Mentalist The Red Shirt Review


The CBI Serious Crimes unit is called in when a van explodes presumably killing football legend Doc Dugan (guest star Craig Bierko). When CBI Consultant Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) discovers that Doc is in fact alive, it is revealed that his assistant Jake (Russ Hunt) had subbed for him and was therefore killed in his stead. Jane then convinces Senior Agent Teresa Lisbon (Tunney) that they should allow the public to think that Dugan died as they try and solve the case. Meanwhile, Agent Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) and his girlfriend Sarah (Jillian Bach) are in San Francisco for work and the trip results in a lover’s quarrel.

Concise Verdict

In the last episode’s review I’d stated:

“The one-shot episode’s need to be evermore perfect now that he (Red John) is sticking around.”


“In a show that’s almost entirely devoted to Simon Baker’s character, the spotlight needs to passed around as much as possible. And I don’t mean have episodes devoted solely to individual characters…rather give characters as equal share as possible within the episode.”

Hallelujah, my prayers have been answered!

Every single actor was in top form here, perhaps because they were given such great material to work with. Aside from great moments for the series regulars (Yeoman especially shone in his character’s subplot), The Red Shirt also introduces guest characters viewers can become vested in; a vital element of this show. The direction was also superb with great location shots and while the case isn’t exactly complicated, a lot of interesting methods were used to solve it including the mandatory clever ruse at the end. Also, CONTINUITY! The result was an extremely satisfying one-shot (these are the heart of the Mentalist, in my humble opinion). Thank you Jordan Harper for restoring my faith in this show. Now if we can only have more  episodes like these… 9.5/10.

 Detailed (aka humungous) Review (spoilers galore)

There were several important scenes in this episode. As some dealt with recurring plots (both in the episode and in the season) I combined their discussion.

Rigsby/Grace/Sarah Love Triangle

In episode Blood and Sand Grace was shown to be bitter towards Wayne’s new relationship, telling him “Good luck” but “Be careful” because Sarah (Jillian Bach) was a public defender.

In this episode, Grace is more graceful towards the situation. Rigsby is in San Francisco to testify in court. When he tells Grace that his girlfriend Sarah is with him as well, Grace artfully changes the subject back to the case; she’d asked Rigsby to comment on how the bomb was built.

-While Grace seemed disturbed at the fact that Sarah and Rigsby were traveling together, even if they both had work, it was nice to see her handling it better than she had in the past.

Sarah tries to prepare Rigsby to testify in a trial by acting as the perp’s lawyer. When she asks him questions regarding his criminal father Rigsby bristles and leaves her.

-While I wish Sarah had given Rigsby warning first that she was going hardline with her questions, I think she was sincerely trying to help him and didn’t mean to hurt him. I also love that she called him “babe”. It shows a certain level of intimacy and genuine affection.

Later, Rigsby tells Cho (in one of the best scenes of the episode) about how his trip sucked. As Rigsby recalls what happened, he realizes how Sarah had been just trying to help him and states that he got mad because she was doing her job very well. He later adds that her ruthlessness is actually “pretty awesome”. At the end of the episode, when as he tries to make up with her Rigsby inadvertently riles Sarah up even more by telling her that she’s a public defender, she can’t help but be the way she is. Sarah passionately defends her job, and hardly gives Rigsby a chance to get a word in before demanding to know if he has a problem. Rigsby says no and proceeds to make out with Sarah.

-I think a lot of women fell in love with Rigsby here. The fact that he finds Sarah’s strength of character a turn on is a very attractive quality; it takes a big man to handle a spitfire. Can this couple be any cuter?

Image by Chizuru-chibi. Copyright Reviewbrain October, 2011. Not to be used without permission.

Cho’s Injury

Cho has been taking a lot of pain pills in recent episodes and continues to do so here. I’m starting to wonder if this is the start of an addiction story line rather than simply being continuity to the injury he suffered to his back when he got hit by a car in episode “Where on Earth is Carmine O’Brian”. Cho even goes as far as to lie on Jane’s couch when he’s in pain after tackling a suspect.

