Mentalist Review: Episode 5×09 Black Cherry

Review of Episode 5×09: Black Cherry (AKA The One Where Cho Actually Gets Something to Do – Woo Hoo!)
by castiello

Overall: Cho was actually on my screen for more than fifty seconds. That right there is a miracle. I still wouldn’t exactly call this a “Cho episode,” at least not in the way that 5×04 was a Rigsby ep, but I’m grateful Cho finally got some screen time, plus a story arc for this season. The case was also pretty good (one of the more interesting ones they’ve had this year), there were several cute Jane/Lisbon scenes, Jane got to interact with a kid (which is always gold), Van Pelt was stunning (or should I say glowing?), and we got to see Sarah. So, overall, a very enjoyable ep.

Cho: Man, when he was handling that shoot-around-the-corner gun…**swoon**. Apparently, Lisbon’s second-in-command has a new love interest – and a new job. I’m glad it turned out to be something he could do without leaving Lisbon’s team, because for a little while there, I really thought they were setting him up for a longer arc where he would leave the team (and, by extension, the series). I think I might boycott the show if this happened. But so far it looks like they’re just giving him something extra/interesting to do. Plus a new girl to flirt with. She’s very pretty and I like that she is a Marine – it’s cool that they both have military backgrounds. The only complaint I have is that her name is Tamsen (at least according to the closed captioning) and they had a character named Tamzin back in season one (the witch, if I’m recalling correctly). I don’t feel like Tamzin/sen is that common of a name, and I’m not sure why the writers would use this more than once (name of someone related to the show, maybe?).

Anyway, we got to see Cho do an awesome suspect take-down, have fun playing with nifty gadgets, and meet a kick-@$$ girl. I am a happy person right now.

Jane: Loved him making a list of everyone in his life that he’s ever shaken hands with – and Lisbon was helping him. His reasoning why she is not on the list (their friendship) echoes the logic tromana used last week on the Paint It Red forums to rule out the team as suspects. I definitely hope Jane sees all of them as his friends. If a member of the team is ever revealed as Red John, I might have another reason to boycott.

Jane with kids is always wonderful – I loved them talking about the car, and how it actually ended up being important to the solution of the case. And, although I can understand Jane not wanting the boy to go to foster care, I do resent Jane a little for guilt-tripping Lisbon like that. It reminded me of the case back in season three (???) when a young girl remembered she had killed her own father in self-defense. Lisbon wanted to take her into custody, Jane wanted Lisbon to let the girl go. In the end, Lisbon let the girl go, but in that case, Jane’s reasoning was a little more sound – the girl really did act in self-defense, so why put her through the trauma of a juvenile detention facility and a trial (which she might lose, resulting in a prison sentence).

Here, though, a young woman who was supposed to be watching over her little brother chose instead to grab a loaded gun and go seek revenge. If the police had not intervened, she might have found “Shade” and possibly even killed him. This would have landed her little brother in foster care for the remainder of his childhood. I don’t really feel like she grasped the consequences of her actions and how they could have impacted her brother – and she needs to understand these things in order to be a proper guardian. The little boy did not deserve to go to foster care, but a few days wouldn’t have killed him (at least, I hope) and I think his sister did need to spend a few days in jail to realize the cost of her actions. I would have had an easier time with this storyline if Jane had simply urged Lisbon to plead for a lighter sentence (community service, maybe?) rather than have the charges dropped and everybody gets to go home without consequences. You go around firing an illegal gun on the streets, you need to have consequences.

Plus, Jane doesn’t always need to get his way. Most of the time, but not always. 🙂

He was wonderfully funny taking in the “aura” of the house, hiding with Lisbon, and pretending to be the boss at the crime scene (poor Rigsby’s confused face, LOL). This episode had a lot of playful, energetic Jane scenes and those always make the show sparkle.

Lisbon: Loved her emotion and her humor (“Put me on the list. I want to be on there!”). I thought she did a great (Jane-like) job guilt-tripping Sarah into dropping the charges, I just wish Lisbon hadn’t given in to Jane’s sad puppy face to begin with. She shouldn’t let him manipulate her like that. Jane’s got the easy job – he gets to say “Don’t let the kid go to foster care” and then he just leaves it up to Lisbon to figure out how to accomplish that. I wish she would say to him, “Okay, then you take care of all the legalities. If you want these kids to go home, you figure out a way to get that done.” Also, she shouldn’t let him boss her – at the end, he tells her to arrest the suspects. Jane’s said that to her (and other team members) in the past, too – arrest that guy, or let that guy go. That’s not Jane’s call! He’s not even a police officer. I love his friendship with Lisbon – it’s the main reason I watch – but she does need to stand up to him sometimes, and not give in to blatant manipulation. He’s not always right, and she doesn’t always have to do what he says.

