Mentalist Copper Bullet Review


Synopsis

Bill Peterson (Dylan Baker), Abbott’s former boss turned nasty nemesis, digs up some evidence that Abbott committed a murder years ago. Jane decides to take the matter into his own hands and with help from the team, elaborates a layered scheme in order to save his friend.

Concise Verdict

After Jane’s manipulation in ‘The White of His Eye’, writer Tom Donaghy chose to deliver another nostalgic glimpse into Jane’s old character, who always stays one step ahead with secret drawer type of plans. At the same time, questions are still raised about lies and trust –on many levels- and the moral perspective is interesting: the murder case this time involves Abbot’s old crime (the corpse being represented by the desiccated skeleton in the coffin) and it’s already solved. Yet the real crime the investigation focuses on is Peterson’s theft of drug money for years. This implied double standard parallels Jane’s actions in the closed RJ case, and coupled with the team moments, it makes this episode a pretty intriguing one.

Detailed AKA Humungous Review (Spoilers Galore)

VIS#1: the opening

Right from the start, the episode deals with couple troubles treated in parallel, as both Abbott and Jane tried to protect their beloved from danger.

Indeed, in the deserted Rio Bravo cemetery, Bill Peterson is true to his word to make Abbott pay for not obeying his blackmail in ‘Green Light’ and he’s looking for evidence to convict his former protégé… To obtain it, he’s eager to dig Abbott’s past up along with his victim’s decayed body. He’s planning to search the skull for the bullet that would incriminate him, even going as far as check if the item is in there with his own hand before the tech moves in to remove it… This ‘Copper Bullet’ continues the notion of Western movies and battles (along with later Wylie comparing the man’s house security with Fort Knox and the team wanting to leave Vega behind to “hold the fort out here”) that hint that a violent dangerous confrontation is still to be expected sometimes in the future. Moreover, Lisbon’s been grazed by a bullet too in the previous episode which caused Jane to panic in the shot-related ‘The White of His Eyes’… And the metal mentioned in the title reminds of ‘The Silver Briefcase’, an episode that also showed the team investigating a case outside of the normal regulations to catch a criminal hiding among law enforcement members… From silver to copper, the metal shade is slowly turning to that golden color reminiscent of heartbreaking sunsets on cliffs or on paradisiacal beaches like Jane dreams of and of course of his forlorn wedding ring.

This scene at the desolated cemetery contrasts with the next one, in the city at night… Lisbon and Jane are eating ice cream and talking about the events in ‘The White of His Eyes’ that probably took place the same day or the day before–because, even though Teresa’s not wearing the same black suit as when the discussion started in the bullpen, that dark red shirt and tan jacket were seen in the previous episode. Interestingly, they’re not sharing like they did at the end of ‘Orange Blossom Ice Cream’ when they reconciled after Erica managed to wedge somewhat of an edge between them and like in ‘The Red Shirt’ when he was making unacknowledged overtures to her. Both times he was trying to be more open with her and make her see his point of view, like he’s now, but they still eat their vanilla cones separately, because there’s a distance born of his breach of trust. But they’re working on it: they try to talk about Jane’s choice in a calm manner, like an adult couple willing to face their disagreements.

Jane insists that the “mission” was “accomplished” and “everything turned out exactly as we planned” and that “no one was hurt”, “except the bad guy”… until Lisbon points out the main problem: he removed her from the action when things got more heated. He explains that he “was concerned” about her safety, but she states that he doesn’t get that she’s a FBI agent. For her, it sums up the issue: Jane cannot accept that danger is an inherent part of her job that she comprehends and accepts. It’s part of her life and she’s dealt with it for years. Yet she doesn’t get herself what are Jane’s motivations in that respect. They’re not on the same wavelength here, because he refused far too often to open up to her in the past, both on his feelings and on his fear of the past repeating itself, and she hasn’t taken the measure of how deep his terror runs. On the other hand, she clings to a surface justification for his actions –the issue with her job, that he’s been bringing up for some time to get her to quit- probably because it’s safer than to think that there’s a real and more difficult problem she’d had to deal with. Thinking that he’s his usual disrespectful self that likes to mess with her job and overall authority is easier than to address grieving issues she’s not good with. Indeed, her usual grieving pattern is to sweep the feeling under the carpet –Bosco, for instance- and she avoided the family house after her father’s suicide brought the situation down. Moreover, she probably doesn’t realize what Jane is feeling, because she never thought of herself as meaning so much for anyone. Her surprise at hearing Gregg’s wife tell her that she left him heartbroken was genuine. And her mother and father’s deaths were different from Jane’s loss: she probably doesn’t feel like they were taken from her in the same way as the haven provided by Angela and Charlotte was wrenched from Jane. Hers were linked to getting into abuse and breaking free of it. She wouldn’t be terrified of it repeating itself, or she wouldn’t have taken a broken Jane under her wing especially after he started showing his darker manipulative tendencies…

They’re interrupted by the news that Peterson is making a move against Abbott. Lisbon’s obviously in the loop both regarding the murder and the threats made by Peterson, which proves Jane’s transparency with her. It contrasts with the other times when he was saving his boss’s career, like in ‘Blood Money’. In ‘Little Red book’ too, for instance, after Lisbon got fired in reaction of his killing a man in a mall, he took action behind her back, mostly, because she wouldn’t go along with making fools of Haffner and his men. Now, both Abbott and Lisbon give him carte blanche and the team is fully cooperating. The news is spreading in one to one confidences and Abbott even notices that “everyone’s whispering”.

