Cultural References in The Mentalist – a work in progress by Violet

Image by Chizuruchibi. Copyright Reviewbrain Dec. 2012. Not to be used without permission.

Image by Chizuruchibi. Copyright Reviewbrain Dec. 2012. Not to be used without permission.

This post is brought to you by the infinitely literate Violet, who was kind enough to share this monumental work of the cultural references in our favorite show, The Mentalist. Please enjoy her gift to us and have a wonderful holiday everyone!


I Conception of the main character: (S1-2)

1)      Sherlock Holmes.The prototypical detective is the most obvious source of inspiration for Jane’s character: every following quote is taken from the very first pages of A Study in Scarlett, where Holmes was first introduced.


  •  Alternating activity/laziness: “I’m the most incurable lazy devil that ever stood in shoe leather – that is, when the fit is on me, for I can be spry enough at times.”
  •  Enthusiasm: “At the sound of our steps, he glanced around and sprang to his feet with a cry of pleasure. “I’ve found it! I’ve found it”, he shouted to my companion […] Had he discovered a gold mine, greater delight could not have shone upon his features.”  Cf. Jane’s “aha!”.
  •  He likes to impress: ““Wonderful!” I ejaculated. -“Commonplace” said Holmes, though I thought from his expression that he was pleased at my evident surprise and admiration”…
  •  … to the point to pass for vain: “This fellow may be very clever”, I said to myself, “but he is certainly very conceited”(Watson, upon first reading Holmes’s views).
  •  He seeks fame: “I know well that I have it in me to make my name famous.” Cf. psychic Jane on a TV show…

Socially difficult:

  • Towards his fellow detectives (Lestrade and Gregson): cutting analytical judgement, fun at their expense, since he enjoys their rivalry. “They are both quick and energetic, but conventional –shockingly so. They have their knives into one another too. They are as jealous as a pair of professional beauties. There will be some fun over this case if they are both put upon the scent”. Same sense of acute and funny comparison as Jane. Irony and mockery: “I may have a laugh at them, if I have nothing else.” He also relies on his confidant’s connivance to catch the joke.
  •  He doesn’t seek women’ company, although it’s more because he’s simply not interested, while Jane’s a widower.
  •  He’s cold and people are a little afraid of him as they are not sure what he’s able to do: “Holmes is a little too scientific for my tastes – it approaches to cold-bloodedness. I could imagine his giving a friend a little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid, but simply out of a spirit of inquiry in order to have an accurate idea of the effects.” That assumption is far-stretched for Holmes: he wouldn’t risk any friend’s life on a whim, but it’s revealing of how people who superficially know him may be wary of him. Now, replace the “scientific” by “manipulative” and the bit about alkaloids by a cunning plan, and the quote works for Jane too…

Similarities in their methods:

  • At the crime scene: “As he spoke, his nimble fingers were flying here, there, and everywhere, feeling, unbuttoning, examining, while his eyes wore the same faraway expression which I have already remarked upon. So swiftly was the examination made, that one would hardly have guessed the minuteness with which it was conducted. Finally, he sniffed the dead man’s lips, and then glanced at the soles of his patent leather boots.” Jane doesn’t really touch the body, since it would be a glaring mistake nowadays with the progress in forensic, but he does everything else: attention to detail, sniffing, glancing at the soles, you name it, you have it.
  • No respect for the dead: beating the corpses in dissecting-rooms.
  • Odd mix between knowledge and ignorance: “Neither did he appear to have pursued any course of reading which might fit him for a degree in science or any other recognized portal which would give him an entrance into the learned world. Yet his zeal for certain studies was remarkable, and within eccentric limits his knowledge was so extraordinarily ample and minute that his observations have fairly astounded me.” Actually, the similarity is played with: Jane’s ignorance touches science and forensic, the very subjects that Holmes is well learnt upon…
  • The memory palace: “”I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend at any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for any addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”” Various things are partially used for this quote: the notion to compile and order memories, the selection of uninteresting knowledge (that Bertram is Hightower’s boss, for example). This well-known speech is played with: Jane’s “attic” is his thinking room, with “nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work” of hunting Red John.
  •  Although he is quite action-oriented, he still lets Watson carry the gun: “”Have you any arms?” […] When I returned with the pistol, the table had been cleared, and Holmes was engaged in his favourite occupation of scraping upon his violin.”
  • The archenemy: Moriarty is a respected secret criminal mastermind, who stays hidden behind his web of minions. There is a variation with RJ, since Jane becomes a detective/consultant because of his nemesis, while Holmes’ usual activities helped him guess Moriarty’s double life.

2) Detective stories and popular classical culture

There are various hints that Jane is well-read in old-school detective stories. In passing mentions develop aspects of the persona Jane has elaborated to hide his true self:

  • The classy characteristic car reminds of Ellery Queen and his Duesenberg.
  • His elegant (if slightly rumpled) suits remind of classical aristocratic detectives (Holmes, Ellery Queen, Van Dine’s Philo Vance, Christie’s Hercule Poirot and so on).

In other words, he’s playing the role of the detective and he’s aware of it. Those allusions also hint at Jane’s love of fun and his tendency to consider his day-to-day job as a big game solely for his amusement, hence the different clichés he revels in:

  • He explains how to open a hermetically closed room in S1 ‘Red John’s Friends’ (the trick has been explained in numerous stories for example in a Philo Vance novel, The Bishop Murder Case).
  • “The butler did it!”
  • The detective in an armchair: in novels featuring Nero Wolfe, there is a duality between a clever subordinate who does the leg work and the master who does the ultimate brain work. There are hints of this with Jane on his couch: he sometimes let the team collect information when it doesn’t seem fun enough and analyses it and comes up with a theory while lying on his brown couch.
  • To some extent, the treasure hunt in a mansion in S2 ‘Red Scare’ might be a classical element too (cf. Holmes’ “The Adventure of the Mustgrave Ritual”  and Poirot’s short story “The Case of the Missing Will” for example)

More broadly, Jane’s childish vision is completed by reference to a past era connected with mystery and gangsters adventures (more or less the Prohibition era):

  • The hard-boiled detective stories (the fedora)
  • “Stop the press!”

II Conception of his nemesis: Red John and William Blake (S2-3-4)

Red John’s depth comes from the fact that is more than just Jane’s Moriarty: he’s been given a personal universe of his own, characterized by references to Blake’s poems.

Two quotes are used directly in the show. First, ‘Tiger, tiger” said by RJ and repeated by Todd Johnson in ‘Red Moon’, which lead to think the quote is used as some sort of a code among RJ’s disciples and that the philosophy he teaches  to them to convert them may be based to some extent on Blake’s poetry.

Tiger, tiger, burning bright    

In the forests of the night,                   

What immortal hand or eye                 

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?   


In what distant deeps or skies

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand dare seize the fire?


And what shoulder and what art

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And, when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand and what dread feet?


