Mentalist Little Yellow House Review


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).

Concise Verdict

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.


17 responses to “Mentalist Little Yellow House Review

  • KM

    Lovely review. Thank you very much.

    Even after many years of counseling victims of violence I am not sure if I can judge if someone’s process of grief is the better than another. Even though the Lisbon kids lived in the same home, their individual perceptions and experiences of the physical violence, the physical neglect, the emotional neglect, etc., will be much different. As the oldest and forced into the role of parent, protector, and caretaker Lisbon’s would naturally be far bleaker than her siblings. In all the areas of loss she became the bandaid, she is the one protected and comforted. Hence, it is likely that Stan & Jimmy would have far brighter memories and fewer demons than Lisbon does. Thus, the house could be a warm & safe place to them, because she made it one. And, like Jane, Lisbon may have grief that she hasn’t processed over the death of each of her parents. All in all she and Jane have many similarities. Another strike against Erica’s matchmaking skills.

    Fabulous review.


  • Kilgore Trout

    Episode 7 – Little Yellow House
    Season 7 just keeps getting better. There wasn’t much time devoted to the case but given this was such an important episode for Lisbon’s development I can’t say it bothered me over much.

    I think I have previously observed that trust is a big theme for TM and in this episode that was true for Lisbon. In terms of her trust issues with Jane she took an enormous step forward (actually several steps). The first one was letting Jane in when the news of Jimmy first surfaced. In the past the dynamic was Jane chipping away at details of Lisbon’s personal life and her resolutely keeping the mentalist out to the best of her ability. Here she welcomed Jane into her world and let him know how much she wanted him by her side. The ability to admit to Jane she really wanted his support in Chicago was a huge leap. We can also assume that at some point she informed both her brothers that Jane was there as her boyfriend, another significant step.

    Then again in the Lisbon family house she had no hesitation in telling Jane which room was hers, an action that would have been unthinkable in previous seasons. She basically gave Jane free reign to go through her past. I would have loved for Jane to have discovered which instrument she played in high school but we can’t have everything.

    Then at the end of the episode we saw the ultimate leap of faith when she finally told Jane she loved him. I think this has to be my favourite moment of S7. It had so much going for it. Her initial hedging and hesitation called to mind the lyrics to the song More than Words which she and Jane danced to in Rose Coloured Glasses (essentially if you really love someone it should be obvious without having to say the words). Then she used a hypothetical to sound Jane out before finally coming out and saying the words. The scene was played perfectly with her following up the line with “I said it” which eloquently demonstrates how much she must have debated this with herself. It even suggests this is the first time in her life where she has made such a confession. I think it’s safe to assume she never told Pike she loved him and you’d have to go all the way back to Greg Tayback before you could find another likely candidate. We have no way of knowing but I suspect that the young Lisbon may well have dodged saying the words even then.

    Jane’s reaction was great as well, a delighted “I’m surprised” showing that he’s through playing games, that he really needed to hear the words and that his Lisbon can still surprise him from time to time.

    Trust also came up in other parts of the episode. Jane had to win James’ trust to get him to come back to Houston. Abbot trusted Jane without question when he said he needed money to get a game at the mobster’s poker table. Most importantly, it was McInnis’ lack of trust that leads him to commit murder (and also adds to our tally of failed relationships).

    Finally, in her review Violet detailed one of the most crucial examples of trust when she analysed the scene where Lisbon worked out that Jane knew it was Stan under pressure from loan sharks and that he’d kept the information from her for entirely noble reasons. At any other point in their complicated relationship this would have led to a massive misunderstanding, with angry words and another rift requiring healing. Here she trusts him implicitly and hence takes his actions in the correct light.

    Some other random thoughts on this episode:

    Jane cheating at cards

    This was the 4th time we have seen Jane play poker on TM. The first was in Red Handed where he got into a high stakes game in order to catch a killer. The second was in Scarlet Ribbons where he has to raise $1 Million to post bail. The third was in Red in Tooth and Claw where he tutors Gale Bertram in the arts of poker and then challenges Lisbon at the end of the episode. As a mentalist, Jane has the perfect skill set to excel at poker and indeed his ability goes unquestioned on the show.