Proof is further showed of Teresa’s involvement when she waits at the door for Jane to finish talking with Dennis. She’s worried that their boss would lose his job and that he could go to prison. Jane assures her than they’ll prevent it, but his posture sprawled on the couch does not make his statement very convincing: she tells him that “this is serious’. His only answer is mysterious: “I know. Don’t you love it when the stakes are high?” Once again, the poker game metaphor characterizes his actions.

On the other hand, Abbott explains the situation to Lena and apologizes profusely. He’s sorry and he says her “I should have told you everything”, “it’s my fault”. Lena supports him and tells him “you don’t have to apologize, not to me, not to anyone”: it’s “this person” who’s trying to bring him down that makes her angry. Both are willing to lose their job to protect to other, him by telling Peterson that he’s resigning, her by letting go of her dream situation. Abbot is horrified by the prospect and tells her that he doesn’t want to have her quit because of him –which is an interesting line, given that Jane wants precisely that from Lisbon…- and he’s even ready to go along with the story that they’re separated: in other words, he’s eager to sacrifice both his job and his private life to protect her… As Jane puts it when entering the office, they’re both offering to fall on their sword for the other, in the most chivalrous and in their case useless kind of way, since Jane’s lucid enough to guess that Peterson won’t stop until he destroyed them both.

As the distraught lovebirds place themselves into Jane’s scheming hands, his skills are once again called into question. In the previous episode, Ken mentioned that he needed Jane’s charm, a detail that surprised Jane enough to ask if he should feel insulted or flattered, whereas now Lena outright tells him that Dennis told her that he has “one of the trickiest and most devious mind he’s worked with”… It’s not his intelligence that’s called for, but his ability to trick and manipulate people, as the “charm” remark hinted at. Jane replies in the same kind too: “I didn’t come here to be flattered, but please, go on”. Lena then tells him that Abbott considers him as a friend and that “he would trust [Jane] with his life” which softens the blow… Jane wants to protect them so much that he decides not to tell them what he has in mind, in order to give them deniability. He’s using the very same method he used to enforce on Lisbon in the CBI era: earning her trust in protecting her by lying to her and keeping her in the dark… the very same thing he’s been trying to do in the previous episode.

Meanwhile, as Wylie, who’s “awful at keeping secrets” has told Cho, they’re all investigating discreetly Peterson’s life in order to find a flaw. The man is divorced – a failed relationship again…- and have expensive tastes like tennis, scuba-diving in the Caribbean and French wine… which reinforces Jane’s previous assumption that he’s keeping an hidden stash of dirty money. Not to mention that those Caribbean paradise islands remind of Jane’s dream of sailing to beaches in Polynesia… and therefore also hint at the double-edged metaphor of sea linked with his obsession with his history. In order to reel the corrupt man in, Jane is precisely planning to “catch up with an old friend” and reunite with his past: the scheme is therefore two-folds, as Jane will “take care of the bullet” that their mark dug out the tomb, while Wylie and the others should “dig down on Peterson”… That digging hints that the two parts are matching, yet the implications and link with death and past are telling.
The only person who’s left out is Vega, the newbie, even though Cho is almost as bad as Wylie in distracting Vega’s suspicions away from their not-case with his one word answers… Interestingly, her first guess for him not wanting to tell her is “did I do something wrong?”, an allusion to her previous issues with the older agent.

