Mentalist Nothing Gold Can Stay Review


Synopsis

While investigating the case of a brutal armored car robbery and generally getting on happily with their respective projects, the team is shaken by an unexpected event: Michelle Vega (Josie Loren) is killed by one of the criminals they were trying to arrest.

Concise Verdict

The ‘Bullet’ mentioned in the vague threats of the more recent episodes has finally found a target: Vega is the very first team member killed in the show and no need to say it makes this episode very emotional… Even more so since writer Alex Berger also signed her first scene at character development in ‘Green Light’ when she started stopping seeking her father’s shadow behind rules and approval… After tragedy stoke, bonds are strained and boundaries change: all in all, ‘‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ presents a sinister echo to ‘Nothing But Blues Skies’: it’s a reset button for the team, with altered dynamics and Jane threatening to fly the now painful premises.

Detailed AKA Humungous Review (Spoilers galore)

The violence displayed on the robbery contrasts with Jane and Lisbon cheerfully discussing their plans for a romantic weekend. This jarring note hints at unsettling events right from the star. Interestingly, their plans are a consequence of their talk at the end of the previous episode: Lisbon told him to focus on “what’s going on right now” because what they had was “very, very good”. Jane is therefore trying to work their disagreement out spending some nice time alone, out of work. Unsurprisingly, his choice for a dreamy getaway is getting them isolated from the world in a “rustic, charming, very romantic” little cabin. As usual, Lisbon is not depicted as a nature-loving girl, so she immediately picks up on the description: “rustic as in no running water?”… This detail reminds of her prison girl talk with Marie in ‘The Greybar Hotel’: back then, she commented about the life the girl was sharing with her outlaw of a boyfriend that “wild is one thing, no shower is another”. More than some demand for comfort in the choice of their lovers’ nest, with “the kind of place that leaves a mint on the pillow”, it’s implicitly their whole relationship and the dangers inherent to it that are about to be called into question, even more since ‘The Greybar Hotel’ started Jane’s round of worries about his sweetheart’s safety…

When the consultant starts interrogating witnesses under Cho’s supervision, viewers get treated to a classic cheeky Jane moment … In a few sentences, Jane manages to rub the whole bunch of witnesses off by asking right away “which one of you was the accomplice to the robbery this morning” and reading their reactions… The moment features that impertinent side that he used to display in the CBI era. It also shows Cho’s announced new charge of leader since Abbott is planning to leave because the stoic agent funnily defends Jane’s way of doing things by remarking that it’s not outrageous “not really, not yet” . On the other hand, Jane’s rapid and callous solving of the point is quite reminiscent of the case he cracked in record time at the beginning of ‘Blue Bird’, that is when he was about to lose Lisbon because she was walking out his life, which is quite telling of fears and foreshadowing of future events…

The second layer of subtext in that moment is Jane’s speech regarding guilt: he tells his marks that guilt is “physical, increased perspiration, racing heart”. Guilt has been his trademark emotion for years and is probably part of his current issue with Lisbon since he’s worried that she’ll get hurt like Angela and Charlotte were. Maybe he’s even terrified that one of his plans might be responsible for it because he’s the brain behind the team, just like his conman acted caused his family’s death… that much is hinted at when notes that “when I just shook your hands, most of you were relatively calm”, given that hands have been linked to guilt during his quest for revenge (Lady Macbeth, the handshake clue to RJ’s identity). One way of another, the menace he’s been afraid of is getting closer…

Meanwhile, the continuity with the happy party at the ending of ‘Copper Bullet’ is guaranteed by many changes, such as Abbott being content to let Cho direct the investigation because he’ll be in charge soon enough and Wylie finally gathering the courage to ask Michelle out. And she accepts, which shows how she has warmed up to the idea of getting closer after asking him to dance. A detail also brings attention to the connection with the previous events: Abbott is told that Jane “just said he was running an errand”. It was the same excuse Vega used for leaving the bullpen when she started tailing Peterson after convincing Cho to let her in the plan. It indicated that the focus is on her and her assumed choice to be a part of the team.

Wylie

The young agent’s interaction with Michelle leads him to go to Abbott for advice. Dennis is a sound expert on love matters since he’s been happily married to his college sweetheart for 17 years old. Although Jason might not be aware of it, he was also Jane’s official Cupid into earning Lisbon’s favors… He willingly takes the same part for Wylie and states right away that he knows the young man asked her out: his explanation for this knowledge is an amused “this isn’t my first rodeo”. This line hints again at cowboys and, through them, at the danger idea brought by the allusions to Western movies in the previous episodes… Same with Wylie’s comment that he doesn’t really know what kind of restaurant he should choose, arguing “I don’t want to tip my hand”: this reference to poker is a nod to the game metaphor from the RJ era and a way to convey an unsettling impression in the middle that joyful occasion… However, Dennis advice echoes Lisbon’s consideration for details and mints on pillows: “keep it casual. Not a hole in a wall, you know? Tablecloths, not necessarily white…” Is it reading too much into that line to see it as a subtle reminder of Lisbon’s description of her date with Pike in ‘Silver Wings of Time” with “cloth napkins and everything” after Jane asked her if his rival was taking her someplace nice? If that’s the case, it’s a clever way to foreshadow how this first date with Michelle is doomed from the start… The talk anyway ends up with Abbott reassuring the hopeful young man: “she already said yes, that was the hard part. Just try to have fun”.