Wainwright’s Leadership

We got a couple of scenes with the CBI’s new boss Luther Wainwright (Micheal Rady)  in this episode. Although Wainwright had told Jane that he’ll adjust his actions according to his belief that Jane is a clinical psychopath (Ring Around the Rosie), we have yet to see any evidence of that. To be fair, since Red John’s re-emergence is an issue yet to be handled this season, perhaps the situation simply has yet to present itself. One could argue that Luther had a chance to assert his claim during the SJK (Blinking Red Light) killer case but instead he allowed Jane to handle the matter his own way.

Wainwright continues to give Lisbon’s team a fair amount of leeway. He tells Cho at the beginning of the episode that he’ll handle the reporters while they solve the case, his voice trailing off when Cho leaves him standing awkwardly. Later when Luther finds out that Lisbon kept the fact that Dugan was still alive from him hidden, he merely points out to the fact that the case should have a positive result or he won’t be happy. After which he wonders if it’s possible to get an autograph from Dugan.

I’m not sure what to think of Luther. He seems bright enough. In another of the episode’s best and funniest scenes he catches up with Lisbon pointing out Dugan’s girlfriend as the prime suspect reading some of her threats. He also notices when Lisbon pretends to head towards the elevator, instead of going upstairs like she had been (to where Dugan was hidden) when Luther  caught her in the hall. When Lisbon stammers an excuse that she was wrong to go upstairs, Luther, concerned, advises her to get plenty of rest.

So he’s both smart and kind. But Luther’s kindness here seems at odds with how he  bluntly (and perhaps cruelly) told Jane that he’s a clinical psychopath. But that makes him more interesting. Either he has a soft spot for Lisbon (one won’t blame him) or a problem with Jane (again, one can’t blame him), or simply, at the time, Wainwright’s words to Jane, the results of his psychopathy test, was simply his way of getting back at Jane for keeping him out of the loop in episode “Ring Around the Rosie”.

So he’s either vindictive, or he simply felt the need to assert his authority. Perhaps once he did that, he was able to be his amiable self again. At least that’s the theory. I hope we learn more in future episodes. So far, Wainwright is the least defined of all CBI heads; I wonder if it’s intentional…

Lisbon’s Character Development

When it is revealed that Doc Dugan is still alive, Jane cajoles Lisbon into going along with his plan to continue having everyone think Doc was dead.

-I knew she’d end up agreeing and it saddened me as I miss the Lisbon who thought out Jane’s plans before going through with them. For a while now we’ve seen major signs that Lisbon is more tolerant towards Jane, and a few small ones that she still retains her own way of doing things. But the instances of the former exceeded those of the latter both in significance and in occurrence. I’ve been worried that Lisbon had become far too complacent. I should have known better seeing as Jordan Harper wrote this episode; he’s usually generous in depicting Lisbon awesomeness and that was the case here as well.

Lisbon agrees to go along with Jane’s plan, but only after she gets permission from the victim’s mother.

-I’m not sure why Lisbon agreed despite her initial misgivings; perhaps because Jane’s playful goading was irresistible, or maybe, seeing how Jane so excited about solving the case she didn’t want to burst his bubble. Whatever the reason, Lisbon did not lose sight of the bigger issue: a life had been lost and Jake’s family had the right to decide if they would go along with pretending he hadn’t died.

It’s nice to see evidence to support Jane’s statement in episode “Little Red Book” to Bertram that Lisbon is a healthy moderating influence on him. I cannot say enough about how much I appreciated this scene. It reassured me that all I love about Lisbon; her sympathy, strength of character, compassion, and honor has not changed. For that, this was my favorite scene in the entire episode.

Once the case is solved Lisbon takes Dugan with her to see Jake’s mother. She apologizes once more for the woman’s loss then allows Dugan to reconcile with his assistant’s mother and spend time with her.

-I adored this scene as well. Besides bringing the focus of the show back on the people affected by the crimes committed, it recalled many previous situations where Lisbon (like Jane) tries to make the victims’ families feel better about their loss.

Later, Lisbon joins Jane at the CBI’s rooftop café. Their discussion of how Dugan seemed to sincerely want to change for the better, and the opportunity which gave him the perspective to do so leads to Lisbon to asking Jane if he’d want to be remembered after he died. Jane cites this desire as “childish vanity” and says that being dead, he won’t care, and neither would Lisbon when she dies, although he does say that she will be remembered fondly.

