Upon learning that the FBI is looking for her little brother Jimmy (Robert Belushi) as a material witness in a murder case, Lisbon and Jane fly to her hometown Chicago to find him. It quickly becomes an emotional trip down memory lane as Lisbon is forced to face her old childhood house as well as the resentment of troublemaker Jimmy and her other brother, family man Stan (Derek Phillips).
Marisa Wegrzyn did a wonderful work in fleshing out Lisbon’s mysterious childhood. The picture she painted not only fitted with Lisbon’s personality and the few details we knew of the character scattered through rare episodes like ‘Red Tide’, ‘Code Red’, ‘Where in the World Is Carmine O’Brien?’ and ‘So Long, and Thanks for All the Red Snapper’, but it also brought to life a brighter side of her memories. The other episodes, even the one featuring Tommy, her other charming mutineer of a brother, showed her worry and uneasiness towards her family, as a kind of worn negative photography that she carries with her but doesn’t like to look at… While inside the old, messy, but well-loved ‘Little Yellow House’, Lisbon is finally able to let go of her sadness to step outside, where her family is waiting for her in a cheerful and affectionate party. All in all, it’s a very cute and heart-warming moment.
Detailed AKA Humungous Review (spoilers galore)
VIS#1 Jane plays with his team
When she enters the bullpen, Lisbon is greeted by a pleasant scene: Jane is teaching balance to Vega by making her keep a toy straight on the palm of her hand. Cho and Wylie are looking and Jane tells her to think about anything to keep her concentration. He proceeds to talk about s’mores made of “Graham crackers, chocolate, marshmallows toasted on a campfire”… until one of Cho’s remarks that “s’mores are better in a microwave” shocks Vega into dropping her toy. This light-hearted moment reminds of the ones he shared with his old team, playing with them and teaching them tricks, particularly as he’s wearing what looks like one of his old three-pieces suits and is later seen drinking from his old teacup. Jane always liked to show off his teaching skills and his method so far for bonding with his new teammates was to offer them toys (in ‘Black Helicopters’), so he’s giving to same attention to the rookie. But the colorful toy and the vivid image of “a campfire” also prepare viewers for the childhood memories about to assault Lisbon.
Indeed, Lisbon is soon approached by a woman with upsetting news: her youngest brother Jimmy is a fugitive. He’s fled after the Feds labeled him a witness in the murder of a judge’s son. After agreeing to convince him to turn him in, she gets Abbott’s authorization to go to Chicago to try to help. Her hesitation when asked if she’s close to him already indicated that she knows he won’t be looking for her help on his own –at least not hers, since he called their brother Stan-, so in true mother hen’s fashion, she’ll be the one looking for him… Interestingly, after showing that he related to Jane’s past, Abbott also shares similarities with Lisbon: “I’m the oldest of five”, “some days you want to strangle them… all of them, at the same time…” Like Lisbon explained in ‘The Greybar Hotel’ after defusing a fight, this experience hints at where the man got his leading skills and his protective streak. It also puts the Fed’s indiscretion at talking openly about a family matter in front of Lisbon’s coworkers into a less unprofessional light: instead of basking in gossip, Lisbon’s team wants to help.
On the other hand, Jane’s willingness to follow her is pretty sweet: he doesn’t assume that she needs his help and doesn’t sneak his way into her private life this time. Instead, both dance for a bit around the notion of “do you want (me) to come?” showing how dependent they’d become of the other, yet also how unsure they’re still about the other’s commitment. After Jane states that “fun’s overrated”, they come to an agreement: “we’ll do it together”. It’s a big change from the scheme Jane used in ‘Blue Bird’ to make her follow him: back then, the agreement was about making their last case together “fun”. Now, they can be more honest and trusting: there’s no need to hide behind false smiles.
