Mentalist Black Helicopter’s Review


The FBI are sent to Juarez, Mexico where a US Attorney is found dead. The investigation leads consultant Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) to a free citizen’s farm in Gentry, Texas. Meanwhile, Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) enlists the help of ex-colleagues Grace (Amanda Righetti) and Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) to investigate the death of Osvaldo Ardiles.

Not so Humungous Review

(In which writer is under the residual influence of anesthesia and can’t be trusted to give a grade)

I can always count on Erika Green to bring a smile to my face. I enjoyed Jane’s interactions with his new team members and appreciated how we were cleverly given a chance to get to know them through Jane’s gifts to them: Jason Wylie (Joe Adler) got a Tamagotchi (electronic pets that were quite popular about ten years ago).  Dennis Abbott got a Voltron toy (based on the cartoon/anime series) while Agent Kim Fischer received a magic wand. Even Jane’s old comrade Kimball Cho received a gift in the form of jumping beans. One might wonder why Lisbon didn’t get anything. I’d just like to point out that way back in season one (Red Sauce) we were already shown what her secret desire was: the surprise pony Jane gave her for her birthday.. Also, it seems like the significance of the gifts was, as Abbott pointed out, was Jane attempting to fit into his team. Even Cho had expressed concern with that regards to Jane, hence his getting  a gift too despite having worked with Jane in the past. Lisbon has no such concerns.

The new dynamic between Jane and Lisbon, personified by the fact that she is no longer his boss continues to be a theme this season. In this episode it means that she will sometimes be delegated to tasks that exclude him. In this episode, Lisbon was stuck going through the victim’s files. Jane, when Cho and Fischer arrive at the crime scene without her, immediately asks where she is. Then back at HQ, he looks for her and we finally see him deposited on his new couch, with Lisbon working on her computer nearby. It’s a familiar scene, albeit less private than viewers are used to in Lisbon’s CBI office. Later Jane invites Lisbon to join him for a drive to Gentry, and when she refuses to ride his “silver bucket” Jane says “Fischer it is then”. Whether Jane’s intention was romantic or not, he was obviously trying to get a rise out of Lisbon. It was nice to see that she didn’t take the bait, calmly informing him that she was still working on a lead into Ardiles murder-waiting for a warrant from a judge. Jane then helpfully suggests she enlists LaRoche’s help whom we are told now works for internal affairs.

Pet Peeves

It’s no secret I adore LaRoche. I not only love the actor, but have found his character to be a major asset to the show ever since Daniel Cerone introduced him in Jolly Red Elf. That said, I don’t mind having him killed off (at least, not as much as I thought I would). But having it happen the way it did, with him leaving a nonsensical dying message was a real disappointment. As far as I could tell, LaRoche was killed by gunshot after he set off a trap rigged to shoot anyone who walked into it. So why the heck-how in the heck did he come to the conclusion that he was shot by Red John? Was there an RJ smiley that I somehow missed (all too possible since I’m not operating at full capacity at the moment). Or am I wrong in my original assumption that LaRoche said “Red John” right before he died? It just makes no sense. If I am wrong and LaRoche had in fact been saying something else, then the scene is just confusing, which is just as aggravating.

Fischer’s statement to Jane that he’s “sleeping on the job” was a bit grating. I mean, the man had been driving for five hours straight, Kim, during which you were sleeping (at least part of that time). Cut him some slack.

Best Scenes

The Winner: Dunbar and Swallow stole this one. When Fischer complains that Jane ditched her, Abbott seriously tells her that Jane is trying to fit in, brandishing Jane’s gift as proof. His boyish delight at Voltron “Not just a robot” was very funny…

Image by Chiziruchibi. Copyright Reviewbrain April, 2014. Not to be used without permission.

Image by Chiziruchibi. Copyright Reviewbrain April, 2014. Not to be used without permission.