    I find it interesting that despite his superior card ability Jane cheats in three of the four episodes. In Red Handed he uses a distraction in order to set up a hand that will force the killer to bet a stolen $100,000 chip. In Little Yellow House he cheats in order to make sure that McInnis wins a large pot. He also manipulates the cards to make sure an ace is dealt to each suspect just before Lisbon has her ‘psychic’ insight. Perhaps most unfairly in Red in Tooth and Claw he is clearly cheating when he challenges Lisbon to a heads up game. In that final scene you can see Jane has set himself up at a table with a highly polished surface and with the sun at his back. He can see the cards being dealt off the table reflection while Lisbon can’t because she is squinting into the sunlight. You could argue that since his plan was to tutor Lisbon he could do this more effectively if he knew what she was holding and they were only playing for dinosaur sweets but still! Clearly where cards Jane truly returns to his con man roots and everyone, friend or foe, is a mark.

    Cowardly Jane

    Cowardly Jane was back with a vengeance! Others have observed that the way Jane reacts to physical violence is very much like someone who has experienced abuse as a child. We will likely never see this confirmed but I find it an interesting observation that holds a lot of water. When threatened with violence Jane either flees or cringes and curls up into a ball while pleading in a weak voice (numerous examples such as when he is beaten and nearly has his fingers cut off in Red Hat, or when Haibach threatens him in season 6, even when Lorelei attacks him in Red Sails in the Sunset). The only time we see Jane show any real physical bravery is where he refused to crack under Bob Kirkland’s threat of torture and also on those occasions where Lisbon was under direct threat (Strawberries & Cream part 1, Greybar Hotel). In those examples it appears his cowardice/trauma is trumped by a greater emotion (love or Lisbon or his obsession with Red John).

    The perfect boyfriend

    Jane’s behaviour towards Lisbon was really immaculate in this episode. he was totally tuned into her and didn’t put a foot wrong. From reassuring her that her brothers loved her, stepping in to mend bridges, winning her family’s approval and being there for her when she needed him he was an absolute rock. Maybe he is finally starting to atone for all the times he treated her quite shabbily.

  • sylvia weinzettl

    A small aside, in Lisbon’s room, her doodlings are on the wall in the closet. This is where a child will hide from abuse or situations too difficult to fathom, There she has drawn her perfect family scenario, or maybe memories of better times with her mother in the picture.

  • roseuk80

    There’s so much to discuss about this episode (and Violet’s review/everybody’s comments) that it’s hard to know where to jump in!

    Top of my mind at the moment is: the little balancing act at the start. Maybe it’s a stretch, but it might be representative of Lisbon finding a bit more balance in her own life: walking the tightrope between being a big sister/Fed, between being a big sister/parent (authority figure), between work/life, between trusting (read: surrendering some of her core self to) Jane/retaining her independence. Etc. etc. Mostly, she succeeds in finding greater balance this episode (especially in closing the distance between herself and her brothers, and of course the “ILY”), but as indicated by Cho distracting Vega, some things will inevitably knock you off.

    There’s plenty more to say, but as I’m a little pressed for time I’ll leave it there for now!

    Thanks, Violet! 😀

  • anomalycommenter

    Thank you Violet for the awesomely Jane’s-description-of-the-attacker-level detailed review and for your clever references to the themes and particular usage of words! It makes watching the show much more enjoyable! 🙂 Great comments KM, Kilgore Trout, sylvia weinzettl, and Rose (Looking forward to your future comments)!

    I particularly liked how you showed a connection between the feelings of jealousy, homesickness & nostalgia and the name ‘Heidi’ & children’s books. And that we saw fishing with the wrong bait, both figuratively and literally.

