Consultant Patrick Jane (Simon Baker), Senior Agent Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) and her team take the case of a missing boy, Conner, on the request of his mother Elizabeth Flynn (Kelli Williams). Beth is an old client from Jane’s psychic days and wants him to use his “powers” to help find her boy. Lisbon asks Jane to step back from the case as the psychic angle is complicating matters. Jane agrees but changes his mind when Beth’s current spiritual adviser Nate
Glass shows up. Jane is then caught between convincing Beth that he was never a psychic, discrediting her current psychic, while trying to find the missing boy before he is killed.
Written by fan-favorite Ashley Gable, Pretty Red Balloon depicts the wondrous marriage of angst, humor, mystery, suspense, and, wait for it…morality, that made me fall in
love with this show. It also comes with the bonus of excellent guest stars, slyly superb direction, and so many references to previous episodes that my continuity radar blew up. Oh, yeah, and the whole cast was awesome especially (surprise surprise) Simon Baker. Do I really need to say it? 10/10.
Detailed AKA Humongous Analysis (spoilers galore)
It’s no secret that (one of the reasons) I love this show is how much it makes me think. But I confess after an entire season of suspense and intrigue I’m really starting to appreciate the more straightforward episodes That is not to say they are less exciting or compelling. In fact, being kept in the loop of Jane’s schemes has it’s own rush as exemplified by the analysis below.
Very Important Scene (VIS) #1: Episode Opener- Jane/Lisbon/Van Pelt in the Bullpen
Jane tells Lisbon he’s not going to the CBI’s mandatory seminar, setting her on edge since she’d just gotten her job
back. It would have been a perfect opportunity for the more unforgiving fans to go on a “Jane is such a bastard, etc.” rant. But after Lisbon leaves, Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) and Jane’s exchange of “It’s good to have her back” lets the audience in on the fact that Jane is only teasing Lisbon out of relief at having his beloved boss back at work; his own way of welcoming her back, affirming her presence to himself and viewers.
Clarity is such a beautiful thing. Thanks to this scene I
didn’t have to spend the rest of the episode wanting to strangle the guy.
As to whether Jane will actually go the seminar:
VIS#2: Jane tries to Come Clean to Beth (again)
When Beth tells Jane she wants him and Nate to work together to save her son, Lisbon asks that Nate leave. When the trio
are alone, Jane once again tries to try and convince Beth that he was never a psychic, and that Nate isn’t either.
Jane: “I’m not a psychic, I never was. I was a con artist. I took your money, and I told you lies.”
-Baker’s delivery here was so emphatic, so purely un-apologetically honest. Jane in no way sugar coats what he did. This is very mature of him. Jane’s accepting the consequences of his actions might be one of this
season’s running themes (‘Scarlett Ribbons‘).
But to no avail. Ironically, Jane was so good at lying, now that he’s telling the truth Beth refuses to believe him. She asks if he’s really not a psychic then why he’s working with the police. Lisbon explains: “Mr. Jane is working with us because he is an excellent investigator. He is going to be very helpful in this I promise.”
-I think this is the first time Lisbon ever gave Jane such a complete compliment. She’s acknowledged his talent before but usually in more reserved, at times even derisive tones: “He’s a pain in the ass but he’s usually right” or simply “He gets results” and “He closes cases”. Can this glowing
praise be that Lisbon is starting to respect Jane more? Or was she being nicer because she felt sorry for his undoubtedly painful predicament at coming clean to a former client? Hmm.
Beth states that she understands. At first Jane and viewers think that’s she’s finally gets it. But then she continues saying that Janes gift is such a burden that of course he has to deny it.
-When I heard this, I thought: it is a burden all right, but not it the way she thinks. I’ve said this before about Jane: genius is such a lonely place. Viewers may recall Jane’s brother in law, Danny from last season (Cackle Bladder Blood) whose unapologetic demeanor at scamming people out of their money was almost like he thought they deserved it. With such power as Jane’s, it’s easy to fall into using it for evil, into gathering money and adoration, rather than for good. Red John being the extreme example.
