Mentalist The Red Mile Review


Synopsis

Consultant Patrick Jane (Baker) arrives at a crime scene outside Auburn, California where he learns that Dr. Steiner ( recurring guest star George Wyner- Season 2’s ‘The Scarlett Letter’ and ‘Red Herring’) is the coroner handling the case.  Agent Lisbon (Tunney) warns him to not tease the doctor which he always enjoys doing. The warning of course falls on deaf ears. The victim is Timothy Hartley (Ian Vogt) whose married to Peregrine Cook (Heather McComb), a member of wealthy family.  When the body is stolen en route to the coroner’s office, Dr. Steiner (who feels responsible for its theft) asks Jane to tag along the case to help in any way he can. Grace’s fiancé FBI Agent Craig O’ Laughlin (Eric Winter) also joins the investigation stating that his agency has been investigating similar cases of stolen bodies. They think they are being sold to tissue banks for profit. Later, an alien possibility presents itself when Lisbon and the team learn that the victim believed he was abducted by extraterrestrials a few months prior.

Concise verdict

I had such a hard time with this one. It was written by Tom Szentgyorgyi who brought us one of the most thrilling episodes “Ball of Fire” which was also one of my favorites this season. Here, Mr. S gave us an episode with such great character moments. The Lisbon/Jane camaraderie is back in beautiful full effect (they haven’t been so in sync since season two). It also had lots of continuity, and a few very important scenes (VIS).

But the tone at the beginning and the end were in such extreme contrast it’s like they belong to two completely different episodes; a phenomenon that affected me so much it left me having to judge the episode based on its individual components to ensure objectivity.  My conclusion: there was just way too much going on. You try to do too much and something is bound to end up lacking.

Here it is the Alien “mystery” that suffered the most. The case simply wasn’t very interesting; the concept of aliens has been done before but better (in House).  It was also obvious from the very beginning who the killer was. The money jargon went over my head, and even Cho’s (Tim Kang) scenes which were supposed to provide comic relief weren’t as funny as they should have been. I actually found them awkward though I can’t put my finger on why I felt that way.

The Grace/Craig/Wayne plot line didn’t fare very well either; most of the scenes felt very rushed, especially in comparison to how nicely paced Jane’s scenes were with Dr. Steiner.

Of course it could be argued that Jane and Steiner’s scenes were so captivating that it was inevitable for the other scenes to be rendered not as interesting by comparison. But I contend that they didn’t have a fair shot to begin with. Since I rate episodes holistically not based on individual parts, I’m sorry to say that I can’t give this one higher than 8.5. It really is such a shame. This would have been a straight up 10/10 if the script had been a bit more focused.

That’s all I can say here without going into spoilers.

Read below for details, and be prepared for some tough love (emphasis on love).

Detailed AKA humongous review (spoilers galore)

As I already mentioned the beginning and the ending of the episode are so completely different it’s like being told the movie you’re watching is a romantic comedy only to have it end like a psychological drama. And while both genres are arguably enjoyable, it is very hard to pull them off in a single movie, much less in a single TV episode without something feeling very off.

In “The Red Mile”, not only is the combination awkward, it is also unsatisfactory. I’ve discussed the episode with a number of people now and know that I am not the only one who felt betrayed by the bait and switch. This isn’t like Red Moon where the cute opening deer scene was used at the beginning to contrast with the immediately following morbid crime scene. Here, viewers were intentionally misled into thinking that the episode was a lighter one, from the upbeat promo to its fantastically fun beginning. Even the title (referring to The Green Mile) wasn’t enough to indicate what would happen at the end. Such underhanded methods are not ones viewers expect from “The Mentalist”, which is usually the epitome of class. Nor I dare say, is such a method needed for this show; it’s The Mentalist for crying out loud.

Little Mender was kind enough to share her opinion on this aspect which elucidated my censure in a nutshell:

We’ve seen this pattern in several episodes this season, light-heartedness ending or bisected with a dark, sometimes troubling and often unsatisfying scene. I don’t know if it’s intentional, or just the sometimes seemingly unthought-out writing we’ve seen before. OR, are they just setting us up for a very dramatic season finale and trying to draw together as many story cords as possible (What WAS that with  O’Laughlin, anyway?)? If the latter is the case, more clarity of thought needs to go into the writing. What I mean is, the writer(s) need(s) to establish EXACTLY what they’re trying to get across (the direction the want to take, the points they want to make, where they want to take the characters, how they want to affect the characters, etc.) and then write to that end.

 

Amen to that. And speaking of writing and story cords: the other reason I was so frustrated with this episode (enough to make me want to bang my head against the wall repeatedly) was the gem of an opportunity wasted here.

For some reason a few of the Mentalist writers this season are in such a hurry to tell their stories that they are giving untimely ends to their own highly promising plot lines. This has already happened twice before.

In ‘Red Hot’ we didn’t need for Lisbon and Mashburn to sleep together to know that they like each other. Simple drinks at the end of the episode would have been the perfect nightcap for that episode and it would have left more mystery regarding the relationship (an example of where this method was used effectively was in CSI’s highly intriguing Lady Heather/Grissom dynamic). This would have also given the Teresa/Walter pairing more possibility in the future. But it doesn’t seem like the writers intend to bring Mashburn back now and why would they? The attraction between him and Lisbon has already been (prematurely) consummated. Essentially, by letting that happen it seems that any hope for the pairing has been effectively destroyed.

Another example of a needlessly wasted opportunity was in episode ‘Bloodsport’ when the amusing Dr. Montague (Linda Park) told Rigsby a relationship between them wouldn’t work.

In this episode, there was no need for Dr. Steiner’s to commit suicide in the same episode he tells Jane that he’s dying of a fatal disease.

But more on that later.

First I’m going to discuss one of the subplots which was fighting for attention in the episode: The Rigsby-Van Pelt- O’Laughlin Drama (RVOD).

RVOD  Scene # 1:  The  Trio at the Bullpen

Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) tells Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) that other occurrences where a dead body was hijacked had occurred in the past and the FBI was in charge of the cases. Because of that her fiancé FBI Agent Craig O’Laughlin (Eric Winter) joins the investigation. Out of Grace’s earshot, Craig approaches Rigsby to tell him that his boss sent him to work the case since he’s worked with CBI before and that “I’m not trying to get in your face.”  Rigsby replies “didn’t think you were.”

Why is it that whenever Craig does something ‘nice’ he just seems more of a jerk? I’m starting to think the writers want us to suspect him. I would say they are being gracious and giving us inside knowledge so that we know the crash is coming even though the characters don’t. But this episode was so deliberately misleading that it’s more likely the writers are just using him as a red herring. 

RVOD # 2: The Trio During the Shoot Out

Van Pelt’s gun is jammed (I guess. No proper explanation was ever given, due to the time constraint no doubt) and Craig who was in a better position to help her (i.e. take out the shooter) doesn’t. Instead Rigsby breaks his cover to come to her rescue.

Notwithstanding how expected that was (that Rigsby, not Craig would end up saving Grace), this scene could have used some more emphasis, maybe even a thank you from Grace and/or Craig to Rigsby for saving her. Plus, at this point it wasn’t really clear (to me at least) if Craig was or wasn’t in a position to help Grace. At least that’s cleared up later.

(RVOD) #3 Rigsby and Cho

In the CBI kitchen, Rigsby tells Cho that he thinks O’Laughlin “flaked on Van Pelt.” When Cho asks him what he means Wayne elaborates: “Well he saw she was in trouble and didn’t do anything. Guess he was scared.” Cho’s answer is a very short “It happens” followed by “Van Pelt doesn’t known this?” Rigsby answers that he doesn’t think so then gets to the crux of his problem: should he tell Grace. Cho replies that it’s a tough decision and that it’s Rigsby’s call.

I would have appreciated a lengthier conversation, but more than that I think that the fact that Rigsby wasn’t shown to be talking to O’Laughliln about this was a mistake. Rigsby had told him before to not hurt Grace or Craig will have to deal with him. In that vein, shouldn’t Wayne have confronted Craig for not rescuing the woman he’s about to marry? It just seems so out of character for the fiercely protective Rigsby to not do so. I think it would have given Rigsby’s eventual decision on whether to tell Grace or not more significance if he had talked to Craig about it first. It would have also given viewers a chance to see the latter defend himself.

