Teresa Lisbon (Tunney) and Patrick Jane (Baker) arrive at Gold Country in Hadley, California. Sheriff Hughes (Casey Sander) tells them the victim is Rick Loomis, a prospector who moved to the area five months ago to look for gold. His body was found in his truck near the creek; a popular site for gold panning. Jane and Lisbon are taken to the scene where other prospectors are waiting for permission to continue panning. When Jane sees gold in the creek, he yells out in excitement causing the people to rush in. Lisbon vainly tries to keep them away from the crime scene, but falls in the stampede and sprains her ankle. With Lisbon incapacitated, CBI Head Special Agent Madeline Hightower(Aunjanue Ellis) joins Jane in the field to solve the case.
Writer Cindi M. Grossenbacher reminds viewers that Mentalist episodes don’t have to be thrillers to be exciting, or angst-ridden to be emotional, or have Red John to be significant. Red Gold flaunts everything which makes this such a successful show: it is well written, funny, employs Jane’s abilities, has great character interaction, and plenty of continuity. In short, this episode was a 10/10
Detailed AKA Humungous Review (spoilers galore)
So much is right about this one. I tried to be as comprehensive as possible in the review, but I still don’t think I did the episode justice. Aside from being a wonderfully fun, I really appreciated how nicely the circumstance of Lisbon’s fall was set up. There were cops at the scene, but the Sheriff had sent them off to look for the murder weapon, which is why Lisbon and the Sheriff couldn’t stop the prospectors when they rushed into the creek. Such tiny but important details give credibility to an episode’s premise and allows viewers to fully enjoy the show.
The direction by Tom Verica is excellent. After the opening credits, the scene opens on Grace’s hands as she’s examining Lisbon foot. Her engagement ring is clear for all to see, establishing continuity with minimal effort. The rest of the episode was also masterfully directed, especially the somewhat slyly shot ending scene between Tunney and Baker. There was a tiny jump in one of the scenes (the shoot out) but I think that’s a mistake in editing, and it was really of no consequence; I’m happy to ignore it when the rest of the episode was so perfect. The case is interesting and while some aspects were obvious (like the claim dealer salting the grounds he sells with gold) the culprit was not.
But the best thing about the episode is that it addresses several questions and issues regarding Jane. CONTINUITY, PEOPLE! Most importantly, it set my mind at ease regarding his intentions towards Lisbon as raised in “Red Alert”, and “Blood for Blood.”
Let’s take it scene by scene shall we?
Very Important Scene # 1: The opening scene
Jane is positively euphoric here. He yells that he’s feeling alive, whoops, hugs the Sheriff when he introduces himself, and wonders if the victim died of happiness as he looks at Lisbon.
Jane claims his elation is due to Stendhal Syndrome, but we’ve seen Jane appreciate natural beauty before; he’s never expressed happiness over it or hugged people because of it. Also, a cursory search on the net tells me that Stendhal syndrome causes dizziness and fainting, not “Feeling alive!” as Jane says.
Later, at the crime scene, Jane uses a handkerchief to check the truck used to transport the body. Then, when he turns the on the ignition, loud music blares, making Lisbon jump in annoyance. Jane apologizes immediately and profusely, even though he couldn’t have known the radio had been left on. He is also very quick to reassure Lisbon that he didn’t touch anything; brandishing the handkerchief he used.
So what’s the cause for Jane’s sudden amiability and why is he practically glowing with happiness now after walking in the shadows all season?
I posit that Jane’s ecstasy has more to do with Lisbon and less to do with the countryside’s grandeur; that his high is a layover from how happy he was in the previous episode when Lisbon let Trina walk after killing her abusive father (“Blood for Blood”). That Lisbon’s choice set his mind at ease regarding her position in his quest for Red John. That despite what Lisbon says about following the law and putting Red John in front of a judge and jury, Jane now feels that she does have her own sense of justice; one that is not so different from his.
This theory is especially probable when you compare how nice he is to Lisbon here with how much grief he caused her over having to pay a stupid parking ticket in “Red Alert”. After all, if Jane following protocol at a crime scene isn’t proof enough that he’s actively trying to please Lisbon, I don’t know what is.