The scene gets even better. Beth goes on to say: “Even Saint Peter denied who he was three times”
-I went crazy with glee at this line. I can’t help but wonder if Religion skeptic Jane realizes the irony of his being compared to a Saint. Does he find it insulting or hurtful?. He’s obviously disturbed (maybe annoyed? ashamed?) by it as he quickly interrupts Beth, his tone hard as steel, stating that “There are no such things as psychics”.
But to no avail. Beth pleads with him to not deny his gift, no matter how hard it must be. She begs him, reaches out her hands to him, crying out his christian name and all Jane can do is stand there and take this undoubtedly punishing spectacle silently as Lisbon tries to calm down the frantic crying mother.
-Phenomenal acting all around. Viewers can just see Jane’s agony in Baker’s eyes as the rest of him is very, very still. Meanwhile, Tunney makes Lisbon’s concern and attempts at calming Beth down seem like she’s trying to protect Jane from the pain she knows the woman is unwittingly inflicting on him. Finally, Williams is picture perfect as the desperate mother grasping at straws to save her son.
VIS #3: Grace and Rigsby at CBI
Before questioning witnesses/possible suspects, Van Pelts states sarcastically that they might be better off using Beth’s psychic, Nate Glass. Rigsby, surprised, asks: “I thought you liked that spiritual stuff, what about your cousin Yolanda?” Grace then points out “Yolanda is real, that guys’ a fake.”
Ahem. I love this exchange, obviously, for the continuity it provides as well as what it tells us about Van Pelt. Grace has always been a woman of strong convictions. Her psychic cousin was first mentioned in the ‘Pilot’ when she got into a somewhat heated and powerful discussion with Jane over whether real psychics exist or not. It is nice to see that despite everything that happened to her Grace still maintains her beliefs. While some may see her as being gullible, I actually think this shows strength of character. I have always loved Grace’s ability to stand for her beliefs and I’m so glad she didn’t lose that. This scene is also quite clever in that it allows the show to remain objective and respectful to members of its audience who do believe in psychics.
Finally (and I’m not sure if this was intentional or not) but reminding the audience of the pilot sets the stage for another issue discussed there and is readdressed later in this episode (more on that later). Talk about multitasking.
VIS #4: Jane Confronts Nate Glass; Lisbon and Jane
After Glass pretends that he’s contacted Beth’s son, Jane approaches him, remarking that Glass is “not great, but pretty good”. Glass responds it’s a gift. Jane points out that as he was once a fake psychic himself, he wouldn’t ask Glass to back off, except that a child’s life hangs in the balance. Glass won’t take the hint and says that’s why he’s here to help to which Jane responds: “You don’t want to push me. Back off this woman. Get out of here right now or you’re going to regret it.”
-Yikes! It’s always exciting to see hardball Jane come out to play. It usually happens in matters related to Red John (with Bosco when the Red John case was taken away, and Stiles when the visualize leader brought up Red John to rattle Jane). Another instances was during Jane’s run in with another psychic Ellis Mars (Red Moon). Mars had the misfortune of getting on Jane’s bad side when he tried to cold read him.
While in the above examples Jane’s anger seemed to stem from being affronted personally (he especially enjoyed vindictively putting Ellis Mars in his place) the purpose behind his threats here seems altruistic. Jane cares about Beth and her son. The only possible ulterior motive Jane may have here is his desire to right previous wrongs. He can hardly be blamed for that.
Nate refuses to back down. He tells Jane: “I can understand your frustration. You had the vision and you lost it and I can’t think of anything more horrible.”Jane tells him that he’s got a lot of nerve; and that maybe, more than just a fraud, he’s the kidnapper too. Lisbon joins them to state that she’s already checked out his alibi during the previous abductions.
-Love the easy transition here and how Lisbon took the initiative to have Glass checked out. It’s nice that after working so long together her and Jane’s thought processes are so close they are almost identical at times. Another possible running theme this season; how in sync these two are.
