Once again, this review was written by my dear friend Violet. I am so glad I was unable to work on it as I doubt I would have done as wonderful as job as she has.-Reviewbrain
Consultant Patrick Jane (Baker) meets CBI Agent Teresa Lisbon (Tunney) at Redmund High School where one of the most popular teachers has been killed. Right away, Jane begins to discover the secrets of the high school, the students’ as well as the teachers’. He soon becomes particularly interested in the school drama club, the members of which are preparing to put on a play: a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”
The mere idea of Jane roaming freely in a high school plays with an old expectation for many viewers. Season two’s ‘Rose Coloured Glasses’ took place in a high school reunion and we were told Jane never went to high school. His time in Redmund thus gives us a glimpse at what kind of student Jane would have been as a teen and that’s quite satisfying and funny. More continuity is present via many discreet winks to past episodes conveying an impression of coherence and familiarity: the ruse of the girl betraying a guilty conscience by not looking around in a crowd was used in S3 ‘The Red Mile’; Jane helping someone to stop smoking? Think ‘Blood for Blood’ in season 2. And Jane working his charm on a stage reminds of ‘Rhapsody in Red’. All in all, ‘Something’s Rotten in Redmund’ is a pleasing episode, even if not mind-blowing one. It presents a rather well done story, with its set of credible red herrings and a surprising final revelation– spectacular, but still realistic-, enhanced by some really amusing moments. The result may not become the best episode of this heart-stopping fourth season, but it surely gives us an endearing one: 8/10.
Detailed AKA Humungous Review (spoilers galore)
An important theme of this episode is how clever Jane is at working on various threads at the same time. The beginning is classic: Jane ticks off the local authority figure at the crime scene, like usual. Then there is a progression, as Jane discovers secrets from the more obvious to the more hidden ones. The investigation thus quickly falls in a pattern of mixing various types of clues, including ones from the crime scene, some hunches/deductions, or searching for some elements he’s sure of finding in Redmund because “every school has them”. All the while he’s switching focus between students and teachers. He seems to be everywhere, investigating every possibility.
VIS #1 Jane and the delinquent
After spending some time searching for the “bad kids”, Jane manages to interrogate their leader Krista. Seeing her about to lighten a cigarette: the consultant tries to convince her, or rather force her, to stop smoking by using suggestion. Jane’s willingness to help the local bad girl, in his own manipulative little way, shows how he is able to be genuinely concerned enough about youngsters’ welfare to try and do something for them. He’s once again on the side of morality, like he was in ‘Pink Champagne on Ice’.
The scene also showed us that he is talented enough to adapt his speech to his audience. Indeed, when he used the same mean to help Trina’s aunt in ‘Blood for Blood’ he called to her disgust and indignation towards businessmen making money with the unhealthy stuff; whereas here, he just tell his “patient” to look at herself in a mirror. Therefore he used young girls’ common weak point, the image they have of themselves, implying that the uneasiness and shame she’ll feel may be the trigger to decide to change. It’s a minor point, but it gives us an indication about how he works with his audience. Always interesting.
VIS #2 Jane in the bathroom – and called in the Principal’s office
– Jane sneaks in the second floor boys’ bathroom while the students are in class and paint a huge “Snyder sucks” in blue on the mirror…
-Our unruly consultant is then called with Lisbon in the principal’s office to be given an earful for his naughtiness. Jane then confirms that Snyder knew he had performed the vandalism act because of authorized security cameras hidden in the bathroom.
This funny and unexpected scene is without any doubt the best of the high school part. And it shows another perspective on how his mind works: he prepares his act, here by baiting Snyder. Then he just has to catch the fish.
In the meantime, Jane reminds very much of a mischievous teenager, playing a prank against authority and being caught red-handed. Baker’s impersonation of a grumpy kid is truly hilarious. It fits with Jane’s usual charming childish behaviour (pulling up his leg while looking into a huge waste bin, giving Lisbon a shadow puppets show and so on). Yet, the twist here makes things even more amusing, since he acts like a teen even though he’s an adult among real teenagers. The scene moreover is well structured and balanced, as all this playfulness serves to uncover that disturbing fact that cameras have been hidden in the boys’ bathroom. There is a subtle gap between this apparent carefree attitude and the serious matter behind and that contrast gives depth to his character.
Another interesting side is Lisbon’s reaction. She’s had to apologize on his behalf countless times, it’s no wonder her speech rightfully feels more than rehearsed. But, here, not only she acts as her boss, but she also assumes what comes as a parent’s role: after being called by the secretary, she asks him what he’s done and scolds him in front of Snyder. That’s pleasingly emphasised by his petulant child behaviour. She deftly slides over two meanings of being his ‘responsible adult’: from being a superior who is blamed professionally wise, to taking the attitudes of a mother in front of her disobedient child.
Jane playing with Hamlet
In a perfect counterpoint, the school theatre soon becomes a sort of microcosm in Redmund. The mood behind the stage is faintly different, as is Jane. While he mostly tries to bug the truth out of people at school, he’s far more charming with the young actors and their teacher and manages to get them under his spell… until the end, where we learn that he was trying all along to sneak into their little theatre company for investigative purposes.
