The Race: The Results! (Finally!)

At long last, I’ve finished catching up on my tapes, and am ready to declare the winners of this year’s season-long battle for my fangirly heart. Some of my shows let me down this year. Others rose to the occasion. And a rare few delivered action, emotion, and surprises in ways that blew my mis-matched kitty cat socks right off my feet. (Now my toes are cold…)

And so, without further ado, this year’s top winner is…

Supernatural! Yay! It was a surprise to me, because despite a strong season, I just didn’t see this one taking the top spot. The favorites were Castle and Grimm, no question. I definitely felt more excited about those two, leading up to the finales. And then Supernatural just delivered this KILLER, shocker of a season finale, and it totally warped my mind – in a good way.

There are three elements that factor into a show’s final score for the season: 1.) Overall quality of the season, 2.) Surprise factor, and, most importantly, 3.) How badly I want to tune in next season.

Supernatural’s Season Nine was the strongest season since Kripke left. Current showrunner Jeremy Carver seems to have learned from his Season Eight mistakes (e.g. the unrealistic storyline of Sam not searching for Dean), while keeping up an intense season-long mythology. Frankly, I really liked the mytharc in S8, and just thought Carver needed to do better on the brothers’ relationship – which he totally did. Kudos to Carver for listening to fan feedback and incorporating it into his plan for S9. Well done!

Now, let’s talk a little bit about that finale…Whoa. Okay, in the beginning, it was pretty much like a normal ep. A good ep, but not spectacular. The real “wow” factor came in the last few minutes of the episode, as the fight between Dean and Metatron heated up on Earth, coinciding with Castiel’s search for the tablet in Heaven. The way the scene was building, you just knew how it was going to go. Dean had the pulp royally beaten out of him, but he was looking at the First Blade, and it was going to fly into his hand, and at the very last moment, when all hope seemed lost, Cass would destroy the tablet and Dean would stab Metatron DEAD. So, I’m sitting there, all nestled in the couch, entertained but not enthralled, waiting for expected things to come to pass…And then Dean takes an ANGEL BLADE right through the middle of his chest!! What the…???

THAT made me sit up. My eyes got huge and I think I actually said, “Whoa.” So, that was Big Shocker #1. That whole part was great television, building the scene one way, and then veering in a drastically different direction. My attention was riveted in place from that moment onward, because I had no idea how they were going to get out of this – Dean’s injury was clearly fatal. Then Metatron escaped. Fortunately, Castiel took care of him with a clever trap set in Heaven. However, down on Earth, the boys were left in a very dire situation, brightened only by the following exchange:

Dean: “What happened to you being okay with [me dying]?”

Sam: “I lied.”

Aw, Sam – that’s all we needed to hear. That’s all Dean ever needed to hear. I had no problem with Sam and Dean’s relationship this year, because no matter what jerky things they said to each other with words, it was clear all along from their actions that the bond was just as strong as ever. So this exchange, at the end, was just icing for me – sweet satisfaction on top of an already yummy cake.

And then something not-so-yummy happened: Dean died. And I don’t care that they’ve both died about ten thousand times by now, or that it’s obviously not going to be permanent – somehow, these actors still make me care that it’s happening. Their performances keep me in the moment, and bring a little tear to the corner of my eye. 😦

So, Sam takes Dean home, and, predictably, sets about summoning Crowley. Deal time. I settled back into the couch. But then, Crowley was already there, sitting next to Dean’s body. Hmmm. Crowley actually seemed sorry about what had happened, but also strangely excited. As he began to talk to Dean about Cain, I started to sit forward again. The writers had cleverly reminded us, at the beginning of the ep, that Cain was a demon. So as Crowley reached the end of his monologue, the anticipation built to a climax, and I’m betting about 80% of fans, myself included, knew that not only would Dean’s eyes open, but that they would open to reveal pools of jet black.