Either it didn’t occur to the writers to include such a scene or they decided to drop it because there wasn’t enough time for it. If the latter is the case, then that problem could have easily been remedied (I’ll be discussing that in VIS #4).

(RVOD) # 4 Rigsby and Grace .

Rigsby decides to tell Grace about how Craig didn’t help her when he could have. She smiles at him waiting for him to speak, then frowns worried when he hesitates. Viewers can practically see Rigsby’s heart melt here and rather than risk upsetting her, Wayne instead tells her that he knows a ranger who works at the state park where she wanted to have her wedding, and says he’ll ask him if they’ll allow it.

Obviously, this scene was meant to show how much Grace means to Rigsby that he doesn’t want to sadden her by bad mouthing her fiancé. It’s also continuity to show that Rigsby is an angel, and that when it comes to Grace, his judgment isn’t very sound:  he should have at least talked to Craig about not helping Grace even if he didn’t want to tell her about it.

Now that the love triangle’s been dealt with, let’s move onto the Very Important Scene’s (VIS’s) of the episode. I’ll start at the beginning.

VIS # 1: the episode opener

The opening scene was so good. So good! It was very funny but more importantly it served to further establish previously raised issues.

1- Jane joins Lisbon at the crime scene and when she asks him where he’s been he answers “hunting and gathering.”

Now this provides excellent continuity considering how Jane’s been continuously tardy to crime scenes this season. There has been many speculation as to why, but his statement here leads me to conclude that he’s pursuing his own investigation with regards to Red John’s mole and that’s what’s been keeping him busy (for more theories, see the comments of “Red Alert” review).

2- Both Jane (and regular viewers) are then delighted to hear that Dr. Steiner is the coroner on the scene, and Lisbon exposits for newcomers to the show about how much Jane loves to tease the coroner. She then asks him not to but of course her request falls on deaf ears. Jane gleefully heads over to where Steiner and the body are. There he learns that Steiner has enlisted the help of a deputy to keep him away from the body, saying that the mentalist has led him to desperate measures. But to the doctor’s dismay, Jane manages to pull a seemingly impossible trick.  Later, Lisbon is trying to guess how Jane did it when she gets a call that the coroner’s truck had been hijacked and that the body was stolen. Both she and Steiner ask Jane if he had a hand in this which he denies. Lisbon asks him if he swears on his life, to which he responds: “on your life even.”

I love how Baker read that line. We have it in canon that Jane values Lisbon’s life more than his own (when he shot sheriff Hardy saving her life, in the season 1 finale) and this was such a beautiful humorous reference to that fact.

Again, this was a lovely, gorgeous, and beautiful opening scene. It gave me such high hopes for the rest of the episode; specifically that it will be just as “feel-good”.  Ah the irony.

VIS #2 Lisbon and Jane regarding Steiner’s presence in the investigation.

1- Steiner asks Jane if he can help on the case. Jane welcomes him with open arms (he had previously invited the doctor for a cup of tea which the latter had refused). Jane tells rather than asks Lisbon of the arrangement and she agrees despite her confusion.

Lisbon’s passiveness here is more evidence that she’s starting to trust Jane. Or is she…?

2-Later, Lisbon asks Jane what the “game” with Steiner is. He says there is none. She asks “what’s he doing here then?” Jane evades replying “what are any of us doing here?” Lisbon pushes the matter, and starts to tell Jane that if this is one of his “gags” but doesn’t get a chance to finish. Jane, annoyed, interrupts her and stops mid-stride to say: “It’s not, he asked if he could come along and I said he could, alright? That’s it.” Lisbon is a bit taken aback at Jane’s terseness which he immediately covers up by continuing “We’re building bridges, mending fences, planting seeds…” and goes on until Lisbon repeatedly tells him that she gets it.

This is another scene I loved, and it’s such an overdue one too. It addresses the fact that Jane, whom we have it in canon wants Lisbon to trust him (Season 2 ‘Carnelian Inc.’), is getting annoyed that she’s starting to doubt everything he does. He can’t really blame her; she’s been duped too often by him to take him seriously anymore.

Another reason for Jane’s ire could be how well Lisbon knows him: she knew he had a reason for allowing the doctor to tag along and she was right: Jane was being amiable to the man because he suspected he was sick.

It’ll be interesting to see whether either fact will give Jane more incentive to be honest or more incentive to be furtive. If he thinks that Lisbon won’t believe him even if he tells the truth then he might think that there’s no point in being honest with her. Likewise, if he thinks Lisbon is starting to read him more easily, it might make him hold his cards even closer to his chest.

It should be noted that Jane not telling Lisbon that he’s letting Steiner tag along as a favor also fits with Jane’s MO of wanting to hide any “good” he does (Season 1,’ Red Handed’, Season 3 ‘Bloodstream’, among others. ) Jane doesn’t like receiving praise (regarding his heart, not his brains) most likely because he thinks he is undeserving of it.

Another possibility could be that Jane just wanted to protect Steiner’s privacy.

VIS#3 Jane and Dr. Steiner at the Cook Mansion

When the victim’s wife and her mother start arguing over whether he was crazy to say he’s seen aliens Jane leads Steiner to a lavish room in the mansion and offers him a scotch from a liquor table. They sit to share a drink and Steiner calls Jane out on his niceness:

“You know that I’m sick. Why would Patrick Jane of all people invite me to a fancy house and put a first-rate scotch in my hand if he didn’t know.”

Jane answers that the doctor has lost weight and that his pallor suggests he’s being heavily medicated. Steiner admits that he’s dying, that he has a month or so left. Jane is appropriately disturbed and expresses his sorrow. Steiner thanks Jane for the distraction. Jane then suggests Steiner take a cigar from the room while he snoops around. Steiner muses that the only time he recalls being in such a fancy place was examining a body who died accidentally during an autoerotic ritual. Jane answers that he bets the man died with a smile on his face and the two share a laugh.

This was such a beautiful and profound scene. In fact, this scene would have served as the perfect ending to this episode.  After the case is solved, Steiner confronts Jane on allowing him to help and the exact same conversation takes place as the two are sharing drinks (perhaps from a bottle Jane stole from the mansion) with a fade out to the sound of the two laughing at Jane’s remark on Steiner’s story.

That way, the episode would have not have ended on an entirely different tone than the one it started out with. It would have been made serious due to the fact that Steiner was dying but would have still retained some lightness due to the new friendship between the two men.

Alas it was not to be…

VIS #4 Jane and Steiner at his house – AKA the beautifully acted and profound but frustratingly premature and conflicting (with the rest of the episode’s tone) scene.

Jane arrives at Steiner’s home after the case is solved. The latter thanks him once more for letting him tag along on the case then tells Jane why he invited him over: Steiner states that he has no intention of waiting for his disease to kill him painfully; he wants to commit suicide via pill overdose, and wants Jane “a law enforcement officer” to witness his death so that no autopsy will be needed to investigate his death. Jane is appropriately taken aback at the revelation and is very quick to point out that he’s not a law enforcement official. Steiner answers that Jane’s close enough. Troubled, Jane states honestly that he doesn’t think he can do it and that “I’m not sure killing yourself is the best idea”. Steiner states firmly that he’s going to do it and Jane responds that it’s his choice but it’s clear that he doesn’t agree. He doesn’t say anything further and Steiner accepts Jane’s refusal. He walks him to the door, apologizing but Jane stops with his hand at the doorknob and asks Steiner if he has tea. Steiner says that he does and shows Jane to the kitchen where he proceeds to make himself a cup. The doctor says he’s going to the other room (to take the pills which will kill him) to which Jane responds “take your time”. The next scene has Jane pouring them tea, and they drink together. Steiner whose breathing is getting shallower ventures a guess as to how Jane pulled off the trick with the victim’s body at the beginning of episode, saying that he had a previous arrangement with the deputy. Jane smiles and admits it, saying that it’s an “old carnie magic trick”. Seeing Steiner’s interest, Jane elaborates that he started with coins and cards and proceeds to show Steiner how he can make a coin disappear in his hand. He does this repeatedly to distract Steiner saying “it’s there, then it’s gone.” After a couple of times of this Steiner, whose breathing is getting heavier says: “Patrick, thank you.”