VIS # 3 Jane gives a lesson on being an actor – Jane at the play
Again this is a scene in two parts:
Act one: he gets them to think he was an actor by reciting a tirade from “Hamlet” from memory. And, after earning their admiration, he’s asked to give tips and enunciation exercises. That only further establishes his status, he seems a great actor who knows the play inside and out and a reliable person.
Act two: the evening when they are performing, Jane gets rid of one of the kids to have his part. He then founds himself playing the ghost of the dead king supposed to reveal his son Hamlet that he’s been murdered. Of course, Jane-ghost’s revelations about murder are quite different and serve to accuse the drama teacher who’s having an affair with the underage lead actor.
-Same pattern than with Principal Snyder: he prepares things beforehand but we can only understand in retrospect what it meant. Many elements are in common in both schemes:
1) in both cases the trick is for Jane to perform an act and above all to be seen by his mark while performing it, whereas it is acting as a delinquent or posing as an actor.
2) There is some emphasis on the notion of watching (the camera/ the play taking place on the scene).
3) Lisbon’s role is similar to what it was in the office, as she comes to see him perform like a mother would do, sitting with the students’ parents, even if she didn’t know that he would be on stage.
4) In both occurrences, Jane is again the champion of justice and morality, since he calls Snyder creepy and a pervy, and is not afraid to qualify the corruption of a minor as “an unnatural lust between a woman and a boy”.
Now, the choice of “Hamlet” as the play they are performing is extremely revealing. References to Shakespeare have been a connecting thread during the second half of this season. In ‘Fugue in Red’, Jane told Lisbon part of his memory palace consisted in naming Shakespeare’s plays in the chronological order. In ‘Cheap Burgundy’ he was able to catch the killer, a fan of the Bard, by purposely misquoting a passage from ‘Macbeth’. Here, his precise knowledge is even more obvious since he’s able to quote lines from at least two characters, Hamlet and his father.
‘Macbeth’ and ‘Hamlet’ are certainly famous classic plays about murder. Jane also shares interesting traits with Shakespearian characters. Like many of them, he’s witty and has a knack for saying serious things with a joyous air and lightness, being able to discuss death matters with Lisbon before sharing an ice cream. This mixing of various moods also masks a tragic streak. Like Lady Macbeth, Jane is obsessed with guilt; he hides with Hamlet behind the mask of a fool, the prince feigning craziness while Jane plays a jester. In truth both men seek revenge over a dead relative’s assassination above all things, even when others may have to suffer collateral damage. Both plays end in loneliness, madness and death and that’s what Jane himself risks, between the mess of Panzer’s murder, his struggling with Red John, Darcy’s accusations and the claims that he may be a psychopath. That definitely conveys an anguished and tragic undertone to this so to say “full of sound and fury” season.
Rigsby is a Father
VIS #4 the ending: Rigsby sends a photo of his baby boy
On a brighter side, the shortest pregnancy of history has come to an end. Rigsby’s stress and the cute haste he showed in leaving the bullpen, keeping his phone between his teeth, already hint that he’ll be a loving father. This is even further illustrated when he sends a picture of his newborn son Benjamin to every member of the team: it proves how proud he feels and the team reactions are all the more endearing as they are gushing over the baby. That’s a very sweet moment.
We finally get to see a reaction to the news from Lisbon and Jane. Lisbon has obviously a soft spot for babies and in true mother bear mode defends the newly born against Jane’s teasing remarks. He then leaves and the mask begins to slip revealing a soul deep sadness, while Lisbon’s knowing look follows him. A poignant ending that probably explains why the writers didn’t touch on the matter before.
And that leads us to the big question…
What is Lisbon’s role?
Many aspect of Lisbon’s relationship with Jane appear in this episode. They skim between personal and professional.
1/ She is Jane’s partner: they are together in the most important moments of the investigation, when Jane finds their first suspect, in Snyder’s office, during the play. Their partnership opens and closes the investigation, since both at the beginning and at the end, he finds their prey and she catches her.
2/ They share again moments of deep complicity, like when they banter before Snyder enters the office. They also communicate with their eyes when Jane sticks his head in the curtain to make her understand everything is ok. And she seems to be the only one in the team who understands him enough to guess how he must feel in front of the baby picture. She’s the closest thing he has to a confident.
3/ Jane has also influence on her: he brings out the mischievousness in her. She brags about not having been a good girl at school but not to have ever been caught. That’s just a way to encourage him to be more discreet the next time. Shouldn’t she instead keep trying to tame his antics? And at the theatre, she just flashes her badge to take a seat and watch the play. Abuse of authority, anyone?
4/ She acts as his responsible adult, almost his mother. That was the case when she was watching him on stage among parents and school staff, or when she was apologizing in his behalf to the principal. This part almost seems to be an image they give in public. In the office, they were teasing each other even though she acted as if she resented he got in trouble, then Snyder entered and both easily slipped back into their part of serious Agent and disobedient consultant. Somehow, that authority she shows over him feels sometimes like a façade: when they are alone, they act more as equals.
