Note: This review was co-written by the fabulous Violet. Thank you so much for your invaluable help. She wrote the entire review, I just added my own bits and pieces to it. Basically, everything smart, she wrote. Everything else was me. I indicated our names where necessary to lessen confusion.
Patrick Jane (Baker) meets Cho (Kang), Rigsby (Yeoman) and Lisbon (Tunney) are at a crime scene where a diamond cutter has been eviscerated. As usual, Jane snoops around and makes himself a cup of tea in the victim’s kitchen. Unbeknown to him, this tea has been laced with belladonna, leading our poor consultant to hallucinate things, the weirdest of them being meeting his late daughter Charlotte (Dove Cameron) as a lively adolescent.
After the shocking events of the season premiere, ‘Devil’s Cherry’ was another intense piece of introspection from writer Daniel Cerone. It’s rather rare that we get to know what kind of thoughts occupy Jane’s mind: with him actions speak rather louder than words and even so, almost every one of those actions is shadowed by more than a good serving of ambiguity. So it’s a really nice surprise to get a glimpse into his head. The very good writing and superb acting don’t hurt either 10/10.
Detailed AKA Humungous Review (Spoilers Galore)
VIS #1: the setting/ falling down the rabbit hole
Violet: There is a carefully set progression that leads to Jane meeting Charlotte. Indeed, the episode begins with an explanation of Jane’s emotional state: Cho and Rigsby notice that he seems off since Lorelei’s disappearance, because he spent six months away and has nothing to show for it. Some serious questions ought to be floating in Jane’s mind along the lines of “was it all worth it?” We can then understand since the very first minutes that he may be on the verge of questioning his choices. Moreover, the gutted corpse and the blood splattered on the wall may have reminded Jane of his daughter’s and his wife’s bodies, since he mentioned him finding them later to prove that the real Charlotte is truly dead.
Reviewbrain: I’d agree %100, except some blog commenters (ahem, HW) had me thinking that Jane being “off” here could also be an indicator that Jane’s preoccupied because of something else, rather than just questioning his obsession. Like maybe the fact that he’s got Lorelie stashed somewhere? In which case he’d possibly have more of an incentive to question his actions.
Violet: Jane’s hallucinations give a decidedly “Wonderland” vibe: the falling down the rabbit hole (represented by Jane losing consciousness and falling on the floor), the rabbit, the tea opening a door into fantasy (like the bottle labeled “drink me” for Alice), the Hungarian couple showing him the way… Even though Jane/Alice ends up realizing he’s the only sane person in a bizarre alternate reality, the fact that everything seems normal to him until he discovers the identity of the strange girl shows better than anything how eccentric and childlike his vision of the world already is. What’s more, most details seem a subconscious transcription of what he really thinks, shaped in a Wonderland-like appearance. Chasing the rabbit for instance can mean that he realized he’s always on a quest for something (RJ, redemption, peace, himself, etc…). Same with the garden where he finds the girl: it is the croquet ground in the book. At the same time, it’s an image of paradise; meaning that, albeit he’s an atheist, he still believes that his dead daughter is in peace… And Charlotte likes to tease and disappear on him like the Cheshire Cat but she’s above all a good and charming impersonation of the Queen of Hearts: she reigns over Jane’s heart, she’s the dearest to him. Hence the tender memories about what he used to tell her when he tucked her in bed and when he taught her how to swim.
Reviewbrain: This is why I needed you. All the comparison’s you made to the book never would have occurred to me. I’d just like to add that, in this scene when Lisbon shows up, in similar fashion to any other antagonist, Jane immediately asks her to take care of the “suspect”. Jane has always been the blonde in distress on this show, but what’s interesting to me in this scenario is he wanted Lisbon to rescue him from himself, Charlotte was a figment of his imagination, even if he didn’t know it at the time. Also intriguing was Lisbon’s reaction (in Jane’s mind): “He’s having another episode.” This builds up on the season four premiere which questioned Jane’s mental state. At the time, the possibility that Lisbon is worried about Jane’s sanity seemed to really irk him, despite her denying that she was. So this is a nice piece of continuity.