Jane, knowing that the end is near, tells the doctor “Just watch the coin.” It’s almost like Jane wants to pretend that they’re just having a normal conversation. Either that or once more he’s avoiding having to hear someone thank him.

Jane finally stops after Steiner passes on to remove his teacup from his hands.

Distressed, Jane then quietly resumes drinking his tea.

Firstly I’d like to say that this was one of the most powerful scenes in the Mentalist ever. It was very well written and beautifully acted.  I love how Jane’s initial reaction was refuse the doctor’s request. It is very in character as we have it in canon that Jane does not handle the macabre very well. It also gives his changing his mind later much more significance: to have the often self-serving and seemingly selfish at times Jane do such an altruistic favor for a man he didn’t really like (at least at first, other than to amuse himself with) truly speaks to his compassion and reminds us of his generous side which has been painfully absent this season.

That being said, I have major issues here:

–          Story wise, such a moving scene deserved a more gradual set up. It would have been more effective if in a few episodes (or even the start of next season) Steiner shows up to ask Jane (whom he knows is ill) for the same favor he asked him here. All that was needed to achieve this is to change the script from Steiner having only one month to live to a few  more. This would have solved the problem of the awkward genre combination in this episode and allowed for more gradual character growth and development (Jane’s). Also, holding this powerful scene for later would have allowed for more attention to be given to the other plots in the episode, thus solving the problem of them being glossed over.  But more importantly….

–          While I appreciate what Jane agreeing to stick around as Steiner dies says about his humanity, I don’t appreciate the writer’s need to turn the show into a “torture Jane” angst fest. I know firsthand that watching someone die is not easy. You’re never the same afterwards no matter what the circumstances are. There really better be a very good point to this because the Mentalist is not about shocking people. I know that because I’ve seen the first two seasons and have read early Heller interviews.

–          While Jane here doesn’t encourage Steiner to do his deed, having a character commit suicide on-screen hardly sends a positive message to viewers. God knows the point of TV is not to provide morals; and yet, that’s exactly what the Mentalist used to do indirectly, once upon a time. I was recently re-watching one of my favorite mentalist episodes, ‘Flame Red’ by Ashley Gable. The killer in that episode committed his crimes out of vengeance, but we didn’t see Jane applauding him or lauding his actions despite being able to emphasize with him. Jane was, at the very least, ambivalent towards the killer and at the most hiding his disgust with him. Although he does tell him good luck at the end.  The difference between that Jane and the one in this season was striking. This is understandable as Jane has been through a lot. His run in with Red John in particular (Season 2, ‘Red Sky in the Morning’) has changed him, made him edgier and subsequent events only served to make him more  motivated than ever to catch the killer. But this is exactly why Patrick didn’t need the additional stress of witnessing a man commit suicide. Unless the writers are purposely  trying to desensitize him. If that is the case, I must object. Jane is already jaded enough as it is. While he is bound to get used to death seeing as he deals with it on a daily basis I see no reason why that process needs to be expedited. An unaffected character does not make for an interesting character. Speaking of which…

–          Any psychologist will tell you that de-sensitizing an audience is not the wisest move because then you’re left with needing to continuously raising the “shock” factor and before you know it you end up in Tarantino land. Obviously I’m exaggerating (no offense to Mr. Quentin, I like his movies) but I’m trying to make a point here. The show has already renewed Baker’s contract so, again, why the hurry to subject Jane (and viewers) to such emotionally draining situations? And this wasn’t even a Red John episode. It’s not like the series will end any time soon (God willing).

I’m not going to discuss the “A plot” (the case) as it was only as a backdrop for the rest of the episode (another reason why this episode didn’t get a higher rating is how obvious this was). In that sense, ‘The Red Mile’ reminded me a lot of ‘Jolly Red Elf‘ in that I wasn’t particular interested in the case. But what’s different is that in that episode, the case was woven so intricately with Jane’s personal growth.  Yes, we didn’t care about Santa’s death but the fact that the victim was an addict allowed Jane to ponder his own addiction.

I guess therein lies the million dollar question: how will this episode’s ending affect Jane? There also lies the nub of the problem with a few of the episodes this season: continuity is always a good thing, but a viewer shouldn’t have to wait to watch the next episode to decide if they like the direction the current one facing.

To conclude…

The Red Mile has some of the best scenes written for the show, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to a cohesive episode. Also, the balance has officially been tipped this season. While we used to get a few dark episodes per season, it now seems that gloom is becoming the new norm of the show. I am starting to fear that The Mentalist is very quickly losing what made it special: its good storytelling and its delicately subtle positive outlook which tempers the shows dark premise.

Just like living is much harder than dying (Jane chose life, even if only for vengeance) writing profound episodes without resorting to extreme plot devices is much more impressive. I respectfully and sincerely beg the writers to show more restraint in the future.

 

Best Scenes

The winner: VIS #4  Jane and Steiner at his house – AKA the beautifully acted and profound but frustratingly premature and conflicting (with the rest of the episode’s tone) scene. Another name could be “The one the rendered the rest of the episode forgettable and of very little consequence”. Despite my many qualms with the scene it was excellently written; very moving and gently haunting. Myner was very good depicting his character’s fear at the inevitable pain and distress at being “the body at the table.” Baker was even better. He exuded such warmth despite Jane’s inner conflict over what was going on. How is it that this man does not yet have an Emmy or a Golden Globe?

1st runner up: Steiner telling Jane he’s dying. See VIS # 3 for details.

2nd runner up: Opening scene. See VIS #1 for details.

 

Honorable mentions

Simon Baker and George Myner

Frances Conroy: the mother in law Elspeth (cool name). Her great acting kept me somewhat interested in the A plot

Heather McComb as Peregrine (another cool name) Hartley. She was very convincing as the utterly devoted wife, ready to believe her husband was abducted).

Best Lines

“Dammit, who steals a body.” I love petulant Lisbon.

“On your life even.” Jane to Lisbon when she asks him if he swears on his life he had nothing to do with the body’s disappearance.

“Steiner loves the attention.” Jane to Lisbon, excusing his teasing of Steiner.

“You have driven me to desperate measures.” Steiner to Jane, on having a deputy protect the body from him.

“It’s the butler! The butler! I’ve always wanted to say that!” -Jane.

“When the aliens do come, I hope they eat you.”-Lisbon to Jane.

Okay, here’s a poll for readers, but please share your opinions in the comments as well.

Finally, a couple of stories based on this episode have been written over at fanfiction.net and I thought I’d share them here:

There, And Then It’s Gone

Episode Tag: The Red Mile, 3×18


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26 responses to “Mentalist The Red Mile Review

