Mentalist Themes in Season 6


This is dedicated to the commenters neither Reviewbrain nor I have been able to reply to in the course of the last few months (sorry guys, this summer has been hell!): Lou Ann, Tringo, Rose, Windsparrow, KM, Mosquitoinuk, Phoenixx, Mentalista, OrangeChill, Carla Oliveira, Jean-Noël, Valentine0214, Moliere, Agnes, Little Үүрцайх, Patricia Korth, Kilgore Trout, Sara C, Ezza Belle, Chokulit and Eff in To! A belated but warm welcome to the blog to the newcomers! (I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone!)
(As S7 is aired earlier than expected, I had to wrote this post in a rush, sorry for the mistakes and horrible grammar! ;P)

 

1) FLOWERS

The flowers aren’t overflowing this season, but there are still some intriguing occurrences. The season opened with ‘The Desert Rose’ and the flowers growing among the victim’s bones painted a “kinda beautiful and weird” picture, to quote the goulish Brett Partridge. Interestingly, those creepy flowers were one of the major clues Jane bases his investigation on, plus they were associated with the desert, a location closely related to the Lorelei arc where flowers made their major appearance, as the desert was the setting for the ‘Crimson Hat’. In hindsight, those might have somewhat hinted both at the end of Jane’s crusade against RJ (given how close he came to him when he met his girl) and at getting closer emotionally to Lisbon (they were holding hands in the desert after he’s been rescued from Lorelei). Plus, in the same episode, among other red object in the background, red flowers could be seen behind a window during the second case they’re investigating, suggesting danger. And commenter Taissa remarked that there were a lot of references to gardening too (“the victim’s last name and the flowers, one of the suspect’s last name was Green, the bartender wore a green tank top, the widow’s home had a lot of green decor”), a notion also developed after RJ got his comeuppance.
In ‘Black-Winged Red-Bird’ and in ‘Red Listed’, flowers served not really as a symbol, but rather as prop: as Reviewbrain pointed out in the review for the former , the flower on the bedside table in Lisbon’s hospital room suggested that the team has been visiting her while she had been unconscious, whereas the white and purple bouquet of lilies and hydrangeas that Jane brings to Hightower’s aunt Ruby hinted subtly that he might have been more than a simple coworker to Madeleine, possibly even a lover, which would help him win the lady’s goodwill…Later, in ‘Fire and Brimstone’, Stiles hided in a truck in the middle of some white orchids and red roses, a mortuary reminder of past seasons before the most stimulating and ambiguous of the remaining suspects met his end… And maybe also a hint that Jane is at a crossroad in this episode: either he ends up alive and successful in his quest (the orchids, which were a symbol of hope) or he’s about to be overwhelmed by the red color (the roses). In the second part of the season, in ‘My Blue Heaven’, Reviewbrain also remarked that Lisbon was gazing pensively at a bouquet of white flowers in the corner of her office. Whether or not they were sent by Jane (who admitted seconds before that he would miss her in a flashback from his last phone talk with her after he killed McAllister), that moment obviously hinted at her quiet dissatisfaction with her new life. Later, flowers are again used to draw attention to a situation: in ‘White Lines’, Jane was trying to emphasize his supposed interest in dating Krystal by buying her flowers whose colors happened to match the titles of the previous episodes (red, blue, a green-themed one and white), at the moment when she was shooting someone. And, later again, Kim brought flowers to Grace and Wayne at the hospital in ‘White As The Driven Snow’, a nice way to bit them goodbye from the show… All these cases don’t focus on the flowers themselves, yet they give a clue about a character’s state of mind or their circumstances.
But, while these occurrences are rather anecdotic, flowers make another more instructive appearance in the turning point of Jane’s new FBI career. In ‘Violets’, they represent modesty and faithfulness (a perfect description of Teresa) and tender love from someone who dare not confess (which is what Jane is feeling towards her). Plus, as a painting, those Violets find an echo in another portrait: as Jane hands back the painting the victim made to his widow, he makes peace with his past with Angela, since both loving marriages ended in a violent death. In contrast, the Violets hint at Jane’s feelings for Lisbon and the fact that he’s in danger to lose her to another man, like Monet lost his model… From that perspective, violets are coming close to one possible meaning for the orchids from the Lorelei arc: the underlying hope for being set free from his self-imposed limitations while still feeling unable to leave them behind. Even more since orchids sometimes mean “new beginnings” in the language of flowers.

 

2) TWINS :

Another long running, albeit more recent theme involves twins as a new aspect of duality. It starts a bit oddly in the first case of the premiere since the murdering widower’s portrait is placed just behind Jane and looks like him. It’s underlined when Jane remarks bluntly to the tech looking at him that he doesn’t have “two heads”… Like the widower from the case, he is a prideful man, whose thirst for fame caused his wife’s death… and it’s the same arrogance and recklessness that will drive him to argue later with Lisbon, resulting in RJ getting his clutches on her. Not to mention that the two faces aspect reminds of two interesting parallel pointed out respectively by commenters Rose UK and Alutran. On one hand, they might refer to the two sides of the same coin, an allusion to Jane and RJ being quite alike. On the other, the Roman god Janus, whose name sounds similar to the consultant, has two faces on his head, one looking forward, the other behind, since he’s the god of opening and closure, of thresholds and doors –some major points of Jane’s story.