I’m also basing this theory on the facial expressions employed by Baker and Tunney. These are two very talented actors used to having their characters converse with mere looks. Here, Jane looks thrilled with Lisbon, while she doesn’t seem particularly surprised at his good mood. Instead she looks mostly resigned and amused, almost like she’s ironically thinking “if I’d known it would make him this happy I would have let a killer walk years ago.”
However, (as I mentioned in the “Blood for Blood”review), Jane’s happiness seems to stem from a cause much purer than thinking he’s converted Lisbon to his cause; a belief, perhaps, that he and she have reached a new level of understanding; that he now knows he has someone he can depend on personally, not just professionally.
While this seemed like an overly optimistic interpretation at the time of the previous episode, Jane’s decidedly fluffy attitude in “Red Gold” makes it seem like a true possibility. Another possibility I had previously raised (“Red Alert Review”) was:
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…
Again, at the time, the conclusion seemed too good to be true, but Jane’s weightless attitude here gives it more merit. Regardless of the likelihood of Lisbon enabling Jane’s revenge, and to what extent, it seems that Jane now feels that with Lisbon’s support (emotional, professional, etc.) he can get Red John without ending up dead or in jail. In other words, that he can bake his cake, and eat it too. Maybe even have someone to share it with.
VIS #2: Hightower and Jane’s questioning of the victim’s family
Hightower asks the victim’s girlfriend Cheryl (Ever Carridine) if he had a gun. She responds that he didn’t like guns, to which Jane replies:
“Me neither terribly dangerous. Have you seen the statistics on police shootings? One bullet out of every ten hits a bad guy. And that’s the trained people.”
Now it’s no secret Jane hates guns. But the significance of this statement lies in the fact that this is the first time we’ve seen him express his opinion after he received a gun as a gift from fellow bereaved husband Max Winters (“Red Carpet Treatment”). We had seen Jane handle a gun in Red Moon when he gave one to Todd in a ruse to capture him. At the time I wondered if his knowledge of the weapon came from personal experience (visiting a shooting range after he received Max’s gift) or if he had Rigsby or Cho teach him how to handle it for the purpose of his plan. There was no way of knowing.
But if we are to take Jane’s words here at face value, then we can assume that the gun Max Winters gave him remains in its box, untouched, and that Jane’s continued disdain with firearms is sincere and not a cover up for his becoming familiar with firearms.
This scene is also important because it shows that Jane can be nice when questioning people he believes are hiding information from him. When Cheryl starts to cry, Jane states “There’s no need to pretend, and I mean that in the nicest possible way, but there’s a whole lot of guilt in there with that grief, and just a smidgen, just a smidgen, of relief.”
Wow. Other than with children, the only other time I recall Jane being so kind in his questioning is with an amnesic woman (season two’s “Aingavite Baa”). I can only assume Jane’s reticence here was for Hightower’s benefit. Either he doesn’t feel like getting yelled at, or he doesn’t want Lisbon to get in trouble if Hightower finds out how much leeway Lisbon gives her consultant; which, she would have if Jane used his usual callous style. As it is, despite his relative gentleness here, Hightower still reproves him. Makes me wonder what she would have said if he’d been as hardball as he usually is.
VIS #3: Jane’s talk with Hightower at the coffee shop
Jane had observed that Hightower she seemed keyed up when she first joined him at Hadley, but she responded that it was none of his business. Later, when she calls CBI for an update, Madeline learns that her husband left their kids at the office and took off. Lisbon tells her boss to not worry and that she’d take care of them. Jane, who is listening to Hightower’s part in the conversation, of course now knows what’s bothering her.
He tried to get Madeline to talk, which she is disinclined to do. But when they sit down for a coffee break, he pours her chamomile tea, saying it is excellent for repressed anger. She responds: “You think you know all the answers Patrick, but you don’t.”
Jane then states that she’s getting a divorce; pointing out that she’s no longer wearing her wedding ring, and that everyone at the office knows, that there’s gossip which states that either she or her husband cheated on each other. The fact that Jane says all of this in a very gentle tone hints that he’s actually concerned and sad for Hightower, not just trying to show off. Madeline finally stops him, and he lets her instead of pushing any further like he’s prone to do. It’s a lovely moment between the two made more profound by the fact that Jane hasn’t been as compassionate as we know him to be this season. It’s so nice to see this side of him again.