  • C

    Ah, I rather enjoy reading your reviews even if in this case I can’t fully agree. There is a reason beyond just showing up Jane and Steiner. Yes they develop Jane’s character significantly in this as well as reaffirm his bond with Lisbon. However you, as the viewer, wants too much too soon. In the scene of the shootout, even if Craig couldn’t help Grace, he could have still covered Wayne, which he chose not to. I don’t see the scenario as lacking but it gives both an overt and covert clue. The overt being that clearly he’s not as in love with Grace as Wayne. The other one would require you to think of his purpose in the plot, he is more than just a conflict in the Grace/Wayne subplot, isn’t he? He proposal was too quick. He tried to alienate Grace from her coworkers. He may not be Red John’s Henchman, though I could see possible scenarios for it. But If LaRoche isn’t with Red John, then he could be working with LaRoche or with his own motives. He is around too much in small ways, such ash Grace having him help by checking this and that. In a way his presence is there. So that leaves us to think why.
    I think it’s good they didn’t develop the alien theory since he had nothing to directly do with the murder. It’s not like in that Psych Episode when those people where being drugged and thought they saw and alien, until someone with an allergic reaction died. You see, this alien concept, which they used for marketing would’ve been more of a focus depending on the time of year or something in real life (socially). They neither confirm nor deny the entire thing. That way they alienate the least amount of audience.
    With regards to Cho’s humour, I agree, the financial joke isn’t there mainly because the language alienates the viewer but it is in keeping with his character and recognised as homour.
    I think the episode is a bit more like a 9 because i would agree they didn’t need to kill off the Dr. that very moment but i think that it was a conscious effort to end the story in complete contrast to the beginning. I see it as foreshadowing and symbolic. This story can only have a damp sort of end if Jane cannot change his logic. <—i think the suddenness of Doc's suicide was suppose to be sudden for the character Jane. The man kills himself but Jane kills him by enabling him (<–i personally can't say i agree but that's the conformed social idea). Jane could have stayed to both help the man / to try to face sudden death. Here it is Jane was probably only expected to here in a month's time that the man died, instead he is suddenly presented with the man's choice to die. This gives us and Jane a chance to measure his nerve. Killing Hardy for Lisbon was easier because he cares for Lisbon, but what of the Doctor whom he cared only to torment? A man whom he disliked initially, he showed pity.
    I think in the end Jane may hesitate to kill Red John and maybe Lisbon will do it so we have a role reversal.
    However this is my take on it. Since the plot is continuous, everything doesn't have to be given right away. It's what keeps us looking.

  • All-I-need

    Woah. You really got my thoughts on that episode. Did you snoop around in my head or something?

    It really was a little rushed but there are a few things I`d like to point out that you didn`t mention.

    First: The coin trick at the end. “It`s there, then it`s gone” and again and again and again in THAT voice Jane always uses when hypnotizing someone. I think he really did hypnotize Steiner – perhaps he didn`t want him to be afraid of dying, maybe he wanted to distract himself, too. If he only wanted to pretend they were having a normal conversation, wouldn`t he have showed Steiner different tricks? We know he can do a lot of funny stuff with a simple coin (and a hidden second one) and I don`t see why he would repeat the same trick over and over again if not for some ultimate goal aka to hypnotize Steiner.

    Second: When Jane first refused Steiner`s request and stood at the door and later while he and Steiner sat on the couch I was kind of waiting for Steiner to quote William Blake. I can`t exactly explain why, maybe it was the overall atmosphere of the scene or the fact that it would shock Jane even more…who knows?

    Third: Rigsby and O`Laughlin. My guess is that Rigsby WANTS to talk to Craig about that and simply hasn`t had the opportunity to do so. The episode was cramped with action already, so maybe we`ll get that in another episode, further underlining the continuity you always emphasize on so much😉
    It was truly heartbreaking to watch him struggling when he faced VanPelt … I bet offering his help for her wedding with another guy wasn`t exactly easy, either, but he`d rather risk getting hurt himself than risk hurting her (which was also shown when he came to save her while O`Laughlin chickened out).

    On a side note: It really made Craig more suspicious. As if he`s only using VanPelt as an excuse to stay close to the CBI but he would never risk getting killed because he`s got a more important agenda (like helping RJ). And did you notice that “the FBI has been investigating this” is his standard justification for his being there? That line is getting old pretty quickly, dude. And how come he is seemingly assigned all of those “investigations”? Wouldn´t it be more convenient for the FBI to just send someone who is familiar with the specific cases? Getting to know the team won`t take too long, after all, so him being familiar with them is not a good enough reason. I`m really starting to doubt everything that comes out of his mouth.

    Fourth: Jane`s reaction to Steiner`s plan of committing suicide. I found his choice of words pretty interesting. “I`m not sure killing yourself is the best idea.” Oh, really?
    Obviously, he`s only applying that particular logic to other people, because hunting a serial killer with the intent of murdering said killer is surely going to get him killed someday and he`s aware of that. To take this even further: Since Jane only stayed alive to hunt down Red John, I am pretty sure he doesn´t plan on outliving his nemesis anyways. He`ll either get killed by RJ, end up being shot by a cop while trying to kill RJ, or kill himself. And he`s aware of that. I highly doubt he`d be willing to spend the rest of his life in prison.
    So why did he tell Steiner what he did? Was he expressing his general opinion that suicide is wrong? Because that could also mean that he might possibly be overthinking his own chosen path. And if the words were specifically directed at Steiner, what did he think he`d achieve with that? Steiner knew he had roughly a month left and he was dead set on committing suicide (no pun intended). Jane must know that, since he caved in the end and stayed with the doctor.
    So, did watching Steiner die change Jane`s view on the topic in any way? Maybe. He did try and make it even easier for Steiner by a) serving him tea (and we all know Jane believes that tea is some kind of wonder drug and will help him relax) and by b) hypnotizing him with his little coin trick. That doesn`t look like he`s appalled at the thought of suicide at all. In fact, he appeared slightly in awe of the man`s strenght and also just a tad bit fascinated. He was appalled, too, obviously, but it seems to me that was directed at the thought of watching someone he knows (and maybe even cares about) die.

    Oh, and something else: LOVED how Cho told Lisbon he was never abducted – like he seriously thought she´d ever believe that. Hilarious, really – and I admire that strange “abduction specialist” or whatever the hell he was, for being able to stare at Cho`s unmoving face for so long. I noticed how most people tend to get unnerved by that and try to look elsewhere rather quickly, but that guy`s gaze wandered back to Cho like a moth to the fire.

    And the beginning of that episode was hilarious, too. I loved the banter between Jane and Lisbon, the character interaction was beautiful to watch.

    One last point, because this thing is getting ridiculously long: I am completely amazed at how quickly you wrote this review. Wow.

  • reviewbrain

    Once more you manage to elaborate on something I only skimmed over to make it much more clearer: I totally agree that in using the coin trick, Jane was trying to distract both himself and Steiner from what was happening, maybe even hypnotizing them. It shows in how earnestly he tells the Dr. “Just watch the coin.”
    As to your fourth point. I’m ashamed to admit that one of the reason’s I didn’t elaborate very much on this scene (other than mentioning how amazing it is) is the endless list of gruesome possibilities that popped into my head as I was watching it; one has already been elaborated on by C which I also replied to. You on the other hand brought up a one which might actually be interpreted into something positive: Jane’s fascination with Steiner’s decision might actually be translated into him thinking that he doesn’t think he can pull off the same. That’s a good thing because it might mean that he actually sees life even after revenge. What I wouldn’t give to know what exactly was going through his mind as he was finishing his tea. My favorite reason for it was, as you said, that Jane views tea as a miracle cure: “a hug in a cup” so he needed to finish it to make himself feel better after this tragic event. I’m not discussing the others, because, as I mentioned they are far too morbid. And as someone whose advocating the show to become more positive, it would be hypocritical of me to not be positive in my interpretations; as much as I can be anyway. It’s not like I can say the end was cheery when it wasn’t.

    And the reason I finished this quickly, other than the fact that we have a new episode coming up soon, is I’m in my last semester of graduate school. I have a thesis to finish and I just can’t concentrate without getting these reviews out of the way.

  • reviewbrain

    “This gives us and Jane a chance to measure his nerve.”
    This idea had crossed my mind but I had forgotten about it. I think I may have blocked it out because of what it entails: that Jane might have witnessed Steiner’s death to dehumanize himself to better be able to carry out his revenge. What a morbid thought. I much prefer that he did it out of compassion. You’ve effectively given me another reason to be upset with the writer: I’ve asked for this before: the writers need to let us know what Jane is thinking. Something else I’ve been asking for all season: Writers please slow down! You’ve made your point. We know there’s a huge crash coming, but some of us like to live in denial and you’re making that impossible.

  • T

    Red Hot was written by Ashley Gable who is the Lisboncentric writer. Tom S. wrote Ball of Fire and The Blood on His Hands this season. He did create the Steiner character so I guess it is his perogative to take him out, which is a shame since he was very entertaining and should have been used more often. Once Steiner said he was going to die in less than a month, it was going to be resolved in the show and I didn’t expect a good ending. Not the first time we’ve seen a jarring ending in TM and it won’t be the last. Entertaining review.