What the hammer? What the chain?

In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? What dread grasp

Dare its deadly terrors clasp?


When the stars threw down their spears,

And water’d heaven with their tears,

Did He smile His work to see?

Did He who made the lamb make thee?              


Tiger, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?


In this poem, we have: the color of the fire (“burning, “burnt, “fire”, “furnace”), that is red, laced this the “night” in a “fearful symmetry”. As Cho analyzed in ‘Strawberries and Cream’, the poem enlightens that both the tiger (evil) and the lamb (innocence) have been created by God as part of the world equilibrium. Said equilibrium is also used and twisted by RJ in his speech in the limo in ‘The Crimson Hat’: both sides are equivalent and, therefore, there is no good or bad, meaning evil actions or good ones are similarly justifiable. What’s more, as RJ is part of this symmetry as the evil killer as well as the one who defines it by creating an enemy in Jane, he might be at the same time the “tiger” and a sort of “god” his followers may believe in, if we were to link this with Gupta’s “deeply religious” beliefs (‘Strawberries and Cream’).

The “night” is also mentioned by Bertram: “When thy little heart doth wake,/ Then the dreadful night shall break ” (from A Cradle Song).  We don’t know yet if Bertram is connected with RJ, but it’s plausible that the quote is relevant anyway in a “meta-meaning” concerning RJ’s beliefs.

Indeed, the night seems to have a particular meaning both in Blake’s universe and in RJ’s: the night associated with the fire symbolize the tiger and the symmetry it represents. It also seems to be RJ’s favorite moment to strike (Panzer’s and Jane’s family’s murders).

Moreover, since the show seems to revel in classical mystery stories, another poem by Blake

has been quoted by Agatha Christie (in Endless Night) and apparently fits to some extent with

what we know of RJ’s philosophical view:

Under every grief and pine,

Runs a joy with silken twine […]


Every night and every morn

Some to misery are born,

Every morn and every night

Some are born to sweet delight.


Some are born to sweet delight,

Some are born to endless night.


We are led to believe a lie

When we see not thro’ the eye,

Which was born in a night to perish in a night,

When the soul slept in beams of light.


God appears, and God is light,

To those poor souls who dwell in night;

But does a human form display

To those who dwell in realms of day.”

(from the end of Auguries of Innocence).

Those words seem to fit with RJ’s supposed spiritual goals: to make people better by making them suffer (“Under every grief and pine/ Runs a joy with silken twine”), through a revelation of the inner balance of the world. He detaches them from a false sense of morality, opening a path towards that illumination. He dispenses a superior knowledge as well as a new take on life, through purification by sufferance; hence, RJ presents himself as a mean to divine knowledge, or better yet as a prophet: there is no good or bad, hence no punishment or reward in a so-called after-life (cf. the speech in ‘The Crimson Hat’). His followers are freed from any consequences of their actions.

Last, if we were to believe Rebecca’s statement that RJ wanted to redeem Jane by punishing him, then we can also connect his behavior with this quote from the “Annotations to Lavater”: “forgiveness of enemies can only come upon their repentance.”

III The narration: Jane’s fate

A number of cultural –mostly literary- references have made their way in the show. In the first seasons, said references have been used to develop some particular aspect of Jane’s personality (in the same fashion as Holmes has shaped some parts of it), and/or to give some depth to a situation.

Season 1: Jane’s obsession with revenge and killing his nemesis: Moby Dick (‘Flame Red’) Parallel with the case at hand hinting that revenge only ends up in blind cruelty, deceit, and is hurtful for innocent people.

Season 2:

  • ‘The Scarlet Letter’ references the book by Nathaniel Hawthorne: the case deals with adultery and, like in the novel, the secret identity of the mysterious lover’s plays a great part. Both also deal with guilt: like Hawthorne’s protagonist, Jane’s behavior has caused him to lose his old life and, like her lover, he lives in self punishment. (Amusingly, the novel has inspired Ellery Queen’s The Scarlett Letters…)
  • Director Bertram’s name might also be a reference to Christie’s At the Bertram’s Hotel, which might then refer to a façade used to hide a criminal network, like RJ’s started to reveal itself after Bosco’s murder.

Season 3:

  • ‘The Red Mile’/ The Green Mile. Dr Steiner is in his own personal death row and chooses to die, whereas Jane is implicitly left wondering about his own fate.
  • Minor reference: ‘Rhapsody in Red’/ Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, mixing jazz and classic, Jane’s usual tastes in music.

Season 4: While the first seasons only used references to enlighten Jane’s character and motivations, season 4 uses them to give some perspective over his fate. Two recurrent references provide two major angles, as two sides of the same coin.

  • First madness and despair is developed under Shakespeare’s influence. A recurring theme in the season (‘Fugue in Red’, ‘Cheap Burgundy’, ‘Something Rotten in Redmund’): essentially ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Macbeth’. There is a similarity of tone with the show and Jane himself (seriousness mixed with lightness, tragedy with foolish things). Like Lady Macbeth, Jane is also obsessed with guilt and his sanity might be at risk; like Hamlet, he hides behind the mask of a fool and seek ruthlessly revenge over a dead relative’s assassination, hurting in he process the people around them (and both cause quite a lot of collateral damage). More, both plays end in loneliness, madness and death and that’s what Jane himself risks.
  • Then a path towards hope is shown: The Wizard of Oz, first referenced in Season 2, but blossoming in ‘Ruby Slippers’. The differences between those two allusions show that Jane has progressed personally (See ‘Ruby Slippers’ review for more details).
  • Some songs show Jane’s set of mind and situation (Hotel California show that he’s trapped in his revenge and RJ’s games; Dust in the Wind alludes to the futility of his six months scheme and to the dust surrounding him and Lisbon when they’re holding hands and he can fully realize its pointlessness).

Season 5 (so far):

  • Alice in Wonderland: ‘Devil’s Cherry’ uses the two themes introduced by Shakespeare and The Wizard of Oz: madness and a journey in an extraordinary land.
  • « La donna è mobile » From ‘Cherry Picked’ is from Verdi’s Rigoletto is an allusion to Lorelei.
  • Agent Nemo in ‘If It Bleeds It Leads’ references Ulysses and Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo. Both characters are connected with travels over the sea…

– ‘Red Sails in the Sunset’, whose title is inspired by a song where a fisher girl waits for her lover to return. Various interpretations are possible: one of them it that the fisher girl may be the siren Lorelei Martins who thought her master RJ was helping her get out of jail. Anyway, the original song ends with these words:

Above no bright stars are glowing/ It means the storm’s coming soon.”

