Mentalist Byzantium Review


Synopsis

After a young couple is murdered by a mysterious killer, an even more puzzling psychic claims to have information on the case. Meanwhile, Jane is still dealing with his demons and has to make a choice regarding his life with Lisbon in the FBI.

Concise Verdict

Jordan Harper and Marisa Wegrzyn have managed to mix an interesting measure of continuity in the new challenge presented to Jane: it looks like the beginning of the conclusion of the show, with Jane starting to heal in a deeper level, not because of external actions, revenge or Lisbon’s love, but through introspection, while staying faithful to the logic behind a character prone to flying and to being selfish. At the same time, his progress as an individual gets more attention, especially in relation to his past as a phony psychic. All in all, it’s an intriguing episode, full of meaningful symbolism that paves the way for the finale.

Detailed AKA Humungous Review (Spoiler Galore)

VIS#1: The opening

A young couple is on a date: they’re sitting alone in a car, talking about the possibility of one of them leaving to study abroad in Greece (“okay, so where should I go? –You, you should stay. Study abroad is overrated…”). It obviously echoes the last conversation between Jane and Lisbon since, in both cases, leaving is a danger to the relationship. The parallel is even more visible when, as a repeat of Jane’s fears regarding Lisbon’s safety, the couple is suddenly attacked by a mysterious killer. They try to escape but they’re finally both murdered as a tragic example in the series of failed relationships developed in the most recent episodes… Interestingly, this double murder is probably inspired by the first killings attributed to the Zodiac killer in the 60’s: two high school students were parked in a well known lovers’ lane (Lake Herman Road) when the killer exited a second car and attacked them. Both students ended up dead in spite of an attempt to escape, just like the college students of the episode tried to drive away from danger. It already hints that the unknown murderer is a serial killer… Later, after the FBI has been called by the rangers to investigate, they’re told the killer moved one of the victims, maybe because he “tried to take the body up the hill and got to that steep part and realized it wasn’t gonna happen”. This chilling possibility is also a clue that the murderer might be a body collector in some way, which is confirmed by the fingernail that the killer took with him.

The lack of traces and the horrendous nature of the murders make Cho comment that they could “use Jane’s read on this” but Lisbon hasn’t heard from him “since the funeral”… Viewers also learn that Abbott is still leaving soon and as a consequence the team is shorthanded: “now’s not the time for one of his disappearing acts”. Apparently, Cho is not really worried about Jane, because the consultant has disappeared on them many times already, shortly during cases, or for longer periods of time when he spent six months in Vegas and two years in his island. Lisbon’s lack of comment in Jane’s reasons both for leaving and for not contacting her are more intriguing: she probably doesn’t want to display her romantic connection to the man of course, but she’s also worried and angry like she was in ‘The Crimson Hat’. Jane’s actions are interwoven with past cases through the setting of the double murder: the lovers’ lane location reminds of the murders in ‘Rose Colored Glasses’ and the comment that “sometimes national parks are used by drug cultivators. Now maybe these kids were at the wrong place at the wrong time” is a nod to the investigation in ‘Aingavite Baa’, both episodes taking place in S2 after the traumatic death of Bosco’s team, just like this one deals with the aftermath of Vega’s death.

Indeed, Jane’s silence is a way to put distance between him and his lover, like Lisbon attempted to silence her pain back then. Plus, his isolation in the Grand Canyon, drinking tea from a mug at the entrance of the Airstream hints that he’s trying to find solace but he’s stuck in unfamiliar territory –hence the mug-, like he was in Vegas when trying to drink himself to oblivion in a shabby motel room. Yet, unlike in Vegas when Lisbon wanted him to contact her first, here she decides at Abbott’s insistence to force him to come back. Her bossy side and her underlying anger shows in the way she handles it: she just issues a fake warrant for his arrest in Texas, the charge being “failure to appear”. Jane finds the ironic barb funny when he’s actually arrested and sent back to her but when his identity is confirmed his regret at being Patrick Jane “all day, every day, unfortunately” already indicates that he’s not ready to man up and assume his role by her side.

Vega’s death is still too fresh in everyone’s memory and it keeps affecting their actions: like Jane is fleeing in fear and Lisbon refuses to deal with her feelings, Cho turns to violence to vent his pain. When the stoic new team leader accompany the ranger in the forest to arrest two suspicious brothers who dab in poaching, he becomes a bit brutal when arresting one of the suspects, to the point that the ranger calls him on it. This violence has traces of the post-traumatic stress disorder that plagued Grace after the debacle with her fiancé and it also reminds of his brutality in ‘Blood In, Blood Out’, after one of his former friends was killed -also after Bosco’s demise. The incident also ties the episode with two important themes. The brothers are a family, which is an important notion introduced both in criminals (the Bittakers in ‘The White of His Eyes’) and from the protagonists’ perspective (Lisbon’s brothers; Jane’s carny friends; the team acting as Michelle’s family at the funeral). Also, the hunting metaphor used in the RJ era is alluded to by the poacher cutting one of his preys open: it’s a nod to Jane’s conversation with McAllister about gutting and skinning in ‘Wedding in Red’ and it too hints again at the current murderer being a serial killer.