  • reviewbrain

    Entertaining, huh? That made me smile🙂
    and thanks for pointing out I mixed up the episode titles. I meant ‘Ball of fire’. I also checked and you’re right. Mr. S. did write ‘The Scarlett Letter’ which was the doctor’s first appearance. That does make it his decision to make. It’s just too bad it happened so soon. I wish I had your intuition to realize what was going to happen. I expected a dying wish or something. Noting like what happened. You’re also right about this not being the first jarring ending and I agree completely that it won’t be the last. I just don’t want it to be the norm. For two years the Mentalist was my happy place because of how intelligently written and fun it is. This season…well, it’s just not very happy is it? And that’s okay for the sake of character growth, story telling, etc. It’s not okay if it’s for the sake of getting more ratings which I’m starting to dread this is…I hope I’m wrong.

  • Lexy

    I think that we must not confuse the growing stress surrounding Jane character with the show itself… It’s not that this season is not very happy for the way it has been written… It’s not very happy because happiness and funny moments are few or like in this last ep… are mainly overcome by the sad and mourning ones.

    I don’t know if I can explain this well, I am not English mother language.

    Anyway, Jane this year has been a little bit detached from his co-stars, more mysterious about his personal quest of RJ, not sincere… there has been a twist in the character behaviour of course, but I think that after all the people RJ killed or kidnapped because of him, and due that there must be someone in the CBI helping RJ… it’s quite clear why he thinks he cannot trust anyone anymore. This awareness cannot but changing his relationship with the others.

    On the other end, especially in the last episodes, we have a Patrick Jane that seems much more emotionally involved by the people he meets during his investigation… Red Blood or The Red Mile is a clear example. Moreover this season, no kids on the screen to play with (one of my FAV moments) … the atmosphere is quite dreary indeed.

    I agree with you that it seems that the Big Finale with RJ is approaching…. And that this could be the finale of the TV Show itself, you are right when you say that we are not sure of a fourth season (never announced so far), moreover as spectators we cannot resist another 3 years with the kind of tension and stress that PJ and we have accumulated in this third season. There must be a big twist at the end of this season. Maybe the RJ saga will find its solution and next year they will try to do a different show with the same characters, leaving more space to the co-characters.. that are always happy to have their own episodes…

    I cannot forget that originally Heller conceived the show like a 3 season one, and I remember Baker suffering at the times of The Guardian for the hard and tiresome filming schedule of a three year tv show…. So I really don’t know if we’ll have a fourth season.

    Anyway, thanks for your reviews, they are always very interesting and amusing……

    Sad to say, TV shows nowadays are mainly a commercial product that someone has to sale, so I am not surprised if sometimes the plots or the characters are focused on making shares and higher ratings… there are some shameful examples out there, TM so far remains one of the best and well written!

    Thanks again. Due to my poor English I am not offended if you won’t publish my message.

    I wish all the best with your studies!

    Lexy

  • All-I-need

    You`ll probably laugh at this but the Mentalist STILL is my happy place because there`s no other show where I can exercise my conspiracy muscles like this and I love every second of it. *grin*

    I guess we should start checking WHO wrote the episode and then compare and see if maybe every writer has his or her own arch which they brought into the show. e.g. Tom S. created Steiner, so maybe the others all had their own little story lines created, too? Maybe there`s a pattern there. We already know that Mr Heller and …whatshernameagain?… are the only ones who get to write Red John episodes. It would be really interesting to see if things will make more sense once we split the show into who wrote the episodes instead of the order in which they aired.

  • reviewbrain

    The mentalist is by far the best TV show, no question about it. I’m a complete snob when it comes to what I watch (I didn’t used to be, but I simply don’t have the time now to watch more than one show) and there’s a reason I choose to watch this show, and to write about it. I’m simply in love with it.
    About the season’s I think we have a misunderstanding. I don’t know if the show was originally scheduled for three seasons but I found in several sources that Simon Baker has already signed on for a seven year contract. That means we have at least 4 seasons of the show left and that’s why I don’t think the writers should be in a hurry to write extreme plot lines because they have plenty of time left for that.

    You’ve actually made a good point considering audience feeling stress versus Jane feeling stress. But I think that sometimes the two can’t help but overlap because of how much we’ve come to care for the character.

    And don’t worry, your English is fine. I’m sorry if it took me awhile to approve the comment, I lost my internet connection for a while. Don’t worry, all new comments will be automatically posted. It’s just the first time that needs to be approved to keep the spam out🙂

  • All-I-need

    FOUR more seasons?
    You just made my day! Thank you =)

    @Lexy: English isn`t my first language, either, so no worries. I highly doubt that anyone here would judge you. And the point you made was very interesting.

  • reviewbrain

    Also, I just have to point out that my main problem in this episode is that the writer went killed Steiner too soon. And if you’ve read my previous reviews then you should know that I’ve been repeatedly asking the writers to slow down. Begging them even. Like I’m doing here🙂 they’ve got four seasons left so thy shouldn’t rush into such dark plots when it’s only season three.

  • Lea

    Yeah about the writers being to fast with writing Jane so dark and at a breaking point. I don’t think it can get any darker.
    And to be honest I thought we’d get this much much later. And that’s why I’m wondering how they want to go on after this finale. Because I more and more get the feeling that the RJ can’t go on longer than 5 seasons no matter how much seasons Baker has signed. I know that the original idea was to have it end after 5 seasons.
    Now what I hate about tv shows is that it is all about money, TM bring money and so they probably will drag this out as long as they can and I fear that might actually be the death itself for the character development and the character of the show.
    Imho I’d rather have a set ending date so the writers know where they are going and then as much as I love the show let it end there.
    I’ve seen too many of my favorite shows go down the toilet OR get cancelled because it was just about the money.

    And while I loved the end of Red Hot and that episode is still my favorite one of the whole season I agree that I find it sad how they sometimes rush too much with the storyline especially if it involves character development. For Lisbon’s character anyway cause I feel like they kind of forget about her this season even if we had a few good character moments.

    Anyway not much thought on the episode so sorry for that *lol*…just my ranting.

  • violet

    Well, I quite agree with you: there were too much going on in this episode… The writers seem to give the show a frantic rhythm in preparation for the finale! I’d love to see if someone has the patience to check who wrote which episode and if there is some hidden pattern in the show… That’s such a great and promising idea!!! And I can’t believe there are so much seasons already programmed… that could be a good or a very bad thing indeed…

    I also agree with C about the scene where O’Laughlin didn’t shoot to protect Grace or Rigsby, it was very telling about his character, but Rigsby still needs to discuss the incident with somebody, him or Van Pelt. I’m sure it’s a loose end purposely left for another episode and he probably will do so in the future, before the marriage… And Craig indeed seems to be constantly looming over the team…

    Now, about the ending, I think it gives a more powerful meaning that Steiner died in the same episode he became closer to Jane. First because, All-I-Need is right, the very last conclusion of the case surprises us, and we know how much the writers love to keep us on our toes. Besides, the whole scene has a complex significance: it is a very sad ending, thus it announces a dramatic end of season, and at the same time, there is still a little hope left for Jane. In fact, he obviously identifies with Steiner, they clearly are loners and their similarities are emphasized by them both drinking tea, and by the fact they were almost inseparable during the investigation, Steiner following Jane like an odd twin. Yet, like All-I-Need pointed out, he gave him support in spite of not agreeing with his decision of killing himself. And that’s exactly what Jane himself is doing, because hunting Red John is an elaborate form of suicide, trying to live and to die for a purpose. So, we can hope that Steiner’s death would make him think about his goals, just like the end of Bloodstream with the patient’s husband and his medallion. In two episodes, a reflection is hinted, first about the pain he feels, then here about his future. And both interactions belong to the succession of admonishments he has received from Minelli and Hightower about him keeping Lisbon in the dark. Steiner here tells Jane to reveal her their plan, in the attic, and so his respect for her can be taken more generally as another plea for Jane to open up. The three of them give him different reasons: Minnelli suggests that she can help him in his investigation, for Higthower, he shouldn’t stay alone in his quest for revenge, and here, it’s Lisbon’s personality that Steiner admires. That whole implicit implication would have been diluted if Steiner hadn’t died then…

    Moreover, it seems improbable that the purpose was to dehumanize Jane (preparing himself or the viewers). Jane tried during the case to cheer Steiner up, starting the fire alarm, snooping around with him in the victim’s house, encouraging the doctor to enjoy liquor and cigars (for himself, Jane usually only makes a cup of tea). He takes Steiner to his attic, but doesn’t keep him in there, like he did with Todd Johnson, he opens the window and they enjoy the view from the balcony. Even at the end he tries to distract (hypnotize) him from being afraid. And Steiner calls him by his first name et thanks him: far from being dehumanized, Jane here is more human than he is most of times. He’s not only vulnerable but also selfless, because Steiner has already made up his mind and he will die with or without Jane’s assistance. Jane acts a little like Lisbon with him: she doesn’t agree with his choice concerning Red John but has decided to stay with him, not leave him alone, until the end.