– Also in ‘Red Sails in the Sunset’ : Jane’s flight with Lorelei is compared with Hitchcock’s movie North By Northwest. Various interpretations in here too: they are hunted down by the police (Lisbon and Kirkland), based on a misunderstanding; the show plays with the notion, since innocent Thornhill was mistaken for someone else, while the CBI is convinced that Jane has been kidnapped and thus hasn’t orchestrated everything. Moreover, Lorelei’s attitude towards him is ambivalent (somewhat like Eve Kandall in the movie): meaning that Lorelei may become an ally too. Besides, in the scene Jane and Styles are watching at the very beginning the movie plot reaches a pivotal moment (Thornhill and Eve fake his death, before he decides to enter the bad guy’s dent); that hints that Jane may be about to turn the table on RJ.


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36 responses to “Cultural References in The Mentalist – a work in progress by Violet

  • All-I-need

    I can’t even begin to imagine all the work you put into this piece but I would like you to know it’s VERY appreciated, Violet!

    This is amazing, really. And I fully agree with the allusions you have drawn (as far as I can follow them since I don’t know all the works you and the show are alluding to, but I definitely see where you are coming from).

    Let’s just hope that Jane really is about to turn the tables on Red John.

    And while we are at it, we might also start hatching a plot to give the Mentalist writers an award for their outstanding work.

    Merry Christmas and thank you so much for sharing this very enlightening comparison!

  • Dreamy

    Wow, that’s really impressive, I never thought there would be so many references! The only reference I had guessed was Alice in Wonderland in 5×02 and I think I’m more likely to notice mythological references =P in general (not necessarily in TM). That’s an amazing analysis. Great job 🙂

  • julienic73gmail

    excellent work violet. Thank you very much for sharing.

  • violet

    Thank you so, so much, All-I-Need, Dreamy and Julie! So glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 And thank you again Reviewbrain, I’m really happy that you liked it! and “infinitely literate”? wow! Thanks! (but believe me, that compliment isn’t deserved! Lol! XD I’m touched noneless!)

    By the way, ladies, you may have noticed that the title is “a work in progress”, meaning that it isn’t complete: for instance I chose to let out the humorous TV/movie/ folklore allusions made in passing (Starsky and Hutch, Darth Vader, Lorelei) and the other probable implicit reference (Remington Steele: a professional investigator/ cutie who has to clean up the messes left by her dilettante genius conman of a partner who tends to steal the spot light), because those didn’t fit for one reason or another… or sometimes I simply didn’t spot them. So feel free to add your own references, you’ll be more than welcome! 🙂

    (Can’t even express how much I liked that drawing: it *really* made me smile!)

  • windsparrow

    violet, this is brilliant! Happy holidays to you, and to Chizuruchibi whose artwork always brings a smile. I’m so glad reviewbrain gave you a space for this, as it deserves a wide readership. I have some further thoughts, but need to compose them, as they are not short. I’ll be back…..


  • T

    Thank you Violet, very interesting and very literate take on TM. CBS approached Heller asking for a show that would be a good fit to follow NCIS. Heller wanted to do Sherlock Holmes but couldn’t get CBS to bite. He pitched 6 different shows, one of which was TM. He described it as if Sherlock Holmes and Angelina Jolie had a baby it would be Patrick Jane. Baker bases his portrayal mainly on Columbo, with bits of Poiroit and Chaplin’s The Little Tramp. Columbo famously drove an old French car and wore rumpled suits and a trench coat. Baker bought the DVD set for the writers. If you go even further back, Jane is a classical Greek hero, where his hubris brought tragedy and he must perform a task in order to be free of it, in this case catch and or kill RJ. Heller said RJ is based on Moriarty. I also think Jack the Ripper known in his day as Red Jack and a contemporary of Holmes is a likely influence as well. Heller has also said Jane is a trickster, very akin to B’rer Rabbit. The show is certainly peppered with literary references throughout, one of the reasons I find it so enjoyable.

  • rita

    Bravo Violet, an excellent piece of work….and wonderful artwork to match.

    I really enjoyed this, it made me think and also make a note to re read my sherlock holmes.

    It has given me food for thought and something else to look out for in the future of the series.

    As thnis is a work in progress ( a bit like jane really!!) I look forward to any additions that you make to this.

  • violet

    Thank you for those references, T, they are really very enlightening! You made my day! 🙂

    I thought too that there was a bit of Columbo in Jane (even thought I didn’t know the character was such a important inspiration), but I was in the same dilemma than with Remington Steele. There are quite a number of similarities, but I couldn’t pinpoint a precise direct quote or element from the show, contrary to the SH allusions. Besides, there were some slight variations: although Columbo used to distract the killer by making him believe he was basically an idiot and a clueless cop, Jane uses the exact opposite method. He wants them to know he’s smarter than them. And there is not the trademark element in a Columbo episode: we viewers are no privy to the murderer’s identity beforehand. That’s why I set the reference aside.
    It’s also very interesting that you said precisely that it was Baker and no Heller that add this influence to Jane’s character. It means that Columbo would fit in the second part of the “conception of Jane’s character” for the first two seasons: the part Jane chose to play for the team by creating the persona of the “consultant”, in opposition to his previous public impersonation as the “psychic”. The original plan was to make them believe he was an amusing (but uncontrollable) fool who was good at investigating murders –Columbo-, and not a cold-blooded man set on gutting and killing someone… Guess the bit about Chaplin was to get an endearing vibe.

    “If you go even further back, Jane is a classical Greek hero, where his hubris brought tragedy and he must perform a task in order to be free of it, in this case catch and or kill RJ.”

    I agree to some extent: there is undoubtedly a shade of a Greek tragedy in the show. In a sense, Jane’s story is played by two main actors, Jane and Lisbon and the team in a whole is more like a chorus accompagnying them, while RJ is being the fate they are trying to fight. In a mythological aspect, strictly speaking, it’s indeed Jane’s hubris that caused his fall. In this case, Jane can be compared to those many characters who infuriated a god by setting themselves above the deity and have been condemned to a form of half-life (Arachne, for instance): in this parallel, of course, RJ is the cruel god…
    I’m a little bothered nevertheless by the whole “classical Greek hero” because 1) those very, very, *very* rarely end well and 2) there isn’t really a precise character Jane could relate to. Indeed, those who committed the “sin” of hubris are not to be saved normally. And normally those who are involved by fate in a tragic situation (without necessarily committing hubris) cannot escape it. Even worse, the more they fight it, the more they involve themselves in it, like Oedipus for instance. I think the closest we get is Orestes, who killed his mother and her lover in order to avenge his father’s death. He gets cursed and pursued by the Erinyes until he is cleaned by the very first trial by the Aeropagos… Meaning that, if the similarities are significant with Jane, we get:
    – a murder that curses him with guilt and insanity (check, he wants to avenge his family’s murder like Orestes, and chooses to do so by killing their killer)…

    – … that can only be purified by a fair trial. That happened indeed in the fourth season premiere, where Jane has been cleared by a jury after admitting that he killed Carter. And it indeed gave him a beginning of closure since afterwards he began to think about moving on… BUT it was a fraud: Carter wasn’t RJ and Jane hasn’t given up.
    And there is also the matter that, as far as we know, Jane and RJ are not related. What made Orestes’s tragedy so trilling was that he had to choose to kill his own mother: Jane’s storyline is devoid of any Atrides or parricidal references…

    And yes, you’re right, Jack the Ripper indeed! 🙂 The archetypal scary serial killer, how could I forget him!
    (argh! now that I think about it, we could almost have had a Holmes by Heller, darn! ;))

  • violet

    Glad my ramblings gave you a reason to re read Holmes, it’s always a great idea, lol ! 🙂 Yes, Jane is a bit of a “work in progress” too , didn’t think of it this way… XD Thanks for your kind words, Rita!