VIS#2: Jane meets Pete

That old friend Jane is meeting with is Peter, the carny buddy he introduced to Lisbon in ‘Cackle-Bladder Blood’ and who’s made another appearance with his wife Sam in ‘Red John’s Rules’. Like then, the men greet each other with friendly teasing and insults and Peter Barsocky even alludes to the former episode by telling that he’s “as fat and wrinkled as Daisy the amazing elephant”, the same one who got Lisbon entranced and distracted enough for Jane to give her the slip. Jane paid for his and presumably Sam’s first class tickets and fancy hotel room and Peter’s relaxing at the pool. His fish themed shirt is another nod to the fishing/sea theme that had been running since the RJ era…
Apparently, Jane is eager to inform the man that he’s “seeing someone”. Instead of coming as a shock for Pete, who knew Angela and whose last apparition involved Jane realizing that his nemesis was targeting people from his childhood, the man correctly surmises that Jane’s sweetheart is that “pretty brunette who come around with you a couple of years back… the cop” and explains that he already knew that “she was sweet on” Jane. Is he referring to his first meeting with the one he used to call “Pepper”, before she handcuffed him to his own truck? Or to the discussion about Lily Barlow, whose uncle was also able to guess that she was lying on her bed at night, thinking of Patrick? His remark is ambiguous enough to let in the shadow the moment when he started suspecting Lisbon’s feelings, but it anyway put emphasis on the fact that one more character saw what was going on between them at the time, in addition to Grace, Wayne and Abbott. It is a little disturbing that Pete doesn’t mention the letters that Jane sent to Lisbon through “carny friends”: is that a pet peeve or is the man sly enough not to mention his major clue in Jane’s reciprocating Lisbon’s interest?

One way or another, and even if the pretty brunette cop is a little “cranky” with Jane right now, Pete wholeheartedly approves of the relationship: he insists “you should be happy” and even dare to broach a touchy subject that obviously makes Jane’s uncomfortable by telling « maybe it’s time, you know, to take the ring off… There’s no shame in moving on, Angela would want you to”. This friendly and almost fatherly talk serves as a counterpoint to the meeting with Lisbon’s brothers in ‘Little Yellow House’: Jane obtains the approbation of his family through the words of someone who knew them and who’s cared for him for a long time.

As he used to do with Lisbon in the CBI, Jane quickly hides the personal question behind work: he tells Peter that he needs a favor in order to help a friend in need. Both seem to consider this as some “fun” “gag”, which enlightens where Jane’s conception of investigations as cons comes from…

VIS#3 Jane meets Peterson

Once this part of the plan is taken care of, Jane decides to visit Peterson. He likes to confront bad guys face to face obviously, since he did it with Lisbon’s adversary Volker and more recently with the colonel: when his friends are threatened, things get personal and he’s eager to let the other man know that he’s in the game… To continue this game allegory, Peterson is busy playing tennis at his club and Jane sneaks in to outright tell him that he’s not “gonna sit back and watch [him] destroy Dennis Abbott”. To make his words more hostile, he even touches the other’s dark blue, white and red “velour” sport jacket. The red color associated with the red polo underneath hint at a threat and Peterson’s behavior becomes accordingly more menacing: he grabs Patrick by the neck and stats that he doesn’t “a rat’s ass about Dennis Abbott”. He’s only seeing this as an opportunity for his career to get on a Congressman’s good side and “screwing Dennis Abbott, that’s just icing on the cake”. Yet, in spite of his cold words and his blatant interesting in money and saving his job, the repetition of Abbott’s full name indicates that things are actually very personal: he’s trying to get revenge because in his eyes, Abbott betrayed him by not “having his back” when he ordered him to…

It’s interesting to watch how different those two manipulative men act when trying to put pressure on others: Peterson is brutal and uses physical threatening, whereas Jane is sneakier. He provokes the other man by implicitly belittling him and the club employee comments that “he was very persuasive” when making her let him in, which echoes the remark about his charm. Plus, Jane’s “devious mind” had one single goal by ticking Bill off, since he wanted to get close and distract him enough to lift his cell phone.

The plan: breaking into Peterson’s house

Soon, the main part of the plan comes into play as the team decides that they need to get a look inside Peterson’s home, given that it’s the most likely place where he’d hide the money. It isn’t the first time Jane decides that breaking and entering is a good way to pursue his goal: the main difference is that now Lisbon is on his not-so lawful side of justice… For instance, he chose to lie to Rigsby and Cho when breaking into the empty house in ‘Redemption’ and his illegal search of their suspect in ‘Blood Money’ caused the clueless Lisbon to be suspended. Same when he chose to hire Culpepper to attempt a burglary into in LaRoche’s house to find the infamous list: any of those times, Lisbon wasn’t included in the plan and the reveal of his illicit activities caused quite the uproar even though she helped him in the end. Now, she’s the one to decipher how Peterson has been able to commit his “perfect crime” for years. He’s been “skimming”, stealing dirty money during low-level busts, something almost impossible to check giving that nobody would believe the convicted drug dealers had they a mind to tell.