Cho

Cho too has a meaningful moment in relation with Vega: without being as personal as Wylie’s progress with the brunette, his talk with her in the car shows how much their relation has been veering towards genuine friendship. Indeed, when Vega starts commenting about his new leadership position, she asks him “are you excited?” As he retorts that he doesn’t “really think about it that way”, she presses on “isn’t this something you’ve wanted your entire career?”, “so be excited about it”. Her gentle prodding turns to teasing when he tells her that the main change he’s going to make is “a new rule: rookie agents are seen and not heard”, which she brushes off (“good luck with that”). Cho turns his head to hide his half-smile from her: their wit makes them equals in a way. Since she faced him and his protectiveness of feeling “responsible” for her, she turned the tables and made their bond evolve from seeking him out for approbation and guidance to something more akin to a partnership. Plus, she’s happy for him and Cho likes her as a person obviously for he’s taken her under his wing and is amused by her eagerness.

Jane and Lisbon

Meanwhile, in the “fishbowl”, Jane meets Lisbon. He’s prepared a surprise to please her. As he offers her a gift box full of those mints she wanted, he tells her he made reservations for their weekend “at the Alhambra: resortish style place, room service, high-thread-count sheets… I think you’re gonna like it”. He wanted to indulge in her wish to have a high-end weekend –like he planned to at the ‘Blue Bird’- in order to spend time alone with her. He’s eager to make her happy, even though she’s aware that he would have preferred something more “rustic” (“yeah, I’ll find a tree”). His dismissal of his own desires is probably a way to make up with what he’d done to anger her in the first place: he’s willing to prove to her that she’s important and that, in spite of his fears and manipulations, he’s attuned to her needs… And one may wonder if both their insistence with bed-related details (“pillow” and “sheets”) is not a way to imply how they want to spend this time alone, given how little cuddling time those two get onscreen. Too bad this luxurious hotel as an ominous name in context: the original “Alhambra” is an ancient Moorish palace in Granada (Spain), whose name means “red house/castle”, tying it up with the red thread and threat from Jane’s history… Once again, danger, fear and the ghost of revenge are lurking.

The notion of partnership is also mentioned in that brief moment between the lovers: as Lisbon can follow Jane’s steps in cold-reading the criminals’ non-verbal clues in the video of the robbery, he acknowledges her “good eye” as a sign that her own set of skills is getting is par with his. She’s his equal. On the other hand, the gang is not as well equipped: both Jane and Lisbon manage to define a flaw in their team. The one in charge –the “Alpha”- doesn’t trust the new crew member whose “big gun stands out” during the violent assault… Plus the Alpha apparently works with his brother, who’s the third member of their organization: trust, bond and defiance are closely woven together in the dangerous trio. Plus, it’s probably only a meaningless detail but it’s still intriguing that Jane’s eye caught onto the fact that they were brothers because of a similar walk due to a lift on the left shoe –even more since it’s that clue that later tips Vega onto identifying the group. Indeed, Jane’s shoes are a long-standing symbol for his journey through tragedy and received special attention in ‘Blue Bird’: it might be a way to hint that his life is about to make a new leap in an unexpected direction as well as attracting viewers’ attention on the important theme of family…

VIS#1 The turning point: Vega is killed

Things take a sudden turn for the worst when Vega and Cho check a dinner in the hopes of spotting their men. Some red elements like walls and booths and the redhead waitress hint at the looming threat as well as the poster “eat, sleep, fish” behind their suspects alludes to the old fishing/sea theme mentioned in ‘Little Yellow House’. Indeed, the menace gets very pressing when the two agents recognize the three gang members and confront them: a violent gunfire ensues, very much like it would happen in a saloon in a Western movie. Interestingly, Vega recognizes the Alpha because of his shoe: in the movie ‘Rio Bravo’ (already referenced in the season), Wayne’s sheriff character and his deputy also plan to recognize their suspect because his boots are covered in mud when he managed to hide in the saloon. The two men enter separately, the sheriff from the back door while the deputy takes the main entrance (just like Vega stays in the dinning room while Cho pursues two of their suspects through the back storage room). The difference is that the deputy is able to spot and kill the hidden man who was planning to shoot at them from above… Vega isn’t not as lucky and when Cho comes back after the men had managed to escape, he finds her injured on the floor with the patrons gathered around her. He wasn’t here to protect here, which will probably weigh on his conscience later.

