Mentalist The Silver Briefcase Review


A murder is committed in cold-blood in an unknown house by an equally unknown man. He turns out to be a professional acquaintance of the FBI agents. Upon meeting the man, Jane’s curiosity is aroused and the team is soon on his tail.

Concise Verdict

‘The Silver Briefcase’ is a bit different from the usual structure of more classic episodes, since we know beforehand who the killer is and therefore we’re able to follow more closely the logic of the investigation. This time, the mystery is elsewhere: indeed, at the end Jane doesn’t know who the actual killer is between the two accomplices, plus the main focus of the plotline lays of the big question raised by him in the previous episode. Will Lisbon agree to quit law enforcement or will she convince her lover to stay to keep catching bad guys? All in all, the change of pace is intriguing, many scenes amusingly endearing and Baker’s director skills only enhance the quality of the episode.

Detailed AKA Humongous Review (spoilers galore)

VIS# 1: double introduction of the killer

The very first character viewers get a glimpse of in the opening may be a murderer: that much is implied he’s seen washing his hands. This detail reminds of Lady Macbeth’s obsession with bloodied hands and consequently the recurring focus on hands going through the series (Jane washing his hands when dating Erica, Lisbon washing her bloodied shirt while lamenting Bosco’s death because of her case, Jane shaking hands with RJ, McAllister giving him a hand when he’s falling from a roof, his bloodied hands when running away in the cemetery and so on). From the start, the unknown man is therefore linked to guilt; nevertheless he seems remorseless as he calmly puts things into place before leaving the room. On the floor, the only sign of violence is a bloodied foot and it greatly contrasts with the man’s composed demeanor. The image is shocking since showing only feet had been used in some classic movies as a euphemism to show that there’s a corpse: here, the dripping blood makes the brutality even more blatant.

On the other end, violence is shown in the FBI immediately afterwards as Cho and Lisbon are teaming up in a rapid response like intervention. Jane is playing the hostage and the whole thing ends up being actually a training session perceived as a game: Jane asks “we son?” and Abbott has been making a friendly bet with a colonel Raymond… who happens to be that same calm killer. From the start, thus, the man is dimmed as something special: not only are viewers privy to his identity from the get go, à la Columbo, meaning that the plotline will focus more on the method and teamwork to catch him than in the mystery, but some details hint at an implied similarity with good ol’RJ. Like him, he’s somewhat part of law enforcement, since he’s training with FBI agents, he’s friendly and he’s probably killed a woman. More than introducing a new serial killer, though, the parallel probably allude of Jane’s past and his consequent fear of losing Lisbon, which is one of his primary reasons for wanting to quit. Even more since the man’s first name is Aaron: in the Bible (the Book of Exodus), Aaron was Moses’ older brother and helped him to lead their people out of Egypt (like Jane wants to get out of law enforcement); but they had a disagreement after Moses received God’s laws at Mount Sinai, because Aaron had meanwhile built an idol, the Golden Calf, which made God and Moses angry even though the latter forgave his brother (Exodus 32, 1-35). It may be a hint about Jane and Lisbon disagreeing about “what feels right” concerning their actual professional status, to quote Jane’s words after Pike asking him about future plans.

Indeed, soon Lisbon and Jane are unwinding and talking about his offer to run away in the sunset. Jane stresses that the world is infinite in its possibilities but he’s careful not to press her: like in the airstream he amended that his words were “just thoughts”, now he’s half joking to take the edge off what he knows is an issue with Lisbon. He even indirectly remind her of their little discussion about her mysterious musical skills in ‘Red-Colored Glasses’ with the possibility that she “might enjoy Paris or learning pedal steel guitar” as much as her work now… given that his suggestions involve leaving on a trip or finding a hobby (like he mentioned in the island in ‘Blood and Sand’), one might wonder how much money he still have staked to finance them or what he’d be planning to do for a living. But down-to-earth Lisbon also has some tricks up her sleeve and whereas he tries to make her dream, she mentions “it’s not gonna be as easy to walk away as you think” because “you enjoy the mental stimulation far more than you let on”. She’s playfully attacking him under the same angle that he tried to use in ‘Blue Bird’ to get her to stay: they make a good team and have fun investigating.

That’s when shady colonel Raymond comes into the scene… he greets Lisbon whom he already met and immediately something about the man sets up red flags in Jane’s mind. While the colonel congratulates Lisbon and tells her that if she gets tired of the FBI, he’d “have space” for her –another allusion to leaving her job-, Jane observes him and is obviously unsettled. His first explanation for his unease involve his primary focus at the moment, Lisbon: he wonders if she was ever involved with the other man but she denies it. She brushes off his “strange” impression by telling him that his wife was murdered eight months ago… meaning that the coldness and maybe guilt he felt emanating from the colonel might be compared to grief. Interesting implied comparison, given Jane’s past.
The openness between the still secret and bantering couple contrasts with the chillingly quiet murder at the beginning, since viewers understand that the victim was the colonel’s wife. Their happiness is put forward, which is reassuring after the uncertainties left by Jane’s question, but the comparison also brings a measure of shadow above their lightness, because the talk might end up leading to a serious disagreement. The darker tone of this beginning is cleverly stressed out by Blake’s Neely’s more dramatic music for the opening.

VIS# 2: talking to Abbott

The next step of Jane’s growing suspicions towards the colonel is to get Abbott’s help and authorization. Under Lisbon’s influence, the unruly consultant’s more by the book than he ever was… When their boss gently chides them, Jane’s a bit hurt (“so you are not interested in my theory?” even though he admits that he doesn’t have one). This emotional reaction is even hinted further when he gets from Vega an ironic “curiosity killed the cat’: Jane is taken aback and it takes a beat before he mutters “also cured polio”. Whatever are his reasons for wanting to solve crimes now, it doesn’t revolves around wanting to show off his great mind and manipulating people like it had once. Once again, Lisbon has taught him to become a part of a team and as such, he expects the others to take him seriously.

This whole scene reminds of their first investigation under Luther Wainwright’s supervision in ‘Ring around the Rosie’ and the differences between those two episodes get an even deeper meaning. Back then, Jane’s intuitive theory was in direct opposition of what was visible, but Luther had no qualms letting Jane have free rein in his apparently non-existent case, while he frowned at Lisbon’s parallel investigation. Now, Abbott trusts both; he asks for Lisbon’s opinion and follows her lead when she replies that she trusts Jane. His instructions for discretion are directed at both: “no interrogation, so searches, if you want to talk with anyone use a cover story”. As a result, Jane is not trying to get Dennis into mind games and troubles, like he did with young inexperienced Luther; on the contrary, he’s pleased, shakes Abbott’s hand exchange smiles with Lisbon, then bumps fists with Abbott. The progression between those two moments in Jane’s career in law enforcement subtly brings on the underlying question about what he really finds in this job he’s willing to quit. ‘Ring around the Rosie’ is later also reminded of with a detail: the man who had arrested for the murder was homeless, just like back then. Later, the main evidence was found in a homeless encampment, which is how Lisbon’s personal investigation had ended in the other episode.