  • violet

    Intriguing… really looking forward to those “further thoughts”, o great not-so-evil mastermind! 😉

  • windsparrow

    Hang on to your hats, folks, this got away from me a bit.

    When I was reading one thing crossed my mind. As a reference back to the mystery genre’s “Golden Age” in which Agatha Christie reigned alongside the other Grande Dames (Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, and Dorothy Sayers) I think Jane resembles Lord Peter Wimsey even more than Poirot. Both Poirot and Wimsey are clearly spawn of Holmes, so Jane cannot escape his literary parentage.

    Both Wimsey and Jane come to detective work through trauma. For Wimsey, it was shell shock. His career as an officer and the responsibility for ordering mento their deaths combined with being buried by a bomb explosion during WWI left him a broken man. Even after he recovered enough to be functional, he was still plagued by nightmares in which he was once more responsible for terrible suffering and death.

    It can also be said that they both lost their first loves through this seminal trauma. Wimsey had been engaged at the start of the war, but upon enlistment, released his fiancee from her promise, so that she need not be bound to a soldier who might die or be crippled by war wounds. She broke his heart by promptly volunteering for that same burden by marrying some other officer. Wimsey’s personal heartbreak may be of a smaller scale than the murder of Jane’s family after provoking Red John on television, but his trauma was all the greater in breadth and scope, encompassing battle after battle of one of the most brutal, ugly wars Europe has ever experienced.

    Both men traveled through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. For Wimsey, it was his faithful gentleman’s gentleman, Bunter who dragged him willy-nilly out of no-man’s land until he was once again able to make decisions and take an interest in life. That interest turned to crime solving, and Bunter hunted criminals with him. For Jane, we have seen recently how Lisbon was the one who bumped him back into that work in progress of meeting society’s basic expectations; and of course we know that they are now partners in the hunt.

    Wimsey valued the law as the embodiment of justice as much or more than Lisbon does, so much of his detective work was simply straightforward, if intensely detailed and thorough. Sometimes that thoroughness took on an extreme cast, such as having a contest for several artists to imitate the painting style of a murder victim to see how long it took in order to establish a true timeline of events in the case. But occasionally he had to take unorthodox steps to scare a confession out of someone. From telling a lawyer that the powdered sugar on a confectionery was arsenic, to reconstructing a deadly pendulum made from a potted cactus, he did what he had to do to get those confessions. Although these set-ups would trigger his old horror of responsibility for sending someone to his death (penalty for murder was hanging at the time), he did so to spare an innocent person from suffering that penalty wrongly. Success in that gave his life a passionate purpose. Of course, our Jane does not seem quite so passionate about sparing innocent lives as he does about vengeance, but who knows what he will be like when he can live outside Red John’s shadow.

    Both men lost their first loves. In Wimsey’s case, he gained his second love through his interest in solving murders. He saw a woman across a crowded courtroom, and knew that she was the one. But in order to win Harriet Vane he not only had to save her reputation and give her her life by proving her innocence, he then had to spend five years gently coaxing her to accept his affections and return them in some form other than gratitude. Jane, well, none of us knows for certain if he has a second love. Some of us fervently hope he does have a second love in his hunting partner. But I will leave off explicating any parallels between Harriet Vane and Teresa Lisbon after we find out how justified it is.

  • violet

    Very convincing demonstration, my dear Windsparrow! Thanks so much! Lord Peter probably gave his traumatic revelation as a detective to Jane, indeed! As well as the detective work as a hobby part, if I recall correctly. And the era, of course, given Jane’s old-school style…
    It’s a very interesting reference, since it fits at the same time in the genesis of the character (with Holmes), and in the probable sources for his day-to-day consultant persona, with the other classic detectives… that’s really a great one! 🙂

    (And I swear I am truly trying not to make assumptions and not to label Lisbon as a independent love interest like Harriet was for Lord Peter… but the idea of Jane pursuing her like Wimsey did with his hard-to-get second love was just too amusing, it was the first thing that popped in my mind when I read “Wimsey” and “Jane” in the same sentence. Sorry…XD )

  • windsparrow

    LOL You have no idea how hard it was for me to leave the Jane/Lisbon relationship as just a little note of potential. Should it turn out that Lisbon is Jane’s long-haul girl, the parallels between Lisbon and Harriet Vane are not small. Well, we can come back and fill those blanks in when the time comes. I am afraid if the show goes in another direction that it would look silly a few years from now to have gone into too much detail in this particular discussion.

    And then there is the fun of analyzing Lisbon as filling both the Bunter and the Harriet roles.

  • windsparrow

    Day to day persona.. one thing both Wimsey and Jane have is the capacity to let themselves look like silly fools either to entertain themselves or to get information.

    I do wonder, though, if these similarities are purposeful or if Wimsey is just part of the story broth that Heller and Baker dipped into to make the Jane soup.

  • violet

    Now I have that nightmarish picture of Wimsey happily married to Bunter… brrr… XD
    You’re right, such a tempting analysis is better left for when (if?) the time comes.
    Speaking of Lisbon, any idea of references enlightening her character, in addition to Watson (the sidekick/best friend), Bunter and Glinda (the mentor and protector), and the saint? Or some to characterize her relation with Jane? It’s kinda odd that there is so few…

    And now that you pointed out the similarities with Wimsey, I wonder if there might be some with Alligham’s Campion too… If I recall correctly, both Jane and him have left the social environment they were born into (the aristocracy for Albert, the carnies for Jane) and are both a bit eccentric, very unorthodox in his investigations and like babbling humorously… It’s been some years, guess I’ll need to start digging up my old books!

  • violet

    Hard to say. Truthfully, that’s why I divided the conception of Jane’s character in two parts, since I’m sure the references to Holmes are made on purpose and are constitutive of the character. For the others from detective stories, it was easier to assume they could come from Jane himself (fictively of course), as they were part of the “broth” of well-known old-school detective novels, without connecting Jane to one character in particular … But the Wimsey reference is nonetheless very intriguing, since more detectives just become involved in murders because they like it, they have a pull towards this kind of work. Wimsey used investigation as a form of mild avoidance from his past, so it may very well be a real direct reference indeed.