-I think Jane’s turning the matter into the familiar “there’s nothing after death” was very telling; he did not answer Lisbon’s question which makes me think that he in fact does want to be remembered. His contention that it’s “childish vanity” only gives it away. Is there anyone on this show more childish or vain than Jane?

As to Lisbon, the woman who constantly refuses to eat with Jane (unless it’s case-closed food) is actually sharing ice-cream with her consultant; and the J/L fans thought her agreeing to drink tea with him was progress towards a more romantic relationship. I can only imagine the swooning. Admittedly, it was a very sweet scene. I may need to brush my teeth now 🙂

Best Scenes

I’m leaving it up to you all this time. You can vote more than once 😉

Honorable Mentions

The guest stars were very well picked and familiar enough that viewers would not be able to decide whom was the perp based on that. Bierko is of course always a pleasure to watch, but so was Ashley Williams, Emilio Rivera, Ray Laska, and Chrisopher Gartin. Recurring guest star Jillian Bach was also as adorable as ever while Micheal Rady continues to give a solid portrayal of Luther Wainwright. But mostly, it was nice to see the series’ stars all get a more or less fair share of screen time and share in Baker’s spotlight. Tunney, Yeoman, Kang, and Righetti were all fabulous.

Icings on the Cake

-Location captions are back! The ones telling us where in California we are that were missing in the beginning of the previous episode.

– The case’s premise and case solving techniques were novel and interesting, but what I love most about this episode is that it was classic Mentalist in the best sense. The case occurred in Sacramento and a lot of time is spent at the CBI. But there were plenty of locations within (CBI cafe rooftop, hallway in front of the elevator, room where Dugan was held) amongst others which kept the episode visually pleasant and fresh. And that’s not even counting the sports bar or San Francisco. It’s a huge contrast to the bland locations of the last episode. As to the case, Jane multitasks as detective and matchmaker. He cleverly sets up the perp while allowing Dugan to hear that his ex-wife still loved him. Again, Jane using his powers for good is a classic aspect of the show and is reminiscent of the earlier episodes. The affect is just as delightful here.

-The issue of celebrity idolatry and the disillusionment of fans discussed here via one of the suspects is an interesting topic and an increasingly relevant one.

– Jane’s speech on the 30 yard rule and on why the truth hurts was also interesting and a good fact as we’ve come to expect from this show.

Best Lines

“What do you say, Lisbon, huh what do you say?” –Jane to Lisbon . He’s so eager here, like a little kid. I miss this Jane.

“Really, really dead, wicked witch of the west dead.”-Jane to reporter on Dugan.

“I’m not dead.”- Doc. Craig Bierko’s  reading of this line was so great.

“I don’t wanna play dead!” –Doc. See above comment.

“No thanks.” Grace, replying to Doc’s offer on if she’d like to know why his girlfriend worships him. Amanda Righetti is so charming here and funny. I missed this Grace.

“Tempting, really, but I shot and killed my last boyfriend. I’m not ready for a relationship, yet.” Grace to Doc, at his continued propositioning  of her. Also, see above comment.

“He had all these holes that he dug in himself and he had to find a way of filling them.” Anne Dugan. Amazing line, delivered wonderfully by Ashley Williams.

“Any nibbles? Let’s dangle another worm shall we.” This line is just so Patrick Jane. 3+ years I imagine it gets harder for writers to come up with new dialogue while keeping it sounding like Jane. This was a great example.

“First punch is free that’s how pathetic I think you are, pathetic! I’m getting worked up.” Jane, dictating tweets to Cho to lure in a suspect over twitter. -Simon Baker was fantastic here. Jane’s version of “getting worked up” is stressing the repeated “pathetic” coupled with a shudder over his zeal. Careful Jane, you don’t want to hurt yourself!

“You told off a mobster, somebody tried to kill you and you don’t even mention it? You’re about as helpful as an actual murder suspect.” Annoyed Lisbon is so funny!

