Review of Episode 5×15: “Red Lacquer Nail Polish”
People have lots of different reasons for watching The Mentalist. Some fans love the humor of Jane’s antics as he cleverly solves cases. Others enjoy the cases themselves, taking pleasure in a well-written police procedural. And then there are people like me. Sure, I get a kick out of the humor. Sure, I dig a good mystery. But those aren’t the reasons I watch the show. I watch for five very simple reasons: Jane, Lisbon, Cho, Rigsby and Van Pelt. I am a character girl, through and through. So, even in a stand-alone episode, where the bulk of the focus is on a case I’m only mildly interested in, what I’m looking for – what I’m waiting for – are those little character moments that will hold me over until the next epic, character-driven storyline arrives.
This episode’s moments:
Jane: I was struck by his powerful aversion to the crime scene – I think that was the most disgusted I’ve ever seen him, and that includes the time they found ants crawling all over that body in the alley (“The Red Badge of Courage”). Another thing Jane had an unusually strong reaction to: our favorite ghoul, Brett Partridge. I mean, Brett’s always gotten under Jane’s skin, but it never got in the way of Jane’s job before. This time, however, Jane’s discomfort actually caused him to leave the crime scene without fully taking in all the details. I couldn’t help but wonder if it had to do with the Red John suspect list, and whether Brett has a prominent place on it. (Have we ever seen Jane and Brett shake hands onscreen? I can’t imagine Jane shaking hands with someone so icky, but I’ll have to re-watch the Pilot just to double-check.)
Lisbon: Is it just me, or is she acting a bit more girlish lately? First she faints at the sight of a creepy-crawly corpse, and now she’s afraid to go in a spooky mansion? I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, I’m just saying it’s interesting. I’ve always viewed her character as very tough and fierce and masculine in many ways (growing up in an all-male household, raising and rough-housing with her brothers). It’s weird to suddenly be viewing her as…well, a girl :).
I love that she told Jane not to jump out and yell “boo!” when they went back to the mansion. (Jane: “What do you take me for?” FYI Jane: she takes you for a grown-up with the mentality of a five-year-old). Considering the fact that he has actually said “boo!” in a supposedly-haunted mansion once before (“Red Scare”), I think Lisbon’s concerns were justified. I also like how open she was about her emotions throughout the whole case, from her nervousness about the creepy crime scene, to her disgust about the kind of person Elise turned out to be, to that final “uh-oh” look that crossed Lisbon’s face when Jane went trotting back upstairs to hunt Red John. She was wonderfully expressive and unguarded during this whole episode.
Cho: A little rough on Rigsby, wasn’t he? In the previous episode, Cho was telling Rigsby to man up and confess his feelings for Van Pelt. In this ep, Cho sang an entirely different tune, advising Rigs to move on – because Grace already has. Cho encouraged Rigsby’s online dating endeavor, knowing all the while that Rigsby was not actually going to go through with the dates. Rigs knows he’s still hung up on Van Pelt. Cho knows Rigs is still hung up on Van Pelt. Half the CBI building probably knows that Rigs is still hung up on Van Pelt, so I’m not sure we needed a hallway full of angry redheads to drive the point home. Seemed a little heavy-handed and unnecessary. Not to mention I wondered how those women could possibly have gotten past security – this is a building that has had a mass shooting in one of their offices and a bombing in the parking lot. I don’t think a bunch of angry, ditched!dates with no security clearance could have gotten inside. I suppose Cho could have helped them get in, but still, I wasn’t fond of the storyline.
One bit of Cho storyline I did love, though: his connection to the girl on the boat, Cayce. Man, it is so rare to see him really show some emotion and sympathize with someone that way. He seemed as though he really liked her and believed her story, which was cool, because I felt the same way. She was a good person who got duped, and probably would have gotten murdered, too, once Elise didn’t need her anymore. It’s always very disturbing to see a cold-blooded killer manipulating a trusting, innocent person like that. Makes me feel like it could happen to anyone…
Rigsby: Filling out his dating profile while at work? Not entirely out of character – especially as he was trying desperately to prove something to Cho – but still a little unprofessional. Though I didn’t like the computer dating subplot, I did ache for Rigsby when he was bumming about Van Pelt’s postcard. I wondered the same thing he did – why did she change the way she addresses her letters to the team? That was just plain sad. Hearing Rigs talk about his upbringing was a rare treat, though. When he was reminiscing about how his mother followed all of Elise’s trials and tribulations in the tabloids, I was enthralled. Even the tiniest glimpse into his past is intriguing, and in this case it also served the dual purpose of fleshing out Elise’s character a little more, so kudos to the writers on that.
Van Pelt: She may not be onscreen, but she’s still in our hearts (and Rigsby’s!)! I like that she was present in this episode via her postcard, and the continued exploration of Rigsby’s romantic feelings towards her. I would even argue that, despite how the postcard was addressed, Van Pelt is not as “over” Rigsby as Cho claims: She showed clear signs of jealousy when Rigsby started dating Sarah, as well as when Sarah got pregnant. True, Van Pelt was engaged to Craig (whom I still not-so-lovingly refer to as “O’Something”), but once that rather spectacularly blew up in her face, I think she realized for the first time exactly what she gave up when she called it quits with Rigsby.
Brett Patridge: Just as ghoulish as ever in his first appearance at a non-Red John-copycat crime scene! Honestly, just seeing this guy makes me squeamish – his unbridled enthusiasm for things like caved-in skulls and blobs of human fat are certainly enough to land him a spot on the Red John suspect list. Factor in Jane’s very obvious discomfort around him, and I’d say we have one of our prime suspects. But is Brett maybe a bit too eager? A bit too enthusiastic? I picture Red John as someone very controlled, very disciplined, and very sophisticated. I can see Brett as a Red John disciple, happily following the Master around like a loyal puppy dog…but I don’t quite see Brett as the Master himself. I’m definitely interested to hear what other fans are thinking about this long-time suspect’s latest appearance…
Randomness: The case was decent – I didn’t guess what happened, so that was good. There were a lot of characters involved in the mystery, though, and it did get a little confusing at times. I wanted to know more about the nurse who was murdered – I wanted to get a better sense of her character, who she was and what she’d been through. There was a valuable and intriguing storyline in there that didn’t really get tapped. Another thing I wanted: some explanation at the end as to why Van Pelt only addressed her postcard to “The Bullpen.” I really felt like it was coming, like maybe she had actually sent a separate one specifically to Wayne, but it didn’t get delivered in time. So, I was bummed not to get that closure. Oh, well…maybe next time?
Final thoughts: Case stuff: 6/10. Interesting character stuff: 5/10. My excitement for tonight’s episode: 10/10, as always! 🙂