  • C Hill

    Some very interesting discussion. I’d meant to comment on this a few days ago but was struggling with a tablet and not a true keyboard.

    I, too, have started re-reading Holmes. It’s been too long. The reference to Sayers’ Wimsey (and also to Marsh and Allingham) I think quite appropriate.

    I also found it interesting that Baker referred to The Rockford Files in a video interview as a show he felt had some kinship to The Mentalist.

    And as far Wimsey/Vane vs Jane/Lisbon — one wonders exactly how the Lisbon/Volker battle will resolve itself. Certainly, RJ putting Jane on the defensive by framing Lisbon for some dastardly deed would lead to some parallels.

    The Christie reference regarding Bertram is also very good. While many are unhappy with Strawberries and Cream for the lack of resolution, I think there is much to pull from that episode regarding RJ.

  • rita

    That was REALLY good, I have always loved the Lord Peter Wimsey books, and felt that here were parallels to Jane, but was never able to put it so clearly.

    I’m off now to re read my very dog eared copies of all the books (I may be gone some time!!)

    This was well thought out and clearly stated…..well done!!

  • windsparrow

    Lisbon’s role as sidekick? That’s easy. She’s George to Jane’s Gracie (Burns & Allen).

  • windsparrow

    Thanks! I admit I have a hankering to read Sayers now, too.

  • T

    I can’t help but think Heller has kept the story of Jane’s mother under wraps for a reason…it could be, err ‘relative’ to the discussion of RJ so to speak. TM has played with the format of the show from time to time, with Erica Flynn we probably came closest to Columbo in that we knew who was guilty and it was the dogged pursuit and the ego of the villain at play. I would propose that from Columbo we get create an iconic character 101. Dress a certain special way, drive a special car and iconic phraseology and gesture which PJ certainly possesses. Columbo was also a small guy, endearing and famously rumpled and didn’t carry a gun. From Poirot we get the fussiness, the ego, clarity of mind and elegance and well lack of physicality and the little tramp the physical humor at which Baker is particularly adept.

  • violet

    Yep, Erica was known as the killer from the beginning! You’re right! I *really* like your analysis here with Chaplin’s physical humor and Columbo as an “an iconic character 101”… 🙂
    So, as you put it, Columbo gave: the endearing factor, the rumpled suits, the harmlessness (no gun), as well as the French old car of course and the habit to play the fool to distract the killer – a trait shared with various detective in books, like Wimsey (and Campion). Columbo is also what you could call a positive model: he’s the nice guy in Jane.
    And you have an almost exact analogy in a high key/sophisticated way with Poirot that might complete our Columbo-detective 101: like you said
    – fussiness vs endearing… Poirot may have influenced some annoying parts of Jane’s personality.
    – elegance vs crumpled suits – with Poirot it’s often seen as a bit ridiculous (cf. Jane’s attention to his shoes in two episodes)
    – lack of physicality… (cf. no gun)
    – to respond to Columbo’s fool persona, we can precise that Poirot’s ego is based in his confidence in his great mind, his “little gray cells”, while Jane has the “memory palace”, the “mind is a computer” and so on.
    – We can also add the “French” touch: Poirot is from Belgium but he shares the flaws traditionally attributed to French people (fussy, snobbish,…), while Jane is prone to those too and like to pepper his speeches with French expressions (“et voilà!”…).

    Also, some of Poirot’s and Columbo traits are included in Ellery Queen’s character (same period than Poirot): the iconic car (stylish type here) and the elegance. Queen might also have given some specific aspects:
    – the overly complicated mind
    – the know-it-all
    – the cultivated dilettante (like Philo Vance)
    – he also has phases where he doesn’t care take of himself at all (he doesn’t eat and exhausts himself while Jane doesn’t sleep and stays in his attic or earlier under the bloody smiley).
    – with Queen, we have a recurrent team of cops helping the genius detective and it gives a familiar pattern to many stories
    – and, sometimes, the humor is present too, as some of his books clearly mock the protagonist…

    (Hope that makes some sense… Thanks again for the great ideas, T! 🙂 )

  • violet

    Thanks a lot! I’m looking in it! 🙂

  • violet

    Thanks a lot C Hill for your kind words as well as the reference to The Rockford Files! Looking into it! 🙂

  • C Hill

    oddly, the rockford files was pretty much purely procedural, which simon does refer to, but while i enjoyed TRF i’m not so sure it has a lot in common with The Mentalist.

    Though, one of the Rockford post-series TV moves was titled “if it bleeds, it leads…” and co-starred george wyner — but that just has to be a coincidence (plots unrelated by alot), right?

  • bloomingviolet2013

    Ok… It occurred to me that I forgot yet another couple of references from the show.

    First, the idea of a second corpse has been hidden in a coffin under the legitimated deceased has been taken from “The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax”, one short story featuring Sherlock Holmes. If I’m not mistaken, it has been used in Ellery Queen’s “The Egyptian Cross Mystery”. So it’s another example of a storyline inspired by a classical mystery story as well as another hint that Jane was a reader of those (especially since he’s mistaken in that particular case).

    Second point: the superhero comparison. In S1 ‘Bloodshot’, Lisbon asked a blind Jane if she should make him a superhero costume. The most famous blind superhero is Dardevil and there is an implicit reference in that scene: Jane is blond while Murdock has red/strawberry blond hair, Jane wears sunglasses and walks with a cane. He just looks like Matt Murdock. And he’s been trying to convince Lisbon that he was developing overly heightened senses, an allusion to Dardevil’s superpower –which is humorous, since poor Jane is blind as a bat. Also, Dardevil has been driven to fight crime (gangs and killers) by a family member’s traumatic death (his father). We could almost add that his double life as a lawyer and a superhero somewhat matches Jane’s law enforcement cover as a CBI consultant versus his hidden agenda as a vengeful man hunter… And, of course, Dardevil’s outfit is part of the long list of red elements that build a kind of extended metaphor for RJ looming over Jane’s daily life.

    Moreover, there’s an echo in S3 ‘Red Alert’: Jane asked the cop who was willing to give him a speeding ticket “I mean is this really necessary? Aren’t we all part of the justice league? Do you think Aquaman would give Batman a ticket?”
    First, he’s using a DC counterpart to the implicitly mentioned Dardevil from Marvel. Aquaman and Batman were part of the original team, back in the late 50’s-60’s, which fits Jane’s old-fashioned tastes. Oddly, Jane would resemble Aquaman more: both are blond and connected to the sea (Jane has showed a certain liking to beaches: he’s been building a big sand castle during season one and he seemed to enjoy the island’s peacefulness in season four). Still, it’s interesting that Jane choose to identify with Batman, a rather loner superhero (except for acolytes like Robin), who is better known for his own adventures than for working with the Justice League… like Jane himself, who works with the police indeed, but, doesn’t perceive himself as Lisbon’s underlying: he tells the sheriff moments later “I’m a consultant. I’m not below or above I am to the side”. Another telling aspect that links him to Batman is their traumatic pasts: Batman is a brooding dark character, who has taken an alias after witnessing his parents’ murder and who defends an ideal of justice by fighting crime.