When the investigation takes its first steps, Cho finds himself asking questions about the killed Mrs. Raymond and this old case is not the only one inconspicuously hinted at: the cop who investigated the murder explains that things were wrapped up fast, “slam dunk”… an allusion at a game that would have been fitted for the symbol-filled RJ era. Plus, the particular status given to the murderer this time reminds of Jane’s spontaneous suspicions when meeting Panzer (and the now defeated Erica Flynn too) as well of Volker’s struggle with Lisbon –especially since he too was shown committing a murder in the opening of ‘Little Red Corvette’, a quite unusual fact in the show. The main suspect nailed by the police is in jail and his lawyer states that “it looks bad” but he “didn’t do this. He’s probably gonna get the needle’, just like the framed innocent convict in ‘Silver Wings of Time’, which setting also involved a “Silver” title,  an adulterous husband and a murdered wife, not to mention the countdown at the end of both episodes. African art as a clue in an office is a nod at Dr. Wagner’s in the pilot. In all those past cases, Jane had been mostly working on his own, clueing Lisbon on what he needed from her when he deemed it necessary, while this time they’re investigating together from the very first tinges of doubt in his mind. They’ve made huge progress and they’re leading a far more balanced life/partnership that way…

We also have to thank Simon Baker’s always intriguing directing for the subtle impression of secrecy brought by the shots in many scenes: when Cho talks to the police, everything is in dull colors (such grayish or unobtrusive black and whites) except for a bright pencil holder flashing spots of blue, yellow and red. Same with the cop in front of him: when the camera focuses on him, a partial view of the same object along with a poster in the background bring a startling dichotomy. The trick is used again later: when Wylie is scurrying through corridors to spot African art in an office in order to identify the lover who might have helped the colonel, there are a bright fuchsia blouse, a neon green exit sign, the red from the American flag or just a green potted plant in the background to lighten up the tedious grayish environment. Even when the young agent finds his suspect, a lively colored “Candy Pilot” came played on the woman’s screen adds a cheerful touch in the serious office. Later again, when Jane teases Vega about Wylie’s transparent interest in her; the young woman’s red blouse and the bright green apple on her admirer’s desk make two bright spots in the dry FBI.

Jane and Lisbon Partners

VIS# 3: Lisbon and Jane go house shopping

Lisbon and Jane finally decide to visit the crime scene, which is how the episode should have started had Jane not been sticking his nose in yet another cold case. That’s the opportunity to get the usual undercover show on the road since Jane calls the real estate agent in charge of selling the house and makes her believe his “girlfriend” and he might be interested in buying it. The same ruse was used in ‘Black Cherry’, but now it involves them as a couple instead of him going alone then pulling her in. Lisbon is unaccountably pleased by the mention of house shopping; in spite of the hesitations about where the future will lead them, their relationship is moving forward rather smoothly and speedily…

And their little prospecting couple act looks effortless: they pull the con seamlessly, playing their part and rotating questions about that shocking murder that they are not supposed to know about. When they’ve managed to make their mark leave them alone, they work on deducing the killing method together and come to the mutual conclusion that the murderer messed up temperatures to make it look like the murder took place earlier than it did. When real estate agent Judy is on the phone, they keep talking low about the case. Their domestic life is mostly about investigating, after all… which leads Lisbon to bring up her main argument against leaving the FBI: “you have too much fun”… Again, private and professional lives are amusingly intertwined when Lisbon’s excuse for leaving is that the house has “not enough closet space”.

But Jane shields Lisbon from a direct confrontation with the colonel: it’s him who goes into his office to chitchat with the man in a power play reminiscent of his little incursions in Bertram’s office back in the CBI… Their talk about plans, adversaries, war and Napoleonic strategy comes to an abrupt end when the consultant blurts out “that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard”. His adversary correctly surmises that he’s trying to provoke him to get a reaction out of him. Eyeing the man’s detached demeanor, Jane simply thanks him for his time and leaves. When he gets back at headquarters, he’s debriefed on what he found out by Vega and Cho: there was a Masai object in the office, which doesn’t match the decoration of the house. They quickly deduce that it must be from another woman in his life whom he must have met at work because most affairs start there. That little off-handed remark, added to his cheeky comment later in front of Lisbon that “love springs up in the unlikeliest of places” hints that both secret couples are implicitly compared, giving that he and Lisbon are also having a love affair in a workplace and that their feelings were unlikely to develop considering his grief and obsessive thirst for revenge when they met.

After Wylie has spotted lover Denise Sparks during yet another undercover job, Jane and Lisbon drink a coffee and talk about what Lisbon has observed when buying it at the same time as Denise. Jane encourages Lisbon to draw her conclusions, cold-reading her prey. She concludes that she may be the killer, because “everything about her, it just seemed like she was wearing a mask”, which gets her an approving “very nice, agent Lisbon”. It looks like Jane is still playing her mentor, which is in hindsight a rather futile task if he wants her to leave law enforcement…

VIS# 4: the trap

Meanwhile, the colonel must have understood that Jane’s maneuver to get on his nerves was fishy when the cop called him about the investigation, because he comes to the bullpen to talk with Lisbon. He’s a threat (that much is emphasized by his reflection on the window when he looks at her darkly before entering). Jane is immediately protective of her: as soon as he spots the other man, he leaves his tea on a desk and comes to her rescue. Raymond’s bold move reminds a lot of Volker walking into the office to threaten her in a falsely sweet voice: his intent is the same, stating that if they think he’s murdered his wife, then they just arrest him. When Abbott intervenes, the colonel expresses his disappointment in him in an oddly detached and emotionless tone (“well, that’s a damn shame, I liked you”). His parting shot is directed at Jane: “you seem like a smart person. Know when you’re overplayed your hand”… The man knows who’s really after him and he uses a poker-related metaphor which brings us back to the deadly game Jane used to play with his nemesis.

This convinces Abbott to drop the case, even though he thinks that they did some nice work, but they still don’t have solid evidence to make an arrest. For Jane, that means that they need to wriggle a confession out of the suspects.
This is when the comparison between the two couples becomes even more blatant: as the colonel and his lover are seen walking towards the same place but separately, in different shots, Jane and Lisbon walk together, smiling. Jane even waits for her to catch up to him and they hold hands for a brief moment. They’re all heading towards the place the FBI pair chose to set their trap: they’ve cornered their two opponents by using a fake message and from the first sentences the partners are aiming to drive an edge between the others, planting the seeds of mistrust (« he didn’t tell you we were investigating you?»), manipulating and using mind tricks. As they don’t have solid evidence, they faked some in a silver briefcase identical to the colonel’s and try to pressure them into confessing under the threat of revealing what’s inside, assuming that it contains something incriminating. To stress them more and keep them from thinking clearly, Lisbon sets a countdown on her phone. That’s pretty much the same trick that they used to force a confession out of the murderer in ‘Not One Red Cent’.

