Agent Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) arrives at Justin DeGeorge’s (John Mese) home to bodyguard him. He is a vital witness for the State’s case against major drug trafficker Adrian Essex (Gabriel Salvador) accused of shooting a woman. She takes over the night shift for US Marshall Gorman (Daniel Travis) who gives her the key to the house and reminds her to sweep the perimeter after one hour before he leaves. When the time comes, Grace leaves the house to check the perimeter, stopping to lock the door of the house behind her. As she is doing so, a noise distracts her and she follows it looking for the source. She is subsequently attacked and falls unconscious. When Van Pelt comes to, she rushes back to the house to find the door unlocked, Justin dead, and his daughter Trina (Kaitlyn Dever) missing. As Grace cannot remember if she ever did lock the door behind her, the head of the professional standards unit J.J. Laroche (Pruitt Taylor Vince) conducts an investigation into her actions.
This was an entertaining episode. However, “Mentalist” is a show that is supposed to be fun and smart. Until now, I have not had to make a conscious effort to suspend belief while watching it; one of the main reasons why I enjoy this series so much. Unfortunately that was not the case in this episode. As I am loathe to start now ( I refuse to lower my expectations when I know that the show can do better) I’m afraid I must give the one: 7.5/10. (The rating was actually lower, but I decided to raise it for the continuity it provided (I’m a continuity sucker) and its great character interaction; (for whatever that’s worth here).
Detailed AKA Humongous Review (spoilers galore)
In my Mentalist overview, I stressed that one of the main reasons I love the show was that it didn’t go for “cheap thrills” and that it was subtly entertaining”. Now season three has been consistently raising the excitement factor (and quality) of the episodes. I’ve repeatedly wished for mellower, more profound episodes in the vein of the first two seasons. Just to be clear, I have no problem with exciting plots when they are done right like in “Red Alert” and “Red Moon”. “Blood for Blood” is another exciting episode. Unfortunately some aspects of the script were weak making the episode itself weak despite its excellent potential.
Problem #1: Grace’s Plotline
First of all, the whole plot is built on the unrealistic fact that Grace is guarding an important state witness alone. It would have been more believable if she was overseeing some of the local cops (even one would have been better than none), then she gets attacked at as she’s canvassing and the cop and the witness inside are shot. That would have made the premise more feasible while at the same time raising the stakes.
Later when Grace is being investigated by the head of the professional standards unit’s head, J.J. Laroche, she is given a disturbing choice. He basically tells her that if she is willing to help him in his investigation of Todd Johnson’s murder (‘Red Moon”, “Jolly Red Elf”) he will be lenient in his investigation of her. By help, Laroche means he wants her to spy on her unit because he suspects someone in it is the culprit. This scene between the two was quite good. Righetti does well with the material. Grace holds her ground despite Laroche’s disturbing proposition, asking him outright if he is threatening her.
Unfortunately Grace falls for Laroche’s mind games when he tells her that: “a good cop wouldn’t have left that door open.” Being a good cop doesn’t make a person infallible.
Another problem with how her plot was handled is that Grace only tells Laroche that she won’t spy on her team after she finds evidence which clears her from any wrongdoing. Meaning, there was no choice to make at that point, which unfortunately doesn’t tells as much about her character. Why have an episode revolving around a side character if we are not going to learn anything new? When the spoilers promised us a change in the team dynamic, I hoped we’d get insight into the side characters, even as I stressed over it meaning that one would turn out to be Red John’s accomplice and/or getting killed or getting booted off the show.
Thankfully, none of that looks like it will happen. But there were many directions this episode could have taken that would have still produced a far more interesting result than the one we got. For example, when Grace shot Gorman, who turned out to be a crooked cop, I thought we would see an effect on her. Like, it might make her agree to Laroche’s proposal because she realizes that even those she thinks she trusts may not be whom they say they are, (and this is the second time she’s been deceived, Season One “Bloodshot” was the first) so it would have been understandable for the event to affect her. Or, the incident might have served to reaffirm her trust in her teammates as they’ve always stood by her.