    The whole thing is dramatic but like I said, there is a little hope left. There seems to be a light shift in Jane this season, even though he’s been put under extreme stress: he’s begun to flirt a little more with Lisbon. First, after the traumatic kidnapping in Ball of Fire, he bantered with her on his couch, talked more freely with her in the car in Red Moon (although it is a serious discussion), tried for the first time to sneak a peek of her naked… the ordeal was life affirming after the shock of discovering Kristina Frye, just like believing she was about to die (in Red Alert) was liberating for Lisbon after Bosco’s death. After that, he admitted to be an addict (Jolly Red Elf). In Bloodstream, I think he is forced to face once more his pain for the loss of his family. Now, he faces a death by suicide, that could have been his own, as he doesn’t give importance to his life (like you pointed out, to prove his innocence, he tells Lisbon that he would swear on her life even, more than on his own). I can only hope these events would be as cathartic as Ball of Fire was… The more his character has to face hardships, the more the cold facade he’s been putting on since the beginning is about to crack. And it could be a good thing…

    I hope I’m not rambling too much, I’m exhausted! Anyway, great review, as always!🙂

  • reviewbrain

    Well. If it turns out that having Steiner die in the same episode that he befriends Jane in was done as part of a strategic plan to lead Jane to some sort of catharsis, character growth, etc, the I will humbly apologize and beg Mr. S’s forgiveness. I have to point out that I don’t mean to insult or take away from his accomplishment here. He’s a wonderful writer who wrote many favorites including ‘aingavite baa’. And as I said, I appreciate what the scene says about Jane’s kindness and humanty. And there has been a theme of people telling Jane specifically that he needs to talk to Lisbon so it could be foreshadowing to something good. The first part of the finale isnwritten by Ashley Gable and the second is by Bruno Heller. Ms Gable is like the female version of Bruno Heller
    in terms of her writing and I trust her explicitly when it comes to writing Jane/lisbon interaction as much as the shows creator. So maybe all this angst will lead to somehing good as opposed to something bad. I’ll just have to trust Mr. Heller. Thanks for reminding me
    of that. As to writers and patterns, After the season ends, I’ve been thinking about doing a spotlight on each mentalist wrtiter at the end of the season and now that a couple of you brought it up I have more
    incentive to do so😉

  • reviewbrain

    I really think the heart of the show lies in it’s fun episodes, not in the red John ones. Perhaps (and I think this is too good to be true) the reason everything is moving too fast is because Mr. Heller wants the red John arc to be wrapped up so the show (and Jane) can move on without him. I think the only way the show can continue without the red John plot line is if the writers put emphasis on normal cases, like in seasons one and two. It is a procedural after all, it doesn’t have to end with red John. Stringing along the RJ plot because it’s “crucial” to the show isnt true, IMHO and I think it would be a mistake to force it. Like you pointed out, so many shows have tanked and this is one which I think can remain sucessful provided all the main actors are on board and the storylines are carefully thought through not forced.

  • hardly_loquacious

    Okay, first of all, your poll needs an “Other” or “None of the above” option, just sayin’.

    Also, agree that the tone of the last scene is ridiculously different from the rest of the ep, but I don’t hate it.

    Loved in sync Lisbon and Jane, but then, I always do. I love it when they’re portrayed as equals as opposed to Jane explaining everything to her in a superior tone of voice. It’s a much better dynamic IMO.

    I won’t comment on whether the case was interesting or not, because honestly I never care one way or another about the cases except as they relate to the characters. In my head they’re just an excuse to get Jane and Lisbon on my screen for the most part. There are certain ones I enjoy, certain ones I despise, but mostly I am neutral.

    I am also not going to comment on the VP/Rigsby/O’Loughlin “love triangle” because I honestly hate that entire plotline and wish it would just go away (actually, not so much hate, but am indifferent to). I thought Rigsby and VP were cute in the first season, but now I just wish that was over and Rigsby would just move on and stop pining. I find the three of them tiresome and really couldn’t care less one way or another what happens. The only thing I do hope is that O’Loughlin doesn’t become a RJ victim so that VP has something to identify with Jane about. Because that is not necessary. Jane does not need any more encouragement to pursue his revenge plans. Oh, except I will say that I think the action scene was poorly filmed, because like you, I had no idea if O’Loughlin didn’t rush in to protect VP because he *couldn’t* or because he was in a better position but freaked out/whatever. And I’m glad that there was no Rigsby/O’Loughlin scene, because I find such scenes particularly annoying. I think Rigsby didn’t confront him though because he didn’t want to get involved (to his credit, in a way).

    As for the changes in tone, to start, I think the writers *often* lack clarity, or don’t seem to know where they’re going. I also think that Bruno Heller is mainly interested in focusing on Jane and his grief/manpain/revenge to the detriment of all other characters. It explains a lot of the character/tone inconsistencies and, fabulous an actor as SB is, is something I wish would stop. Sometimes it feels like they’re writing just to put Jane through an emotional wringer, and that gets tiresome. Consider the number of people who have recognized that Jane is in extreme emotional pain. Some of them make sense (Frye, the matchmaker from this week’s ep who one can assume was extremely perceptive), but the number of times it happens is getting a bit ridiculous. So I think part of the problem is the fact that sometimes the writers focus far too much on Jane’s pain.

    As an unrelated aside, I LOVE Red Hot, exactly as aired. I see your point that not showing Lisbon and Mashburn sleeping together leaves it more open-ended, but honestly, so much about the relationships and everything else on this show is open-ended, that I thought the confirmation was a lovely (and unexpected) change. Also, I adore Mashburn. I really adored the whole thing. I love that the dalliance showed Lisbon having a little fun, not being so rigid, but then, I don’t think that Lisbon/Mashburn was ever intended to be a longterm thing.

    On the other hand, I would have loved more possibility between Rigsby and Dr. Montague from Bloodsport.

    But back to the episode in question.

    I adored that Jane basically confirmed that Lisbon’s life means more to him than his own, which, I disagree, is not something that we had confirmation of before. I think Jane shooting Hardy is confirmation that Jane values Lisbon’s life, definitely. But I think it’s confirmation that he values it more than finding out potential information about the Red John case. After all, if Hardy dies, then they can’t question him. Either that or Jane’s instinct is to save her life in general, because you could argue that he didn’t have time to consider all the ramifications to shooting Hardy, just “Lisbon is in trouble. I will save her.” But in the Hardy shooting, Jane himself wasn’t in any mortal danger, so I didn’t see that as Jane valuing her life more than his.

    I love the idea that Jane is becoming upset that Lisbon now questions everything he does (as well she should!). That makes me happy, and is something that the show should definitely address, because I think the theme of trust (or lack thereof) between Lisbon and Jane is something that has been running throughout the series (the S1 trust fall, the fake argument in the S1 finale, Lisbon refusing to let Jane hypnotize her in Red Badge until she’s desperate, Lisbon in the storage container telling him not to help her because she can take care of herself, the end of 3.14, there are really endless examples), and is something I particularly love.