The whole twin theme has been brought in the previous season by the reference to ‘A Tale Of Two Cities’ by Dickens, that Jane and Cho had been reading. It culminates in ‘Red Listed’ as it’s revealed that Kirkland, a suspect in Jane’s list of possible candidates for RJ, is also in a revenge rampage set off by the murder of his twin brother by the serial killer. This time, Jane and Bob are also entwined in their common quest: “only one will get his revenge” as the agent tells him. As he does with RJ, Jane represents the light, while Bob is his cruelest sadistic darker counterpart.

This continued and nuanced duality forebodes the trick the serial killer uses in ‘Red John’ by making Bertram pose as the villain. It is hinted at by Bertram using the name of ‘Thomas’ as a fake identify in ‘The Red Dragon’, since Thomas The Apostle is called “Didymus”, meaning “twin” (thanks to Shady007 for the reference). This name also happens to be McAllister’s first name –indeed, Bertram is actually posing as a smoke screen for him- and coincidentally, two “Tommy” had managed to get under Lisbon’s skin at some point (her little brother and her own nemesis Volker).

Last, not least, Jane, as an agent of justice fighting the evil “Tyger”, is called a “lamb” by Hightower’s aunt. In Blake’s poetry, this animal is the counterpart of the tiger, as well as in the Bible, it’s an image of the Savior, who will cause the Beast’s demise.

 

3) HUNTING

Tiger and beast also fit in another theme as these animals are predators, just like RJ is. Both he and Jane are chasing each other and in this season it became even more apparent that each planned to kill. Hence the hunting metaphor: both Jane and Red John are simultaneously the other’s hunter and prey, with the latter targeting Lisbon while goading Jane into trying to “catch” him first.

This tension is swimming right under the surface in the talk that Jane has with McAllister, who at this point is only a suspect among others, about hunting in ‘Wedding in Red’. The friendly sheriff asks him if he’s taken hunting as a hobby, like him, and Jane answer that he doesn’t like “the skinning and gutting”, which could be seen as a description of RJ’s gruesome murders. McAllister good-naturally answers that it “takes a certain stomach for that”, accentuating that he doesn’t mind getting his hands bloodied. Same thing happens in ‘Fire and Brimstone’: an innocent deer is targeted by Sheriff McAllister’s shotgun while he’s sitting in his patrol car just like the episode ‘Red Moon’ back in season 3started with a deer standing in the wildlife as Jane and Lisbon were passing by. The detail enlightens McAllister’s creepiness, his lack of scruples both in using his work to practice a pastime of his and in exploiting the unfair advantage being hidden in a car gives him over the defenseless animal…

Meanwhile, Jane is exploiting his knowledge about a potential phobia from the serial killer. He’s following his tracks and it ends with him hounding his running prey in the cemetery where he managed to corner him. And while the squeamishness he admitted about “gutting” seemed in opposition with the talk he had with Lisbon in Season 1 ‘Red Flame’ (“I’m gonna cut him open and watch him die slowly like he did with my wife and child”), it finds an echo in the way he finally killed McAllister. After shooting him, he strangled him to death, while the other had been running away with bloodied hands that frightened bystanders… It alludes to the handshake mentioned by Lorelei (and to McAllister hauling him up from the roof he was falling from in ‘Wedding in Red’), plus this detail is once again reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth and her fixation with the incriminating blood on her hands, in the exact moment Jane’s Hamlet-like quest for revenge comes to an end. Yet, even after things have settled down and Jane started working with the FBI, the guilt hinted at by this reference has not completely disappeared which is why the Bard is again quoted in ‘Silver Wings of Time’ (“the lady doth protest too much” from ‘Hamlet’).

 

4) THE GAME

The hunting theme is closely related to the various games alluded to in the course of the series. Indeed, that’s how RJ sees his relation with Jane, whose brilliant mind poses him as a worthy adversary: “Red John’s Rules” has made it clear and the premiere follows in this direction. He’s playing a deadly game with Jane, baiting him with Lisbon’s phone after he’s attacked her, leaving him a macabre post-it in a horrible mini-treasure hunt to find Sophie Miller’s butchered head in her oven… Even the “tyger tyger” password has a childish play vibe to it.
When the consultant gets closer to the truth, RJ uses a daring bluff by faking his own death and using Bertram (a poker player) to cover his tracks. And, whereas the sheriff stated that “game’s game, right” while talking about hunting in ‘Wedding in Red’, it takes Jane’s willpower in ‘Red John’ to tell the other man that “it’s not a game” when they finally meet face to face without any mask in between.

Yet, the game is still on after Jane’s made his grand escape. The stakes are different, he’s trying to win back a real fulfilling life from the clutches of the dead man who has taken his past, but he’s still playing, in many senses than one: he’s trying to cheat in a game against despair, starring in the ever-present part of the charming unruly consultant, or maybe just tricking his new playmates when he showers them with childish toys.

The impression is subtly deepened by some killers who lost to Jane’s winning hand: in ‘The Golden Hammer’, the murderer stated that it was a game, just like Haibach pretended that there was “no game” on his part, while he was enjoying playing them as fools in ‘White as the Driven Snow’. This may have ended in the season finale when Jane invented a last treasure hunt to convince Lisbon to stay by his side and he was forced to reveal the truth. Is there any use now for the grand game of lies between them?