Rigs/Van Pelt: I don’t feel like we saw that much of Rigsby. I kinda wanted to see more of his reaction to Cho’s new job. Rigsby was right there when Tamsen made the offer – Was he intrigued? Did he feel a little left out? I did like that Cho introduced Rigs as his partner. That was sweet. As for Van Pelt, obviously she needs to be doing a lot of computer work right now, but she does look lovely doing it. She had a lot of case-related lines, plus even got to do one of the interrogation/interview thingies, which was nice. I hope the show continues to use her as much as they can!

Sarah: Nice to see her, and to hear about Ben. I like that she fell victim to Lisbon’s manipulation just as easily as Lisbon fell victim to Jane’s. I didn’t get any vibes about Sarah’s current feelings for Rigsby (any hope for reconciliation?), but she seemed very warm with Lisbon, and Lisbon was a contributor to the breakup (via helping Rigsby fake his own death), so maybe there’s hope. I do think Rigs and Van Pelt kind of have to be together in the end (how can they not?) but I’d hate to see Rigsby and Sarah permanently separate due to one of Jane’s schemes.

Kirkland: Mysteriously absent. Hmmmmm.

Final Thoughts: Cho, please continue having a storyline (especially one where you get to handle cool guns). Jane, lay off the guilt trips – but do keep figuring out the names of everyone you ever shook hands with – let’s see that Memory Palace in action (Btw, did anyone catch the full list of names on the page he had open at the end? I only saw “Walter Mashburn,” and my mom thought she saw “Cooper.”) Rigsby, don’t get left behind by your partner. Van Pelt, keep shining. Lisbon – stand up for yourself, woman! Sarah, stick around, I need closure. Kirkland – don’t stay gone too long, I still need to figure out if you’re Red John.

Looking ahead: Can’t wait to see how Jane begins to investigate all the names in his little book. 🙂

 

Children’s Writing Tips

I recently had the pleasure of attending a writing workshop with children’s author Jean Alicia Elster, who has written a four-book illustrated series for children (the “Joe Joe in the City Series”) and two novels for eight- to twelve-year-old readers. She’s also done ghostwriting, grant-writing, editing, and has even written those short stories found on standardized tests. This writer really knows her stuff! It was easily one of the best workshops I’ve ever been to – just jam-packed with useful tips and info – and now that I’ve managed to decipher my own handwriting, I thought I’d pass along some of what she shared.

 

Tips and Info from an Awesome Children’s Author:

-There are many fallacies when it comes to writing a children’s book. Here are a few facts to clear things up: You do NOT need to find your own illustrator before submitting your children’s manuscript. You do NOT need to illustrate the manuscript yourself. Doing either of these things is like waving a red flag that says “amateur.” Publishers won’t take you seriously. Also, it is NOT necessarily faster or easier to write a children’s book than it is to write an adult novel. It can take just as long to write a fifty-word book as it can to write a 120,000-word book. It can take years of effort just to get those fifty words absolutely perfect. The fewer words you use, the better they have to be.

-When writing for children, it is important to actually like kids. Not only that, but it’s important to know kids – know how they speak, know how they act, know what noises they make, and know what types of things interest them.

-Listen to the rhythm of how kids talk – often, they don’t use the same natural pauses that adults do, which means their dialogue should include fewer commas. Also, pay attention to how young people interact with one another on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Texting and other forms of electronic communication are (for better or worse) becoming more and more prevalent in the way kids talk to each other.

-Know which audience you’re writing for, and include things that particularly appeal to that audience. Boys, for example, like reading about sounds, so make sure to include lots of onomatopoeia. Boys also enjoy gore, like squirting blood, and other “gross” things, like boogers and flatulence. Girls, on the other hand, like reading about scents.

-Worrying too much about word-count limits while you’re writing can lead to a rushed ending. Tell your story the way you want to, and worry about cutting it afterwards.

-Children’s books with series potential have a better chance of getting published than stand-alone books. Series’ are more profitable because they are more visible on bookstore shelves, and because they can grow in popularity with each new book. A series can build a following in a way that stand-alones can’t.