…as was Fischer reiterating “Dennis, he ditched me. Seeing how annoyed she was, Abbott tells Fischer “that’s not cool” to which she responds “No! No, that is far,  far from cool!”. These two are growing on me 🙂


First Runner Up: Grace and Wayne’s visit to LaRoche. His calling Wayne “young Rigsby” and the respectful manner in which he greeted Van Pelt charmed me, as did the couple’s clandestine smiles to each other at his plight of a new job. Like Lisbon said, he lost his job because of her team and despite his amusing wariness towards them, there was no real malice in their interaction. I’m glad he remained a likeable character until the end. Did I mention I’ve always loved LaRoche?

Second Runner Up: Kim getting grilled at the market and Jane’s rueful expressions at her rookie mistake dealing with the mistrustful locals. Really well written, well acted scene by all involved including guest stars Kevin Daniels and Cindy Pickett.

Icings on the Cake

Tim Kang’s smile when Jane gave Cho the jumping beans. Who doesn’t love jumping beans?

Kim’s statement that she thought she could “change so many things” when she was little if she just had a magic wand. This statement just screamed “divorced parents” to me. Now whether my assumption on what the subtext meant is true or not doesn’t matter. Each viewer is free to draw their own conclusion and that’s what makes the scene so clever, I think. Lisbon’s discerning look at Kim also made for a nice little moment between the two.

 Best Lines

“Bad as this job is, it’s drama free.”- LaRoche to Wayne and Rigsby. Poor LaRoche L

“Been there” –Jane, to Alex, regarding his alcoholism. It’s an interesting statement; we’ve had no reason to think Jane was ever an alcoholic and while it could have been a convenient lie to get close to him, I think Jane here was referring to addiction in general.

“With the peanut butter people?” Lisbon, to Jane.

“Are you ever coming back?” Lisbon, to Jane. This seems like an innocent question but it subtly recalls Jane leaving Lisbon. Twice. Methinks someone might have abandonment issues now.

“I’m gonna need a black helicopter and a tank”.

“You can’t be on the road forever Patrick you gotta let it take you someplace.” Alex, to Jane. Now that Jane’s killed RJ (we think?) where is his next journey?

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13 responses to “Mentalist Black Helicopter’s Review

  • Baker Tunney (@_bluebaker)

    “[LaRoche] leaving a nonsensical dying message was a real disappointment … am I wrong in my original assumption that LaRoche said “Red John” right before he died?”

    LaRoche said “my dog.”

    It is the being he loves most in the world and his dying wish was for it to be looked after.


  • Claire

    I’m pretty sure LaRoche’s last words were “my dog.” He was worried about what would happen to his dog.

  • reviewbrain

    @claire and @_bluebaker Aww!! That definitely makes more sense. Thanks 🙂

  • reviewbrain

    And now I want Jane to adopt the adorable creature. Poor LaRoche 😦

  • reviewbrain

    Just realized I didn’t mention anything about who it was that’s responsible for Ardiles and JJ’s death. To be honest, I’m not overly invested in that subplot. I mean, we know that RJ still has a bunch of minions at large; the woman at the church where Jane and RJ had their final face off; the other members of the Blake association whose names were in the encrypted list; any one of them could have killed Ardiles and JJ. Like Violet mentioned in the previoius review, the more pressing question might be why? I mean I get why Lisbon and her team were targeted, but why the rest of the CBI employees and Ardiles?

  • Sadie Whitmore

    Perhaps I’m just resistant to change, but the new cast members have just not grown on me. Abbott is okay but Fischer seems to be Lisbon-lite (that is, what Lisbon used to be but without the appeal). I’m not really liking how Cho and Lisbon seem ti have been relegated to secondary roles. I’m not interested in what makes Kim tick until some of the air has been cleared with Jane and Lisbon. Innuendo won’t do. I’m not looking for a soap opera but some loose ends need to be tied up. How is the death of RJ affecting both of them? How did Lisbon remodel her life when she thought Jane was gone for good? Has the darkness in Jane (more than a decade’s worth, maybe even a lifetime) really been dispelled? There’s been a taste of it (the plane ride, the talk on Jane’s bed in the retention center) but I can’t think that Jane as a show pony for the FBI is the way for this show to go. If I could speak directly with the writers this is what I would say: The many layers of Jane are what I fell in love with. He is a complex character and that is what makes him interesting. I used to love to mentally go around the room or the crime scene and see if I could see what Jane, the mentalist was seeing. I loved the fact that Jane did things according to his very own moral compass and not the one dictated by society. I loved his growth with Lisbon’s influence and her loosening up with his. I don’t hate Kim, but I’ve invested five years in Lisbon and Cho.