So, Big Shocker #2: Dean was resurrected as a DEMON. Now, I’ve heard some fans call the end of this episode predictable. I even said myself in the previous paragraph that I knew his peepers would be black when he opened ‘em, and many others likely did, too. So, how is that really a shocker? Because if you’d asked me at the beginning of the episode what would happen, neither dead!Dean nor demon!Dean would be on my list. Because if you’d asked me at the beginning of Crowley’s speech what was about to happen, I still couldn’t have told you that Dean was about to morph into something demonic. I only knew in the seconds before it happened, right when the writers wanted me to know, and not an instant before. That, my friends, is great writing.

And, as with all great finales, we were left with questions that have burned all summer long, filling the air like the sweet scent of barbeque smoke, making our stomachs growl for a taste of Season Ten: How will Castiel survive? Is it possible for him to reclaim his own stolen grace? (Anna did, but hers wasn’t used in a spell). Is Dean a regular demon, or a Knight of Hell? Will he have more loyalty to Sam or Crowley? When and how will Sam find out the truth? Will he be able to cure Dean, or would that be a death sentence, considering the mortally-wounded state of Dean’s body? (Demons can live in dead/dying bodies, e.g. Meg in Season One, but once the demon is out, nature kind of takes its course…) How much human emotion will Dean retain? After all, we’ve seen demons in love (demons in “Sin City,” Cain) and also cases of very loyal demons, like Ruby, demons who have parent-like affection for others (Azazel), and even a demon with a crush on an angel, so the possibilities are wide-open. And I, for one, can’t wait to see where they go with this!

Supernatural Final Score: 9

All right, now that I’ve got the gushing out of my system, let’s look at how the other shows finished out their seasons:

The Mentalist and Castle tied for second place, with Castle leading most of the way, and TM sticking its nose out at the last instant for a photo-finish. Both shows had strong seasons, with The Mentalist’s total creative reboot and Castle churning out one epic episode after another. As Castle drew to a close, we had the emotional arrest of Senator Bracken, the icky politician responsible for murdering Beckett’s mother, and the build-up to the much-anticipated Castle/Beckett nuptials. The Mentalist finished its run with a poignant human trafficking storyline and a hard-core, not-even-a-little-bit subtle push towards a Jane/Lisbon romantic relationship.

While many viewers were probably celebrating this last item on the list, I spent most of the final few eps of TM in Mixed Feelings-ville. It’s not that I don’t like Jane and Lisbon together – I’ve been reading shipper fic since I started watching the show. It’s just…I don’t know whether the writers like Jane and Lisbon together. The nature of the Jane/Lisbon relationship has varied wildly from season to season: gently flirtatious in Season One, strictly friendship in Season Two, platonic but very close in S3, occasional shippy hints in S4 and S5, and finally an aggressive and blatantly shippy S6. Is anyone else’s head spinning?

Castle may have sometimes overbaked its Castle/Beckett UST moments in the past, made the attraction a little too in-your-face obvious, but at least there was never any doubt that these two characters were, indeed, attracted to one another. On The Mentalist, for me, there was doubt. The writing was inconsistent. Rare moments like the “I love you” in the S4 finale were dropped like hot spoons and never picked up again. There was no apparent jealousy on Lisbon’s part when Jane dated Kristina, and as for Lisbon/Mashburn, it was never revealed if Jane even found out, much less got jealous over it. Fanficcers were left to explore these issues on their own. Actors and writers on The Mentalist suggested in post-Season One interviews that the Jane/Lisbon relationship was more brother/sister than romantic, a definite contrast to the Season One interview in which Tunney said that Lisbon probably bought a new pair of shoes for work when Jane started his job at the CBI.

Overall, I got the strong impression that the show had no intentions of ever putting Jane/Lisbon together, and was just throwing occasional bones to the shippers in a sometimes-unsuccessful attempt to make them happy (I know of at least one shipper who bailed early in S2 – she seemed to feel what I did: a complete removal of the flirtation/romantic hints we saw in S1).