VIS#2: Lisbon’s childhood, residual pain
1) The house: family life
That’s what Lisbon understands when arriving to her old childhood house, explaining “my parents bought this house when I was three. I lived here all through high school… I haven’t been here since my dad died.” Jane is understanding and mindful to cheer her up by admiring the house. He points out that he never lived in a house when he was a kid, so he’s a little envious… They quickly discover that Jimmy was her but the surprising part is that inside the house, the past is still alive: the key is hidden at the same place and inside an old book Jane finds some photography of her as a kid and a yellowed newspaper article about her as the “student of the week.” Captivated, he asks her where her room was and runs to it while holding the photo. He’s delighted to find here a “wall graffiti” made by her: a kid drawing of a perfect family with the father near the yellow house, a car, trees, flowers, a bird and a big dark-haired mother near little Teresa… Jane’s fascinated by Lisbon’s past, he’s always tried to unveil the mystery that shrouded her childhood, but this time he more openly displays the tenderness he feels when getting to know her better.
This also probably stems from the slight envy he admitted to feeling: his childhood was spent alone with an abusive and cold-hearted father in a trailer, the only place he ever called home was a trailer park (‘Red John’s Rules’), he doesn’t have any material souvenir from that time, so getting to feel the warmth of a family through the woman he loves grounds him into something he’s been yearning for and that he can now share with her. In that way too, Lisbon’s influence is setting his past at peace: her still tangible happy pre-tragedy childhood that she didn’t get rid of even when things went down reconciles him with the notion of family, which must be linked with bad memories from his less than stellar upbringing and the failure of his own attempt at building one. Indeed, it’s certainly no coincidence if Lisbon’s painting is made on a wall, just like RJ’s smiley: both the yellow house and Jane’s family residence keep the mark of a traumatic event that crushed the family living in it. Yet the smiley is a reminder of the tragedy, while the child’s drawing is one of what’s been lost from happier times, hinting that even though the ordeal has kept them from fully moving on so far, there’s still light at the end of the darkness; they’ll get there. As always, Blake Neely’s music skillfully enhances the nostalgia of the sweet moment, until it’s shattered by a man attacking Jane out of the blue.
Jane’s interest for the house matches Lisbon’s giddiness at pretend house hunting with the man in ‘The Silver Briefcase’. May them be focused on a past home or on a place to settled down as a new couple starting a life together, both cases are linked by the notion of moving on and maybe building a family (Lisbon remembering when their parents bought the house).
2) Brother Stan: how she left behind her family ties
The next logical step is visiting Stan Lisbon whom Jimmy’s gotten in touch with. Stan was the one responsible for the “disaster” inside the yellow house: he’s been willing to make repairs in order to move in with his family but obviously he’s not made much progress yet… His decision to live in the old house full of memories contrasts with Lisbon’s reluctance: while he’s okay with living there and while Jimmy seeks refuge inside too as in a reassuring haven, Teresa has not returned since their father’s suicide. It already indicated that they’ve different manners to deal with their past and the subsequent grief. Of the three, Lisbon has chosen the worst grieving process, apparently: she cut ties with her pain and ignored it instead of learning to live with it. As a consequence, her wounds have not fully healed yet which explains why her past has always been a touchy issue and why, unlike Stan and Tommy, she couldn’t get herself to have a family of her own even though she wanted one –her envy in front of Rigsby’s happiness and her willingness to follow Pike because he could give her a future showed well enough what she longed for.
On the other hand, the mess inside Stan’s current home hints that he’s not completely dealt with their history either: the baby and kid clutter hint that there are still personal matters he’s not put in order. Lisbon’s need to apologize to Jane for it is telling: “I’m sorry, my family is messy.” Jane’s acknowledgement that “messy people are good people” doesn’t reassure her: her defensive “I’m not messy” is met by an affectionate “you’re messy on the inside”. Lisbon’s control freak tendencies have indeed the same meaning than Stan’s untidiness: for years, she’s kept her stuff in unopened cardboards (‘Red Badge’) in an attempt to control her emotions instead of dealing with them, while her brother left everything in the open… Not to mention that the later discovery that Stan is going through a very difficult patch because he wanted to have money and do the right thing for his family explains that his “life is a mess” in more senses than one. Same when Jimmy accuses Lisbon of only calling him when she thinks he “messed up”: both men make efforts to compare with Lisbon’s strict moral standards represented by her orderliness and they end up in trouble for trying too hard.