VIS #2 Van Pelt Questions Julian
Julian tells Van Pelt that Victor had been teaching him how to open a window. When Grace asks him what it is, Julian tells her: “Before making the first cut, Victor would spend weeks getting to know a rare gem. You have to polish a window in the cloudy surface of the stone so you can peer into its heart.” When Grace tells him it sounds romantic, he replies: “It is. A careless cut can shatter your treasure.”
Reviewbrain: I’m going all out here and saying that we’ve gotten hints since the pilot that Jane treasures Lisbon. For whatever purpose, and at any level of consciousness, Jane’s been spending years polishing a window to her surface, trying to get to know her.
Then there’s Lorelie. If the theory that Jane’s the one who helped her escape is true then, judging by how brainwashed Red John has her, Jane might need weeks to open her up.
VIS #3: Jane and Charlotte at the Hospital
Violet: Symbols and hidden meanings can also be found when Jane keeps hallucinating at the hospital after having been tended to. Interestingly, Jane pictures himself as a patient in a psychiatric ward: he wears a straitjacket representing how impotent and overwhelmed he feels in front of his hallucination. He even jokes about not being “crazy” about Charlotte being lippy, like a loving and understanding dad talking to his adolescent daughter although he knows she isn’t real. At the same time, Jane imagining himself as crazy has some ground in reality too: he did spend some time under Dr Sophie Miller’s care, he’s been called a psychopath by Luther and he just faked a six months breakdown. There is a strong possibility that Jane sees himself as on edge and potentially dangerous to himself and to the others, that could very well be a non acknowledged latent fear.
Reviewbrain: Very true and interesting. This fear also ties into Jane pulling away from Lisbon in the season three premiere when he told her that people near him get hurt. Could this fear have been invoked again after Lorelie requested “Teresa Lisbon’s dead body” on behalf of Red John? I also want to add that Jane in the straightjacket represents even more than just his powerlessness against his hallucination. It also hints at his current frame of mind. If it’s true that Lorelie is loose in the wind, spirited away by RJ, then it could represent Jane’s feelings of helplessness against his adversary who seems to always be one step ahead of him. If in fact, it was Jane who helped Lorelie escape, then he’s facing something even greater than Red John…his own obsession and inability to do anything about it.
Violet: That would cast a dark shadow over the heart-to-heart Jane has with himself under the guise of Charlotte’s ghost. Jane’s obsession with RJ, which seems to really disturb Charlotte, is the cause for Jane wasting his life and his family wouldn’t want that. The temptation to move on has been evoked since Carter told him he shouldn’t waste his “precious life” and has since then emerged in more obvious fashions. In ‘Fugue in Red’ for instance, he tried to escape from his tragedy; it seems that each time he can, he takes the opportunity to run from himself and his iron grip on his thoughts and feelings. Here he attempts to convince himself to leave his obsession behind him. There is therefore some progress given that he knows that the true root of his problem is his obsessive behavior and his unwillingness to move on from said tragedy, more than the tragedy itself. Charlotte ends the talk by asking what is left of his life, if someone truly knows him now, since he hides behind façades and lies. He answers that there is someone who knows him: Lisbon. He then regains consciousness with Lisbon’s name on his lips and that’s the cue for his boss to come near him. It’s the third episode in a row where Jane’s feelings towards his team leader are addressed.
Reviewbrain: Yes it is, and I’m going to be extremely insufferable here: TOLD YA SO! Ahem. I apologize, I just had to let it out of my system. I’m talking specifically here about how way back in season three we had a series of episodes (which started with Red Alert, Red Queen, Blood for Blood, Every Rose has it’s Thorn, Redacted) which all seemed to be about Jane wanting to get closer to Lisbon. The writers were laying the groundwork for Jane to open up more to her. Then there’s the fact that while we practically have Jane’s feeling in canon now, we can only guess at Lisbon’s. I’ve always said she’s more of a mystery than Jane. She’s stated, emphatically, that “we’re a family” and since she considers Jane a family she’ll do everything for him. That doesn’t necessarily mean she’s in love with him (though she probably is a little). Jane, on the other hand is now obviously harboring romantic inclinations towards her.
