Following the events of the season three finale, CBI consultant Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) is arrested for shooting a Timothy Carter (Bradley Whitford) dead in a mall in front of 500 witnesses. Jane defends his actions saying that the man is his family’s murderer serial killer Red John. He adds that Red John’s gun and the call his cell phone received from Craig O’Laughlin (proven murderer and assumed RJ accomplice) will prove it. But Jane is shocked when he learns that no call was made to Carter’s cell from Craig’s telephone and that there was no gun at the scene. Things look very bad especially as Senior Agent Lisbon and her team are suspended due to the fiasco. The rest of the episode is then spent trying to prove that Carter is in fact Red John, with the hope that it will help Jane in his trial and get the team back in the good graces of CBI director Gale Bertram (Michael Gaston)
Season three of any television show can be highly pivotal. Depending on how it is handled, it can either make or break the show. Mentalist’s season three was quite powerful and ended in one of the best finales of all time. Some say that once a show reaches such high standards, it can only go downhill from there. I’m glad to report that Mentalist doesn’t seem to be facing that problem any time soon. the season premiere conveys many good things to come and has me very excited for the new season: 8.5/10.
Detailed AKA Humongous Review (Spoilers Galore)
Very Important Scene (VIS) #1: Ardiles and Bertram pre-Jane’s bail hearing.
I was so happy to see Assistant District Attorney Osvaldo Ardiles (David Norona) back. Despite his position as a minor antagonist on the show, I really like the character for all the nuances and subtle decency the writing and actor Norona give him. For example, in this scene, Osvaldo rightfully assumes Bertram approached him to ask that he go easy on Jane. When Bertram corrects this assumption, saying that he wants Ardiles to make sure Jane stays locked up for as long as possible, Ardiles replies: “Okay, he’s your man.” At his tone and wording Bertram defends himself quickly with a “Don’t get me wrong.” He states that while he feels bad a “productive employee” like Jane is going down in flames, he’s more concerned about containing the “media crapstorm” Jane’s actions have caused.
This scene reminds viewers of Ardiles’s promise to Cho (Season Two’s Rhapsody in Red) that the DA’s office won’t be doing them more favors. It also recalls Bertram’s umbrage with Jane in the finale when he threatened that there will be consequences to Jane’s actions. But more importantly the scene sets the stage for the two’s next scene at the end of the episode by reminding viewers that Bertram’s main concern is and always will be how things look, not how things really are.
VIS #2: Bertram visits Lisbon at the Hospital
Bertram extends his and the bureau’s sympathy for Lisbon’s injury. He then tells her that she and her team are suspended. Lisbon, shocked, asks why. Bertram responds: “Really, you have to ask? You allowed a clearly disturbed individual to lead your activities. You allowed him to gun down an innocent man.” Lisbon defends that they don’t know that. Bertram repeats Carter was innocent, adding: “On top of which you perpetrated an elaborate deception on me in order to gather evidence that I your own boss am part of a vast criminal conspiracy. Shall I go on?”
-I really love Bertram’s benign matter of fact tone here. Gaston always manages to come off as being both nice and creepy at the same time. But what is really compelling about this scene is Lisbon’s wonder at being suspended. It’s quite different from her usual willingness to accept punishment (‘Blood Money’, ‘Redacted’). In fact, her disbelief here is quite Jane-like; she’s acting like he does when he feels he’s unreasonably being made to pay for his actions. I’m dying to know whether the medication Lisbon’s on has her missing the magnitude of the protocols she and the team have breached, or, as in the case of people who spend a lot of time together, Jane’s habit of expecting people to cut him slack has rubbed off on her (more on this in the next VIS). Then there’s the less fun possibility that Lisbon’s surprise and Bertram’s explanation could have just been done for expository purposes and I’m reading too much into the scene.