The growing edge between the co-conspirators is skillfully widened by the doubts Jane and Lisbon instill in their minds (“you should stay. I don’t think you understand how much he hasn’t told you”), while themselves present an united front, with almost identical positions side by side, in quite similar suits (minus the vest for Lisbon who was earlier wearing a white blazer and a red blouse), him taking the man (daring him to “go”) and Lisbon the woman. While the others try to desperately reassure themselves (“I love you”/ “you know I would never-“), Lisbon and her partner finish each other’s sentences. The power balance in completely reversed compared to the colonel’s outburst in the bullpen and Jane can’t resist turning the man’s parting words against him: “if either of you was smart, this game would be over by now”, alluding once again to the game theme. They conclude: “time waits for no man… or woman”, but what really makes the woman willing to talk is Raymond’s harshness when he snaps “stop talking. Woman, I tell you” then ““don’t be stupid”, which gets Jane humming in disapprobation. They managed to enlighten the power play behind the illicit affair: this brings viewers back to the notion of taking decisions in place of the other, which has been introduced by Abbott’s domestic problems and Jane’s fateful question.

Problem is, once the two criminals decide to talk, confessions are flowing a bit too freely and each starts charging the other in such a way that it makes it very difficult to ascertain which one is telling the truth. They wave roughly the same tale with the other playing the worst part: Denise tells that he promised her a “bad day” for a “lifetime of happiness”, convincing her that they’d be dragged through the mud otherwise, threatening her with the discreditable label of home wrecker. Aaron claims “she said it’d be quick. She was a different person”, while in her tale, he let her in “it was so hot. He took a knife off the rack. He… smiled.” Both versions are shown on screen with the man or the woman alternating in stabbing the victim, either in a sudden attack or a deadly embrace and the common detail of blood dripping on the beige shoe. The horror is emphasized by her adding that he said something under his breath when he killed her, “I don’t know why”, whereas the colonel repeats that she was a “different person”. As if whoever was the real murderer, their lover couldn’t recognize their hunger for violence at the fatal moment. Which maybe be why the outside part of the door is bloody red, a blatant color in the discreetly colored interior when they both exited the crime scene: whoever did it had become a monster, hiding under either the detachment that Aaron presented to the world (even in the opening of the episode after he came back alone to put the finishing touches to the crime scene) or under the “mask” Lisbon was able to perceive on Denise’s true nature.

Again, this contrasts with the way Jane and Lisbon banter once the case it out of their hands. She tells him that he enjoyed himself and that he loves this job as much as she does, which he does denies. He counterattacks by remarking that he loves eggs too, but that doesn’t mean that he “wanna eat nothing but omelets for the rest of [his] life”. They’re able to discuss pleasantly serious topics with respect, understanding and humor. For once, they talk about his worry about her getting killed in the job, like his family was taken away from him (“Well, I am happy for the first time in you know how long, but I’m scared. –Jane, one of us could get run over by a bus tomorrow… -Not if we’re on a beach in Polynesia, buses can’t go on sand. –You could get eaten by a shark… -Not if you don’t go in the water!”). Amusingly, the “sunsets” he mentions among “palm trees and hammocks and cocktails” in his little dream island might refer to the half-confession he offered her as a goodbye before leaving her hanging in ‘Fire and Brimstone’ and her responding litany about “endless boredom, sunburn, bugs the size helicopters” might be a veiled reminder of her uneasiness in nature (in front of a deer in ‘Red Moon’) or of her fainting in front of flesh-eating bugs in ‘Red in Teeth and Claw’…

They also talk about what they could do afterwards if they really decide to quit: after Jane admits once again that he doesn’t have a plan “as yet” but that he’s willing to quit, sit and wait until “a plan takes seed”, they go over some – pretty amusing- options that somehow are also laced with meaningful subtext: they could buy a boat and sail around the world, because he “always wanted to do that”, alas she’s seasick (which reminds of their similar disagreement about boats in ‘Red Lacquer Nail Polish”) and she doesn’t look forward to “whales and storms and pirates” (whale Moby Dick, someone?). She goes as far as to mention “scurvy” which is a cute echo to Jane’s curiosity which killed the cat “but also cured polio”, another nowadays much rarer illness… In spite of their divergences, both are trading ideas through the same wavelengths and share a deep bond forged through a rough common history, hence the plethora of references to past cases.

Still, the funnier reference is Jane’s offer to start “beekeeping”, insisting that she’d look very cute in one of those suits when she mocks him about coming up with the best ideas. Beekeeping is Sherlock Holmes’ primary activity after he retired (‘His Last Bow’), which makes Jane a crime solver even in his plans for quitting… As she asks him in disbelief how beekeeping might be romantic, he puts one arm around her shoulders and his answer becomes indistinct, making their getting home together a sweet and intimate moment, matching the ending of the season premiere when they sped away in a classy old car.

Vega’s love life

A happy Jane amounts to a matchmaker Jane, as it is. Just like romantic Abbott tried to talk him into finding love again during the Pike debacle and like Jane himself used to tease Rigsby for his hopeless admiration for Grace when he started caring for his new team, he now has his eyes set on the budding feelings between his youngest coworkers.
The previous episodes focused on Vega’s hardships in dealing with Cho with Wylie coming forward as an eager support. Now that part of her work life seems to be settling nicely so far. As promised, Cho took her to the firing range; as they put together their guns, side by side, they get along well and he assumes a mentor role in teaching her to go faster.

Jane has not interfered with this problem, but he starts taunting her with Wylie’s interest after they talk about how most affairs bloom in the workplace… He tells the unsuspecting young woman « can you do me a favor ? Next time Wylie steals a glance at you, can you wave him in?” The poor young man is busted in front of his sweetheart, like Wayne was in the pilot, and like him he’s only watching her from afar without yet daring to make a move… which of course makes him even more of a target for the cunning consultant. When they reenact the killers’ performance at a red light to get a photograph of the lover posing as the already dead wife, it’s up to the teased pair to check the timing of the trick. And it gets awkward, particularly when the young male agent steals a glance when his female colleague is undressing and when he’s gulping as he sees her in a bra.

Later, Jane needles the second potential couple in line into looking into the briefcase by telling them he doesn’t know who the killer is and by letting the object right next to them. They’re like children, encouraging each other to take a look (“aren’t you at all curious about all about what’s in that briefcase?”). They’re as eager to know as the old team was when holding LaRoche’s mysterious Tupperware… some things just don’t change. Of course, as soon as they do open the case, Jane blurts out a loud “meow!”. He’s been watching with Lisbon, hidden behind the door with their heads only visible comically. He got at Vega twice for mocking him with her meddling “curiosity killed the cat”, once by starting his mockery about Wylie, the second time by making her and her friend/admirer team up into falling for his trick in order to prove her own curiosity. And coincidentally, that proverb is an adaptation from a quote from Shakespeare (“care killed the cat” in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’), an all time favorite of the cheeky Jane. In that respect too, some things don’t change…


13 responses to “Mentalist The Silver Briefcase Review

  • Kilgore Trout

    Great review Violet! I was blown away by how many previous episodes you were able to reverence. This season really is a coda to the whole show, isn’t it.

    What a great episode, I think this was my favourite for the season with the possible exception of the pilot. The case was a lot of fun and I’ve always enjoyed the Columbo style ‘reverse murder mystery’ format where we start by knowing who the killer is and watch how the team reels them in. This was a very old school episode with the key difference being that Jane is now actively tutoring Lisbon in the ways of mentalism. I also really enjoyed the ambiguity of the ending, with it being left open as to which of them was the murderer.