VIS#2: The Psychic

While the team is busy dealing with their repressed emotions, an unexpected witness steps in the bullpen in front of a baffled Wylie: Gabriel, a supposed psychic, is introduced by his sister as having “seen” the crime. He’s “shy” so his sister had to “drag him over here” because “doesn’t like talking”: his subdued appearance contrasts with the boasting presence of the other psychics of the show, Jane in his younger days, Kristina Frye, Ellis Mars in ‘Red Moon’ and the spiritual advisor in ‘Pretty Red Balloon’. Yet, he’s as eager as them to prove his gift by telling a skeptical Wylie “the crying is loud. I hear you crying inside”… When brought to Abbott and Lisbon, he tells the boss that he’s leaving: “you’re moving on. You’re going to a new place” but “you have doubts inside you haven’t told anybody” to which Lisbon retorts “everybody has doubts when they’re going through a change in their life”. Interestingly, Gabriel doesn’t try to cold-read Lisbon, either because he realized she wouldn’t believe him anyway or because she’s learnt to be much more guarded and less translucent after learning from Jane how to play the same trick… Yet, it’s obvious that the young man knows something about the murderer, since he’s able to tell them that the man wanted to take his victims with him. Because he couldn’t, he “took a piece of them instead: fingertips”. His explanation is that six months ago, he spoke to a man: “he had so much wrongness in him, I could hardly look at him. It was like staring at the sun. I’ve been waiting ever since for something like this to happen.” Gabriel is unable to give a description (“he was a man, he was white. Sorry, I’m not good with faces, I only see what’s inside”) but what he says reminds of Jane’s psychic act in the pilot: ‘true demonic evil burns like fire. It burns with a terrible cold, dark flame. I force myself to look into that flame and I see an image of the evildoer, in this case Red John… He’s an ugly, tormented little man, a lonely soul. Sad, very sad”.

Anyway, Lisbon is not fooled by his act and she and Abbott try to rationalize it (“maybe he’s friends with the crime tech, or maybe he’s the killer”): they realize Gabriel is probably using this case as a career-making opportunity, like Mars tried to. Lisbon is particularly reticent to see him as “an actual honest-to-god psychic”, because of “years of experience” dealing with Jane –who is precisely exiting the elevator in front of her- have taught her better.

The talk between the two lovers consists mainly at first in avoiding the issue: they talk about the Grand Canyon and how Jane’s tea is until Lisbon ironically adds “I would have mailed you your cup, but I didn’t know where you were”. It’s a nod to him drinking from a mug in his Airstream and to the fact that the teacup is a symbol of their glued back together relationship. As such, Lisbon wouldn’t have kept it this time had he left for good: when he protests “well, you knew I’d be back”, she retorts “no, I didn’t: I can’t read minds”. It’s a barb at his psychic days reawaken by meeting Gabriel as well as a reproach at his lack of communication, both when he left her at the cemetery and during his one week vanishing. Soon, she makes her anger and her worries known: “the first time I called you, I though “he missed my call”. The second time, I though “he’s busy. Okay, he’ll call me back”. The third time, I thought “he’s dead, he is dead in a ditch on the side of the road”. This dreadful possibility reflects the fate of the two victims as well as it reminds of their talk in the church after he left for Vegas: she was worried sick back then and she told him “I tried calling you hundreds of times, begging you to talk to me, begging you to get help. Not a reply, not a word, not a text”. Like in that occasion, his “sorry” seems a rather lame reply, just like his “I didn’t mean to scare you”, because he couldn’t ignore that she would be scared after the dramatic funeral. Like in ‘The Crimson Hat’, his silence is a form of “betrayal”, because he inflicted on her the same fear he was reproaching her to force on him by wanting to be a cop: she’s in danger in her line of job, but by leaving and not contacting her, he’s made her live again the sleepless period of worried emptiness she experienced when she thought he was going through the darkest of depressions. He’s also made her face her fear of him leaving her again: in her speech, she’s using against him his very reason for leaving.

Jane’s only justification is “I’m working through something and I just need space to think”, adding a bit bitterly “I can’t soldier on like you, Lisbon”. He resents Lisbon for not following him blindly in his vague quest for peace of mind and for clinking to her work… She answers “we’re all upset. I can’t just run away from my work here. This job is too important to me”. She’s willing to help him “figure things out” but he tells her he just needs “time”. She agrees “okay, time’s good, I can give you time” but demands “one thing” from him: “don’t ignore my phone calls” to which he agrees is only “fair”. All in all, they’ve not solved anything but she accepted his need for solitude and he acknowledged her worry. They’ve proved to the other that their relationship still mattered.

Like commenter Rose remarked some time ago, Jane is prone to give into his flying reflex every time the daily life he’s crafted is threatened. He’s spent so much time fleeing from emotionally difficult situations that he needs to learn how to properly deal with them, because every new one brings back this grief and loneliness he’s been avoiding for more than a decade. As a result, moving on from his demons means that he has to finish his mourning process first: following the five stage of grief, he’s gone through denial and isolation when he was under the care of Sophie Miller; anger was his motivation for entering the CBI and finding RJ and he started a form of bargaining when he started facing his past as a psychic or when he imagined Charlotte forgiving him and urging him to build a new life. He’s still going through it when he made his deal with the FBI and when he started dating Lisbon: if he doesn’t make the same mistakes, Lisbon will be safe and everything will be fine… Now, he’s going through a bout of depression because everything is bound to come to an end at some time and he knows he can’t avoid it: he’s slowly learning to accept the mortality of his world, and acceptance means he’s ready to deal with it and to seek happiness even if that means he’ll lose it one day. In the meanwhile, he’s still running away from his own emotions, telling Abbott that he’s “not back, just stopping by”… Yet, Dennis knows him well enough to catch his interest: he knows that meeting Gabriel, who’s basically a younger version of his previous self will be an intellectual challenge worthy of distracting him from his impasse.