2nd runner up: The shoot out
Jane-in-distress is usually funny, mostly because we know he’s not going to get hurt. He was especially so here. And Hightower really rocked, walking point blank to the culprit, shooting at him even as he is using Jane as a shield. Jane running out of the way when the perp is taken down, and his outrage that Madeline could have killed him, was hilarious.
1st runner up: Lisbon with Hightower
At the end of the case, Hightower comes into Lisbon’s office to find her kids sleeping there. There is a quiet moment as the women look at each other before Hightower states: “I hope they weren’t too much trouble,” obviously embarrassed. Lisbon is quick to reassure her that the kids were sweethearts, pointing out that she grew with three “nearly feral brothers.”
At her kind words, Hightower rushes and gives Lisbon a grateful hug, which Lisbon returns in affectionate awe. Hightower clears her throat, and thanks Lisbon, who replies sincerely that it’s not a problem.
Sappy? Maybe. It’s also beautiful beyond words. I think Hightower is especially grateful considering how hard she was on Lisbon when she first came to CBI. Lisbon didn’t have to watch her kids, anyone else probably wouldn’t have. But Lisbon is a saint, and Madeline now knows that. The two shared a real connection. Character interaction, how I love thee.
Speaking of character interaction…
The winner: Lisbon and Jane end scene
First, I’d like to elaborate on the opening scene which caused Lisbon’s accident. Before yelling that he found gold, Jane actually took a double take when he looked into the creek. So I suspect he really did find gold and was excited about it, and wasn’t just faking to cause a scene. However, he didn’t need to yell it out repeatedly. And the way he hightailed it out of the way when the prospectors rushed to the creek indicates that he knew he’d cause a stampede. Now when Lisbon fell, Jane seemed mostly amused. This is most likely because he didn’t think she was actually injured as evidenced by his surprise when Hightower came back for him instead of Lisbon. I’m shocked to be saying this, but I’m actually thankful that no one made a big deal out of Jane causing Lisbon’s injury. After all, it was an accident.
But there is something that suggests he might have felt guilty about it.
In the final scene of the episode, Lisbon leaves her office giving Hightower space to collect her children. She heads to the kitchen for a bottle of water where she finds Jane making a cup of tea. I should point out that (as far as we know) this is the first time the two meet since Lisbon left the field after she got injured.
The direction of this scene coupled with Jane’s body language is very intriguing. Lisbon walks in, greets Jane, whose back is to her. He greets her in reply but doesn’t turn around; our first view of the two is also hindered (purposely so) by a column.
His posture and the way he avoids looking at Lisbon (and, by extension, her crutches) could be indicative of a guilty conscience. Or, it could just be that Jane is feeling preoccupied by almost getting killed.
Whatever the reason is, Jane is quickly given an opening to make himself feel better.
When Lisbon asks him what “it” was like, he finally looks at her.
“It?” he asks.
“You know,” she says, eyes gesturing away, referring to Hightower.
“Oh, you mean, going out with another woman,” he says in a low voice, looking at her straight in the eye, a dead serious expression on his face.
“Yeah, NO! Uh, come on, you know what I mean,” Lisbon answers, flummoxed.
“It was great, it was fun, intense, um, challenging. She’s super dynamic, I think we had a great connection.” Jane says, really laying the dating terminology on thick.
At first Lisbon seems surprised and a bit bothered by all this praise for Hightower. But she hides it with a smile, saying “that’s great”, seemingly unsure as to whether Jane is being serious or making fun of her. But when he asks her if she’s jealous, she knows he’s teasing her. Lisbon responds by hitting him in the shin with one of her crutches before leaving. Jane grins widely into his tea, looking very happy with himself.
Is it me or is Jane acting like a schoolboy with a crush?
Okay, I have a feeling I’m feeding into my fantasy world now, but, in my defense, I do remember reading in an interview early on in the season that Heller stated Jane’s affections for Lisbon will increase this season. This is the first blatantly obvious sign of Jane’s interest that seems to go beyond normal friendship.
Also, the last time Jane outwardly flirted with Lisbon (ruse’s don’t count) was at the beginning of season one in Red Flame. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that episode Red Flame is also the one where he first told Lisbon of his plan to kill Red John, and she told him she’ll arrest him if he does.
Perhaps the reason Jane stopped the flirting is the same one Lisbon keeps him at arm’s length; both were worried about the inevitable show down. But now that Jane feels reassured regarding that issue, he sees no reason to stay away from her anymore.