Cho takes her in his arms and presses her injury –which has probably pierced a lung- in an attempt to stop the bleeding. He tries to calm her by talking and ends up repeating endlessly the same lines like a distraught mantra “come here”, “keep breathing”, “I know”, “you’re okay”, “good”… he’s almost fatherly, using with her the same words one would with a frightened child, calling her “Michelle” to put emphasis on how personal the moment is. Vega doesn’t seem to fully realize her state as she first wants to take her phone to call for an ambulance, but she soon asks a heart-breaking question: “did I mess up?” Cho tells her “no, you did good, okay? You did good”. Her last words end up being “I did?” It shows to viewers the reason why she felt drawn to Cho in the first place: his stern but reassuring presence reminded her of her father; the “mess up” also reminds of their first contact when her recklessness and lies made him angry at her. Things are coming full circle in a poignant few words when she’s starting to lose consciousness in his embrace and his “you did good” line referring to the job morph into “you’re doing good” when he gets her to focus on staying with him (“just keep breathing for me”), then to “look at me” when he feels that she’s slipping away…

The outcome is shown at the hospital in a completely silent scene except for Blake Neely’s very slow tune: Lisbon is running in slow motion in the hallway (like she did in ‘Bloodstream’, when Cho was too appointed new team leader after she unknowingly insulted their new boss LaRoche), Jane close behind her. Abbott standing motionless in front of the door then Cho waiting for them already indicate that they have bad news: Michelle has passed away. Their expressions show their different way to deal with the tragedy: Lisbon’s face expresses shock and grief. Jane lowers his head, centered on his emotions, while a sad Abbott looks at Cho, who’s completely focused on Vega’s pale dead face.

Wylie’s tears

Wylie’s reaction is shown immediately afterwards: he’s sitting alone in the bullpen and doesn’t move or react when other agents walk by. He ten looks at her desk when the phone starts ringing: there’s on one to answer it anymore. The Austin homicide agent who’s now in charge of the investigation tells him “I’m very sorry for your loss” and later Lisbon hugs him, acknowledging that he’s most affected by the tragedy since he’d been creating personal ties with the young woman.

His grief stricken lack of activity contrasts with Abbott’s attitude in front on the man who wants to take the case from them: even though he’s polite and cooperative, Dennis outright tells him “but this case is ours and these men, they belong to us”. He’s even more eager to keep the case that he didn’t even get the chance to talk to Vega that day…

Cho’s guilt

As Cho is waiting to be interrogated, he’s displaying another emotion: the blood on his shirt and on his hands hint that he’s feeling guilty for not protecting the rookie. He’s already told her once that he felt responsible for her and he was moreover in charge of the case; his bloodied hands are thus reminiscent of Lady Macbeth’s guilty conscience, even though he’s not really at fault. Plus, his appearance is a distant echo to Lisbon’s own bloodied shirt after discovering that Bosco and his men were shot by a RJ minion in ‘His Red Right Hand’.

Just as Lisbon acknowledged Wylie’s pain as somewhat leading the mourning given that he’d been her love interest, Abbott refers to Kimball to know more about Vega’s family: he’s the one able to tell that the next-of-kin in her file, “an aunt in Tampa”, is her only living relative and that she’s her father’s sister. Cho even furthers take side as surrogate family by telling that he’ll call the woman: he considers it his responsibility. When alone on Abbott’s office, he starts crying when he sees her file on the screen. The image of him finally making the call in a composed voice, shot through the window and framed by two littler glass panels give even more solemnity to the moment.

Jane and Lisbon are falling apart

Vega’s demise has unexpected consequences on the other coworkers: Jane is drinking his tea alone in the kitchen instead of seeking comfort close to his sweetheart. When she comes into the room asking for coffee, he tells her they’re out of it, yet she refuses his offer to have a cup of tea… Before Jane had been seen many times preparing a mug of coffee for her, but now he’s again centered on the pain and fear plaguing his thoughts and he’s closing himself off.

On the other hand, Lisbon broaches immediately the subject on her mind: “you don’t believe in the afterlife at all, do you?” Given that the theme was an important part of Jane’s grief after losing his family, Lisbon’s question ties the current situation to his past tragedy. When he confirms that he does not, she pushes further “I do. Do you think that’s foolish?” Again, he denies and she explains “I just need to believe that she’s someplace”. She’s in need of comfort and the only form of soothing he can provide her is by touching her arm –not even hugging her like she did with Wylie… Both are in need of the other’s presence, but a certain distance is growing between them… which is why Jane stays in the kitchen drinking his tea and watches her go with Abbott as she’s called for the investigation. When he finally joins the remaining team members and the homicide detective in their talk about the criminals’ whereabouts, he tells them “maybe we should all just take a breath”, echoing Cho’s words to the dying Vega. He explains to the agents who are eager for action “when you’re hunting a wounded animal, you just don’t start chasing it immediately. You’ll drive it to the ground”. Two more old themes are alluded to in that conversation: the hunting theme –linked to revenge- and the theme of birds (the possibility to send helicopters is mentioned with the line “a couple of birds in the air”); the latter is altogether associated with the hunt, with RJ’s ultimate demise and Jane’s hope for a new life by Lisbon’s side (‘Blue Bird’).