  • KM

    Thank you for the review @ Reviewbrain!

    Unlike you I find the story line B to be the more interesting of the two. And, JJ caring for his dog in his final moments really got me.

    The solving of the case of the week was Jane’s and Lisbon’s doing. It was Lisbon who decided to check out the deceased uploaded photos of the “peanut butter people” that pointed Jane in their direction.

    I enjoyed the scene between Fischer and Abbott, but couldn’t help the comparison that Lisbon never went complaint after being ditched by Jane. And, thinking that Fischer should count herself lucky that she was left with her phone. Any way she got an apology. Something Jane does not often offer. And, something we cannot be assured that Lisbon has received from Jane. Firstly, because at that point the FBI was intercepting his letters. Secondly, because she deserves more than the few undiscript lines he wrote to her.

    And, you are correct he gave Lisbon a pony, and some could say a dance with the cool guy at a high school dance, but ’twas a bit rude to not bring her something as it singled her out.


  • windsparrow

    Good to have the Mentalist back, isn’t it? And it is good to have you back with the review, reviewbrain!

    I didn’t really catch what JJ said as he died, but I’m guessing those who heard “my dog” are right. I don’t know why, it just feels good.

    The thing about various people allied with the old CBI being hunted by a mysterious entity – well, it could be anything really. Volker? Sure. Just because he is (theoretically) behind bars doesn’t mean he has no reach. Remnants of the old Blake Society? Heck yeah. Especially because of Todd Johnson’s hints that the truth behind Red John would blow minds. I mean, really, what’s mind-blowing about organized corruption in law enforcement? I’m sure it’s really only a step or two more corrupt and organized than what really occurs, at least in America, these days – cops covering for each other, prosecutors turning blind eyes to their transgressions, etc. What if there were further ends, more wide-reaching, more Koch-brothers like? What if, as some speculated last season, Volker is somehow involved with Red John/the Blake Association?

  • windsparrow

    Forgot something – the shipper in me thinks what Lisbon wanted was something Jane had to give her in private.

    Heh heh heh.

  • Laura

    Hmm – this episode was just lacking. I found it very curious how much screen time the series regulars had by themselves – very little time was spent with more than one regular in any scene, especially if you don’t count Fischer as a regular (but alas, she is now a regular…)

    I am new to the Mentalist (the first episode I watched was The Great Red Dragon back in November). But I just watched seasons 1-5 during this last mid-season break. And I have very much enjoyed the insightful reviews on this site. However, while I liked the first three, I feel like the last few episodes of the reboot are heading in a troubling direction. Here are what I feel are the strengths of the show and how they’ve changed:

    Cho-Rigsby bromance – some of the best lines have come out of this relationship. With Cho, the straight-faced, straitlaced reformed tough, and the not-quite-suave but good-intentioned Rigsby out on the case, you have a great pair who can’t quite toe the line. In the reboot, Cho is an FBIbot with no personality who is essentially just another background gun there for the suspect takedown. Rigsby is picking up a slight homeless vibe and has taken leave of his senses as he has now ended two episodes in a row sneaking around a warehouse in the dark, armed with only a flashlight, fading to black with Rigs and a corpse. TWO in a ROW?!

    Mother Teresa – Lisbon’s willingness to put herself and her career on the line for her team has led to numerous situations that may be a bit implausible but they are at least endearing! But it really was the glue that holds the team together. Now, not only is Lisbon not in charge of anything, you don’t have that team vibe. I don’t understand Fischer’s role in the reboot, as she is the attractive female team lead who gets to head butt with Jane. So she is essentially Lisbon, but with Lisbon still there as team member? But Fischer will never be Mother Kim and you never get the vibe she would willingly break a rule for the team, much less put her career on the line. And I feel like her main acting skill is furrowing her brow. And not only did she steal Lisbon’s role, but Cho’s name: Kimball vs Kim? Really?

