Mentalist Review: Episode 5×13 The Red Barn

Review of Episode 5×13: The Red Barn
by castiello

Overall: Cue the creepy music – a Red John episode is upon us. In this jam-packed installment, we got to examine the origins of the Visualize cult, several decades-old murders, how Red John’s career may have gotten started, and where Lisbon’s career might be headed. We also significantly narrowed the Red John suspect pool and got nice character moments for nearly everyone on the team. Not bad for forty-two minutes of network television.

Lisbon: So, it’s been ten years on the job for our favorite boss lady, and she takes the opportunity both to celebrate and also to re-evaluate her career path. She was definitely a good sport, as far as the party was concerned – she even handled the stripper well, though she was clearly not that comfortable with the whole thing. Honestly, I thought the guy should have at least backed off a little the first time she said, “Okay, that’s enough.” He didn’t have to stop stripping, but he didn’t have to continue doing it right on top of her. “No” means “no.”

Regarding the future of her career, though, it struck me as strange that Agent Haffner would come right out and say the reason she’s stayed so long is Jane. Haffner also said that when Jane leaves, Lisbon probably won’t be as inclined to stay. It’s an interesting take on things, but it’s not exactly supported by the evidence. Exhibit A: Lisbon chose her career long before she met Jane, and was even working as a team leader before she met him. Exhibit B: When Jane was gone for six months and showed no signs of planning to return, Lisbon kept right on doing her job. I think she does what she does because she loves it. Obviously money isn’t a factor – no one who wants a lot of money is going to apply for a job with the government. So, she does it for love – she loves justice, and she loves helping families put the pieces back together after a violent loss. Her love of this job isn’t going to go away, even if Jane does.

That said, I think she enjoys the work ten times more since Jane joined the team. I think he challenges her, frustrates her, makes her think on her feet, and I think she loves that, too. As long as her team is more or less intact, Lisbon’s staying. If the team broke up and went their separate ways (which they very well might – they’ve all got different goals, and nothing gold can last forever) I can see Lisbon maybe taking a promotion or a change of assignment, but she’ll always be out trying to catch bad guys with a badge and a gun. I can’t see her in an office, and I definitely can’t see her joining the private sector just for more money.

This is all me, however. My speculation, my interpretation of her character. I did wonder, as I watched, what Lisbon thought about Agent Haffner’s comments. She seemed to gravitate pretty hard toward Jane after talking with Haffner. She pushed for Jane to let her in, both figuratively and literally, and even called him her partner. By the end of the episode, they were actually acting like true partners – sharing important clues with one another in the solitude of the attic office. And as much as I love seeing them work together – and as much as I’m sure Lisbon loves Jane letting her in – with his character, I have to wonder how long it’ll be before he decides that there’s a part of the plan he just has to handle on his own. Sooner or later, I’m afraid that attic door is going to slide shut in Lisbon’s face, and she’s going to be locked out once again.

In the meantime, though, she managed to score Jane some vital info – Agent Haffner, current Visualize member. Agent Haffner, past Visualize member. Agent Haffner, possibly at the Ellison Farm around the time of the murders? *Creepy music swells* You could just tell how totally freaked out Lisbon was by the whole thing. It was awesome detective work on her part, though. Not something Jane would’ve figured out, not anytime soon. She is a wonderful and valuable partner to him…whenever he’s smart enough to let her in.

Jane: I believe he genuinely didn’t know about the party – he was too busy making his elaborate Red John chart upstairs. He did, however, cotton on to the plan before Lisbon did, and was appropriately wary of what might be in store. (Didn’t the last guy who kissed Lisbon without permission get clocked?) I do think it’s sweet that Jane – and Cho – went to handle the investigation on their own so that Lisbon could stay at her party. (Though, in all honesty, I think she might’ve been relieved to get away.)

As soon as we saw the pile of skeletons, my mind briefly flitted to Red John. Multiple victims? Hands bound? Not good. I should’ve trusted this instinct, especially when Jane grew uncomfortable at the crime scene. Jane is rarely ever bothered by crime scenes. Oftentimes, in fact, it’s the opposite – Jane will be inappropriately chipper in the vicinity of the body, much to the offense of nearby law enforcement officials. So, I should’ve known something was up. But instead, I ignored my misgivings, got caught up in the beauty of Jane stretching his arms out in the sunlight, and then actually jumped at the sight of the smiley face on the barn. Eeek.

I like how Jane was quiet afterwards, unwilling to talk to Cho, but more open with Lisbon. You could feel Jane’s mind at work, chewing over this new information, trying to get every possible meaning, every implication.

In this episode, I felt a lot like Jane probably does every day – totally paranoid. I was in full X-Files mode, trusting no one as we looked at each of the suspects and tried to unravel their ties to the murders, the smiley face, Visualize and Red John. I definitely thought something was up with the vet’s daughter – but then, I thought something was up with everybody. I liked the priest until the very end of his conversation with Jane, at which point the man with the collar became a suspect, too. Almost everyone was giving off a vibe. Good acting, good directing, great mystery.

Loved the invisible ink, but isn’t it a little creepy just how easily Jane can draw that symbol? He’s spent way, way too much time looking at that face…

Hearing the vet’s daughter’s story, I couldn’t really blame her for what happened. And, considering that she and her mother actually walked in just after Red John had hidden what may have been his first-ever human victims, both women are lucky to have survived.

When Jane revealed his Red John chart at the end of the episode, I was impressed. It looked like something Sherlock Holmes would make. Equally impressive – and Holmesian – is Jane’s power of recall. He remembered virtually everyone he ever shook hands with – though, by his own admission, he “may have missed one or two along the way.” My biggest question: Why is Jane dismissing people he only had a brief encounter with? Lorelei said she was surprised that Jane didn’t make friends with Red John from the day the two of them shook hands. I guess Jane is assuming that the opportunity must have been present for friendship to arise – i.e. multiple, semi-frequent interactions. Seems like kind of a risky assumption. But, as Jane said, finding out who was at Ellison Farm back when the murders took place is the key. If there’s one name in common with Jane’s list, then they’ve nailed Red John.