    As you mentioned above and as others have noted online, “T” fixed Jane’s old “tea” cup and also her insecurities, by overcoming her feeling of guilt, healed enough to be able to move him by speaking her true feelings and offering him the best surprise.

    The only criticism I have about this episode is that her brothers are calling her ‘T’ instead of Reese as you mentioned above (creative on the part of the writers yet inconsistent with how Tommy called her) and a that until now I was of the impression that their family problems started with the accident that has happened to her mother and not before that.

    @Kilgore Trout: Thank you for making it clear as to how Jane might have cheated in playing poker with Lisbon. That was such a clever point! 🙂 And I guess he might have cheated in the other instances to make sure he has not left anything in his plans to chance. Also you might be pleasantly surprised to know that there is a clarinet (most probably) visible in the same box that Jane found the photo of Lisbon! 🙂 (Pointed out by some astute fan on twitter, I think.)

  • mosquitoinuk

    Thank you Violet for this super great review! I need to steal some time to reorganising my new home to comment properly but can I just mention something that I find a bit intriguing and somewhat sad?

    When Jane is attacked in Lisbon’s bedroom, he doesn’t oppose any resistance (he doesn’t in general, he shies away from physical violence), instead he utters two feeble “no…no..” more a plea than anything else, hands up in a defensive posture. For the first time ever, Jane gave me the impression that he was physically abused as a child. Is it a coincidence that this happened in Lisbon’s bedroom at the same that that we were discovering a happier memory from Lisbon? he did say before going into the house that he was a little envious of Lisbon having a house as a child…it is always difficult to compare as both had abusive parents but it is nice to know that some of Lisbon’s memories as a child are happy ones. She had her brothers as well, but as far as we know, Jane really had no one else.

    Jane’s connection with children is also intriguing and sweet, even more in this light. He’s drawn to them and they to him. He has definitely a soft spot for children and those who are in need. Is this a reflection of his past experience as a child at the hands of an abusing father?

    In which case, Jane and Lisbon’s connection is even more evident: although she was an abused child she took the role of the ‘protector’, she became the parent, she protected her brothers and they created happy memories for themselves from their time together, the little family they (the children) became, thanks to Lisbon. Just like she did with Jane. She was immediately protective of him (in a tough way perhaps). He felt sheltered by her. In that light, it is even much more poignant and sad that Jane told Lisbon that their brothers wouldn’t even be there if she wasn’t there to love them and protect them; it mirrors his case perfectly. Jane knows he will be forever in debt to Lisbon, first because she protected him, after because she loved him.

    It is all a bit bittersweet. Perhaps I am reading too much? Thoughts?

  • Kilgore Trout


    Nice analogy with the balancing act and Lisbon’s life! She has certainly been making progress in living a fuller life (recall how defensive she used to get in the earlier seasons when people asked her what she did outside of work) and making more time for her family is another big step.

    I liked the scene for being reminiscent of early Mentalist episodes where there was often an establishing scene where Jane demonstrates one of his mentalist tricks like mind reading or finding a missing object.


    Gotta admit the different nickname was a little jarring for me too. Then I figured that Tommy was estranged for his brothers and part of that might have gone back to him having a different relationship to big sister Lisbon than James and Stan, hence he had a different nickname for her.

    With regards to Jane cheating I think you are right, its just another part of him trying to control every conceivable variable.

    Oh and nice catch with the Clarinet! I found that scene on youtube but the picture quality wasn’t quite good enough to make out what it is but I love the idea of it being the incriminating instrument 🙂


    I think the key strength Lisbon has over Jane when it comes to their childhoods is that she had a normal and stable one up until the death of her mother when she was 12. From what little we have seen Jane never had a normal childhood, his father was a poor role model and his mother left the picture early on.

    I agree completely on your other points, Lisbon has always been the protector for the people she cares about and she is very much a rock for Jane. This episode was nice because Jane was actually able to be the support for her (and just as importantly she trusted and loved him enough to let him).