    The computer nerd – Sweet, naive Van Pelt harbors some serious ambition alongside her computer skills and ever-growing cop bada$$ery. Her and Rigsby’s relationship was a cute substitute to the relationship elephant in the room – Jisbon. But she has gotten quite shaggy and soft with her new job. Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure her FBI replacement, Wiley, secretly filmed the girl’s locker room in high school. He too gives off a naive vibe, but it seems in a more not-quite-housebroken way than Grace’s wholesome-with-a-bite naivety.

    Jisbon – The growing trust between these two has been a serious theme throughout the show. Of course, broken trust has also been part of that process. The will-they or won’t-they aspect is a bit of a moot point, because the show would be vastly different once they get together. And I do hope they get together – in the series finale. I liked the vibe that was building between them in the first 3 reboot shows, but it is almost like they don’t know each other in the last 2. I’m hoping the writers are driving a bit of a wedge between them so when Lisbon gets her new boyfriend arc, it isn’t quite an out of the blue kind of moment. But this better not be a more permanent direction.

    Jane – Of course, you can’t have the Mentalist without a mentalist. But I really feel these last couple of episodes have shown that this series really can’t rest only on Simon Baker to carry them. As fabulous as he is, it is the relationships between the whole ensemble cast that has made this show the great show it has been for so long. But chipping away at the glue that has held these guys together is exposing the reality that one character can not carry this series. Trying to replace Rigsby and Van Pelt with Wiley and Fischer is not remotely close to working, especially as their niches don’t fit with the team’s needs. Abbott so far is doing fine in the role of the revolving CBI-director role, IMO.

    Thanks for letting me vent! I love this show, and I’m glad I was able to watch back-to-back seasons. I just don’t think I would have had the patience to wait in real time! But I am concerned about the new direction of my new favorite show 😦 I’m starting to hope that season 6 is it – I don’t like when formerly excellent shows not only jump the shark, but play hopscotch with it.

  • Rose

    Thanks for the review, RB! A pleasant read for a Monday morning. 🙂

    @ Laura: I totally agree with practically everything you said. I am quite easy-going about new characters, and I am willing to give the reboot a chance, but I miss miss MISS the old set-up and the team vibe, as you explained so beautifully.

    That being so, I really didn’t know what to make of this episode. It felt rather disjointed – like I was watching entirely different episodes of TM 1.0 and TM 2.0 at the same time. Oddness. I would have preferred the old CBI team to be investigating the new conspiracy together, but I realise that the constraints of the new FBI set-up make that pretty difficult!

    And poor JJ! I was so sad he got killed off, and so sad about his dog! (I also immediately found myself hoping that one of the team might adopt it…) Coming so soon after Ardiles, I was all: “Is ANYONE from TM 1.0 going to be left standing?!”). But his demise was one of a number of plot holes that bothered me – even though usually I tend to skate over those sorts of thing. Would JJ really not have brought some kind of back-up with him? Did the peanut butter people really not realise that Jane was with Kim?! I mean, she went running right over to him and the Airstream in plain sight! Would the peanut butter leader really have let Jane in/take over so soon? I know he’s a Mentalist, but bloody hell.

    Regarding the lack of on-screen Jane & Lisbon: I didn’t mind to a certain extent because I think it’s quite ‘realistic’ that they would not be together all the time at the FBI. (Although obviously I prefer it when they’re together – things are always sparkier, more interesting, and good for shipping. 😉 I also didn’t mind, again to a certain extent, Kim getting more screen time – I’m hoping it’s only going to be once in a while, like when TM 1.0 used to focus on a particular team member occasionally, for a bit of back-story or something. I think the episode probably had a purpose in mind e.g. continuing Lisbon’s distancing from Jane in order for the new plot line to take shape. In that respect, I thought Lisbon’s reaction to Kim’s new toy to be quite telling. She was momentarily put out, I thought, but she is too generous of spirit to begrudge it. In fact, I think she saw, from an outside perspective, the effect Jane can have on people; the magic that he brings/unlocks. I would even go so far as to say that perhaps it was another mirroring effect: she is on the outside, looking in on someone who resembles her (former) self to a degree. That or the fact that Jane’s action has allowed her to understand Kim’s character better. There may have been another purpose in bringing Kim to the fore like that, but I’m not sure what exactly.