VIS#2 Jane’s methods are questioned again: are they enough to keep everyone safe?

1) Jane’s plan

While Wylie had been listening to the operation, a female dark-haired agent with a ponytail can be seen behind him: it’s an allusion to the missing Vega, just like both Abbott and Cho sitting in cars with the seat at their side remaining empty is a nod to Cho and Vega’s last friendly conversation before the catastrophe. Her loss is at the heart of the operation, because the whole team is trying to avenge her.

Yet the level of grief only increases as the criminals are cornered, for they take a woman then a man hostages. Plus Tommy, the Alpha’s brother, is injured: the blood on his torso and his brother’s comforting words “okay, it’s gonna be okay” while taking his hand draw a parallel with Vega’s last moments.

Jane understands the situation and remarks that “they’re in there because he was trying to get medicine for his brother, that’s compassion”. Nevertheless, instead of demanding a trade for a hostage, Jane plans to manipulate their feelings. He wants to use the Ace’s desperation to save his brother against the new member’s eagerness for money: “we drive an edge between them. Divide to conquer”. In order to do so, he plants a listening device in the pizza that Cho delivers to the bad guys trapped in one of their hostage’s house.

2) Cho’s counteroffensive

Yet, while Jane is busy playing mastermind, Cho took this opportunity to take a look inside. He asks for a word in private with Abbott and tells him that he wants to take them out. He’s aware that Jane doesn’t really have a plan: “he’s improvising”. He states “Now, I’ve followed Jane down a lot of paths, but I’m not sure he’s right this time.”

Abbott correctly surmises that it’s “about payback for Vega” and Cho simply answers “maybe. What if it is?” The older man prudently decides to let “Jane’s plan play out for a little bit”, but orders Cho to “talk to SWAT, let them know we might go in.” He realizes that, as much as Cho is right about Jane and about the urgency of the situation, he’s also recklessly out for revenge, like he was in ‘Blood In, Blood Out’: when one of his friends is targeted, Cho lets free rein to his wild streak… He’s briefly following into Jane’s footsteps, like Rigsby had been with his father’s killer; only now Jane is not as eager to avenge their lost friend as he is to protect his beloved…

3) Jane talks with the TV reporter

Blissfully unaware that he’s being passed over by his friends, the consultant pulls all the stops to mess with the mind of the criminals. To mislead them, he’s willing to use the TV crew in front of the house, in the same way he used Karen Cross’ show in the CBI. He tells the woman that he’s a “well-placed source” and that they’re secretly negotiating with one of the hostage takers, a fake news she relays on air for the benefit of the distrusting Sellers, the dangerous new gang member who killed Vega. He doesn’t care about hurting the hostages or about his accomplice’s endangered life: Seller’s only in for the money and his own greed leads him to believe that Ace may have been making a deal and selling him out…

The names of the news reporters might also prove remarkable: it may be a coincidence, but the leading man is called “George”, as the Christian Saint who fought the dragon that represented Evil. It used to be Jane’s position, but now it’s Lisbon’s, since she wants to keep stopping bad guys (hence Jane marveling at one of her clever remarks on Peterson’s skimming in ‘Copper Bullet’ by saying “by George, I think she got it”). And the news lady’s called “Elizabeth”, who’s Aaron’s wife in the Bible. Her name is associated with “seven” in Hebrew, making it another nod to the last season, but more interestingly she’s part of the Exodus history. Indeed, Aaron was alluded to in ‘The Silver Briefcase’ for it was the colonel’s first name. As explained in the review for that episode, Aaron was Moses’ older brother and helped him to lead their people out of Egypt, but they had a disagreement over how to worship God (Exodus, 32, 1-5). This divergence was a symbol for the different positions held by Jane, who wants to quit and make his own ‘Exodus’ real, and Lisbon, who wants to stay in the FBI. The Exodus was also hinted at by another character’s name in ‘The White of His Eyes’, when Jane decided to take measures to force Lisbon into safety: one of the Bittakers was called Caleb. Caleb was in the Old Testament one of Moses’ men who first saw the Promised Land after he was sent to explore Canaan; he was also the one who praised it with Joshua (Numbers 14, 6-9). In a nutshell, the journalists’ names sum up both Jane’s and Lisbon’s respective opinion on the matter of quitting law enforcement…

Moreover, the whole setting with Jane using the reporters to curb the situation to his advantage is reminiscent of Lisbon doing the same thing in ‘Red Alert’ to force Bertram to give her control of the operation. Back there too, a hot-headed cop with guilt issues wanted to take the hostage taker out by shooting him… and shades of the not so bad guy’s personality can be glimpsed into the altercation between the two angered accomplices here as Jane succeeds in driving an edge between them: the violent one who takes his rage on the male hostage is in direct contrast with the other one who simply asks the excited female captive to “sit down”…