And then along came S6. It was clear from early on that the writers were going to “go there.” Which would have been fine, if they took their time and made it natural. I am happy to go anywhere my shows take me, as long as it’s done right. This, however, felt very rushed. And forced – more like a desperate attempt to save the show than something the writers really wanted to do. If they had intended to put Jane/Lisbon together from the beginning, they would have laid a strong and consistent foundation all along. Instead, they thrust Lisbon headlong into a serious relationship with some guy the audience didn’t know (or care about), for the sole and transparent purpose of creating a jealousy storyline for Jane. I felt physically uncomfortable watching Lisbon interact with Pike – I love Lisbon, and here she was, this person I care deeply about, kissing and making plans with a total stranger – not just a stranger to the audience, but a stranger to her. Yikes.

Of course, it wasn’t all bad – we had those gemstone moments in private between Jane/Lisbon, those gut-twisting, all-show-and-no-tell scenes where both characters grappled with her new relationship and the possibility of her leaving. Their dialogue was sparse and simple, leaving emotion to overflow from between the lines. Awesome, powerhouse stuff.

And in the end, with the finale, that’s what won me over. The writing for that last episode was brilliant, and the performances were somewhere in the stratosphere. I’m still not completely comfortable with it, and I’m not sure the writers are, either, but they gave it 100% – everything Jane and Lisbon did in that last S6 ep was in character, from Jane’s trickery to Lisbon’s hurt to Jane’s painful and liberating confession of love. Very sweet, very romantic, very Jane and Lisbon.

The freeze-frame at the end definitely scared me – I mean, it was a nice image and all, but I thought it might very well be the last image of TM I’d ever see. I’m sure the writers were thinking it, too, and were trying to make the ending as happy as possible for a large (but not necessarily the largest) part of the fandom – the shippers. Needless to say, I breathed a long happy sigh when I found out TM was coming back for a Season 7. With all the bold moves the writers made this year – killing Red John, bringing aboard a whole new team, putting J/L together – they deserved a chance to show what they can do with a new year and a totally fresh start.

For me, I’ve never cared so much about how a couple gets together as I do about how their relationship is once they are together. Therefore, I’m way more stoked about seeing how Jane and Lisbon will navigate their new romance than I was about this whole jealousy/engagement thing. I truly can’t wait for next season, and I’m SO GLAD there is a next season. As long as the writers keep it in character, this relationship is going to be SO MUCH FUN!

The Mentalist Final Score: 8.5

Okay, now let’s talk about Castle for a quick sec. Yes, just a quick sec, because I honestly have no complaints here. The resolution to the Bracken storyline was wonderful, emotional, epic. The finale was full of humor, woe, genuine scares, and a flaming shocker of an ending that leaves me wondering who was in the car following Castle, what they did to him, when and how Beckett will find out the truth (he’s obviously not in the fiery wreckage, as she currently believes), and where it will all go from here. Castle is the perfect example other shows should look at when trying to decide whether the main couple should get together, or whether that would ruin the show. The answer: it can ruin the show – or it can make the show stronger, funnier, more romantic, and more exciting than ever! In Castle’s case, it’s the latter, and I’ve never loved the show more than I did this season. I even recently poked my nose into some Castlefic for the first time ever – and was not at all disappointed.

Castle Final Score: 8.5

With a last-minute tie for second, front-runner Grimm ended up coming in third. I loved the end-of-season addition of the new character “Trubel,” a young Grimm with brains, attitude, and some serious fighting skills – she fits right in with our gang without taking away from anyone’s screen time. The storylines all season long were excellent – it’s the perfect popcorn show, and I thought for SURE it would either win the race or at the very least come in a close second. But then something happened. Not something horrible that made me hate the show or anything like that – but just something that made me shave a few points off the final score: the finale.

Was it enjoyable? Yes. Exciting? Totally. But surprising? Not at all. Maybe the blame should fall on the person who put together the commercials for the finale, and not the episode itself, but there was nothing that happened in this episode that you couldn’t predict from the previews. We knew Adalind would replace Juliette. We knew Sean would get shot (still was totally traumatic – he’s one of my favs). We knew Monroe and Rosalie would tie the knot, and it was strongly implied that Nick would lose his powers. Really, the only thing we didn’t know was that Nick and Adalind would actually sleep together – and I don’t count that so much as a surprise moment as I do an “ew” moment. Ew.