Same when the operation is on motion: she’s Jane’s accomplice and she shares his goal and methods. She calls him on how he would figure out the pass code –a small measure of distrust that might catch viewers’ attention since it’s the second time his way of doing things is questioned this episode. His answer to her question is an airy “the way I figure things out” after using a rather simple plan: “pick the lock, open the door, see what happens” when “alarms give you a minute to 90-second grace period before they alert anyone”, then go and find where malicious Bill may have hidden is safe and open it… Is that me, or is it roughly the same basis that he used to rob the casino in ‘Pink Champagne on Ice’? Even the mirror illusion and the substitution are somewhat used after they later realize that they cannot open the biometric safe: they take money from the evidence room to stage some photos in order to give Peterson the illusion that they busted him…. It’s a trick on a large scale, plus Jane remarks when Lisbon guesses how he knew the pass code to the alarm that she’s “killing the magic here” by telling out loud. It is further proof that she’s getting as good as him. Indeed, unlike in the heist at the casino, she’s neither an assistant nor a trump card, now she’s his equal because she gets him and how his tricks work… On the other hand, the trick with the candlestick hiding a secret safe is a bit reminiscent of ‘Red Scare’ with its secret passageways: it gives to the episode an old school impression of familiarity. The same thing happens when Wylie asks for Abbott’s help into getting clearance to take a couple millions dollars from the evidence room; after being told “you know how Jane said h wouldn’t need your help?” Abbott only replies resignedly “he lied, didn’t he?” That’s classic Jane for you.

Meanwhile, Vega feels left out and she confronts Cho to let him know her feelings: “I’m here to protest my exclusion”, “if Abbott is in trouble, I want to help”. Cho flats out refuses and draws a line at getting her involved, even though he had no qualms about Wylie, because he doesn’t “feel responsible for him”. Vega retorts: “you’re not responsible for me”, even though Cho is worried for her career. It enlightens how the fatherly bond between them works both ways: he’s chosen to lie by omission to protect her for a “career killer”, just like Jane and Abbott did with someone they care about. He’s giving her deniability in case things go wrong. But Vega won’t leave it at that: like Lisbon, she understands and accepts the dangers of what she’s chosen to get involved in. She states ““listen, I’m a part of this team, or I’m not”. This talk is reminiscent of the one she had with Jane in ‘Green Light’: back then she questioned Jane’s methods too, before finally accepting to partake in the “fun” of his plans even though they wouldn’t have met with her stern father’s standards. Now she’s fully part of the team. It’s even hinted at by her pretext for leaving the bullpen: she tells Abbott that he has an errand to run, the same excuse Jane had given her to get her help… It’s a pivotal moment both for Vega and for Cho and it is emphasized by Cho’s line “what we’re discussing involves breaking about seven laws” and Michelle’s casual answer “as long as it’s only seven” echo Lisbon being lured to the 7th floor in the previous episode; it’s a discreet nod to the 7th and last season of the show and, as usual, it’s linked with transgression and tricks.

The same extended metaphor of tricks and performances that has been running during the whole operation is also mentioned when Vega is executing the traditional undercover job of the episode. She’s put a pair of glasses on to tail Peterson in the restaurant when he’s spitting his venomous revelations to the Congressman’s legislative director. She then can the other woman say “a hearing’s a tricky thing. It’s about showmanship. You display it, a little theatrics, if you will.”

As the plan unfolds, she’s later asked to stall him while the others break into the house and Wylie is busing gathering the money from the evidence room, pretty much like she was supposed to fake arresting Peterson in ‘Green Light’. And her method is reckless since she cannot think of another plan than to get the man involved in a car wreck, like she did in ‘Orange Blossom Ice Cream’: she’s as eager to prove herself to the other team members as she was back then, only now she doesn’t want to prove her skills as an agent but rather her trustworthiness and dedication. Unfortunately Peterson recognizes her and the schedule is getting even more airtight for the others. Cho and Lisbon hurry to tidy everything out in the house, Wylie rushes in with the cash and Jane actively fights all that frenzied tension by calmly sitting in the kitchen and eating a banana. He’s partaking in his age old habit of making himself cozy in the suspects’ home, like he did innumerable times when making himself some tea (‘Blood Money’, ‘Devil’s Cherry’) or a sandwich (in the pilot).

Nevertheless, Vega and Lisbon are not the only ones whose role in the team is being reaffirmed. As Abbott is worried by Michelle’s involvement, Jane tells him “what you did at Rio Bravo… you risked your life to take out a mass murderer that no one else could. No one else would. You did that because you’re a good man. Peterson is not a good man. He’s a greedy, corrupt bureaucrat with a very healthy sprinkling of sociopath on top”. Jane recognizes the similarities between himself who risked everything to take his own villain out and Abbott. They’re kindred spirits in vigilantism and the risks are very much present even now: “if we stop now, you’re going to prison, your wife’s going to lose her career and Peterson on his way to be being the head of the DEA… Is that what you want? It’s not what I want. And for what it’s worth, everyone else feels the same way”, so Abbott needs to “chin up” and “trust” them. The team is all gathering around their leader in his quest for justice, just like the SCU protected Jane when Abbott was threatening to arrest and stop him, even though they didn’t completely agree with the means he would be using. It’s a nice counterpoint and role reversal to their first meeting and in a way it concludes Abbott’s interactions with the unruly consultant. Once again, “trust” is the key word when interacting with the devilish consultant…

VIS#4: the reveal

After getting their much needed evidence (or rather fake evidence) on Peterson, Abbott goes to DC to reassure Lena. He knows that she’s terrified of the outcome but tells her that everything will be fine. His main argument is a declaration of faith, even though Lena states that they “need a miracle”: “I trust Jane and he hasn’t let me down so far”.