Plus, amusingly Jane’s accepting remarks about messiness may remind faithful viewers of a different belief he expressed in ‘The Scarlett Letter’ about how messy women make good lovers. Is it reading too much into the line to wonder if he might implicitly be admitting to viewers that, even though she’s not privy to the joke, under her straightforward and sometimes uptight appearance Teresa must match his hopes in a more intimate setting?
Either way, the meeting with Stan and his family stirs up mixed feelings: from the start, there’s an edge lurking underneath the affection. Her sister-in-law Karen teases her about not wearing cowboy boots (she expected them “on the Chicago gal living in Texas”, a continuation nod to Abbott’s Western movies references in ‘Green Light’: in addition of it being part of a running joke about Texas clichés, it also shows that she’s in for a confrontation, which is why a poster featuring a cowboy can be seen later behind Jimmy when the scheme is being put on the road). But at the same time, it’s obvious Lisbon has not kept herself updated on the family status. She didn’t realized that her nephew Joey is already more than three years old: there’s already three more children in the family, Annie who’s too in a preschool age, the toddler Brian that Lisbon was cooing at and newborn Paul. Which leads viewers to wonder how she missed all those events since they know that she moved to Texas… she’s probably only been calling for serious matters (like Jimmy getting in trouble) and to tell them where they could get her in case something bad happened. After all, the very first time she mentioned getting in contact with one of her brothers was in Season 2 ‘Code Red’ when she thought she was dying. Getting them updated on matters like her love life and getting the man of her dreams seem too trivial, hence their surprise at meeting Jane as her boyfriend…
Indeed, Stan comments that “it’s fun to meet one of Teresa’s boyfriends” and launches on a tale about one of her previous boyfriends, Woody Squire a local bad boy wearing eyeliner and a ring, which he pierced himself on his lip: he got infected right before prom… Was Woody that “jerk” who Lisbon loved from –not so- afar but couldn’t dance with, as mentioned in ‘Red-Colored Glasses’? Actually Stan is so adamant to sticking to the well-known clichéd family hobby of embarrassing his sister in front of a new boyfriend that it feels a bit forced: he’s obviously clutching to it in order to avoid answering Lisbon’s question about their brother, “the one who’s in trouble with the federal government”… He’s siding with Jimmy’s plea for secrecy by telling that he “will be okay”: “I mean he’s dumb, but he’s not stupid” and “whatever Jimmy got into, he could handle it”… He remarks “not all of us are cops, T.” and calls her “boss” and, after inviting her to the christening of the baby he scoffs when she tells him she’ll try. There’s defiance towards her job and her commanding status: it doesn’t stem from jealousy, but from the awareness that her job is just a pretext: she’s been using it as an emotional barrier not to get close to people (he retorts to a startled Lisbon that he got a job too, yet he’s not busy all the time). This is why Stan feels more comfortable remembering the sister he knew from old memories and chatting with Jane than actually talking to her.
Meanwhile, Jane is already at work analyzing the man: he’s asking about his job and has probably understood he was hiding something. When they’re out, Lisbon calls Wylie back at headquarters to get information on the murder case Jimmy is involved in and Jane takes that opportunity to give him a “pretty detailed” description of his aggressor.
3) Brother Jimmy: the one who got in trouble
The trip continues at a bar where they hope to find some friends of the wayward Jimmy. As soon as Teresa steps inside, she’s warmly greeted by a former friend, a younger guy that she used to babysit and who starts recalling a trick he played on her once: he locked her out of the house and she threw a brick through a window to get back in. She was such a “straight arrow” that she paid for the window even though it wasn’t her fault. This memory is pretty enlightening: after the rebel streak expressed through her taste in men (her former bad boy boyfriend who foreshadowed Jane’s transgressions), her stubbornness in sticking to her task even at the cost of some misdemeanor from herself gives a new insight into her dealings with Jane, whom she also felt responsible for. Not letting go of her responsibilities and trying to enforce the right thing to do into her charge’s mind was indeed the basis of the trust vs. control saga, to quote Reviewbrain’s wonderfully accurate expression.