VIS #3: Lisbon’s first visit to Jane in jail (AKA the meeting all viewers were anticipating)
Jane enters the visitor’s room, sees Lisbon, smiles and approaches her. He sits down, gives her a tiny nod and gestures slightly towards her injury before he asks, “So how was your week?” eliciting a startled laugh from Lisbon.
-Of all the ways to handle Jane and Lisbon’s reunion post Carter’s shooting, I honestly believe this was the best choice. I loved how there was very little drama in this scene. This is exactly what made me fall in love with The Mentalist in the first place. Subtle writing + subtle acting=perfection. Heller wisely makes use of Jane and Lisbon’s established friendship and Baker and Tunney’s talents to paint a picture worth a thousand words. Jane and Lisbon stare at each other quite a bit, taking in their respective appearances. Jane’s body language clearly conveys how worried he is about Lisbon, his relief at seeing her okay, and his pure joy that she visited him. Likewise, Lisbon rushing from her hospital bed to meet Jane, her initial moroseness at seeing him in jail coupled with her beautiful laugh at Jane’s ironic quip shows that the feelings are mutual.
And if that doesn’t convey their care clearly, then the rest of the exchange does:
Jane: “You should be in the hospital. What are you doing here?”
Lisbon: “I’m okay. You on the other hand-”
Jane: “I’m okay too.”
The concern they have for each other and disregard for their own plight is beautiful. It gets even better though. In an almost direct role reversal of ‘Red Badge’, Jane is in a situation where his sanity is being questioned. Jane tells Lisbon that he didn’t go nuts, and she answers that she believes him but expresses doubt that a jury will. Jane answers: “Yeah, well, that is a problem and I did what I had to and I will live with the consequences.”
You hear that sound? It’s not a flood. It’s me bawling my eyes out with joy. Where did the brat who refused to pay his speeding ticket (‘Red Alert’) last season go? Our man is finally growing up!
Now one might claim that Jane’s resignation here is a bit off character, but so was Lisbon’s earlier indignation at being suspended. Together, these two instances of character change don’t seem coincidental; but rather examples which show that Jane and Lisbon’s personalities are developing; becoming more like each other. I find this possibility extremely interesting, not to mention realistic. At seven plus years of knowing one another, it would be strange if that didn’t happen.
This doesn’t mean Jane plans on going down without a fight, as evidenced by his later making bail and working to justify his shooting Carter. But his maturity here was nevertheless a pleasure to see.
Now the cynic in me kept rearing its ugly head to point out that Jane telling Lisbon he’ll accept the consequences of his actions could have been due to his knowing that it would get Lisbon to act on his behalf; that he was in fact being subtly manipulative. But the optimist pointed out that while Jane can hoodwink the worst of criminals, lately, he’s been much less successful at pulling one on Lisbon. Plus, he seemed genuinely sincere.
The scene then ends with Jane asking Lisbon to bring him a blueberry muffin next time she visits. More than continuity on Jane’s love for these muffins, Jane’s wording here shows more growth; this time of his relationship with Lisbon. Unlike when he needed to cajole Lisbon into visiting him in jail (episode Black Gold and Red Blood) Lisbon visited Jane here on her own. And there’s was no question on whether Lisbon will visit Jane again; it’s a given to both of them. The continuous development in their relationship from season to season is extremely satisfying to see.
VIS #4: Lisbon and Grace
Lisbon and Agent Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) question Sally (Kate Norby), Timothy Carter’s widow. Grace is unsympathetic when the widow tells them her husband was not Red John; that she knew him very well. Afterwards, sensing Grace is still affected for having to shoot her criminal fiancée, Lisbon tells Grace that she should apply for her psych counseling ASAP. Van Pelt denies needing the sessions. Lisbon disagrees and points out that the sessions are mandatory after a shooting. Van Pelt complains that while everyone says a having a psych counseling sheet on file “doesn’t matter”, it actually does.