    Both superheroes show how Jane perceives himself: he’s righting the wrongs and he’s driven by a past tainted by the death of his family. He’s mostly alone in his quest and needs to hide his true motive. (And has he a thing for half masks sprouting spiky things -horns or bat ears- or what? Given his devilish personality and his diabolic schemes, I bet nobody in the CBI, Lisbon included, would be too surprised if that sinfully charming troublemaker were to suddenly sprout horns… 😉 )

  • Mike H.

    Great article.. this show is just filled with literary and film references, even a lot more than even mentioned here. Just look at the obvious references to The Bronte sisters (Wuthering Heights), the book Rebecca, and even to Hannibal Lecter (Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs)

  • bloomingviolet2013

    Oh, that’s pretty interesting, thanks a lot! 🙂

    1) Hannibal Lecter of course. The most obvious is the chat Grace and Brett had together. That reminded of one of Hannibal’s best known scenes. Brett was trying to convert her to his views, by analyzing her and by trying to make her identify with him (she was still hurting because of the debacle with Craig). In truth, I didn’t include it because I couldn’t decide if it was an actual reference, or if Chizuru Chibi’s great drawing and interpretation had so much influenced my perception of the moment that I wanted to see an allusion there at all cost. Lol!

    2) Wuthering Heights was a book Cho was reading during a stake out with Jane indeed. As far as I recall, it was the first hint we got about Cho’s tastes in classic literature. The second one was his knowledge of Blake’s poems. Now that you point it out, I realize it also features a brilliant but obsessive man, with a mysterious and probably dark past (like Jane’s back then in season 1), who tends to be manipulative. His fortune has a questionable origin. He is driven by revenge over another man took the woman he loved from him… and he dies chasing her ghost; metaphorically, Jane is also chasing his own ghosts, guilt and grief, and was ready to die for it. If we make a comparison between the two stories, Heathcliff’s determination almost caused the ruin of his surrogate family, and that was what Lisbon and the team feared at the time (there was a deleted scene from the pilot where Lisbon told him that he was preparing his own fall and she didn’t want to fall with him, or something along those lines, it’s by no means a direct quote). And yes, both men have huge communication problems: Heathcliff running away without waiting his beloved to explain herself; Jane lying through his teeth and often keeping Lisbon in the dark to offer her “deniability”. And would it be too far stretched to compare Lorelei to Isabella? A young woman the character seduces to get to his enemy… If we are to follow the comparison until the very end, the family acquires back its normality after his death, meaning that everyone more or less expected back then that Jane would die with RJ and that the team would be left to recover from it as best as they could… Still, if every point were to really stand, that would be quite an irony, as Heathcliff is equal part the main character (of at least one of the main ones) and the villain. That makes Jane’s position all the more ambiguous.

    3) About Rebecca, I’m intrigued, as I can’t think of any real reference, except from Jane’s luxurious house in Malibu, that he kept and sometimes returns to, to wallow in guilt. It has become the symbol of his broken hope, of his failure because of his own poor judgement, just like Manderley was. If that comparison is really relevant, then RJ would be Rebecca’s memory, always looming over him and poisoning every hope for a new live Jane could get. That would fit since Rebecca was the name of one of the first minions to appear (the first in fact, since Hardy was more a friend as his father had been RJ’s comrade). Our Rebecca pretended to be a sweet woman, just like in the movie, while she was in truth very cold and despicable. Amusingly, both “Rebecca” and “Wuthering Heights” qualify as classic books and movies (both featuring Laurence Olivier), those “classics” mentioned by Brett as being “always the best”… And now I wonder how many more allusions to Hitchcock are hidden in the show! 🙂

    Again thanks a lot and feel free to correct or to add more. As I said, this is “ a work in progress”, it’s by no mean complete!

    (I hope this comment made some sense, I’m quite in a hurry…)

  • ortforshort

    While there are certainly a lot of similarities between Jane and Holmes. their personalities are very dissimilar. Jane is charming and disarming. He’s very intuitive and relies on his first impressions. I never viewed Holmes that way. I think Jane is more similar to Columbo. Columbo comes off as a rumpled bumbler which catches those he is persuing off guard. Jane comes off as flippant for a similar reason. Both Jane and Columbo know almost immediately, by their intuitive abilities, who the criminal is. Then, it’s just a matter of trapping them. And neither one of them is afraid to badger their criminal over and over again, if necessary. Meanwhile, Holmes never seemed to be able to figure things out until much later on. Intuition wasn’t his game. Just the opposite, he loathed making judgements until the facts were in – everything is possible until you eliminate the impossible.

  • bloomingviolet2013

    Oh, there is definitely a big part of Columbo in Jane’s personality. Still, while our rumpled cop is responsible for the “disarming” part, the harmless, gentle and amusing vibe, there are also some visible parts in Jane that belong to Holmes. Holmes has a bit of a dual personality: he alternates phases of misanthropy, coldness and harshness, with some more charming moments. He’s not above playing some practical jokes (“The Mazarine Stone”), enjoying an absurd case (“The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”), and there are many times where he’s been mentioned to entertain Watson by playing his friend’s favorite themes at the violin, or to even be a charming host for some particular client. This aspect is not the most common, I’ll grant you that, but it’s still here; beside, don’t forget that at the time, social conventions and boundaries were way stricter: a man wasn’t mean to be too familiar with strangers, a bit of distance was required, so Conan Doyle conveyed enough that Holmes was deep down a fine man since he had a deep sense of justice and he *could* do charming, albeit a bit reluctantly and not very often… And he uses it in cases too: in ‘The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton’, he charms the maid under some disguise and goes out with her in order to gain information on her employer’s house…

    About the intuition part, I don’t know: for someone as smart as Columbo, or Jane, intuition and logic must be so intertwined that it must be difficult to tell. That also was stated with Holmes: he observed and deduced so fast that he had to actually make an effort to explain his reasoning step by step… And it’s not really that Holmes couldn’t come up with a theory immediately, just that he didn’t want to do it, because it was dangerous. If you start a case with a preconceived idea about the motive or the murderer, you’ll tend to bend the facts to accommodate that theory… Once or twice he told so with Watson: he had various theories beforehand but he didn’t want to dwell on them for fear of being too partial. By the way, this is exactly what happened to Jane in ‘Pink Channel Suit’: he had that classic idea that there were two corpses in the coffin (that comes from books), thus he forced his way to open the coffin and he was wrong. Holmes would have called that laziness in deduction… Obviously, while they share many traits, Jane has indeed not completely mastered Holmes’ almost mechanical intellectual rigor, too much of a hot-headed fantasist for that… 😉

  • Rose UK

    Hello everyone,

    Just wanted to add some thoughts on the Moby Dick reference you mentioned, if that’s ok. (As there has been an interesting discussion in the review of Behind the Red Curtain about fishing symbolism throughout the seasons).