As it is, it just looks like she got off making a hard choice. We needed just a bit more from her, like maybe telling her boyfriend that Gorman’s actions made her realize that she has to believe in the people she already knows; something like that. Or her denying Laroche’s offer before knowing she’d survive the investigation. I was disappointed in the wasted opportunity here.
Speaking of Grace’s boyfriend…
FBI agent Craig O’Laughlin (Eric Winter) and Grace are having dinner when she tells him about Laroche’s threat, and how uncomfortable she’d be spying on her friends. His response:
“They’re your colleagues they’re not your friends. I’m your friend. I’m the one who’ll be there for you no matter what.”
I’m going to pull a Jane here and say: he’s either jealous, or insecure, or a jerk, or possessive, or Red John’s operative.
I added the RJ operative thing because Craig just seemed way too creepy when he said that. What kind of man would tell his girlfriend that her colleagues, whom she spends most of her day with, are not her friends, when they clearly are? Plus, if she had taken up LaRoche’s offer, it would have made her working environment absolutely terrible (another reason why that would have been a good plot line). O’Laughlin telling her it’s ok to spy on them makes him really despicable in my view. This is why I conclude that Craig’s advice comes from an ulterior motive; maybe even a sinister one.
Hmm. What if Craig and LaRoche are both working for Red John? LaRoche didn’t pay any attention to Craig when he met him at CBI, but that could have been intentional. Craig certainly was pushing Grace towards working with the man.
I have finally made my decision regarding Craig O’Laughlin: I hate the guy. The marriage proposal was the final straw. The whole situation just doesn’t seem to bode well for Grace, despite how happy she looks. I must say I’m disappointed in her lack of reaction to her boyfriend’s statement that her colleagues are not her friends. She may not have liked it, but she didn’t argue it either. If she found Craig’s statement romantic in any way then she’s just as gullible as Jane says. Or maybe she just doesn’t care that much about her team. Either way, it doesn’t portray her in a particularly positive light.
Now, If Grace really is getting married and living happily ever after, then that just makes the decision to keep Rigsby single all the more inexcusable tome. Rigsby would be devastated by the news even if he was seeing someone. But at least if he was, then he’d have started to move on. And Montague (Linda Park, episode “Bloodhounds”), for all her seemingly robotic demeanor, seemed warm enough that she might actually have been able to help Rigsby get over Grace.
Problem #2 Jane’s Manipulation: AKA Jane’s annoyance with Lisbon, Part 2
When Trina’s aunt calls Jane to help her because her niece is having some sort of implosion, he brings Lisbon along, knowing that the girl will end up confessing that she killed her father in self defense. Lisbon is rightly outraged with him, and starts to call juvenile services, saying that she doesn’t Trina to be taken to county for booking. Jane snatches the phone from Lisbon’s hand, saying that the girl doesn’t deserve to go to jail; that her father was an abuser. To which Lisbon responds: “So was mine, I didn’t shoot him!”
I was blown away by this statement and mentally prepared myself for the awesomeness that was sure to follow. This was the first time Lisbon EVER talked about her dad (a comment to a grieving father and her shrink don’t count). The revelation came out in the heat of the argument. But Jane quickly recovers to point out that Trina had been acting in self defense, and Lisbon pulls it together to forge ahead, obviously wanting to forget she said something so private. She points out that Trina will get acquitted, and Jane counter argues that the courts make mistakes. To which she responds that they get it right most of the time.
And here is where the scene takes a dive into the surreal.
Jane: “Ok, so she’s proven innocent. How much time do you think she’ll spend in foster care? Six months? A year?”
Jane’s contention that the girl would have to spend time in foster care seems completely absurd. She has a loving aunt with a seemingly stellar reputation (army nurse) to take care of her. She’s already in her custody after her father was killed. Why would any of that change if she’s accused of murder?