 

5) BIRDS

This one theme has taken a very particular meaning since the previous season. Indeed, after Lorelei had sung like a bird both for Jane (giving him an hint which started his list of suspects) and for RJ who used her to make his threatening video, references to winged animals have been spiraling from different ideas. First, those allude to hunting, mixing preys and more aggressive ones. There are the pigeons and ducks that the characters feed (Lisbon’s childhood memory is feeding pigeons with her mother as she told in the S5 finale; Jane feeds ducks then pigeons later), plus the partridge and the drone in ‘Black-Winged Redbird’. Then, as the pace picks up and Jane comes to know some of RJ’s particularities, like whistling like a bird, the animals tend to hint at the phobia RJ suffers of. Coincidentally, doves are a symbol of innocence and they’re messengers from God in the Bible, just like angels are… Jane comments in ‘Wedding in Red’ that he has no wings, comparing himself to an angel precisely, not to mention that there’s one on the stained-glass window inside the church. In a biblical perspective, pigeons are thus in direct opposition with the winged ‘Great Red Dragon’ (painted by Blake and briefly alluded to by the Chinese dragon seen in the restaurant where Jane meets Hightower in ‘Red Listed’)

Birds appear again in ‘Silver Wings of Time’ and in ‘Blue Bird’, hinting at Jane’s desire for freedom and living again. In that aspect, this theme slowly takes a similar meaning than the butterfly one, which indicated his hope for putting his past at peace, for metamorphosing his dark thoughts into a sparkling lightness. No wonder then if many serious talks between him and Lisbon take place in flying planes or involve helicopters, like the dressing down in ‘Green Thumb’; Lisbon uncharacteristically refusing to go on a road trip with him in ‘Black Helicopters’; his fake enthusiastic proposition of getting to the crime scene by helicopter to help Lisbon go to her date with Pike in ‘Forest Green’; finally his confession about loving her in ‘Blue Bird’… They are symptoms of his passivity until he decides to take action.

 

6) RELIGION

While religion and faith were hinted at in the previous seasons (“Saint Teresa” and her cross necklace; the medallion given to Jane in S3; the meeting in a church in ‘The Crimson Hat’; RJ’s minions’ faith in him and his tastes in religion-oriented art, like Blake’s poetry and Bach’s music; the talks about good and evil and about afterlife and so on) it has always been quite a background theme compared to others, mostly underlining the cult-like influence of the serial killer and Jane’s craving for redemption. Those two opposite drives went repeatedly through Jane’s psyche, making him go all the way from violence, revenge, wanting to be at the center of the world’s attention, like his nemesis, to a pull towards salvation and wanting to believe that beyond the grave his family may have forgiven him and may wish for him to move on. Nevertheless, this theme is strikingly deepened in season 6, making it one of the most visible features of the final battle between the two enemies.

Indeed, the deadly encounter between the light of Jane’s justice and the darkness provided by RJ is the main event of the first half of the season. Thus, it’s logical that many things foreshadow it to that one way of another. For instance, Bob Kirkland’s twin brother was called Michael and therefore shared his name with God’s Archangel who fought the demon during the Apocalypse. Both Michael and Bob prefigure Jane’s actions then.

Moreover, as commenter Anomaly very accurately and comprehensively noticed, flowers found a parallel in trees: the “woods” were mentioned in various occasions in relation with Jane’s suspects for RJ (McAllister refers to his “neck in the woods” in ‘Black-Winged Redbird’ and in ‘Red Listed’, the investigation concludes that Benjamin Marx, kidnapped by Kirkland, was kept “in the woods”). Three kinds of trees were more precisely referred to: pine (Rosalind described RJ as smelling of “pine and nails and earth”; pine sap and pine needle found in Marx’ body led to Kirkland’s location), oak (in ‘The Red Tattoo’, Kira Tinsley is located at “1065 Oak Terrace” and later a sign reads “Napa Valley Sheriff Blue Oak Substation” on a building McAllister exits from in ‘Fire and Brimstone”) and cedar: Jane has a propriety in 1309 Cedar Street, Malibu. Those trees have probably been chosen carefully, as they are all biblical trees (for instance pines are mentioned in Nehemiah 8:15 ; Isaiah 60:13 and in 41:19 in association with the cedar ; oaks in Genesis 35:4 and 35:8 ; Isaiah 2:13 and 44:14 in association with cedars again, among many other occurrences…) Cedar is rot-proof and as thus the temple of Jerusalem was built using it (2 Samuel 7:1-16;1 Kings 6). The fact that the guest house depending from his Malibu home is located in Cedar Street therefore hints that’s the place where his family was sacrificed in the name of pride is sacred for him, like it shows that he’s standing on the side of divine justice. Moreover, this address where Jane sets his trap echoes 1309 Orchid Lane in ‘There Will Be Blood’. The parallel is intriguing because Jane’s decisive step towards identifying RJ was taken because of Lorelei in that arc. Lastly, Haibach brings down the last consequences of Jane’s ruthless and obsessive investigation on the old team by taking Grace to the woods too (‘White as the Driven Snow”). It becomes therefore obvious that he’s reaching out to the conclusion of his quest, which started years before with that fateful TV show –where coincidentally in a deleted scene he mentioned a citrus tree too in the lawn of the sad little man’s house, opening up a citrus theme that had been running for many seasons.