4) Jane’s suicidal initiative

As things progress, the similarities with ‘Red Alert’ get more obvious. Indeed, Jane quickly realizes that he’s losing control of thesituation. Even when he pleads that he only needs a little more time, Abbott answers him “I’m sorry, Jane, I’ve tried”… Problem is that Jane wanted to avoid Lisbon getting into the dangerous house… So, when his smarts aren’t enough to keep her out of trouble, he resorts to more direct methods, telling her “don’t go with them” and taking her by the arm before adding “you don’t have to”. Lisbon disagrees but her usual reassurances don’t work on him: he knows that she can’t foretell if anyone will be hurt and Vega’s fate is too fresh in his mind for him to react rationally… Out of anger and fear, he takes a spur-of-the-moment decision as soon as she leaves at Cho’s order: he walks himself straight to the house, ignoring the others’ call to stop. If he can’t convince her to stay put, he’d force her to by taking the risks instead of her… Since he doesn’t have much time for finessing this out, he goes straight to the point with the surprised Ace when the man opens the door: he can help him and his brother, but he has to release a hostage first. His determining argument is “I am FBI, take me instead”, given that he’s “more valuable, better leverage”… he goes as far as pleading to the man to take him in: “come on, it’s a good deal”. Like in ‘Red Alert’, the criminal is not entirely cold-blooded and accepts to release the male hostage instead of keeping the three of them: he knows he doesn’t have much time because someone inside is bleeding to death, like it was back then. Again, the moment echoes a bit the movie ‘Rio Bravo’ ending with the criminal gang being out powered during a trading of hostages…

Outside, Lisbon tries to pacify the other infuriated cops: “I am just as angry as you are, but he’s just going in there, let him have some time”. She understands Jane’s plan and wants to avoid getting him in further danger in a potential gunfight. She explains that he’s trying to drive an edge between these two guys, giving him a vote of confidence (“if anybody can do that, it’s Jane”).

Jane’s improvised plan is to do the reverse of what he did to calm the panicky hostage in ‘Red Alert’: he’s driving the bad guys into a corner by causing their only remaining civil captive to have a panic attack. By messing with their mind, he manages to convince the men to free her in order to avoid the cops -who are listening on them- to barge in to save her from a supposed diabetic coma… While Ace is leading her outside, Jane manipulates the other by talking about how much money they took, causing his two marks to get into a violent argument. In the end, in the two criminals are killed another silent scene, except for the sound of the bullets: Ace is taken out by his ruthless accomplice, while the latter is shot by Cho. Ironically, the only one who makes it out of it alive is the injured brother, unlike Vega.

VIS#3 The funeral: saying goodbye

One last silent scene takes place in the cemetery when the team along with a number of other law enforcers gives Vega the last tributes: the music is drowning out the words. The official and well-attended funeral contrasts with the deserted graveyard in the opening of ‘Copper Bullet’ in the same way that this sad ending is in direct opposition with the joyous gathering to celebrate their victory.

Abbott and Cho are carrying the coffin as the higher ranked people in the team, whereas Jane’s walking alone, Lisbon preferring to stay by Wylie’s side… The distance between them fades a little as they’re sitting as a group to listen to the priest and when each of them –except Jane, at least onscreen- shovels some dirt onto the coffin as Michelle’s professional family. Abbott is comforting Wylie when they leave, Cho walking alone nearby.

Lisbon finds her lover crouched near a tree and she tells him that she’d like to postpone their plans for the weekend because “it just doesn’t feel right”. She’s aware that “places like this must be hard for” him, given the loss of his whole family, but she’s still taken aback when Jane tells her “I can’t do this anymore”. He pours his heart out, helped by the emotion from burying their friend: “I can’t watch you do this work. I mean it, it could have been you in that coffin. I don’t, I can’t go through that again”. Lisbon is right: the funeral has awakened painful memories for Jane, but what she didn’t expect is that he would take out his fear on their relationship. Even more since she’s probably still smarting from his latest stunt after all: “Jane, you were the one who walked in that house”. He was the one who was more in danger to catch a bullet than her. But Jane’s peculiar logic comes into play: “yes, so that you wouldn’t”. The difference is that in Jane’s mind, his life is not worth much: “me dying, it’s, it doesn’t hurt me”, a self-deprecating point of view illustrated many times by the risks he was willing to take to kill his nemesis –and by the temptation of suicide lurking after the deed was done… Lisbon tries to state reasonably “you can’t keep pulling me from the path of oncoming trains”, “because there’s always new train coming every day”… Jane’s solution is more drastic than simply accepting the dangers inherent to her job –and to life itself-: “I’m leaving. You can come with me or stay here, but I have to go”. He’s taking himself out of the situation before getting even more hurt, since he cannot bend her to his will… As she asks him where he’s going, he simply answers “someplace nice” before kissing her on the cheek. Lisbon keeps watching him go with tears on her eyes… Each of their most deep-seated fears has become real: Jane lost her to danger (since she didn’t follow him), which was his main motive for not confessing his feelings in the previous season, and Lisbon couldn’t keep him from leaving her, the very reason why she didn’t want to get close to him before he made his love clear. Yet neither wants to understand the other’s point of view… They’re both centered on not losing the other and are blinded by that.