-I assume Grace meant career-wise. It’s been established that she is a very driven woman- she initially refused to date Rigsby because she didn’t want to be transferred (as interoffice dating is forbidden). She fought with him when they were dating over the same issue, and she’s always looking to take more responsibilities on the job. But her worry over the psych session recalls an episode where Grace stated that her sister killed herself (Throwing Fire). In that episode, Grace later denied the fact claiming she only said it to stop a suspect from committing suicide, but I always thought her statement had been too intense to have been a lie. This leads me to think that Grace’s refusal to seek counseling in Scarlet Ribbons is more than her not wanting to discuss her latest tragedy of shooting her fiancée. I think Grace fears the can of worms (of her past) which her psych session might open and what that might do to her career.
Lisbon won’t have any of Grace’s excuses. She states: “Grace, I’m asking you as a friend, get help. See the shrink, talk about what happened. Don’t let this eat away at you.” Grace is quite affected: “I appreciate the concern, really. Thank you.”
-I’ll bet all the Van Pelt/Lisbon friendship shippers are having a field day. Not only is Lisbon consistently calling Grace by her first name as opposed to “Van Pelt”, but she actually asked Grace to seek help “as a friend”. Looks like Jane is not the only one with character growth. Lisbon is finally letting go of her die hard professionalism which stood in the way of her connecting with her colleagues. This is a great omen for team love.
VIS #5: Lisbon picks Jane up from Jail
Before I discuss this scene I need to point out that at his bail hearing Jane tells the judge that he’s happy to stay in jail because he needs time to think. He only decides to go out on bail after Lisbon tells him that they’re at a dead end in proving that Carter is Red John. Jane had mused that Lisbon must now be starting to doubt his word that he shot an armed man; that she thinks he’s crazy. She denies this initially but at Jane’s stare she relents that the idea crossed her mind. Jane answers “Fair enough,” seeming unconcerned over Lisbon’s admission then adds “Guess I’m gonna have to get out of here to help you with this”.
After Jane raises the bail money, Lisbon comes to pick him up from jail. Jane looks a bit apprehensive as he greets Lisbon. Then in the car, he stares out the window looking preoccupied.
-At first I thought Jane’s demeanor was indicative of him being nervous over the possibility that Lisbon might ream him for shooting RJ; that one of the reasons he might have wanted to stay in jail was his wanting to avoid a confrontation. This could still be true and yet…
In the car Lisbon asks: “So, what did you do? Honestly.” Jane’s knee jerk response is: “He had a gun.” Lisbon clarifies that she was asking about how Jane got the bail money.
-Again, I thought Jane’s quick defense of his decision to shoot Carter was an indicator of him worrying over how he’ll defend his actions (revenge) to Lisbon (especially in light of Season three’s ‘Red Moon”) but then…
When Jane realizes Lisbon is talking about the bail money he quips: “Oh, that. Murder for hire. Killed a snitch. Stabbed him in the kidneys.” Lisbon blandly responds “You did not.” Jane agrees that he didn’t, that he won it in a card game, before adding: “But I had you for a moment.” At Lisbon’s silence he remarks “You really do fear for my sanity”. Lisbon’s answer is an emphatic “No”.
What’s interesting is that Jane’s “I had you for a moment” doesn’t sound very smug despite how he usually takes pleasure at tricking his colleagues. Instead he seems bemused (maybe even upset) at the thought that he was able to trick Lisbon into thinking, even momentarily, that he is able to kill someone for money. Like he believes she should know him better than that; like its news to him that Lisbon is never really sure what to expect when it comes to him.
I once stated that despite Jane’s annoyance with Lisbon’s spirituality and love of rules, those are the very facets of her character which could represent his salvation. She’s like his moral yard stick. If she likes him despite his flaws then he is able to feel good about himself because she has such high standards/pure beliefs. Conversely if Lisbon starts doubting Jane; then it’s a red flag that he’s gone too far down a dark road. Perhaps this is what worries Jane in this scene.