The allusions to the Bible culminate in the three episodes ending the RJ storyline: « Fire and Brimstone” and “The Great Red Dragon” are direct references to the Book of Revelation, respectively to the wrath of God/the villains’ punishment and to the personification of Evil itself. It’s been building up for the start of the season, with McAllister saving Jane in a church, with the hints at angels and pigeons, with the lambs (Jane and Bertram’s accomplice “Cordero”), the religious/satanistic ceremony at Visualize, the red tattoos appearing as an interpretation of the “mark of the beast”-the “666” in the abandoned house where RJ attacks Partridge and Lisbon in the premiere…

These hints lead viewers to understand that beneath Jane’s quest for revenge, the age old epic battle between Good and Evil is once again in play, tying up both the RJ arc (the Book of Revelation is supposedly written by John, which may or not be an allusion to RJ pulling the strings in the shadows for what he had planned to be his grand escape) and the long standing reference to Blake, whose illustrations for this part of the Bible are very famous. Hence Jane, the improbable angel who defeated the beast, ended up in a “Heaven” afterwards: he avenged his family, gotten some peace of mind, and got rid of the evil… Last, not least, ‘Silver Wings of Time’ later serves as a illustration of Jane’s dilemma in relation to his feelings towards Lisbon and his late wife, because the widower cheated on his spouse and was indirectly responsible for her death: coincidently, in this episode, Jane brought the real murderer to justice and thus saved an innocent named “Cruz” (“cross” in Spanish).

 

7) THE OCEAN

“My Blue Heaven” is precisely linked to another long standing theme: Jane’s pull towards everything ocean-related. Him preparing his goodbye to Lisbon on a cliff facing a sunset in ‘Fire and Brimstone’ -as an echo to his escapade with Lorelei in ‘Red Sails in the Sunset’- ; him sending her seashells and letters about dolphins from his island; the walk on a beach leading to his failed plan to get her to dump Pike in Islamorada and the ‘Conch Republic” airport: all those steps show that he’s been reaching out for her. Indeed, his stay in the island represented his isolation from his everyday world and how he was stuck in neutral, but his attempts at sending her sea-themed signals also echo the first hope he glimpsed in ‘Blood and Sand’.

His hesitation between two impulses is hinted at in the FBI: he’s jumping in the water from Krystal’s yacht while waiting for Lisbon to rescue him and the killer in ‘The Golden Hammer’ ends up trying to escape too by running through a fountain… All in all, as Rose UK pointed out, this travels through the world -and through the contradictory desires of his souls- mimic somehow Odysseus’ s journey on contrary waves, as it’s indirectly hinted at by the mosaic featuring the Medusa in the finale, another mythological character… He’s been waiting and longing on the beaches of the mysterious island owned by Calypso, rescued by his own Nausicaa, the aptly named Fischer, and led to Abbott/Alcinous, king of the Phaeacians-like FBI, who helped him come home. Unsurprisingly, Lisbon has been waiting for him as a very reluctant and grumpy new Penelope, in anticipation of her Odysseus finding a sneaky way to try and get rid of the pushy suitor (coincidentally named “Pike”) who tries to convince her to get into a rushed marriage… The notion of travelling and walking forward on a path is further emphasized by Jane’s shoes –which he only takes off at the very end, when he decided to take action and stop procrastinating- and by the socks she’s given him as a welcome back gift.

 

8) OPENING DOORS

As new possibilities present themselves to Jane, more and more doors are slowly opened. In ‘The Desert Rose’, great emphasis is put on Lisbon opening the door which hided a mortally wounded Partridge and the suddenly opened door at her back distracted her enough for the killer to attack. Later, in ‘The Red Tattoo’, RJ’s fatal mistake was to assault Kira Tinsley in her home: we could see her opening her door to let him enter, before he killed her. ‘Fire and Brimstone’ then begins with Jane making preparations for ambushing his remaining suspects in his property in Malibu and things come full circle as he watches the shadow of a man (presumably RJ or one of the suspects) behind the glass of the door of his guest house; he’s waiting for him, having set things up to get his enemy a nasty surprise, just like RJ did in the pilot by hiding the corpses of his wife and daughter behind a closed bedroom door.

Yet, even after he got rid of the monster, Jane couldn’t really bring himself to trust life enough to open doors and step into new potential fulfilling situations again. He’s just trying to recreate his CBI cocoon in another place, because he cannot manage to open himself to dangerous new promises… Hence him talking to Lisbon through the door of her room at the ‘Blue Bird Inn’, underlining his incapacity to fully open up and tell her the truth at the critical moment when he realized how badly he messed things up. Fortunately, he manages to take the step and runs to the plane she is leaving in, banging on the ultimate door –with a red circular security sign painted on, like a smiley face- and finally opening it: he opens the lid he put on his feels in front of Lisbon, telling her the truth of his heart and accepting to have a new life with her that he wasn’t sure that he deserved so far.
It therefore concludes one of the major aspects of the freedom notion Jane has been struggling with from the start, hinted at with those closed doors, safes, locks and keys, cages, bounds, lifts which doors, as Rose pointed out, often were shown closing on him as he stepped in.

9) PATTERNS reflecting Jane’s state of mind: obsession, painful grieving/punishment, worry and thirst for affection

– LISTS

Lists and notebooks have been scattered through the seasons to show Jane’s obsession with investigating the serial killer and season 6 is no exception: there is the list of suspects he finished in the season 5 finale which plays a major role in unmasking RJ and which is used by Kirkland too. After he gets to kill his nemesis, lists keep appearing, showing the influence his past still has on him: the demands he writes on a napkin –which mean he’s coming back to the more familiar grounds of investigation-, then the fake list of Blake association members he threatens Abbott with…

It’s also interesting that those lists are basically Jane still processing obsessively the dreadful letter RJ had left for him on that fateful bedroom door: hence the many writing made on the show, especially on walls (“666” in the premiere). Here, Jane writes letters to Lisbon after leaving her then tries to get her to stay with a fake letter supposed to have been sent by a serial killer in the making. Again, it looks like that things are coming full circle.