    As I said, I don’t know the story very well but I’ve had a look at the Wikipedia article and would like to extract what seem to be rough parallels (forgive me if it’s wrong; I don’t know any better!):

    – Captain Ahab (Jane): for obvious reasons! Totally obssessed with hunting the whale that attacked/injured him. Ultimately condemns the entire crew to death because of his obssession. Is killed by his own harpoon and dragged into the sea.

    – Starbuck (Lisbon): serious, sincere, thoughtful, a great leader. A Quaker (Lisbon’s Catholicism). Objects to Ahab’s mad obssession. Considers arresting or even shooting Ahab towards the end. Begs him to reconsider. But ultimately feels he must go along with the Captain (the crew support Ahab). A good quote given is: “I will have no man in my boat who is not afraid of a whale.” I.e. “the most reliable and useful courage was that which arises from the fair estimation of the encountered peril, and that an utterly fearless man is a far more dangerous comrade than a coward”. Jane, who has nothing to lose, could be viewed as a real danger.

    – Stubb (Rigsby): happy-go-lucky and good-humoured.

    – Flask (Cho): “short, stout, thoroughly reliable”.

    – Moby Dick (RJ): the hunted whale. Legendary reputation – possibly the largest ever sperm whale (could RJ be the most prolific serial killer/organisation?) Mysterious. Several recognisable features (like we know of RJ’s). Killed another captain’s son (amalgamation of Jane’s daughter). Appears in only 3 chapters – elusive. “Moby Dick is considered to be a symbol of a number of things, among them God, nature, fate, the ocean, and the very universe itself.” Big difference is that he is an animal and therefore unaccountable for his actions. “It is Ahab who invests Moby Dick’s natural instincts with malignant and evil intentions. In fact, it is not the whale but the crippled Ahab who alone possesses this characteristic.”

    – Couldn’t really find a parallel for Van Pelt… Help me out!?

    – There is also a character called Captain Boomer, who is in a similar position to Ahab (he lost an arm), but is much more forgiving and rational about it. I wonder, given various comments about Kirkland (as we still know so little about him), whether he might be a good fit for Boomer?

    THEMES: revenge, good v evil, destructive obssession and monomania.

    Sorry I’ve quoted so much directly from Wiki – being a bit lazy!!

    Look forward to hearing people’s thoughts (or not!)

  • bloomingviolet2013

    Sorry it took me forever to reply to your very interesting comment, Rose. I wanted to re-read the book first (it had been years…) and, well, things got in the way… Anyway, if you’re still interested, here’s my two cents to the discussion. Before reading your remarks, I didn’t think there were that many similarities with the book, except for the obvious dark revenge theme… But there may be something in here indeed…

    First, if I follow your logic that each character is more or less reminiscent of one of the crewmen, then Van Pelt might be the narrator Ishmael: she entered the team in the pilot and then the others were introduced through her eyes (to some extent), like the crew is perceived from Ishmael’s point of view when he signs with the captains. For instance, Jane, albeit charming and intriguing, made a rather bad impression on her: he was pretty harsh on her during their first dinner together and revealed Rigbsy’s interest with a hurtful lack of tact; he was ordered to stay away from the case, yet he showed up and forced his way in; he forced the brothers to face a pretty awful truth even though it was unnecessary (and the team resented him for that)… Like Ahab, he appeared grim, restless and dangerous… His obsession was showing almost from the start with his harshness about psychics, like Ahab’s was hinted at by the whale jawbone replacing his lost leg.
    Beside, both Grace and Ishmael were rather eager rookies at the start of both stories (the latter had never been whaling before).

    Also, as you have indicated, Rose:

    1) Jane is Ahab: he’s not the same man since the monster took a part of him. Both men are physically or emotionally crippled by loss (of a leg or of a loving family) and the resulting anger. Both their tragic past is show as something particularly violent and horrible: to Ishmael’s inquiry about his captain’s lost limb, the answer is “Lost by a whale! Young man, come nearer to me: it was devoured, chewed up, crunched by the monstrousest parmacetty that ever chipped a boat!”
    Moreover, the captain and the consultant tend to prefer solitude (the attic): “I don’t know exactly what’s the matter with him; but he keeps close inside the house; a sort of sick, and yet he don’t look so. In fact, he ain’t sick; but no, he isn’t well either”.
    Both men are presented as extraordinary characters: “Ahab’s above the common; Ahab’s been in colleges, as well as ‘mong the cannibals; been used to deeper wonders than the waves; fixed his fiery lance in mightier, stranger foes than whales. His lance! aye, the keenest and the surest that out of all our isle! Oh! he ain’t Captain Bildad; no, and he ain’t Captain Peleg; HE’S AHAB, boy” Like him, Jane is full of contrasts (a former carnie reciting Shakespeare from memory), as well as a very talented investigator, the CBI golden boy.
    Beside, Ahab held a secret goal under the appearance of a normal whaling boat and he condemns his crew who isn’t at first aware of his obsession. Same with Jane, who investigated RJ under the guise of solving cases with the SCU (and like the killer in the episode, who faked being dumb in order to bring down his enemies). Both Jane and the captain showed icy determination, accepting the possibility of people suffering from casualities (Ahab refused to help search for the captain of the Rachel’s son). They are driven by a destructive obsession and even the growing amount of corpses doesn’t deter them… They can’t control themselves when they’re getting closer of their nemesis (“monomaniac Ahab, furious with this tantalizing vicinity of his foe”).

    2) There are indeed similarities between Cho and Flask, and Rigsby and Stubb, but those seem quite superficial… The matching details serve more to represent the team as a reminder of the crew around Ahab than to enhance a potential correspondence, imho. But the characters of Starbuck/ Lisbon are more interesting: they personify the voice of reason that their obsessed captain/consultant refuse to hear out, as you pointed out. Both go along with the dangerous plans, even if they have great doubts about it: they are the ones who point out the ambiguity of the chase for Ahab and Jane: “Oh! Ahab,” cried Starbuck, “not too late is it, even now, the third day, to desist. See! Moby Dick seeks thee not. It is thou, thou, that madly seekest him!” In the show, too, it’s Jane’s obsession that probably started the game: if he had kept out of the serial killer’s way after the murders, instead of taking a job at the CBI, we can suppose that RJ wouldn’t have gone further. Jane sparked his interest by fighting back, he proved that there was more to him than the “worm” the killer accused him of being (at the least, that’s a rather plausible guess until proven otherwise… 😉 )

    3) Indeed, Moby Dick and RJ possess a malevolent intelligence and defeat each attack directed by their nemesis: “Now, by reason of this timely spinning round the boat upon its axis, its bow, by anticipation, was made to face the whale’s head while yet under water. But as if perceiving this stratagem, Moby Dick, with that malicious intelligence ascribed to him, sidelingly transplanted himself, as it were, in an instant, shooting his pleated head lengthwise beneath the boat.” And yes, you’re right: to some extent, Jane is hating the darkest part of himself (the conman) through RJ: hence the parallels between them (Jane/John and so on)… That’s why he feels so guilty. He thinks it was his fault if he lost everything he had: “all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby Dick. He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it”… Hence the references to the biblical Leviathan in the book. (And I really, really love your comments about RJ/ the whale).