  • bloomingviolet2013

    @ KM : Thank you for your *very* enlightening point. Indeed, unlike her brothers who would have “fewer demons” to deal with, Lisbon took the full force of the blow of her family being destroyed: the house will have a bitterer atmosphere for her, who witnessed the heart-wrenching loss of harmony, her father’s violence and decline and who had to sacrifice her own youth in order to support her brothers. That’s why I agree that her grieving process couldn’t be really compared to her brothers, in terms of being “better” or not, given that as you pointed out, she was the one who faced the different aspects of physical and emotional violence and neglect that she tried to shield the younger siblings from.

    Yet the fact remains that Lisbon’s habit of sweeping the whole thing under the carpet for almost all of her adult life is not healthy: were it not for Jane’s influence which healed her too into giving more into her emotions, she’d still be a lonely workaholic who’d be wary of getting close to anyone. In my humble opinion, the biggest problem with Lisbon wouldn’t therefore be her grief or her very real or painful history of abuse, but the guilt she felt for wanting out of it: as for Jane, it’s that guilt which has prevented her from dealing with her grief, loss and resulting suffering. I mean, the violence part, she’s able to talk about –even though it’s still very vivid and distressing in her memory, as shown by her stumbling out of the house where a similar situation was starting to built in S1 ‘Red Tide’. But she *never* acknowledged the guilt part. Even when confronted to Gregg, it was something she couldn’t deal with, and I really wonder if it was not her primary motivation for wanting to put walls between her and her team –or whoever could try and get close to her. Jane was a different beast back then, because he was very much in the same situation as her, hence making him a –in a paradoxical way- safer candidate for emotional connection, given that he always made it clear that he did not intent to stay here for the long run. (Sorry if my take may seem a bit simplistic: I’m certainly not as knowledgeable as you in that matter, so feel free to correct me if you think I’m wrong. 🙂 )

    @ Kilgore Trout wrote: “The ability to admit to Jane she really wanted his support in Chicago was a huge leap. We can also assume that at some point she informed both her brothers that Jane was there as her boyfriend, another significant step.”

    I thought that both men only assumed that Jane was her boyfriend, because she took him with him to deal with a family matter. Stan’s insistence on bringing on her high-school sweetheart hinted that he was not used to see her accompanied in her adult life (and Gregg would have been a delicate subject that sensible subject wouldn’t bring on in front of another serious companion in their sister’s life). I thought it was very telling, because that put emphasis on Lisbon’s obsession for privacy, both in front of coworkers and in front of family. Those two groups may have felt like very separated parts of her life, hence the idea that Jane had to be involved in the latter for her to bring him in, even though it could have made sense to seek help from her work partner in a legal matter such as her brother being in trouble with the Feds in a murder case. The fact that he was working with her was not even mentioned once, until Jane decided to strike a deal with Jimmy and even then it was only implied: even during the poker game, Jimmy would have seen mostly them as working as a couple (which was their undercover part) than as coworkers hiding an affair. Their relationship has a very official and assumed aspect from the start in their eyes. Which makes one wonders how well informed both brothers were about Lisbon’s true connection with the man and about his controversial history. It contrasts with his introduction to Tommy, which was safely on the professional side of her life: back then, it was Jane too who tried to blurry the lines by subtly reaching out to Annie. And yes, either way it was a huge step for her to admit that she was committed to him and needed her support, maybe as much as her admitting that she loved him: it speaks of trust and commitment in a more basic way than the confession of unspoken but still expressed feelings.

    About Jane cheating at cards, I think it’s second nature to him. He cannot play a game without using underhanded means to get what he wants, because he knows he can. Same with him teaching people to do things: it always involved manipulation/mentalism in some way (like him trying to teach Vega balance by talking about reassuring sweets from her childhood, in order to make her hand steadier). That’s just the way he has been taught to act: he has superior skills, so he just use them because it is as you said “just another part of him trying to control every conceivable variable”. Outright cheating or reading people probably have the same value in his eyes than his purer playing skills: he has a grey morality, so cheating is not something he would frown upon; it’s just something he knows how to use. I think this an important aspect of his personality, because it also explains why he had no claims into manipulating his coworkers in the past (even Kim) in order to make them follow his rules. Nowadays he doesn’t need to as they explicitly trust his schemes and intentions, so he can tell them the truth.