When meeting Gabriel, Jane sees him as mentally stimulating: right away, the psychic is able to say he’s not a FBI agent, because he’s “not stupid” and he’s able to tell because of the way Jane dresses, his posture, the way he cuts his hair, “any number of things”. Jane, as “a student of the form” just wants to shake his hand, which draws an interesting parallel with McAllister: he’s studying the psychic as a possible criminal like RJ used to do with him. Soon, it becomes a subdued battle of wills, with Jane telling him “I don’t think you’re a fraud. You are a fraud” and asking him to make a “prediction” and Gabriel retorting “there’s a thing inside you, it’s eating you. A thing that’s lingered in your mind for many years.” Jane ironically answers “that’s called the human condition.” Gabriel retorts that his “cure will come with the number three”, echoing the number of unanswered phone calls it took to Lisbon to start really worrying for his safety. Jane is not really fazed and he tells Abbott that the young man is “obviously not a real psychic, but he knows what he’s doing. He’s very smart very controlled… Either that or he’s an insane killer. I’d keep an eye on him”. His reaction is therefore interesting, because in the past, he’s always been angered by fake psychics who reminded him of his past self and his greedy manipulations. Plus, like Kristina Frye, Gabriel’s act is pretty convincing, much more than Ellis Mars had been. Now, Jane is much calmer and more intrigued than really irritated: he didn’t even utter his old mantra “there’s no such thing as real psychics”.
Meanwhile, the remaining members of the team also look for a way to deal with the sense of loss: Abbott talks to Cho about the fact that he came a little strong on one of their suspects and advices him to talk to someone, because it helps him. Cho refuses therapy, but is thankful for the talk and Abbott’s understanding nature. On the other hand, Wylie asks Cho if he can come with him to investigate: he knows they’re shorthanded and he wants to be useful. After he accepts, Wylie looks around but there’s nobody to be happy for him: Vega is still missed…

VIS#3: Jane at the bar

At night, Jane is still busy avoiding reality in a bar: he’s playing pinball, like he was playing Foosball in ‘The White of His Eyes’ with Lisbon. When the bartender tells him she’s kicking him out, he protests that he has a free game here which she nicely accepts to let him play. He tries to guess her name “Angela? Amy?”, because “a person with the initials A.P.J. has all the high scores on that machine over there.” It’s not a coincidence that the first name on his mind is his late wife’s, since mourning is at the heart of his predicament: he wouldn’t be as terrified of losing Lisbon if he accepted what had happened to Angela in the first place… Without really coming onto him, the woman’s attitude is nice and warm enough to pass for a tiny bit flirty and it distracts him from Lisbon’s call: in that aspect –and even if nothing will come out of this short meeting- the moment reminds a bit of the introduction of Lorelei’s character in ‘The Crimson Hat’. Plus, Jane wins “three free games” which makes him think of Gabriel: “he thinks he’s gonna impress me with a three”, explaining “well, three’s meaningful to you” “because three is meaningful to everyone. I say three and you’re impressed because you have three kids”. Interestingly, three must be meaningful for him too, because it was the number of members in his family: he, Angela and their daughter… The woman is in awe and, noticing that he’s drunk quite a bit, offers him to “sleep it off on the couch in the back. Keys will be there in the morning, coffee and aspirin too.” Jane refuses that “very generous offer” and tells her he needs to clear his head. He also denies being a psychic: “that is the one thing I am very sure I am not”. He ends up looking at the moon outside, in the nature, in contrast with the city lights in the next shot which only makes his self-imposed loneliness clear.

The next day, he awakens in what looks like a field of dry hay because a dog comes to him. It’s a Dalmatian dog, whose black and white skin enlightens the duality theme running through the series. Plus, spending the night in nature was something Jane did with Lorelei too: they slept on a deserted beach when he broke her out of jail in ‘Red Sails in The Sunset’.

Later again, his wanderings with his new friend bring him in the middle of nowhere: he’s standing in front of a pond. There’s an abandoned wooden cabin on the other side and a sign tells that the land is for sale. Some wild birds fish in the pond when Jane is called by Abbott. This peaceful and a bit surreal moment tie together two important themes –maybe for the last time: those birds and the water echo Jane’s long standing obsession and his willingness to overcome it.

Plus, commenter Rose noticed that this scene reminded of how Jesus was tested in the wilderness in the Bible (Matthew 4:1-11). He had been led by the Spirit into wilderness to be tempted and tested by the devil. After fasting forty days, the devil told him to turn some stones to bread, since he was the Son of God. Jesus refused for “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. Then the devil tempted him to hump from a pinnacle in the holy city: if he was the Son of God, he was to thrown himself down and to order the angels to break his fall by lifting him with their hands. Jesus declined again because “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test”. The third temptation came when the devil took him to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, promising to give them to him if he bowed down and worshipped him. Jesus answered: “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’”, which ended the test of his free will.