-There is a difference between illustrated fiction for children (e.g. The Velveteen Rabbit) and a picture book (e.g. Where’s Spot?). Know which one you’re trying to write.

-When writing for children, it is important to have a mission. Jean Alicia Elster’s mission is to educate kids about history, racism, and difficult situations faced by today’s urban youth. Another author at the workshop had a mission to expose children to nature and wildlife in an engaging way. Have a clear understanding of your mission – and your message – before you start.

-Kids are smart – don’t underestimate their intelligence or dumb the story down for their benefit. Write a story that has a strong plot, structure and character development. Leave room for your characters to grow and evolve with you and your audience. Write stories that are multilayered and will appeal to a wide range of ages on different levels – for example, in Jean Alicia Elster’s illustrated fiction series, there is an adult character named Cecil. It is never specified what Cecil’s occupation is, and younger (five- and six-year-old) readers simply know that Cecil is a bad guy – he’s doing something that is wrong/illegal. However, older readers instantly pick up on the hints that Cecil is the neighborhood drug dealer.

-Read tons of children’s literature. Study the classics. Try to discover what specifically makes them so appealing, what makes them stand the test of time, and then try to emulate that. If you read a bad book, study that, too. Ask yourself why you didn’t like it, where it went wrong, and try not to do that.

-Don’t read a terrible book and think, “Well, if this thing got published, then my book can, too.” Don’t strive to be better than an awful book. Strive to be as good as the best.

-When you’ve finished your story, trying re-writing it from another character’s POV – you might get a whole new story out of it! Some authors can write an entire novel series about a single event, each book told from a different character’s perspective.

-A typical children’s book is thirty-two pages. Chapter books are sixty-four pages. (I had no idea about either of those things.) Young Adult novels used to have a specific page-count as well, but that has gone out the window with the likes of Harry Potter and Twilight. In any case, when writing a children’s book, you do not have to worry about which lines of text go on which page – the editors will take care of that.

-Look around you for inspiration – did you experience something that upset you, that moved you, that challenged you? Let your passion guide you in your storytelling. If your message comes from within, the audience will feel that.

-If you’re serious about writing for children, consider joining the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (www.scbwi.org). They are an international organization that has a U.S. national chapter as well as state chapters. The author mentioned that the Michigan chapter has great, in-state workshops, and one of the coolest things about these is that many times editors and agents will agree to read manuscripts submitted by attendees. You can indicate on your manuscript that you were at the workshop, and the editor/agent will pull your book from the slush pile and actually read it. (This is an excellent opportunity, because most unsolicited manuscripts in the slush pile will never actually be read.) Some workshops also have a “pitching lottery,” where you can run your book idea by agents and editors and get real feedback. The Highlights Foundation Workshops ( http://www.highlightsfoundation.org/ ) are also recommended.

To learn more about the wonderful author Jean Alicia Elster and her upcoming works, please visit her website: www.jeanaliciaelster.com . She has a new book coming out called The Colored Car, a sequel to her first children’s novel, Who’s Jim Hines? She also has an excellent illustrated fiction series called the “Joe Joe in the City Series.”

Hope these tips were as helpful to you as they were to me! Next workshop on the schedule: “Submitting a Novel.”

In the meantime, keep writing!

-Gretchen

Mentalist Review: Episode 5×08 Red Sails in the Sunset

Review of Episode 5×08: Red Sails in the Sunset
by castiello

Overall: Wow. Very intense episode. Very different. I was definitely on the edge of my couch cushion the whole time, particularly whenever Lorelei and Jane were together. I love how much Lisbon contributed to the investigation, and how she and Jane worked together long-distance. I love that Jane got some actual, useful info on Red John. I hate that Lisbon was unapologetically put through the wringer yet again, but I like that she at least was smart enough to figure out Jane’s play.

Jane: When it comes to catching Red John, Jane is one crazy dude. Seeing him smash out the window of his beloved car, and later drive himself into a tree at high-speed, made me realize once again (in a very shocking fashion) something that’s easy to forget when Jane is working regular cases: that almost nothing truly matters to him. Not his car, not his health and safety. He will happily risk it all for the chance to get only an inch closer to the man who killed his family.

For the most part, I love how Jane worked with Lorelei – aside from trying to “mentalize” her about her mother (which she quickly called him on), Jane did a lot of little subtle things to gain her trust and build a relationship between them. He deliberately broke the car radio and got a room with a busted TV, just so they’d be more likely to make conversation. He repeatedly left Lorelei alone with the car and the keys, showing her that she was not his prisoner. I was so nervous that she would take off and leave him (and I’m sure he was, too) but it was the only way he had a chance of getting her to open up.