    I touched on the Pygmalion theme in a previous comment and it was in evidence again when Jane asked Lisbon to do the read on the girlfriend to see if she was capable of murder. He is actively trying to bring her into his world, probably for a twofold purpose. One is to have more experiences to share with her and the second is probably to open her mind to the possibility of a life outside of law enforcement. Violet is right, however, in that Pygmalion is not a perfect analogy because Jane loved Lisbon before he tried to change her and indeed its not like he’s trying to turn her into some preconceived notion of womanly perfection or, heaven forbid, a female version of himself. But he does want to share more of how he sees the world and how he operates because he wants her to be his partner in every sense of the word.

    If was also interesting to see their past getting revisited again with Jane asking whether Lisbon had a fling with the Colonel Raymond. She hadn’t but it was interesting how quickly she exited the conversation after that by heading for a shower. Perhaps she had been attracted to him back then? Its also interesting to speculate whether jealousy was part of Jane’s motive for being to keen to pursue the murder. He’s always had a special disdain for those who murder their spouses but perhaps the thought that Lisbon at some time might have seen something in another man was an added incentive? Then again, I can’t recall seeing Jane jealous of someone in Lisbon’s personal life (Marcus excepted) and even in the case of Mashburn I’m of the school of thought that he very much deliberately pushed Lisbon into his arms).

    The banter at the end of the episode was also very old school Mentalist with Jane throwing up hare-brained suggestions and Lisbon scoffing at them. I was particularly chuffed with Jane mentioning sunsets I stand by my conviction that Jane is the little prince 🙂 It is nice to see that old affection still underlying their new relationship and it very much suggests that no matter what challenges they face they will be able to talk through then and face them together. Though having said that Lisbon was quite strongly opposed to his suggestions.

    I think someone has already mentioned this but another theme for this season could be failed couples/relationships (hopefully in contrast to Jane/Lisbon). We’ve seen a number of examples already such as the Bonnie and Clyde duo in Greybar Hotel (failed because they made each other worse rather than complement each other) and a number of pairings in Black Market. In this episode we saw a failed marriage and the disintegration of the pairing that sprang from it. As I watched the Raymond and Sparks fall prey to distrust and Jane’s mind games I couldn’t help but reflect that had Lisbon and Jane faced a similar scenario neither would have caved and the con would have failed.

  • bloomingviolet2013

    Thank you! I’m glad you liked it! 😀

    Very interesting take on Lisbon having possibly been interested in the colonel… I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s quite plausible. After all, she had been more or less looking for someone when she realized that Jane wasn’t going to make a move at the time (she was the one to call Pike after meeting him…). On the other hand, Jane had been a bit jealous of her “date” with Osvaldo, before meeting Pike. And even back in season 2, he was pretty territorial when Bosco was around: his scheme about manipulating Lisbon into unknowingly helping him break of jail in ‘Black Gold and Red Blood’ had resulted in her to take sides and there is no way that wasn’t planned by him… The whole thing was a rather clear message to the other man: “I messed with you and your investigation, but that woman you love chose me over you. She considers *you* as a threat and she’s defending *me*”. I always wondered if Bosco’s last words were supposed to be a personal theory about RJ or something about Jane taking care of Lisbon on his behalf, because he knew she had feelings for him… a version Jane hinted at when she asked about it. Plus Jane often brought up or acknowledged men who might be interested in her (that smarmy guy at a swimming pool in S4; her former fiancé Gregg and subsequently the man he knew she had been dating shortly before… And his comment in ‘Red is the New Black’ about her being scouted out if she went with them meet the photographer).And yes, there’s the huge interrogation point about Mashburn… personally, even when first watching the ep, I thought Jane was sabotaging his rival’s opportunity by using reverse psychology on her: she was so much a private person back then that rubbing Walter’s interest in her face had every chance of putting her off… And he undoubtedly knew that she was in Mashburn’s room at the end of ‘Red Hot’ because there was no way he would have missed the two glasses of champagne on the table that Mash was trying to hide from him. His downcast reaction was telling since he would have called on her about it otherwise. He likes to tease and prove that he knows secrets too much not to have done that. But of course, that’s only theory, we’ll probably never know for sure one way or another! ;P

    Also I completely agree on the theme about failed couples/relationship. You can add Erica and her wealthy criminal boyfriend to the list, since it’s the first time she was shown in a “official” relationship (she was a widow during her first appearance and afterwards was only manipulating men without really acknowledging them, like her young lover or her lawyer). And yes, the con would not have worked on Lisbon or Jane: deep down they know the other would protect them before saving their own skin. They trust each other.

  • Kilgore Trout

    You have prompted me re-watch Red Hot and I’m glad I did because its a great episode. Lots of subtle stuff going on throughout (like Walter pretending to not know Lisbon’s name in the opening scene only to call her Teresa minutes later when he is about to sign the contract).

    I watched with a particular interest in Jane’s reactions to the clearly mutual interest between Lisbon and Mashburn. Jane takes every opportunity to point out their attraction, even going so far as to introduce Teresa as Mashburn’s new girlfriend. Now one motive was clearly to flush out a jealous ex lover but Jane has always operated on multiple levels and another reason may have been plant the suggestion of the two of them being together.

    Now this is only my opinion and I certainly don’t claim that I am necessarily correct but my take is that Jane doesn’t mind the idea of Teresa hooking up with Mashburn because at that point he is certainly not capable of becoming romantically involved with Lisbon himself and he know’s it would only be temporary. He is looking out for Teresa and in choosing who she pursues he is also maintaining some control. That is NOT to say that when he is confronted with the evidence of the fling that he doesn’t have some spark of jealousy for what might have been had he not been a slave to his obsession.

    He DOES, however, indirectly reference Mashburn to Lisbon in season 5’s Red Velvet Cupcakes when he suggests Lisbon’s ‘thing’ is turtle neck shirts (he got that one wrong because thanks to Grey Bar Hotel we know its vests!).

    One final thing that stood out in that episode is that Mashburn is clearly a surrogate for Jane in Lisbon’s affections. Both men are arrogant, confident attractive and like pushing Lisbon’s buttons. The real clincher for me (and possibly Lisbon too), however, was that both men had their hearts broken and never really got over it. In the case of Mashburn it was his fiance who left him for business rival Bajoran. Its after Lisbon here’s this revelation from Mashburn’s ex that her feelings for him really shift.

    With regard to Bosco I see Jane’s rivalry more along the lines of having Lisbon’s allegiance and the impact on his pursuit of Red John. He only determined the romantic connection some way into the series.

    One final note on Colonel Raymond; Lisbon could have met him years earlier because she could easily have attended the conference where they met in her role as a CBI agent. In any case he would have been married at the time that would have pretty much guaranteed that Lisbon would not have acted on any attraction that may have existed.

    As always a pleasure bouncing ideas off you and I look forward to the next review as I enjoyed Green Light even more than this episode.

  • bloomingviolet2013

    “He DOES, however, indirectly reference Mashburn to Lisbon in season 5’s Red Velvet Cupcakes when he suggests Lisbon’s ‘thing’ is turtle neck shirts (he got that one wrong because thanks to Grey Bar Hotel we know its vests!)”