Violet: Basically, the scene –and the whole episode- is playing with possibilities: Charlotte is an adolescent, she represents what could have happened if tragedy hadn’t struck.
Reviewbrain: Not just the tragedy. Charlotte also indirectly questions what could have been between Jane and Lisbon if he weren’t so RJ obsessed. Like in Fugue in Red, Jane once more questions if he and Lisbon ever got together. Back then, he’d lost his memory when he’d asked Lisbon if they were sleeping together. Here, his mind, via Charlotte tells him: “She’s kinda cute. Have you guys ever..?” Now Jane knows he and Lisbon are just friends but having his hallucinated daughter ask the question shows that he recognizes the potential at a romantic relationship has always been there, as hinted at with the deliberate choice of “Have you” as opposed to future tensed language, like “Do you” or “Would you”, as a couple of examples. But back to Charlotte…
Violet: On one hand he feels a deep regret for this lost opportunity of seeing her growing up. Indeed, in his vision, she’s almost a young woman and he already doesn’t know her that well (her different hairstyle is mentioned to that effect). But, on the other hand, if in his mind she has kept on growing up that’s because she has moved on, unlike him who has seemingly been frozen in his quest since ten years. Nevertheless, since “Charlotte” is really his subconscious speaking, that means that part of him has already begun to move on without admitting it to himself…
Reviewbrain: God I hope so. I thought it had started with episode Blood and Sand (arguably my favourite episodes last season) and I still firmly believe that, had Jane not needed RJ to get rid of Panzer, then the fact that RJ was still alive would have remained hidden and Jane would have probably let the matter be and moved on. Unless of course, the opportunity came to catch RJ. But he wasn’t actively seeking it at that point. Not that we saw, anyway. It could be why there’s another butterfly in this episode, something I will therefore always see as a symbol of Jane’s quest for revenge ending, and a new one beginning.
A more depressing alternative is that Jane’s hallucination, Charlotte asking him if anyone knows him, telling him to move on, could hint that Jane is once again carrying out a clandestine operation without Lisbon’s knowledge (see Redacted). It might mean that he really has hidden Lorelie to interrogate her as he wishes and is subconsciously warning himself against that. I truly hope this isn’t the case.
But it that’s true, then Jane dodging Charlotte’s reference to her mother has some intriguing implications. Jane’s wife, Charlotte’s mother, was completely absent from this episode. But there were two references to her. The first is when Charlotte berates Jane for his obsession with Red John, adding “Mom would not be happy,” Jane responds “My relationship with your mother, it’s my business,” before adding, “show some respect.” Charlotte tells him to “show yourself some respect” since she’s just a figment of his imagination.
It’s interesting that Jane wants to avoid thinking about Angela here. We have it in canon that Jane speaks to his late wife. One can only hope she gives him some much needed advice in their pretend conversations. But Jane here not wanting to talk about his “relationship” with the Mrs. could mean that there’s trouble in paradise (literally, if that’s where Angela is and she’s watching Jane plot yet another hopeless scheme). It could also be that Jane feels awkward talking to her because he’s decided he’s ready to move on from her memory. Or he might be feeling guilt and/or shame that the first woman he slept with after her his beloved was her killer’s colleague.
Most likely, writers don’t want to give too much away and Jane’s feelings towards his wife will be dealt with in another episode. Maybe in another heart to heart with Lisbon (as in Cackle-Bladder Blood)? But where’s the fun in acknowledging that? For now, let’s just say there are reasons keeping Jane from discussing his wife even with himself…
VIS #4: The Ambulance Scene
Violet: After awakening at the hospital, a still high Jane tries to give Lisbon the slip by taking his car. It’s in fact an ambulance and Charlotte points it out… That scene is the most endearing and funny of the whole episode. There is a hilarious contrast between Jane trying to prove his competence to a scolding Lisbon with impassioned tirades about drugs not being his choice for solving a case or about great minds using them, and the fact that he’s obviously still less than lucid (he’s sitting in an ambulance!).