    The reference to the book hints to a possible ending for Jane’s quest, as you said: driven by his thirst for revenge, Jane may cause his own death and the team may suffer too (either by being hurt, killed or by ruining their careers). Actually, it was the path the obsessive Jane was taking in the first seasons of the show (when the episode mentioning the book took place). But, since the season 3 finale ‘Strawberry and Cream’, Jane seems to have reflected on his ways: after actually killing Carter, he began opening himself more to Lisbon and envisaging a new life (as suggested by the peacefulness of the early S4, which Reviewbrain called a “bubble”). In the book, that possibility of redemption is represented by the biblical Jonah, eaten by a whale: “as sinful men, it is a lesson to us all, because it is a story of the sin, hard-heartedness, suddenly awakened fears, the swift punishment, repentance, prayers, and finally the deliverance and joy of Jonah”. Now, both possible endings are regularly alluded to in the show.

    On a side note, I wonder if ‘Moby Dick’ couldn’t also explain the mysterious title of ‘The Crimson Hat’: before Ahab confronts the whale, there are a series of symbolic warnings. One incident that Ishmael interpreted as a bad omen was that a sea bird removed Ahab’s hat and flew away with it: a“sea-hawks […]; one of these birds came wheeling and screaming round his head in a maze of untrackably swift circlings. […] “Your hat, your hat, sir!” suddenly cried the Sicilian seaman, who being posted at the mizen-mast-head, stood directly behind Ahab, though somewhat lower than his level, and with a deep gulf of air dividing them. But already the sable wing was before the old man’s eyes; the long hooked bill at his head: with a scream, the black hawk darted away with his prize.” If the incident is indeed alluded to in the title, then we had beforehand a hint that the ending of the episode would be pretty bad: the plan failed, and Jane’s restless idea of faking a friendship with the serial killer ended up with Luther’s death (reminding of the crew dying at the end of the book). Plus there might be a wink too with the detail of Jane promising Lorelei to make her sing “like a bird” too…

    Sorry again for my tardiness and thanks for your great comment! 🙂

  • Rose UK

    Violet, when I checked my emails just now and saw that someone had posted in this thread, I got that little flutter of excitement and curiosity… And then I discovered how much thought you’d put in and was knocked sideways!!!

    Thanks so much for broadening the ideas as you have; you’ve given me/anyone reading plenty to chew on and you’ve filled in some gaps in my knowledge for sure. 🙂 Love the hat idea – it’s been mentioned a few times in eps and it ties in neatly. And the birds! Perhaps next season we’ll see those motifs crop up!

    I particularly like what you say in Points 2 & 3 – I have often wondered if Jane will show regret at his path, or a wish that he had made different choices. I also agree with you that RJ would have left him alone once he had “bested” him by murdering his family. Your Starbuck quotation is interesting because you can kind of make it fit with the Blake theme: in RJ’s world one of the two adverarsies is the Tyger, the other the Blacksmith: which is which? Who created whom? Who is hunting whom? Each man’s actions push on the other, and they end up in a neverending cycle so that we can’t tell which is which anymore. It’s a perfect opposition because it’s a perfect circle. Plus we’ve got RJ personified as a beast, not a man (because a man should ideally be capable of rational, intelligent, humane thought; instead we have someone brutal who doesn’t believe in good or evil or indeed anything (like in the animal kingdom, where it’s only about survival and instinct.) And now in the season 5 finale, it is suggested to Jane that RJ has supernatural powers – perhaps this is the “malicious intelligence” that Ahab ascribes to the whale – as I assume a whale can’t be “evil” or “good” (!)

    A few little ideas that struck me as I read your thoughts were also:

    Doesn’t Jane love the sea! The latest reference I remember was in Red Lacquer… Perhaps it’s the promise of freedom that it holds (I think someone might have mentioned that…). Which is neatly contrasted with his sparse attic, which rather resembles a prison cell – or possibly even a ship’s cabin?! 😉

    I’ve also been scrolling through the Moby Dick SparkNotes (as I am not as committed as you to read the entire novel!) and I see that the crew captures a few whales prior to MD – perhaps we could call them “minions”!?

    This link gives a great analysis of Ahab and the whale, which is very rich with comparisons to TM: It says that the whale is an “allegorical representation of an unknowable God.” Which reminded me of something I read about Heller comparing RJ to the concept of death: “Red John is really just a personification of death, I mean it’s that simple. Patrick Jane is very much alive and is very much about being alive in the face of death. And Red John is the fate that awaits us all in the end.” (Wikipedia)

    In this context, I thought this next idea is quite interesting: “To the Pequod’s crew, the legendary White Whale is a concept onto which they can displace their anxieties about their dangerous and often very frightening jobs. Because they have no delusions about Moby Dick acting malevolently toward men or literally embodying evil, tales about the whale allow them to confront their fear, manage it, and continue to function. Ahab, on the other hand, believes that Moby Dick is a manifestation of all that is wrong with the world, and he feels that it is his destiny to eradicate this symbolic evil.” When I read this, I immediately thought of the pragmatic, fearless and no-nonsence CBI team and how this practical attitude puts them in the best place to help Jane in his quest. He needs them, no question.

    Honestly, there’s so much to be mined in this book (perhaps I should read it after all!) – I just read that the theme of surface/depth features heavily. The whale dives deep, and they can’t follow him into the depths. You could link this the idea that as of right now, Patrick Jane has little or no idea about RJ’s mind – he is unknowable. Jane’s powers – great as they may be – are limited. And it also links to the mind-reading aspect that has recently been emphasised.

    And finally, I read this in a recent interview with Heller:

    “Up until now if you’re comparing it to Moby Dick, which is one of the analogies I used to describe the length of the chase, next season the whale has been sighted and they’re in the small boats and chasing the whale.”

    Bring on Season 6!

    PS Thanks again, Violet, I really enjoyed reading your post – especially when you must be a bit busy with the next review. 🙂 Sorry this turned out to be so much longer than I thought – I just kept finding things in the Notes!!!

  • Rose UK

    Just to let you know that I’ve replied, Violet, but it’s stuck. It’s quite a long post – maybe that’s why!

  • bloomingviolet2013

    Thanks a lot, Rose! 😀
    Very interesting! Just give me some time to study your points more closely… 😉

  • Rose UK

    Of course! No hurry. 🙂

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