    Not only that, but I got the feeling that he’s been more teasing after the fling with Walter when he learns about a man in her life: in S2, mentions of Bosco were a way to test the waters with her (regarding the case, her position concerning Jane’s involvement and how far she was willing to cover for his transgressions). You’re completely right when you state that “with regard to Bosco I see Jane’s rivalry more along the lines of having Lisbon’s allegiance and the impact on his pursuit of Red John”. Yet, whether “he only determined the romantic connection some way into the series” I’m not so sure: it was left pretty ambiguous in my opinion (after all, that’s how they treated Jane’s relation with Lisbon in almost the whole course of the show)… I mean, it was hinted at that Bosco was not as straightforward with rules as he appeared during his very first talk with Jane. When they met at that rooftop café, Bosco said that eating greasy food was something forbidden to him by his wife and that it was like committing adultery (which had celibate widower Jane quite taken aback): that was the first clue that even thought he was married, he had feelings for another woman, which only could be Lisbon in this case (association of ideas: he took Jane’s case from him and couldn’t help thinking about the other thing he wanted on Jane’s side: Lisbon’s attention)… Now regarding the feelings Jane could have at the time for Lisbon, it’s quite unclear too. His feelings were not acknowledged, but there was something going on (the often commented on look he had on his face after he gave her the paper frog … her refusing to say that *she* needed him on the case after rebuffing him in the pilot; her “care” and his reflex when Hardy was threatening one of them; the blush Rigsby commented on when Jane was doing one of his mind tricks on her in front of the team; his disappointment when she gave the jewelry back in ‘Red Handed’). The progression of their feelings was something left to viewers to evaluate (I personally think ‘Ball of Fire’ may have been the turning point for Lisbon; for Jane it might be the case with Hardy, I’m not sure). Anyway, I don’t know if it was just a growing affection or something more, but there was the seed of something from the start, and perceptive Bosco knew it I think (using her words about Jane solving cases to ask her if that is all he is to her). This is part of why I loved the Bosco arc: there was so much subtext going on between the characters imho… 🙂

    Now, back to Mashburn: firstly, the vest vs. turtleneck fetish battle. I don’t know if vests were really Lisbon’s switch: maybe they just remind her of the Jane she used to admire and long for… In a way, I would find that even more endearing, because turtlenecks or whatever else could just be a aesthetical/erotic thing that made her react on the surface, while vests and Jane’s old days figure stirred something deeper, both in attraction and on an emotional level. I like the idea that vests might have become her switch because they’re Jane.

    On the other end, your interpretation about Jane throwing Lisbon in Mash’s arms “because at that point he is certainly not capable of becoming romantically involved with Lisbon himself and he knows it would only be temporary” is as much plausible as my theory, I guess. Maybe it seems a little too selfless for him and I still think he was pushing too hard if that was really the case, because when he acted as a teasing matchmaker with Rigsby, he didn’t mention his attraction to Van Pelt anymore after their altercation in the pilot. Why? Because, seeing how miffed she would be, it would have been counterproductive… Yet, he never stopped teasing Lisbon about it: even after just meeting the man, he couldn’t stop bringing it up with her. It was so not subtle… And the fact that he destroyed Mash’s car (which Cho thought was intentional), supposedly in order to set up his plan when he could have just found another less offensive or damaging way was intriguing… even more since he did it after showing off skills the other man admired and since afterwards he used one of Walter’s cars to pick up Teresa to have a classy dinner. This was one of the only times in the show back then that we saw them eating together outside of the workplace. Plus, of course, he pretended to hook her up with Walter, yet upon meeting him, *he* spent the most time with the man… Those ideas don’t make your argument any less valid, but they show that there was much left to interpretation in those two episodes with the playboy billionaire… Even more since *both* points of view may be true: Jane might have wanted to give a fling to Lisbon that wouldn’t endanger their own relation, while being subconsciously reluctant about letting her go to another man… hence why he brought up Mash twice in a sexually charged context even though it’s been years. It must have stung pretty badly to hide his hurt behind a mask.

    And yes, I completely agree that Mash was “a surrogate for Jane in Lisbon’s affections”. Even though when he first showed interest in her quite openly, he was with his girlfriend/fling, which is probably why Lisbon wouldn’t have followed through with Walter at the time… Similarities between the two men were stressed out (just like Lisbon’s dissemblance with the nasty ex-fiancée was hinted at in the same way than they did with Erica). It’s interesting how many times they used that similar/dissimilar plot device to put potential love interest into a particular light in comparison with either Jane or Lisbon: Mash similar to Jane, but a playboy; Erica in contrast with Saint Teresa; Bosco more by the book than Jane but a vigilante nonetheless; honest Pike contrasting with con man Patrick… and the more obvious example, Lorelei, who was presented as a surrogate for Lisbon to lonely Jane only to be shown as her opposite afterwards)… All in all, it looks like they used the trick to make Jane and Lisbon as the standard to evaluate any other character that might get romantically involved with either of them, which is in hindsight pretty telling about the way they planned to make the relation develop.

    Thank you for the great discussion. I enjoy it very much too! 🙂

  • Ruritania

    I’ve enjoyed your reviews over the years. I tend to agree with Kilgore Trout that Jane deliberately manipulated Lisbon into a one-night stand with Mashburn, probably thinking both that it would be good for her and that it would be a way to distance himself from his own feelings for Lisbon. He also knew, or at least assumed, that it was only a temporary relationship. As for Lisbon, I think she slept with Mashburn in a kind of “I’ll show Jane” mood. Mashburn was also a surrogate for Jane — since I can’t have Jane, I’ll show him that I’m not all work and no play by sleeping with this man who is kind of like him!

    Lisbon very much used Pike in a similar fashion. She blatantly flaunted Pike in Jane’s face, trying to provoke him into actually acting on his feelings for her. I think she probably was prepared to leave Jane and go to Washington with Pike because she had reached the point where she had wasted too much of her life on Jane, without any personal commitment or hope of a relationship and she isn’t getting any younger. But she also desperately wanted Jane to say something and stop her from going.

    I’m not sure how much Lisbon understands her own motivations. There’s a lot she doesn’t openly admit to herself, as with her feelings for Jane. I think they were in love with each other in the first season episodes, but both of them understood at some level that it wasn’t going to go anywhere.

  • Lou ann

    I am so enjoying your dialogue. I am really not astute enough to join in, but it’s great to eavesdrop on your conversation.

    I have been paying attention to wardrobe, too. I was happy to see the vests make their reappearance, but I noticed the handmade socks from Washington State disappeared when the vests returned. At first it worried me because I considered the gifted socks to be a symbolic coupling of Lisbon to Jane’s journey (symbolized by his shoes), but their interactions in the latter few episodes have allayed my fears. (I am so looking forward to your review of Green Light, speaking of on-going progress of interactions.)

    Thank you for enhancing and enriching my enjoyment of, IMO, the best scripted show, and best acting, on American TV.

  • Jessica

    I agree with the above post, you all do a great job at analyzing the show and bringing together threads of past and present. I wish I could add something but my thoughts would be too shallow compared to your!! Just wanted you to know your work is appreciated (it must take you a long time to think and write all this!)…and also looking forward to the next review of Green Light which I thought was another great episode this season and step forward/good material for your relationship analysis!