Cho/Rigsby: Another nice little partner moment between these two – Rigsby: “Oh, that’s not that embarrassing.” Cho: “Maybe not for you.” LOL! Gotta love those guys. Also, it’s sweet that Rigsby was the force behind arranging Lisbon’s anniversary party. But why the heck did he hire a stripper? It was a work celebration, not a bachelorette party – and, last time I checked, Rigsby wasn’t Lisbon’s maid of honor…Still, good to see Rigsby doing something thoughtful for his boss. And his worry about Lisbon making him “pay” for the party was too cute.

Van Pelt: Apparently, Bret Stiles still has his hooks in our fiery-haired young agent. Van Pelt’s clear fascination with Stiles and his teachings was well-written and well-performed. Great continuity with “His Thoughts Were Red Thoughts.”

Agent Haffner: Whoa. Visualize Member Alert! Did not see that coming! It does fit with his character – Visualize targets those who are lost and uncertain. Impressionable people who lack either conviction or direction. Haffner seems like someone who’d be easily led, especially at a young age. However, if he’s Red John, then he’s been putting on one heck of an act. I actually kind of like this idea, of Red John being in plain sight, and playing his character so convincingly that Jane views him as a complete non-threat. Back in Season Three, I was rooting for Ellis Mars to be revealed as Red John for the same reason. Jane thought the guy was a total joke. Jane was touch-sensitive with everyone else that season, but not with Mars, because Jane was so totally unthreatened by him. Actually, I still haven’t ruled Mars out yet. Ellis Mars, Ellison Farm? Do I smell a connection?

Back to Haffner, though, if he’s Red John he must be secretly laughing at how completely he managed to fool Jane. The only issue with him being RJ is that I’ve been picturing RJ as a past Visualize member – not a current one. I imagined Red John learning what he could from Visualize, adopting some of Bret Stiles’ brainwashing and manipulation techniques, and then striking out on his own. I suppose continuing to participate in Visualize might be part of playing his CBI character. It would certainly give new meaning to Haffner’s conversation with Cho in Season Four: Haffner: “Do you think [Jane] is smarter than me?” Cho: “Yes.” Don’t be so sure about that, Cho…Also, if Haffner is Red John, that makes me extra-suspicious of his attempt to recruit Lisbon. What’s the motivation there? To steal something that’s Jane’s? To take away Jane’s best chance of catching RJ? Hmmmm.

Red John: So, he started on animals. Big shocker. Isn’t that the typical serial killer route? First they torture/kill animals, then work their way up to people? I have to wonder what his life was like before he joined Visualize, and why he ended up joining – was he genuinely looking for a place to fit in, or simply a good opportunity to start living out his fantasies? Also, why target the two farm workers, rather than their leader, who was working them all like slaves? If Red John was a mistreated former worker, you can at least understand the motivation for wanting to harm the one who mistreated him. Maybe the leader was next, but the vet’s daughter got to him first?

Overall: Many questions raised, but we got a lot of answers, too. Usually Red John eps involve Red John outsmarting everyone and getting the last laugh. Here, we learned his general age, where he was during a specific time period in his life, and that he was, indeed, (and might still be) a member of Visualize. I feel like we are actually getting close – if not to catching him, then at least to finding out who he is. And if we do find out who he is, I have only one thing to say to the writers:

No take-backs! 🙂

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Supernatural Review: Episode 8×11 LARP and the Real Girl

Review of Episode 8×11: “LARP and the Real Girl”
by castiello

Overall: Okay, I’ll admit it – in general, I’m not a huge fan of the humor episodes. Yes, they’re funny and they’re enjoyable to watch, but I typically don’t wear out my DVD player re-watching eps like “Hellhounds” and “Tall Tales.” “LARP and the Real Girl,” however, is an exception to the rule. Despite being a laugh-fest, there was a note of true friendship that has been sorely lacking this season. This episode had a healing quality that I – and many other fans – desperately needed.

Dean: In this episode, Dean was quietly sensitive, doing whatever he could to try to help Sam let go of Amelia. We finally had some recognition that Sam choosing normal with Amelia wasn’t so different from Dean choosing normal with Ben and Lisa. Dean empathized with Sam. Dean was supportive. Color me a happy fan.

Dean also got to heart-to-heart with Charlie a bit, which was nice. When we lost Bobby, the boys lost their best confidant. So, it was cool to see Dean open up to Charlie and let her know what-all’s been going on. There was a definite nod to Dean and Lisa’s relationship in this conversation, and it made me wonder whether the show is aiming for a reunion between them. If we’re in the last season (and I still have no idea if we are), then I can see that as a possible series-ender: Sam with Amelia, Dean with Lisa. However, I think the majority of fans would rather see the series end with the brothers sitting side-by-side in the Impala, riding off to the next hunt.

My only complaint about the conversation with Charlie is that she said it’s Dean’s fault Sam had to give up Amelia. Huh? Last time I checked, Sam made his own decision to leave Amelia behind. Both times. Another minor quibble: Dean sent Charlie back to camp on her own? What the crap? They were in the middle of the woods, and there was a magical killer on the loose. Not something Dean would do, just like Sam wouldn’t have ditched Martin in the woods with a hungry vamp on the prowl. Writing OOC actions just to progress the plot is not cool.

Sam: What a sweetie he was in this episode – most especially the ending, when he said they both needed some fun. He seemed to finally recognize what Dean had been through in Purgatory, and that things hadn’t been any easier for Dean this past year-and-a-half than they were for Sam. This is what I like to see – the brothers looking out for each other and supporting each other. This is what hooked me on the show in the first place. You can have all the awesome, magical, demonic stories you want, but only two things keep me from changing the channel: Sam and Dean.

Back to Sam, though – I’m still not sure what he’s given up: A normal life with Amelia, or a normal life, period? He said in this ep that while there’s nothing to do yet in regards to the demon tablet, he and Dean might as well hunt. It looks like Sam still views hunting as a filler activity – not something he wants to do forever. Does this mean Sam is planning to go to college as soon as the demons are locked up? I feel like I need to know. I feel like Dean does, too.