Conclusion: a ray of hope in the darkness

Two texts are referred to during that episode. The first one is quoted in the title; it’s a poem written by Robert Frost in 1923:

“Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”

In that poem, nature (with the metaphor of the Fall), and religion (the lost Eden) are combined to draw an history of humankind doomed to suffer and fail since everything is only ephemeral: “nothing gold can stay” means that every ounce of beauty and happiness is condemned from the start to end. It reflects both Vega’s demise when she was starting to become a valuable part of the team (hence the falling leaves when they were carrying her coffin) as well as Jane’s fears concerning Lisbon’s possible death which keep him from focusing on what they have right now. That piece of poetry is reminiscent of Blake’s ‘Tyger, Tyger’, given that the divine creation brings in itself its own demise, just like for Blake good and evil were tied together as a guarantee of balance: in their own different ways, both poets build a picture of the world defined by religion, in a rather dark perspective since the all things good are bound to have drastic limitations. There’s nothing absolute.

Eden for Jane is thus no longer that past he shared with his family and which met an end because of his own original sin: it’s the new life he managed to craft for himself, with his new team and Lisbon’s love. This life full of hope was crystallized in ‘Blue Bird’ and ‘Nothing But Blue Skies’, but in Jane’s mind it is somehow destined to end in death and violence too… Vega’s fate only confirmed this fear: time ineluctably takes people from him and it gets even faster in their line of job. On the other hand, it’s interesting that Death chose the rookie as its victim, since her name is telling: Michelle is the French feminine for Michel/Michael, the name used for Kirkland’s twin for it referred to the Archangel who fought Satan in the Book of Revelation. Yet, it may be another of the angel’s role that’s called into action here, since Michael is also the one in charge of saving innocent souls from the Devil and carrying them to heaven. This, associated with the fact that “Vega” is actually a star, makes for a positive symbol: Michelle is linked to the sky and to heaven (hence maybe her cheeky remark to Cho in the car “we’re wearing jetpacks”). The poem is also related to the religious concept of felix culpa (from Saint Augustine’s texts and in the “Exultet” in Catholic Easter liturgy): it’s the original fault that convinced God to send the Messiah on Earth, so paradoxically that sin is somewhat blessed. Meaning that something good can come of an unfortunate event. The notion of felix culpa is also linked to the Exodus: without exile, there would be no promised land after all… Even more since “gold” for Jane has not so happy connotations of leaving Lisbon on a cliff at sunset and of clinking to his wedding band… Maybe once the conflicting emotions have settled down he would be ready for a more permanent emotional commitment instead of living in fear and regret.

The other meaningful text is the song playing at the funeral, “Letters From The Sky”, by Civil Twilight:

“One of these days the sky’s gonna break
And everything will escape and I’ll know
One of these days the mountains
Are gonna fall into the sea and they’ll know

That you and I were made for this
I was made to taste your kiss
We were made to never fall away
Never fall away

One of these days letters are gonna fall
From the sky telling us all to go free
But until that day I’ll find a way
To let everybody know that you’re coming back
You’re coming back for me

‘Cause even though you left me here
I have nothing left to fear
These are only walls that hold me here
Hold me here, hold me here, hold me here
Only walls that hold me here

One day soon I’ll hold you like the sun holds the moon
And we will hear those planes overhead
And we won’t have to be scared
‘Cause we won’t have to be scared
We won’t have to be, yeah, scared, no

You’re coming back for me”

The idea of Eden and happiness coming to an end (“One of these days the sky’s gonna break/And everything will escape”) is associated with departure and return: Vega’s, in Lisbon’s conception of a rewarding afterlife, or Jane’s, given that he probably took the decision to leave during the funeral. The lyrics therefore tell viewers that he’ll come back to her (“I’ll find a way/To let everybody know that you’re coming back/ You’re coming back for me”) and that he’ll have no more reason to be afraid of losing her, nor Lisbon of him leaving her (“we won’t have to be scared”). The song foreshadows Jane’s heart-wrenching decision to go away, while also hinting that it won’t last. Interestingly, his leaving out of fear was also hinted by the location of Vega’s demise since she was shot at the “Tastee Pancake House”. Pancakes were the food Pike used to seduce Lisbon into going on a date with him: back then too, Jane had been on the verge of losing her because he couldn’t face his fears, until he found the courage to accept the risk of living fully again.


15 responses to “Mentalist Nothing Gold Can Stay Review

  • Agnes

    Another thoughtful review. Many thanks.

    “By George I think she got it” might be a reference to My Fair Lady the musical based on Pygmalian, when Eliza Doolittle managed to pronounce “The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain”. In a way Jane has been training Lisbon to use his methods.

  • jessica

    Oh my goodness. How awesome your analysis. If I tried to add anything it would be very lame. But thank you. I will miss the show and your reviews you really highlight what a special show this has been!