The three of them display a great complicity: Jane and Lisbon banter as usual; Jane and Charlotte act truly as a father and a daughter trying to sneak out together; and, still weirder, even Lisbon and Charlotte seem to get along, even though the former can’t see the latter. Before, when Jane hallucinated the meeting of the two women, Lisbon seemed delighted and shook the girl’s hand, while now, Charlotte laughs at Lisbon’s witty comments and Jane accuses her to team up with his boss against him. In Jane’s vision, both feel sympathy for the other. That’s revealing: Jane sees Lisbon as family, his feelings/ budding love for her aren’t laced with guilt at the moment. He even asks her to call him Patrick in front of his dead daughter. Is that me, or the three of them almost seem like an odd and improbable recomposed family?
VIS #5: Jane (not) telling goodbye
After Jane has successfully uses his subconscious to solve the case, “Charlotte” argues again with her father about his choices. This time, she questions his motives in working with the CBI. He gives her the usual reasons: “to catch Red John”, the same explanation he gave to the team in S2 ‘Redemption’. He adds then “it’s all for you. And your mom.” Charlotte then tells him that they don’t care about RJ, they are dead.
Reviewbrain: PEOPLE! Our man has actually called himself out on his own crap. Albeit, through Charlotte BUT IT STILL COUNTS! Jane seems to understand on some level anyway, that if he truly doesn’t believe in an afterlife, then there’s no point in doing anything for them. And if they are in heaven, then they certainly don’t need anything from him. This entails that Jane is doing this for himself. Which Lisbon actually stated in Season One’s finale “You’re doing this for your wounded pride.” It had been during a ruse, but Jane’s shocked expression proved that that particular statement certainly hadn’t been in the script. But here’s another idea: I wonder if it’s not true that Jane’s original motive of joining the CBI was what Mashburn once said: he’s seeking redemption by using his powers for good. But he was strayed off that path by his obsession.
Violet: In the last episode, Lorelei asked him the same question and he answered that he had nothing else to do (also his reason for coming back in ‘Redemption’) while she explained it by him being a little bit in love with Lisbon. It’s interesting that his good old arguments couldn’t suffice now to convince his own subconscious. Jane seems distressed enough and prefers to avoid the subject all together by focusing on the case. That is later reinforced by his inability to let Charlotte go: he asks her if she will come back and calls after her “wait” in a pathetic attempt to make her stay when he realizes the drug effects are wearing off.
Reviewbrain: I think Jane not wanting to let Charlotte was also symbolic of how he can’t let go of his obsession with Red John.
Violet: This reaction is quite different than Van Pelt’s in ‘My Bloody Valentine’ last season when she met her dead fiancé, « a figment of [her] imagination » too. At the time, Craig helped her to deal with her anger and her repressed emotions. The meeting gave her peace and allowed her to sort out her feelings for him and what she thought he felt for her. Alternatively, Jane here is happy to have his imaginary daughter back and he isn’t ready to lose her again. He’s still grieving. Grief is an important theme in ‘Devil’s Cherry’: hence the butterfly referencing the one in ‘Blood and Sand’, where he begun to accept the death of his family by throwing a flower in the ocean. But, while Grace took his advice (what to make of it is “up to you”), and chose to move on, he isn’t ready for that yet. He does choose to open a new door in his life although, another of those “doors better left unopened”, like he stated in ‘Fugue in Red’. But, unlike back then when it was a memory door to tragedy, this time it is a door leading him back to the good things in his family life, affectionate memories, which he had kept at bay ever since.
Still, his unwillingness to face the many truths asserted by Charlotte and his inability to tell her goodbye may become a threat to his sanity, as he may want to live solely for the illusion of a happy past, in another kind of withdrawal and another self imposed prison. That’s one of the possible meanings of the ambiguous last scene, depending on what Jane is drinking.