Sam’s little interaction with the girl in the tech tent was pretty adorable. I like how he and Dean got the same info via different channels. I also like how Sam was the one urging restraint in the woods, when Dean took out his gun to threaten the orcs. Good characterization for both of them – level-headed Sam, and shoot-first Dean. 🙂 Both of whom, by the way, looked ridiculous with their faces painted.

Oh, and how great was it when Dean was delivering the Braveheart speech? Or when Sam said, “It’s the only one he knows”? Sam’s gentle tone, the affection in his voice, just made my heart melt. With one stupid, silly, throwaway line, I felt for the first time in a long time that Sam still loves his brother.

Charlie: The first ep she appeared in suffered from some bad writing/editing, so I’m glad she got to come back and really shine in this one. She was a great, sympathetic-but-unbiased sounding board for Dean, and she was an awesome Moon Queen. Her fear at facing the creepy stag-skull creature in the forest was palpable. Her excitement over the hot fairy was too funny. She did an all-around great job, and I’d love to see her back again, as a friend and partner to our boys.

Minor Characters: The cop in this ep was flat-out hilarious. I loved every second he was on screen. It’s rare that someone with such a minor role manages to steal scenes, but this guy did it. “I’m gonna go dip myself in hand sanitizer.” ROFL! Also, the orc in the stockades deserves a mention, as well, for his humorous performances both in- and out-of- character.

Random Notes: I guessed who the bad guy was pretty quickly, but it didn’t detract at all from my enjoyment of the episode. As soon as fairies were mentioned, though, I expected some reference to Dean’s previous encounter with these creatures back in Season Six. That was a missed opportunity if I ever saw one. Also, after the battle inside the magical tent, the camera did not pan onto Sam. Until the book was destroyed, Sam was being strangled by a suit of armor – I needed a quick shot of him to make sure he was okay!

Final Thoughts: Like an ice-cold Coke on a beastly-hot day, this episode hit the spot. Not only did it taste great, but it also filled me up in a very satisfying way. I probably won’t re-watch “Ghostfacers” for another few years, but I think “LARP and the Real Girl” might get a viewing or two in the meantime. 🙂

Supernatural Review: Episode 8×10 Torn and Frayed

Review of Episode 8×10: “Torn and Frayed”
by castiello

Overall: Kinda hard to hate an episode that ends with the boys sitting side-by-side on a couch, sipping beers. 🙂 In a season that’s been uneven in terms of the brothers’ relationship – from Sam not looking for Dean to Dean siding with a vampire – this episode, which brought the boys together and forced them to examine their priorities, is definitely a keeper.

Dean: He drove all the way to Kermit, Texas just to finish a conversation with Sam. You have to give Dean some points for that. Also, he apologized for the Amelia texting scam, even after explaining why he thought it was necessary to take such measures. Also, Dean honestly admitted he wasn’t sure if he was done with Benny. In other words, Dean acted pretty darn mature. His only immature moments were with Cass, when Dean insisted that Sam’s help wasn’t needed – that was pure, idjit-brained stubbornness. Which is pretty in-character, so I can’t fault the writers, there. And then, in the end, Dean made the ultra-mature, difficult-but-necessary decision to cut Benny out. It had to hurt, and I don’t think Dean would have done it if he’d known how close Benny was to diving off the wagon, but in the end, Dean chose his brother. Well done, Dean!

Sam: He didn’t slam the door in Dean’s face. You have to give Sam some points for that. He had an honest – but not heated or irrational – discussion with Dean about priorities. They both came away from the conversation knowing that they had some tough choices to make. Also, Sam stepped up to help as soon as Castiel called on him. When an angel is being tortured, Sam can’t stay on the sidelines while others go into battle. That is the Sam we know and love. The only time Sam wasn’t the Sam we know and love was when he slept with Amelia. If he had decided to remain with her after her husband showed up, I would have had no problem with it. Back then, hubby was aware of the awkward situation and willing to let Amelia sort out her feelings. At this point, though, Amelia had re-committed to her husband, and he had no knowledge that she went out and slept with Sam. That’s an affair, and Sam is too good of a person to have an affair. That said, he did make the right decision in the end by cutting Amelia out of his life. It had to hurt, letting go of that relationship, but Sam did the right thing and chose his brother. Well done, Sam! My only question: does closing the door on Amelia mean closing the door on the pursuit of normal entirely? Or does Sam still want to go to college when the demon gate is closed? Hopefully, upcoming eps will make this more clear.

Castiel: Ouch! OMG, what did they do to you? Naomi is not only controlling Cass, but is physically torturing him. Someone needs to put one of those shiny angel-swords right through her skull. (I vote for Dean.) Poor Castiel’s fear and confusion were palpable in this episode. He is trying to do the right thing, and keeps getting controlled by an outside force. His heart is still his own, but his mind is Naomi’s personal remote control. Scary stuff.

One thing I loved in this ep, though, is how Cass was the one to bring the boys back together. When Cass said, “I got what we needed,” you just knew he had brought Sam! He gave the brothers a reason to stand united. And later, their concern for (and fear of) their favorite angel is what gave Sam and Dean the final push to cut ties with Amelia and Benny and refocus on the importance of The Job. (Incidentally, it was pretty hilarious that Sam and Dean probably had to drive a hundred miles together in silence before finally arriving at the cabin, drawing the appropriate symbols, and then getting to say what they’d been wanting to say since the moment Castiel murdered Samandriel: “What the hell???”)

Samandriel: Those angel-torture scenes were pretty darn brutal. (It was cool how he made the burning bush, though). After everything this guy went through, I really wanted him to make it. Having Castiel kill him was heartbreaking. Apparently, Naomi’s been torturing and controlling numerous angels, not just Cass, and she did not want the fact of her existence coming to light.

