to appear at work every day or just when they need him? Because
    sonfar this season, he’s either showing up late to crime scenes or seems like he’s spending the nights at his attic. You’re right, of course. It would be inconvenient for him tonspend 12 hours a day in a car. But then that would explain his napping all over the place wouldn’t it? Kidding. Kinda.
    Seriously though, I do think he’s spending more time there, as in, when they don’t have a case and on the weekends.

  • All-I-need

    The problem with the time frame is just: Lisbon and the team get a case, they call Jane and drive to the site (maybe they even call him WHILE already in the car). Now, you see them at the scene, just getting a briefing when Jane arrives. If the drive to Sacramento takes 6 hours, that would mean they either waited for approximately six hours before driving to the crime scene, or the crime scene is just halfway between Malibu and Sacramento. Since you just mentioned that they solve cases all across the state this seems unlikely, just like waiting for six hours does.
    And Lisbon would mention if Jane wasn`t there every day. My guess is that he`s doing something we don`t know yet. He`s got the suspect list and I`m sure he is doing a little investigation on the side which makes him arrive a few minutes after the team does without arising too much suspicion.
    Another thought: Maybe him being late is just Jane making his big entrance and causing a scene, which is something he enjoys quite a lot.

  • reviewbrain

    An investigation on the side does sound The most likely explanation. Or, (I just remembered that stupid gun he has) maybe he’s coming from target practice :p

  • violet

    Well, the discussion is pretty interesting… Mind if I join :)?
    First of all, about your Issue #2 : I totally agree with you and your excellent analysis. You’ve quite accurately anticipated on Blood on Blood… Vulnerability, trust and deception, thinking she’s like him, above common laws, preparing her for the ending with Red John, I think all those things resume pretty well what he probably though…
    I also might be influenced by the events in next episode, but I think his recent general attitude with her, mixing usual manipulation and deeper trust, shows two sides of the same coin.
    I mean, he tries here (and really does it after that) to manoeuvre her, to distend her sense of morality, obviously to mentally prepare her to help him, because the more he successes in continuously bending her to his will, the more she’s susceptible to let him get away with murder. That explanation is even more evident after their discussion in the car in Red Moon.
    But, at the same time, for him, manipulating her and not telling her the whole truth has always also been a form of protection, so you’re right, it means certainly more than just using and corrupting her…
    In fact, Jane follows his own rules and expects her to follow them too, probably because he cares for her and considers her his equal. She’s close to him and respected by him so, for Jane, she must see the world the way he does and act like him. And she’s being more prone to do so recently (letting Danny go, accepting easily his scheme in Red Moon, secretly giving information to a journalist), so it’s normal that he’s been shocked she doesn’t with a small thing like his ticket. Don’t forget Jane’s a control freak: he wants his closest people to follow him in his logic, to enter his universe. In shaping their minds to his will, he tries, consciously or not, to form companions for him -just like how Bosco did see the team- to even forge soul mates, in a way (Lisbon, the “perfect foil”, as you put it, whose differences he still aims to blur)… We all tend to make our loved ones resemble us, but his method is a little excessive, because it’s quite similar to Red John’s acting, except that unlike him, he truly cares for his “followers”. This attitude is part of his vulnerability and self justification, as you pointed out, and part of his narcissism too, because he can see himself in Lisbon and can thus believe he’s always right… So, his manipulation seems more and more linked to trust; to be lead in his right way appears to be the cost and at the same time a prize for having gained his affection… (I hope it makes sense…)

    About Jane not rethinking revenge, I agree with Magena : he’s certainly not rethinking revenge itself, but the means to obtain it.
    For that matter, the three reasons for him not to end in jail given by All-I-need are interesting, but may by not so much actual in this season as they have been. I mean, sure, Jane has never meant to become a prisoner, but he’s far from naïve and knows he would be arrested if the situation isn’t in his favour (defending himself or someone, lake of proofs to arrest him, etc…). And I’m not so sure he’s planning on breaking out, even if he’s fully capable to. He would have to change his name, if he was on the run, and he’s too fond of his identity for it (I can remember an annoyed Minelli asking him in one episode why he didn’t give a false name before going and irritating a connected family; he just answered something in the lines of “because it’s my name”).
    Nevertheless he probably planned to commit suicide, but does he still think about it? He doesn’t seem to be as indifferent to his death as he was in Hardy’s cellar… it feels like he’s almost envisaging to have a life again, since he’s begun a kind of grieving (visiting the grave, venting in the decisive scene in the AA group, beginning to spy on Lisbon in her nightwear like a very natural thing to do).
    He seems to care more than ever for Lisbon in the last episodes, his presents show that he’s become personally involved with her: the couch is no more a gift for a team-mate (given to every team member, like the jewellery, or with the team, like her birthday present). It’s not either a show-off object, like the necklace or the cute and extravagant pony, it’s something relatively useful, for him and for her, given without apparent reason. It’s the only true present she can reasonably keep.
    He also implicitly tries to assure her he’ll be ok in the PS of the letter he puts in the injured hostage, proclaiming once more that he wouldn’t pay the ticket, meaning he’ll make it out alive.

    The conclusions you reached with All-I-need about his continual tardiness is pretty interesting. I like the idea of him investigating in the meantime. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t give us any clue about his activities… In the beginning of the season, his lake of punctuality was a way to keep his distance, avoiding coming in the same car than the others as he used to. He seemed to stay in the attic, brainstorming about Red John and sleeping (Lisbon find him here twice or more). Now is he thinking/ investigating about Todd’s death? Or does he keep sleeping in the attic and Lisbon calls him to join them in the morning? Which lead us to one pet peeve you pointed out sometime ago, where does he sleep? Did Lisbon really take him to the CBI attic when he was drunk? Because there is no way she let him drive in the state he was…

    Errr, sorry for that annoyingly long comment… I can’t wait to read your thoughts on Blood on Blood!

  • reviewbrain

    I’ve missed you and your insightful comments 🙂

  • reviewbrain

    Of course you may join; I’ve been missing your comments 🙂
    it doesn’t seem fair that in a few paragraphs you can say what I’ve been trying yo write for almost a week now (for the blood for blood review). I agree with everything 🙂

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