I like how Jane handled her assault – just staying down and speaking calmly, never making an aggressive move toward her or trying to physically restrain her. He played it very smart. The look on his face when Lorelei was walking up behind him on the beach was perfect – you could really sense his unease and the potential danger of the situation: was this lady going to snuggle with him or try to smother him in his sleep? (I’m so glad she chose snuggle!)

At the end, Jane’s decision to let Lorelei go off on her own was also very wise, allowing her find the truth for herself and come back to him when she’s ready. It fit with the way he handled her throughout the episode, and I hope it pays off for him in the end.

When Jane said he was going to “make them believe” he’d been a hostage, I just knew he was going to hurt himself pretty severely. Still, it was shocking to watch him drive himself into a tree at that speed. Very scary, the lengths he will go to. My only question: wouldn’t the investigating officers find the stick in the car and figure out what he’d done?

The ending scene with Lisbon had a very creepy tone. Jane looked like a lunatic, smiling over his latest “victory” with his face all banged up like that. He was practically in traction, but he didn’t care because he’d learned that Red John was a known acquaintance. This wipes a HUGE number of people off the suspect list, and Jane was high on the idea of being so much closer to his goal. He seemed to be almost taunting Lisbon that she’d never have proof that he set the whole escape/kidnapping thing up. I didn’t like that at all, and didn’t know what to make of it, other than he guessed that’s what she wanted to talk about and decided to head her off. Lisbon’s angry response (that she would be putting him in handcuffs if she had proof of what he’d done) was justified, but I’m still confused about the Lorelei chain of custody issues. Why should Jane be in such extreme, life-in-prison trouble for breaking her out of a prison where she was never supposed to be in the first place? (The FBI moved her there secretly, against a judge’s orders, right?)

Lisbon: She was actually very Jane-like, dealing with Lorelei’s mother. “Your daughter is the servant and accomplice of a notorious serial killer and you have no idea how she got that way?” LOL. I think Lisbon’s tough, unforgiving attitude toward the mother was the thing that made the woman want to confess. Lisbon’s disgust at the woman selling a two-year-old girl: palpable. She looked physically ill. No wonder Lorelei’s a head case. It was nice to learn that the sisters were reunited in adulthood. Even though it ended tragically, at least they got to be together for a while.

Lisbon’s reaction to Miranda’s murder scene photo was perfect – you just knew, without even seeing it, that it was Red John. Super creepy. And, as always, Lisbon helped Jane by sending the fax, and later comforted him after the car crash, all the while knowing that this was one of his plays, and she’d just been another chess piece on the board. At least this time, unlike with his fake breakdown last season, Lisbon suspected Jane’s involvement early enough to save herself some unneeded anguish and worry.

Lorelei: She made me so nervous in this one! I never knew what she was going to do – drive away, call Red John, start cutting Jane’s fingers off in his sleep? That was the major tension in this episode – her unpredictable nature. I think her assault on Jane, the first time we’ve really seen her lose her cool, showcased just how damaged and fragile (and easily manipulated) she is. It was like a child’s tantrum – a perfectly believable reaction for someone who’s never had a proper parent.

Lorelei professed that she is stronger and clearer since her sister’s murder – she can’t be hurt by anything, now. How quickly Jane proved her wrong, though, by suggesting that Red John was Miranda’s killer. The person who “saved” Lorelei was the one who made her a victim in the first place – you could tell by her denial, her refusal to believe it, that this possibility did hurt.

This is the second time we’re seeing the idea of Red John as a sculptor, a re-inventor of people. He already credits himself with shattering Jane’s illusions and showing Jane the world as it truly is. And although I don’t believe that was Red John’s intent when killing Jane’s family, it did seem to be a deliberate plan with Lorelei and her sister. I wonder how many other minions he’s gathered through similar means. I wonder how many of them would turn on him if they knew the truth.

I was actually afraid when Jane told Lorelei who killed her sister, that Lorelei was just going to say, “I know.” I’m glad she’s not so batnuts crazy that she would willingly fall in with her sister’s killer. I even have hope that she’ll turn against her master, once the truth sinks in.