  • Kilgore Trout

    @Lou ann

    Thanks for your kind words. I didn’t notice the socks! Then again, I did think they looked overly warm for Texas weather (then again I don’t live in the States so I could just be off base) so maybe practicality finally trumped sentiment. It was also only the one pair so unless he washed them every night I’d hope for Lisbon’s sake that they got a rest every now and then :-)


    So many points to cover. There is no doubt that Bosco is jealous of Lisbon’s relationship with her consultant . I think it’s 3 episodes in (Red Badge) where Jane guesses the nature of Bosco’s love for Lisbon; he clearly states it at the end of the episode and I think we can take him at his word. You have some really great insights into Bosco and I agree it was a great arc for the show (as was, IMO the relationship between Jane and Hightower).

    Trying to guess when the nature of Jane and Lisbon’s feelings changed for each other is very difficult. The Mentalist is a police procedural at the end of the day and not a pure character drama so there is little time devoted to examining relationships in detail. Much comes down to how Baker and Tunney decided to play key scenes.

    A while back I started a piece on trying to map the changes in Jane and Lisbon’s relationship but gave it up as too difficult to get any real clarity.

    I would summarise as follows. I believe that in Season 1 Lisbon is clearly battling with a strong physical/surface attraction to Jane. He is completely different to any other man she has ever interacted with, very good looking and to make things worse he clearly loves to mess with her head. Hence the awkwardness, numerous blushes, etc. I do like your suggestion that vests become her ‘thing’ because of Jane rather than just a fascination with that particular article of clothing.

    Some way into season 2 I feel she gets past her attraction and very much just sees him as a close colleague, even a friend. She is never truly secure in that friendship, however, because she is never completely sure of how much she actually means to Jane. Even in late Season 5 it’s cute how genuinely chuffed she is when Jane says he considers her a friend and hence she isn’t a suspect in his book of names. This stems from her own insecurities as much as anything else because by Jane’s actions we can clearly see she means a great deal to him.

    I think its Jane’s 6 month absence at the end of season 4 that forces Lisbon to confront her feelings for Jane. I think over that time her grief at losing him makes her realise this is not just a friend she has lost. Of course it also highlights why her love is doomed and she probably resigns herself to it being forever unrequited. The whole Lorelei arc shatters many of her preconceptions on the kind of man that Jane is and further reinforces that she cannot/shouldn’t act on her feelings.

    Since self sacrifice is such a big part of Lisbon’s nature I think consciously or not she accepts that Jane is the centre of her emotional life despite it not being a normal romantic relationship. Its only during his 2 year absence that she finally examines what her life has become and decides to make some positive changes by looking for fulfilment from someone other than Jane (ironically just when Jane might finally be ready to move their relationship towards a more conventional footing).

    I find it much harder to peg when Jane’s feelings change. For one thing in the early seasons his mind just isn’t in the right space to acknowledge any feelings even if they did exist.

    He certainly likes and cares about Lisbon but he doesn’t see her or anyone else in a romantic way. It isn’t until season 3 (thanks to a judicious nudge form Hightower) that Jane goes on an actual date with Kristina Frye and we see that he clearly isn’t ready to pursue a relationship despite her being a very attractive proposition for him. As an aside it’s interesting there is no hint of jealousy from Lisbon in the back to back Frye episodes that season.

    After that the only women Jane allows close are precisely those that do not represent any sort of long term possibilities (Erica and Lorelei). It would be simple to say that Jane’s obsession with revenge simply doesn’t allow room for any romantic involvements whatsoever. And yet… From the first season he does choose Lisbon’s life over his quest for vengeance. He kills Hardy at the end of season 1 though it could be argued he acted purely on instinct. Then again he chooses to risk death at Lisbon’s side in the first part of Strawberries and Cream rather than take the safe option and keep his vengeance alive. Are these acts of romantic love? No. But they are clear signs that Lisbon is by far the most important person in his life and there is love there in some form.

    Then we get to the final episode of season 4 where he says “love you” just before fake shooting Lisbon. This declaration is completely out of character for him and its also not particularly romantic in its delivery. What was he thinking here? In part I think it’s the realisation that he may well be going to his death and he needed to give her some acknowledgement of how important she was to him. It might also have been a manifestation of how wrong it must have felt to point a gun at Lisbon and pull the trigger. I’m not convinced it was a declaration of romantic love, however. Clearly he does love Lisbon but in what precise way he doesn’t know and doesn’t want to know. Hell, it’s a question he’s still grappling with right up to the airplane scene in Blue Bird.

    In short, I think Lisbon was initially very attracted to her consultant, moved past that to genuine friendship and regard before realising it was something more than that during his Vegas absence. Because she perceived it as being hopelessly one sided she largely buried those feelings and no doubt helped by Jane’s 2 year absence in Venezuela eventually got to a point where she could seriously date Pike. Her deep love for Jane remained, however, and when he finally lowered his guard at the end of Blue Bird she was true to heart and chose to stay with him.

    For Jane his obsession with revenge was initially his sole focus but Lisbon by being the awesome person she was slipped under his guard. Whatever lines Jane refused to cross were because of her. She became his moral and emotional anchor though he never really allowed himself to examine the nature of his feelings. I don’t think Jane truly confronted his romantic feelings for Lisbon until close to the end of Season 6. Without the catalyst of Pike and her imminent departure for DC he may never have progressed beyond a weird platonic friendship/soul mate relationship with Lisbon.

    Simon Baker summed it up really well in an interview about the conclusion to season 6:

    “Everything seems to be good, and then suddenly the girl that I like to stand next to has these “demands” upon my character to give more of himself… That’s a part of it. It’s also that Jane is a broken toy. He looks like he’s gotten to be OK, but really, he’s not functioning completely. I guess Lisbon’s wondering and hoping whether or not he ever will function again, and he’s looking at her, thinking, “She’s going to walk away, and I can’t fix myself. I’ve forgotten how to give of myself and surrender.”

    For me that sums up Jane perfectly. For the vast majority of the show he only allowed himself to see Lisbon as the person he liked to stand next to and it took a drastic turn of events to get him to confront his true feelings and move beyond that.

  • bloomingviolet2013

    Thank you, Lou Ann! That’s very, very kind!!! 🙂

    @ Kilgore Trout : really interesting points, as always! Dscussing with you is a real pleasure! 🙂

    About the progression of the feelings between Jane and Lisbon, I agree with your analysis, even though my take is very slightly different.

    For Lisbon, I think you’re right about her battling a physical surface attraction for Jane in S1. She’s attracted, but very wary of him… the first signs of protectiveness appear on screen in ‘Red John’s Friends’ after his first encounter with RJ -even though we can assume there must have been more instances off screen where she felt the need to shield him from pain, in hindsight, given how he was supposed to have come into her team in ‘Red Dawn’. Which leads to the caring feelings she admits to in the finale. For Jane, I agree that it’s more complicated to analyze, at least in the first seasons. I think the reflex of saving her life took him off guard, even though there was some attraction on his side too. There were some very discreet hints, for instance, he was more miffed about her giving back the emeralds than about Van Pelt doing the same. He enjoyed her embarrassment to his tricks about reading her mind… and given her blushing, he knew that she thought of him as an attractive male. Plus, from the start he tended to reach out for her and tease her more than he ever did with Grace, even when he must have noticed that there was basic attraction on the rookie’s side too (she did a double take upon meeting him and during dinner she was trying to get his attention), which probably faded the first time they talked, because she understood that he was acting as a jerk.

