Mentalist Review: Episode 5×05 Red Dawn

Review of Episode 5×05: Red Dawn
by castiello

Overall: As soon as I saw the previews for this episode, I just knew I was going to love it. Then I saw the episode, and it wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. Don’t get me wrong–I did love it, most especially for the stellar performances, but there were a few things that kept it from being the absolute killer episode I was expecting. Mostly just some hiccups in the believability of the storyline. For such an epic episode, I wanted it to be totally flawless. The acting, IMHO, was – I have no idea how our cast wiped out years of history and familiarity, making me believe that everyone was meeting Jane for the first time, but they did it. Top marks to Robin, Simon and Co. Top marks to the director, too. A few points off for the writers, but I give them credit for tying in the FBI and making this flashback episode (which I would’ve enjoyed even if it was pointlessly tossed into the middle of the lineup) actually fit into the season’s arc. Even set in the past, this ep gave new information and helped to move the current storyline forward. Well done on that part!

Jane: Oh, Jane. You poor, raw, wounded, fragile thing…Seriously, how fresh was the pain in his eyes? Wow. And such a change from the cool, slick, and confident man we often see nowadays. He seemed like a little lost lamb, wandering around the CBI offices. Totally adrift. Not as completely helpless as he seemed (he did manipulate Hannigan into hitting him, just to stay in the office), but almost.

I did have a hard time believing that the CBI would allow someone like Jane to not only ride with an agent out to a murder scene, but actually get out of the car and go over to the body and everything. I know they said the forensics people were done, but still. I just can’t imagine this would ever happen. Minelli (yay!) wanted to keep Jane happy by letting Jane ride with Lisbon and ask questions about Red John, but we never saw anything about the car ride, or whether they actually discussed Red John or not. We just saw Jane exit the car at the crime scene and start walking around.

It was obviously necessary to the storyline for Jane to flex his psychic “muscles” in front of Lisbon, but I do wish it had come about in a more natural, believable way than a victim’s family member tagging along on an investigation for no justifiable reason. If Jane had followed Lisbon to the crime scene in his own vehicle, still seeking answers about Red John, I would have had an easier time with that.

Speaking of Jane’s “gift,” I didn’t feel like he did anything too impressive, prior to smoking out the killer at the end of the ep. He did a little bit of cold-reading, some basic deductions from crime scene clues, and some body-language interpretation. In a way I felt like he should have done something more grand, to warrant Lisbon’s request for his help at the end. But then again, that’s not the main reason she asked him – I think it was much less about the team needing help (they weren’t that stuck) than it was about getting Jane away from the Red John files and giving him something else to do, and I wholeheartedly love her for that.

Also love: The look on Jane’s face when he first opened one of the Red John evidence boxes, only to have Lisbon immediately call him away from the files – man oh man, he did not want to step away from those files. You could already see the hunger, the need, the beginnings of obsession. Fantastic acting. And Jane’s anger, when he was talking to Lisbon about psychics – wow. Incredible to see so many emotions from Jane, back in this time period when he was too fragile to cover them up.

Can’t forget the Jane-meets-couch moment, either. The way they shot that was so cool, to make him look like he was lying down on it, when really he was standing up, leaning against it. The scene at the end with him finally snoozing on it, the Red John files all around, and Lisbon’s little “shhh!” was beyond priceless.

The hug between Jane and Lisbon was probably my favorite part, though, just because you could see the gratitude on Jane’s face – Lisbon cleaned him up and gave him something to do, when before he had nothing. She helped him find a reason to wake up in the morning, other than hunting Red John. In a very real way, she saved him.

Lisbon: How pretty did she look in this one? I love no-bangs Lisbon as much as I love vagrant, five-o-clock shadow Jane. Which is to say, a lot. She just has such a beautiful shape to her face, and the bangs cover part of it up. It was nice to see her whole face again, even if it was for only one episode.

Superficial gushing aside, Lisbon was great in this ep – stern, compassionate, sensitive, intelligent, annoyed, funny. She had some of the best lines (Jane: I cleaned up, like you said. Lisbon: Yeah…It’s a process. ROFL!). It made total sense for her character that she would end up with someone like Hannigan on her team. Even back then, I guess she was the “parent” agent who could keep problem children in line. So funny to hear her horrified reaction after Hannigan hit Jane – I am used to hearing her yell at Jane that way, not somebody else!

The best thing about Lisbon in this episode was her perceptiveness. The more she interacted with Jane, the more she could sense how lost he really was. When she saw him opening that first Red John box, I think she just knew he was headed for darkness – and her first instinct was to steer him in the opposite direction. Speaks volumes about her character, and her relationship with Jane – from that early on, she was already trying to save him from himself.

Minelli: Love him. Miss him. He needs to be on here WAY more often. At least he got a scene with Lisbon, this time. I’ve always loved their relationship; you can just feel the depth of his fondness for her. His avoid-lawsuit-at-all-costs attitude was perfectly in character, but I’m still trying to get past the implausibility of him sending Jane out to a crime scene with Lisbon. I’m going to assume Minelli just thought Jane would stay in the car, or would get dropped off somewhere as soon as Lisbon finished answering his questions. Minelli probably didn’t realize that Jane had absolutely nowhere else to go.

The little scene at the end with the FBI lady was intriguing. You could tell Minelli was going against his better instincts, and who knows how much horrible stuff has happened as a result. The scene definitely felt Red John-ish. When they showed the man in the car with her, I actually thought we might’ve just met Red John himself. I’m starting to doubt it now, though, because he seemed kinda on the younger side and not bad-looking (Bruno once said that Craig O’Laughlin was too handsome to be Red John — someone so good-looking would not need to go around, cutting up women).

Last little tidbit about Minelli – he knew Jane was in a mental hospital? And he never told Lisbon? Wow. Interesting. Not sure what to make of that. You’d think he would give her a heads-up – Lisbon, as Jane’s direct superior, would be in the best position to notice if Jane was starting to show signs of cracking up.

Cho/Rigsby: The one-liners. The facial hair. The joy. Cho got the best material, as always (Jane: Just pretend I’m not here. Cho: Okay.). Loved the looks both guys kept shooting at Jane. And near the end, when Rigsby was getting all caught up in Jane’s act, and Cho just gave him this sideways look, like, “Seriously?” Pure gold. I wish they had been in it more, and I definitely missed Van Pelt, but the focus did need to be on Jane, and how he got started on his path as a consultant.

Final thoughts: A few bumps in terms of believability issues, but all in all, it was a beautiful episode (both visually and emotionally) and one I know I’ll enjoy watching many more times. Hope everyone else enjoyed it, too! I’ll have to go find out!

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