“Maybe we need the other end of the wire, the listening…” Love tacit continuity on how Jane remains unfamiliar with police devices.

“Oh that’s a great looking suit for a policeman. Most of you have no taste. -Arnold Greene to Jane. Love, love, LOVE Jane’s big bashful yet pleased smile here. The ham can’t resist flattery! Again, vanity 😉

*All material posted in this blog is the intellectual property of reviewbrain (unless otherwise stated). Readers are free to make use of the information provided they cite the source (this blog) either by name (reviewbrain’s blog) or by linking to it. Please extend the same courtesy to the authors of the comments as well (by mentioning their names) to ensure that credit is given where credit is due.


About reviewbrain

Screenwriter, independent producer, compulsive critic, editor, artist, language lover, student of life, pacifist, parent. View all posts by reviewbrain

14 responses to “Mentalist The Red Shirt Review

  • Heike_T (@Raven__Claw)

    First of all, thank you for this great review. Over the past few months I became addicted to this site and the opinions of other fans. But I was always shy to write a comment because of my bad english. I will certainly make a lot of errors.. hope you can forgive me.

    Let’s talk about “The Red Shirt” 🙂 Amazing episode. I agree with all your remarks. Their are just a few things a wanted to add.

    First the conversation between Lisbon and Jane about how they should solve the case. Bakers performance “What do you say, Lisbon, huh what do you say?” was wonderful. Like an excited little boy. But Robin Tunneys expression was priceless. Like she would mentally say: “I’m going to regret this but I can’t say no”. I was watching this scene over and over again. Kudos to Baker and Tunney for this great performance.

    The first thought after we saw Lisbon runs away from Wainwright and heading to Doc Dugan was: “Isn’t this Lisbon’s missing red couch after Jane bought her a new one?” from the episode -Bloodhounds-. I’ve always wondered where she disappeared. These are the little details that makes The Mentalist so special and I love it. Maybe it would be nice to see, if Lisbon will ever find out what Rigsby was doing on HER Couch. Hahaha… 😉

    It was also nice to see that Cho’s back is still hurting and a lot more than I assumed. When did we EVER saw Cho taking a nap in the middle of a day onto Jane’s Couch. The accident in -Where in the World is Carmine O’Brian- must have hit him very hard, if he’s still on painkillers. Also I wanted to slap Rigsby for his little caring about Cho’s condition but hey, it’s Rigsby we are talking about and Cho’s snoring was way too funny.

    I hope I don’t overload your eyes with my mistakes. Thanks again for this wonderful review.

  • reviewbrain

    Welcome to the blog. Please don’t worry about your English it’s perfectly understandable and very good. You are right, Jane and Lisbon’s discussion of handling the scene was wonderfully acted. As to Rigsby, I was actually glad to see him for once make fun of Cho instead of the other way around; I do think he was also expressing concern, but he was distracted by his own problem with Sarah to be as nice as he usually is.
    Thank you for your comment and I look forward to reading more from you again 🙂

  • Mary_N (@RobinTunneyBlog)

    Hello everybody!

    This was a really fun episode! I agree that in this episode it was the ensemble who won it.
    Sometimes it happens that episodes are too much focused on Jane. I can understand that happens, he’s The Mentalist after all. But, I like more the episodes in which we see everyone get a chance to shine.
    And I think Jordan Harper created another really good guest character- Doc. He already created the amazing Mr. Mashburn, and it seems like he’s really really good to write fun and supportive guest characters.

    I have to say my favourite scene was the one between Lisbon, Van Pelt and Wainwright, when he finds out Doc is still very much alive. I loved how VP was standing behind Lisbon as some sort of moral support, and nodded when Lisbon nodded, reinforcing what Lisbon said with her face, and loved also Lisbon and VP’s synchronized reaction when Wainwright opens the door. Very amusing!