This is when Jane shows that he’s more than Teresa’s tame boyfriend: he’s covertly lifted the guy’s phone to check if Jimmy has been calling him. As he tells the younger man matter-of-factly, “you seem like a very nice kid, but you’re a terrible liar.” After Lisbon puts the younger man’s scruples at rest by insisting that it’s a family urgency, he spills the beans. Jane concludes the talk with another family note: “your mom called, you should probably call her back”. The consultant is hell-bent into reuniting family members, it seems.
Finally, the dynamic duo finds their prey and interestingly many details echo Jane’s chase for redemption: the red elements in the background in Stan’s house and at the bar, the birds at the lack and the fact that Jimmy is fishing all remind of themes of the RJ era which is a way to hint that more than her brother, it’s her whole past that Lisbon is trying to reach. The meeting goes even worse than it did with Stan, because in spite of calling her “sis”, James is adamant to stress out the distance between them: his reluctance to accept her help (“did I ask for your help?”) quickly turns in something bitterer: “it’s funny how I’m only your brother when you think I messed up. Look, talking to an FBI agent is not a great idea for me right now. Talking to the feds is gonna get me in hot water with a very dangerous guy. ” Obviously, he perceives Lisbon’s worry as controlling and disdainful and she’s part of the antagonistic group in his little run in with the law. He doesn’t trust her and, like Stan, he resents her job. He may not be so much aware that she’s only using it as a pretext to avoid them, because he seems to focus more on the position of authority. Interestingly, the same dynamic seemed at work with Tommy in ‘Where In The World Is Carmine O’Brien’ when he asked her to stop undermining his effort after he chose to follow her step in law enforcement as a bounty hunter. It looks like all three brothers realize that Teresa’s job is in the way of her love, but every one of them has a different attitude towards it: Stan is more mature and tries to put his affection forward, even though his resentment is visible. In Season 3 Tommy tried to get closer to her ideal brother by taking her as a model, even if that means his effort to be better than her involved cheating and tricking her: becoming a rival was an underhanded way to get her approval even if he never stated as much. Now, Jimmy is harsher -probably because he’s apparently not a father, which doesn’t give him insight into feeling responsible for someone- hence his more brutal confrontation: he misses Lisbon and is angry at her because of that. Her power status only enhances how bereft her absence in his life must make him feel. He’s looking for her attention, but only receives the wrong kind in a way that he feels is more judgmental than protective (“you’re gambling again? Are you playing poker? –Would you back off me for like one minute?”). Not to mention that his suspected gambling addiction might be a way to fulfill an emotional lack of consideration.
Again, Jane steps in and takes the matter in his own hands to put an end o the argument. After Jimmy tells him that being his “sister’s boyfriend isn’t really a position of authority” to him, Jane puts his cards on the table: he’s offering him a “deal”. He comes back to Texas with his sister and him and he’ll never have to testify because they’ll catch the killer. Jimmy is skeptic (“how do you swing that?”) and states “I don’t even know you, man, why should I trust you?” Jane’s answer is interesting: he says he’s trustworthy because he’s figured what the man in the house was after but he hasn’t told Lisbon. He’s willing to earn their trust by lying to Lisbon by omission… He amends “look, I don’t like keeping secrets from Teresa. I care about her. And I care about the people that she cares about”. It’s this “promise” to protect him that convinces the younger man and Jane is able to shake his hand and to yell to a worried Lisbon lurking nearby that they’re good.