    This is why I find the theory that he may have faced abuse in his childhood very interesting: indeed, it would explain his physical cowardice but also to some extent that way of dealing with people. Lying and cheating has been taught by his father, obviously, but Jane may have also used it as a way to avoid direct confrontation with people. After all, for all his harsh comments, sarcasm and offensive behavior, Jane knows he’s protected by his team and his status in law enforcement, something he likes to stress on (like with the speeding ticket in ‘Red Alert’). In Lisbon’s house, he was only here as her boyfriend, there was nothing like that to protect him.

    @ Mosquitoinuk : yes, a common history of abuse would put their connection under a very interesting light. After all, in ‘Red Dawn’, Jane used being punched to get Lisbon’s attention, which would hint that he cold-read her past in her attitude (in addition of her ”fixer” tendencies), but could also mean in hindsight that getting hit may have been something he was familiar enough with to resort to spontaneously –even though I don’t know if he would have rather shield away from it had he really had a violent childhood… would this trick he tends very much to use to get someone of interest arrest (like with the Shakespeare serial killer) be realistic then? Either way, in that perspective, it might put his guilt about getting his family killed in a new light, as he’d also be the one to bring violence inside his home.

    And yes, his need for Lisbon’s protection and where her shielding tendencies come from make their bond a bit bittersweet… But after all, their whole love story –with the blood, the lies, the control and trust issues, the leaving and longing- is like that: a bitter, poignant setting made sweeter by rays of hope born from care and humor. Dark and light, pitch black and fiery bright, once again, like the tiger’s skin.

    @ Sylvia Weinzettl : interesting point. Maybe there were indeed problems in her family even before the tragedy of her mother’s death and Lisbon idealized her part of her life. If not outright abuse yet, maybe some violent arguments she could have heard from her parents (guilt on her father’s part might have also explained his loss of control after losing his wife). We’ll probably never know. Either way, it should have taken place when she was still a little kid, because those drawing were very childish and she has lost her mom when she was older, I think.

    @ Rose: I *love* the balance symbolism. I think it’s spot on! Thank you!!!

    @Anomaly: your kind words made me smile, hehee! 🙂 Great catch about “T” fixing his “tea” cup!!! About the lack of coherence between Lisbon’s nicknames, KM very helpfully pointed out a few days ago (in a chat on Twitter), that Tommy couldn’t have called her “T”, since he shares the same initial. He must have tried to find another affectionate way to refer to her. Plus, we don’t know for sure if he’s older than Stan and Jimmy, but the actor is closer to Tunney’s own age and Tommy seemed to have a friendlier relationship with Teresa, mixed with more visible aggressive tendencies too towards her that would make sense if he’s indeed the second of their siblinghood (meaning that he probably may have tried to divert more of the abuse towards him than the younger ones too). He’d understand more of what was going on and would feel at the same time more thankful for her help and would have realized what was going on back then with Teresa. It also would explain his problems in dealing with his own family (a bad-break-up, treating his teenage daughter as an accomplice/fellow adult). The two younger brothers would have taken Teresa for granted, hence them only focusing on getting her back in their life, while Tommy’s take would be more mature and nuanced, but also more conflicted and maybe sourer too underneath the love, with a resentment directed at her in place of their father. That too would explain why he’s using a different nickname with her, since their bond is different
    And the clarinet! Such a clever detail, lol!

    Thank you again for the great comments, guys! Very interesting discussion(s)! 🙂 (and sorry for the mistakes… 😛 )

  • Kilgore Trout


    You raise some interesting points with regard to whether she spoke to her brothers or not. There certainly isn’t a right or wrong assumption. I think what swayed me towards thinking she’d said something at some point was that both Jimmy and Stan immediately just assumed he was the boyfriend (of course people have been assuming that for a very long time on TM 🙂 .