    I still don’t get Wainwright too. In his first appareance he seems sure about himself, about Jane, and then in this episode he looked like a lost child, he was just moving around ignoring what was happening. I found it strange that Lisbon didn’t tell him that Doc was alive. He’s her boss after all. If something had happened to Doc while he was at the CBI? I found that strange…

    I liked the final scene very much. I have to say I completely agree with the ice-cream philosophy. Enjoy simple pleasures (and most of all a good ice-cream 😉 ) you never know. And without spoiling anyone, I think it was a good arc for tomorrow’s episode. You’ll see… the ones who didn’t already watched the promo, that is… 😉

  • violet

    Yay! A review! 🙂 I was impatient to read it! The episode was quite good, balancing between fun and a fair amount of drama (I especially liked Jane’s childishness). You had very good points concerning Lisbon’s qualities showed in action. I also liked your comments about Rigsby and his still quite complicated love life!

    About Wainwright, you’re right, he’s far less defined than the other bosses… He still struggles a bit between letting his team have their way and simply distrusting them and their methods. In fact, that’s pretty close to his first behaviour towards Jane himself, a combination of wariness and admiration. The previous bosses had no problem in differentiating the team (Lisbon) and their consultant… Wainwright? He was first fascinated by Jane’s theories and then put off balance by him. It was obvious that he was paying far more attention at him than at the team’s real leader. So for Luther, Lisbon is probably just a part of Jane’s team, due to the closeness they showed.That way of viewing them may be a reason of how “undefined” he still is, since it was their different position towards Lisbon and Jane that mostly defined Minelli and Hightower.
    At the same time, there are signs that there’s a lake of communication between Luther and Lisbon: for instance, why did she feel the need to hide the fact that she was heading to the stairs, when she wanted to see Doc? Even if her boss had seen her, she could have said that she was searching for Jane. Or does Wainwright ignore that Jane as a hiding place in their attic?

    I was also quite happy to read Heike T’s comment about the red couch! That was the first thing I noticed in that scene! 🙂 But couldn’t Rigsby find another spot to get all naughty on his girlfriend? I mean, it was still his boss’ old couch, yirks… And about Cho, I don’t think Rigsby could tell him a lot more: Cho doesn’t seem the type to accept advices quite easily, even more when he didn’t ask anything in the first place. And he can still accept that massage Summer has suggested… (but not on Lisbon’s red couch!!! 😉 )

    Now the recurrent question about death and remembering those who left… that definitely seems to be the running theme this season! I don’t know if you’re right about Jane’s position here, that he’s “vain” and “childish” enough to want to be remembered. I wish you’re true, but there aren’t enough clues yet to be sure. Either way, it was interesting that he tried to simply dismiss Lisbon’s question, instead of telling her that he feared he wouldn’t be remembered as a good person.

    Last, not least, I think the main purpose of many points in this ep was to cast a positive light upon Jane. I mean, his strategy during the investigation was quite interesting: as usual, we don’t know for sure when he understood who was the killer, because, even if he didn’t know at the very first, when he suggested his plan, it’s probable that he came to suspect him quite fast (maybe when he interrogated him)… So, Jane kept the charade with a goal, to destroy step by step every illusion Doc had about his friends: he crumbled the girlfriend’s façade, made Doc realise how heartbroken he felt when he thought that his wife despised him, then made the woman show her true feelings. Jane literally set Doc’s redemption. And the parallel is almost inevitable, as, just like him, Doc lived for the show, in a world of illusion, even if his were more of an emotional nature. Either way, Jane helped him to make a new connection with the really important things: the wife he loved, not the false glory he revelled in…
    In addition to that generosity, we were also shown his caring side. In that scene with the ice cream, he indirectly told Lisbon he was fond of her and the whole moment showed how much he has opened up in a few years. Before, when he ate an ice cream, he just got one for himself. Here, he already asked for a second spoon to share with her.
    So, we were reminded of Jane’s qualities and that, coupled with the brief psychic act, already set the scene in contrast for the coveted next episode just like Mary_N pointed out. (And I can’t believe that I managed to say that while remaining mostly spoiler free, he he… 😉 )

    (sorry for the many mistakes I’m sure I left! I’m quite in a rush…)

  • windsparrow

    I usually have more to say, but pretty much everything has already been said, can’t think of much to add. I do have a couple brief comments.

    First, Wainwright appeared to feel he had a tiger by the tail, in attempting to assert any form of leadership this go ’round – with Cho at the beginning as well as with Lisbon toward the end with regard to Doc still being alive. But he did display the sense to not get in their way. And really, as a less experienced investigator, that is a very wise choice.