Once Lisbon gets back in the bullpen with Jimmy in low, the atmosphere shifts to something more familiar: her little brother is reluctantly in awe of her success (“this is where you work? Fancy. It’s a step up from the fryer at Casper’s”). It’s enlightened by Lisbon’s beige pantsuit and light blue-gray shirt: her clothes match the FBI beige, metallic and glass walls. She literally fits in, emphasizing that she belongs here. It’s also amusing that Jimmy sees fit to hit on Vega, introducing himself in a flirty tone to which Vega simply replies to with a curt “can I help you?” The moment grabs Wylie’s attention as the poor guy is obviously not over his crush for his energetic coworker.
Lisbon gets him back in track and things get serious again when she interrogates him. Jimmy is surprised because she’s recording him and asks her if she’s going to read him his rights too: it’s an interrogation and Teresa hides her motherly protectiveness under a stern cop act. Fortunately, it gets better after the younger Lisbon starts talking and they get back in more familiar grounds. Jimmy admits he drove all the way from Oklahoma City to Dallas for a poker game and insists that “you’d drive three hours for a good game”. Lisbon primly denies it and Jimmy jokes “it must have been my other big sister, who taught me how to play cards”. It’s a nice reminder of Lisbon’s influence over him and his upbringing as well as her interest in poker during Season 5.
This detail shows how his rebellious streak and his knack for getting in trouble come from her: he’s learnt how to play from her and there’s no doubt that his passion for playing is a way to keep feeling close to her, like law enforcement was for Tommy, not to mention that Lisbon has the habit of helping them out, like she does for Jane. It nuances the by-the-book personality that she put forward for years: she’s been quite similar to her consultant from the start which weakens again Erica’s affirmation that she’s only attracted to his transgressions. The more her old self comes to light, the more it becomes apparent that she has that yearning for revolt in her too and that she can relate to him on a deeper level than the seductress ever suspected and made it look like.
VIS#3: undercover stunts
The main points of Jimmy’s revelations are a list of suspects and a connection to George Holiday, a “mobster in cowboy boots and a big-time gambler” –to continue the reference to cowboys and western movies. After Abbott made sure that the case is theirs to handle from now on, they decide in a meeting with Jimmy that Jane and Cho “will make friends with the mobster”. They two men end up at Holiday’s bar as two betting men with lots of cash. They manage to get the criminal’s attention and he goes as far as to give Jane some advice: “be more careful with your money… and your mouth”. Jane only thanks him in an ironical tone. They made contact and the man will remember him.
To further hook the mobster, Jane sends his secret weapon: a leather-clad Lisbon. Jane has noticed how the mobster interacted with the female bartender and Lisbon’s black sleeveless top and short skirt are enough to convince the man to make a move on this sexy stranger… until Jane arrives as her boyfriend. The fact that they go again undercover as a couple (after ‘The Greybar Hotel’, ‘Orange Blossom Ice Cream’ and ‘The Silver Briefcase’) may indicate his desire to make their relationship public, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make it convincing. After a few drinks with the friendly mobster, they start drunkenly bantering about Jane’s supposed lack of poker skills. While she tells that he’s “terrible at poker”, he insists that he’s after the “fun” even if it means he loses a lot of money. He states: “there’s the thing with cards: it’s like a showdown in the Wild West, kill or be killed. I mean, who doesn’t love that?” This half-admission to being hooked on gambling –as well as the new reference to western movies- makes the criminal business man even more interested: sensing an easy prey, he invites Jane to a “big” game.
Meanwhile, Jimmy makes sure the four other suspects are in too. Each of them is introduced by Lisbon and Cho reading of their files while the suspects are shown playing a poker game, in a way quite reminiscent of the double contradictory confession at the end of ‘The Silver Briefcase’… Jimmy uses the word that, to quote Jane, “makes every poker player smell blood”: there’s a “whale” –Jane himself- who loses big money and doesn’t care for winning. The prospect of cleaning him out is sure to lure all of them in. It’s also amusing that the technical gambling term “whale” reminds both of Lisbon’s fear of everything marine (“whales and storms and pirates” alike when Jane tried to talk her into leaving the FBI for brighter and larger horizons in ‘The Silver Briefcase’) and of Jane’s past obsession for revenge symbolized by ‘Moby Dick’: this episode is certainly pivotal in linking past ordeals and future possibilities in Teresa’s life.