    Presumably they would have known of Lisbon’s planned move to DC and most likely she would at least have had to inform them she didn’t end up going. Still, I can also very easily see your point of view that she would keep different parts of her life compartmentalized and you are right that it would not have been in her character to bring a co-worker along on a family matter.

    One thing is almost certainly true, the brothers are probably not aware of Lisbon’s long history with Jane or of his decidedly chequered past!

    The question of whether a victim of abuse would invite being hit is an interesting one. I’m no expert on the subject but I imagine the responses would vary according to the individual. I would observe that when Jane is punched or slapped by people he questions its always in a controlled environment. There are always colleagues on hand who can step in to prevent things from getting out of hand. The times when he cowers is when he is alone or the violence is far more severe than a single punch.

    Although there is nothing on the show to support my view I somehow had the impression that Tommy was the middle brother and Stan the oldest, but when you consider the age of their children it makes far more sense if Tommy is the oldest.

    All the discussion on abuse and trauma got me thinking that one thing that both Jane and Teresa share is finding it very difficult to to get past a major trauma. What both went through was absolutely terrible but its also a fact that other people go through equal or even greater trauma demonstrate a far greater capacity to get on with their lives (though obviously still scarred by what happened). Both characters have been defined by what they went through and you are correct that this adds to the bond they share.

  • Lily

    @Kilgore Trout I always enjoy reading your thoughts about the episode here (as much as I do the reviews). What I wanted to comment on was Teresa and Patrick’s capacity to get over major trauma. I think it’s hard to compare people, what they went through and how they are dealing with it. In both Jane’s and Lisbon’s case they have both been through more than one major trauma in their lifes. It wasn’t a single one but repeated.

    Jane had the childhood that he had with an abusive father (we comment on what extent has it been physical abuse as well, though I personally think it was, but that he had been repeatedly subjected to psychological and mental abuse from an young age, there is no doubt for me). His father was the only adult figure in his life and the only thing the guy did was lie and cheat people. The fact that Patrick had a conscience – as shown in the flash back episode in S2 – speaks volumes to me. When he has managed to escape that life and create a new one when he and Angela ran off – tragedy strikes again and the only two people who ever had truly loved him have been taken away in a very brutal way and that it was partly his fault. That takes a toll on anyone, no matter how strong one is.

    And there’s Teresa who lost her mother in a tragic car accident when she was 12. She had to become a parent for her brothers when she herself was still a child. Then her father starts drinking and becomes abusive, physically and probably mentally as well – because that’s how they usually are. And he ends up by committing suicide. That’s trauma after trauma after trauma in a spin of about 6-7 years (since Teresa said she has left home after she has finished high school). She has dealt in the best way she could with no help from anybody. She has always been the one to comfort and nurture but no one has done that for her. At least Jane had professional help from Sophie to get him through his – what I suppose was – major depression.

    I don’t know if I’d be standing on the ground if I had been through what either Jane or Teresa had been, or whether I had copped and dealt with it better than they did. It’s hard to judge. That others have dealt with it better, there is no doubt, but we are all wired differently.

  • mosquitoinuk

    @Violet & @Kilgore: both Patrick and Teresa are tough cookies; however, the way each of them dealt with their demons (in childhood) is entirely different. Of the two, Lisbon is the one who chose two protect those in need; Paddy decided to love and provide for his family…still taking advantage as much as he could from others. One was selfish, the other one, selfless. So much selfless that she felt guilt all her life for breaking free.

    Lisbon devoted her life to help others, Paddy decided to get ahead himself. The RJ crisis brought in him better qualities overall I’m afraid to say; the price he paid of course, was formidable. As Violet wrote, we are all wired differently but I believe Lisbon’s humanity and connection with those who are in need was hard wired since childhood, the guy at the bar pointed out how she was ‘such a straight arrow’, which I found absolutely fascinating. I can imagine little Teresa with a strong set of values just as the adult she became; she later became Jane’s moral compass and he’s the better for it. He knows this.