  • RoseUK

    Violet, this is amazing. You have sifted through everything with a fine tooth comb – again, so much subtle detail I would never have noticed. (Leaves at Vega’s funeral – wow.) And thanks to this review (and the ones before it), I’ve been able to track some of the symbolism in the next episode “Byzantium”. I am going to tell you right now that I cannot wait for your review on that!

    Thank you so much!!

    PS – Love Agnes’ idea here too.😀

  • Kilgore Trout

    An amazing review as always, Violet, thank you!

    I would like to pick up on the deeper meaning to the poem Nothing Gold Can Stay because it really is an amazing work. As you rightly point out its an exploration of the concept of Felix Culpa (literally happy fault or fall). This is the concept that while humankind knew perfection in Eden, it was through the Fall that it realised far more in terms of life experience and meaning. Without the knowledge of good and evil man essentially had no choice, no free will. It was only after the fall that man’s capacity for both light and dark was given expression. There is no virtue in being good if there is no ability to do evil, hence The Fall (a tragic even) gave mankind full expression of its potential.

    Every line of the poem is an exploration of this concept in some form. Perfection by its nature is limited and fleeting but what follows is both flawed and yet greater. The first leaf might be perfect but then the tree bursts into full life. Likewise the dawn might be perfect but what follows is the rich tapestry of the lengthy day. So the poem both laments the perfection that is fleeting and celebrates the greater experience that follows, part of which is the very experience of loss.

    In terms of Jane and Lisbon this gives us hope because while we can consider this arc to be the end of their honeymoon period (perfection might be putting it a bit strong though I would consider Little Yellow House the perfect culmination of their romantic journey) what follows may be deeper, richer and more permanent.

    Moving on to other things I was really struck by how selfish and unfair Jane was on this episode. He might be happy to compromise on the little things like the planned romantic getaway but the bigger the emotional challenge the more selfish he becomes, to the point where he really had very little empathy for how Lisbon is feeling at all. Lisbon might not have been willing to fully confront the issue between them but at least she had some empathy for how Jane felt.

    Having seen that final scene a few times I think Jane was being very manipulative and unfair with his ultimatum. I’d almost go further and say that he actually didn’t want Lisbon to come with him. He didn’t exactly give her much chance, nor did he direcly ask her to come. I think he intends to leave her at least for a while to make her reflect on how hurtful his absence is. It also gives him complete control. If he’s away from her then he alone decides when and how he returns.

    On a lighter note it was ammusing to see Abbot in his role of ultimate shipper. Rockmund Dunbar had a really tough assignment in turning his orignially antagonistic and fandom reviled character into one of the strongest features of the series reboot. Had they series continued beyound season 7 he woudl have been sorely missed (not that they would have gotten rid of him!).

    It was also good to see consistency from Cho’s character. When things get personal with Cho he does whatever it takes to seek personal redress. In that sense he’s not very different to Jane and it explains why he has often given the consultant more leeway than you would expect. Of course in this episode they were in conflict because Jane was desperate for a peaceful resolution while the only scenario Cho was willing to entertain was personally avenging Vega’s death.

    Overall it was a realy strong episode, I just wish the promos hadn’t given away that someone would die as that really detracted from the overall experience of watching the episode.

    Finally a tribute to Josie Lauren and her character Vega. Alwasy a tough assignment being a new addition to a long standing cast but she succeeded with aplomp despite relatively little screen time. Her death was upsetting in a way that say Fischer’s wouldn’t have been. I just regret that we never really saw her interact with Lisbon but I guess there was so much else going on in the show there just wasn’t time.

  • KM

    Thank you for the review, Violet.

    So glad you posted the poem.

    I am afraid I came away with a different view than you on the funeral march. I truly thought Lisbon was walking between Jane & Wiley.

    We the audience had the clue from the lyrics, but I don’t believe Lisbon knows he is coming back. At some level she has been waiting for him to leave. This is the fourth time, not counting the brief one in Green Thumb (she told him on the plane that she felt he had run from her and she had no idea if he would return. Which surprised him because he expected her to understand that he runs back), I don’t think she has confidence in his expressed feelings for her. She sees herself as always a second to his pain and the choices of revenge or fleeing that his pain drives him too.

    This isn’t really a bright note, but I see Jane as finally entering into the stages of grief. That Vega’s youth and relationship with him has tapped into his unresolved grief for his daughter. In allowing his pain to be his master all these years he has grieving for his daughter lying dormant. Vega’s death is leading him to experience those long dormant need for grieving. This I expect Lisbon understands about Jane. Certainly cemeteries aren’t benign places for her either. But, Lisbon is one of those people that can’t help but care for others in their own pain. She wants to help Jane, but she knows that in this wounded state chasing him would only drive him underground. She lets him walk away and I suspect she knows that if they have any future together he must decide to return.

    Thank you again. Sorry for the mistakes. I suspect Byzantium will touch upon the theme found in another poem “Sailing to Byzantium” by Yeats. A metaphoric spiritual journey of a man trying to find his view of ‘eternal’ life and ‘paradise’.

    Cheers!

  • Eff To

    So impressed by Violet’s in depth analysis and review. I re watched the episode and realized how much I had missed before reading all the analysis.
    I think Jane’s reaction is that of a “highly sensitive person”. All his senses are super magnified and heightened. As such, his sense of pain is also much more intense than that felt by a “normal” person. It overwhelms him completely making him totally irrational. Add to that his past traumas and he loses control. I agree that leaving Lisbon and presenting her with an ultimatum was heartless and very cruel but at that point he was no longer in control of his emotions. He was paralyzed by fear and his flight response kicked in.
    I’m so looking forward to reading your take on Byzantium.

  • Lou ann

    All I can say is, “WOW!” Violet, your in depth analysis awes me. I love soaking in your reviews and then re watching the episodes. I know as I am writing that these conversations must come to an end in the near future, but I am so glad that cyberspace is forever, and I look forward to coming back again and again to these discussions. They are a joy. And I am overjoyed that I’ve been able to be a part of this community. I would love to be able to continue somehow. Are there any other shows for which you feel drawn to review? This has been such a joy. In anticipation of the finale….

  • Lou ann

    Must add, great poetic analysis. Nothing else on television compares to this show.

  • Jessica

    I agree with Lou ann — please let me know if you review any other show – I would watch it just to read your reviews! And – I am starting to watch the show over again on DVD, not probably from season 1 but later, but in any case I’m going to read you reviews as I go! Thank goodness this website will remain forever! Or a request to please keep it up forever!🙂

  • RoseUK

    I second Lou Ann and Jessica!😀 I would also very much enjoy following RB & Violet’s reviews for other shows. It seems a little sad to go our separate ways…!

  • RoseUK

    I am sympathetic to both parties here, but probably a bit more emotionally sympathetic towards Jane if I’m honest. I respectfully disagree with Kilgore that he is leaving in order to make Lisbon reflect on how hurtful his absence is; everybody (re)acts differently to grief/pain, etc. and some people just retreat completely into themselves. Perhaps that looks like/is a form of selfishness, but it is also a coping mechanism like any other. (Which is why I do agree that he also didn’t really want her to come along, and his plans were phrased in such a way as to convey this – and of course that sounded like yet another rejection.) On the other hand, I also believe in compromise and maybe, for Lisbon’s sake alone, Jane could have tried a different approach and said ‘Look, I need some space on my own to process my complex inter-linking feelings about you, my family, Vega, etc. because this is just too much for me right now. But I don’t want our relationship to end and once I’ve got my head together enough, I’m coming back to find a real and lasting solution for both of us’ etc. etc. (because I totally agree with KM that Vega’s death is a catalyst for his long-dormant grieving process, and that is in one sense nothing to do with Lisbon). But perhaps in the moment, at the graveyard, in pain, he couldn’t really focus or draw his together thoughts coherently, or even knew what he wanted, so he just turned tail and ran.

    None of this is to diminish Lisbon’s feelings in all of this, by the way – it does really hurt sometimes to be the ‘ever-supporting party’, even though she might understand what’s going on, and she truly deserves not to have to worry all the time (and more). She’s so stoic and puts a brave face on.:/ But they have always fit the pattern of ‘fixer’ and ‘fixee’ since day 1 – and I will be very interested to see how they grow from here to achieve perhaps a little more balance.

  • Kilgore Trout

    @Rose

    We’ll have to pick this up again once the next episode review is up. I certainly agree with the observations that perhaps he needs to complete grieving for his own family but nevertheless he could have been more honest about his feelings with Lisbon. I also think he is a complex person who operates on several levels so while yes, his running away is a coping mechanism but he would also be aware of just what effect it would have on Lisbon (if he is being at all honest with himself that is).

    Poor Lisbon has always had to be the strong one with a couple of notable exceptions (Red Badge in Season 2 and Little Yellow House this season though even there she was fixing her family while Jane was supporting her). I just feel sorry for the woman, she can’t catch a break!

    I’m also a strong believer that no matter how terrible life is, you still have choices on how you behave and react and tragedy is not a free pass for all sorts of poor behaviour. Jane may have reasons for what he does but they do not excuse him in my book.

  • Fiona

    I have read the reviews and comments here (though I have never commented) for ages and as things draw to a close, I just wanted to express my appreciation and thanks.

  • roseuk80

    Forgot to mention (if it hasn’t already been) re: foreshadowing of Vega’s death – the progression in the episode titles/subject matter goes from the threat of a sniper in “The Whites of His Eyes” to a tangible “Copper Bullet” lodged in a victim and finally Vega getting shot.😉

  • bloomingviolet2013

    Firstly, thanks everybody for those awesome comments! As usual, I’m a little late to the party but I read every one of your comments and I greatly appreciate the time you all took to write them!

    @ Lou ann, Jessica and Rose: thank you very much for the vote of confidence. I’m touched beyond words… We plan to continue the blog indeed and we’re still studying the possibilities after we’re fully done with TM… Stay tuned, hee hee!😉

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