Unsurprisingly, Peterson is here too to sabotage Lena’s hearing. The change of dynamic and the tension between him and his former employee is palpable: he calls the younger man “Abbott” instead of “Dennis” as he used to patronize him with. It’s emphasized by the other man still calling him “Bill”, as a reminder of their former familiarity and an indirect way to let him know he’s not afraid of his threats… Indeed, both are holding two kinds of evidence above the other’s head: Bill has the ‘Copper Bullet’ he fished in the drug lord’s skull and Abbott has a series of photos of Peterson’s cat on an impressive heap of banknotes and firearms. He’s showing them his cell phone, which is also a nod to the fact that Jane has stolen the man’s phone earlier: he’s been doubly tricked… Abbott seems very self-assured and states “it seems we both have secrets. Cute kitty by the way.” Peterson is rightly stricken and frantically looks for an empty room to talk more privately; that alone is an implicit confession and he’s well aware of the danger of his situation.

Once alone with his unexpected blackmailer, he checks that Abbott has no listening device before remarking –rightly- that they’ve broken into his home to perform an illegal search. He’s not fooled by Dennis’ statement that he has people that will account for every minute of his time: he suspects that it was “Jane or one of those other idiots” but also knows that Abbott has won, because making a fuss over it will only cause an internal investigation from the DA, which could only prove fatal to him given his wrongdoings. He’s trapped in a corner and the only way out that he can see is to assume that Abbott is as greedy as he is, since he didn’t hesitate to maneuver him with a clever blackmail just like he did himself. He offers him half of his stash – roughly the amount that Jane had guessed, amusingly- which makes some very nice and much more solid evidence against him after Vega has recorded it. His spirit is further broken when he realizes the whole charade has been a huge double bluff: first, he’s been tricked into confessing his sins; then, he hasn’t even the bullet anymore. The woman he has given it too wasn’t the real one: it was Jane’s carnie friend Sam, Pete’s wife. Jane had an ace up his sleeve the whole time since he had Peterson’s bullet since the day before and he just kept going because he wanted to get the man too. Like Bill considered destroying Abbott as icing on the cake of his career plans, Jane had caught him too in addition of the incriminating evidence that could send his friend to jail. To get this result, he used a clever substitution, like in the previous episode, with a woman wearing a pink jacket like key witness Lily Stoppard did, although in a lighter shade. This enlightens Jane’s skills and sense of justice as well as the writers ability to still surprise viewers who might think they’re used to their tricks after years of watching them… Peterson makes his exit from Abbott’s life with that line from his former protégé: “Bill, I can’t say how much I’m happy to say this: you’re under arrest” and Jane stresses that it’s “wonderful to see the government at work”.

Yet that rather moral if entertaining conclusion doesn’t mask the similarities between the events and some classic hard-boiled detective story: a man (not so) wrongly accused of murder, a dirty cop, a team of loners getting outside the limits of the law to fight an adversary in position of authority… As much as Bill’s cow-boy hat and the arid deserted little cemetery had a vague Western movie flavor, added to Abbott’s friends helping him out against all odds like the characters in the ‘Alamo’ and ‘Rio Bravo’ movies, the whole setting is more oriented towards film noir.

More precisely, there is some very strong resemblance with ‘The Long Goodbye’, a 1973 neo-noir movie featuring private-eye Philip Marlowe. In this movie, the protagonist tries to help a friend, Terry Lennox, who Marlowe thinks is wrongly accused of murdering his wife, like Abbott. Even though said friend commits suicide in Mexico –the country Bill had gone to in order to find evidence-, Marlowe’s still trying to uncover the truth. Interestingly, the same kind of story-telling is involved: some seemingly haphazardly gathered plot elements without much connection with one another form a rather confusing series of events that only the ending makes sense of. Indeed, Marlowe realizes that Terry has not died and that he has manipulated him in order to cover his crimes. It’s the same kind of plot twist that we have at the end when Jane reveals that he was stringing Peterson all along with a fake contact to the Congressman: that fact alone makes the whole episode become meaningful in a new level because it explains what he asked for Pete’s help and why he was so confident all along, going as far as eating a banana in a crisis situation. He knew that he had Peterson eating out the palm of his hand already since Sam had got the bullet. Plus, the grey morality finds an interesting echo in the movie, as Augustine, a brutal gangster who was scammed by Terry, states that “it’s a minor crime, to kill your wife. The major crime is that he stole my money. Your friend stole my money, and the penalty for that is capital punishment”… isn’t that the same logic the characters are obeying to in the show? Bill’s long-standing thievery is considered more condemnable than Abbott’s murder, given both men’s personality. Bill’s deadly sin was greed, whereas Abbott’s action was a sacrifice for the sake of saving lives…