Crowley: Gruesome fun, as always. Interesting that he can speak Enochian, but the other demon present apparently couldn’t. The reveal about the Angel Tablet wasn’t that mind-blowing. Many people had guessed it already, or at least considered it a strong possibility. Question: Would locking angels in heaven be a terrible thing, considering the likes of Uriel, Zachariah, Raphael, and Naomi? Or could the tablet do something worse, such as killing them all?

Naomi: No idea what her motives are, but her methods are pure evil. She needs to die. Soon.

Amelia: No respect for her in this ep – she cheated on her husband. I’ll admit that she didn’t get a fair shake  – when her hubby first came back, she still wanted to see if things could work with Sam, and Sam took that choice away by leaving. Nonetheless, the choice was made. She didn’t look for Sam or come after him. She just settled back into her life with her hubby, and therefore had no business sleeping with Sam in a motel room. And really, if she’s thinking about Sam all the time, she should just get a divorce. It isn’t fair to her husband, if she’s in love with someone else. Anyway, the whole thing’s gotten way too domestic for my tastes. The show didn’t spend half this amount of screen time on Dean’s relationship with Lisa – we got a two-minute montage of their year together, not lengthy flashbacks. I was disappointed at the time, but maybe this is why they chose not to show more Dean/Lisa domestic scenes. Right now, I’m hoping the Amelia storyline is over. If it’s not, then somebody needs to sprout hair or fangs or show black demon eyes…quick. Supernatural isn’t a soap opera.

Benny: I felt bad for him in this ep. Clearly, the Martin incident has rocked Benny’s boat. Benny was barely clinging on to the wagon when he talked to Dean the first time. I was amazed to see Benny still managing to hang on the second time they talked. You could tell that the hope of seeing Dean was the only thing that was keeping Benny going. Then, when Dean said he wasn’t coming, my heart broke a little. Dean made the right choice, but Benny is doomed because of it. Citizen Fang is about to fall off the wagon, and this storyline ain’t gonna end well…

Final thoughts: The strife between Sam and Dean this season had a manufactured, OOC quality that never quite rang true. If the rift had been more well-written, the ending of the episode might have brought a tear to my eye, or at least made me say, “Awwww.” As it was, I just said, “Thank Heaven that storyline is over, and the boys are back where they belong: together.” I am truly and whole-heartedly looking forward to the rest of the season.

Writing Challenge: Day Eight (Plus Awesome Screenwriting Links!)

Before we get to the challenge, I thought I’d share some super-helpful links for budding screenwriters. If you’ve always dreamed of writing a screenplay or teleplay but didn’t know where to start, these are the links for you. They will give you all the info you need, laid out in simple, easy-to-understand instructions. You’ll come away from these websites knowing all the terminology and formatting rules you need to get started writing your very own script.

This first website has numerous sections, based on what type of script you’d like to write (e.g. movie script, tv episode, etc). This is where you learn all the most basic elements and how to use them on the page:

http://www.scriptfrenzy.org/eng/howtoguides

Once you’ve mastered the bare bones, go to this website for slightly more advanced info about how each page of your script should look, and what to do in special situations, like when a character’s dialogue runs over onto the next page, or how a complicated action should be conveyed:

http://www.simplyscripts.com/WR_format.html

Both of these sites have great, detailed examples. Once you’ve gotten the hang of writing for the screen, another important thing to do is look at examples of actual scripts that are similar to the one you’re working on. These are plentiful on the Internet, and easy to find thanks to Google. If you’re writing an action film, try to track down scripts of other action movies. If you’re writing an episode of Supernatural, hunt down some bona fide Supernatural scripts and be sure to model your teleplay after the style and format used by the show’s writers. This is really important for spec scripts, because every show has its formatting quirks.

A few final notes about screenwriting:

1.) Re: Fonts: Courier and Courier New are NOT the same. Use Courier.

2.) Re: The Art of Screenwriting: If you’re a fiction writer, like me, the transition to writing scripts can be a little bit bumpy. It’s a very different artform, and to be honest I didn’t like it that much at first. I thought it was “clunky” and lacked the artistry of short stories and novels. Then someone mentioned to me that a script isn’t the final product. Short stories and novels, once sufficiently edited, are ready to go out and meet the world. The reader of a short story or novel experiences the words exactly as they are written on the page. With scripts, this is not true. Scripts are a blueprint – a guide that will help literally hundreds of other people, including actors, directors, make-up artists, special effects people, and cameramen, all collaborate to create the final version: the version the audience sees on screen. When I started looking at things this way, I fell in love with the idea of being a part of such an amazing group effort, and I fell in love with the art of script writing. I hope you will, too.

And now, on to Day Eight of the Writing Challenge, which is the last of these challenges I’ll be posting (unless I manage to dig up the old notebook where I wrote Day Four).

Author’s Note: This is a not-for-profit work of fiction. No offense or infringement is intended. Please don’t sue me.

Day 8: Rewrite a fairy tale from the bad guy’s point of view.

It’s been done before, and it’s been done better, but I still couldn’t help myself. I give you:

 

The Big Bad Wolf: A Barbara Walters Exclusive
by Gretchen Bassier

Announcer:  It was the story that shocked the nation: A senior citizen, eaten alive. A beautiful young woman, viciously attacked. A very big, very bad wolf.

Since his 1998 conviction, Mr. Wolf has refused to speak publicly about his alleged crimes. But tonight, in an exclusive Barbara Walters interview, we take you inside Sing Sing for a live chat with the big baddie himself.

Barbara, what are your thoughts right now, as you wait for the guards to bring him in?

Barbara:  It’s hard to say what my thoughts are, Steve, but my heart is racing. I’m sitting here in front of bulletproof glass – looking at what appears to be a large dog kennel – while holding a panic button in my hand.

Announcer:  So, not a standard interview, then?

Barbara:  Not by a long stretch, Steve.

Guard #1:  Ms. Walters? They’re going to be bringing him in, now.

Barbara:  All right.

Guard #2:  Get in there, you! Go on! Crate. Crate! Okay, now sit and stay. STAY!

Barbara:  Will he be able to talk, with that muzzle on?