    I understand better this connection they have now, I have often wondered how it came to be. She was human enough to understand and help in her own way, without being condescending; he saw goodness in her. I totally buy now that they had a brother/sister relationship at the start, putting together what we are discussing now with TLYH and ‘Red Dawn’. He was of course manipulating her and trying to get his way but he couldn’t help but to be moved by her humanity from the start.

    To tie in with a previous discussion from the previous episode: she was perhaps attracted to him from the start but I think she’s more difficult to penetrate than he is, actually, so I think that while she was attracted to him, he was moved by her. Does it make sense? I think she made way into his heart earlier than he did into hers (as a potential romantic interest). I might be taking nonsense though!

  • mosquitoinuk

    @lily: sorry, it was you who mentioned that we are all wired differently! apologies

  • Kilgore Trout


    Thank you for your kind words! I love reading everyone’s comments as well (though of course all credit goes to Violet and RB for taking the time to write and post those amazing reviews).

    I don’t mean to be critical of Jane and Lisbon and they certainly have gone through a lot (and of course their difficulties make for great drama). I’m just observing they are on the more difficult side when dealing with the trauma (especially Jane, most people don’t go on an obsessive 10 year revenge quest after losing their family). Of course others have dealt with things much more poorly as well by spiraling into drug abouse of antisocial behaviour…

    As you say, its remarkable Jane has any human foundation given his early upbringing. Lisbon at least has what sounds like a pretty solid foundation up into the first tragedy.


    Jane and Lisbon are certainly darkness and light in some aspects. Lisbon represents Christian healing and forgiveness while Jane is more about the older and darker themes of revenge and obsession.

    I like your analysis to the way into Jane’s heart being easier. I think you are right. From a romantic point of view Jane was aware of his feelings earlier (and he spent a lot of time fighting those feelings). Of course being aware of feelings and acting on them are very different things! He may never gotten to that point had not the events of Bluebird pushed him along.

    The way into Lisbon’s heart has always been through compassion but those feelings do not necesarily lend themselves to romantic ones (at least not healthy ones). I think Viloet mentioned at one point that had Jane not been her consultatnt Lisbon may well have had a brief fling with him at some point in Season 1. I can definitely see that happening (as well as her running away at a million miles an hour soon afterwards).

    With Jane I can see his feelings operating something like a switch. Post Bluebird he committed to Lisbon and after that there was no holding back. He has been very much in touch with how he feels and what is going on. For Lisbon its been a much slower and gradual process. She is still very much feeling her way and battling her trust and relationship issues. That is why this episode was such an important one for her character.

  • KM


    Because Lisbon is a fictional character we are free to make educated guesses. Your opinion is fine. And we are free to interpret her as we see. We can agree & disagree. When it comes to actual people it is not so easy. Unless you were present within me during those moments I was defending myself and siblings from violence you would have no clue. Even it you too had suffered at the hands of your parents, because our situations are not comparable and what is bearable to some souls is not to others. How each of us perceives things is too different. Just to be clear I can easily speak about the physical violence I suffered, they are facts (and some scars), but the emotional is a tangled web where grief, anger, guilt and more blend so I cannot often see where one ends and the other begins. Hence, I can’t even make presumptions for a fictional character. I will agree that Lisbon is a work in progress. To me a fictional inspiring one. When terrible things happen we can choose to surrender to what has happened, allow it to overtake our futures. In the process of going on in life we can choose to allow it to define us, become overwhelmed and buried, or to become a fact about us. Lisbon’s character allows it to be a fact. Yes, she has trust issues. Her ability to trust and to make herself emotional available has been a process. I know for myself I will always be a work in process. Emotional memories triggerd by present day situations will most likely trip me up. Letting my guard down is hard. The people who raised me taught me to fear them, not to trust them, and I feel guilty today that I can’t fully let them in. Likely, because some parts of my past will only end when they exit this life. For Lisbon she does not have the possibility of closure, to get answers. And, we cannot be assured that she ever had an example to follow, to learn what is normal, kind, compassionate, responsible, safe, to trust yourself with someone,… and a host of other things parents are to model to their children to help them become productive members of society. It was implied in the conversation with Jimmy that neither of their parents were available. “You know how Mom and Dad were.” Her baggage is as heavy as Jane’s. And, you could be right as to why she allowed him in. I hazard to guess that she is a ‘savior’ person, and part of the reason is she felt compelled to try with him. Perhaps it is tied to her father, a flawed man who became so broken after the death of his wife that he horribly abused his kids and implode. Watching him deteriorate sent many messages and not just about medicating oneself. It also could have sent the message that letting yourself fall in love will destroy you if you loose them. To quote Paul-Jean Toulet “Dans la vie, il faut savior compter, mais pas sur les autres.” And, that would be but another reason for Lisbon to abandon Greg and to build walls around herself to become a safe workaholic, needing no-none. The fear that she could become her father. And, even her mother. I at least have those fears.