Kirkland: Hmmmmmm. Now that they’re making it so obvious, I’m starting to doubt that it’s him. Lorelei mentioned a handshake, and Kirkland’s handshake with Jane was emphasized as a significant/foreboding moment in the previous ep. I do think Lorelei was telling the truth about the handshake, because she was speaking in anger and that’s when little things tend to slip out. However, the way she said it sounded to me like Red John was someone Jane had met a while ago: “I’m surprised you guys weren’t life-long friends from the moment you first shook hands” or something like that. It would be a weird way to reference someone Jane had just met a week or two ago.

So, I’m thinking an older acquaintance. If they want to shock (and horrify us), it’ll be someone we love like Minelli or a team member (nonono). Then again, didn’t Heller say a while back that Red John wasn’t anyone we’d met on the show so far? I think he lies sometimes, though, just to throw people off the scent. In any case, I’m doubting Kirkland is Red John. If he is Red John, then he needs to creep it up a little. He wasn’t giving me any vibes in this ep like he did in the last one. If I’m looking at Red John on my screen, I want to be feeling chills and double meanings with every single line he says. I want to be scared every time he is alone with Lisbon.

Final thoughts: For me, this ep was fascinating to watch on a psychological level, exploring the reasons Lorelei turned out so damaged, what led her to Red John, and how Jane is slowly gaining her trust. I also like that Lisbon played a vital role in the episode, that we had some continuity with the Brett Stiles storyline (I’ve been waiting for Jane to call in that favor!), and that we got forward progress on the Red John case. I do wish the rest of the team had more than a few lines, but it was an atypical episode, and hopefully Cho/VP/Rigs(<-I love it when Lisbon calls him that!) will have more to do next week.

Looking forward to it, and to the rest of the season.

 

 

My First Author Interview

My Halloween story, The Pumpkin Master, was Every Day Fiction’s Top Story for the month of October. As a result, I got to do a really fun interview with Flash Fiction Chronicles’ wonderful Thomas Jay Rush! We talked about the story, the future, and the writing process in general.

You can read the whole interview here, and also see a picture of me with my cat, Sniglet (yes, I know, I said no cute cat pictures – I lied, okay?). It was my first time being interviewed as an author, so hopefully I didn’t do too badly! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

-Gretchen

Writer’s Markets

So, you’ve written a story…

You’ve polished it, you’ve let someone else read it, you’ve listened to that person’s comments and polished it some more, and finally, after wiping the sweat from your brow, you’ve printed out the final draft. Now, only one question remains, and it’s a biggie:

Where the heck do you send this thing?

I don’t know about you, but for me, one of the biggest frustrations of being a writer is simply not knowing where to send my work. Whether it’s a flash-length piece, a short story, a poem, a non-fiction essay or a novel, I want to give my writing the best possible chance of getting published. To do that, I need to know what publishers are out there, and what types of material they’re currently accepting. Lucky for me (and you, if you’re a writer, too), there’s a super-cool, FREE site that can give us all of that info (and much, much more) in just a few clicks:

https://duotrope.com/

There are many free writer’s market listings on the Internet – most are hopelessly outdated, some no longer functional. Duotrope is the exact opposite: a continually-updated, constantly evolving and extensive database with an easy-to-use search tool that can help you find the best home for your work, no matter what you write. They track response times and acceptance rates, and even let you organize your search results according to what matters most to you (highest pay rate, highest acceptance rate, etc.). It is a beautiful, well-organized site that currently lists 4,527 markets for fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

The only other reputable writer’s market listing I know of is called (prepared to be shocked) Writer’s Market. They release new print books each year, their titles ranging from the standard, all-in-one Writer’s Market, to other, more specialized books for people specifically interested in children’s writing, short stories, novels, poetry, etc. These are great books packed with useful info, including examples of good and bad query letters, contest listings and tips on the writing process. Only trouble is, they’re kind of expensive. For those like myself, who are perpetually cash-strapped, a more affordable option would be to check if your local library has the latest editions of these books in stock (many libraries do).

The website WritersMarket.com is another option. An online extension of the books, this site lists many more markets than can fit in the standard 1,000+ pages of the print edition of Writer’s Market. The website should also (theoretically, at least) be more up-to-date. However, WritersMarket.com, like its paperback companions, is not free. They do offer a seven-day money back guarantee, though, so I guess you could take it for a trial run and see if you like it – if not, refund time!