The task of scouting the room where the game is to take place is given to Wylie and Vega. The younger agents pose as a feisty couple at the hotel. It may have been a way to tease them again… that is, had the potentially romantic suggestive mood not been shot down right away when Vega begins a domestic scene with her supposed boyfriend, about the room, his mother and whatever else crosses her mind. Those two once again represent one of the failed relationships in the growing list featured in the more recent episodes…
VIS# 4: family explanation
Unfortunately, Teresa is in for a nasty surprise: her brother Stan, who she thought was out of trouble, has been beaten up and his wife calls her out of despair. He refuses to tell them what happened to him and shows his family resemblance with Teresa by being too honest to manage a convincing lie in front of someone he cares about. Lisbon quickly surmises that it’s Jimmy’s fault and she hunts him down. Yet, it quickly appears that Jimmy is covering for his brother like the older Lisbon had been covering for him in front of their stern older sister. She understands that this secret was Jane’s leverage for convincing Jimmy to follow them but is nonetheless surprised at learning how deep in trouble Stan is. His business is not going so well and they needed money when Karen’s last pregnancy got tough, so he contracted a huge debt towards a loan shark. The man who attacked Jane came to collect the money and he finally managed to get his hands on Stan. It therefore appears that both her brothers (and Tommy too in the past) got in serious trouble to get her attention, but didn’t dare call for her help: her absence from their lives created a breach of trust on both sides, theirs for not relying on her, hers for not keeping in touch. Indeed, Jimmy admits that he covered for his brother because “he’s working so hard to be good… I just wanted you to be proud of him”. He doesn’t believe her when she affirms that she is and she insists “I’m proud of all of you”.
The talk shows that Lisbon was Jimmy’s primary motherly figure: he wants her approval. Just like Vega seeks her late father’s approbation in her daily job, Jimmy and his brothers want Lisbon to be proud of them, in order to fit her criteria as good people and maybe in the hopes to get her back. He’s obviously hurt when he points out “did you call me when I got my electrician’s license? You only call to yell at me, just like always.” Lisbon doesn’t understand that the real problem is that they miss her: she tries to focus on the yelling part of the reproach by justifying her actions. She had to be “tough” because “somebody had to be responsible and somebody had to be in charge”. Jimmy is however intent on making his point across: “yeah? You were in charge… then you left”.
All in all, Stan and Jimmy are still acting as kids who cover each other’s faults from “T.” (or “Reese” as Tommy called her before). They see her as another missing mother whom they cannot reach not matter how hard they try to make her proud. It’s probably not a coincidence that the writers David Appelbaum and now Marisa Wegrzyn chose to make them three manual workers (Tommy used to build decks, while Stan and Jimmy are respectively a home-remodeling contractor and an electrician): even though it may contrast with her brilliant career at the CBI and now at the FBI, they’re become builder/fixers just like she is. They fix things like she fixes situations born of murder and violence -and sometimes she fixes people too, like she did with Jane. Deep down, she’s a role model for the whole family, as hinted at by Tommy embracing law enforcement by becoming a bounty hunter and Annabeth’s eagerness to be a cop like her aunt.
Yet, Lisbon is not aware of her influence; she only sees the misbehaviors –that she takes as a personal failure in raising them- and the veiled animosity. This increases her guilt and unease with them because they’re part of a life she’s not over with and wants to forget. She needs to let go of her maternal worry and to trust them as adults but for that she has to accept those emotions she’s so bad at dealing with. Her emotional barrier was perceptible early on: in ‘Code Red’ in Season 2 her last message was to Tommy, to try to mend the bridge between the pair formed by Stan and Jimmy, who seem close, and Tommy himself, who looks more like a loner in their family. This message was again out of guilt from the parent who felt responsible for them and their mistakes, yet her emotional walls kept her from expressing her love with words rather than with actions and orders.