And the fact that Lisbon answers “I don’t know,” instead of pointing this out to Jane is even more absurd. By now Lisbon is a pro at cleaning up messes; she’s had a lot of practice. I find it very hard to believe she wouldn’t have been able to do so to get a girl out of spending any time in jail, or foster care (again, makes no sense) for killing her abusive father in self defense. Especially as the girl had no recollection of it whatsoever, was taken to the hospital where her memory loss was documented by doctors, and she confessed to the cops as soon as she regained her memory. One call from Hightower to the nice deputy AG Nicky Weymouth (Mozhan Marnò ) and Trina would have been released into her aunt’s custody, pending her trial, where any rational judge would have acquitted her.
Cool, calm, Senior Special Agent Lisbon should know this.
Hence, a beautiful, beautiful scene was completely destroyed by a small but important detail.
Not only that, Lisbon comes off looking like a mark, which we know she isn’t. I find that unforgivable.
Now, there is one explanation that prevents me from saying that the writer made a mistake: Jane might have intentionally used the foster care argument, knowing that it would distract Lisbon.
We know that Lisbon’s father was abusive, but we also know that there is no official record of that abuse (Season 2, “Red Badge”). Lisbon probably never reported her father out of fear of the system and that she and her brothers would be separated.
If, and this is a very big if, if Jane guessed that Lisbon has a lingering fear of foster care from when she was a child, and that is why he used foster care in his argument; preying on her fear to distract her into agreeing with him, then the scene might make sense.
Personally, it’s too much of a reach for me. But there you go. We viewers are left to decide whether the writer botched up the scene, or Jane is a cold manipulative bastard and Lisbon fell for his trick.
Admittedly, we already know the latter for a fact.
So now we are left to ponder Jane’s reasons for manipulating Lisbon into compromising her integrity in a situation where she had no need to do so whatsoever.
In my Red Alert Review, I stated that:
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 disappointed in her for not going by her own instincts when he knows she’s smart enough to make her own choices.
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
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…
I also wondered:
Is he (Jane) 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?)
And hoped that:
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.
The final scenes of this episode makes any one of the above speculations possible.
Jane’s tells Lisbon:
“We don’t have to do this. We can let her go just this once. Just once.”
Jane’s use of “we” here seems incredibly telling; like he desperately wants Lisbon to see eye to eye with him; wants her to agree with him. His fear that he misread her when she glares at him and leaves the room is real; as is his disappointment. Later, when he and Lisbon are escorting Trina to the juvenile detention facility, Jane watches Lisbon the whole time, like he’s hoping against hope she’ll change her mind. At the gate, Lisbon pauses. Trina sweetly tells her it’s okay. Lisbon glances at Jane, who looks away from her, like he doesn’t want to influence her final decision. Finally, Lisbon tells Trina she’s taking her home and leaves. Jane tells the officer that he just witnessed a beautiful thing then follows them.
The look of pure delight on Jane’s face is undeniable. He looks like he won the lottery; and the prize was Lisbon eventually letting him get away with killing Red John; maybe even his having something to blackmail her with. But there is another interpretation. LittleMender over at fanfiction.net got me thinking more about Jane’s smile. I started wondering if maybe the delight on Jane’s face was due to a less sinister reason; if it was pure. That maybe the prize he feels he won is Lisbon’s understanding; that her letting Trina go somehow brought them closer together; and that all the tension that had build up since their revenge argument in the episode “Red Moon” was lifted off his shoulders.
The problem is that this assumption seems like pure conjecture. It is understandable that a certain amount of mystery will always prevail with regards to Patrick Jane’s intentions. However, I think viewers deserve some clarity third season into the series. I’m not asking for romance, or even a heart to heart. Just for episodes which address such vital issues to have a solid basis, and with very little mistakes so that we can actually take what little evidence we are given seriously. Mentalist is ambiguous enough as it is without adding the problem of unlikely scenarios into the script.