    And lastly, best moment hands-down: Abbott producing the Voltron robot and the transformation on his face from “serious FBI hard nut” to “excited man-child”. Amazing.

  • sylvia weinzettl

    Good review albeit short. I hope you are well reviewbrain . Laura, I love your comment about not only jumping the shark, but playing hopscotch with it. I too miss the old gang and even Jane’s darkness as the vehicle behind the show. I wish he would at least clean up a bit and maybe show the old camaraderie with Cho and Lisbon.

  • bloomingviolet2013

    Thanks a lot for this very interesting review! I’d so great to read you again! I only have a few remarks to add (and sorry for being a little late for the party! Life got in the way…)

    Firstly, I found it very interesting that the “hammer” idea was again discreetly used in this episode. Indeed, Jane was holding a hammer when we saw that he had joined the community. In ‘The Golden Hammer’, the tool was supposed to represent Jane’s tendency to hold on his old habits (namely the rules he fixed for his old friendship with Lisbon). Here, we can spot many allusions to his old habits regarding his job too, such as telling “I’m with them, not of them” (reminding the many times he put emphasis on his independent status) and him ditching Kim… It shows that part of him is still clinging to his old consultant persona, refusing to move on. And the case also oddly reminds of him, with the killer telling to her leader “I’m so sick of you telling everybody what they want, what they think”, emphasizing the fact that “what each of them want” is an important theme of the episode, underlined by Jane’s gifts to his team members. “Telling everybody what they want, what they think” was precisely what Jane has been doing. Jane’s tactics to interact with people (infuriating/charming them) haven’t changed. As Lisbon (a bit unfairly) commented before, he’s still controlling and bossy…
    Furthermore, the case also presented us with a criminal on the run who had no intention of turning herself on, going as far as telling it was all the victim’s fault for finding her and threatening her haven. This shows Lisbon’s underlying fears of Jane running away from her again as you pointed out (and it was alluded to by him ditching Kim like he did to Lisbon on the cliff. It was a major moment between them and it’s still here under the surface, since Jane felt the need to apologize for it again in his last letter). But the similar situation in the case also insist on the most important theme since ‘My Blue Heaven’: freedom.

    Which leads to another aspect of this freedom theme, represented by the magic wand Jane gave to Fischer: the wand obviously refers to Jane telling her that he knew her real self in ‘Green Thumbs’. As a kid, she wanted to make herself invisible and transport herself to another place: now, as a FBI agent, she’s still trying to make her real self invisible by putting up a façade of professionalism. Like back then, the image she’s trying to project to others doesn’t match who she really is. And, interestingly, her wand is a butterfly, which fits the meaning of this symbol in Jane’s storyline: the animal represents the freedom to do what one really wants deep down. Ever since ‘Blood and Sand’, butterflies have been making appearance to hint at Jane’s hidden desire to move on from his quest (‘Devil’s Cherry’). Plus, like in ‘Blood and Sand’, the case here features someone who was running away from their past by building a new life in a closed-off community; therefore, the wand here echoes that very first butterfly, which hints at what Jane really wants deeps down, just like he unveiled his new colleagues’ secret wishes… what he’s still looking for is to move on with his life. In a way, it’s as if the hammer balances the butterfly: Jane wants to move on, but part of him is still stuck in the past –cf. the discussion about emotional growth and Jane trying to recreate his past CBI life in his new setting.

    Also, Sadie wrote: “I loved the fact that Jane did things according to his very own moral compass and not the one dictated by society. I loved his growth with Lisbon’s influence and her loosening up with his. I don’t hate Kim, but I’ve invested five years in Lisbon and Cho.”