There’s only one thing you need to be careful about, and this goes for all of the books and sites mentioned above: you must always, ALWAYS, check the home website of whatever publisher/magazine/agent you’re submitting to, BEFORE you submit. DO NOT rely solely on the information you find on Duotrope or in Writer’s Market. These databases are starting points only. In the publishing industry, things can change quickly, and information gets outdated faster than you can snap your fingers. The magazine you’re submitting to might have hired a new editor since the database was last updated. The publisher you’re eyeing for your new fantasy novel might have just stopped accepting fiction. Don’t put the wrong name on that envelope. Don’t send your sci-fi story to a non-fiction magazine. Do your homework.

If you didn’t know where to start, hopefully now you do. So, what are you waiting for? 🙂

Supernatural Review: Episode 8×07 A Little Slice of Kevin

Review of Episode 8×07: A Little Slice of Kevin
by castiello

Overall: Top Ten Signs That You Just Watched a Kick-@$$ Episode of Supernatural:

10.) Exploding Prophet

9.) Sam speaks Latin

8.) Dean opens up about what’s bothering him

7.) Cass busts out his wings

6.) A sign in the background reads: “Caution: Sharp Edges. Keep Fingers Clear.”

5.) Kevin checks out a witch’s butt

4.) Tiger Mommy is back

3.) Cass is back, too!

2.) The brothers act like brothers who actually care about each other

And the number one Sign You Just Watched a Kick-@$$ Episode of Supernatural:

Holy Water Super-Soaker.

‘Nuff said.

Dean: He was actually honest about seeing Cass on the road and in the window. Dean opened up to Sam and told him what was going on. How impressive is that? We finally got to see how Cass got left behind – in Dean’s version of events, Cass gave up and let go, and Dean was already inside the closing portal, unable to go back for his friend. Seems Dean’s been torturing himself over whether there was any opportunity to reach back through and grab Cass a second time before the portal closed for good. Dean thought he failed Cass by not holding on tighter or finding a way to reach back through. Dean also felt like Cass gave up without a fight.

The moment when Cass revealed the true sequence of events was the absolute highlight of the episode for me. The conversation between Cass and Dean, seeing that weight of guilt and self-doubt floating up off of Dean’s shoulders, almost moved me to tears. It was that beautiful. I could easily believe how differently Dean had interpreted things – it was probably roaring-loud inside the portal, difficult to see, and Dean is already pre-programmed to blame himself for basically everything, so it made sense how he could see not being able to hold onto Cass as a personal failure. I’m so glad this was not the case.

Frankly, I’m also ridiculously glad to have some scenes that make me remember why I fell so hard for this show in the first place. Having that moment between Dean and Cass, and some earlier “brother moments” between Sam and Dean, it just reminded me how rare these scenes have become. We used to get something like this virtually every episode.

Sam: Very little evidence of the previous episode’s fight, which is a good thing – the sooner they drop that “You didn’t look for me!”/“I met a girl!” storyline, the better. Here, Sam and Dean seemed a bit subdued in the beginning, like the calm after the storm, quietly saying “hey” to one another and getting on with business. But there was no coldness between them, no evidence of lingering hostile feelings. Sam, in fact, was remarkably attentive to and compassionate towards Dean. In other words, Sam was Sam. He noticed something was bothering Dean and asked about it. He listened kindly to what Dean was going through, and offered words of support, plus a brotherly shoulder-pat. When Dean spoke about Purgatory, you could see in Sam’s face the beginnings of true understanding – and possibly a little bit of guilt at knowing what his brother went through.

Seeing Sam in his natural, compassionate state only emphasizes how out-of-character it would be for him not to look for Dean. Sam is a loving, sensitive, devoted brother, and his fans deserve a moment like the one we got for Dean in this episode: a moment when all is revealed, and nothing is as bad as we were led to believe. Dean really did do everything possible to get Cass out, and Sam really did do everything possible to find his bro.

Other Sammy goodness: Cute trick with the phone, muttering an exorcism to see if the demon reacted. First the reverse exorcism, and now this. Sam always has the coolest ideas. His delight at Cass’ return was also wonderful to see – these two have had some really nice moments, particularly in the past two seasons, and I think their bond has grown tremendously. At times Sam has had faith in Cass when even Dean didn’t.

Cass: HE’S BACK! He showed his wings! He helped Dean let go of some guilt and kicked demon butt (Crowley butt, no less!) and did an entire body (clothing included) shave/cleanse in about five seconds. To say that I love Cass is a drastic understatement.