    And I also love the idea that Lisbon knowing him really well annoys Jane. That is almost certainly also true. I think Jane will react with a carefully calculated balance of honesty and lies, as he always does. He’ll probably just be more aware of her suspicions. I really love this aspect of their relationship. It’s almost like some sort of trust-based arms race, where both of them are trying to one up the other and try to read each other better, while simultaneously trying to reveal as little as possible about themselves.

    Personally I think the main reason Jane doesn’t tell Lisbon why he’s letting Steiner tag along is that his default position is to conceal information. It’s what he does, often without thinking. Though other reasons, you’re right, could include protecting Steiner’s privacy, or, also (given that Lisbon might like Steiner), an unwillingness to cause her pain by telling her he’s dying.

    I am of two minds about the ending though. I thought it was well done, and I think it served to show Jane’s humanity (in contrast to his words to Todd Johnson in 3.09, that in order to pursue revenge you have to be cold, push people away and not let people see what’s in your heart, something that Jane has notably been simultaneously failing at this season), which I don’t think a more ambiguous ending of Jane and Steiner sharing drinks and expensive cigars would have done. I agree, it ends the ep on a downer, and it is a bit out of left field, but… I don’t know. I like the idea of Jane overcoming personal discomfort to show some mercy, or whatever you want to call it (though, as another aside, I disagree, I find Jane much more compassionate this season than last, though I also accept that I am apparently the only person in the entire fandom who feels that way).

    I don’t know if the scene needed that much of a setup. I genuinely don’t. After all, the Mentalist has always been a mixture of light and dark. Just think about the personality Jane shows the world vs. his whole revenge thing. I didn’t see the end scene so much as character growth, as Jane acknowledging a part of his character that he likes to pretend, or genuinely thinks, doesn’t exist. I think Jane thinks he’s a bit of a horrible person (thanks to his psychic/conman days etc.), but deep down he *wants* to be a good person. Hence the joining the CBI (don’t buy that that’s all to get access to the RJ file, that’s at least part atonement for past sins). He’s full of self-loathing and he’s his own worst critic.

    I do agree that the constant Jane angst!fest is getting tiresome though. This particular example of it irked me less than some have though (I’m not good at grading objectively, if that hasn’t become clear. I grade almost purely by comparison, and in my world, by comparison S3 beats S2 every time).

    Also, I genuinely would like to know why you think the Mentalist is trying to provide morals. Because I find the morals on this show can be somewhat terrible, with Jane and Cho being particularly poor examples. This show constantly rewards the con, penalizes doing things by the rules, etc. But then, I didn’t see the scene as trying to desensitize Jane, but as an attempt to humanize him. He sees the person in this ep. Compare to His Red Right Hand when he wants to take away Bosco’s pain medication just to see if he knows anything about Red John. But I will again say that I seem to be reading S3 differently than literally everyone on the planet (for example, I find it really quite good from a J/L ship POV). I also found last season to be darker, in a way. I *love* this season.

    Also, I loved Lisbon in this ep. I love the Lisbon!snark. But that’s a bit of a non sequitur. And this comment is ridiculously long AGAIN. Oops.

  • violet

    Hardly Loquacious has a point: Jane is more human in this season than he was in S2. I S2, In was more tempted to wonder if every one of his acts couldn’t have a hidden objective. The whole arc with Bosco in fact was quite suspicious (albeit funny!), even when he helped Lisbon with Carmen, he seemed a bit cold and uncaring. Now, he shows more of his feelings in non-RJ-related situations, vulnerability, anger as well as amusement and affection. We have more scenes illustrating his really bad sides (selfish, liar, continuously manipulative), but also his good ones (when he told that widower who had taken hostages that he wasn’t responsible of his wife’s murder, in Red Alert). And this season has (until now) indeed a lot more of moments for shippers. Definitely.;)

  • reviewbrain

    I strongly disagree that “the writers often lack clarity or don’t seem to know what they’re doing.”

    Before this season. I always thought they knew exactly what they are doing (seasons one and two).

     And I never felt that any of the character or tones were inconsisitent (again until this season) but that’s only because it’s just been rushing from the very beginning. 
     
    In fact I’m starting to think that they know exactly what they’re doing, just not conveying that to viewers very well, and that, like violet says, its being done intentionally in preparation for a huge season finale. It still seems that they are trying too hard though… 

    About Jane valuing his life more than lisbons: I suppose that was more of  “conclusion” than an explicit fact, but here’s my reasoning in case you’re interested:

    In “red johns footsteps” 
    Jane told Lisbon that he wouldn’t care if he died as long as they caught Red John.

    Which means he values catching the killer over his own life.

    In saving Lisbon, he killed  the only lead to red john, and lost any chance of getting to the killer.

    Hence, Jane was willing to give up a direct lead to red John (whom he values his capture more than his own life), to save Lisbons which indirectly implies he values Lisbon’s life over his own.

    I hope that makes sense. Anyway, whether it was or wasn’t canon before, it sure is now🙂

    And Jane keeping information to himself as a habit is definately a part of the reason for his not telling lisbon about Steiner; but i discussed that aspect of his character in depth in the Red Queen interview so i didn’t delve too much into it here. Also because here i think  it was also more him not wanting to admit to being compassionate, as he’s always hiding that side of him from others because as you said, he doesn’t think highly of himself. It never occured to me that the end scene was done to make Jane face the fact that he is a good person. If that is the case then maybe you’re right, it didn’t need more of a set up. I hope we get more information in future episodes.  (If you’re interested, more discussion on Jane’s insecurity can be found in the Bloodhounds review comments, as well as the Red Alert, Red Queen and Bloodstream reviews)  

    Mentalist and Morals: the whole show is about a man seeking redemption for his past and continuing to live in the best way he can despite the guilt he feels for the death of his family. 

    I don’t think any show exists with a stronger moral than that🙂

    I totally agree with you; I don’t buy the only reason he’s at CBI is for vengeance. I beleive he’se also there to use his powers for good as penance for his past. Cons are just the method he uses to achieve that, understandable  because they are all he knows. I don’t think the show is intentionally rewarding the con (with the exception of Blood for Blood and I’ve ranted about that episode enough to last me a lifetime, so please excuse me not discussing it here. Though feel free to leave a comment about it in that post. I’d be very interested to hear your opinion).   

    I adore all three seasons of the show and I’ve always felt that Jane was a deeply (though closeted) compassionate man since the pilot and nothing ( not his wanting to take Bosco off his meds, nor his speech to  Todd about revenge) will convince me otherwise. Because Jane never acts with the intention of being malicious, he just does what he thinks he has to. He’s not always right, but that’s further evidence that he’s only human.

     I also feel there is a big difference between desensitizing someone and dehumanizing them.

    What I meant by desensitizing him was that the writers seem to want to put him in situations which result in him having a stronger stomach to deal with such awful situations.  Like, in the future, if something emotional comes up, it might not affect Jane as much because he’s already been through worse.

    For example, after seeing a man burn alive, he’s not as likely to be disgusted at crime scenes as he used to be.

    And I fear that seeing so much death could turn Jane into an even more jaded person than he is; more world-weary. But I guess it could also make him more kindhearted. 

    I never meant to imply that he’s less human this season. In fact, I think he’s more vulnerable than ever and has been indirectly reaching out for help: going undercover to the AA meeting, buying Lisbon a couch, spending more time with her, even manipulating her into letting Trina go  (for more details, please see reviews for ‘Jolly Ref Elf’, The Blood on His Hands’ and Blood For Blood).  I’ve stated that I appreciated how the end scene was showing Jane’s humane side, and that I loved the fact that he stayed despite not wanting to at first which shows his often hidden (from the other characters, not the audience) generosity of spirit. 

    I hope that clears that up.

    About the polls;  It never occurred to me that those options were necessay. My bad. I’ll try to remember to include those options in next time.

    Now whose comment is ridiculously long? 

    I really look forward to the comments on  “Ever Rose Has a Thorn”. I’ll try to post it asap🙂 Make sure to register so you  get an alert when it’s up.