Guard #1:  We’ll take the muzzle off, as soon as he’s shackled. See? Now Mike’s going to secure the cage door…Those are titanium bars, by the way, so you should be perfectly safe. Theoretically.

Barbara:  That’s reassuring…

Guard #2:  Okay, we’re good. Just remember, if you feel threatened at any time, all you have to do is press the button. We’ll be right outside.

Barbara:  Thank you.

Guard #1:  We’ll also be listening for distress noises, in case you don’t get a chance to press the button.

Barbara:  …

Guard #2:  Good luck!

Barbara (to camera):  …All right, if you’re just joining us, we are sitting here live inside of Sing Sing prison, where Mr. Wolf is currently serving a life sentence for crimes almost too heinous to mention. Now, for the first time ever, Mr. Wolf is reaching out to the media, hoping to tell his side of the story.

Barbara (to wolf):  Good evening, Mr. Wolf.

Wolf:  Good evening, Barbara.

Barbara:  Can you hear me all right, behind all that glass?

Wolf:  I can hear you very well. I can see you even better.

Barbara:  That’s good. Now, Mr. Wolf—

Wolf:  You can call me B.B.

Barbara:  All right, B.B. Since you brought it up, do you feel that your parents giving you the name “Big Bad” predisposed you to a life of crime?

Wolf:  That’s a common misconception, Barbara. I was actually named after B.B. King. My parents were huge blues fans. And, as to my “life of crime”…why don’t we leave it up to the audience to decide whether or not I’m actually a criminal, once they’ve heard my story?

Barbara:  Then let’s cut right to the chase: B.B., you were convicted of cannibalizing an elderly woman.

Wolf:  That charge is ridiculous.

Barbara:  But human remains were found in your digestive system, shortly after your arrest…

Wolf:  Yes. Exactly – human remains. I’m a wolf, she was a person. That’s not cannibalism. That’s one species eating a completely different species. If I ate another wolf, then it would be cannibalism.

Barbara:  So…you’re not denying you ate Mrs. Hood?

Wolf:  I’ve never denied that.

Barbara:  Then what is it you wanted to tell our audience tonight?

Wolf:  That it wasn’t my idea. It wasn’t something I set out to do. I mean, why would I want to eat an old lady?

Barbara:  Well, you are a carnivore…

Wolf:  I’m also an excellent hunter. When I want a snack, all I have to do is hop a fence, corner a nice juicy lamb, and tie on a bib. So, why eat an old person? They’re boney. Their skin is like leather. They smell like formaldehyde…Does that sound like five-star cuisine to you?

Barbara:  Then why did you do it?

Wolf:  For Red.

Barbara:  Little Red Riding Hood?

Wolf:  Yes.

Barbara:  The victim’s granddaughter?

Wolf:  Yes. Although to hear her tell it, she was the victim. At least that’s the story Red hooked me with, when she asked me to do the job.

Barbara:  She asked you to kill her own grandmother?

Wolf:  Absolutely. It happened the very first day we met. I was just lifting my leg, minding my own business while preparing to, well, do my business, when all of a sudden this hot little red-head number comes skipping through the trees.

I thought she would run the moment she caught sight of me, but she didn’t. Instead, she walked right up to me – smiling, batting her big doe eyes, swinging her hips in that four-inch mini-skirt.

“Oh, Mr. Wolf,” she said, “I have been looking all over for you…”

Naturally, I was taken aback. “Aren’t you afraid of me?” I asked.

She shook her head, making that red hair flicker like fire. “I want your help,” she said. “I need your help.” Then she walked a circle around me, running her fingers right through my fur.

Now, I could’ve killed her right then and there. But I was curious. And a little impressed. So I said, “What in your life is so bad, that you’re not afraid of a big wolf like me?”

And that’s when she started to cry – big, fat teardrops rolling out of her eyes, ruby lips all quivering. “It’s my Nana,” she whimpered. “She’s wicked.”

Barbara:  Wicked?

Wolf:  That’s right. Red went on to give me a whole sob story about how her witch of a grandmother got mad because Red apparently ate some candy in the house that was just meant for decoration. Granny got so peeved, in fact, that she tried to shove Red in the oven and cook her for dinner. Now that would have been cannibalism. But somehow, Red escaped. She told me she ran away and had been hiding in the woods, cold and scared and too afraid to go home until someone did something about her grandma.

“Now, I’m just a little girl,” Red said. “I’m not strong enough to fight her off. But you, Mr. Wolf…you have such big teeth. And such strong paws. I just know you could help me.” Then she ran her fingers through my fur again, and pressed her cleavage right against my shoulder and yes, I admit it, I was affected. But I don’t do charity work.

So I said, “What’s in it for me?”

Red explained that she had an inheritance from when her parents died, but she couldn’t access the money while Grandma was still alive.

“If you help me, we can split it,” she promised. “One-point-three million each.”

From my point of view, it seemed like a win-win situation: Red would be safe, a mean old lady would be kibble. Not to mention, one-point-three million dollars buys a LOT of steak…

Barbara:  So you agreed?

Wolf:  I did. Red gave me directions to her grandmother’s house – “It’s just over the river and through the woods” – then she told me to wait until after dark. When I showed up at the cottage that night, Red was hiding in the bushes. She gave me the key and wished me luck…

Barbara:  Then you went inside and…

Wolf: Ate Nana. Like I said, not exactly five-star cuisine. I was actually still trying to wash her down with some milk when Red came running in, yelling that she’d seen the Huntsman riding up the path to the cottage.

Barbara:  The Huntsman?

Wolf:  Yes. It’s a nickname Sheriff Smith gave himself. He makes everyone call him that. It’s pretty stupid, actually, but no one wants to tell him because he’s always carrying a gun. And sometimes an axe…

Barbara:  You’ve had some experience with that axe yourself, haven’t you?

Wolf:  Most unfortunately. But that’s skipping ahead. So first, Red ran in, yelling that the Huntsman was coming. Naturally, I freaked. I had just eaten a human being, not to mention I already had three warrants out for my arrest for destruction of property and home invasion – completely fabricated, but we’ll get to that later – so I asked Red to help me sneak out the back.

“There’s no time!” she hissed. “You’ll have to pretend to be Nana!” Then she threw her grandmother’s pink nightie at me and told me to put it on.

Barbara:  Did you?

Wolf:  I am sad to say, yes. I was desperate. Of course, as soon as I caught sight of myself in the bedroom mirror, I knew it wasn’t going to work – sure, Nana had a few whiskers, but she wasn’t Lon Chaney, Jr. And those glasses made my eyes look huge. But Red insisted that if I got in the bed and pulled up the covers, the Huntsman would never know. So I pulled the blanket right up to my chin, and Red ran out of the room.

For about five minutes, I lay there, terrified, trying to make old lady breathing noises.

Then all hell broke loose: the Huntsman burst through the door like a crazed axe murderer, and Red rushed in right behind him, all tearful and earnest.

She pointed right at me and said, “That’s him, Sheriff – that’s the wolf that ate Nana. And he tried to eat me, too!”

Barbara:  Were you shocked?

Wolf:  Speechless. I didn’t even have time to throw the covers off before the Huntsman was on top of me, chopping into me like some psychopath! Just LOOK at these scars! These are NOT from an appendectomy!

Barbara:  According to his testimony, the Sheriff was trying to save Mrs. Hood’s life by removing her from your stomach.

Wolf:  Does that even make sense? Think about it! I had to chew her before I swallowed her – how would she still be alive? Not to mention the fact that she was already partially digested…

Barbara:  Yes, let’s not mention that…

Wolf:  Anyway, I lost consciousness at some point while he was hacking into me. I woke up later in the hospital. They aren’t even sure how I survived. I guess once Huntsboy realized he wasn’t getting granny out in one piece, he came to his senses and called nine-one-one. After all, a Sheriff axing an unarmed suspect to death might lead to a few problems for the police department…

Barbara:  You believe he called the ambulance to protect himself from a lawsuit?

Wolf:  Absolutely.

Barbara:  He couldn’t have done it out of the goodness of his heart?

Wolf:  The Huntsman’s not the upstanding member of society most people think he is. He’s got darkness in him. Wanna know what really happened to Bambi’s Mom?

Barbara:  Probably not.

Wolf:  Good choice. That story gives me nightmares…

Barbara:  Getting back to your story, B.B…

Wolf:  Well, you know how it ends, Barbara – after the hospital, I went to jail, and then I went on trial. You should’ve seen Red in the courtroom: the cute little hooded sweater she wore, the basket of muffins she brought the judge, those big brown eyes…and of course, the waterworks. Always the waterworks. I knew I didn’t have a prayer. I was lucky to get life in prison…

Barbara:  So she duped you, and the Sheriff, and the judge?

Wolf:  She is something. From the moment she ran her fingers through my fur, I knew she was something…

Barbara:  Do you still believe her Grandmother abused her?

Wolf:  No, Red stole that story from an old newspaper article. Turns out it actually happened to some German kids back in the 1800s – Hans and Greta, or something like that…Anyway, that’s my story.

Barbara:  Shocking.

Wolf:  It’s not exactly a fairytale, that’s for sure.

Barbara:  Do you feel better, now that you’ve told your side?

Wolf:  A little.

Barbara:  Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to clear up? You did mention those destruction of property and home invasion charges…

Wolf:  I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: I HAVE ALLERGIES!

 

Mentalist Review: Episode 5×12 Little Red Corvette

Review of Episode 5×12: “Little Red Corvette” AKA “Slime Goes Down”
by castiello

Overall: If I had to pick one word to describe this episode, it would be “different.” For the most part, I felt like I was watching a crime movie, rather than an episode of The Mentalist. A lot of screen time was devoted to what the bad guys were up to (which we normally wouldn’t see much of) and there wasn’t the usual “whodunit” element present, either. We already knew who did it, so the entire focus of the episode was on how the team could catch the slippery eel responsible for all these murders. That said, “different” doesn’t necessarily mean “bad,” and while 5×12 was not standard Mentalist fare, there were still plenty of things to love about the episode.

Lisbon: Justice, at last! What a cleansing moment, to see Lisbon finally snap those shiny cuffs around Volker’s wrists. She got to shoot him and punch him, too, but those were just bonuses. The arrest was the big win. It was hard to watch everything she had to go through to get to that moment, though – one witness fleeing the country, another witness stonewalling and then committing suicide, Volker clearing out those offices right after CBI got the warrant to search them (When Lisbon smashed that vase on the floor, my heart shattered, too…).

It was a rough ride, made all the more bumpy by the fact that Lisbon was clearly uncomfortable with some of the underhanded methods she had to use to get what she wanted. Lying to a judge? Blackmailing the Deputy District Attorney? Yikes. These are things Jane would do without even blinking, but with Lisbon, you could just tell that the level she was sinking to repulsed her. There was an interesting discussion last week on Paint It Red about what this Volker storyline might mean in terms of the show’s overall arc: Is it meant to bring Lisbon closer to Jane’s line of thinking – that going outside of the law is sometimes necessary to bring down the bad guy? If this is the case, I’d say Lisbon’s still a far cry from being okay with Jane killing Red John – she got her hands a little dirty in this ep, but there isn’t any blood on them, yet. Only time will tell if she will follow Jane into even murkier waters, or lead him back into the light.

Jane: Wow, two episodes in a row of mature, supportive Jane. I think my brain just imploded. Is our favorite Mentalist growing up? It sure seemed that way when he quietly listened to Lisbon’s pain, and then sat down to help her sift through boxes of evidence. I can’t get enough of this new Jane, who is being a real friend to Lisbon – listening to her, helping her, showing genuine concern for her. I also loved the way Jane stood up to Volker when the Slimebag paraded into the CBI to fake-gloat – Jane’s speech not only wiped the smug smile from Volker’s face, but also brought Lisbon back from the verge of frustrated tears.

One of the other great elements of this ep – the little boy. Here we have Volker, this ultra-powerful, ultra-rich, ultra-scary dude who gets whatever he wants by killing whoever won’t give it to him, who can murder a whole tribe of people and get away with it, who can make grown men commit suicide with a few words, and somehow, at the end of the day, a nine-year-old kid ends up being the one person who can take this guy down. That was awesome. I really liked how Marvin was at the center of it all, and how each one of the bad guys drew their own moral lines when it came to killing the boy. Hitman #2 secretly refused to do the deed. Hitman #3 openly refused to do the deed. Brenda, however, did hand over the file with Marvin’s picture, knowing full well that she was sentencing the boy to death. Her discomfort means nothing, because she still handed over the file. She was willing to let a child be murdered. And Volker, naturally, had no problem with dragging a kicking and screaming child out of zoo exhibit and shooting him on the spot. Volker’s only irritation was at having to do the dirty work himself, for once. There are different shades of evil at work here, different levels of wrong.

Getting back to Jane: whenever he has a scene with another parent who’s lost a child, it kinda takes my breath away. To have that shared loss between them, that understanding no one else could ever fathom…I loved Jane’s raw honesty when he spoke to Marvin’s mother. I also love that Jane was the one focused on the missing boy for the whole episode, and that, in the end, Jane was the one to bring him home. It just felt right.

Cho/Rigs/Van Pelt: Not a huge amount of screen time for the terrific trio, but still some memorable moments, including: The flat diet soda scene between Cho and Rigsby (Trivia: How long has it been since we’ve gotten a nice, light partner moment between these guys? Answer: Too long.) I treasured that little gem. Also treasured the few short scenes where Rigsby and Jane teamed up to identify Hitman #2. A Jane/Rigs partnership is rare, and I love it like crazy when the show mixes and matches the characters a bit. It lets us see some fresh, new dynamics. Another bit to squee about: Rigsby was the one to notice the zoo field trip flyer on the refrigerator! Even though Ben’s too young for school, I’m sure Rigsby’s already well-accustomed to activity scheduling, custody sharing, daycare plans…Basically, just knowing where the kid is and what he’s doing at all times. Rigsby’s “daddy instincts” are fully honed, and it helped him notice a detail that saved Marvin’s life.

Brenda: The reveal about her working for Volker was kinda underwhelming, probably just because I wasn’t that attached to her character. Watching her hand over a child to a murderer was creepy, though. And even though her slimy boss will be behind bars, now, I still fully view her as a threat to Lisbon and Co, most especially if Volker has ties to Red John. After all, this is a woman who willingly entered into a relationship with a mass murderer, so yeah, I’ll be keeping an eye on her.

Final Thoughts: Love: Supportive!Jane, kid-centered storylines, Cho/Rigsby partner-y goodness, genuine two-sided Jane/Lisbon friendship, unusual team member match-ups, and Lisbon taking down Slime. Don’t Love: Screen time for people I don’t care about, Murky!Lisbon, and low usage of supporting cast members. Curious About: Where this is all going. What purpose does Volker serve in the grand scheme of things? How does this story tie in to Red John and his eventual capture? I’m hoping the Powers That Be have an awesome, well-woven arc for us this season, and I’m looking forward to seeing everything come together.

 

Mentalist Review: Episode 5×11 Days of Wine and Roses

Review of Episode 5×11: Days of Wine and Roses
by castiello

Overall: The Mentalist is back! YAY!!!! This may just be my excitement talking, but I thought the episode was great. It had nice continuity, everyone in the cast had at least one significant moment, Lisbon was seriously impressive in her pursuit of Volker, and Jane was actually mature for once. All in all: wow.

Lisbon: Was she awesome in this ep or what? It was amazing to see the lengths that she went to, trying to bring Volker to justice: using her own money to pay for a second autopsy analysis, personally persuading a judge, utilizing Van Pelt’s mad computer skills to follow the money trail, personally persuading another judge. I love it when Lisbon is so take-charge. She wants this guy, and she wants him bad. You could just see the glow of triumph on her face whenever she scored a small victory, and the sickening heartbreak whenever there was a setback. Plus, you could practically see her skin crawling right out the door when Volker was complimenting her appearance. There is a word for people like him, and it is “Slime.”

To me, this was Lisbon at her very finest, using her passion, her resources and her connections in any way she could think of to bring down a filthy murderer. Although I respected her desire to do it all “on her own,” I had even more respect for her when she asked for Jane’s help. After everything Lisbon managed to accomplish in this episode, she is anything but helpless or lost without him. It didn’t seem like a moment of weakness, but a moment of strength. This episode helped me to see Jane not as the guy who swoops in and solves everything, but as one of the team’s many resources. Lisbon did so much on her own, but at a certain point all of the conventional avenues had failed. And Jane’s gift is – and always has been – getting things done the unconventional way. Lisbon put her pride aside and used one of her team’s best assets in order to bring down a psycho, and I can only think more highly of her for making that decision.

Jane: I think I am one of those people who wants Jane to be a better man than he actually is. Therefore, in many episodes, I feel let down when he acts selfishly or cruelly or simply without regard for the consequences to other people. Last night, however, was not one of those episodes. From his first appearance, Jane was quietly supportive of Lisbon and her pursuit of Volker. Jane offered his help, but never forced it on her. He expressed concern for Lisbon’s well-being, and also said he wants her to be happy. I felt like a proud parent. Of course, he’ll probably totally regress back to his usual self by next week, but it was so nice to see him be a real, grown-up friend to Lisbon – even if it won’t last.

That said, Jane’s juvenile antics are always a pleasure to watch when he is using them to solve a case, and last night was no exception: Jane the regretful, apologetic kleptomaniac was a riot! I loved every second of his over-the-top performance. Jane is a bad actor, and Simon is a great one. I especially loved that there was some truth to Jane’s therapy scene – I’m sure his father really did teach him to pick pockets, and that on some level, as we saw in “Throwing Fire,” Jane really is still trying to please dear old Dad. Of course, the bit about knocking over banks was nonsense, but the way Jane said, “I didn’t like that, though – all the screaming and the tension” – too funny. This was an all-around great episode for both his character and Lisbon’s.

Cho: Whenever he has a scene with Jane, my heart-rate goes up a little. These guys don’t have nearly enough screen time together, making last night’s episode a rare treat. Cho is the perfect “straight man” to Jane’s comedy act, and the two of them worked together flawlessly to solve the crime. Cho’s reaction to Jane’s “stealing” was hilarious (“Put it back…put it back!”) and I hope we get more Adventures in Babysitting in upcoming episodes. Cho is probably the only one other than Lisbon who can even remotely “handle” Jane, and at least this time no one’s expensive car got driven off a cliff. 🙂

Van Pelt: Her computer skillz really are off-the-charts awesome, aren’t they? Just like Jane’s niche is unconventional solutions, VP’s special gift that she brings to the team is her amazing ability to research and investigate online. She’s like the Penelope Garcia of The Mentalist. Only, Van Pelt doesn’t just do the technical stuff – she also gets out there and does cool car stunts and takes down bad guys. I loved her pairing up with Lisbon in this episode to go after Volker. And, as soon as she’s ready, I’d love to see her back in the action part of the show, too.

Rigsby: The standout moment for his character last night was his confrontation with the killer. His fury and disgust not only at what the victim went through, but what the parents went through, struck a powerful note. Rigsby is a father, now, and he can’t help but empathize with the horror the victim’s parents must have felt, believing their daughter died buying drugs, when really she was attempting to set things right. Owain portrayed the moment beautifully, and it’s wonderful to see the evolution of Rigsby’s character following the milestone of fatherhood.

Final thoughts: Volker, aka “Slime,” is going down. Lisbon is pulling out all the stops, and now, with all of her assets in play, Slime doesn’t have a chance. I can’t wait for the showdown.

Writing Challenge: Day Six (Plus Twenty-Five Reasons You Might Get Rejected)

Before rewinding back to Day Six of the challenge, I thought I’d share a nifty article I came across on the Writer’s Digest website, which discusses how optimism, insanity, and yes, even a little arrogance can be good things when tackling the difficult task of getting published. Also, there’s a hilariously accurate pie chart detailing the road to publication, and both of those can be found here:

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/the-importance-of-being-slightly-arrogant-as-a-writer?et_mid=596701&rid=233787571

In addition, I found a helpful link on the Flash Fiction Chronicles site, which contains a list of twenty-five reasons an agent might reject your manuscript – often after only reading the first paragraph. The list has some really interesting items that you might not think of, so definitely go check it out:

http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/2010/09/sept-2-top-25-reasons-your-submissions.html

Also, coming up in the New Year on as the HERO flies:

For Writers:

-The very best websites for beginning screenwriters
-Awesome flash fiction market resources
-My favorite fiction e-zines

For Fans:

-New Mentalist fan fiction
-New Supernatural fan fiction
-New episode reviews

Moving on to the writing challenge, I give you Day 6: Select a book on your shelf and pick two chapters at random. Take the first line of one chapter and the last line of the other chapter and write a short story (no more than 1000 words) using those as bookends to your story.

The book I selected was Ghosts Caught on Film by Dr. Melvyn Willin. I used the first line of Chapter Two, and the last line of Chapter Five (which, although I didn’t realize it at the time, turned out to be the very last line of the book).

Notes and Disclaimer: I don’t own the characters Sherlock Holmes or John Watson, and I make absolutely no profit from writing fan fiction. This story was written in December of 2011, before there was a totally and completely fabulous show called Elementary, and this fic does not take place in that universe (i.e. Watson is not a girl in this story).

Elementary
by castiello

“Can we photograph thoughts, the very pictures in our minds?”

Watson looked up from the bit of fiber he was studying. Holmes was over by the wall, gazing at a dreary oil painting of a cobble-stone street.

Watson sighed. “Not likely. ‘Thoughtography’ has no basis in science, Holmes. Scholars have disproven nearly every claim. We’ve even disproven a few ourselves, over the years. Remember?”

“Ah, yes,” Holmes murmured absently. “Of course.”

Watson went back to examining the fiber, which appeared to be silk. “What brought it to your mind, anyhow?”

“Oh, it just fluttered in, like a small bird…perhaps through that window—” Holmes pointed a withered finger at the painting “—Or maybe through…another…” His voice trailed off, cataract-dull eyes wandering vaguely.

“Maybe we should focus on the case at hand,” Watson suggested gently.

Holmes’ eyes fogged over completely. “The case…?”

Watson winced. He’d been trying to persuade his old friend to retire for years. “The one we’re helping Inspector Cartwright with. The Niesen murder.”

Holmes stared blankly.

Watson’s heart twinged. His voice softened. “Why don’t you sit down, old fellow? Have a smoke and ponder things, while I finish looking over the crime scene.”

“What crime scene?” Holmes asked, frowning. His eyes were still foggier than a London morning.

“This room,” Watson replied patiently. “The one we’re standing in.”

More fog.

Watson sighed. “This is the room where the girl was murdered,” he explained, gesturing at the clothing-strewn bedchamber, which bore obvious evidence of a struggle.

The fog evaporated in an instant. “Oh, she wasn’t murdered in here,” Holmes announced confidently.

Watson raised his eyebrows, cautiously hopeful. “How do you know that?”

“There’s not a drop of blood in sight.”

“She was strangled, Holmes.”

“Ah, yes…Just as I suspected…” Holmes nodded knowingly, making his grey mane bounce.

Watson gritted the few teeth he had left. “Why don’t you—” he started to say, but Holmes cut him off with a sudden shout:

“Look here, Watson! A clue!” Holmes began to bend down, presumably to pick something up off the floor, but he froze in mid-stoop. “Oh, dear,” he said faintly.

“What’s wrong?” Watson asked.

“My back – it seems to be locked in this position…”

“You can’t move?”

“Neither up nor down,” Holmes confirmed. “How is it that I could be stuck in such a state?”

“I don’t know,” Watson murmured, hobbling over to help his friend. “It’s a mystery we may never solve.”