He seems to be re-marbled, too. Right before Purgatory, he was kind of crazy – an utterly adorable kind of crazy, but still crazy. Now his screws seem tighter (not too tight) and he seems more like who he was before taking on Sam’s madness. I guess all the constant killing in Purgatory wiped away his notions of a peaceful, bee-keeping existence. Wanting to stay in Purgatory to atone for his sins was so very Cass-like. His line: “I wasn’t weak – I was stronger than you” gave me a big old throat-lump. He called Dean his friend, and all the history just flooded between them. This fan was happily swept away.

Crowley: A pleasure, as always. His reactions to the batch of future prophets were priceless. Just the expression on his face when that lady started “reading” the tablet: “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” ROFL!

Also, we learned some interesting things about prophets – how there is only one at a time, and how all angels know the names of those who’ve been born – and the fact that there are numerous tablets, possibly one for locking away all dark creatures, and possibly one for angels as well. Oh no, suddenly I just got real worried for Cass… **shakes thought away**

And speaking of angels:

Naomi: Who the heck is she? What does she want? It’s obviously not anything good if she’s using Cass against his will and wiping his memory afterwards. She is spying on Sam and Dean, which means she’s probably keen on getting insight into the tablets. For what purpose I don’t know, but Cass is the only member of his “species” that I trust. I liked the moment when Naomi took him – it was so jarring, I thought something was wrong with my TV. A great bit of writing/editing that put me right in Castiel’s shoes, how he felt when she just yanked him away from Sam and Dean.

So, we now know how Cass got out of Purgatory (a bunch of angels busted him out on Naomi’s orders) and why he doesn’t remember it. We just don’t know what the agenda is.

I have to say, I’m glad the angels have a part in the storyline this season. Ever since they were introduced in season four, they’ve given the show a certain weight – a certain power – that it never quite had before they came aboard. Angels elevated the mythology. And when they’re not involved, or only minimally involved, the show feels weaker. So, bring on those winged warriors and their sneaky, dirty, sometimes-as-bad-as-the-devil-himself plans. I’ll be loving every minute of it.

Kevin: At least he was smart enough to know the witch was a bad idea. Still too much of a teenager not to ogle the girl, though. 🙂 I don’t blame the poor kid for spilling info after having his own finger sliced off (hope Cass really can fix it) and watching Crowley pop another prophet like a water balloon. I actually don’t think Kevin told the King anything too damaging – just piqued his interest, which is never a good thing. I’m glad Cass and Dean and Sam got there in time, and we only lost a little slice of Kevin.

Tiger Mommy: After the initial trauma of being possessed, she’s back to her old ferocious self and I could not be happier. She douses her own son with holy water every time he walks in the door. She blasted a demon with a Holy Water Super-Soaker and took him hostage in the trunk of her car. And she explained her decision to contact the witch by stating the obvious: “To make demon bombs!” Duh! Factor in her reactions to Kevin’s witch-ogling and an uncomfortable misunderstanding about some of Craigslist’s “services,” and this Momma was in top form. Love her.

Final thoughts: This was one of the best episodes of Supernatural in a long time. This is the kind of episode that makes me want to plant a big, wet smooch on the show’s cheek. This is the kind of episode that makes me want to bust out my old DVDs and watch them again (something I haven’t done in so long). This is what I want to see every week – not just once in a cerulean blue moon. This is Supernatural.

Mentalist Review: Episode 5×07 If It Bleeds, It Leads

Review of Episode 5×07: If It Bleeds, It Leads
by castiello

Overall: What a strange episode! And a way more important one than I would have guessed from the previews. Maybe it was just the fact that I was really sleep-deprived when I watched it, but there were a couple of things that didn’t make sense. Generally speaking, though, I was intrigued, and definitely enjoyed that Lisbon had such a prominent role in the story.

Lisbon: Looking lovely with her hair wavy and bangs pushed off to the side (yay!), our favorite boss lady took on the dual tasks of getting Jane to stop obsessing (good luck with that…) and trying to build a case against a well-connected billionaire. Neither effort was successful, but I gotta give her credit for trying. I love that she is doing her best to look after Jane, even when he makes it impossible. I like that she was able to pick up on the secretary/assistant’s distress, but why the heck didn’t Lisbon get that girl some protection after the girl agreed to cooperate? The poor thing was obviously scared. Lisbon promised her she would be safe, and then didn’t post any guards on her or move her to a different location or anything…I mean, Volker arranged for the mass murder of an entire tribe of people. Lisbon knew how dangerous he was. I’m sure he still could have gotten to the girl anyway, even despite protective measures, and the ending of the ep would’ve been the same, but at least it would look like Lisbon did everything possible to prevent the murder. I could certainly feel her heartbreak at the end, but at the same time, I was like “What did you expect? You didn’t protect her!” Maybe there were guards and I just zoned out for that part (I told you I was sleep-deprived), but I don’t remember anything about that.