All those elements are already part of her character. Obviously, the warmth of their friendship generously displayed here has the same goal than his cleverness in the field, that’s to say to contrast with the end of season events. Nevertheless, Jane brings on the scene another point and that’s more than a little intriguing:
5/ he draws indeed a parallel between Lisbon and the perp in love with one of her students and suggests that she’s “smitten” with him. In the past some people accused Lisbon of having a soft spot for her consultant, for instance Bosco back in season 2, or more recently Osvaldo. But no one has ever defined the nature of this inclination before. That’s the first time Jane himself addresses the complexity of the bond they share. As a fact, there are objective similarities in both situations: Jane is Lisbon’s subordinate and, as it’s heavily implied in this episode, he’s under her responsibility, thus a hypothetical relationship would leave a forbidden taste, albeit to a far lesser extent of course. Plus, Lisbon has indeed admiration for Jane, she’s lenient and willing to go to great extents for him, like Ms Austin did. But, by comparing Lisbon’s feelings for him to what Ms Austin called love and what himself designated as “lust in the woods”, he adds a new potentially romantic and sexual component to the mix. A new component to which Lisbon just replies with a loud “Shut up!” in a semi-amused voice. Is that a hint that things are slowly and consciously growing into something more, on her part at least? What do you think?
The winner: the final scene. The team’s reactions to the baby were moving and Jane’s particularly was pretty deep. That was a true epilogue, giving us answers to some questions and asking others.
Update (by Reviewbrain): Lisbon’s gaze following Jane as he walks out of the bullpen is very telling. She knows Rigsby’s baby picture must have stirred melancholy emotions within him. This awareness, their friendship and closeness this season makes the following strip possible…
One can hope, anyway. Jane certainly looked like he needed a hug after that last scene…
1st runner up: Jane in the Principal’s office. Adorable and hilarious.
2nd runner up: Jane playing the ghost. That scene was very well done. Jane is older than the young Hamlet, so he fits completely as a fatherly figure. His three-piece suit matches the old-fashioned black suit and string necktie that was chosen for the original actor. He takes delight in playing with the original lines. Every detail is just perfect. And the major aspects of his character are reunited: showmanship, creativity, sense of justice, charm and charisma.
“Well, I did a little stage work”- Jane, when asked if he is an actor. Yeah. Understatement of the year.
“Patrick Jane, please report to the Principal’s office immediately. I repeat: Patrick Jane, Principal’s office.”- Naughty Jane is summoned for his crimes. Made me crack a smile, especially given his delighted expression.
“Eleven years in Catholic school and I never been called in the principal’s office once.”- Lisbon reprimanding Jane.
“That’s because you were a boring goody two shoes.”- Jane, to the above. Because attack is the best form of defense.
“I never said I didn’t do something bad, just that I never got called”- Lisbon, to the above. Naughty Teresa rocks!
At long last, we get an episode where the actual murder investigation is at the center of the story. Thanks for that!
How the heck did they come up with the idea of Jane interrogating a witness while sparring? It was particularly original and funny.
They made a rather good job at giving us the impression of a crowd and of the multitude of problems typical for a high school (drugs, teachers’ problems, awkward teens or rebellious ones). Since many thematic episodes were lacking in atmosphere (the undercover cops for example), that’s really great!
It’s also a nice change to have a victim who was truly and completely a good person: every grudge he had encountered was because he tried to protect his students. Now I don’t know if I’m biased, but I kept wondering all along if this love-worthy man who “probably felt guilty for something” and tried to right the wrongs by rescuing everyone wasn’t supposed to somehow announce the fall of another character who shares the same traits… that may refer to caring Lisbon or guilt-ridden Jane. Or I may very well be reading too much into it.
Ok, I realize that teenagers on TV are generally played by young adults -or sometimes not so young- but some scenes suffer from this here, as really, a number of their high school students seem well on their twenties… Albeit charming and full of youth, Sophie Kargman (the letter maker) and Augie Duke (our smoky-eyed smoker of a bad girl), give a distinctive grown up vibe, but the worst moment is the teenager hooker’s interrogation: Kristina Apgar seems as old as Van Pelt. That’s a bit confusing and disconcerting…
Jane’s talents are perfectly showcased here. He is able to set in motion different plans; as if every idea provides him with a new bit of information and gives him an occasion to show his skills and the extent of his arsenal of mind tricks. He works as a perfectly well-oiled machine. It somehow reminds of the bubble of efficacy, calm and tranquility that Reviewbrain defined for the beginning of the season and which was just waiting to blow up. He’s so completely a mastermind, just so in control of the situation that you know he’s about to slip up.
MILD SPOILER ALERT
—-Not to mention it was certainly intentional that this episode featuring Jane on the top of his game was aired when infamous spoilers began to be leaked: it is probably meant to contrast with the epic fail already programmed and announced.
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