    Second, about Jane and Lisbon sharing that ice cream at the end – nothing says “there’s nothing going on here” like a courtship ritual from the 1950s. Seriously, people, if she were wearing a poodle skirt and he had taken her to Al’s, the next thing you know Fonzie would hit the juke box to make “their song” play. And for sure Teresa would be wearing Patrick’s lettermen sweater the next time they went up to Inspiration Point….

  • reviewbrain

    Oh my God I laughed so hard at this comment! Especially since everything about Jane is so old fashioned it fits perfectly. But I think Lisbon would kill him before wearing something like a poodle skirt. Thanks so much windsparrow, you made my day. Even if I’m getting weird looks for laughing out loud by myself 😀

  • reviewbrain

    Hmm. I’m not sure if all that was set up; Jane only got to know Ducan through his wife and girlfriend as they were interviewing them. But I like the idea that he might have planned all this before the final ruse, which was obviously as much as for the reconciliation as it had been to solve the case. I also agree that there is a parallel between Doc and Jane, as has been the case many times this season with other perps/ victims. It seems to be a running theme…

  • windsparrow

    Ok, so we put her in skin-tight peddle-pushers and a pink leather jacket like Pinkie Tuscadero…. Of course, then Patrick would have to fight Fonzie for her, and I’m not sure he’d win.

  • windsparrow

    Oh dear heavens, I’m not starting to write one of those AU fic that puts the characters in High School…. Shoot me if I do. The only series that can support that kind of thing is Stargate SG1, and that’s only because of the clone.

  • violet

    Well, what tipped me off that destroying Doc’s illusions may be part of a bigger plan was that Jane stayed with him during his wife’s interrogation. He was observing his reactions. Before that, he didn’t stay with him for the girlfriend, because he was busy trying to goad her into showing her true face: therefore he knew that the wife’s rejection would affect Doc’s more badly than his so-called loving girlfriend.

    I watched again the scene at the beginning where Jane convinced them to fake Ducan’s death and it was noticeable that Jane begun to observe him after he said twice that he loved the victim, before adding that he would never find another assistant like him: we can already notice how Doc, albeit not being a bad nor cold person, couldn’t stop but add something about his career and himself. Same with the first mention of his ex-wife, he said that he used to sneak out with women because she wanted more money. In a few sentences, Jane has then, since the start, a good insight in Doc’s life: he cared for the boy, but can’t help but stay self-centred, and he thought that his wife only saw him as a mean to become richer and he was obviously sad about it (but not angered, since he didn’t talk bad about her). Double conclusion: he is unable to make real connections with the people around him, even though he cares about them and he don’t hate the woman he is divorcing. I guess it was worth a try then. 😉

  • violet

    Awww! A *pink* leather jacket? Ouch, Lisbon wouldn’t be happy with it. At all. And I guess Fonzie wouldn’t need to lift a finger, Pinkie Lisbon would be more than glad to punch Patrick (repeatedly) if she was forced in a costume like that! I can already see her pushing him face down on the ice cream… even more since he admited he was responsible for the bridesmaid dress… Ouch, here goes their romance…

  • windsparrow


    Ouch! No more cosplay for them!

  • zee

    Hello Reviewbrain. Eversince I found out about your review blog to read up reviews on The Mentalist episode “Redacted”, I was hooked. I went back and read up all the reviews that you’ve written so far. You have outstanding detailed work going on there 😉

    But I must say you have wee bit of J/L tinted goggles going on in your reviews too! (a happy pet peeve, as far as I’m concerned)

    About this episode, may I add a thought I’ve had regarding that ‘sundae’s death discussion’ scene.
    Maybe, Jane considered being remembered after death as “childish vanity” was probably because if the real Red John’s died, people will still remember him.

    Once, again nice review 😀

  • alli

    I also have been traumatized by van pelt’s exceedingly bad makeup, especially her hooker eye shadow (monochromatic purple up to her brows this episode). eek! i found your blog because i had to see if anyone else was noticing how fugly they were making her. Poor actress. thanks for posting your peeve there! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: