After watching RJ’s threatening DVD in the attic, CBI Senior Agent Lisbon (Tunney) and consultant Patrick Jane (Baker) realize they are walking a very fine line. Yet their talk is delayed when they are called to a crime scene: forced to feign normalcy when their mind is reeling with inner turmoil and fear, it soon becomes patent that their different take of the situation and their opposite course of action may drive them apart on the burning issue of the serial killer.
At long last! A number of questions were left from the finale and even if most of them are still mysteries, in this thrilling premiere some of the audience’s expectations are being met and in a skilful manner: a whole range of poignant emotions are being stirred, from simple worry to heart-shattering fear. Indeed, Lisbon has been targeted and her fate is unsure. One of the major pet peeves of the last seasons has been solved and magnificently at last: there was no way the serial killer wouldn’t try to get his black gloved bloodied hands on her at some point and creator Bruno Heller gave to the event the importance it deserves. Even more cleverly, he addressed at the same time fans’ doubts about the suspect who has been on the show the longest: Brett Partridge has been pestering Jane ever since the pilot and he gets the honor of being the first to be taken care of. Well played, Mr Heller! 10/10
Detailed AKA Humongous Review (spoilers galore)
The opening talk between the two leads gives both continuity with the previous season finale and a time line (the recording was supposed to have taken place two months ago, before Lorelei was killed). For once we also get to witness in detail their reaction to a dramatic event –that rarely happened before for the aftermath of the other finales… Jane is feelings down as he doesn’t know how to react to RJ’s statement that he’s a real psychic: intellectually it goes against his strongest beliefs yet he cannot fathom any real explanation for the trick his nemesis played on him… It’s pretty disconcerting to see the clever showman as the gaping audience: it’s the position he usually puts others into… And the first discordant notes with Lisbon appear when she insists they go to a crime scene after being called by Bertram, one of their suspects… Jane answers disbelievingly: “I don’t want to work right now, Lisbon, I need to think” but Lisbon takes him there anyway.
VIS # 1: Jane solves the case
There Jane solves the cases in record time: a look at how the room was decorated with a huge painting of the couple on the wall, pictures of baseball players, some baseball match playing in the bedroom, peanuts near the chair the distraught widower was sitting as if he was watching a match on TV too… He already gathers the man is a narcissist baseball player; plus the wife’s wardrobe and belongings hastily put in place gives him another clue since they clash with the image of the pretty woman displayed in the house… Jane is particularly ruthless (he doesn’t say hello to the techs), he starts asking curt questions to the supposedly devastated widower. It’s obvious he wants to get it done fast: he doesn’t think calmly, hence the huge mistake he makes when confronting the widower and accusing him when they’re alone. He tricks him into revealing himself in front of the cops by threatening him with his gun but doesn’t think that the man might take the second gun in the safe too…
Moreover, the widower’s motive for strangling his wife was pride: his vanity couldn’t take that she was dumping him. And pride too was what caused Jane’s wife death, as Jane couldn’t help but playing the charismatic psychic on TV by taunting a very dangerous man… There’s a subtle similarity between Jane and the widower: the painting which illustrates the latter’s ego bears a notable resemblance with Jane, with the same sun-kissed wavy hair, even though the man himself has actually darker hair. The effect is underlined by the fact that Jane is standing before it and remarks rather rudely to the tech that she’s staring at him like he has “two heads” (in various shots the painting head is precisely behind his own). His impatience to get things over as fast as possible also leads to endangering himself and the others. His behaviour is a bit worrying: usually Jane is far more fearful and doesn’t like guns, while here he handles it very smoothly (he puts peanuts in the chamber) and puts himself in harms way on purpose. His amusing charming façade is down, he is nervous and eager to get back to the attic. Of course, that scene both prepares his disagreement with Lisbon about who is in charge and foreshadows how his partner will be endangered because of Jane’s long displayed hubris in catching his nemesis.
VIS # 2: Jane and Lisbon talk with Bertram- first suspect
The consequences of Jane’s recklessness trigger a meeting with Bertram, their boss and a prime suspect in the list of seven. Lisbon’s nervousness is palpable as she exclaims “crap”. Jane gives her advice to “just act naturally, breathe”. His dismissive façade is back in place: to Bertram’s question “are you insane?” he answers breezily “you’re asking her or you’re asking me? Just speaking for myself the answer is no. Lisbon? Sane? Not sane? ” He completes his show by shrugging and grimacing while feigning ignorance… Those are is usual antics: he misbehaves and diffuses the situation with humor. He also helps Lisbon regain her bearings by giving her the opportunity to get back in her own usual role: the non-nonsense professional who apologizes for him. Only Jane interrupts her by stating « oh, stop! You did nothing wrong ». Again, the idea of responsibility is addressed as Jane wants to assume the blame for what happened: it was his plans and he said he was sorry that things didn’t go as he hoped. Yet Bertram stresses « she is responsible » and Lisbon too affirms firmly « I am responsible ». The moment serves as a reminder of Lisbon’s status: even if Jane considers her and equal and his partner, as a matter of fact she is actually his boss. As such, she is bound to take the brunt of his actions.
But suddenly Gale changes his strategy by emphasizing that he wants to protect her from SacPD’s wrath by sending them away for a case. He’s being helpful, with doesn’t fit with his previous attitude when both got into trouble. After all, he wanted Jane to rot in jail after Carter was shot and he tried firing Lisbon afterwards. Is his protectiveness steaming from the help they offered him during his struggling with poker in ‘Red in Tooth and Claw’? Either way, almost every of his lines brims with a possible darker meaning:
– « SacPD wants your blood » alludes to the fact that Lisbon might be targeted.
– Then about the RJ case: “I’ve heard you’ve got close”, “you can’t keep secrets around here”, then telling that there’s a “buzz all around the building”… is that founded knowledge 1) a conclusion for the week long reclusion in the attic at the end of season, 2) a result of Lisbon asking Jane about the names on the list when entering the bullpen at the beginning of the finale, or 3) was he informed by Kirkland after his men broke into the attic?
– He insists on those “fresh leads”, the theme at the front of their minds then; that’s exactly how RJ would play his hand, adding even more stress to their discomfort.
– He wants to be told first: it may be because he’s their boss, as he might want to avoid a situation like the disaster in Vegas and get good publicity. Or he might want to keep Kirkland in the loop, like Minelli had been doing for years through Alexa Schultz. Or it may be because he has a personal interest in the case.
– He admits that he may seem « calculating and even duplicitous, but please understand that it comes with the job description. I’m many things to many people”. That is so much a RJ thing to say it seems a huge wink to the audience. Indeed, the idea that he’s balancing many functions, activities and personas doubled with the power over many people he’s displaying both fit the CBI boss and a possible sect leader like RJ… That and being “calculating” and liking power also reminds of the poker game, both a favorite of good ol’ Gale and a metaphor for the struggle between Jane and his archenemy.
VIS #3: the talk in the car
When Lisbon drives Jane to the second crime scene of the episode, we get another debrief about the situation they’re in, but this time they’re calmer and Lisbon starts thinking of a way to use the list to their advantage or at least she tries to think about it rationally. Yet, the psychic angle is once again alluded to with a mind reading example when she asks “are you thinking what I’m thinking?” and Jane proceeds to tell her “you think Bertram is RJ and that he set us out of town for a reason. He sent us out of the way for his next move”. He then tries to dissipate the tension by telling he on the other hand is thinking about trains and imitates one childishly. Yet Lisbon doesn’t react to his joke and it becomes visible that they are indeed not thinking about the same thing, that their planned course of action is very different.
Lisbon is action-oriented and thinks as a cop: she asks “so what do we do?” Meanwhile, Jane thinks like a hunter, a conman and a strategist: he doesn’t know what to do and thus chooses to wait for the next move to allow himself time to think. This passivity irritates Lisbon who prefers a more forward and public approach: « we have to do something: arrest them all, release the names publicly, something ». Jane replies “maybe that’s what RJ wants us to do”: the secretive consultant prefers keeping things close to his vest understandably: the least RJ knows about their future plans, the more chances they can get to avoid falling in a trap.
When Lisbon suggests involving the team at least, Jane starts showing more clearly his very real worry “no, no. we tell no one about the list, no one”… Lisbon tells that RJ knows about the list anyway and Jane insists “anyone who knows about the list is in danger. We tell no one.” Then he mutters “I shouldn’t even have told you…” He’s afraid of what the next move will be, as the victim in the finale was someone he knew in the past, he’s worried RJ would start aiming at those he’s close to now… He’s always felt guilt about endangering his family and now that his CBI team might be in danger too because of him we can guess he’s feeling even worse. After all, one of his reasons for keeping things from Lisbon has always been admittedly to protect her: now that he’s breached that rule of his, he must fear having made a huge mistake and that giving his trust may come with a price…
VIS #4: Jane and Lisbon meet Partridge at the crime scene – second suspect
At the crime scene, they have a nasty surprise: Brett Partridge is the tech in charge of the skeleton found buried in the sand. Again the beach and the sea remind of RJ as Lorelei and part of the previous season were liked to the sea and the fishing, rising the question of who is the fish and who is the fisherman. And in this premiere, it’s being hinted that Jane is really becoming the one who is hunted down by the ruthless killer. There’s another allusion to his scheme when Partridge told them the corpse has been here for two months, meaning at the time the DVD was supposedly recorded…
Lisbon is nervous and looks at Jane to get assurance, but Brett is smiling and creepy as usual: his first words refer to the flowers growing among the victim’s bones which are “kinda beautiful and weird”. He tries again to pose as a serious investigator, giving Lisbon advice about crossing references to identify the victim and seeming saddened when Jane tells him she’s doing just that already. He’s over eager and thinks himself as a specialist, like he did with RJ crime scenes which infuriated Jane in the pilot… And his creepiness and ghoulish enthusiasm for the macabre shows further when he reacts to the victim’s name by talking to the skeleton: “hello, Mr Yardley. Who did this to you, huh?” For him, the line between professional of death and gore geek is pretty thin… What makes him also pretty in character is his discomfort in front of Jane: he’s a bit afraid of him and asks him is something is the matter. Amusingly, it is the same kind of reaction, but inversed, that the consultant had with the tech at the first crime scene: he was also uncomfortable and annoyed by the staring and confronted her about it. It also reminds of the altercation Jane had with Partridge at Eileen Barlow’s murder scene in ‘Red John’s Rules’, which happened only a few days before in the show storyline… Unlike he did with Bertram, Jane doesn’t try to fake normalcy: he steps over the bones and comes threateningly closer to ask “you really don’t know?” Partridge backs down and during the new debrief talk in the car Lisbon asks him what’s his take on him, to which Jane only answers that RJ must be a really good actor. Meaning that he’s not ready yet to chalk Brett off the list. He has no certitude and both feel the need to talk about it after every step because they’re in this together and to search some measure of reassurance in the other.
VIS # 5 : Jane and Lisbon at the diner
The duo soon stops at a nearby dinner where they resume their talk after ordering some food. Jane chooses Oolong tea, then changes it to simple tea when he sees the bartender disbelieving reaction. Jane generally only asks for tea when he’s at suspects’ houses. The fact that he’s picky now then reminds a bit of the Lampsang Souchong he asked in the mall before shooting Carter, or the one he served to Darcy when she refused to close the Panzer case. His precision then shows that’s he’s feeling anxious and needs to be in control even of a small thing.
Again, the bartender refers to the psychic angle making RJ’s shadow loom over them as she pretends to have a kind of “spooky” psychic gift: « I had a bad feeling, like there was something evil out there ». That detail too reminds of the bad omen in ‘Red Moon’: death is close and one of RJ’s plan is in the making. Jane doesn’t react as usual with a tart reply about psychic but seem amused by the coincidence. When Lisbon raises the theme once more about what they are doing here, he states “I’m eating eggs, you’re staring at a dry muffin”… Eggs are his comfort food and she can’t bring herself to eat: under their pretence at investigating their nervousness is showing. He tries assessing again that RJ’s not psychic, continuing their talk from the rooftop but she finally admits: “I’m scared because I have never seen you like this before. It’s like you don’t know what to do.” Yet, Jane again refuses help from outside.
His passivity is the same that he showed in the finale: then he took the blows RJ was sending him one by one and now he still seems in shock. But the danger is that control freak Lisbon would be tempted to take matters into her own hands… Their disagreement and fear make a very perilous combination.
VIS # 6: Lisbon calls Grace
Indeed, the mood doesn’t lighten when they’re in their respective rooms. Neither sleep, both are shown thinking while resting on their beds, uneasy and isolated. Lisbon then gets up and calls Grace in a snap decision. The redhead is in the bullpen in a rather domestic moment with her lover Rigsby massaging her shoulders, in contrast with Lisbon’s loneliness. Yet Lisbon is in her take-charge mode and needs back-up: she thinks like a team leader, evaluating the situation and her subordinates’ state of mind (“it’s like he read Jane’s mind. Which makes Jane paranoid, understandably”). She called Grace because she was the most skilled with computer and white-hat hacking. To put it in a few words, she thinks like a professional and trusts her own cop instincts: “I have the strongest feeling that we need to do something and I need your help.” But she does it in the most reasonable manner, trying to ensure maximum secrecy on the fact that they’re put GPS bugs on seven suspects’ phones. Beside, it’s pretty interesting that she decided to side with the only other woman in the team: it may not be the first reason to choose Grace, but the fact remains that she’s certainly the least prone to go along with one of Jane’s schemes behind her back… problem is she’s not as immune to Wayne’s prodding and as Cho later put it the man cannot keep anything for his best bud/confident either. Like Lisbon in fact, they all think like a team: they know each other inside and out, they understand the others’ reactions and they try to help them as far as can. Unfortunately it also ironically echoes Bertram’s statement that they “can’t keep secrets around here”… The risk inherent to their trust and predicament is further hinted at by the victim’s cold and unfeeling dysfunctional family.
VIS #7: Jane is back at the dinner
Meanwhile, Jane distracts himself cooking eggs: he tries to win the cook’s trust like he did with the murderous widow in ‘Red Sauce’. Not to mention that the last time someone has been cooking eggs was in Jane’s motel room in Vegas after his night with Lorelei…
As a matter of fact, Jane has been trying divert Lisbon’s attention and his own from the red elephant in the room: thinking about trains; wanting to stay in the desert because he admits that “the desert helps [him] think”. Even the “Mexico” club owned by the victim is associated to running away, since Mexico was the destination Jane offered to Danny, Culpepper and Lorelei… He’s afraid and tries to avoid taking a decision because he doesn’t know what to do: Jane is in stand by for the moment, for fear of making a bad move…
Lisbon bid her time and keeps an eye on him: he remarks that « you don’t trust me alone, huh? », hinting at the general distrust they’re both in. the fact that said distrust in also insinuating itself in their partnership show a well-hidden but deep crack in their duo, as he has already failed her more than once, particularly in that desert he’s referring to. But it’s also hinted that someone is watching them, hence Lisbon’s closed curtains while calling Van Pelt in her room and the intriguing shot of Grace in the bullpen from above, maybe from the railing, after she hangs up. There’s a general impression of danger waiting to fall upon them, suggested by the red elements in the backgrounds: the pictures of baseball players in the first case, the flowers behind the widow in the second, the lightening and decoration of the club, the red trains, the furnishing in the dinner. And Lisbon and Jane seem all the more spatially isolated in the desert, closed off in their secret.
VIS # 8: Grace arrives and things start falling apart
As Jane arrives at the dinner, Jane immediately understands what Lisbon did, as he knows them very well. In front of a speechless and embarrassed Grace, who gives off the impression of a kid watching her parents fight, a livid Jane expresses his terror and frustration at Lisbon’s initiative and his hurt that she went behind his back. Lisbon’s reaction is pretty harsh too: “You told me? You’re not my boss. This is my case. Red John is my case. You work for me”… Her outburst at him is a reply to her own frustrations with the man’s schemes for years, and to his attitude towards RJ’s case (“Red John is my case”/ “Red John is mine”). She’s fed up with Jane’s domineering attitude and his “secretive and controlling” ways, to quote Barlow. In that weird role reversal it is then Lisbon who is scolded for acting inconsiderately in taking a serious decision alone, for not telling him the truth and wanting to protect him by keeping things for him… while he’s angry because she took a huge risk without realizing there will be consequences. He’s genuinely afraid for her, not angry because she took the case from him, like he would have been normally (cf. “I shouldn’t even have told you” in the car before). The argument culminates when he calls her “childish” and she retorts that he’s “arrogant”: both are unfortunately right to some extend, as Lisbon hasn’t really taken the measure of who they are up against too, whereas Jane is too proud to admit he has been outsmarted by RJ and that he needs help. Jane then chasing after her is pretty symbolic: he never tried to diffuse her anger that way before, which indicates how shaken he is and that this dispute is a key moment between them.
Jane solves the case with the help of the team: he ironically uses the bartender’s “psychic gift” to get to her, as a way to allegorically hint that he aim to disclose RJ’s trick too… The team acts as assistant pretty smoothly: they are already taking Lisbon’s place by his side during the investigation…
VIS # 9: the trap
The last car talk between the partners in pretty meaningful too since Lisbon is ignoring his call while he apologies and wants to make up with her (“I’m sorry we argued. I realised, er… just, just call me…”). There is an emphasis on phones: she’s called to an address by the cops and she realizes Patridge’s bugged phone is currently over there. She calls SacPD for back-up. The whole exchange gets even more stress-full when Jane calls her again unsuccessfully while she’s in the dark house, asking in vain in a falsely cheerful tone “where are you? Call me”. Those obviously lead climax call RJ makes from her phone to warn Jane that he has his beloved partner…
Indeed, the idea of getting Lisbon alone in the house banks on her cop instincts and her selfless nature: she thinks someone might be in danger, so she gets in, damn the consequences. If Partridge is the serial killer and if he’s hurting some innocent, she has to stop him. She obviously doesn’t think like a strategist, again, but like a cop who has a duty: danger calls for a fast reaction. That’s what makes her a good cop, but an easy target too, unfortunately… Lisbon is soon facing two closed doors, waiting for her like two options; they remind of the closed door in the pilot, inside another empty dark house, with death waiting behind it: tech Partridge has been stuffed inside the closet behind second one, like the morgue attendant was in Rosalind’s home. His first words are the same as Todd Johnson: “tyger, tyger”
May it be hours or only moments later, while RJ taunts Jane over the phone, we can see he’s tracing a smiley on Lisbon’s pale face. The grotesque drawing reminds a bit of a clown and the vertical stokes on eyes give the illusion that the smiley or herself are crying blood over her cheeks. RJ’s movements seem rather gentle, almost tender, which makes one wonders why he’s not harsher: does he consider her as his masterpiece he needs to treat with respect, a little like he took the time to paint Angela’s toenails with blood? Is she under the influence of drugs and is he careful not to wake her? Or is that a hint to a more personal interest, like Haffner or Kirkland might have displayed towards her? Either way, Lisbon’s fate is full of uncertainty: it seems improbable that he has killed her since she’s the female lead, the show would lose a great number of fans otherwise. Besides RJ has rarely left two dead victims at one crime purposely, except for Jane’s family: the other cases were respectively a mistake (a man witnessed the murder) and Bosco’s team being killed by Rebecca. RJ’s words “she can’t come right now” don’t indicate that she won’t be able to talk to him ever either… Yet it would be hard to tell if she was painted as a living warning, or if Red John would keep her some more to rattle Jane’s chain (although his reason for his bloody make-over would be a bit cryptic then). On the other hand, his motive for targeting Lisbon from the very start is pretty clear: she was trying to think rationally and to help her partner, thus she was bringing him small amount of comfort. She was his true “desert rose”, the blooming flower in the desert of despair, his ray of hope. Even if she gets back at his side, RJ would have already killed a happy memory indeed, since Jane would be loath to confide in her again for fear or endangering her and losing her for good. And after feeling relieved that Lisbon may not be dead, the next blow RJ is undoubtedly planning will hurt Jane even worse.
