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Mentalist Byzantium Review


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.


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.


Mentalist Nothing Gold Can Stay Review


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.


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 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.