Despite her fight with Jimmy, Teresa’s priority is still to protect him and she wants to be here when the plan unfolds in case he might be in danger. Sensing her distraction, Jane has then a serious talk with her in his airstream when they’re preparing for the game. He’s very direct: “your brothers don’t hate you”; he explains that they’re not “mad” at her, they just miss her. Her wanting a new life is understandable: after her mom died, she left because she felt trapped. Jane is right: that’s exactly what she did with her former fiancé Gregg, she wanted a chance at being independent and free and she left everything behind to build a new life for herself. Hence her lack of a private life when Jane started working with her: she felt guilty for being selfish and for leaving her surrogate children to deal with their problems alone (“now Stan’s life is a mess, Jimmy’s got a gambling problem and God only knows what Tommy’s up to”). Jane is quick to reassure her: “they’ve got their problems but they’re good people and they wouldn’t even be here if you hadn’t loved and protected them when they were kids”. He’s helping her to deal with her guilt for failing at protecting her family, a feeling he knows too well since he reveled in it for more than a decade.
That moment enhances how trusting those two have become with each other: when she states that he figured out the truth about the intruder in the house and kept it from her, he doesn’t deny and just says “well it’s not my business”. He respects her family’s privacy and only interferes when he feels that she needs him to. She on the other hand is grateful and thanks him for his help: she’s even more open about her family problems than she was when Tommy showed up in an investigation. She’s come a long way since the era when she used to forbid him to pry in her private life. Now she trusts him with her troubles, doubts and most intimate thoughts and is happy to have his comfort and support. She doesn’t resent his half-truths and lies by omission because he was trying not to make a decision for them all by displaying his suspicions: he wanted them to come to the heart of the problem on their own.
VIS# 5: poker night
Back to the plan, sexy Teresa and gambling-for-fun-not-money Jane arrive to the hotel for the big game. The atmosphere is balanced between the seriousness underneath and the amusing moments like the talk about the busted toilets (a trick to force their suspect to get out of the room after busting him too) and Wylie’s eagerness to explain to a less than impressed Vega what a tell is (“subtle behaviors a player makes when he has a good or a bad hand. –I know what a tell is.”). Interestingly, Jane’s poker skills were at play in two others episodes with very different aims: in ‘Red-Handed’, he used them to flush out a killer during another big poker night. At the time he was alone, while now he has Lisbon by his side. Later, in ‘Red in Tooth And Claw’, he helped Bertram to better his bluffing technique (a tell inside a tell), in order to get Lisbon in his good graces and to convince him to let Van Pelt go to a computer training program: his goal was to help his team.
However, this scheme greatly differs from his previous performances: now it is Lisbon who is in the spotlight. Like in ‘Black Market’, she’s playing the psychic who can get in contact with murdered people and feel the darker aura of the killer, who she can tell is the one holding an ace. Jane is her assistant who explains that she’s “a little sensitive, a little psychic”: when someone asks “psychic?” he answers “almost”, which is an inside joke given that she’s still learning from him even if she’s getting better at pretending. Of course, her act is only a distraction because Jane is cheating and dealt aces to every player in order to determine which one will betray his guilt with his usual poker tell. It’s a trick that reminds of the one he used in ‘Red Dawn’ in his very first case with Lisbon. The comparison shows the role reversal his influence on her caused: now he’s happy to get the hand work whereas she gets the fun thrilling performance.
Phase two starts then: after their suspects go out to find some working washroom, he’s cornered by Cho who shows him Jane talking with the irate mobster. Yet, the man is not being told the truth about the murder: Jane’s just playing a mind game on him by revealing that he and his “honey” are leaving because there’s a hidden camera. Fear is stronger than logic and the suspect confesses: he suspected that his fiancée Heidi was cheating on him and figured that Nathan, the victim, was the lover since he was wearing one of his monogram embroidered shirts. As Nathan took a lot of money from him too that night, his anger boiled over and he beat him to death. The man is a poignant example of those failed relationships displayed in this season, since his crime was only born out of misguided distrust and lack of communication: actually, Nathan went for coffee with the fiancée and got coffee on his shirt, which prompted her to lend him the incriminating clothe… Had he just talked to her instead of refusing to trust her, Nathan would still be alive and the couple might have gotten over this difficult patch. It greatly contrasts with Lisbon accepting to talk of her most private insecurities with her lover.
