Review of Episode 5×13: The Red Barn
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! 🙂