– CUTTING FINGERS OFF

But obsession with his past isn’t the only thing threatening Jane’s calm: severed body parts were already present in the previous season (in ‘Red Handed’ and in the case of LaRoche and the tongue) and here RJ decapitated Sophie Miller, but there’s a curious insistence on trying to cut fingers off. Back in the Lorelei arc, that act showed a level of cold-blooded violence that aimed to punish Jane for misbehaving by refusing RJ’s friendship. Here, it seems to snowball from another of Jane’s grand plans: Kirkland tortures the other suspects on Jane’s list by cutting their thumbs off to get them to reveal who is RJ before killing them. Later, Haibach got his revenge for his lost finger by trying to do the same to Jane again… Violence breeds violence and hurt people tend to act out by hurting others they deem responsible for their suffering, like Jane has been doing for years.

The same kind of brutality pops up in the middle of his more peaceful FBI life, with the victim’s body parts found in ‘Green Thumb’, hinting that Jane’s still under the repercussion of his previous choices and feels helpless to regain a fulfilling life. Like those thumb-less men, he’s also incapacitated to some extent.

– PHONE CALLS (at critical moments)

Another intriguing pattern is the number of phone calls between Jane and Lisbon at meaningful moments. Not that they say anything particularly long or enlightening, actually: it’s mostly the silences and unacknowledged truths between them that make sense.

In the previous seasons, it happened many times, when Lisbon was in danger and calling Jane for help or to reassure him (‘Redwood’, ‘Red All Over’, ‘Strawberry and Cream’ I and II). Here, their miscommunication issues start in the premiere: after arguing with Jane about his controlling ways, Lisbon falls in the trap set by RJ, leading Jane to desperately try to call her, only to hear finally the serial killer answer her phone telling him ironically that she couldn’t answer right now but he could always take a message…

Later, after he left her stranded on the road to set his own trap, Jane says his farewell to her in a rather cold voice… Which contrasts with his breathless, emotional voice telling her in a low tone “I’ll miss you” after killing his nemesis, when he called her to tell her he made it and was safe.

These instances showed his worry for her and how much he cared, yet they don’t stop after his successful return. In ‘White Lines’, he pretended to hang up on Lisbon while on his date with Krystal, while he actually was actually letting her hear what was going on in order for her to send him some help. Cho commented on his poor communications skills then, which didn’t stop the consultant from trying to call her after she left in a fit of rage in ‘Blue Bird’, only to go to voicemail… But more on this later.

– FOOD AND AFFECTION
Like it did in season 2, food seems to have taken a discreet added meaning. The first half of season 6 involves a number of occurrences in which food is left half-eaten: Lisbon leaves her muffin untouched in ‘The Desert Rose’, while Jane feeds his to the ducks in ‘Wedding in Red’ and PI Kira Tinsley can’t eat hers in ‘The Red Tattoo’. Plus the uncharacteristic act of Jane biting into an apple and sending it crashing into a wall might remind viewers of the biblical fruit of knowledge, since he’s about to learn RJ’s secret identity… which might or not have been a reply of the “original sin” he committed by badmouthing RJ years before (and mentioning a tree bearing another kind of fruit in the aforementioned deleted scene from the pilot).

But once the RJ case is closed, food is eaten onscreen when affection is most needed: Jane fights loneliness in his sea-side haven by having dinner with a stranger, while Lisbon denies her regrets in front of her dinner guests Grace and Wayne. Both end the evening drinking, making even more transparent their sadness at being separated. When Pikes makes his grand entrance, he starts his seduction by flirting over the phone, offering her the comfort of “pancakes”, when she’s been left “hungry” by a sleeping Jane in an empty house –a symbol of her relation with the man: she’s yearning for more, but he doesn’t give her what she’s craving. Yet her later dates with the dark-haired agent are nice but hardly emotionally fulfilling obviously, since she cannot get over Jane, just like the food Pikes offers her: popcorn, a granola bar… Same thing when Jane slowly starts his seductive counter-attack: he has dinner with her at ‘Il Tavolo Bianco’ on Abbott’s insistence and he brings her cannoli before getting cold feet… And his last devious scheme involved a meal in a romantic restaurant he never got to share with her.

In season 2, those allusions hinted at (a lack of) communication; here, those are answers to new expectations: Jane wants to fit in with his new team and brings Cho and Kim lunch in ‘Black Helicopters’, whereas Lisbon feels a deep new need for affection she’s decided to fill. Pike is hell bent in taking care of it, thus the idea of him offering her food, and Jane fails to do it twice, before realizing that what she really wants is not the same fake appearances and lies he’s been feeding her so far but only truth and love.

– THE DATING GAME

But those struggles don’t stop the characters from playing a game of manipulations, half-lies and prodding by dating other people: ever since Abbott started referring to Jane and Lisbon as “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”, both have been seeking attention by flooding their conquests. In the island, Jane chooses Kim as a closest substitute for Teresa: he obviously isn’t eager to let Lisbon know about this detail, but he’s willing to rub his date with the gorgeous Krystal to her face… Lisbon does the same by mentioning her ill-fated dinner with Osvaldo to him, then by trying to goad him into reacting to her relationship with Pike… A relationship that doesn’t deter her from accepting two work-related yet date-like outings with her consultant in ‘Il Tavolo Bianco’ and in Islamorada (“it’s a date”).