    It was wonderful to read your thoughts, I sincerely hope that I am somewhat understandable to you. Thank you for responding.


  • KM

    I do agree that interpreting Jane as a man who had a violent childhood is not unreasonable. There are clues that point that direction. Including in this episode when he is attacked in Lisbon’s bedroom. Would it surprise you if I said I once worked with a victim of both child and domestic abuse who was a sub in an S&M relationship. They explained that being in control made all the difference. The bruises can look the same, but in a sub relationship you have the power to call it off. And, they found it helpful along with DV counseling in the process of recovery.


    @anomly, great to read you. Nice catch on the clarinet. I only caught it on my second viewing. Cheers!

  • anomalycommenter

    Great discussion about Jane and Lisbon’s psyche everybody! And I greatly appreciate all your delicate points that I was totally ignorant about! So, may I in agreement with KM add that in addition to them being fictional, the multitude of (talented) writers who shaped their characters might have contributed to the fuzziness and ambiguity we might sometimes perceive?

    @Kilgore Trout (I saw what you did above! 🙂 ) & @Violet: Thank you! 🙂 I agree that the explanation for the different nicknames KM & you came up with is quite convincing. Well, maybe as you both hinted above, the total oblivion of her brothers toward Jane could be considered a bigger problem as even if Lisbon herself did not tell them anything about him, I suppose the rather odd & radical event of disbanding the CBI and the story behind it should have made quite big headlines at the time!

    @KM: Thanks a lot! It’s always great to read you too! 🙂

    (Thanks everybody, but for the record I have to say that neither the clarinet nor the “T” vs “tea” idea were my findings. I simply reiterated what some clever fans spotted and reported online. So I apologize if my lacking English did not convey that point correctly.)

  • R

    I’m just dropping in with my 2 cents about:

    a) The clarinet in Lisbon’s room – good catch, everyone who spotted it! Even after knowing it was there it took me a couple more views to find it. However I’m not entirely sure this is the point where we discover what instrument Lisbon played in High School, because I recall in S05E17 (Red, White and Blue), Jane mentioned, in passing “Lisbon, you used to play the clarinet, right?” before asking her to identify the tune tattooed on the murder victim’s ankle. Even though Lisbon neither confirmed nor denied this statement, for me The Case of the Mystery Instrument was closed after this episode.

    b) Jane’s frightened ‘no…no…’ when attacked in Lisbon’s room – While it may be a learned reaction, the result of years of abuse, my instinct at that moment was that Jane might have thought the man was one of Lisbon’s brothers. He’d never met either Stan or Jimmy before, and the man did have dark hair like his partner. Though he does shy (ok – RUN) away from physical violence of any kind, I wonder if he may also have been further restrained from acting by the possibility that the man might be ‘family’. That’s why the immediate question “I’m guessing that wasn’t your brother?”

    Lovely review as per usual, and as always I’ve enjoyed the conversation in the comments as well 🙂

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