Moving forward, I couldn’t be more excited – I seriously cannot wait to find out if Sean survives (he’d better – he’s one of the most complex, intriguing characters on the show), how Nick fares without his powers (wouldn’t that be terrifying, to know these things are out there, and not be able to see them anymore?), whether Juliette and Nick can weather the Adalind storm, and how newlywed life agrees (or doesn’t) with our favorite lovebirds (love-wesens?), Monroe and Rosalie. Also, what’ll Hank be up to next year (me-thinks powerless Nick will need his partner more than ever)?

Despite the predictability of the final ep, it was still a great ride that left me aching to see what’ll happen next. If Grimm keeps up this level of awesome, we may just have a new winner next year.

Grimm Final Score: 8.3

Chicago Fire finished its strong second season in a respectable fourth place. “Reliably lovable” is how I like to think about this one – I sit down, and I know I’ll be entertained. I’ll laugh, I’ll jump, and I might even cry (see “Best Tearjerker Moment” below). The storylines surprise me and make me think – every single time. The characters make me care – every single time. The two-night CF/CPD crossover event was a thing of beauty. Finally, NBC actually delivered something that was both a “crossover” and a “two-night event,” just as advertised. Bravo, Peacock Network!!! I’m so glad it was a two-nighter, too, because I couldn’t have waited a whole week to find out if Shay was okay! And major kudos to Amanda Righetti, because not once did I look at her and think “Van Pelt.” She was a totally new character, and I loved it. They almost had enough storylines with the hospital staff to make a third show: Chicago Medical. Hey, I’d watch it! 😉

The only downside to the two-night event was that it was SO wonderful and SO epic, that the finales for both shows were a little weaker by comparison. I did love that the CF finale focused on Severide, his guilt at overlooking a victim inside a burning building. That was pretty dark, actually, but the Chief’s wedding added some humor and light to balance it out. And of course we had the obligatory cliffie at the end. But overall, it did feel like a regular ep – not the final ep of a pretty dang awesome season!

Chicago Fire Final Score: 8.2

CPD falls just a hair behind its older sister. For whatever reason, CF owns a little bigger slice of my heart. Maybe because I’ve known the characters longer, or maybe just because while cops are out there firing guns and trying to catch bad guys, firefighters are simply trying to save people. There’s an innocence to that, an uncomplicated core of “goodness” we can all relate to. CPD is a great show, but it’s just a little darker, a little meaner, a little less pure than CF. The gruesome death of Jin in the finale showcases this. Antonio’s wife leaving him added yet another shadow to an already pretty bleak season-ender.

Nonetheless, I love the characters, and I’m compelled by the show, especially when it gives me delicious treats like the budding Lindsay/Severide romance. I wanted that so bad, but didn’t let myself hope. It seemed like they were pairing her with Jay, and I figured doing a cross-show romance would just be too daunting for the writers. And then they went there! And my fangirly heart jumped over the moon, landed on the sun, burned to a blackened crisp and was joyfully reborn from the ashes. I ship Lindsay/Severide!! Looking forward to many more scenes between them on both shows…assuming Severide made it out of that explosion…:/

Chicago PD Final Score: 8.1

Honestly, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. should have ranked higher than sixth place. It is an action movie, a comedy, and a sci-fi masterpiece all rolled up together in a hotdog bun. And I can sum up, in one word, why this show fell so far behind in my race: Ward. I’ve just never liked it when shows take a character you really care about and turn him or her “bad” as a way to shock the audience. It always feels like something that was just done on a whim to shake things up. Now, I do recognize Joss Whedon’s a genius, and I can give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he DID plan to have Ward be evil all along. But that doesn’t make the twist any more palatable to me. I feel like I wasted my time getting invested in something that wasn’t real. And that’s probably what I was supposed to feel, because that’s how Coulson and his team felt. The problem is, it didn’t make me like the show more. It made me like the show LESS. Like, a lot less. I missed parts of most of the last few eps, and honestly didn’t care that much. It’s still a great show, but not quite AS great. There’s an emptiness to it, now – a reluctance on my part to become overly attached to characters who might suddenly be revealed as evil to boost ratings.