Last point, the name “Heidi” might prove interesting, since it may be a reference to two well-known 19th century books for children: it put emphasis on the childhood memories running through the episode and, even though the killer’s jealousy can be linked to Peter’s anger at having to share his childhood friend with a new girl (which prompted him to push Klara’s wheelchair down a mountain slope), the most intriguing part of the book may be Heidi’s homesickness when she’s in the city, far away from her grandfather. To some extent, that yearning for coming back home to a loving family and happier times has probably been hiding in Lisbon’s heart for a long time and she’s starting to acknowledge it. Same with the “Little Yellow House” whose title may remind of the ‘Little House’ series, another 19th century classic of children literature based on childhood memories and nostalgia.
VIS# 6: the party
In an attempt to get closer to her family and to make up for her long absence, Lisbon goes to Stan’s baby christening party, bringing Jane as her date. The atmosphere is very different from the poker night, with people laughing light-heartedly around a barbecue. It contrasts with Jane’s private birthday party but displays the same happiness to be together. Jimmy teases her because “Texas girls drink margaritas” instead of beer and Stan regrets that her pierced ex Woody Squire couldn’t make it. Lisbon is relieved that his face looks better, because she’s “the only one who gets to punch” him and she wants him to let her help in with his debt troubles. Stan admits that they’re very impressed with her, what with Jimmy having seen her performance, which was certainly one of the goals Jane’s trick was aiming for: he wanted to show his family that Lisbon’s job is important and that she is good at it. Her absence makes more sense that way. Stan insists that he’s proud of her and they agree that they should “hang out more” like “normal people”. It’s probably no coincidence that Lisbon’s mother’s cross is openly on display on her décolleté and that the three of them are wearing one dark blue cloth making them match subtly: they’re back to being a family. Patrick also made a strong impression on the Lisbon family and this time, it’s not for teaching to their kids how to pick pockets like he did with Annabeth: Stan and Jimmy “like him. He’s a good guy”. They advice Lisbon not to mess this one up… It might or not be a veiled allusion to her former fiancé whom she run away from. Lisbon smiles at that and at the sight of Jane holding the baby: she’s fully getting her brothers’ approval, both on her career choice and on building a home with Jane.
When she gets a personal moment with her lover, she admits that she’s glad to be back home and works up the nerve for a deeper confession: “I don’t think I’ve said this. I mean, I know I haven’t said it, but I don’t really know if I need to, because you always know what I’m thinking…” finishing with “would you be surprised if I said I love you?”. Jane admits that he’d been lying if he said he wouldn’t be “moved by that” –a tender echo to her “say it again” in ‘Blue Bird’ – so she repeats more confidently “I love you, I said it”. He answers “I’m surprised”… Putting words on their emotions to express out loud what’s been untold for years is an important life-changing process for those two very secretive people and it gets an almost official value. The fact that Lisbon feels ready to acknowledge her feelings for him is also revealing of the absolute trust she places in him: she knows he’s not willing to hurt her. She finally accepted that he wants to protect her and that his love bounds him to her. On the other hand, his surprise at hearing her confession reminds of his shock at realizing that she kept and fixed his old teacup, an action that was already showing how deep her feelings for him had run for years: he didn’t think he deserved a second chance that is getting more real with each passing day. While the teacup was focused on the old CBI days, here her full admission is opening possibilities for the future. Only this time, the questions don’t touch their professional careers, but rather hint at a more personal topic, since her reactions at seeing him play with the baby showed that building a new loving family is not out of the question for her.