Of course, what makes this little game deeper is the underlying idea that both want to move on and recreate a home, but they’re unsure of the other’s wishes… Hence the notion of guilt brought by spouses who acted badly towards their companion–particularly in ‘Silver Wings of Time’, but also in ‘Green Thumb’ and in ‘Blue Bird’ for instance. It resumes a long-standing pattern developed in season 1, but here, it focuses more on new possibilities. In retrospect, guilt becomes a normal step of moving on, a step Jane manages to take to move forward. It gets obvious in the decisive ‘White as The Driven Snow’: fighting the ghastly worry of not being able to protect his family guilt (something Haibach’s sister had been blaming herself for, leading her to land him an hand in his criminal career), Rigsby managed out of pure will-power to save his baby and wife. This feat undoubtedly led Jane to come to terms with his own failure as he helped the man in trying to find the lost member of his makeshift family.

 

10) TRUST , PARTNERSHIP AND TRUTH
As Reviewbrain pointed out very early on, there always has been a tension between Jane and Lisbon regarding trust and their tendency to want control over the other. The shadow over their growing affecting has been declined in many shades like Jane telling the truth or lying; their status as coworkers varying from being boss/subaltern to getting to rely on the other as a partner… More often than not, the quarrel is centered on Jane not letting Lisbon in on when he’s setting his most daring schemes…

It comes as pretty harsh in the season premiere: she’s rebelling against Jane giving her orders and acting as her boss and a two years absence hasn’t quelled that fear since she’s still telling him off for it in the plane in ‘Green Thumb’ and alluding to this penchant of his in the fish bowl scene at the beginning of ‘The Golden Hammer’. Jane’s clumsy communication skills regarding everything Lisbon keeps him from reassuring her, since his attempts at getting her to see him as her partner often end up in her playing the magician’s assistant (‘Forrest Green’), or the mad surgeon’s nurse (‘Black Heart’), ultimately forcing Lisbon to lie for him in front of Abbott… Even their usual bantering at the end of ‘White as the Driven Snow’ (which returns after Jane somehow redeems himself by rescuing their old team) involves her pretending to sulk about his lack of transparency during the ordeal.

In addition to the failed phone calls, the miscommunication hits a dead end when Jane tells her to be happy and she doesn’t tell him that she’s leaving. An interesting detail places communication at the heart of the matter: she’s started really flirting with Marcus on the phone and it’s over a phone talk too that she accepts his proposal on a whim. Indeed, while Lisbon and Jane refuse to tell the whole truth, Pike is rather fine with only hinting at the threat that is Jane in his love life; this is probably why he shows Casablanca to his unsure girlfriend, particularly his final scene with the female lead choosing her stable husband over her adventurous lover and telling him goodbye before taking off on a plane… which ironically foreshadows Jane running off after her plane a few episodes later.

Truth is “The Daughter of Time” –title of the murder mystery Fischer was reading when she met Jane- and it is really at the heart of this new chapter of his life. The continuous undercover jobs the new team is taking suggest his reluctance to yield to Lisbon’s yearning for honesty: Kim playing a tourist in ‘My Blue Heaven’; Jane and his fake dates in ‘White Lines’ or being asked to play a psychic in ‘Green Thumb’; Lisbon disguising as a cliché spy in ‘The Golden Hammer’; Jane going to the citizen farm in ‘Black Helicopter’ along with the disguised victim and the murderer hiding under a false name, or him again sporting a chauffeur hat in ‘White as the Driven Snow’ ; the whole team setting a undercover sting in ‘Violets’… Every episode shows how creative Jane is to cover up his feelings. The interest in lawyers has probably a similar meaning (‘Silver Wings of Time’, the Haibach arc): Jane is trying to defend his con, he’s stuck in his make-believe comforting world of a consultant and desperately tries to get Lisbon to accept it as true. Objectively, it’s the main difference between Pike and him: viewers are told repeatedly that Marcus is honest, which means that Lisbon can put her trust in him, the same trust that Jane has trampled time and over. It’s Abbott, who comments to Fischer how this job makes people start losing trust in ‘Green Thumb’, who places Jane in front of his failure: he’s started to believe his own con and it’s only by freeing himself from this façade (of an half-life, of only being friends with Lisbon because he’s too afraid to claim more from her) and by finally telling her the truth that he can achieve that loving one hundred percent trust from her that he’s been aiming for over the seasons.

 

11) COLORS
Colors are not really a theme, but the drastic dropping of everything red in the titles is still worth dwelling on for a bit, as commenter Ioana remarked, if only to raise a few questions.

Firstly, there are relatively few colors after the end of the all-red era. No bright colors (like orange or yellow) nor many nuances, just plain simple colors mostly: black, blue, white, but no turquoise or beige… even the “Forest Green” is more used as a word play here than a really different shade. Yet, some patterns are slightly discernible such as blond women replacing the trademark redheads as murderers, victims or witnesses.

Given the rather limited choice of colors used, some are repeated, which might help draw some parallels. The most obvious relates to the ‘Blue’ episodes –namely ‘My Blue Heaven’ and ‘Blue Bird’, involving Jane getting a new start and opening up. It’s taken as a calm and marine-oriented opposite to the burning red and shows Jane’s hope for freedom, peace and happiness.