Another strange thing – the ending itself. They didn’t catch the bad guy! It just sort of ended on this sad, defeated note. Lisbon vowed to get Volker (and I’m sure she will), but it will have to be in another episode. In a way this is cool, because it means Lisbon’s got multiple arcs this year: she’s got the poker games with “really important CBI/FBI people,” she’s got a relationship with Kirkland (who may or may not be Red John), and now she’s got a vendetta against a super-creepy psychopath billionaire. I’m so excited to see where all this goes.

Jane: He seemed to be preparing Lisbon to “go on” without him, which makes sense, because he was also working on ways to bust Lorelei out of prison. If successful, he would be off somewhere trying to get her to give up Red John, and not around to help the CBI investigate cases. Why Lorelei is in a maximum security prison in the first place is completely baffling to me, but that whole arc has been baffling since early in the season. I guess Red John and his FBI mole did not bust Lorelei out, after all. They just moved her to another prison. Why? And why does Jane have to break in to get to her? A judge already ruled that CBI should have custody of Lorelei. The FBI was acting illegally when they stole her. So, now that Jane has found her, shouldn’t there be a legal course of action he can take to get her back into CBI custody? Maybe he’s afraid the FBI would just take her away again as soon as they got wind of what he was trying to do? Just the fact that she is still in any kind of government custody is completely perplexing to me. Does the official FBI have her in custody because they’re trying to get the glory for bringing down Red John, or does just a small, Red John-controlled “section” of the FBI have Lorelei in custody to keep her away from Jane? Somebody else is going to have to figure this out, because my brain just imploded.

Moving on, I don’t like when Jane acts as though Lisbon needs lessons from him on how to do an investigation. I mean, it’s definitely in character – he’s always thought the team was kind of helpless without him – but I guess I just wish the show wouldn’t continue to back him up on that point. When Jane was away for six months last season, the team’s case resolution rate dropped into the toilet. Here, again, when Jane was less involved in the case and Lisbon was working it mostly on her own, the bad guy got away. It’s like the show is saying the team really can’t do it without him, and I disagree. Jane may close cases fast, but he also does it dirty – half the tricks he uses would get the evidence/confession thrown out in court.

Jane trying to get into the prison (and asking Cho about it!) was pretty darn funny. Jane was also funny with the weather girl (*smack* Lisbon: I hope that hurt), and on the news show: “We’ll be right back after a short commercial break.” LOL.

Cho/Rigsby/Van Pelt: If I have to group them together, then they didn’t get enough to do! Still, I did ask for a Lisbon episode, and this one gave her lots of opportunities to shine, so I guess I can’t complain. I did love Cho’s reaction to Jane’s maximum security prison question. Cho even told Lisbon about it, which is interesting. Are Cho’s loyalties shifting away from Jane a bit? Maybe a sign of the betrayal the team felt when Jane left them last season? Or maybe Cho just doesn’t want Jane to do something monumentally stupid. Again.

Kirkland: What’s up with this guy? They are certainly making a huge deal out of him – particularly his very brief interaction with Jane. I couldn’t help but think, OMG, Jane is shaking hands with Red John right now and doesn’t even know it! And he works for Homeland Security – yikes. Then again, this show does tend to throw out red herrings a lot – remember Bertram quoting that Blake poem? Would the show really let us meet the REAL Red John this way? Or is Kirkland just another minion? Either way, it seems that he’s trying to protect Volker, and Volker is just the type of person who’d be a member of Red John’s “club.” Did you see him sitting there, just watching that girl get strangled? Creepy as all heck.

All in all: I did really enjoy the episode, even though it ended on a strange sort of “To Be Continued” note that is usually reserved for hardcore Red John episodes. Maybe this was a hardcore Red John ep. Whatever it was, it took me by surprise. I had no idea until about two-thirds of the way through that we were diving into such deep waters. I wish the Lorelei/FBI thing was a little bit more understandable, but I love that Lisbon’s got a villain of her own to go after and the fact that we may have gotten some very important info about the Big Bad himself. Definitely and very eagerly looking forward to next week and the rest of the season. Let the mind-blowing conspiracies continue!