In a way, Jane’s steps follow the three questions imposed to Jesus: the test of hunger was alluded to by the free games he won at pinball. It was an opportunity to stay longer out of the reality, but he finally refused them. Then he could have relied on a woman, whom he called “Angela” as an echo to God’s angels, to feel better: there was no mention of turning to her arms to find solace like he did to Lorelei, but accepting her help would have only prolonged his separation to Lisbon, who’s the woman he usually trusts to protect him: in a way, by sleeping on another woman’s couch, it was his loyalty to Lisbon that was tested… Then, the third step is taken when he sees the land for sell, like the kingdoms of the world: he could buy it as the promised land of his Exodus and make his loneliness permanent… Yet he answers Abbott call, tells him he’s ready to come back, even though he has no idea where he is. In that line of reasoning, Gabriel is right and three was the lucky number that brought him his cure under the form of a religious-like test in the wilderness… though on the other hand, that cabin might very well have reminded him of his plans for the failed weekend with Lisbon, since he wanted to go to a rustic cabin with her. His reason for wanting to come back then would have been that seeing himself reach a place like this alone made him realize how much he really missed her, when he had no real necessity to be apart.

Interestingly, this moment in the story of Jesus is also mentioned in William Blake’s poetry. In ‘The Everlasting Gospel’, he asks for instance
[…] Was Jesus gentle, or did He
Give any marks of gentility?
When twelve years old He ran away,
And left His parents in dismay.
When after three days’ sorrow found,
Loud as Sinai’s trumpet-sound:
‘No earthly parents I confess—
My Heavenly Father’s business!
Ye understand not what I say,
And, angry, force Me to obey.
Obedience is a duty then,
And favour gains with God and men.’
John from the wilderness loud cried;
Satan gloried in his pride. […]

The number three is repeated at every step taken by Jesus as the number of days he ran from his parents. This glorified Jesus is a prideful one who doesn’t embodies what Blake believes in: “I am sure this Jesus will not do,/ Either for Englishman or Jew”. This “False Christ” finds an echo here in Gabriel’s character, who admits he’s “not stupid” and even though he pretends to be shy, seeks attention.

VIS#4: Gabriel and Michelle

Indeed, while Jane is finding his way in the wilderness, Cho and Wylie keep watch over Gabriel’s house. Wylie is surprised by the lack of action in the field and grabs Cho’s book, asking if it’s “any good”. Cho answers “it’s Dostoevsky”. It’s probably no coincidence that this classic writer studied human reactions when facing crime (‘Crime and Punishment’): the figure of Christ and religion and the question of free will are dominant in his work (like in ‘The Brothers Karamazov’), just like this episode is suffused with them. As a matter of fact, as commenter Kilgore Trout remarked about the previous episode on the poem ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ and the concept of Felix Culpa: “while humankind knew perfection in Eden, it was through the Fall that it realized far more in terms of life experience and meaning. Without the knowledge of good and evil man essentially had no choice, no free will”. The mention of Dostoevsky stresses this out for Jane: having known full happiness and having lost it to RJ, he’s come to a better understanding of his “human nature” like he said to Gabriel. Coming to term with his grief will bring him a better acceptance of the limitations of his condition and how to live to the fullest while he still can.

Religion is also at the heart of Gabriel’s character: he’s presented as a Fake Christ who is called like an angel. Gabriel’s the archangel in charge of delivering the word of God: he was the one who foretold the births of John the Baptist and of Jesus to Mary, whereas Michelle alluded to the archangel who fought evil. In a way, the season thus opened with a lost Mary who awakened Jane’s fears for Lisbon’s safety in ‘The Graybar Hotel’, while his Christ-like healing was prophesized by Gabriel.

The young man’s own Christ-like presence is stressed by his actions: he’s been introduced by his devoted sister who followed him like Jesus’ companions and his mother Mary; when talking to his neighbor, he’s simply sitting on the porch of the house in a humble attitude. The woman comes to him for love advice because she trusts his judgment; in a way, she’s his Mary Magdalene: “it’s crazy, I know. But I used to date this guy and Gabriel told me he was married and he had never met him. He just knew. I don’t believe in psychics but I believe in Gabriel.”

Having sensed that Wylie misses Michelle and is coming in the field because he’s tired of being back in the office when he could be useful, Gabriel talks to him alone: while seemingly having a seizure, he delivers words that are supposed to come from Wylie’s dead loved one in a true psychic way: “she says she’s okay, she says she’s okay”, “the pain is all gone, okay?” “you shouldn’t be sad anymore”. The touching of his abdomen in the place where Michelle was shot sells the trick to Wylie who asks “are you talking about Michelle?” Gabriel then adds that he sees “red clay. It’s white bones and they’re wrapped in red clay”. The red clay echoes again ‘The Everlasting Gospel’ by Blake, where the clay is associated with the Devil:

Then was perfected His galling pride.
In three nights He devour’d His prey,
And still He devours the body of clay;
For dust and clay is the Serpent’s meat,
Which never was made for Man to eat.

At Jason’s insistence, Lisbon accepts to search an era “known for its red-clay deposits” even though she insists that “Gabriel’s not a real psychic”. When she asks him what Gabriel said to make him believe his vision, she comments “Vega’s death was on the news. It’s no secret”, “he’s not a real psychic”, but Wylie is unconvinced “you can’t know that. I mean you can’t know that for sure”. He just wants to believe that Michelle is okay “wherever she is”. Lisbon going on a “wild goose chase” therefore matches Jane’s own quest in nature inhabited by wild birds: she’s giving her friend “a shot in the dark” and, as Abbott comments upon calling Jane, they’re “running a ghost ship right now”, whereas the consultant has no idea where he is, even though he is “trying to be more findable these days” at his lover’s request. The parallel between the two ends of the situation is enlightened by the presence of dogs: there’s a Dalmatian with Jane, representing the friendly side of the animal, while there’s a German Shepherd searching for human remains with Lisbon. Dogs are also sometimes seen as the guardian of the underworld: Cerberus guarded the gate of the Greek underworld, while the Egyptian god Anubis was the dog-like jackal-headed guide who helped the souls of the departed, for instance. As watchdogs of the underworld, the two canine companions of the characters are thus linked to finding a way to deal with the death of a loved one: it works for Wylie and for Jane and the Shepherd also uncovers the buried bodies of five more victims with removed fingernails; the murderer who is now classified as a “serial killer” and there are now seven victims, which is a nod to the last season of the show.
Jane arrives upon that frightening discovery and tells her that he’s back: “it means that I’m figuring stuff out”. He adds “it’s good to see you” which she repeats: it’s an allusion to the talk in the church in ‘The Crimson Hat’, since he greeted her with a simple “good to see you” after scaring her with a practical joke. Now, his first words are an apology: “I know I missed your call, I didn’t mean to”. In a way, he’s came back to her near open graves, like he told her goodbye in a cemetery: things are coming full circle.

VIS#5: talking on TV

Realizing that Gabriel’s lead was not pure intuition and that he knows something, they bring him into headquarters for being interrogated. He remarks immediately that Jane has changed: “there’s something different about you from the last time we talked. You look lighter, less conflicted. Number three: you saw it and found an answer, huh?”

Jane’s change of attitude towards psychics is even more palpable here: he doesn’t get sarcastic or biting like he used to. He doesn’t either try to manipulate the young man; instead, he lets him know that he understands how he works: “the number three is incredibly common, Gabriel. We see it everywhere. Red clay, a little rarer…” When the young man retorts “I didn’t want to be right”, trying to pass his skills as a cursed gift, Jane tells him “of course you did” and adds mockingly “yeah, visions are a real drag, I know how you feel.” He finally reveals “you know, I used to be you, Gabriel” in a calm, dispassionate voice that doesn’t betray anymore any struggle with his conscience. He then proceeds to cold-read the other man, who’s so surprised he reacts like his marks (“who told you all that? My sister?”). When he feels cornered by Jane who can understand his “little tricks”, he blurts out his trump card: “I had another vision you should know about: I saw that the killer is going to kill again, tonight. And if you won’t listen to me, I’ll tell everyone, okay, I have to warn people”. Jane’s reply is that he can’t leave, because he’s still studying him out: “I came in here to figure out if you are just a fraud or if you are a monster”… When Jane gets out of the room though, his words to Abbott are a little more ambiguous: “he’s not a fraud”, but he’s not really psychic either”… So Abbott asks him “what is he?”, Jane admits “I don’t know. We have to keep him here”.

There are two possibilities. Firstly, Gabriel might be so wrapped up in his psychic act that he’s convinced he’s the real thing, which will place him in that ambiguous category reserved for Kristina Frye, whose tricks Jane wasn’t able to explain and who was so confident that RJ could convince her that she was dead and could only be reached through a psychic session. Or he’s an accomplice or acquaintance of the killer, one way or another and he’s using his inside knowledge to stop the other while earning fame for himself.
Problem is, they have nothing to keep him here. They’re forced to release him and the young man is true to his word. He offers to the awaiting cameras a little speech: “I had a vision that helped them find five bodies today. They don’t have any suspects. FBI thinks it was me; they want to frame me, they want to hide the truth. There’s a serial killer out there: he’s a man with an evil heart and an appetite to kill. He’s not done killing. He won’t stop and he can’t stop, he’s gonna kill again.” Gabriel is doing the same thing that Jane did in the pilot: he’s tipping his hand to the killer and taunting him under the guise of warning people. Like Kristina before, he doesn’t seem to realize that what he does is dangerous because he’s stepped in the spotlight. The killer may now come after him and his loved ones: Jane was right, Gabriel was so eager to impress his audience that he acted just like Jane did when he was younger and less experienced.

Somehow, this scene was foretold by Jane talking to the reporter during the hostage situation in the previous episode. Only then, the name of the journalist “Elisabeth” was reminiscent of the Old Testament, while now it’s the New Testament that is referenced because Jane has progressed beyond his yearning for running away in his Exodus-like quest for emotional and physical security.

VIS#6: the ending

As a consequence after his little outburst in front of the reporters, Cho and Wylie are again on stake-out duty in front of Gabriel’s house. Suddenly, a movement in the shadows attracts Cho’s attention; it’s the neighbor who was running because she was scared. She explains: “Gabriel was on the news and said there was a serial killer on the loose and then I saw you lurking”. This remark is doubly intriguing: the woman was afraid, because she implicitly assumed that Gabriel was in danger after his interview, something the so-called psychic apparently failed to predict… Plus, her presence served as a distraction to separate the two agents since Cho running after her made Wylie more vulnerable again, this time to an attack. Thus, the neighbor, on purpose or not, gave an opportunity to act to the serial killer… Could she be the inside source that Gabriel used for his predictions? Did he get the clue about bones and clay from his talk with her? Could the serial killer be one of the men she was or had been dating and had Gabriel understood what was really going on with him?

Either way, the killer takes that opportunity and hits Wylie: in the house, they later find the sister killed (like Jane’s family) and Gabriel is missing (like Kristina Frye), which makes them suspect that the attacker might be him. Again, he’s either a fraud who’s fallen victim of his own tricks, or a monster…

The attack made Wylie doubt his abilities in the field: he’s still comparing himself to Vega and his assault probably reminded him of the dangers inherent to the job that cost his coworker her life. He tells Cho “I don’t think I’m cut out for the field”. Cho dismisses his worries: “you’re gonna get banged up every one in a while”, asking “you want to go back to the office and answer phones?” The idea of staying behind in a deserted bullpen makes Wylie think again: “I want to stay”. Obviously, he prefers danger to loneliness –just like Jane chooses in the end. When Cho tells him to go inside the house to meet up with Jane, the consultant hypnotizes him into remembering who attacked him. The lack of details contrasts with Jane’s very detailed description of his attacker in ‘Little Yellow House’: the roles are reversed now that Wylie takes a more active part in the investigation. The hypnosis scene is pure classic Jane trick and he’s able to make the young agent focus on an impression: “a faint scent”. Like he mentioned once before, scents are great vectors of memory and the clue reminds of how Jane was able to identify the killer in ‘Redwood’. Indeed, the scent reminded Wylie of his “Uncle’s fishing shed”, even though there was no actual fish involved: it’s not a coincidence that the fishing detail matches one of the biggest themes of the series too… Jason is finally able to pinpoint the exact scent: “beer, it smells like old, spilled beer” which leads them to an abandoned brewery “only a mile from where the bodies were found”.

There, in a silent scene, they find the body of a butchered Gabriel hanging by his wrists from the ceiling. The word “fake” is carved on his forearm; it is reminiscent of the smiley written in letters of blood and of the letter on the door addressing the “dirty money-grubbing fraud” that RJ left behind in Jane’s bedroom. The “fake” comment is both a comment on Gabriel’s visions and an implicit jab given that, even though he was right, he wasn’t able to foretell that he’d be the actual victim this time. It therefore further echoes RJ’s words: “if you were a real psychic instead of a dishonest little worm, you wouldn’t need to open the door to see what I’ve done to your lovely wife and child”. The atmosphere of the gory crime scene also matches the one surrounding the abandoned corpses left in warehouses by RJ (Panzer’s body in ‘Blinking Red Light’, even more given that the man committed the same error than Gabriel and taunted a serial killer on TV and Lorelei in ‘There Will Be Blood’), as well as the theatrical display of the morgue attendant’s corpse in Rosalind’s house in ‘Always Bet on Red’. Interestingly, Gabriel’s cadaver has again a Christ-like vibe to it, especially with the cuts on his body and the bloodied naked foot: it might mean that the mysterious killer took his toenail to add to his collection, but it also reminds of the colonel’s wife, whose bloodied beige shoe was the focal point of the violent murder in ‘The Silver Briefcase’… It might mean that things have come full circle in that perspective too: Jane has somehow gotten over his fear and he’s able to concentrate on investigating again.

Conclusion

After living again relieving his most traumatic experience and most feared scenario through the eyes of a younger version of him, Jane’s finally able to gain some distance… He realized that he’s more experienced, he’s not prey of not the same prideful attitude or the same mistakes that plagued his past: he’s changed… This is showed in the choice of the title of this episode: “Byzantium” is a dark purple that doesn’t appear in the show; instead, it’s an allusion to Yeat’s poem ‘Sailing to Byzantium’.
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.
.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.
.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.
.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

This poem echoes Jane’s life experience: he left behind the dying generations who were focused on love (Angela and Charlotte and more recently Vega who started dating Wylie) and the birds and fishes scattered through his quest (found in the cabin with the fishing wild birds on the pond). They represent the past he’s overcame, the brilliant glory he was yearning for in his younger years, in the “summer” of his life attuned to the “sensual music” of his earthly desires. Now, he’s one of the “old men” at the fall of his life: he knows he’s powerless to protect the people he loves (“An aged man is but a paltry thing,/ A tattered coat upon a stick”), but he’s also wiser. He’s learnt to observe the world and is a “student of the form” (“Nor is there singing school but studying/ Monuments of its own magnificence”): he observes and think, until he’s able to achieve a new, deeper level of gold, not the dawn whose gold couldn’t stay in the previous episode, but one which brings him a greater degree emotional fulfillment. Like the poet, Jane has therefore arrived at the conclusion of his spiritual journey –symbolized by his shoes before which now are alluded to by the missing shoe on Gabriel’s foot- that ties to the sea theme since he’s “sailing” towards an ideal happiness. In a second poem, simply called ‘Byzantium’ and written by Yeats a few years after ‘Sailing to Byzantium’, the results may be visible, even though the writing is more obscure: Jane along with the poet has managed a mystical union, the former with a new form of happiness at Lisbon’s side, the latter through appreciation of historical and eternal works of art. They’ve become a golden bird that has become immune to the deadly violence of the perishing world, in contrast with the peaceful marveling at spiritual beauty:
The unpurged images of day recede;
The Emperor’s drunken soldiery are abed;
Night resonance recedes, night walkers’ song
After great cathedral gong;
A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains
All that man is,
All mere complexities,
The fury and the mire of human veins.

Before me floats an image, man or shade,
Shade more than man, more image than a shade;
For Hades’ bobbin bound in mummy-cloth
May unwind the winding path;
A mouth that has no moisture and no breath
Breathless mouths may summon;
I hail the superhuman;
I call it death-in-life and life-in-death.

Miracle, bird or golden handiwork,
More miracle than bird or handiwork,
Planted on the star-lit golden bough,
Can like the cocks of Hades crow,
Or, by the moon embittered, scorn aloud
In glory of changeless metal
Common bird or petal
And all complexities of mire or blood.

At midnight on the Emperor’s pavement flit
Flames that no faggot feeds, nor steel has lit,
Nor storm disturbs, flames begotten of flame,
Where blood-begotten spirits come
And all complexities of fury leave,
Dying into a dance,
An agony of trance,
An agony of flame that cannot singe a sleeve.

Astraddle on the dolphin’s mire and blood,
Spirit after Spirit! The smithies break the flood.
The golden smithies of the Emperor!
Marbles of the dancing floor
Break bitter furies of complexity,
Those images that yet
Fresh images beget,
That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea.

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9 responses to “Mentalist Byzantium Review

  • EMMPHX

    Adore your reviews! One comment: the book Wylie discovers is “The Idiot”. Dostoevsky was an epileptic with seizures and several of his books feature characters with seizures. They usually have a ‘vision’ after the seizure. “The Idiot” is considered the most autobiographical by many. I think it no coincidence that the book scene is followed by Gabriel’s “seizure” and his pronouncement of the vision of red clay/white bones.

  • Kilgore Trout

    Awesome work, Violet. Wow, where to start! We have tie ins to old episodes, poetry, the five stages of grief… I love the ties you found with Season 2 and Red Hat in Season 4. Its great to see these acknowledgements and also the consistency in how the characters have been portrayed over time.

    The five stages of grief observation is also really well analysed. The only thing I can add there is that its not always a linear progression and that people can flip forward and backwards between the 5 states until hopefully reaching acceptance.

    When watching the scenes with Lisbon, especially the one in the interview room where she brings Jane a cup of tea I was very strongly reminded of what Sean Barlow said in Red John’s Rules.

    “It’s odd, isn’t it? How the daughters of alcoholics, so often are the best kind of women.”

    It was part of his cold read of Lisbon where he also observed that she was lying in bed thinking of Jane and how it was hard to love a man who was so secretive and controlling. Jane’s behaviour (which I maintain has been callous, selfish and cruel) must also have drawn terrible parallels with the emotional unavailability and abuse she had to deal with from her alcoholic father. Despite this we see that Lisbon truly is ‘the best kind of woman’. I think that far from avoiding dealing with her emotions, Lisbon has very thoroughly examined her feelings and has reached her own stage of acceptance where it comes to her love for Jane.

    Lisbon realises she is in love with a man who is badly broken and has thought through the consequences. She has decided what she will and won’t sacrifice (she will not give up who she is by quitting her job) as the price for continuing a relationship with Jane (or trying to). Hence we see a remarkable restraint from her both in this scene and later when Jane meets her at the crime scene despite yet again letting her down but not answering her call. Her capacity for forgiveness remains undiminished perhaps in part because she knows that they are each other’s last chance for happiness. She doesn’t hide her hurt, and yet she doesn’t use it as a weapon and doesn’t lash out as she might be well entitled to. I wonder how many times she brought a morning coffee to her father after a night’s heaving drinking and behaved in a similar way, careful not to provoke violence while trying to show him the consequences of his drinking and guide him to a higher path.

    For all his callous behaviour Jane IS aware of how remarkable she is. He is not taking her for granted, he just can’t quite fix himself. The expression he wears as he takes a sip of tea after she leaves the room is very similar to how he looks at the end of scene where he stops by Lisbon’s house with cannoli and ends up saying her happiness is the most important thing to him. He knows what he should do, what Lisbon deserves from him but he can’t bring himself to do it.

    In a later scene the outside of the bar where Jane is drinking looks very similar to the one in Orange Blossom Ice Cream where Cho and Vega take down contact for the counterfeit passport chips. When he steps outside the bar it’s a full moon which is another reminder of Red Moon. Interestingly in that episode Jane convinced Ellis Mars that a ‘werewolf’ was behind the killings and her we have similar imagery with Jane embracing nature under the influence of the full moon and then waking up alone in a field as a dog walks by. The full moon has traditionally been associated with madness (hence the term lunatic) and yet here instead of Jane waking up naked and covered in blood as he might if he were a werewolf he instead wakes fully clothed and at peace. I think this scene strongly suggests that Jane is finally free of the madness that has been inside him since the death of his family. With the passing of madness comes lucidity and seeing the land for sale crystalizes what Jane truly wants from the future. As Violet and Rose have observed he is ready to move on at last.

    I think this new acceptance of his past and the type of man he is allows him to deal with Gabriel as effectively as he does. Kristina Frye was clearly the most skilled ‘psychic’ that Jane has encountered and he was always on the back foot with her, indeed often he came off second best. Ellis Mars and the other fake psychic from the earlier seasons were clearly a rung or two below Jane and offered no real challenge. Despite his relative youth Gabriel seems to share the same high end potential as Jane and Kristina and Jane’s new self-acceptance makes him immune to everything Gabriel throws at him. Jane isn’t taunting or cruel because he has gotten past his own self loathing and hence no longer projects those emotions onto people who share his previous occupation.

    Thanks again Violet for your amazing review. I haven’t seen the finale yet but I can’t wait to see how things pan out (and then to discuss it here afterwards!)

  • KM

    Thank you, Violet. Lovely review. It seems so long ago we discussed poems on Twitter. If I remember you were not familiar with either Frost or Yeats and it was my & Rose’s pleasure to link you up to the poems featured in the last two episodes. What a steller job you did with them!

    And, thank you Kilgore Trout for being the first person I’ve read here getting Lisbon and how growing up under an abusive father has made her into the woman she is. Too many people see her as always avoiding, and my take has been that she is accepting of her reality . She forgives and sees the truth of who her beloved is. She knows she can’t really save him, but she can “soldier” on. A skill she learned after her father’s decent.

    It has been a joy to read these reviews. Looking forward to how your take on the final two.

    Cheers!

  • Kilgore Trout

    @KM Glad to find someone who shares that view! It took me a while to get there but this episode really chrystalised it for me. Lisbon is such an admirable woman. I read many comments on how she almost appeared indifferent to Jane’s absence, as if she should have been looking absolutely miserable in the first scene with Cho. Lisbon is very private, however, and she would not share her grief even with a close friend like Cho. Only Jane is allowed to see her raw emotions and given her past it makes the events of Little Yellow House even more remarable (her bravest moment wasn’t dealing with Jane’s absence it was allowing him fully into her heart in the first place).

    Here’s hoping poor Lisbon doesn’t have to endure much more ‘soldiering on’.

  • roseuk80

    You guys: what an absolute treat. Thank you so much to Violet for another simply wonderful review, and to all the commenters here who always have such great insights, and whose reflections are so profound, fair and respecful. It’s been a joy to read you, and I’ll savour the little that remains. 😀

    I’ve always maintained that had it been a novel, The Mentalist would have been up there with the great classics – and I think this episode alone proves it. (Hm, maybe I’m overstating, but I basically just loved it: it had gravitas and a little bit of humour (I loved Jane’s amusement when he was arrested – he always appreciates a clever move!) and so many allusions to the past that I could almost have started a drinking game on it (and I don’t even drink, lol). 😉 As you suggest, things are slowly coming full circle and Gabriel’s story really ties it up in a bow: the story of the arrogant psychic repeating itself, only this time there’s a different ending.

    The emphasis on the number 3 was interesting (the “three is important to everyone” idea could even have been a bit meta, almost as if the writers were cheekily acknowledging those of us who like to dig up meaning and significance in the unlikeliest of places. 😉 Not saying that’s the case, mind, because I actually believe the episode was extremely cleverly crafted). I immediately thought of the Holy Trinity idea we discussed last season, but more in the sense of fulfilment and completion. If you google the symbolism of the number, it’s very interesting. You need three straight lines to form a solid (triangle); it represents past, present and future. Apparently, it’s a “perfect number” (along with 7) that symbolises the Divine. I could go on! (Incidentally, following on from your number count in past reviews, there were 7 victims). 😉

    You also mentioned celestial beings in past reviews, and this time there was reference to both the sun and the moon – love Kilgore’s remarks on the moon and lunacy, by the way! What could that symbolise? Light and dark? Duality? “It was like staring at the sun” = blindness (also a theme in previous seasons), but again, like RJ, it’s as if this serial killer is so powerful, all-consuming, that everything revolves around him. (Maybe!)

    Gabriel the messenger – brilliant! Real or not, he kind of *did* bring a message to Jane one way or another.

    I really loved the modern interpretation of the wildnerness: Jane coming in from the cold at last. When I googled it to check I’d got my Bible facts right, there was a nice passage that talked about the emergence of growth, new possibilities, new identities and “revelations” from God (via psychic Gabriel). Definitely applicable.

    Other quick ideas:

    Coincidence that Jane was at the Grand Canyon? Which is noticeably red! (Echoing the ‘red clay’ later in the episode – though obviously the geology must be different). That rift, that abyss. I would imagine that it is a very spiritual place, wild, a great place for reflection. Normally it seems Jane heads for water, but this time he chose the more permanent… earth (albeit prone to erosion and shifting, but you know what I mean 😉 ). Plus, I suppose you could say that rather than being a threatening colour, this red is warmer, more golden.

    More predator-related vocabulary: “vultures” and “sharks” (re: the media), adding to the sense of foreboding.

    The prominence of dogs was certainly interesting. I didn’t manage to extract much meaning from it, though, other than perhaps a comment on loyalty or the importance of scent (seen in Jane’s trick) or possibly even the fact that dogs can also be seen as messengers (they bring things back that you have thrown away or lost).

    Gosh, and I haven’t even commented on the poem or Lisbon*! I think I’d better stop for now!

    *Kilgore, KM: totally agree.

  • OrangeChill

    One thing, and I hope I didn’t miss it — regarding the dalmatian, I think the most obvious 3 was missed: it was a three-legged dog.

    Excellent review and commentary.

  • Elaine

    Are we getting a review of the finale?

  • bloomingviolet2013

    @ Elaine: yep! Don’t worry, it’s coming soon! 🙂

  • Lou Ann

    Looking forward to the finale review. I know it will be awesome, as usual.

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