    My take on Fischer’s role would perhaps be more nuanced. Indeed, the fact that Lisbon was able to bond with Fischer enhanced how similar Kim is to Lisbon’s old self. That “make myself invisible, transport myself to another place” line echoes somehow Lisbon’s past determination to hide her deep anger and frustration under professionalism, like in ‘Red Badge’. She was also trying to make herself invisible by sticking to rules and her team-leader façade: it was Jane who helped her to be more sincere with herself and get some peace. And the “princess stupid nonsense” coupled with the fairy wand also match Jane’s perception of her (Glinda/angry little princess)… Kim then indirectly enlightens Lisbon’s progression: now, she doesn’t try as hard to put up a façade and she’s not as controlling as the other woman may be with Jane. And, in a way, it may also hint at the unanswered question lingering in the viewers’ mind: what is it that *Lisbon* really want? As you pointed out, the presents reminded of the pony Jane got Lisbon for a past birthday (fulfilling a childhood secret wish), but they also echo the gifts Jane got for the team at the Museum in ‘Red in Tooth and Claw’. Back then he didn’t get anything for Lisbon either, even though each gift hold a special meaning. In fact, he bought some dino jellies for himself, in order to use them to play poker with her: her present was therefore some shared time with him. Here, Jane didn’t give her anything onscreen either, but since she mentioned the “peanut butter people” when he called her, we can guess he talked to her about the food he bought in the market… did he promise to give her some? Either way, the parallel with the jellies may hint that what she longs for is more clarity in her relationship with the man, since she was worried enough to ask him if he would come back (plus it was hinted at by details such as her giving him socks or mentioning a “date”… She’s trying to get his attention in spite of wanting to distance herself).

    Thus, it seems that Fischer’s scenes implicitly tell us things about Lisbon, just as the cases usually enlighten Jane’s situation…

    Plus, the contrast between Kim’s authoritarian image (like the victim) and controlling tendencies with the magic wand put emphasis on the fact that she’s trying too hard and that Jane sees right through her. It’s another aspect of a recurring situation in TM 2.0 since it looks like every episode features a kind of undercover job: Kim in the island hiding her goals behind a rendition of her true self; Abbott asking Jane to pretend to be a psychic for the victim’s wife in ‘Green Thumb’ and the neighbor ending up being more than meets the eye; Jane faking an interest in dating in ‘White Lines’; Lisbon disguising herself as a spy in ‘The Golden Hammer’; here Jane getting inside the community… Each of these situations develops the notion of faking something: in other words, in the general storyline, it indicates that appearances of normalcy hide some very real underlying tensions…
    I think Kim is really taking Lisbon’s place: she has taken over her role as a leader who is often conned by Jane. This is no longer Lisbon’s role. And Lisbon’s not teaming up with him anymore and Jane regrets it (telling her he enjoyed spending time with her in the previous episode/ inviting her to a road trip). But it also indicates that secrecy is no longer needed: it’s no longer the two of them fighting against a conspiracy. There is no longer any direct and overwhelming threat looming over them (even though a new threat is indeed rearing its ugly head). Thus, they need to build again their relation based on a new basis, as it has been commented before. That may be the meaning behind Jane singling Lisbon out: he has been *giving* things to others in the form of presents and lunch, but he’s *asking* for something from her (to send him helicopters/help by sharing his plan with her/telling her about the “peanut butter people”; asking her to come with him). Again, it’s remind of her accusations that he’s controlling, secretive and bossy: he’s trying to make her subtly see he’s in need of her help, he’s sharing his scheme with her only with her and trying to treat her like a partner again. Recalibrating things between them is a *long* process but it took them years to get there, so it would be unrealistic if it took them less than a few episodes to get to other grounds…

    Last thing: is it me, or has Lisbon been keeping things from Jane in the past too? Her embarrassment when he mentioned LaRoche may hint that she didn’t tell him about what’s really inside the Tupperware… or am I totally mistaken?

    (Sorry if my comment seems to be a little all over the place. Thanks again for the review!!! 🙂 )

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