I do give the writers credit for making Ward a complex shade of gray, rather than a cut-and-dried Prince of Darkness. And yes, the performances were excellent, and the finale did make me laugh out loud when Coulson broke out that huge gun, shot Garrett’s head off, and was all, “Guys, I found it!” Classic Whedon humor. All in all, this show is still very much worth watching, I just hope they don’t make me regret it…again.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Final Score: 7.5

Oddly enough, S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn’t the only show to turn one of its good guys not-so-good last year. Maybe it was something icky in the water? Whatever it was, Beauty and the Beast drank some, too. (Probably didn’t taste very good!) I know I didn’t like the flavor of evil!Gabe after a season of loving him! Yeah, yeah, I know he started out as a bad guy, but still, I thought he’d redeemed himself, and the return of Gabe The Murderer and, ultimately, Gabe The Murdering Beast just didn’t quite sit right in my stomach. Seemed too easy, too uncomplicated: Gabe is bad, and Cat and Vincent are meant to be. End of story. I would’ve liked more layers. I would’ve liked Gabe not to be a total psycho! It didn’t help that I apparently missed an episode. I have no freaking idea how, either – all I know is, Cat got kidnapped and Gabe was still a good guy, and I couldn’t wait to tune in the next week. When I tuned in the next week (or so I thought), Cat was no longer kidnapped, and Gabe was completely evil. WTH???? Not the smoothest transition for this viewer.

Maybe I got abducted by aliens. There was certainly missing time involved – like, a whole week of it. Whatever the case, I shook off my disorientation and tried to enjoy the remaining episodes. Thanks to the charming cast and funny writers, this wasn’t so difficult. I am thrilled X 1,000 that JT wasn’t killed off, and super-pumped about the potentially X-Files-y type supernatural investigations that Cat and Vincent may plunge into next year. Which we will thankfully get to see, since BATB got renewed! Yay!

Beauty and the Beast Final Score: 7.4

And in last place, we have Elementary. Which sounds bad, but considering that I only watch truly awesome shows, even last place isn’t such a terrible spot! When this show decides to bring it, they bring it like crazy. Problem is, they don’t always decide to bring it, and I think we had a bit of a sophomore slump going on last season. Certain moments and individual episodes really sparkled: Bell’s shooting and its aftermath, Gregson’s marital issues, Watson’s kidnapping, Moriarty’s return, Mycroft’s MI6 storyline. But then, in between those moments, we had some dry, unappetizing filler that didn’t seem to have any real direction or taste (other than cardboard).

My RX for next season: More Mycroft! My mom is always complaining about him getting together with Joan, how they have no chemistry. To which I reply: WHO CARES? Honestly, what does it matter if Mycroft has chemistry with Joan? He has chemistry with SHERLOCK. When those two brothers are onscreen, there is a crackle-fire intensity the likes of which I rarely see on TV. The emotions are all tangled up and crazy – the rivalry, the resentment, the jealousy, and yes, deep down, the LOVE. Mycroft returned to MI6 to save Sherlock from prison time. Baffled, Sherlock asks, “Why? You didn’t owe me anything.” Mycroft: “We’re brothers.” Oooh, watch out Sam and Dean – your spot as Top TV Bros may just be in jeopardy…

Elementary Final Score: 7.3

Miscellaneous Mini-Winners (FYI: I just spelled ‘miscellaneous’ correctly on the first try! Go me!):

Favorite Night of TV: Tuesday, cuz it’s got three in a row – S.H.I.E.L.D., Supernatural, CF!!

Best Tearjerker Moment: Tie: Chicago Fire’s heartfelt reunion between a disabled, alcoholic fire chief and the firefighters who once hated him for saving their lives and Elementary’s episode-closing scene between Sherlock and his dead friend, Alistair (Why did they have to kill him off??? And why did they have to write the ep so beautifully??? **sob**)

Here’s hoping for many more memorable moments from all of my shows next season!

May this fall bring on the best race ever!











