Mentalist Review: Episode 5×19 “Red Letter Day”

Review of Episode 5×19: “Red Letter Day”
by castiello

Overall: The Red John storyline is heating up – big time – but that doesn’t mean we can’t stop and take a few minutes to enjoy the sheer pleasure of seeing Jane and Co. strolling around an Old West tourist town. The visuals of this ep – horses and dust and cowboy hats and saloons – (not to mention the fun factor) made it easy to overlook a slightly predictable plot. Despite the fact that “Red Letter Day” started at almost 11:00pm, I was wide awake and I had a rootin’, tootin’ good time.

Jane: Always a joy to see Jane’s street magician skills at work – swiping gold nuggets, picking cards, predicting the future in sealed white envelopes. These are the things that make Jane such a unique character, and they’re part of the reason this show stands out from other police procedurals. My only minor complaint about some of the mind-reading is that I like to know Jane’s secrets. I want him to tell me the clues he uses to guess where those tourists just came from. I want him to show me how he got the cards into that guy’s pocket, and how he knew what the guy’s favorite number would be. Sometimes, the tricks Jane pulls off are almost unreal – without the explanation of how he does things, it’s more like true magic than mentalism.

On the one hand, this lack of explanation is frustrating. On the other hand, it adds a healthy squirt of gasoline to the fiery debate that has long burned between two groups of Mentalist fans: those who take Jane at his word that he’s just a well-trained trickster, and those of us who like to hold onto that teensy bit of hope that somewhere deep down in the recesses of Jane’s uber-brilliant mind, there lies a modicum of true psychic ability.

The “genuine psychic” vs. “conman” question aside, Jane’s cleverness was in full force as he wedged a toothpick in his door to alert him of unwanted visitors. Personally, I thought he should have placed it a little lower down, because it seemed a bit too visible. Especially if Red John himself might be breaking in. But Jane’s low-tech security system worked better than a Guardian Alarm. In fact, he seemed so pleased with the results, I had to wonder if that was the only security measure he put in place.

On Elementary, Sherlock Holmes has surveillance cameras hidden all over his flat. If Jane really felt sure someone was going to break in, maybe he hid some bugs or mini webcams around to catch the snoops in the act. And maybe, just maybe, Jane was sharp enough to put up fake evidence to throw Red John’s spies off the scent. I’ve always thought the attic – or anyplace at work – was simply too public of a location to keep such sensitive files. I was almost positive that the photo wall in Jane’s loft was a decoy, and that at the end of the ep we’d see the real one – the one he was smart enough to keep hidden in some rented room that no one even knows about. Alas, the reveal didn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean it won’t. The knowing way Jane smiled at that security breach tells me he has more up his sleeve than just a broken toothpick.

Lisbon: When Cho said Lisbon was “busy,” my mind said, “Red Alert.” And for good reason: turns out she was lunching with Kirkland, whom she has correctly classified as a very strange individual. “Everything about Bob Kirkland is weird.” Trust me, Lisbon, you don’t know the half of it. She played it cool, though – did everything she should have done. Lisbon denied any knowledge of Jane’s list, and confirmed Kirkland’s notion that if Jane did know anything, he’d share it with Lisbon. Then, she told Jane everything that Kirkland had asked about. Unfortunately, though Lisbon remained loyal to Jane, and lied pretty darn convincingly, the Kirk-dude didn’t buy it. I’m not abandoning the possibility of Lisbon being compromised, but in this ep she didn’t do anything to warrant suspicion. Also, her expression as she sat in the audience at the Wild West Show was so endearingly long-suffering, I would probably forgive her even if she did turn out to be a Red John mole.

Cho: Cho and Jane partnered up in this episode. Not once, but twice. Sheer. Awesomeness. Have I died and gone to the place with the fluffy white clouds? Maybe not, but from the moment Cho approached the attic and Jane identified him by the sound of his footsteps, I felt like I was in heaven. (Cho: “How do you do that?”) And later, when Jane called Cho to the bar, and Cho was all, “I hate it when you call me for backup and nothing’s happened yet…” Love. It. These two have such great chemistry as partners; they play off of each other with fresh, funny energy. Cho’s deadpan comments and mildly exasperated looks ricochet like ping-pong balls against Jane’s sparkly, merry wit. Jane brings Cho alive in a way that the other characters don’t. And despite the minor annoyances of working with Jane, you can really feel the underlying bond between our favorite Mentalist and one of the very few people he actually refers to as his good friend. Hand me a petition to get more screen time between Jane and Cho, and I’ll sign it faster than Jane can pick your pocket. You can never go wrong when you pair up this odd couple.

Rigsby/Van Pelt: Rigsby the Arson Inspector is back on the scene! Yay! I love it when he shows off his special skills. The writers have shown great continuity on this front, going all the way back to Season One. In less exciting news, Grace apparently “met” someone at the White Hat training program. And of course it happened right before Rigsby was about to man up and be honest with her. It’s a bummer for sure, and would have felt like a rather pointless wrench thrown into the Van Pelt/Rigs romance, if not for Grace’s little slip of the tongue. This new guy – seriously, I already forgot his name – isn’t another fiancé-in-the-making. He’s just a distraction, because clearly Grace’s mind – and heart – are focused on someone else :).

Kirkland: Dun, dun, dun! He tried to get Lisbon to cough up Jane’s secrets. When that didn’t work, Kirkland paid some goons to break into Jane’s attic and steal evidence. At the end of the ep, Kirkland stood over a replica of Jane’s Red John Map, looking Mighty Evil. But don’t cue the maniacal laughter just yet – the more they paint this guy as a Big Bad, the more convinced I become that he’s the exact opposite. Having Kirkland be an ally to Jane and Co, a real partner to help them bring down Red John, would be a great twist, and I’m all about great twists. I’m going on record saying that I think Kirkland, in spite of being a murderer and a thief, really is trying to capture Red John, rather than help him. Now, I could be publicly wiping egg off my face as early as tomorrow night, but for right now, I’m having too much fun imagining wild and crazy scenarios where Kirkland is actually a good guy.

Randomness: Rigbsy’s discomfort as he sat in the audience, hoping not to get called on: Perfect. Jane walking out to do his act without putting on a black cowboy hat: Criminal. Shame on you, wardrobe department. SHAME. The case: Interesting because of the cowboy element and the fake meth lab fires, but they’ve done that brother/sister incestuous romance thing before – remember Jared and Undine back in “Red John’s Friends”?

Last Thoughts: Jane’s joy and stimulation at being in an Old West setting was contagious. His secret satisfaction about the toothpick piqued my interest, and I can’t wait to find out more. I’ll be riding onward to the next episode as a very satisfied, dusty-but-grinning cowgirl. Yee-haw!

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