Lisbon, noticing Jane and Glass’s obvious contempt for each other tells Jane that they don’t have time for a feud. She adds “It’s like you’re conscience is battling your old self there’s no upside.” Jane replies “you think that’s why I’m here? That’s intriguing.”
-Yes it is. So is Jane’s reply. Either Lisbon’s comment hit the spot and he’s surprised she read him so well, or Jane himself didn’t realize that’s what he was doing until she pointed it out to him. Or perhaps Jane is intrigued by the fact that Lisbon thinks he has a conscience. Again, It’s a far cry from her usual derisive statements regarding his character. I’ve pointed out in other reviews that despite his seemingly huge ego and strong exterior, Jane has an insecure streak and actually does care what Lisbon thinks of him. CJDavey shared a similar opinion in the “Little Red Book” comments when he stated that Lisbon’s “What does that make you” statement (about how as an honest person she’s a terrible liar) seemed to bother Jane. Perhaps this is why Jane is intrigued. That despite Lisbon’s usual disapproving stance regarding his character, she actually sees the moral dilemma he’s facing now as expressed by him wanting to oust Glass as the fraud he is.
VIS #5: End Scene : progress in the Jane/Lisbon’s friendship
Last season I stated that of the two characters, Jane was the more emotionally invested in their friendship and made more overtures at connecting emotionally (‘Bloodstream‘, ‘Every Rose has its Thorn‘, and ‘Jane/Lisbon moments‘). I’ve also wished that Lisbon would let go of some of her strict professionalism and open up more both to her colleagues and to Jane. I’d gotten my wish somewhat in the Season three finale as well as in this season premiere when Lisbon started addressing her colleagues by their first names and reaching out to them as friends. This scene shows that she’s starting to become more friendly with Jane as well.
It starts when Jane explains to Beth how he was able to trick her stepson Jonathan into thinking Jane knew where he was keeping Conner. But before Jane starts the explanation he looks briefly at Lisbon (almost as if for guidance) and she gives him an encouraging nod.
I loved Lisbon’s support here. It’s continuity to the idea expressed by Jane’s video interview (in Every Rose) that he needs someone strong, someone better than him. At the time I wished Lisbon would realized what he needed was someone to guide him. It seems this theme will be explored further this season. First, Jane told Bertram explicitly that Lisbon was a good influence on him, and in this episode, they share a nonverbal exchange where Jane takes a cue from Lisbon.
Just as wonderful is how, as Jane gets into his explanation to Beth, Lisbon continues to gaze upon him with something very close to affection and possibly even pride. Usually it’s Lisbon who’s on the receiving end of such looks from Jane so it’s nice to see the opposite.
Lisbon looks especially pleased by Beth’s contention that although Jane lied to her all those years ago, she is happy because he’d given her hope.
And if looks are not enough to show Lisbon’s growing regard, then her pep talk to Jane is.
When Jane and Lisbon leave the house she tells him: “Cheer up.”
-Lisbon’s direct approach here is a far cry from her awkwardly offering to let Jane drive the car in ‘Red Brick and Ivy’. In that episode, Jane asks Lisbon if he really looks so sad; unintentionally embarrassing her when he calls her out on her awkward yet sweet attempt to cheer him up (she never lets him drive).
Here, Jane first tries to cover his melancholy, saying he is cheered. Lisbon, unconvinced goes on: “You heard her, you gave her hope.” Jane’s reply is a (gasp!!!) self-deprecating (GASP!!) admission that he didn’t give Beth hope, he sold her hope; hence acknowledging that he does in fact feel bad. Lisbon tells Jane that she thinks hope is worth it at any price.
-I don’t know what surprises me more. The fact that Lisbon is unabashedly going out of her way to try to make Jane feel better or his admitting being down (as opposed to his telling Lisbon all last season that he’s fine).