    In S2, Jane’s action of shooting Hardy and Bosco’s arrival change the deal, I also agree with you about that. She’s heading more towards friendship, maybe not because she’s gotten over her physical pull towards her consultant, but because it’s easier for her to label her complex jumbled feelings as “reluctant friendship” than as something more dangerous and not allowed (either by the rules or because of her deep distrust of what he was after in their relation). To put it simply, in theory had Lisbon decided to have a fling with Jane -and had he not been so emotionally damaged -, she would have done it in S1, I guess, when there was only attraction, not deepening feelings: in S2, she started to get more deeply involved, because she started to trust him. He helped her in ‘Red Badge’ and in his own way was here for after Bosco’s death too. That’s precisely when he started teasing her about Mashburn and that fact would fit with your interpretation of Jane’s behavior then: throwing her into a billionaire’s arms for some “empty glamour” would have cheered her up in her grief-stricken state. He was acting as a friend indeed. But I believe the attraction to be still here, because ‘Rose-Colored Glasses’ was played that way; the “jerk” she was attracted to in high school is so much an opportunity for subtext, after all… On Jane’s side, I think attraction was hinted at: it’s just a detail, but at the end of ‘Red Badge’, after he’d seen her in her short jersey, he comes into her office after Bosco leaves and as she turns away, he glances at her. That very brief moment is completely up to interpretation but I remember thinking at the time that he was checking her out: he didn’t react to the jersey but when she wasn’t looking, the mask slipped and male appreciation could be more visible.

    Then Hightower’s arc started. I’ve always wondered if she had not a hidden agenda into giving Jane advice about his love life. Honestly, if she had spotted the attraction for Kristina, there is no way she wouldn’t have been worried about Lisbon’s growing involvement with her golden boy. There’s a scene, I think it’s at the end of ‘The Red Box’, where she comes into Lisbon’s office to warn her that she’ll be taking sanctions about Rigsby and Grace. What does she sees upon entering? Lisbon smiling and sitting at her desk and Jane, sprawled on her couch and talking with her: she interrupted a pretty intimate moment supposedly between an unruly consultant and the by the book boss she had just told would take the brunt of whatever transgression she couldn’t prevent from him. Wouldn’t she suspect that there was one more pair potentially on the verge of fraternization? Then, in ‘Blood Money’ when Lisbon is suspended, Jane’s scheme aims to help her (adding a new step in their friendship). And two episodes later, Madeleine pushes him into the arms of the first woman he shows interest in… IMHO, in addition of liking Jane and wanting him to get better (even though the poor man was clearly not ready for entering the dating pool yet), she was trying to diffuse a problematic situation with Lisbon. If those two had been involved, she would have had a hard time separating them. It was much too soon for them yet, which is why Teresa didn’t show jealousy when he dated Kristina… if we suppose that she really *knew* about it, of course. And she didn’t really like the other woman anyway (cf. her comments about the other’s home).

    In S3, things are given a new perspective. There are three episodes in a row that are intriguing: ‘Red Hot’ and Lisbon’s fling with Walter, then ‘Ball of Fire’, which in my opinion is a turning point in how Lisbon’s consciously perceives Jane, as she was more worried for him than she would have been from another member of her team, cf. ‘My Bloody Valentine’… and there’s the point about the kidnapper luring Lisbon in to kill her because Jane was responsible for the death of someone she loved. Why chose his *boss* to make him suffer then? And there’s ‘Red Moon’ and Jane openly trying to peek at her changing clothes: it hints that he’s attracted to her and knows it. That coupled with his somewhat jealousy at understanding that she planned to have sex with Walter propelled the “there’s something I wanted to tell you for a long time” line/stunt in ‘Strawberry and Cream’. They were starting to realize that their own feelings were more than attraction and friendship. Jane might have been a step ahead (as Lisbon didn’t want to hear him out, even though she watched the matchmaking video with keen interest).

    Open friendship and hidden attraction were still displayed in S4: ‘Blood and Sand’ covers the first part and desire is visible when Jane is in his fugue state. Even when he’s himself, he’s trying to get closer, for instance when he invites her to share an ice cream at the end of ‘The Redshirt’, just before ‘Fugue in Red’. Those feelings are heightened and come to maturation during the six months absence indeed, as you point out. I think Jane’s more aware of what’s at stake, because of the Lisbon-like appearance Lorelei showed him at first. But Lisbon’s been realizing what she felt since she asks him what he means when talking about “love”. The fact that he eludes the question is interesting, because a simple “you’re my best friend, I care a lot about you” would have suffice to put things to rest.

    Season 5 showed a shifting because the Lorelei debacle had much impact on Lisbon, primarily because it hurt her morals, then because she was jealous and because there was the possibility that Jane had been using her as a tool too, hence her demanding that he choose in ‘There Will Be Blood’. The situation with Lorelei must have been an eye opener in more ways than one and Lisbon could no longer hide the nature of her feelings from herself. On the other hand, Jane knows he loves Lisbon (‘Devil’s Cherry’) and playfully brings up a more sexual component in ‘Red Velvet Cupcakes’ (the “platonic love”/fetish talk). That’s why they’re both very aware of what’s at play in the sunset scene in ‘Fire And Brimstone’ in Season 6… problem is that they have no such knowledge of what’s inside the other’s heart and that aspect is developed in the end of the season. The more blatant difference is that most of the progress they had experienced so far was due to Jane, whereas in the end of S6, Lisbon was the one who wanted more from him while he would have been happy to stay in the comfortable status quo and just “stand next to her” as you (and Baker) very accurately put it.

    (sorry for any mistakes, I’m writing in a rush)

  • rose

    Hello everyone,

    I don’t have much to add to this great discussion in the comments (I am open to all interpretations!), but I had a couple of small things to mention about Silver Briefcase (in no particular order):

    – I know that the eagle is a symbol in the US military, but the way those small figurines were perched on the colonel’s desk just screamed “predator” to me.

    – My theory as to why Lisbon looked so sweetly pleased when Jane proposed the “pretend to buy a house” ruse is based on her fears about him leaving: buying a house together is a symbol of stability and commitment. Not an Airstream, which could just rumble out of her life. Given her admission in Graybar Hotel and Jane’s ‘thinking out loud’ about running away in Black Market, it wouldn’t be surprising.

    – I loved, loved, loved the visuals in this episode! Lots of people said it was very cinematic, which expresses it perfectly. The interplay of light and dark and the symmetry of their stance (in the briefcase scene) as they tower over the killers… Gosh. It looked like some kind of act of Divine Justice being delivered, if you get what I mean!?! I can’t explain it. I think they are in the room used in the training scene at the start (Cho and Lisbon also in symmetry, creeping through the building), only instead of a physical ambush they have created a mental one.