Reviewbrain: Unfortunately, I tend to see it in the latter, negative light. I’m pretty sure Jane was drinking belladonna, based on his rapid, desperate seeming sips. I just hope this is an experiment to see if he can conjure her up again and doesn’t become an addiction. One of the reasons I want the RJ plot to be over, is I love this guy too much to see him in pain.
Icings on the cake
Charlotte (and her actress Dove Cameron) was a delight: she shared various traits with her father (a blond, humorous, teasing conman who likes to play with people and borders on mysterious), while retaining her own personality and rebellious strike. She’s also a witty young girl without illusions, spirited, hiding her affection under sarcasm. A curious and rather adorable combination.
It was quite heart warming that Cho and Rigsby cared enough about their consultant to plan a guy’s night out. They have forgiven him and want to make him less lonely and cheer him up. Too bad things didn’t end up that way.
I also really appreciated that the show keeps on referencing literature and not just to adorn a story: like with Shakespeare and Blake, the reference to ‘Alice in Wonderland’ take a new meaning here and become a valuable part of the show storytelling.
Rigsby all over the victim’s high profile client list, wanting to call “Mr. Clooney,” as in George Clooney, then his disappointment when Cho got to answer the call. Awesome.
Blake Neely’s alternatively sad/eerie music was again truly enjoyable and added a new dimension to Jane’s struggling with reality.Then the ending, god, the ending. Break my heart, why dontcha.
Baker out did himself in here: he managed to make Jane even more endearing than usual. Heartbreaking moments where his voice cracks under the emotion of losing his daughter again alternate seamlessly with the funniest of mad teas parties ever.
Ms. Robin Tunney. She has such an array of hilarious faces that I’m sure her fans went crazy with delight when she and Jane were pretending to be hallucinations. Also, like Julie pointed out in the previous episodes review, her and Baker’s interactions are in top form. Her reaction shots are really are a delight to watch.
Lee Garlington is a very talented actress and I appreciated her being given such great material to work with. Her characters confession and glee at how she was able to have the victim gut himself was truly creepy.
Dove Cameron was also refreshing and very credible as Jane’s late daughter.
“You are safe, you are loved. And you are wise.” Jane’s words to his daughter.
“No, Charlotte’s dead.”- Baker’s reading of this line gutted me
“Rabbit Stew. Yummy. We need to fatten you up.” –That rabbit in the pot was adorable.
“She writes children’s books.”-love the reference to Alice in Wonderland. Very helpful to dummies like myself.
Given that Jane hallucinated the bunny chase while lying on the kitchen floor, how did he know the neighborhood well enough that he could picture it so accurately? We didn’t see him snooping around when he arrived.
For the record, Jane comes right out and says “Red John, Red John, I am so over Red John.” Regardless of the fact that it was his hallucinated daughter speaking, we have him acknowledging how tired he is of this quest. But considering the roundabout manner which his subconscious allowed himself too, he’s still a long way from truly letting go.
Finally, I would like to elaborate on foreshadowing that Jane (and viewers) are in for some hard times. First, we Jane standing close to a pool of blood, and the tech telling him to “be careful”. Then there’s the maid telling Jane she knew “something bad is coming” because she saw black ants coming. Jane replies that in some South American culture “If black ants enter your house, then someone in your family might die.”
WARNING! WARNING! POSSIBLE CBI CHARACTER DEATH THIS SEASON!
Now we know that there was no maid (Jane hallucinated her) hence, there are no black ants. So it would appear that Jane’s mind is trying to warn him. Ants are small creatures that silently infiltrate our homes. Could this be foreshadowing that more of RJ’s people will get close to CBI? More FBI agents will infiltrate Jane’s workplace; his surrogate home? Or maybe it’s not that specific and writers are just preparing us that something bad is happening to Jane. Conversely, Jane once again in his god-forsaken attic, drinking belladonna could mean that the foreshadowing was just for this episode. But I wouldn’t count on it. Keep your eyes and ears open this season, people!
Once, again, thank you much Violet for your help! I never could have finished this without you!
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