I think this is the easiest personal discussion these two have ever had. Even Jane’s subsequent teasing Lisbon, asking her if she’s running for office now, is like his way of establishing equilibrium. It’s almost like he’s saying “thanks for the concern but I honestly feel okay now.” Lisbon takes the hint and easily falls back into their normal banter, telling him “Okay, you know what, you’re a wicked charlatan and you’re going to hell then.”
Jane’s reply? “That’s more like it I’ll save you a seat by the fire.”
-Remember how I said in VIS #3 that Van Pelt’s reference to her cousin could be an indirect way of reminding viewers of the pilot? This scene here is why I thought that. Because in the pilot Jane said “There is no afterlife.” But he doesn’t say that here. In fact, when Lisbon tells him she’s not going to hell, he jokes that she’s made other arrangements and asks her where she’s going. Lisbon then challenges “Do you really want to have this conversation? Ready for some little theological talk here?” Jane then admits that he doesn’t and Lisbon continues teasing him “I thought you wanted to feel better, not worse”.
Now I’ve previously raised the issue that Jane may no longer be as agnostic as he once seemed. In the Strawberries and Cream finale review, I stated (in relation to the scene where a bomb-strapped Lisbon prays):
The fact that guarded Lisbon is praying in front of skeptic Jane really underlines the gravity of the situation. As does the fact that Jane doesn’t mock her for doing so. He even goes as far as saying he’d do the same if he could. This statement simply blew me away; as I’m sure it did Lisbon if the shock on her face is any indication. It is not clear at this point whether Jane is starting to believe in a higher power or whether Lisbon’s been rubbing off on him. But that is not the point. What does matter is that he’s gotten close enough to Lisbon to respect her beliefs in spite of his own apparent lack of faith. For a control freak like Jane, this is huge. Unless the reason for his tolerance is that he himself is starting to want to believe. And then we have another chicken-egg scenario. Don’t you love when writers give us those?
I even set up a poll regarding the matter where readers voted:
What’s interesting here is that while Jane told Gupta in Strawberries and Cream that he likes a good theological debate” here he’s shying away from having one with Lisbon. Perhaps killing a man in cold blood has served to somehow make him reconsider his stance on religion.
Personally, I always thought the Jane’s refusal to believe in the afterlife is due to a masochistic desire to deny himself any ease which may come from thinking that his wife and daughter have “gone on to a better place”. I also think he fears, on some level, that his family was taken away from him as divine retribution for all the people he conned. But that’s just a pet theory and I readily admit it has no basis whatsoever other than Jane’s ego and my feeling that he doth protest too much.
So what do you guys think now?
This whole episode was a best scene. It’s ridiculous to ask me to choose one. But this is me trying:
Best Scene: Jane comes clean to Beth
See VIS#1 for details.
1st Runner Up: Jane’s psychic read
Before Beth leaves the CBI Jane goes to bid her farewell. He grabs her hand to shake it, and then proceeds to fake one of the best psychic reads of all time, all in the presence of Beth’s current psychic Nate.
-There are no words for how awesome this scene was. Jane’s performance, Lisbon artfully joining him in the act; his holding her hands, saying in a shaky voice “Lisbon, I don’t like this, I don’t like this”; I was smiling the whole time especially when he falls on the ground (a cue to Lisbon no doubt) which she follows, giving him a slap to come to his sense. Jane does and afterwards begs Beth to not touch him again; feigning fear that she’ll trigger another episode. Lisbon then does her part of ordering everyone to search the area Jane’s vision described. When everyone leaves, Jane stands up and tells Nate with a poop-eating grin “That’s how you do I psychic read”.
I just burst out laughing.
Jane then walks into Lisbon’s office (leaving Nate silently seething behind) and shuts the double office doors behind him. Fantastic. The master, the magician, Patrick Jane has left the building 😀
And this is why Simon Baker deserves an award. Not because he can do drama (though he’s fabulous at that too, see 1st best scene); many actors do drama. But how many can do all that other stuff in between. You know, acting like a fake psychic, who doesn’t believe in psychics then puts on such a fabulous show isn’t “just another workday” for actors. I’m just saying.