    – I am dying to figure out which one of the killers did it, though I understand that it’s the point of episode not to know! I think it’s interesting that Lisbon kind of bets on the woman based on her previous cold reading, but Jane never confirms or denies this. It is one of very few times (ever?) that he does NOT give us the answer. Why not? Maybe, as Violet remarks, being the cleverest person in the room is slowly losing importance (I think we also see this in a key scene in Green Light, but I won’t go into that now!). Maybe he doesn’t care about the cold hard fact of the physical murder – to him they were both killers, so what’s the difference? He’s not curious… But he certainly uses people’s natural curiousity against them (both with the colonel and his mistress, and Vega).

    – The little banter scene at the end was just delightful. 😀 Again, we’ve got Jane talking about escaping, running away to sea, listing all these magical adventures they could go on together – as if he’s been starved inside for so long and now just wants to make the most of everything the world has to offer. Lisbon – as is her wont – is still trying to ground him somewhat (see house comment), but I am intrigued to know whether this is just an automatic response mechanism, or whether she will ultimately allow herself to be spirited off somewhere (or indeed whether Jane, for all his talk, is content to settle). I mean, we’ve talked before about how Jane brings that little sparkle of excitement to her life…

  • Kilgore Trout


    Lisbon is certainly worried about Jane’s long term commitments but I’m starting to wonder if its more in the professional sphere than in the personal. She knows Jane so she would be aware that when he commits to a course of action or a relationship it’s for the long haul (which for an emotional flight risk like Lisbon would be scary in its own right).

    She also knows, however, that Jane has little regard for social institions or a codified system of justice. Catholic Lisbon is New Testament to Jane’s Old Testament attitude to writing wrongs. An eye for an eye is very much how Jane rolls and he’s all about justice being dispensed at a personal level.

    Lisbon knows that law enforcement does not appeal to him for its own sake and hence her attempts at highlighting other aspects of the job such as the mental challenge. As you rightly point out, however, now that Jane is in a relationship with Lisbon other appetites have been tempered and he no longer has a compulsion to dazzle her or others with his brilliance. This may in part also be a legacy of his final encounter with Red John where he displayed real humility.

    Lisbon, of course, is still very much committed to her job though perhaps no longer married to it. She is now open to a life outside her job, something that Jane has always offered her in one form or another. Still genuinely moving away from her career is perhaps as big a step as Jane finally letting go of his wedding ring. A key element of this season may be how both move on from a previous ‘marriage’.

    Getting back to Lisbon’s reaction to the house hunting I think it tickled her on a number of levels. Firstly it was Jane having a cheeky little poke at her for keeping their relationship a secret. They were on the job but he found a way to bring up their relationship in a way that didnt jeopardise her wish for privacy. Secondly I think its innately funny that the 40+ Jane referred to Lisbon as his boyfriend, so she was amused by his use of language. Finally, I think she was amused by the prospect of role playing such a mundane scenario as house hunting with the anything but mundane consultant.


    Thank you for bringing up so many great little vignettes in the story of Jane and Lisbon. For me the hard part is separating out the romantic love from the fascination, affection, attraction and friendship that was there from the start. From the very first episode there was a wonderful chemistry between Baker and Tunney’s characters. Certainly there was a surface physical attraction (more on Lisbon’s side but Jane was certainly not immune) but far more than that they just clicked. They connected on an almost spiritual level which contrasted sharply with the far more primal attraction between Rigsby and Van Pelt.

    So I agree completely that even for damaged Jane it was always about Lisbon and vice versa. It just took a long time for them both to grow and heal until they ended up on the same page at the same time. Jane offers Lisbon a sense of challenge, wonder and a nurturing love she lost far too early in life whereas she loves him for his inner qualities rather than his superficial glamour, thus allaying his deep feelings of insecurity and unworthiness.

  • Kilgore Trout


    Sorry, forgot to mention your intriguing thoughts on Hightower. I love your idea! It’s also reinforced because when she tells Jane “she likes you, that one”, Jane asks “which one” and of course the only other woman in the room apart from Kristina was Lisbon!

    It also works for me because there was always a very flirtatious subtext between Hightower and Jane so the director may have seen Lisbon as a sexual rival (at least initially). If I recall correctly Hightower’s marriage failed because she had an affair with a Caucasian co-worker. Jane may have been just the kind of man who tripped her switch and the perceptive consultant would have picked up on that fact and taken advantage of it and being a fellow player Hightower would have been well aware of what he was doing.

  • bloomingviolet2013

    @Rose: I had the same idea about the “eagle/predator”, but as it’s a common symbol for army officers, I thought I may have been overanalyzing it. Glad you share that interpretation! 🙂

    Honestly, my money would be on the colonel as a killer… his coldness at the very beginning didn’t fit the “she was like a different person” line: he was too calm when walking next to the corpse to have been an accomplice, I guess. Plus the detail that he whispered something into his wife’s ear seemed to fit his personality, while his lover was more easily scared by the interrogation. But one way or another, I agree that it doesn’t really matter in the end.

    @ Kilgore Trout: I’m not so sure that Jane may have titillated Hightower’s switch on a physical level… I was under the impression the flirty tension between them was more due to Jane’s humor, smartness and transgressions. As much as Madeleine insisted on detaining power and authority over them all, she was more a rebel than she let on: that much was hinted at when she ran away and when she came to his rescue after Kirkland kidnapped him. But of course, that’s left to interpretation too, because we never had much insight into her failed marriage or into what she found in her supposed lover…

    I also love your take and Rose’s remarks about the house hunting. And the “previous marriage” aspect is spot on, as well as the “Old Testament/New Testament” differences between slightly cold, uncompromising and quite revengeful Jane and forgiving Lisbon. Great ideas! 😀

    Last point: what if “romantic love”, “fascination, affection, attraction and friendship”, as well as “chemistry” and “spiritual” connection were all mixed together? I guess I consider them all together as different facets of the growing feelings between them, of the pull they felt towards the other. Good or bad stuff between them was always very layered, because they’re complex and very private characters with lots of self-imposed restrictions… Much more than younger, less experienced and “more primal” Rigsby and Van Pelt indeed. Plus there is that “triangle” aspect of their relationship pointed out some time ago by KM, I think: their relationship was elaborated around three main aspects that were declined under various shades. They were acting as siblings, parents and potential love interest: those three levels are stirred together, sometimes in the same scene. For instance, after they found Renfrew’s body, they sat on the bed and Lisbon’s worry about Jane’s distress was parental. Their sitting together on a bed the dead man probably used to have sex in with the prostitute who was killed with him was more implicitly sexualized. Or same with most times he touched her in a friendly fashion, taking her wrist, putting a diamond tiara on her head: the limit between innocent friend/sibling gesture and a more romantic undertone is very thin… When they danced together, he offered as a friend too, yet there was a romantic aspect. And so on… Trying to take the facets of those feelings apart might prove very difficult: for example, attraction on Lisbon’s part involved a physical aspect as well as fascination for his brilliance and chemistry based on shared humor. The spiritual part also stemmed from the trust they could put in the other, from the affection they shared that helped them make more sense of the world than just the lonely dark place they’ve both been in at some point of their life.

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