Green is also used twice: in ‘Green Thumb’ and ‘Forrest Green’, Jane’s inability to convey what he feels to Lisbon involve him giving her some space that she clearly doesn’t want (after the plane talk, then when he asks in a falsely cheerful tone for an helicopter to get her in time to her date with another man).

Three occurrences so far for the color ‘White’: ‘White Lines’, ‘White as the Driven Snow’ and a variation in Italian with ‘Il Tavolo Bianco’ and three episodes when Jane tries to get closer by using dates, either by taunting her with him dating Krystal or by having dinner with Teresa on Abbott’s demand… Still, he only succeeds to really get on her good side and to win back some of their old banter after saving the team in the third occurrence. Those are somewhat in opposition with ‘Black Helicopter’ and ‘Black Hearts’ where she distances herself physically from him, by refusing to get on a road trip with him in the Silver Bucket and by accepting Marcus’s offer to move with him to D.C.

Among the one-episode-only colors, ‘Violets’ (a shade that is basically made by mixing blue and red) is a pivotal episode, rushing Jane’s progresses by introducing a rival to his love interest. ‘The Golden Hammer’ and ‘Silver Wings of Time’ force him to consider that he’s getting serious competition for winning Teresa’s favors: the former shakes him with the unexpected revelation that Lisbon can start dating, the second makes Pike’s threat more dangerous for his own relation with the petite agent. And it’s amusing that the “Silver Bucket” makes its appearance just after the ‘Golden’ episode too. Everything that shines might distract Lisbon enough to make her drift apart…

Of course, given how few episodes there have been since RJ’s demise, those are very probably only coincidences, but it gives something more to look forward in the new season! 🙂

You can still vote for TM and his amazing actors and make them win the People Choice’s Awards on CBS! Here’s the link:

 http://vote.peopleschoice.com/?app_data=catId(35)callback(twitter_thankyou)referral(twitter)#!/home/all/35

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16 responses to “Mentalist Themes in Season 6

  • Mike H

    Wonderful essay on S6… I love reading these in-depth summaries here!! Since movie references in The Mentalist episodes are for me key “themes” of the show, I would like to add a recent “find” that I think fans might find interesting. There is a 1957 film called Curse of the Demon. In this movie, a strange whistling tune is identified to be a folk tune associated with the devil. This tune IS identical to the tune that McAllister is whistling in his car. Combining this with the Great Red Dragon reference to the devil, there is no doubt to me that McAllister’s whistling was throwing us a direct hint towards him being RJ. And btw, the movie story was written by someone named Montague (a link to Dr. Montague in TM??).

  • KM

    Thank you. I cannot wait for Season 7 and to read your reviews. Cheers!

  • Christina

    Reviewbrain: What do you make of the fact that Lisbon seems to have an endless supply of green tops? I noticed this trend in the last three of four episodes of season 6 (and it became glaringly obvious when I was watching reruns). The colour green indicates harmony, balance and growth and it seemed very appropriate that she wear green on the plane in the season 6 finale.

  • RoseUK

    I’ve missed your posts, guys! 😀

    I’m all out of practice talking about themes and symbolism, because I can’t think of a single thing to add right now. 😉 I’m hoping that s7 will bring lots of fresh material for us to discuss and get my brain moving again, heh.

    Violet, thank you so much for your comprehensive reminder of all things Mental. It’s good to have you back. 😀 😀

    Enjoy s7, everyone!

  • valentine0214

    Violet, Reviewbrain, when I saw this in my In-Box, I could have cried with happiness. The Mentalist is my all-time favorite show and part of my enjoyment is your wonderful review that I have to look forward to. As for the green theme, Lisbon has the most beautiful green eyes!

  • bloomingviolet2013

    @ Mike H : Thank you, thank you so much for mentioning ‘The Curse of The Demon’ ! I didn’t know the movie, had to browse through a few sites to get a feel of the whole story, but there is *definitely *something here! From what I’ve seen in some scenes, the demon itself looks like a pretty nice adaptation of Blake’s ‘The Great Red Dragon’ too (‘The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun’ and the similarity is particularly startling with ‘The Great Red Dragon and the Beast from the Sea’)… I so need to watch it! Very enjoyable reference! 😀

    By the way, I don’t really remember, but was McAllister’s tune the same as the ones Haffner, Smith, Bertram and Stiles whistled too? It might prove interesting to look into that too… 🙂

    @ KM: thank you! I really appreciate! 🙂 I’m looking forward to reading/writing them too! 😀

    @ Christina : good question! I’d be very interested in reading Reviewbrain’s opinion on this point too, hehe ! 🙂 In my humble opinion, it can be boiled down to three possibilities:

    1) as you remarked, it can reflect Lisbon’s personal growth as well as her more relaxed stance towards her job. This season showed a more carefree and comfortable side of her, with many scenes giving us glimpses in her free time and personal life (it was a rarity before, as she was basically married to her job). Her change in clothing may underline this by showing that she’s not so much the non-nonsense job-obsessed control-freak she used to be (that part was more or less given to Kim in some scenes).

    2) It may be a practical wardrobe choice: the color suits Tunney and they have been working towards giving her a more feminine appearance in the course of the different seasons (cf. her blouses in S4 and 5). It was linked to her growing part in Jane’s emotional life in the more recent seasons… Her character had to look more and more like an attractive woman for viewers to start perceiving that ambiguous romantic vibe the writers had been slowly trying to instill in her friendship with Jane.