Of course this is all conjecture. But what isn’t is the fact that in addition to justifying his shooting of Red John, Jane’s response of “He had a gun” also came from his desire to assure Lisbon of his sanity; that despite his earlier “fair enough” he actually is quite bothered by the idea of Lisbon doubting him. Even the slightest indication that another person’s opinion matters to Jane makes me insanely happy. It normalizes him.
But I must point out that just because Jane thinks Lisbon fears for his sanity doesn’t mean he’s right. This could just be his insecurity talking; fearing that the person he wants to know/trust him most in the world, does not.
VIS #6: Jane is found Not Guilty/Shocking revelation of RJ’s non-demise
Acting as his own lawyer, in his closing argument, Jane convinces the jury that Timothy Carter was Red John. He tells them that he has a right to kill the man who killed his family and asks them what they would have done. Jane earns the jury’s sympathy and they come back with a verdict of not guilty. But Jane does not seem as happy as one would expect.
Lisbon waits for him outside the courthouse with a big smile. Jane on the other hand only manages a tight grin as he waves in greeting, followed by a look of fond regard before he joins her in her car. Lisbon asks Jane if he feels any different, if he feels better now that he killed Red John. Jane replies that he feels guilty. Surprised, Lisbon asks him why. Jane says it’s because he lied to the jury about Timothy Carter being Red John, but adds that he had to as going to jail would have been a victory to RJ. Confused, Lisbon states that RJ is dead. Jane states that he isn’t. Red John is still alive. Timothy Carter was not Red John. Lisbon stares at Jane in shock before he reminds her to keep her eyes on the road.
-First question: How does Jane know Red John is still alive?
I’m guessing the fact that no evidence whatsoever was found in Carter’s home to prove he was RJ was Jane’s first clue. Second, Carter’s MO (kidnapping a woman) is different than RJ’s (cutting them in their homes). Third, the fact that the first officer on the scene ended up dead, and the evidence which was taken from the crime scene makes it seem like someone is still messing with Jane, setting him up to go to jail. Like Jane said, this would have been considered a victory to RJ.
-Second question: How do we feel about RJ still being alive?
Regular readers know that last season I wished the RJ plot would be wrapped up so that the show will go back to more fun (IMO) individual case based episodes. Most readers, however, disagreed with me, according to last year’s poll (taken during the Red Queen Preview ).
But despite my delight in Strawberries and Cream that RJ was finally gone, I feel strangely ambivalent to the knowledge that he’s still alive. Maybe it’s because after believing that he really was dead, and now being told that he’s not, I’m not sure what to believe anymore. What if Jane was just speaking figuratively? What if RJ is dead and Jane was just referring to the fact that RJ still has a lot of accomplices, as evidenced by the dead security guard and missing evidence. What if he lied to the jury because he wasn’t prepared to pay the consequences for his actions like he said and that’s what he feels guilty for?
Time will tell.
But if we go with the idea that RJ really is alive, then there are both pros and cons to the situation.
- Many viewers were concerned that The Mentalist without Red John wouldn’t work; the reasoning being you can’t have Batman without the Joker. If he’s still alive, there’s no need to worry about whom will fill RJ’s shoes as Jane’s new arch nemesis.
- Story-wise, the decision makes sense. If Mentalist is to have seven seasons, then we’re in the middle of the series; a good time for the story’s climax; which Strawberries and Cream undoubtedly was.
- Speaking of the season three finale, I don’t think the fact that Timothy Carter was not Red John detracts from the powerfulness of that episode. After all, Jane and the entire CBI team thought he was RJ.
- Making Jane (and viewers) think that he shot RJ was a like having the ultimate fire drill. An experiment, if you will, for writers to see how best to handle the final showdown. I am very interested to say how Jane acts given a do-over.
- Lisbon’s absence during the showdown in Strawberries and Cream, while very clever, felt wrong. RJ not being dead provides an opportunity to remedy this.