Some interesting details can be added to the comparison: the movie ends with Marlowe playing the harmonica after shooting Terry who told him “you’ll never learn, you’re a born loser”, just like Bill called the team “idiots” before his downfall and the episode finishes in music and dancing. A more intriguing detail is a running gag in the movie in the person of Marlowe’s tabby cat, who runs away after waking him up at an ungodly hour: the determining –and mocking- element Jane adds to the supposed photos to convince Peterson that it’s really his secret stash that they’ve been raiding is a grey tabby cat that has been running around the house and annoying Cho. The presence of that “cute kitty” in the house only enlightens how lonely Bill is when compared with Abbott and his team members: he’s divorced, there’s no one waiting for him at home except the feline and he has no friends, only marks and adversaries…

VIS#5: the ending

In direct opposition to this ghastly self-imposed isolation, Jane thanks his carnie makeshift family with a group hug in front of the elevator. After they refuse to let him drive them to the airport, they thank him for the “good, clean fun, like old times” and Sam takes that opportunity to get him to talk about his “sweetheart, that little brunette”: she adds her approbation to Pete’s by giving a piece of advice to Jane, “don’t screw it up, Patrick”, “life’s too short”. Interestingly, it could be interpreted too like a more cheerful echo to Jane’s fears about Lisbon’s safety…

The team decides to celebrate their victory by going to a country rock party and gather around a congratulatory drink, a bit like the SCU did once during case closed pizza with the expensive wine Jane smuggled out of the mansion in ‘Red Scare’. Abbott offers a thankful toast “to friends” and when he’s too moved to find his words, Lena supplies “we’re forever in your debt”. Like in ‘Red Scare’ too, the friendly rejoicing gets more romantic when Vega decides to drag her admirer to check out the waffle truck, reminding of how Van Pelt and her lovestruck Rigsby ended up making out the kitchen… Indeed, there’s no kissing here, but after a bit of teasing about their respective mad driving during the dash to outrun Peterson, Vega quickly changes her mind and insists on dancing, taking Wylie by surprise.
Cho’s in for a surprise too when Abbott comments that he’d be moving to DC in a couple of months to join Lena and when he tells the stoic man: “the unit, it’s yours. You’ll be in charge” “and I think you’re gonna do a great job”. Both seal the deal by chucking and shaking hands and Dennis too leaves to dances with his “baby”: he prefers his love over his career. Jane and Lisbon are happy for Cho and, hand on his back, Teresa sincerely congratulates her former employee turned future boss. Jane adds “you deserve it”. Maybe embarrassed by this emotional moment, Cho gets up smiling to get another taco, leaving the main couple alone.

Lisbon takes this opportunity to finish the conversation they were having at the beginning, about his manipulations to protect her. Jane’s half-heartedly tries to change the subject: “it got busy. Life throws you curve balls”, but this new game metaphor doesn’t distract Lisbon. She tells him that it’s “serious”, the same reproach she made when Jane was sprawled on his couch after talking to Abbott: given that he was already thinking of a plan to get the man out of trouble, one can wonder if he’s not trying to avoid getting back in trouble himself by broaching the terrifying topic with her. The man indeed doesn’t need to be reminded that the situation is serious on both accounts: he’s serious enough about it to want to downplay it in front of her, probably because he’s afraid she won’t understand. However, she gets to the heart of the problem: “I love you. And I also love what I do. You can’t be jealous of that.” She’s misunderstood his intentions, and, after some poking from her, he finally explains “I don’t want to lose you. I don’t know how I would react”. Lisbon acknowledges that neither of them knows what the future has in store for them, yet she prefers to “focus on what’s going on right now. Right here. It’s good. It’s very, very good”. In order to make him happier, she even offers him to dance and he replies “okay, one dance” She wants two which makes him tease “everything is a negotiation with you”. Which it is actually, since she gives as much as she demands from him and it’s probably the best thing that happened to him for a long time; nevertheless, that little repartee is also proof that this talk is not finished yet… He’s just letting her comfort him like he did in ‘The White of His Eyes’ when she was repeating him that everything would be fine before luring him to bed. The episode ends on a sweet note though, since they’re dancing like they were at the end of ‘Rose Colored Glasses’…

All in all, that ending feels very much like a conclusion. Again, it makes one think to the movie ‘The Long Goodbye’, which a famous catchphrase visible on its poster “nothing says goodbye like a bullet”. This ‘Copper Bullet’ may mean too that something has ended. Abbott is planning to leave happily to greener fields, Cho is on the verge of becoming the new team leader. His status towards his friends and the team dynamics are changing: for instance in relation to Lisbon, he’s now gotten seniority over her as well as a six-months full training that she didn’t go through when Jane made her part of his deal (as mentioned in ‘My Blue Heaven’). Lisbon is therefore relegated at a less official status, as a simple team member as well as Jane’s partner in work and in their private life. She’s getting a particular standing with the tricks Jane’s been teaching her and that’s becoming more apparent after her repeated psychic acts.