    3) If I’m not mistaken, Jane has told Lisbon that the color green enhanced her eyes (sometime in season 1, maybe)… What if it was a subtle reference to that detail and it was supposed to hint at Lisbon trying to catch his attention since she knew he liked her dressed in green?

    Of course, it could very well mean nothing at all! Maybe they got their hands on a bunch of pretty clothes that suited her and happened to be green and they just went with it, lol! 🙂

    @ Valentine0214 : Honestly, this is one of the sweetest comments I ever had! Thank you very much! I’m very touched and so glad you appreciate it. I had to write in quite a rush and was pretty nervous about the quality of whole thing… So, yeah, thank you! 🙂

    (Sorry: writing late at night equals terrible grammar! 😛 )

  • windsparrow

    Excellent summary of various themes of season six. I really liked the section on the Ocean. Don’t have much to add, but did want to let you know I appreciate this.

  • reviewbrain

    Christina, Jane told Lisbon way back in season 1 (episode red handed I think) “I think those emeralds look lovely with your eyes”. Now at the time Lisbon wore mostly grey almost masculine suits. I think her recent interest in the color like what Violet pointed out might be her subconsciously wanting to look good for Jane. Unlike in the earlier season’s where she had had the Great Wall of China surround her and was consciously resisting everything Jane, she been much more susceptible to him and (we can say it now) craving his attention last season. Nice to see she finally got it 🙂

  • Christina

    Debate aside: I came home to the new episode of the mentalist, like christmas. Thank you CTV!

  • Mike H

    Violet… I totally agree that the demon in Curse of the Demon is a really neat adaptation of the depictions of The Great Red Dragon. I may be mistaken but I’m pretty sure that all the whistling tunes that we heard from those suspects were different. I remember McAllister’s whistle tune distinctly because it sounded very similar to the whistling sound from the music in the old Clint Eastwood spagetti westerns. But then I compared McAllister’s whistling to what I heard in Curse of the Demon and I’m convinced they are identical. Now I just need Heller to come out and confirm this!! LOL

  • Christina

    Check out the lyrics to Ella fitzgerald’s Blue Skies – I’m thinking that the season 6 finale and season 7 premiere titles came from this song?

  • mosquitoinuk

    Yay! WE ARE BACK people! I am not sure I can add much to the discussion as symbolism is not my strongest suit to be honest but if I can say, S6 (up until almost the very end…and I mean, like, 10 minutes until the very end – S6 finale) was difficult to watch for me. However, I think a very strong theme was hope. The first part of the season was loosing hope/hopelessness. Everything was so dark and depressing and things were just going pear shaped all the time. Evil vs. Good, evil always ahead…honestly, I almost lost hope in Jane at that point! and as many of you know, the feeling of hopelessness I had when Jane killed RJ…anyway, I digress. Now, the 2nd part, was about trying to live in hope and trying not to loose hope and we of course, got a very ‘hopeful’ finale, thank God for that.

    Hope and faith are not the same of course, but they are linked. Since there is a strong religious theme in TM and very clever people that come to this blog to discuss, I’ll leave this up to you the smarty pants and will go for some caffeine to wake me up because I watched ‘Nothing but Blue Skies’ after coming home from dinner with friends last night and it was already 2 am when I finished…

  • Lou ann

    I, too, reacted with glee when I saw you in my inbox. It is so exciting to hear from you. Thank you for the thorough and amazing Season 6 review. I’m writing this after having read it just once, but I will go back again and again to enjoy it in more detail.

    I have one small thing to add to the color discussion…I learned recently, while visiting a museum displaying clothing and textile items from the 19th century, that the color Violet was traditionally reserved for bereavement.

    For a specified length of time following a family member’s death, the relatives wore black exclusively. Then a time of like half-mourning was imposed and this is when lavender and violet was allowed, signaling the waning of the time of grief. Particularly widows could then be seen by future suitors as being soon available for courtship. This tradition was followed in Great Britain and therefore also adhered to in the United States.

    So in the episode “Violets” is when Theresa begins her relationship with Marcus, nudging Patrick further along in his journey toward opening up the possibility of moving beyond his mourning to a new life, and foreshadowing that he might be “available” soon. Of course, I have to admit that I am not claiming to have seen this significance back when the episode aired. Your comments brought it to mind.

    Related to all this, I am still obsessing about Jane’s wedding ring. I don’t think he can truly move on and commit to a new life and relationship until he does something with it.

    As to the themes of Trust, Partnership, and Truth, I saw a brief clip from an upcoming episode in which that is addressed between Theresa and Jane, in relation to solving a case, and in which it seems that he is making progress.

    I am looking forward to savoring each new episode of S7 with you all.

  • suzjazz

    HI everyone,
    I’m eagerly (foaming at the mouth) waiting for the season premiere tomorrow night and avoiding spoilers wherever possible. If you’d like to read a spoiler-free essay I wrote following a recent interview with Heller, Tunney, and Baker, here’s my blog:

    http://suzjazz.blogspot.com/2014/11/nov.html

    I hope that everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving had a good one!

  • Mike H

    Christina… I really like your finding of the lyrics to Ella Fitzgerald’s Blue Skies. I total concur that the lyrics reference these two episodes. Not only are the episode titles stated in the song but the theme of the song seems to coincide with the show’s new storyline.

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