Scenes as important as the last two of this episode have to be perfectly scripted. Contrary to what Jane says, details are important. Details like:
1- Why did Lisbon end up taking the girl to Juvie? Didn’t she say she was going to call and have them come over? That she didn’t want Trina to have to go to booking?
2- Where the heck was super protective Aunt Jodi in that final scene? I find it hard to believe she wouldn’t accompany her fragile niece.
To be fair, I have to point out the good aspects of the episode: the case itself was interesting and well spun with plenty of mentalism. Also, the familiarity between the Jane and Lisbon that hadn’t been there for a long time has been rekindled. Jane actually grabs Lisbon’s hand at one point in the episode, directing her flashlight to where he wants it. He hasn’t been this comfortable around her since season two’s finale.
Continuity wise, writer David Appelbaum also establishes how close Jane and Lisbon have become. This perhaps is the only realistic reason for why Jane brought Lisbon along with him to listen to Trina’s confession: he wanted to test her: see if he could trust her.
Now we’ve known since season one that Jane trusts Lisbon (Carnelian Inc.) But here, I mean that he wants to see if he can trust her with his ultimate baby: Red John.
Perhaps Jane realizes he can’t catch Red John without Lisbon, at least not do so and get out alive and not end up in jail. Maybe he wants to share whatever information he has on Red John with her, but doesn’t want to do so unless he’s sure she’ll follow his lead; his plan; his rules.
Which raises the issue of trust vs. control; both Jane and Lisbon are serious control freaks; both try to get each other to see things their own view. Usually, Jane has the upper hand, and he knows it.
When earlier on in the episode Jodi asks Lisbon to control her man, Jane tells her with a huge grin “Oh believe me, she’s tried.” For her part, Lisbon seemed resigned at this statement. I guess she thought it wasn’t worth arguing over, especially after how nuts Jane went over Lisbon forcing him to pay a speeding ticket just last episode. And while she may have initially been able to coerce him into doing so, (he never did do it), the odds have definitely been tipped in his favor here: Jane succeeding in convincing Lisbon to let Trina off goes far beyond anything Lisbon ever got Jane to do.
It seems that while Lisbon is prepared to accept Jane as he is and only really gets into it with him to keep him out of trouble, Jane is hell bent on changing her; doesn’t seem to want to respect her unless she starts seeing things his way.
I hate how weak Lisbon seems here in comparison to the previous episode. I guess it could just be that she’s starting to trust Jane more; as evidenced by her is going along with Jane’s schemes more willingly this season even when she doesn’t know what he’s up to. In this episode, she runs interference for Jane at the hospital so that he can go and question Trina, and helps him get Jodi out of a room even when she doesn’t know what he has planned. She’s taking more chances with him, trusting him more. But now that she has, we need something to show us that Jane is actually deserving of that trust. Something seriously needs to happen this season to remind us that Jane sincerely cares about Lisbon; not just for what she can do for him.
I am reminded of how Jane’s psychiatrist Sophie said (Season 1, Red Brick and Ivy) that she was drawn to controlling, emotionally damaged and unavailable men. She had been talking about her ex-husband at the time, but it was clear that she was also alluding to Jane.
This episode certainly proves the controlling aspect of Jane’s character. And we know he’s emotionally damaged. But perhaps not as emotionally unavailable as he used to be…
1. Jane manipulated Lisbon to establish a pattern of her breaking rules (her letting Bosco get away with murder, letting Danny get away, and now Trina) making her more likely to help him kill and/or get away with killing Red John in the future.
2. He’s gotten so close to her that he wants he wants her to be like him. Drawing from commenter Violet’s observation, I’ll wrap up by saying that gaining Jane’s affection comes with the price (or gift) of him trying to convert you to his religion; that religion being, that he’s always right and Red John is the devil.