Okay, I’ll stop now.Just one last point: this episode shows that “Mentalist” is a show that does not need Red John to be fabulous. My advice: wrap up the Red John plot-line and give us more episodes like these.
1. Amy Farrington is very charming as Melinda Drew.
2. Casey Sander was enjoyable as the straight faced Sheriff Hughes. I especially loved his non-reaction to Jane’s hug at the beginning of the episode. Priceless.
3. Jane and Hightower’s interaction was very amusing; especially when he hugs her to hide from a suspect. Hilarious.
But it was Robin Tunney who completely stole the show. Is it me, or is she giving Simon Baker a run for his money in the irresistible department? We know that Lisbon is “cute as a button” as Jane once said (“Red Carpet Treatment”), and that she’s hard as nails on suspects. We’ve also seen her tackle them impressively. But here, Ms. Tunney really flexes her acting muscles as the episode’s script depicts sides of Lisbon never seen before and she excels in them all. Lisbon is equally funny when she’s falling over (ironically crying out like a damsel in distress- so in contrast to her normal superwoman attitude) as she is when she insists she’s fine. She’s as impressively competent with Hightower’s kids as she is when she’s flattering a suspect into giving her information. Finally, her compassion (with Hightower) is as alluring as is her insecurity (when Jane praises Madeline). Damaged intensity indeed; Lisbon is simply irresistible.
Icing(s) on the Cake
1. Jane is wearing a coat! For the first time in the series, Patrick Jane is wearing a coat! And he looks smoking in it!
2. The team love is in full effect here; Grace seems perfectly fine with examining Lisbon’s foot. She, Cho and Rigsby show a familial concern towards Lisbon. Also, one of my favorite team dynamics was explored here: the sibling-like chemistry between Rigsby and Lisbon.
Rigsby has always come across to me as a sort of protective younger brother to Lisbon. In “Red Menace” (season 2), he asks her if she needs his help to question a biker gang. Rigsby also teases Lisbon like a brother would. In “Red Flame” (season one), he points out she’s blushing when Jane mind-reads her. In “Russet Potatoes” (also season one) he calls her out on being a control freak; which she makes him pay for by interrupting his lunch, much to his dismay.
That same sibling-like familiarity is also present in Red Gold.
Lisbon confined to the office, is resting her foot on Rigsby’s desk. Obviously, she’s comfortable enough around him to do so. He also annoys her when he teases her by asking if she needs his help in questioning a suspect, which she punishes him for by making him read Madeline’s kids a story-again, much to his dismay. His protective side is also on display; asking her if she’s good when she gasps in pain. Finally, he gets amused at her expense. When Hightower’s daughter Mimi says that Lisbon walks like a disabled person Rigsby barely contains his (adorable) laughter; no doubt his mirth is due to the fact that while Lisbon’s normal walk is quirky, her on crutches is a riot.
“Hey Lisbon ah-no, Hightower. I didn’t even know you had legs.”-Jane
“I was probing her, a certain amount of disrespect is necessary. It’s like getting frisked at the airport.”-Jane to Hightower.
“No, no. I’m injured. Not that disabled is bad but I’m not. I’m injured.”- Lisbon to Mimi. Oh Lisbon, so politically correct, even when distressed at being incapacitated.
“You walk like disabled.”- Mimi, in reply to the above. Lisbon’s look at this comment, and Rigsby trying to hide his smirk is equally hilarious.
“Sure you are. Letting it out will be helpful, I guarantee it. Shout, scream, hit something, preferably not me. It’ll do you wonders.” Jane to Hightower, when she denies she’s angry. Jane is so matter of fact here. It’s like he’s used to people hitting him in anger (admittedly, he does rile them up) that he’s only mildly concerned with the possibility of getting hit by Hightower.
“You know I should applaud your bravery but I must say, practically speaking, ah, ah, what were you thinking you could have killed me!”- Jane to Hightower.
“I was aiming for his head- Hightower to Jane, in response to Jane’s praise for her leg shot.
“Oh, you mean, going out with another woman?” Jane to Lisbon.
If you liked this review, please rate it, and leave a comment to share your own thoughts 🙂 Also, here’s a treat to make up for what looks like a very depressing episode next week.