Mentalist Review: Episode 5×20 “Red Velvet Cupcakes”

Review of Episode 5×20: “Red Velvet Cupcakes” (AKA “Best Rigspelt Episode EVER!!”)
by castiello

Overall: A refreshingly unique case, some nice character moments, and about twenty gazillion reasons for Rigsby/Van Pelt shippers to grin like maniacs – what’s not to love? 🙂

Jane: Once again, Jane is being a hermit, unwilling to participate in the investigation. Well, technically he did agree to participate by phone – he just refused to grace the team with his actual, physical presence. And although Jane’s long-distance method of investigating does make for some funny scenes (“Rigsby – put the cupcake back…”), part of me couldn’t help but hate him a little bit, for making Lisbon personally come upstairs and tell him she needs him. I mean, I couldn’t see the title of the book he was reading, but he sure didn’t look like he was doing anything Red John-related, or even particularly urgent. It looked like he was just being a difficult, manipulative jerk, trying to see what lengths Lisbon would go to, to get him to come out.

That said, another part of me softened at how quickly he got up when she said she needed him, how gentle his voice was when he said, “It’s nice to be needed.” Maybe he wasn’t trying to be manipulative after all. Maybe he was just in a gloomy, non-social mental place, and he did need someone to come bring him out of it. Honestly, with his character, it could be either one of those possibilities, or both. Good writing, complex characters and nuanced performances make for great, thought-provoking television.

Another thing the episode made me wonder about: Did Jane know that going on the radio show would help reunite Rigsby and Van Pelt? Could he tell that they were right on the brink and just needed the right push? Something tells me the Mentalist knew exactly what he was doing when he set up that undercover assignment for “Dwayne” and “Stace,” and that solving the case was only a small part of his intent.

Lisbon: She’s been busy a lot this season. Busy, like not able to go to the initial crime scene. She’s either been in court, or having lunch with Kirkland, or at her own anniversary party. Though the reasons vary, this is the third time in recent memory that the team has started an investigation without her. Not saying it means anything – just saying it’s interesting.

Also interesting: Lisbon is a fan of the Love Doctor! And not too proud of it, either, lol! Very in keeping with her character, that she would keep something like that a secret – Lisbon raised three brothers and she’s established a career in a tough, male-dominated field. She’s trained herself to deny and squash down her feminine side, to the point where you put her in a pink bridesmaid’s dress and she looks like she wants to smash someone’s face in. It’s always neat when these little glimpses of Lisbon’s girly side come out.

And when glimpses of her womanly side come out – well, then we get some true revelations: I mean, turtlenecks? Really, Lisbon? Suddenly the attraction to Mashburn has layers…:)

In this episode, yet again, Lisbon was stuck with the task of dragging Jane out into the light and making him interact with his fellow humans. She seemed a little tired, and I don’t blame her. In truth, I’m sure she and the team are perfectly capable of solving the case without Jane. They wouldn’t solve it with nearly the speed or flare that he does, but they’d get the job done in a totally legal, slow-and-steady-wins-the-race kind of way. So, when Lisbon says she needs Jane, I think she means that she needs him to be okay. She needs him to be with her, so she doesn’t have to worry about him obsessing about serial killers in a dark attic 24/7. As we saw earlier this season, in “Red Dawn,” Lisbon has been about keeping Jane sane, engaged, and active right from Day One. She is a great friend…I just wish I knew if Jane deserved her.

On a lighter note, it was fun to see Lisbon squirm when Van Pelt and Rigsby were spilling the all-too-true details of their romance live on the radio. Lisbon gets uncomfortable so easily, especially when it comes to her personal life and the lives of her team members. You could just tell she hated every second of what she viewed as an intrusion into Van Pelt and Rigsby’s private lives – a total contrast to Jane, who was eating the whole thing up like a syrupy pile of Belgian waffles. More great character stuff.

And, speaking of:

Van Pelt/Rigsby: Wow. Just…wow. I mean, when Jane set them up to go on that radio show, I had no idea. None. I thought we were in for some humor. A little bickering, maybe. Some uncomfortable silences. Truly, nothing could have prepared me for the raw, naked, painful discussion that took place between these two characters. Years of bitterness, bad timing, and unresolved issues, all washed clean in a ten-minute radio broadcast. They talked about their break-up. They talked about Sarah and Ben. They talked about Craig (AKA, the homicidal maniac!). Van Pelt and Rigsby talked about everything that has been building up since Season One, and Owain and Amanda KILLED IT. I could not have been happier with that scene if you gave me a million dollars afterward. It was perfect, and I hope all the hard-core Rigspelt shippers are floating around on happy clouds right now. It was a long time coming.

Cho: You have to love how Rigsby can’t tell an attractive gold sandal from a loaf of bread, but my man Cho can spot what a sexy shoe is – or isn’t – with one look. 🙂 Footwear issues aside, though, it’s interesting to me that Cho made no attempt to coax Jane into the investigation. When Lisbon’s not present, that makes Cho temporarily the leader of the team. Therefore, wouldn’t it fall to him to make sure their consultant got with the program? I kind of looked forward to how Cho might handle this problem, and whether his methods for getting Jane out of the attic would be successful. It was mildly disappointing to see Cho back down from that challenge. (I forgive him, though, because he’s Cho.)

Randomness: Strong, emotional guest performances made some weird entanglements and strange fetishes seem relatable and realistic. From the S&M-enamored husband of the murdered woman, to the Love Doctor with a thing for feet, to the wife who couldn’t take that obsession with arches any longer, I thought the issues were explored somewhat sensitively and believably, rather than the whole thing getting turned into a joke. Plus, it was a plotline the show has never used before, so bonus points for that.

Final Thoughts: Without the beautiful, emotional and redemptive scenes between Rigsby and Van Pelt, this would have been a good episode. With those scenes included, the episode became great. I was blown away. I loved it. I wanted more. Good thing there’s another new episode tonight. 🙂