On the other hand, Lisbon’s position regarding her relationship has also slightly shifted: they’re not official yet, but it’s getting here. She’s not afraid to dance in pubic with him, at the risk of someone noticing: she’s even insisting, although she was the one who asked him to keep quiet about their love affair… Slowly, her couple is becoming more important than her career in her eyes. Being a cop is still a defining trait of her character in her mind, but it’s becoming more apparent that it’s a security blanket, a manifestation and justification of that fixer persona she’s build to help her get over her grief. Indeed, she’s now accepting to collaborate in Jane’s illegal actions, his tricks, all things she used to held against him in the first seasons when she was more by-the-book. She’s learnt to understand and to share his motivations and methods. Her career is no longer her priority, since she’s sincerely happy for her former subordinate: she doesn’t feel slighted. Could she slowly become accustomed to the idea of changing her life style, in spite of her protestations?

Jane too is changing, since he’s made an effort to reach out to his past and seeks the approbation for what remains of his family and, through them, of Angela. The comparison with ‘The Long Goodbye’ is particularly interesting here, since the other Phillip Marlowe story alluded to in the show was ‘The Maltese Falcon’ that served as a plot basis for ‘Cackle-Bladder Blood’. It was in that episode that Sammy and Pete made their very first appearance, along with Danny Ruskin, Angela’s brother, who was seething with anger, resentment and guilt. Now, the bitterness is solved: Jane’s gotten his family’s approbation and their help in his plan. From that meeting with Danny, to the talk about Barlow, the letters they smuggled to Lisbon and now their full acceptance, his friends have been less and less antagonistic. They represent what Jane’s feeling about himself in regard to his sorrow: moving on is acceptable now. He’s slowly admitting that he deserves happiness, hence the mention of his no-longer as meaningful wedding ring. His meeting with the imaginary ghost of Charlotte had been a way to talk himself into letting go of his revenge in order to focus on his life and find someone who would love him. Now, he’s still asking permission to his dead loved ones to let what they shared behind in order to build something new.

Vega has also set her boundaries: after keeping asking Cho if he was giving her the cold shoulder because she had done something wrong, which has been the dynamic she had been used to with him, she’s the one who realized that he is not responsible for her. It’s a reply to her seeking a fatherly figure in her job environment: now, she’s proven that she’s ready to make her own decisions. She’s become more independent and she doesn’t seek approbation on her choices. She’s grown emotionally. Her actions also echo her questions about Jane’s methods: she’s not wondering about the trick, she’s accepts that she’s a member of this team. In regard to Wylie too, her behavior has changed. The roles are somewhat reversed between them because he’s no longer making a move on her, but she’s been observing him when she was still in the dark about the situation and when he’d been avoiding her. She’s the one teasing him. She’s inviting him to eat something with her, in a private moment reminiscent of their game session in the previous episode, then to dance, with more romantic undertones. She’s setting him apart. Thus, on her side too, something has ended and a major change is occurring.

Under the appearance of a happy moment almost frozen in time, the team as we know it is telling goodbye and, in a way, Abbott’s cheerful toast to friendship is a faint echo to darker times, when the SCU too was holding a toast to their fallen comrade Sam Bosco in ‘His Red Right Hand’…

Pet Peeves

-Has Jane given back Peterson’s cell phone? How come the man didn’t suspect anything, after seeing first-hand his modus operandi of manipulating objects in ‘Green Light’?

-I understand that a bullet makes a very symbolic and meaningful piece of evidence against Abbott, but why hasn’t he just gotten rid of the gun that would have incriminated him instead? And how did Peterson justify that there hadn’t been any investigation when the murder occurred?

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7 responses to “Mentalist Copper Bullet Review

  • Rose

    Violet, you are a marvel. 😀 😀

    There are so many interesting little touches and allusions and possible hidden meanings that you’ve picked up on, which I never would have seen. Thank you so much for drawing my/our attention to them!

    In light of 7×10, what you say about The Long Goodbye poster catchphrase is just… oof.

    And all the references to ‘7’ – love it! My mind then jumped to ‘The Magnificent Seven’ (given what you’d said about Westerns), but sadly there are only 6 main cast members so that didn’t work. 😉

    Very interesting comments about the metallic colours and language relating to “digging” – they do love linguistic themes on this show!

    Was pleased to see Sam and Pete again, and the continued use of tricks to good effect: they are definitely sticking to their word on the whole ‘encore’ thing. 😀

    Oh, and the cat? Star of the show. 😉

  • bloomingviolet2013

    Thank you so much, Rose! Hehe, indeed, ‘The Magnificent Seven’ would have been a nice touch, lol. And I completely agree about the cat being the star of the episode: it was so cute! And the banana was a funny detail too: I love how they still manage after 7 seasons to surprise viewers with the balance between serious matters and incongruous and cute moments…
    (And yes, about the poster, darn… I wish I were wrong)

  • Eff To

    Thank you for the wonderful synopsis and analysis. It’s amazing how you tie together past, present and future. I get so much more from each episode after reading your review.
    I was a little disappointed that the writers made Lisbon appear so naive in her understanding of Jane. She couldn’t have forgotten about all his past trauma. She watched it so many years. To come up with “jealous” as an explanation seems so trite. She was so much more aware and sympathetic before. You mentioned that she has a tendency to sweep things under the rug but..Is it because she really doesn’t want to face a situation that she knows is coming to a head since Jane started mentioning leaving and doing something else. It’s very puzzling that her character, with her past can suddenly be actually quite callous when it really matters.

  • Kilgore Trout

    Wow Violet! The sheer number of allusions you have uncovered this week is astonishing! I loved your references to classic ‘noir themes.

    Nice catch with Pete not even mentioning the letters he delivered (I guess it could have been others from the circuit but surely word could have gotten around). In truth that whole scene bothered me. Sam being absent was understandable because they didn’t want to tip the hand on the con (though I’m sure us mentalist obsessives immediately were on the alert to see where she would show up) but the whole scene felt off. Happy or not, its simply not like Jane to just volunteer information on his personal life. I would have preferred this much better if Sam and Pete ganged up on him and interrogated him about the ‘letters to Pepper’ they had been delivering to them on his behalf. Additionally, the fact Lisbon was missing in all of the Sam and Pete scenes was a real opportunity lost, IMO.

    For me this whole episode felt like a step backwards. Jane was the genius and the others for the most part just seemed to follow him around as willing soldiers in his scheme.

    The biggest misstep, however, was how it glossed over Jane and Lisbon’s their argument at the end of The Whites of His Eyes. There were any number of ways they could have resolved (or left unresolved) their dramatic impasse but having Lisbon go from devastated to very slightly peeved at the start of the episode was jarring (especially if Violet’s theory is correct that at most a night has passed since those events). Given the events of the next episode it particularly doesn’t seem to work for this central character arc of Season 7.

    Mind you, even an average episode still has plenty of things going for it. The final scene was really warm and fun and I loved how how Lisbon deconstructed Jane’s feat of ‘guessing’ the alarm code.

    @Eff To

    I agree that Lisbon identifying Jane’s feelings as jealousy was a little off. She was written as if she didn’t want to address the big issue of the danger inherent to her job and yet the previous episode she placed it front and centre between them and even placed a partial ultimatum on it “How can we work together”. I’ll save the rest of what I have to say on this topic for Violet’s next review but yeah, I’m not thrilled with how this episode handled the issue.

  • Rose

    @ Eff To and Kilgore – I understand what you are both saying here. I instinctively frowned when I heard the “you can’t be jealous” line – it just felt deliberately obtuse. Perhaps a little contrived – merely a way to get Jane to express the “I don’t want to lose you” line outright for the benefit of the audience. Which is fine and all, but perhaps they could have found a way for him to deliver those sentiments without making Lisbon miss the point. I don’t view her as an insensitive or unperceptive character, so this jars me a bit too. Having said that, perhaps they are playing it as if she *does* understand Jane’s concerns about loss, but doesn’t fully realise the extent/depth of them in relation to *her* (although coming back to my original point, maybe that would be doing a disservice to her character). Tricky! (Because I love them both!)

    @ Violet – Hehe! “I’m just going to sit here and eat fruit while you two do all the heavy labour.” 😉

  • Kilgore Trout

    @Rose

    Lisbon certainy has a habit of underestimating her importance to other people but the writing of her observation here goes well beyond obtuse and solidly into the ‘river in Africa’ territory. This is disappointing because its simply not where her character is at after the events of Season 7 to date.

  • mosquitoinuk

    Thank you Violet for this in-depth review.

    Just one very quick comment to say that I echo the general sentiment that they could have explored J & L’s predicament better. It does seem like a quick fix. However, we know too well that TM’s writer and producers have dropped the ball on continuity more than once, even if they’ve had their moments of brilliance. The worst continuity scandal being the whole RJ’s missing clues-that-weren’t-clues-after-all…

    I am in sync with my fellow comment Kilgore here: this episode felt like going backwards…after all the progress, we are *again* having these 2 not discussing important issues. I suppose they needed to put a spanner in the works at it were but they should have adressed this better. A bit ticked-off to be honest! let’s hope it gests better…

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