- Many viewers (including moi) had genuinely fallen for the idea that Red John was dead. We had all summer to get used to it. Now we’re suddenly being told that he’s not. I used to take pride in the fact that Mentalist writers have an honest relationship with their viewers. If it’s our interest they’re trying to keep, they shouldn’t fear, we’ll always keep watching. Really, there’s no need to mislead us. Unless they wanted us to feel the same anticlimax that Jane did. If so, mission accomplished.
- Crying wolf can get old very quickly. Next time really should be the real deal.
- Now that Jane’s been acquitted of killing Red John, he can hardly use the same defense for when he actually does kill the murderer.
Suspects (AKA Conspiracy Theories)
This is a new category where I’ll talk about characters which seem suspicious of being RJ spies and/or members of his cult within the show’s episodes. Previously discusses suspects were CBI’s Ron, Bertram, LaRoche, and Partirdge). In this ep we have:
Forensic tech: When Rigsby tells the first tech to respond to Carter’s crime scene that someone took a cell phone and gun from the crime scene, he states: “Not me. There was no gun, not that I saw.” Rigsby asks him to look him in the eye and say it. The tech does and repeats “there was no gun.”
-The tech seemed honest about there being no gun (that he saw) but his non-remark about the existence of a cell phone, coupled with his “Not me” makes me think that he might have seen someone else pocket the phone.
Jessica the waitress: She states she didn’t see a gun or notice the newspaper that Carter was carrying, that she went to his side to comfort him as he was dying, that he was still alive when she got to him, and that Carter told her: “Give my love to Sally and Charlene” before the security guard chased her away, ordering her to get away from the body and evidence. She adds that the guard was a jerk about it and had “crazy eyes”.
-In the season three finale, we saw this woman run off after Jane killed Carter. We also saw Carter (at least I think we did) die immediately after he was shot. Methinks this woman is very suspicious. That she set up the security guard to make it seem like he took the missing evidence. The guard was then killed so that he won’t be able to exonerate himself from suspicion hence distracting the cops from this woman’s culpability.
But why would she do that? Was she’s another of RJ’s men, as Timothy Carter no doubt was? Is she herself Red John? (How cool would that be, if Red John was a woman?)
The winner: VIS #3: Lisbon’s first visit to Jane in jail (AKA the meeting all viewers were anticipating)
I was so worried about how and Lisbon and Jane’s first scene together after he shot RJ (Carter) would play out. IMHO it was perfect. Not only did it not break my heart, it reinforced the strength of Jane and Lisbon’s precious bond.
1st runner up: Jane and Lisbon visit to Carter’s widow.
Jane’s visit to Sally Carter made for a very emotional scene. Simon Baker and Kate Norby did very well, having their respective characters firmly stand their ground. Jane states that if he did make a mistake in killing Sally’s husband then he would spend the rest of his life making it up to her. This was a very stirring declaration. As someone who lost his own spouse; Jane would never want to inflict that pain on anyone else. Sally insists that her husband was a good man. Jane’s reaction to this (asking for tea) comes across as not only to buy himself time to investigate the woman further, but also to take a moment to emotionally collect himself. Lovely.
2nd runner up: VIS #4: Lisbon and Grace
Besides the reasons I stated above, Robin Tunney and Amanda Righetti were very good in this scene. The former expressed heartfelt empathy and compassion. The latter, denial followed by contained (yet genuine) gratitude.
Icings on the Cake
-There was a lot of continuity in this episode regarding Jane’s favorite foods: tea, eggs, blueberry muffins. Jane requested tea “hug in a cup” at least twice. Love the subtle indication to his agitated state.
-The scene where Lisbon and Jane find out about the responding officers death, they have the same reaction of “That’s good” followed by a guilty conscience. More support that they’re thinking more alike.
-I appreciated the straightforwardness of this episode as well as the reference to time. Scarlet Ribbons starts immediately where Strawberries and Cream left off, then picks up two days later. This gives viewers an idea of where the characters are physically as well as emotionally. But while this was an icing on the cake, it indirectly led to a….