Besides, the scene plays with two characteristic patterns between Jane and Lisbon: the serious and meaningful talks they’ve gotten in their cars (in this episode as well as in ‘Red Moon’ and ‘Red John’s Rules’ among many others, along with the uncomfortable silence in ‘Red Velvet Cupcakes’) and the phone cal during a dramatic moment. Indeed, Jane has talked to her over the phone when she was searching for a bomb, then after Craig O’Laughlin shot her. Even her misadventure with the bomb vest in ‘Strawberry and Cream’ counts as he had joined her just after hanging up. The twisting of the well-known occurrences reinforces the viewers’ worries by bending a familiar situation.
Honorable Mentions: Impeccable writing, impressing acting, general evil-geniusness… what else can I add? 🙂
1) Why kill Partridge?
When Lisbon suggested making the list public, Jane reply was “maybe that’s what RJ wants us to do”. By killing Brett, RJ forces him to explain publicly why the man was targeted. It’s as if RJ needed to create a spotlight to better hide himself in the shadows… Without any doubt, if Jane reveals the names on the list after the stunts he pulled on the FBI, he will alienate the favors of every law agency around (FBI, CBI, local cops, Homeland Security, Visualise members in law enforcement, they’re all involved with the six remaining suspects). He wouldn’t be able to find any secret ally which would provide him with information like Minelli managed to do before. Killing off one of the seven adds the advantage of taunting Jane while forcing him into action: he would need to make a move and investigate the remaining six, things are getting too dangerous to stay put.
Besides, if the « tyger, tyger » was a hint that Brett had been a minion, his fear of Jane might have turn him in a liability –or he could have been told those words while being tortured and was trying to give Lisbon a clue before dying. Anyway, he was certainly the suspect Lisbon would think she could handle the most easily and, as such, could have been chosen as the greatest effective to lure her in the trap… And if RJ was looking for a corpse to leave beside Lisbon to make Jane realise he could have killed her, the man fits the pattern the killer initiated at Rosalind’s house: a specialist of death hidden in a closet, as a way to tell him their roles have been reversed and that he’s chasing him like Jane has been during the Panzer arc, even though RJ was hoping his friendship offer would be accepted.
2) The setting of Lisbon’s disappearance
When she entered the room, Lisbon was about to open the white door, but turned to the other closed door on the other side, which concealed Partridge. Then, she leant forward towards him while he was lying on the floor and, after he died, she stood up again and we had a pretty good view of the room behind her. Just before being snatched away, Lisbon was staring at the empty bathroom: someone had opened that door while she was focused on Brett. Problem is there was no room behind her to sneak on her while she was bent over her coworker: there was only the wall and the window. For someone to have opened the bathroom door and exited using the window, they would have had to stride over Lisbon. The only explanation I can fathom is that there were two of them: one who opened the white door from inside (and who stayed hidden in the bathroom, flat against the wall or behind the yellowish curtain) and another who snatched Lisbon from outside, from the window (which was masked by another yellowish curtain). The scene has been carefully set with the doves’ noises making any possible cracking of the door, the open windows allowing someone to enter and the curtains blocking her view of the outside. Of course, there’s always the possibility that it was a minion who helped RJ with that door; still, targeting Lisbon and talking to Jane is pretty personal, maybe too much to bring a mere follower.
Conclusion: there might be two RJ…
That may explain the hints we got during the episode: Jane asking if he has two heads at the first crime scene (and standing before a painting in which the widower-murderer resembled him very much, giving the illusion that he had indeed two heads) and in the second case, the fact that there were two killers (and the bartender). And the trick with the bathroom door can be related to a magician actually doing the trick (taking Lisbon) and his assistant distracting the audience with the mysteriously opened door.
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