     

  • reviewbrain

    Hmm. I’m not going to say much other than the fact that I thought Jane (in his own twisted way) was very affectionate to Lisbon in season 2; as much as he felt she’d let him be. I’ll save the rest for my review of the next episode. It won’t be too long a wait though as I’m dying to read your opinions🙂 also, please see my reply to hardly loquacious’s comment🙂

  • hardly_loquacious

    Just jumping in to say that last I heard Bruno Heller’s plan was to solve RJ when she show ends, not before. This annoys me. I hope he changes his mind personally, but he’s said it more than once I believe.

  • reviewbrain

    I think i heard it too and I strongly disagree as well. We’ve seen him miserable. I think we deserve to see him happy. On the other hand I understand the decision if it was made because they are not sure what to do with the characters post Red John and/or the actors don’t want to continue. But it still saddens me.

  • hardly_loquacious

    This is going to be long and probably inarticulate.

    We may have to agree to disagree about this, though I will admit “the writers often lack clarity or don’t seem to know what they’re doing,” may not be exactly what I meant. And I will add, I was mainly talking about mostly S2 and bits of S3. I’ll agree, S1 is fabulous. Lack clarity is more what I mean. And I think they do seem to add plotlines out of the blue. I think Bruno Heller basically implied the second Kristina Frye arc wasn’t originally planned. What I meant by lack clarity, I meant more that they drop plotlines. And they have dropped plotlines, or at least not explored them nearly as well as they should be. I can list a bunch of ‘em if you want me to, but it will make this discussion unbelievably longer, (briefly though, Bosco, Kristina Frye, Lisbon’s attitude towards Jane after the S1 finale, etc.). I mean, you can fanwank it all so that it makes sense, but my issue is more that they could have tweaked it all, to just bring it all together better. I felt like so many issues that should have been developed were dropped.

    And I feel like in S2 there weren’t enough character moments to have a continuous arc for anyone BUT Jane. And Cho has been inconsistent, I find in S2. I also find RSVP inconsistent. Lisbon has almost no significant reactions to anything Jane does for a large chunk of the season. Honestly mid-S2 I was convinced Jane didn’t care one way or another about Lisbon. The only thing that has been consistent for me, is RJ. And very little changes. That said, I do find this season better. My relationship with S2 is interesting, let’s say. I love S1 and S3 though.

    But yeah, maybe it’s more that they’re just conveying what they want to TERRIBLY. There have been so many times I’ve just wished for another conversation.

    I accept your logic for concluding Jane cares more about Lisbon’s life than his own from the S1 finale. I just am not sure Jane was conscious of that fact at that time. Because you could also argue it was him reacting to a crazy man with a gun, and you’ll remember, Jane had already told Lisbon that Hardy wouldn’t tell them anything useful. So Jane didn’t’ view Hardy as a direct link to Red John. So if he was valuing Lisbon’s life more than his own, it was an unconscious reaction. In the new ep he admits, so he’s consciously thought about the fact.

    I didn’t mean the scene with Steiner was necessarily there to make Jane face the fact that he is a good person, though you could phrase it that way. More to show to the audience that deep down that is what he is, something that I disagree with you about that having been explicitly shown. I suppose that depends on your definition of a good person. He certainly has his own set of ethics, but I don’t know that I’d consider all of the indicative of a good person.

    “Mentalist and Morals: the whole show is about a man seeking redemption for his past and continuing to live in the best way he can despite the guilt he feels for the death of his family.
    I don’t think any show exists with a stronger moral than that ”

    That’s only true if you think Bruno Heller is going to go with the Jane-redemption arc. I’m far from convinced that’s how the show will end. Because you could say the show is about a man seeking a murderous, cold-hearted, vengeance for the death of his family. That’s hardly moral. Don’t get me wrong, I’m seriously praying for the redemption-arc, because that’s a better story. But I’m not convinced it’s where BH is going.

    And also, in one ep (I can’t remember which one), someone guesses that what Jane is doing now working for the CBI is penance for past sins. Jane says “something like that,” indicating that it’s not true. And honestly, I think Jane is working for the CBI because he has nothing better to do and because he needs access to the RJ case. It’s not necessarily about a sense of right and wrong. After all, when his access to the RJ case is taken away, Jane quits.

    The show rarely shows consequences for Jane’s cons though. Jane himself very rarely has any consequences at all (apart from the odd punch in the nose), which reads to me occasionally as rewarding the con. Whereas Lisbon, who does thing more by the book (though again, they’ve gotten better about this lately), is constantly frustrated and under siege.

    I think Jane is probably a good person. But I wouldn’t say he’s deeply compassionate. I think he’s a good person, but he gets caught up in the cons and doesn’t see the people he hurts. I agree, he’s not acting with the intention of being malicious, but he just doesn’t see how he hurts people until it’s too late.

    Maybe Jane is being desensitized. I could see that. It just didn’t bother me, because I was too busy being pleased by the moment of humanity from Jane. As opposed to him isolated up in his attic, or shutting people out, or brushing people off per se. But then, I feel like they’d have a hard time making Jane more jaded about humanity *in a way*, because he’s an odd mixture of innocent pleasure and sheer jadedness.

    I think he has the potential to be lovely and kind and compassionate, but he’s lost his way a bit. My hope is that he and Lisbon rub off on each other and save each other, even if only as a friendship thing. But I am not convinced this is happening.

    Also, I may have to check out your Blood for Blood review at some point, because when he manipulated Lisbon into letting Trina go, I wanted to punch him repeatedly. I didn’t think that was reaching out; I thought that was so manipulative I can’t even explain.

    I was kind of joking about the poll. Really, because the option I would have picked was something along the lines of, “Was perfectly good, but the reason I think it wasn’t fantastic is not one of the ones listed.” 

    Oh, am I not registered. Dear. Now I will attempt to figure out how to do that.

  • Lea

    Yes he said that . My post was just to make a point that I find it pretty senseless to try to drag it out as long as possible. If Heller had a 5 seasons plan then he should stick to it and use the other 2 seasons to develop the characters and storyline further. I do think there’s a lot of room to explore cause we all know that Red John’s death won’t just suddenly redeem Jane. I just hope Heller somehow manages to wrap it all up cause it would be horrible if the last episode would suddenly include a) Jane getting his revenge on Red John b) jane being totally okay afterwards and at peace with himself c) jane and Lisbon totally get together without any big development beforehand because “the fans wanted it so much”.

  • reviewbrain

    I totally agree. I prefer at least 1 season post red John to give jane time to come to terms with life after RJ, whether that life includes Lisbon as a friend or lover doesn’t really matter to me as long as whatever is done, is done well. Actually I don’t mind watching 10 seasons of mentalist the ‘pure procedural’ if it’s about good well written cases with some charcter moments (again, either friendship or romance).

  • Sid

    first off, I agree, they forced way too much into one episode. It made no sense to kill Steiner off so soon.
    The only reasoning I can think of is that the actor wasn’t going to come back for another episode, so they had to wrap it up.

    “Van Pelt’s gun is jammed (I guess. No proper explanation was ever given, due to the time constraint no doubt) and Craig who was in a better position to help her (i.e. take out the shooter) doesn’t. Instead Rigsby breaks his cover to come to her rescue.

    Notwithstanding how expected that was (that Rigsby, not Craig would end up saving Grace), this scene could have used some more emphasis, maybe even a thank you from Grace and/or Craig to Rigsby for saving her. Plus, at this point it wasn’t really clear (to me at least) if Craig was or wasn’t in a position to help Grace. At least that’s cleared up later.”

    It was pretty clear that her gun jammed. The scene showed her desperately trying to unjam it, without success.

    Rigsby was waiting for O’Laughlin to help out Van Pelt, but the guy did nothing. He even called out to him, with no response. Finally, Rigsby risked his life and broke cover. You could see O’Laughlin basically doing nothing.

  • Dale

    I’ve just watched this episode again. Each time I’ve been so moved by Simon Baker’s truly incredible performance, and the writing of this last scene. Respect for the choice to control one’s own death. Assisting him on his passing by focusing him on “now it’s here, now it’s not”. So much truly transcendent in this scene.

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