1-Why, oh why, couldn’t there have been a caption at Jane’s trial stating “one week” or “1 month” or any realistic time frame “later”? It would have given the trial much more credibility via passage of time. It’s one of those tiny details which I feel would have given the illusion of realistically paced events. As it was, I almost got whiplash from the supersonic speed of the episode’s conclusion.
2-When we were promised a trial, I expected, well, a trial; possibly one which would take place mid-season until which Jane would continue consulting for the bureau. Jane’s trial would have been the perfect opportunity to answer the many, many questions raised in season three (did Jane ever register his gun being one of them). I was so disappointed to see everything wrapped up so quickly. On the other hand, I’m still smarting over the embarrassment of ranting over Steiner’s ill timed death (sorry again Mr. S), only to discover that it needed to happen so that Jane can bring himself to shoot RJ in the finale. So I’m keeping my mouth shut for now in case Jane’s speedy trial is also part of a bigger strategic plan for the show and not a cop out. Otherwise, couldn’t the premiere have been a two hour episode? A two parter? Anything that would have given Jane’s trial the magnitude it deserved?
Conclusion (aka random ramblings)
Personally, I wanted season four to give Jane a chance for character growth and resolution; something which only seemed possible with Red John’s death. But Scarlet Ribbons suggests that this could still happen, even with RJ alive. How guilty Jane felt over lying to the jury, and how easily he came clean to Lisbon about this fact has me feeling very optimistic. Jane, being Jane, of course justifies his actions as being a means to an end. But his simple admission that he feels bad is a huge step forward.
My inner cynic however, thought that Jane sharing this information with Lisbon was largely due to Jane’s selfish desire to have someone share the burden of the truth with him. Cynic also stated that Jane needs Lisbon to know the truth so that she’ll continue investigating Red John cases with him. I pointed out that there’s nothing wrong with needing to confess your sins to a friend; that’s part of what friends are for. Also, that Jane had been investigating the RJ case on his own all last season; he hardly needs Lisbon’s help. Cynic countered that if it wasn’t for Lisbon’s help then Jane wouldn’t have been able to reveal Craig as RJ’s spy in the season three finale. I conceded that point but proceeded to lock Cynic up and stuff him in the darkest dungeon in my memory palace as I refuse to let my mind use Lisbon’s awesomeness in an argument as evidence that Jane is manipulating her.
Speaking of Lisbon, I’m dying to see her reaction to Jane’s revelation that RJ is alive. It’s one thing for her to accept Jane’s killing RJ; he’s said he’d do it for years. It’s a whole other ball game knowing that he shot some random criminal. She took a risk with the reward being Red John’s capture. Now that she knows it’s not Red John, she might not be as docile towards the whole situation.
By the way, Cynic (screaming from his dungeon) wants the record to show that he mentioned the fact that while Jane is upset over lying to the jury, he’s not upset that he killed a man. Cynic adds that this is the second time Jane killed someone, and that he once stated “good riddance” when a suspect (Gorman from Blood for Blood) was killed during his arrest. I agree that Jane’s disregard for human life he deems unworthy plus his unapologetic demeanor is worrisome. It’s something I’ve been concerned about since he jaded himself by watching Steiner’s suicide. It seems a legitimate issue and I’ll be watching for future developments. Perhaps Jane telling Lisbon that he shanked a guy for money in prison was his subconscious expressing his own concern for his sanity (humanity), but Jane was projecting this concern onto Lisbon.
Cynic is laughing at me.
You guys don’t think I’m crazy right?
I didn’t include a Best Lines in the review. There were many good ones and I thought it’d be more fun for readers to share their favorites 🙂 Please don’t forget to rate the post and feel free to share your own views on the episode by commenting on this post. If you want instant alerts whenever a new post is added to the blog, you can register.
Finally, here are a couple of promo’s for the next episode titled Little Red Book airing September 29th. Looks fabulous!
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