Speaking of religion, to me, (and I suspect to Jane, on some level) Lisbon represents Jane’s salvation. I’m guessing that Jane thinks if he can get Lisbon, perfect pure Lisbon to agree with him, then that makes him a good person; makes him feel better about himself. In that sense, she’s like his moral yardstick; his conscience. Because, I suspect that deep down Jane does respect her, her opinion does count, even when he acts like it doesn’t. Jane my not believe in the afterlife, but he does believe in Lisbon.
Let’s just hope that Lisbon believes in herself enough to be able to continue keeping Jane out of trouble.
It remains to be seen if Jane’s actions in this episode will have a visible effect on their relationship. It should. As the series has been very good with continuity so far, I am optimistic that we will get to see it.
Yancy Butler who plays Jodi, Trina’s aunt was fabulous. As was Kaitlyn Dever who plays Trina. I foresee many jobs for her in the future.
The winner: Jane and Lisbon’s argument over Trina’s fate. Despite my deep qualms over the script, Baker and Tunney were stunning in this scene. The chemistry between their characters (as friends, siblings, lovers, whatever it is) was perfect and their acting was astounding.
1st Runner up: The hospital scene. Lisbon running interference for Jane so that he can question Trina shows just how in sync these two are. Also, Jane’s gentleness to Trina was moving. He initially wanted to hypnotize her but changed his mind (he does have a heart) and even tried to shut her aunt up when she goes off on him for thinking he did so, trying to keep her from inadvertently letting the girl know that something is wrong. When Trina does figure it out, Jane takes it upon himself to tell her that her father’s dead. Lisbon’s distress at the girl’s pain was also very moving, and the two female guest actresses were excellent. Lovely scene.
2nd Runner up: When Grace tells Rigsby about her engagement. Oh Rigsby! Owain Yeoman broke my heart here. The man looked like someone stabbed him in the chest, yet valiantly congratulated Grace, because apparently, he’s an angel.
“Horribly cold night tonight Lisbon.”- Jane’s acknowledgment of the weather made me ridiculously happy. His suits can’t possibly be appropriate for all seasons, even if some of them are winter suits.
“Seems like an excellent facility.”- Jane to Lisbon after two attractive nurses flirt with him at Trina’s hospital. This is the first time Jane responded to female attention. Previously, he’s shown his wedding ring; saying that he’s married, or shaken his head no with an embarrassed smile. Could this be another sign that he’s thinking of moving on? Or did he say that for Lisbon’s benefit?
“Uh, huh.”- Lisbon to Jane, in response to the above. I heart Lisbon.
“I don’t want to talk about your feelings.”- Cho to Rigsby, after seeing him leave Grace with her boyfriend Craig. Cho rocks.
“Good, me neither.”-Rigsby to Cho. Rigsby not wanting to talk shows just how messed up he is over Grace.
“What is he doing, could you please control your man?”-Jodi.
“Oh, believe me, she’s tried.”-Jane, in response to above.
“On the contrary, its so conscionable, we can conscion this very easily.”- Jane to Jodi when she says his actions are unconscionable. I find this statement nicely refers to Jane’s ability to spin any argument to his favor.
“How do you sleep at night?”- Jodi to Jane.
“Most nights I don’t.”- Jane to Jodi, in reply to the above. I love how Baker read this line; very honest and matter of fact.
Okay, when I asked for someone on the show to get married I didn’t mean for that someone to be Grace. Cho and Elise, Cho and Elise! How can they mistake that for Craig and Grace? They are two entirely different couples.( Of course, I know that these episodes were taped long before I ever expressed my views- it’s a joke). Sigh, and I’m not even a Rispelt fan. I don’t want to imagine what they are going through. My condolences.
Because this episode raises pretty much the same issues as the last one, there is no new poll. Readers can go back to Red Alert Review and re-vote based on the new evidence provided here. Better yet, leave a comment and put your opinion in writing. Also, if you want to get an instant alerts when new material is posted, you can subscribe.
Finally, here’s a treat for fanfic readers: a list of the best fics based on this episode: