Review of Episode 8×22: “Clip Show”
Initial Thoughts: They killed Sarah. Sam’s Sarah. Right in front of him. Right in front of us…It was awful and brutal and…and…**runs off to sob in a dark corner**
A few hours later…
Okay, I think I’ve recovered enough to talk about the episode.
Sammy: Oh, poor baby…Watching Sarah die like that and not being able to do anything about it…Seriously, there are no words. I almost couldn’t bear to look at the screen. And afterwards, his brokenness. His defeat. So painful…Now Sam wants to give up on the quest, and I can’t blame him – who knows which person Crowley will go after next? I mean, think about the kids Sam and Dean have saved: that little boy in “Dead in the Water,” the little girl in “Playthings,” Krissy, Ben…Just going over the possibilities makes me feel a little sick. Crowley sure knew which trigger to pull didn’t he? And so did the writers. Ouch.
Proud of Sam for sticking up for Cass in this ep. Dean went on and on about all the crap Cass has pulled recently – which honestly isn’t that bad compared to things Castiel’s done in the past, e.g. teaming up with the King of Hell – and Sam’s simple argument for why they should forgive their angel buddy consisted of three short words: “Because it’s Cass.” Amen, Sam! Amen!
Sarah’s observations about Sam’s hair may have been flawed (Yes, you heard me, I didn’t like the Season One haircut. Nay, I hated it **ducks sharp objects hurled by rabid Sam girls**) but what she noticed about his character was right on the $$$. She said he seems more self-assured. Seeing as he felt lost and guilty and cursed when she first met him, it was cool to see Sam’s changes through the eyes of someone who hasn’t been there to witness everything he’s survived in the past seven-to-nine years. The differences between then and now, both physical and mental, are staggering. He is all grown up, just like Sarah said.
She also said that Sam “knows what he wants.” At that particular moment, I’d say it was true. Sam wanted to close the Hell Gate, and then go on to lead a normal, “apple pie” life. The only problem with that goal: Sam and Dean have no idea what will happen when the Gate slams shut. They are operating under the highly unrealistic expectation that once the door is closed, all things that screech and claw and rip people up will instantly go “poof” and the world will be a calm place, empty of both monsters and demons. When this doesn’t happen, and there are still ten million creatures out there killing innocent folks, then I have no idea what Sam will want. He’s been very committed to this task…but what about the next one?
Dean: Another poor baby. Though Sarah’s death surely didn’t impact him as hard as it did Sam, I know Dean can’t be taking it well, either. Especially thinking about who might be next. I mean Crowley does know about Ben and Lisa. Wiping Lisa and Ben’s memories has done nothing to prevent Dean’s ex-girlfriend and surrogate son from being used as a weapon – why would it matter to Crowley that they don’t remember Dean? Dean remembers them, and that’s all Crowley cares about. They are a way to emotionally gut Dean, just as Sarah’s death emotionally gutted Sam. And Crowley was wicked smart not to start with Lisa and Ben – holding onto them as an ace in the hole was one of his usual strokes of demonic brilliance.
But now Dean is in a major Catch-22 situation. Because if he and Sam don’t quit, Ben, Lisa and hundreds of other people could die senselessly. But if they do quit, then Sam dies. And that is simply not an option in Dean’s book, or in mine. Dean’s main driving force at this point is trying to get Sam better. Without completing the third task, that won’t happen. Sam is clearly willing to make the sacrifice, but there’ll be Ice Capades in Hell before Dean goes along with that plan.
Not diggin’ how mean Dean was to Castiel in this episode. Poor Cass had his brain rewired – numerous times – and still managed to overcome his programming to keep himself from killing Dean. So what if Castiel took the angel tablet? Dean doesn’t have any right to that, anyway. Get off your high horse, Dean! (Ooh, I just had a cool mental image of Dean riding Death’s horse in the apocalypse…) Seriously, though, this is not the first time Dean’s been downright cold towards Cass – remember back in Season Six when the angel civil war was going down? Most of the time, Dean acted like he couldn’t care less. I think he offered to help a grand total of one time, and even then it was only as an afterthought. I know the current strife between Cass and Dean won’t last forever – it never does. So I’ll suck it up…for now. But all the while I’ll be eagerly looking forward to the return of the closeness I have come to cherish between Dean and his angel.
Sarah: You know, there’s a part of me that rages against certain post-Season Five creative choices. Like killing off Bobby, having Castiel be the bad guy for a whole season, turning Grandpa Samuel into a world-class d!ck, etc, etc. Now, I will be adding killing off Sarah and Tommy to that list. Okay, maybe Tommy’s death was somewhat acceptable, but Sarah? The one girl who was pretty darn near universally approved by the fandom as a potential mate for Sam? When the post-Season Five creative team decided to take her away from us, something rose up inside of me. Something like “This is NOT your show. This is KRIPKE’S show. You are not running it as well as he did, therefore you do NOT have a right to kill off beloved characters on a whim.” And then I realized: that is exactly how I am supposed to feel – because that is exactly how Sam and Dean feel. The people they’ve saved are the one thing that keeps them going, the one pure, good thing they can look back on when they want to feel better. Crowley took that from them, and the writers took it from us, creating a perfect moment of empathy between the fans and the characters. Hats off to some tremendous, Kripke-worthy writing.
Castiel: Totally won my heart over during his trip to the grocery story, buying jerky and Busty Asian Beauties and demanding PIE. In his childlike, emotionally-stunted, socially-crippled way, Cass was doing everything he could to make things right with Dean. I only wish Castiel had finished the job rather than teaming up with Metatron for some seriously-dubious Nephilim-hunting. It’s scary how easily Cass can be led astray, even after the Crowley debacle…
Metatron: I was just saying how much I liked this dude, and already he’s lost some of my respect! Killing an innocent creature that had committed no crime aside from being born? ICK. The justification “she’s an abomination” holds less water than a desert. You can’t kill somebody for no other reason than because they happen to exist. And the self-defense argument doesn’t work, either – Castiel and Metatron went after this girl with the intent of murdering her. So what if she made the first move? I had nothing but sympathy for this creature, no matter how mean and bad-@$$ they tried to make her seem. Metatron’s idea about closing Heaven was well-reasoned, but the cost of getting the job done is already too high.
Abadon: Sam and Dean get major IQ points for leaving her without hands – I’ll give them that. Sadly, that’s about all the IQ points they earned in this episode. There was no logic behind reconstructing one of Lucifer’s Knights. They had a dangerous demon successfully incapacitated, and they brought her back for no good reason. The demon-curing exorcism they listened to was performed on a REGULAR demon – there was no reason to think it would or could work on a super-powered Knight of Hell. And at that point in the ep, Sam and Dean didn’t know that Crowley was intentionally keeping demons and demonic creatures away from them. So, there was no reason not to try to find a normal demon to test the ritual on. No reason except that the writers wanted Abadon back, and took the easiest route possible to have that happen. Sam and Dean didn’t even put her in a devil’s trap, for crying out loud! They relied solely on the bullet rather than putting every possible precaution into place, and that’s so not them. Also, they left her unattended. And they left her hands about two feet away from her. Stupid X infinity. The only positive thing I can say about the Abadon mess is that watching her hand creep across the table and jump onto her shoulder and reach into her brain was a fine moment of horror television. I think my skin crawled away.
Crowley: Can’t talk about him right now. The pain is still too fresh.
Re: Closing Heaven: I like that the tasks to close the Heaven Gate are quite the opposite of the ones required to close Hell. To shut the door on demons, a person is asked to do good things – e.g. kill an evil creature, save an innocent soul, cure a demon. But to close Heaven, a person must do something morally corrupt, like cut the heart out of a creature that doesn’t deserve to die. I shudder to think what else Castiel and his new friend will have to do to meet their goal…
Final Thoughts: So, Abadon is (stupidly) on the loose, Crowley is hitting the boys – and the fans – where it really hurts, Sam’s ready to give up, Dean doesn’t know which way to turn, and Castiel and Metatron have embarked on a morally-questionable-at-best mission to save angel-kind. Sounds to me like we have all the makings of a gut-wrenching, thrill-a-minute season finale .
Review of Episode 8×21: “The Great Escapist”
Overall: Cool. Very cool. A different kind of episode, but not in a bad way. I think the fact that Sam and Dean weren’t ever really part of the action gave the episode a weird, low-key sort of feeling. It felt like an in-between episode. Too important to be labeled a “filler,” and yet not epic enough to be called a true mytharc episode. Despite the strange pacing, we got to see some wonderful insights into Sam and Dean’s childhood, we finally learned what the third task was, both Cass and Kevin escaped from Crowley, and the King of Hell got to try on his directing hat. All in all, this episode was fun and informative, and, as usual, it left me excited for the next one.
Sam: Man, those make-up people are doing an awesome job! Sam looks sick as a dog: pale, feverish, even a little bit manic. We learned that his physical symptoms are at least partially due to the delay between each task. Which makes some degree of sense, and reminds me of a neat fanfic I read several years ago where something similar was happening to Dean (And The Ground Shook by sams1ra). When Sam is making progress toward the next task, he feels better. When he is neglecting the trials, the magic inside of him festers restlessly. I guess whoever took on the tasks was supposed to read all three of them ahead of time and just get them done right in a row, without any dilly-dallying around in between. Which Sam and Dean would’ve done – if they could’ve read the friggin’ thing…Which brings me back to something I said a while ago: It’s insanely dumb to start an epic quest when you only have half of the information.
Another possible reason for Sam’s symptoms – he seems to think the trials are purifying him. This is very interesting. I have to wonder – does Sam even still have demon blood inside of him? He hasn’t displayed powers in about three years, give or take (don’t blame me for being fuzzy on the math – this is what happens when the show keeps skipping over years…). I wonder if he really does still have anything impure running through his veins, and if slamming the hell door really is burning the bad blood right out of him. Would be awesome if it were true, but it could just as easily be a delirium-induced product of Sam’s imagination. He still feels unclean, and wants to believe he’s being purified.
Sam’s memory of feeling tainted as a child gave me chills. Again, it could’ve been fever-induced, and not a real memory, but I believed it. It’s certainly possible that somewhere in the back of Sam’s consciousness, he always knew. His memory about the “farty donkey” – and the goofy, loopy way he told it – was just plain cute. My only complaint about that otherwise charming brother scene: unless my ears were playing tricks, I think Sam said they took the donkey ride at the Grand Canyon. Which would make a continuity error, because in “Croatoan,” Dean specifically said he’d never been there. Stuff like that always makes diehard fans twitch. Like in “Sam, Interrupted,” when Dean said that Sam had always been a “happy drunk.” Again, it was an adorable scene, but we’ve seen Sam drunk on several occasions, and he has consistently been melancholy, sometimes even desperate and tearful. Not exactly my definition of happy. If the viewers can remember these little details, why can’t the writers?
Niggling fan issue aside, though, I will cuddle the donkey story as a rare instance of John actually being a good father. And I do love John…
Dean: This whole situation is just killing him. He was the one who wanted to close the Hell Gate. He was the one who wanted to take on the tasks. And it ended up being Sam, instead. So, not only is Sam’s life in danger during the tasks, but also in between them, due to an unforeseen side effect of taking on the job. Right now, I’m betting Dean is sorry he ever suggested this quest in the first place. Certainly, if he knew then what he does now, he never would have let Sam perform that first spell. As it is, Dean doesn’t even seem to care very much about closing the Hell Gate anymore – the only reason he wants the third task completed is because he hopes it will stop the symptoms and save Sam’s life. Desperation, protectiveness and fear are Dean’s only remaining motivations at this point.
I will say he’s doing the best he can to keep it together and to keep Sam together. Although, when you put somebody in ice water to bring down their fever, are you really supposed to submerge their nose and mouth like that? Couldn’t the person drown while they’re unconscious?? Just sayin’…
I had to love Dean for telling Sam, “It’s not your fault,” about the demon blood thing. Too often in the past, Dean has seemed icked out, freaked out, or just plain judgmental about Sam’s powers and their dark origins. Although I always knew that Dean didn’t love Sam any less for being “tainted,” I don’t think Sam knew it. I think Sam needed that reassurance. And, although it came quite a few years later than it should have, I’m glad Dean finally said the words.
Kevin: That video…Dang. Those little bits of broken glass on the floor used to be my heart. An inspired and emotional performance. I loved Kevin all the way through this ep, from his cleverness at figuring out Crowley’s mind game, to his willpower as he refused to reveal the third task, to his relief and happiness at the end of the episode. Our favorite prophet has seemed broken in recent episodes. Here, he finally seemed whole. At peace. My only questions: 1.) If Crowley really took Kev, does this mean Tiger Mommy really is dead??? (NOOOOOOOOOOOOO) 2.) Where in the name of heck is Garth?? Did something happen to him, too? Shouldn’t the guys be trying to find him??? Why is no one particularly concerned that a hunter (AKA a person with the world’s most dangerous, high-mortality job) is MIA? Oy.
Crowley: “I was born to direct.” “I could’ve played Dean myself.” “I’ve got deals and plans up the jacksies.” With lines like that, is it any wonder that I wanted him to win in the showdown with Naomi? Bad Angel Lady is cruel, scary and gross. Crowley’s all those things, and he can make me spit out my Koolaid in a fit of laughter. Anyone who can do that deserves the win.
Cass: Keeping the tablet inside of himself? Pure genius. And the trick with Biggerson’s…Man he knows just how to scramble the brains of his fellow angels, doesn’t he? “There are just so many Biggerson’s…” ROFL. Marry me, Ben Edlund. Right now. Today.
I actually thought Cass would convince Ion to help him. Ion seemed conflicted, and I get the feeling that Crowley was just the lesser of two evils. (How sad is that? Between a demon and an angel, the demon is the less morally corrupt choice…) I could see Ion becoming an ally, but sadly, it wasn’t to be – Ion got an angel bullet through the brain, and we won’t be seeing him again.
We will be seeing Cass, who managed to escape despite severe injuries and pop up right in front of the oncoming Impala. Can’t really blame Sam and Dean for hesitating to run to his aid, though – considering the last time Cass was with them, he basically beat Dean into mulch. And Castiel, who was channeling his inner Dean all episode long, couldn’t help but respond to their pause with a sarcastic, “A little help, here?” My heart does this little fluttering thing whenever Castiel talks like Dean, or even just tries to talk like Dean: “Hey ass-butt!” I guess I just love to see those little hints of their bond, those signs that Cass has come so far from the “follow orders” mode he was in when we first met him.
Metatron: Very likeable, very funny, very…human. I couldn’t help but warm up to this little angel from the secretarial pool. He loves his stories, and the excitement in his voice when he talked about the “raw, wild invention of God’s naked apes,” made me smile. This is a rare angel who likes and respects humans. That said, he was a coward, as Sam said, for hiding away while an apocalyptic crapstorm was going down. Metatron redeemed himself by saving Kevin and joining the fight. I was, however, chilled by the angel scribe’s last words to Dean. What will happen if they manage to close the Gate? What will the world be like, and what will Sam be like, assuming he survives? Truth is, they have no clue – and that scares the pants off me.
Naomi: She needs to die. Nuff’ said.
Final Thoughts: We are heading bravely forward into uncharted territory. I’m afraid for Sam, afraid for Dean, and now, after Metatron’s comments, I’m pretty darn freaked out that they’re making a mistake by closing a door that maybe wasn’t meant to be closed. Will evil souls still be able to descend into Hell? If not, where will they go? What will happen to the demons still up on earth when that Gate gets slammed? Are they trapped up here? And, most importantly, what will happen to Sam after finishing the third trial? Is “purification” necessarily a good thing? As Season Eight revs up for its epic finale, part of me is eagerly awaiting these answers…and another part of me is dreading them. And, seeing as this is Supernatural, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We all know that it’s a good idea to read good stories and figure out what makes them so compelling. Ninety percent of the time, that’s what you want to be reading – stuff that’s so unbelievably awesome that you hope the writer’s skills will actually rub off on you somehow. But, from time to time, it’s also beneficial to read a really bad story and analyze exactly what makes it so darn unreadable. If you can determine what caused you to give up on a novel after only ten pages, you can hopefully avoid making those same errors in your own writing. It’s a great way to sharpen you editing claws, stretch your critiquing muscles, and improve your own writing, all at the same time.
Sounds good, right? Now, all you need is a story to practice on. A really bad, really horrible story. And I happen to have the perfect one. A few years ago, I read what is quite possibly the worst story ever written. It’s so completely awful, that it almost comes around full circle and becomes good. Seriously, you will cringe when you read it. You will roll your eyes and think, How in the heck did this thing ever get published? In the end, you won’t know whether to laugh or weep at the sheer wretchedness of it.
You probably think I’m being mean, talking like this. You probably think I’m ignoring the whole “support other writers” spiel I gave in my constructive criticism post and being a total hypocrite. I’m not. The reason: This story was written badly on purpose. The author, who is actually very talented, takes basically every single mistake that would make an editor twitch, and crams them all together into one hilariously groan-worthy short story. It’s absolute brilliance, and a super-handy guide for what you should NEVER EVER do when you’re writing a short story. Or a long story. Or a novel. Or anything.
So, go check it out, and try to find every example of awfulness you possibly can in this piece that can only be described as bad writing at its very best.
Enjoy, and keep writing!
Review of Episode 5×21: “Red and Itchy” (AKA “Animal, Vegetable or Ewwwwwwwwww!”)
Overall: It was the one episode I never saw coming. The one place I was sure they’d never, ever go. The one plotline that I thought would remain a dangly, loose thread, always and forever. But, no – in a burst of great continuity and bold storytelling, The Mentalist not only revisited the topic of LaRoche’s mysterious Tupperware, but did so in a thrilling and ultimately satisfying way. Well done, Show!
Jane: Okay, I take back what I said last time about him being kind of jerkish and making Lisbon come upstairs to get him all the time. Seems he genuinely was working on the Red John case, and was actually very close to a breakthrough. In hindsight, that little book he was reading must have been his list of names. It just looked different, somehow. Then again, the last time they showed Jane’s house and his bedroom, those looked different to me, too. And there’s no reason they would change those sets. So…weird angles, maybe? Unusual lighting? In any case, Jane is on the verge and I can’t really fault him for needing some alone time. The only thing I can fault him for is trying to find his alone time in a bustling government office building. Dude, just take some personal time and go hole up somewhere! A motel room, your house, an abandoned warehouse – almost anywhere would be an improvement.
Anyway, before Jane went into full seclusion, we got to watch him skillfully tap-dance his way around the topic of JJ’s Tupperware. I swear, if BSing is an artform, then Jane is Picasso. It was like seeing him do his psychic act all over again. LaRoche: “Do you think me a monstrosity?” Jane: “No…Not a monstrosity. I think you’re a very complex person…” LOL. Brilliant stuff. I kept waiting for Jane to screw up and say something that didn’t fit, but he pulled off the con brilliantly, letting LaRoche guide the discussion, keeping things just vague enough to be open for interpretation.
Where Jane impressed me the most, though, was his decision not to look in the Tupperware. I mean, he must have been dying to look. We all were. But in a rare move, Jane chose to respect JJ’s privacy and let some secrets remain secret. Part of Jane probably thought that the reality of what was in the box would never live up to what he’d been imagining. And, maybe a part of him was just testing his own willpower. But most of all, I think he does have some weird form of respect for LaRoche, some strange kinship that actually grew stronger during this case, and while Jane was conning and scheming JJ the whole episode long, I think at the end Jane decided to act as a true friend should. One small step for man, one giant leap for Jane.
Lisbon: “For once, don’t be the voice of reason – be the voice of wrath.” When Jane said that to her, I got shivers. And when she came back with, “Okay, how do we get the b!tch?” I actually hissed the word “yesssssss” under my breath. Right on, Lisbon. Right on. I’m so glad she followed her gut on this one. Jane’s plan wasn’t even as dangerous or half-cocked as usual, so there would have been no real harm done if he was wrong about Brenda. (Just some departmental embarrassment, but what else is new?)
If anyone discovered the secret of the box, I would have expected it to be Jane. If not him, then Van Pelt or Rigsby, who were openly making bets about the box’s contents. But in the end, it was Lisbon who showed that her passion for justice is only part of the reason she decided to become a cop. Apparently, she can’t resist the thrill of a good mystery – and she can’t stand not knowing the solution. It was Lisbon who broke down and scratched the itch for us, tracking down the rapist who had assaulted JJ’s mother and at long last digging up the truth.
I have to wonder, though, if she’s glad she made that trip. Now, Lisbon has to face a big decision about what to do with her newfound knowledge. Jane would tell her to just let it go. I mean, technically, she doesn’t know anything for sure. She just has a very strong hunch. Revealing her suspicions would be like opening up a can of worms and dumping them out to crawl all over the ground. LaRoche would find out the extent of Jane’s betrayal. LaRoche would be disgraced and probably wind up in prison. His mother’s memory would be tarnished. So, Lisbon will likely hold her tongue (LOL) and keep this secret buried, just as she has in the past with Bosco’s crime and the numerous illegal actions Jane has taken over the years. But how much of this stuff she can cover up before she starts feeling like a dirty cop? There’s gotta be a breaking point somewhere, because Lisbon believes in the law. Like, really believes. And I would so hate to see Lisbon hand over her badge because she just didn’t feel like she was honoring it anymore…
Cho/Rigs/Van Pelt: No overt mentions of the Rigspelt reunion – just a subtle shift in Rigsby’s demeanor when he talks about Van Pelt to Cho. No more whining and moping or endlessly obsessing. Rigbsy simply talked about the bet he and VP had going, but there was this lightness in the way he talked. This gentle happiness in the way both of them acted. I’m sure it took Cho all of two seconds to figure out they were back together. Never mind Jane, who knew it was going to happen before Rigsby and VP even did. The bullpen had a nice, relaxed feeling to it. Tension-free. Relieved. Meant-to-be. I was happy to just sit there and soak in the new group dynamic. And for the record, Cho’s wisdom and his ability to read people is starting to rival Jane’s. Cho didn’t hesitate when he said the contents of the box were “animal.” He’s not half as damaged as Jane, but Cho has still seen way more of humanity’s dark side than anyone should…
LaRoche: Speaking of dark sides – whoa! This dude is pitch black. I never thought of him as being particularly similar to Jane…I always thought LaRoche cherished the law above all else. But now that I’ve seen what he’s capable of…the coldness of it, the calculation that the act required…Yikes. JJ’s darker than Jane, if you ask me! When Jane shot Not-Red John in the mall, at least it was a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing. There were tears streaming down Jane’s face – he was pushed over the edge. But JJ’s crime took so much planning…to break into someone’s house, inject the person, and do that in the dead of night. Wow. And how could he possibly have gotten away with it? Given the circumstances, wouldn’t he be like, the one and only suspect? The only thing I can figure, is that someone let it slide. The police didn’t want to catch him, because they didn’t really blame him. The kind of corruption and rule-breaking JJ openly detests is probably the only reason he’s a free man today.
Brenda: Man, was I glad to see this chick go down! I mean, after what she did to Lisbon? After what she did to that kid? Brenda’s fall was long overdue. The fact that it happened on camera was just a bonus. The real joy was seeing her sitting there in the interrogation room with Lisbon and Jane. Seeing her smug expression and then seeing Jane smear it right off her face. His little “baaaa” said it all: You are not nearly as special or as smart as you think you are. You are a common criminal, just like all the rest. Right on, Jane. Right on.
The Box: After all that teasing, I actually thought they might not reveal the contents. After all the hype and the build-up, I actually thought maybe they shouldn’t reveal the contents. They could’ve easily done a cop-out ending and left us guessing for the remainder of our natural lives. But they didn’t – The Mentalist delivered a satisfying pay-off in a creepy and disturbing way, and I give them major points for tying up a mystery that’s been niggling for two long years. In the end, I was only left wondering about one thing: Seriously, why didn’t he just freeze it?
Final Thoughts: Jane is about 24 hours away from figuring out who Red John is. Lisbon just found out an icky secret. Rigsby and Van Pelt are together and it feels so good. What will happen next? Guess we’ll have to tune in to the SEASON FINALE TONIGHT!!!
Review of Episode 8×20: “Pac-Man Fever”
Overall: Despite a few minor plot quibbles, this episode won me over with some great performances, a very welcome visit from one of my favorite guest stars, and a healthy dose of Supernatural’s own version of chicken soup for the soul: those wonderful brotherly love moments that will always keep us coming back for more.
Sam: Oh, poor baby. He’s a total mess right now, isn’t he? I could feel my mothering instincts shooting into overdrive when Sam wandered out of his bedroom all sleepy and sick, with his hair mussed up. All he needed was a pair of footie pajamas and he could’ve passed for a four-year-old. An enormous, mutant four-year-old, but still. I do have to agree with Dean on the clippers, though. You need a haircut, Sammy – like, two weeks ago. When I watch old Season Four episodes, I think to myself, “Wow, Sam – you weren’t too nice in this season…but dang, your hair looks good!” A few snips go a long way, buddy.
Rapunzel issues aside, though, it’s hard for me to watch Sam suffer like this. Why would the trials cause so much damage to the person trying to complete them? What would be the point of those spells debilitating the person so badly that he could not complete the final task? Is it another form of test – like, you have to be strong enough to overcome the illness and still manage to complete the third task? Or is it something else – something that has to happen in order for Sam to finish the trials? Whatever the answer is, I have faith that the storyline is going to make sense, and it’ll be a good payoff. Supernatural doesn’t hold back when it comes to payoffs…they just like to torture me in the weeks leading up to those moments. (And in the summers, and on hiatuses, and…)
So, we will get our answers, but in the meantime, I’m left to fret alongside Dean. I have to love my guy for how hard he tries to take care of his brother. Dean made the right call, telling Sam to step back from the fight. And Sam made the worst call in the history of calls by ignoring Dean’s instructions. The logical part of me wanted to scold Sam for going into the field in such a debilitated condition. If you can’t see straight enough to shoot a stationary paper target, then you have no business hunting living, moving, blood-slurping creatures. Sam put himself, Charlie and Dean in danger by insisting on joining the chase. I wanted to stay mad at Sam for this terrible decision. Honestly, I did. But the truth is, he did take down a young djinn. He did save Dean and Charlie’s lives. And Sam did apologize for the error in judgment. In the end, all I could feel was what Dean felt – grateful that things ended the way they did, grateful Sam was still standing there, grateful that after all they’ve been through, these two brothers are somehow – against all odds – still together. I love you, Sammy!
Dean: I don’t know what’s harder: watching Sam suffer, or watching Dean watch Sam suffer. I’m leaning toward the latter. When that djinn said Dean “reeks of fear,” nothing could be more true. You can just feel it rolling off of him. Even when he’s being bossy and controlling, you know it’s just covering up the terror that’s threatening to consume him. It’s like the mom who chews the kid out for running in the street – all that yelling is really code for, “OMG, I could have lost you. I could have lost you…”
As always, though, Supernatural kept the humor flowing just enough to take our minds off the boys and their imminent peril. I was snickering at the clipper comment, but I laughed out loud at the punching scene – Dean: “I need you to punch me. I know you don’t want to, but—” WHAM! Too, too funny. Note to Dean: I’m guessing Sam doesn’t like to be bossed around and fussed over and babied quite so much. Note to Sam: Unresolved anger issues, much? Brother-punch scenes are almost always either heartbreakers or comic gold, and this one went platinum. Great stuff.
Charlie: Loved, loved, loved getting Charlie’s backstory. The actress’s performance had me blinking back tears when she talked about how her parents’ accident was her fault, and how her mom was the one who got her interested in fantasy fiction. And the ending scene, when Charlie took out the book and began to read The Hobbit? Cue the waterworks. Big time. It really was a beautiful, emotional story that came full circle.
Charlie the hunter-in-training was interesting to watch. I would love for her to work some more cases with the boys in the future – just as long as she doesn’t get killed off. Many of her scenes had me chortling – the upside down badge, the power suit conversation, the “future therapy” moment – but I was scratching my head a little about the numerous IDs and passports at Charlie’s place, as well as her general secretiveness during the first part of the episode. I don’t quite understand: is Charlie still on the run from the law because of her arrest when she was twelve? I thought she forged a new identity for herself after the Dick Roman thing. Were those fake IDs somehow related to how she pays for her mother’s care? I needed just a hair more explanation on that front. Also, I’m not sure why she wouldn’t just tell Sam and Dean about her mother, but I guess that could be chalked up to simple guilt. She did feel responsible for the accident, after all.
Re: Djinn: I like the idea of a djinn that sends you to your scary place instead of your happy one. That said, those fake-looking CGI tattoos don’t hold a candle to the real ones on the djinn in Season Two. That guy gave me goosebumps just looking at him. His eyes, his tatts, his whole demeanor just screamed “blood-drinking freak.” The way djinn were portrayed in Season Six and in this episode – they’re almost too cool. Too sleek and slick. Not as grubby and dirty and creepy as I would like them to be. Also, if we’re doing djinn comparisons, I was fully expecting Charlie to have to die in her dream in order to wake up. Isn’t that how Dean pulled it off, back in the day? I guess I just needed a bigger moment, before Charlie came out of it – I needed to see in some major way that she really had let go of her mother, let go of her fear. I halfway thought Dean was actually going to kill the mother in the dream, just to force Charlie to let go. As it was, the “letting go” scene in the dream was a bit anti-climactic. However, I think the writers were trying to save the “big moment” for the Hobbit scene at the end, and I can get on board with that decision.
Re: The Dream Root: Although the punching scene gets an A+++ in my book, I did wonder why it was necessary to knock Dean out in the first place. Didn’t he and Sam like instantly slump unconscious after drinking it in Dream A Little Dream of Me? I just remember the image of them both sprawled across the beds in the motel room, completely unaware that they had already passed out and entered Bobby’s dream world, because it happened so fast. Why wouldn’t the potion have a similar effect in this case?
Re: Saying Goodbye: Once again, Sam said his goodbyes with Charlie, and then retreated to allow Dean and Charlie to have a private goodbye. This is like, the third time Sam has felt the need to leave when Dean’s saying goodbye to someone. The folks over at Supernatural Fans Online brought this to my attention, and I have to admit that I’m not sure I like the trend. It’s almost like the writers are saying, “Dean has a more special connection with people than Sam does.” Sure, in this case, Dean and Charlie had gone through something private in Charlie’s dream world, but it was still nothing that Sam should have to leave for. If the writers are going to make Sam leave every time Dean says goodbye to someone, then we’ve got a problem. It’s not fair, and this is coming from a Dean Girl. If Dean’s going to have private, special goodbyes with some people, then I would ask that Sam get the same opportunity. Sam forms special bonds with the guest characters just as often as Dean does, and that is something the writers should recognize.
Re: Brother Hugs: Another episode, another brother hug! Is anyone out there complaining? **crickets** Yeah, didn’t think so. As much as I adored the hugs in the season opener and in “Taxi Driver,” I have to say that this most recent hug may have been my favorite. So unexpected, so spontaneous, so…joyful and painful at the same time. It twisted my soul up in all the right places and left me feeling happy, hopeful, and ridiculously high on brotherly love. As Charlie pointed out, these guys have been through so much, it’s hard to believe there’s anything they can’t face, as long as they’re together.
Final Thoughts: In the world of Supernatural, love trumps fear. I will hang onto this thought as we swerve onto the bumpy road ahead going 90 MPH. They’re our boys. They’re Sam and Dean. Somehow, some way, they’re going to make it.
Review of Episode 5×20: “Red Velvet Cupcakes” (AKA “Best Rigspelt Episode EVER!!”)
Overall: A refreshingly unique case, some nice character moments, and about twenty gazillion reasons for Rigsby/Van Pelt shippers to grin like maniacs – what’s not to love?
Jane: Once again, Jane is being a hermit, unwilling to participate in the investigation. Well, technically he did agree to participate by phone – he just refused to grace the team with his actual, physical presence. And although Jane’s long-distance method of investigating does make for some funny scenes (“Rigsby – put the cupcake back…”), part of me couldn’t help but hate him a little bit, for making Lisbon personally come upstairs and tell him she needs him. I mean, I couldn’t see the title of the book he was reading, but he sure didn’t look like he was doing anything Red John-related, or even particularly urgent. It looked like he was just being a difficult, manipulative jerk, trying to see what lengths Lisbon would go to, to get him to come out.
That said, another part of me softened at how quickly he got up when she said she needed him, how gentle his voice was when he said, “It’s nice to be needed.” Maybe he wasn’t trying to be manipulative after all. Maybe he was just in a gloomy, non-social mental place, and he did need someone to come bring him out of it. Honestly, with his character, it could be either one of those possibilities, or both. Good writing, complex characters and nuanced performances make for great, thought-provoking television.
Another thing the episode made me wonder about: Did Jane know that going on the radio show would help reunite Rigsby and Van Pelt? Could he tell that they were right on the brink and just needed the right push? Something tells me the Mentalist knew exactly what he was doing when he set up that undercover assignment for “Dwayne” and “Stace,” and that solving the case was only a small part of his intent.
Lisbon: She’s been busy a lot this season. Busy, like not able to go to the initial crime scene. She’s either been in court, or having lunch with Kirkland, or at her own anniversary party. Though the reasons vary, this is the third time in recent memory that the team has started an investigation without her. Not saying it means anything – just saying it’s interesting.
Also interesting: Lisbon is a fan of the Love Doctor! And not too proud of it, either, lol! Very in keeping with her character, that she would keep something like that a secret – Lisbon raised three brothers and she’s established a career in a tough, male-dominated field. She’s trained herself to deny and squash down her feminine side, to the point where you put her in a pink bridesmaid’s dress and she looks like she wants to smash someone’s face in. It’s always neat when these little glimpses of Lisbon’s girly side come out.
And when glimpses of her womanly side come out – well, then we get some true revelations: I mean, turtlenecks? Really, Lisbon? Suddenly the attraction to Mashburn has layers…:)
In this episode, yet again, Lisbon was stuck with the task of dragging Jane out into the light and making him interact with his fellow humans. She seemed a little tired, and I don’t blame her. In truth, I’m sure she and the team are perfectly capable of solving the case without Jane. They wouldn’t solve it with nearly the speed or flare that he does, but they’d get the job done in a totally legal, slow-and-steady-wins-the-race kind of way. So, when Lisbon says she needs Jane, I think she means that she needs him to be okay. She needs him to be with her, so she doesn’t have to worry about him obsessing about serial killers in a dark attic 24/7. As we saw earlier this season, in “Red Dawn,” Lisbon has been about keeping Jane sane, engaged, and active right from Day One. She is a great friend…I just wish I knew if Jane deserved her.
On a lighter note, it was fun to see Lisbon squirm when Van Pelt and Rigsby were spilling the all-too-true details of their romance live on the radio. Lisbon gets uncomfortable so easily, especially when it comes to her personal life and the lives of her team members. You could just tell she hated every second of what she viewed as an intrusion into Van Pelt and Rigsby’s private lives – a total contrast to Jane, who was eating the whole thing up like a syrupy pile of Belgian waffles. More great character stuff.
And, speaking of:
Van Pelt/Rigsby: Wow. Just…wow. I mean, when Jane set them up to go on that radio show, I had no idea. None. I thought we were in for some humor. A little bickering, maybe. Some uncomfortable silences. Truly, nothing could have prepared me for the raw, naked, painful discussion that took place between these two characters. Years of bitterness, bad timing, and unresolved issues, all washed clean in a ten-minute radio broadcast. They talked about their break-up. They talked about Sarah and Ben. They talked about Craig (AKA, the homicidal maniac!). Van Pelt and Rigsby talked about everything that has been building up since Season One, and Owain and Amanda KILLED IT. I could not have been happier with that scene if you gave me a million dollars afterward. It was perfect, and I hope all the hard-core Rigspelt shippers are floating around on happy clouds right now. It was a long time coming.
Cho: You have to love how Rigsby can’t tell an attractive gold sandal from a loaf of bread, but my man Cho can spot what a sexy shoe is – or isn’t – with one look. Footwear issues aside, though, it’s interesting to me that Cho made no attempt to coax Jane into the investigation. When Lisbon’s not present, that makes Cho temporarily the leader of the team. Therefore, wouldn’t it fall to him to make sure their consultant got with the program? I kind of looked forward to how Cho might handle this problem, and whether his methods for getting Jane out of the attic would be successful. It was mildly disappointing to see Cho back down from that challenge. (I forgive him, though, because he’s Cho.)
Randomness: Strong, emotional guest performances made some weird entanglements and strange fetishes seem relatable and realistic. From the S&M-enamored husband of the murdered woman, to the Love Doctor with a thing for feet, to the wife who couldn’t take that obsession with arches any longer, I thought the issues were explored somewhat sensitively and believably, rather than the whole thing getting turned into a joke. Plus, it was a plotline the show has never used before, so bonus points for that.
Final Thoughts: Without the beautiful, emotional and redemptive scenes between Rigsby and Van Pelt, this would have been a good episode. With those scenes included, the episode became great. I was blown away. I loved it. I wanted more. Good thing there’s another new episode tonight.
Review of Episode 8×19: “Taxi Driver”
Overall: We got to see Bobby again. We got to see him and it was wonderful and epic and brilliant. Do I really even need to talk about the rest of the episode…?
(Yeah, I guess I probably should.)
BOBBY: Nothing could’ve prepared my heart for the joy of seeing this crotchety old hat-wearing dude on my screen again. Even the previews were misleading – they only showed Bobby from the back, and seeing as the scene was obviously taking place in Hell, I figured the Bobby-like figure would turn around and reveal itself as some grotesque, slobbering monster that would try to chew Sam’s face off. (Hey, this is Supernatural – it could easily have gone down that way). But instead we got some sustenance for our souls in the form of Sam and Dean’s real, honest-to-goodness surrogate daddy. This was the genuine Bobby, people – not some twisted, vengeful spirit version of himself. What a refreshing relief.
Sure, he was a little worse for wear – I mean, Hell will do that to you. But he was more or less intact, and even had some of his trademark Bobby spunk, wanting to rejoin the battle on Earth, and making that joke after killing the Sam-Imposter (“It was 50/50 – I took a shot.” Seriously, Bobby? Seriously?). But best of all, he was the stern-yet-forgiving, tell-it-like-it-is role model that we have all come to know and cherish. Bobby’s shock that Dean had befriended a vampire was as honest and believable as his appalled reaction to the fact that Sam had not searched for Dean. Sam: “Dean and I had an agreement…” Bobby: “I know that agreement – that’s a non-agreement.” Thank you, Bobby. THANK YOU.
Bobby voiced the concerns and angers of the fans this season, which made me feel like the writers heard us – and listened. Thank you, Writers. THANK YOU.
I talked to one fan who said the only thing she didn’t like about this episode was that Bobby did not get to really see or interact with Dean. I actually didn’t have a problem with this. Bobby and Dean have had a lot of bonding moments over the years. Also, when John’s spirit made the trek up to Heaven, he interacted more with Dean, while only sharing a look with Sam. This seemed to even things out. Dean got a better goodbye with John, Sam got a better goodbye with Bobby. And Dean did get to see Bobby’s spirit ascending to Heaven after months of torture in Hell. Dean knew that Bobby was safe at last, and that was enough for me.
Dean: “I don’t trust angels.” You’ve got the right idea there, man. Keep following your gut. Although Naomi proved to be a helpful resource in this episode, I hope Dean sticks to his instincts when it comes to this she-devil in angel’s clothing. Cass may be confused about a lot of things right now, but he told Dean outright what Naomi did, and I don’t think Dean’s going to be forgetting that anytime soon.
Another thing Dean won’t be forgetting soon: the torture he and his brother both suffered in Hell. I can’t imagine what it took for Dean to let Sammy walk through those gates alone…I thought they should have gone together. I mean, as long as Sam did the actual rescuing of Bobby’s soul, why couldn’t Dean be there for backup? Then Benny wouldn’t have had to die, because Dean would have been there to lead Sam and Bobby to the portal in Purgatory.
Instead, this episode turned out to be a heartbreaker for Dean in more ways than one – not only did he let his little brother go to Hell alone, but then Dean had to kill someone he cared about just to get Sam back. The pain in Dean’s eyes and the rawness in his voice said it all. But I think anyone who doubted it can now see once and for all: when it comes to Sam and Benny, one person will always come first for Dean – and that’s Sam.
Dean was somewhat gentler with poor Kevin in this ep, trying to coax him out of hiding with food, but still, it wasn’t enough. The kid needed psychiatric help, and Dean had other things on his mind. The level of paranoia Kevin was experiencing should have had alarm sirens blaring in Dean’s brain. Maybe if Sam hadn’t been in Hell, Dean would have been able to focus more on Kevin’s mental health. Kinda dropped the ball on that one, Dean…But I forgive you, since, well, Sam was in Hell.
Sam: Just as I can’t imagine what it took for Dean to let Sam go, I don’t know how Sam found the courage to voluntarily enter Hell when he should’ve been running screaming in the other direction. I’ve always thought of both brothers as brave, but this may have been the greatest test of Sam’s mettle, yet.
Leaving the watch to mark the entrance was a nice touch. Not replacing the giant rock in Purgatory, though? Bad move, Sammy. Not at all in keeping with his character – these guys know to put stuff back where they found it. Especially stuff having to do with gateways and doorways and portals. No way Sam would have left that opening to Hell gaping wide like that. Just seeing it gave me shivers…I’m almost certain that open doorway is going to come back and bite both brothers in the butts – most probably next season – and it ticks me off a bit. You can’t have a smart character do something stupid, just to create a new plotline. If the writers need that doorway open for some future storyline, then they should have shown Sam at least try to move the rock back. They should have shown Sam and Bobby try to move the rock together. Every effort should have been made by these two experienced and intelligent hunters to prevent a stream of Hell-spawn from escaping into Purgatory. Finally, if all efforts failed and Sam and Bobby could not spend any more time trying to move the rock, then I would have been okay with it. But I was so not okay with the two of them just walking away without a second thought.
One thing I was okay with, though – Sam’s treatment of Benny. Despite Sam’s personal feelings, he was willing to bring Benny back to Earth. Later, when Sam told Dean that Benny had stayed behind, I could hear the softness of true understanding in Sam’s voice. He misjudged Benny. He let jealousy cloud over what Dean had always said about Benny being a friend. It was a sweet moment, and a healing one between the brothers. Kudos to Sam on not being afraid to walk into Hell, and double-kudos to him on not being afraid to say, “I was wrong.”
Benny: He let Dean send him to PURGATORY. He allowed Dean to CHOP HIS HEAD OFF. Benny sacrificed his life on Earth to go rescue someone who despises him, all out of loyalty to Dean – take that, all you Benny-haters! This was a great wrap-up of Benny’s storyline. A very different direction than where I thought the writers were going to go with him, and that’s cool. I love stuff that’s not predictable. I’m not saying I won’t miss Dean’s fang-buddy, but he never did seem happy being back on Earth, and this ending seemed to fit. I felt like Benny was back where he wanted to be, and the door’s not closed, so who knows? Maybe someday he’ll be back. (Benny: “Dean, I know you didn’t expect to see me again, but, well, there’s this open portal down in Purgatory, and a whole mess of demons just escaped…” Dun-dun-dun…)
Crowley: Keeping an innocent soul trapped in Hell? That’s low, even for you. But then, maybe Bobby wasn’t totally innocent. He did dodge his Reaper and stay behind, knowing it went against the natural order. Then he became a vengeful spirit and hurt innocent people, so, I dunno…that could be the loophole Crowley used to keep Bobby in Hell. That, or Crowley’s just an a-hole. Yeah, I think I’ll go with a-hole.
Kevin: Oh, poor baby. I could just feel how scrambled his brains were in this episode. He couldn’t tell reality from hallucination, and frankly, neither could I. Even at the end there, I didn’t know whether Crowley had actually appeared and taken him, or if he ran away as Dean assumed. Either way, I couldn’t help but applaud the writers for leaving me wondering.
Evidence for the “It was all in Kevin’s messed-up head” theory:
1.) The glass windows of the boat were not broken when Sam and Dean entered, although Crowley had broken them earlier. Can the King of Hell fix glass?
2.)I think Garth and Co. would be smart enough not to have Kevin’s location stored on a smart phone.
3.) I refuse to believe Tiger Mommy is dead. That’s right, I refuse.
Evidence for the “Oh crap, Crowley really has Kevin” theory:
1.) Dean assumed Kevin had simply run off. And when you assume…well, you probably know the rest of that saying…
2.) Maybe the King of Hell can fix glass – and wouldn’t that be the smart thing to do, if he wanted Sam and Dean to believe that Kevin had taken off on his own?
Naomi: Remember what Dean said once about Bela? “When that b!tch breathes, the air comes out crooked.” Well, I think we may have met Bela’s angel equivalent. Naomi: “Poor Castiel, he’s so confused…He must’ve misinterpreted me.” Really? He misinterpreted you when you had him kill ten thousand fake Deans and then told him point-blank to kill the real one? Not a lot of wiggle room there, honey. Naomi may have saved Sam’s life and Bobby’s soul, but we can’t forget that she only did it to manipulate Dean into trusting her. For all our sakes, I hope she failed.
Randomness: I was a little confused about the rogue reaper – how come he had a body and how come he was visible to Sam and Dean? Previously, reapers were only visible to those whose spirits had left their bodies, e.g. Dean in “My Time of Dying.” Sam and Dean had to do astral projection in “Death Takes a Holiday” so they could communicate with reapers and Dean was actually clinically dead in “Appointment in Samarra” before he could talk to Tess. A little consistency or some explanation of how the Taxi Driver was visible to regular humans would have been a good thing. Other notes: Hell was pretty mild, actually. I would’ve preferred something a little creepier or more original-looking than a red-tinted dungeon. That said, the people Sam encountered were disturbing and suitably tortured/creepy. And the special effects for Bobby’s soul were fantastically beautiful, so all is forgiven.
Last Thoughts: This episode was a relief for me. It reminded me so much of “Born Under a Bad Sign.” In that episode, just like this one, I started out fearing the worst, and it turned out so much better than I thought it would. “Taxi Driver” was awesome and wonderful and it featured the best, most heartfelt brother-hug we’ve seen in a good long time. Definitely one of my favorite eps of the season.
Review of Episode 5×19: “Red Letter Day”
Overall: The Red John storyline is heating up – big time – but that doesn’t mean we can’t stop and take a few minutes to enjoy the sheer pleasure of seeing Jane and Co. strolling around an Old West tourist town. The visuals of this ep – horses and dust and cowboy hats and saloons – (not to mention the fun factor) made it easy to overlook a slightly predictable plot. Despite the fact that “Red Letter Day” started at almost 11:00pm, I was wide awake and I had a rootin’, tootin’ good time.
Jane: Always a joy to see Jane’s street magician skills at work – swiping gold nuggets, picking cards, predicting the future in sealed white envelopes. These are the things that make Jane such a unique character, and they’re part of the reason this show stands out from other police procedurals. My only minor complaint about some of the mind-reading is that I like to know Jane’s secrets. I want him to tell me the clues he uses to guess where those tourists just came from. I want him to show me how he got the cards into that guy’s pocket, and how he knew what the guy’s favorite number would be. Sometimes, the tricks Jane pulls off are almost unreal – without the explanation of how he does things, it’s more like true magic than mentalism.
On the one hand, this lack of explanation is frustrating. On the other hand, it adds a healthy squirt of gasoline to the fiery debate that has long burned between two groups of Mentalist fans: those who take Jane at his word that he’s just a well-trained trickster, and those of us who like to hold onto that teensy bit of hope that somewhere deep down in the recesses of Jane’s uber-brilliant mind, there lies a modicum of true psychic ability.
The “genuine psychic” vs. “conman” question aside, Jane’s cleverness was in full force as he wedged a toothpick in his door to alert him of unwanted visitors. Personally, I thought he should have placed it a little lower down, because it seemed a bit too visible. Especially if Red John himself might be breaking in. But Jane’s low-tech security system worked better than a Guardian Alarm. In fact, he seemed so pleased with the results, I had to wonder if that was the only security measure he put in place.
On Elementary, Sherlock Holmes has surveillance cameras hidden all over his flat. If Jane really felt sure someone was going to break in, maybe he hid some bugs or mini webcams around to catch the snoops in the act. And maybe, just maybe, Jane was sharp enough to put up fake evidence to throw Red John’s spies off the scent. I’ve always thought the attic – or anyplace at work – was simply too public of a location to keep such sensitive files. I was almost positive that the photo wall in Jane’s loft was a decoy, and that at the end of the ep we’d see the real one – the one he was smart enough to keep hidden in some rented room that no one even knows about. Alas, the reveal didn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean it won’t. The knowing way Jane smiled at that security breach tells me he has more up his sleeve than just a broken toothpick.
Lisbon: When Cho said Lisbon was “busy,” my mind said, “Red Alert.” And for good reason: turns out she was lunching with Kirkland, whom she has correctly classified as a very strange individual. “Everything about Bob Kirkland is weird.” Trust me, Lisbon, you don’t know the half of it. She played it cool, though – did everything she should have done. Lisbon denied any knowledge of Jane’s list, and confirmed Kirkland’s notion that if Jane did know anything, he’d share it with Lisbon. Then, she told Jane everything that Kirkland had asked about. Unfortunately, though Lisbon remained loyal to Jane, and lied pretty darn convincingly, the Kirk-dude didn’t buy it. I’m not abandoning the possibility of Lisbon being compromised, but in this ep she didn’t do anything to warrant suspicion. Also, her expression as she sat in the audience at the Wild West Show was so endearingly long-suffering, I would probably forgive her even if she did turn out to be a Red John mole.
Cho: Cho and Jane partnered up in this episode. Not once, but twice. Sheer. Awesomeness. Have I died and gone to the place with the fluffy white clouds? Maybe not, but from the moment Cho approached the attic and Jane identified him by the sound of his footsteps, I felt like I was in heaven. (Cho: “How do you do that?”) And later, when Jane called Cho to the bar, and Cho was all, “I hate it when you call me for backup and nothing’s happened yet…” Love. It. These two have such great chemistry as partners; they play off of each other with fresh, funny energy. Cho’s deadpan comments and mildly exasperated looks ricochet like ping-pong balls against Jane’s sparkly, merry wit. Jane brings Cho alive in a way that the other characters don’t. And despite the minor annoyances of working with Jane, you can really feel the underlying bond between our favorite Mentalist and one of the very few people he actually refers to as his good friend. Hand me a petition to get more screen time between Jane and Cho, and I’ll sign it faster than Jane can pick your pocket. You can never go wrong when you pair up this odd couple.
Rigsby/Van Pelt: Rigsby the Arson Inspector is back on the scene! Yay! I love it when he shows off his special skills. The writers have shown great continuity on this front, going all the way back to Season One. In less exciting news, Grace apparently “met” someone at the White Hat training program. And of course it happened right before Rigsby was about to man up and be honest with her. It’s a bummer for sure, and would have felt like a rather pointless wrench thrown into the Van Pelt/Rigs romance, if not for Grace’s little slip of the tongue. This new guy – seriously, I already forgot his name – isn’t another fiancé-in-the-making. He’s just a distraction, because clearly Grace’s mind – and heart – are focused on someone else .
Kirkland: Dun, dun, dun! He tried to get Lisbon to cough up Jane’s secrets. When that didn’t work, Kirkland paid some goons to break into Jane’s attic and steal evidence. At the end of the ep, Kirkland stood over a replica of Jane’s Red John Map, looking Mighty Evil. But don’t cue the maniacal laughter just yet – the more they paint this guy as a Big Bad, the more convinced I become that he’s the exact opposite. Having Kirkland be an ally to Jane and Co, a real partner to help them bring down Red John, would be a great twist, and I’m all about great twists. I’m going on record saying that I think Kirkland, in spite of being a murderer and a thief, really is trying to capture Red John, rather than help him. Now, I could be publicly wiping egg off my face as early as tomorrow night, but for right now, I’m having too much fun imagining wild and crazy scenarios where Kirkland is actually a good guy.
Randomness: Rigbsy’s discomfort as he sat in the audience, hoping not to get called on: Perfect. Jane walking out to do his act without putting on a black cowboy hat: Criminal. Shame on you, wardrobe department. SHAME. The case: Interesting because of the cowboy element and the fake meth lab fires, but they’ve done that brother/sister incestuous romance thing before – remember Jared and Undine back in “Red John’s Friends”?
Last Thoughts: Jane’s joy and stimulation at being in an Old West setting was contagious. His secret satisfaction about the toothpick piqued my interest, and I can’t wait to find out more. I’ll be riding onward to the next episode as a very satisfied, dusty-but-grinning cowgirl. Yee-haw!
Review of Episode 5×18: “Behind the Red Curtain” (AKA “Forty-eight minutes of adequately-interesting investigation followed by four minutes of HOLY CRAP!”)
Overall: Anyone else getting the whole Jane = Wile E. Coyote, Red John = Roadrunner vibe? Though Jane put in an honest effort, I’m not sure he really made any progress in identifying Red John. While “The Red Barn” had a definite feeling of forward motion, this episode once again had poor Jane running in circles…:( On the plus side, we had not one but two very happy reunions, plus a well-constructed case. And, although Jane may not have gotten much new info, the audience got a truckload dumped on us, so all in all, not a bad hour of TV.
Jane: Can I just say that I love how he can solve a case using roughly two percent of his brain, while the rest of his mind is busy at work on other problems? Also, I gotta have some respect for his unwillingness to give up: even though all signs pointed to the fact that Coma Guy, aka Jason Lennon, would not survive to talk to Jane, Jane still super-glued himself to that hospital hallway anyway, hoping against hope. I wasn’t sure if he could trust the nurse he’d befriended, but it turned out she was the only one at that hospital he could trust, and her instincts regarding Kirkland and Co. (“like monsters about to rip off their masks and show their gross, alien faces underneath”) were dead on. I also kinda loved how she was all, “I know you’re using me, and yet I don’t care.” I feel the same way. If Jane smiled at me and took me out for lunch every day, I’d probably tell him anything he wanted to know. Just goes to show how powerful that glow around him really is. When he turns up the charm, 99% of the female population is helpless to resist.
Lisbon: Hmmmmmm. A rare part of the 1% who can resist the Master of Charm…sometimes. In this episode she was gloomy. She did not want Jane at that hospital, and I had to ask myself why:
Option One: She was just trying to keep Jane from obsessing, because it’s unhealthy and all that jazz.
Maybe, but this was a unique situation – a living Red John accomplice within reach. Surely, Lisbon could see that this was a little different than Jane sitting in his attic, rereading his notebook for the one thousandth time. This was a real lead, and a good one. So, why was she so keen on keeping him away?
Option Two: Lisbon predicted the outcome – that RJ would somehow get to Lennon first and kill him – and was trying to spare Jane the pain of yet another anvil falling on his head.
Possible, but it kind of goes against Lisbon’s typical positive and hopeful attitude. She is usually the one saying “We’ll get him,” “Hardy will talk,” “This is a good clue.” To think that she was expecting Red John to win again is a bad sign. Almost like she’s giving up, and I hate that idea, so, moving on:
Option Three: Lisbon didn’t want Jane to get in trouble with the FBI/Homeland Security for hanging around a restricted-access prisoner.
A more likely option, because she does really care about Jane keeping his job. However, when Jane got caught skulking around the hospital, the punishment was minimal. Basically, he was told to leave and escorted out. I didn’t feel that he was in any danger of getting sacked, so why would Lisbon be so concerned?
Option Four: Thinking back to April Grey’s comments a few months ago, I couldn’t help but consider one last option: That maybe, just maybe, Lisbon has been compromised. That somehow, against her will, she has been hypnotized or brainwashed into doing Red John’s bidding, and that the only reason she wanted Jane out of that hospital is so that he wouldn’t be able to talk to Lennon.
A scary option, but that’s what makes it fun! I would totally freak the heck out if Lisbon had been turned, and the storyline following that revelation would be a rollercoaster of must-see, hate-it-but-love-it TV. Of course, I say this secure in the knowledge that any such hypnosis or brainwashing would be reversible, and our beloved Lisbon would be as unaccountable for her actions as Rigsby was in “Russet Potatoes.”
Cho/Rigs/Van Pelt (!!!!!): She’s baaaaaaaaaaaack! YAY! That moment when VP was just standing in the background, all glowy and happy to be back home – I think my soul fluttered its wings. Beautiful, wonderful reunion scene with her and Rigsby. True, Rigs, Cho and VP didn’t have a huge amount of screen time in this one, but just the fact that she’s back, the fact that she was so warmly and wonderfully received, totally made up for it. I am officially a pile of goo.
LaRoche: Always, always a pleasure to have him onscreen. The actor has a presence, and I can’t help but be enthralled. I love him for his fierce competence at his job, his reluctant affection for Jane and Co, and his complete awkwardness in any situation outside of his comfort zone. Jane was right to bring him in on this investigation, forcing LaRoche to breathe some fresh air and interact with some human beings. Jane learned the importance of that from Lisbon, and it’s lovely to see him passing on the lesson.
Kirkland: What the heck? No, seriously, what the HECK? If anyone can make sense of the last four minutes of this episode, I’m all ears. I mean, I’ve got plenty of theories, but most of them are about as likely as Jane giving up his pursuit of Red John and joining the Ice Capades.
Theory One: Kirkland is Red John, but he had never interacted with Lennon personally. Kirkland decided to make sure his identity was still a secret before killing Lennon either out of mercy, or because Lennon was a loose end who possessed damaging info on Red John’s organization.
Theory Two: Kirkland is Red John, but he uses some form of hypnosis/mind control/disguise to prevent his minions from clearly seeing his face. He checked to make sure that Lennon’s coma had not jarred loose any memories of Red John’s actual appearance, then killed him either out of mercy, because he possessed dangerous info, or because Jane would have eventually been able to undo the mind control/hypnosis protecting Red John’s identity. (Special Note: The idea behind this theory came from a wonderful fanfic called “Reverie by Cho” (http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5424258/1/Reverie-by-Cho) which everyone should read for the sheer awesomeness of getting to imagine Jane and Co. as superheroes).
Theory Three: Kirkland is a Red John minion. He wanted to make sure his identity as a RJ disciple had not been revealed to lower members of the group. Once secure in this knowledge, he killed Lennon on Red John’s orders.
Theory Four: Kirkland is a good guy. He is either a mole in the Red John organization, trying to bring the serial killer down, or simply a DHS Agent with lots of insider knowledge. He killed Lennon to stop Jane from identifying and going after Red John prematurely.
Although all of these are total straw-reachers, my favorites are Two and Four. I am totally open to hearing any less-insane theories, though, if anybody has some of those for sale.
Randomness: The case was good. Unpredictable, with a side of real emotion. The motive for the killing seemed a little weak, but I guess desperate psycho people will do desperate psycho things. I loved the mother-daughter angle, even though they’ve used similar storylines in the past. One thing I did roll my eyes at: why did the soon-to-be murder victim tell the murderer she was going to expose him? Don’t any of these characters watch TV? You never tell the murderer you’re going to call the police. You never announce to your lover that you’re going to tell his wife about the affair. Think, people. Think.
Overall: Despite the general and frustrating lack of progress on the Red John front, we do know one thing for certain: Kirkland is a killer. And it shouldn’t take Jane long to arrive at this same conclusion. The nurse will know Kirkland was alone with Lennon. Jane himself saw Kirkland leaving the room after Lennon coded. It’s not rocket science, and surely Kirkland must realize this. Does he want Jane to know he’s a killer? Does he want Jane to know he’s the Killer, the infamous and long-sought Red John Himself? I guess we’ll have to tune in to find out…