2nd Runner Up: Jane Lisbon End Scene
See VIS #6 for details.
Icings on the Cake:
Master Cho: Once the team starts suspecting a serial kidnapper, Agent Kimball Cho (Tim Kang) gives Grace and Rigsby the low down on how the case is going to be worked now. Love the assertion that this man has seniority over the rest of the team. Also really like how Rigsby and Van Pelt just followed his orders without question. This team is a well oiled machine and I’m so glad they’re back. Chemistry between Kang, Yeoman and Righetti is really fun.
The point 1, 2, and 3, 4 corners or whatever jargon Lisbon used when giving the team their locations was such a sweet touch of realism.
Wayne and Grace
Love how Grace and Wayne are interacting so naturally together. He asks her if she’s okay after shooting a suspect and she jokes that she’s starting to enjoy killing people. I wonder if Wayne is waiting for cues that Grace is over her fiancee to make a move. Or if he’s finally moved on to the point where he can be her friend despite his saying last season (‘Like a Red-Headed Stepchild’) that he can’t.
The casting of the Mentalist is usually superb and quite a few big guns were brought in this episode. Todd Grinnell as the unlikely perp was quite effective and even manages to be somewhat sympathetic. The first suspect Gary (David Bowe) was also very good; relatively benign at first then freakily violent later ( is it just me or did he remind anyone else of Steve Buscemi?) and Brain McNamara was excellent as Beth’s protective and unyielding older brother. As to Kelli Williams; to this day the memory of Lindsay’s (William’s) impassioned defense of the nun-killer in The Practice, and her subsequent agony and tears when she won the case; setting the killer free gives me goosebumps. She can now add Beth’s desperate pleas for her son’s life in this episode to her list of moving roles.
Simon Baker: Really? You need to ask? Read the previous 7 pages worth. Better yet, watch the episode. But amongst the things I didn’t mention was the scene where Nate Glass talks about how Beth’s son made contact with him. Baker was fabulous showing Jane’s barely restrained annoyance. Honestly he was so angry I half expected that for the first time we might see Jane actually get violent.
Robin Tunney: Tunney really broke my heart in the opening scene where Lisbon first orders Jane, then pleads with him to go to the seminar. Her glare is always a joy too. But she really shone in this episode while questioning Beth. Ms. Tunney is the only one actress I’ve ever seen who can make accusing a mother of killing her son to inherit his money seem not cruel and insulting. Then there’s her comforting Jane and all the concerned looks she throws him that show that maybe Lisbon is becoming as attached to Jane as he is to her.
“Amen.”- Jane reply to Glass’s fake “Halleluiah”
“You should have gone to jail you miserable sleazebag.” Deke (victim’s uncle) to Jane. Love the reference to Jane’s killing Timothy Carter and his trial. Lovely, realistic continuity.
“Well, nice to meet you too. Not sure I’m a sleazebag, miserable–” Jane, in response to above. Jane is usually happy enough to concede to insults he thinks he deserves. Interesting he chose not to comment on the “should have gone to jail” (ambivalence? Guilt?) and chose instead to comment on the “sleazebag” accusation (really doesn’t fit him, does it?) before starting to comment (and possibly agree) to the “miserable”.
“Oh you should have seen me ten years ago.”-Jane to victim’s uncle when he asks him what’s wrong with him that he treats people so horribly. This reinforces the idea that Jane has changed (as he’d stated in Cackle Bladder Blood) and also shows that Jane sees his brutal honesty as being nicer than fake kindness.
“There’s no need to be cranky”-Jane to Lisbon. Whenever Jane calls Lisbon grumpy, or cranky I get all warm inside.
“I was thinking love is strange. And I was thinking about a sandwich.
“Mr. Glass. Nice to finally meet you. And you got no action, you’re a disgrace to the profession. That contact you made with Connor? Weak, weak.” –I love when Jane turns his taunting onto someone who actually deserves it 🙂
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