Mentalist Review: Episode 5×22 “Red John’s Rules”

Review of Episode 5×22: “Red John’s Rules”
by castiello


Previews are misleading. My favorite shows keep trying to teach me that, yet apparently I still haven’t quite gotten the message. The previews for this episode were brief and vague, focusing primarily on an image of seven smiley faces and a brief shot of Cho running. My mind quickly jumped to “Red Sky in the Morning” (multiple smileys in one place) and I have to admit I was a bit less than enthused. The Season Two closer was a decent episode, but they completely skipped over some of the most interesting parts, including Jane’s rescue from the warehouse. I worried that the Season Five finale might suffer from the same shortcomings. I worried that the team would be rushing around after Red John the whole time, and we’d miss the little character moments in between. I worried that I wasn’t going to love the season finale of one of my favorite shows.

Thankfully, all that worrying was for absolutely no good reason. “Red John’s Rules” is yet another example of underwhelming previews leaving me completely unprepared for a stellar episode that I would happily rewind and re-watch – repeatedly.

Jane: The character revelations…wow. I mean seriously, wow. We’re used to Jane strolling around, all buttoned up in his little vest, keeping his past and his secrets chained and padlocked inside his heart…and then we get an episode like this, where we find out so dang MUCH all at once. It feels like being in an avalanche. All these details about Jane’s life and his history and his most hidden thoughts just come roaring down the mountain at the same time, and I can’t help but be swept away. It was “Cackle-Bladder Blood” all over again. There’s a reason that episode’s in my Top Five, and probably my Top Three. I remember feeling amazed while watching “Cackle-Bladder Blood” – we had rarely seen Jane so raw, we had never seen him so open. He talked with Lisbon about his wife, his carnival days, his wedding. It took my breath away, and so did “Red John’s Rules.” What looked like an action romp actually turned out to be a dark and twisty character piece peppered with wonderful friendship moments as well as some genuinely disturbing psychological scares.

Who’s a happy fan? **castiello raises her hand exuberantly**

Okay, so, the avalanche:

We discovered that Jane’s “happy memory” is a little girl named Lee Lee Barlow, balancing on her father’s outstretched arm. We learned that he spent some time in the care of Child Protective Services (no surprises there) and it wasn’t good time. We found out that some carnie families, like Patrick and Alex, only keep up the “psychic act” around marks, while others, like the Barlows, present themselves as clairvoyant at all times. We saw that Jane actually can snooze pretty soundly, if he’s sleep-deprived enough (Did you see how cute and tousled he looked when Lisbon finally woke him up?) And we learned that Jane still refuses to believe that anyone – including Red John – could actually be psychic, no matter how creepy and convincing the evidence is.

Speaking of Red John: Jane has finally narrowed down his suspect pool to seven people. Nay, seven men. Early on, he eliminated women. Eventually, he also came to eliminate people he’d met before his family was murdered (Why???), and people he only had a brief interaction with (I repeat: Why???). So now it’s down to seven. Both Bret and Brett are on there, as well as weirdo Kirkland, William-Blake-quoting Bertram, freaky Visualize guy Hafner, and a couple of dudes who were probably in a few episodes but their roles weren’t big enough that I recognized their names. Still no way to know if Lisbon told Jane about Hafner’s Visualize membership and his possible presence at the red barn, but at least creepy Ray made the list.

Jane’s reaction to Red John’s message at the end of the ep mirrored my own feelings of spiraling defeat: Jane put all that work into narrowing down that list, and it may have been for nothing. Red John might not even be on there, and even if he is, he knows exactly what Jane knows. Red John isn’t just five steps ahead – he’s fifty steps ahead. Every time Jane thinks he has the advantage, the rug just comes flying out from under him. I felt that more in this ep than I ever did before. Red John has never seemed smarter or more powerful, and it left us with an angsty cliffhanger and the promise of a thrilling Season Six.

Lisbon: Jane didn’t want to tell her the suspects’ names because she would start acting weird in front of those people and end up tipping them off. He strengthened his argument by including a dead-on, laugh-out-loud impression of Lisbon trying to put on a front. Some great, much-needed comedy in an otherwise shadowy episode. I love the funny moments between Jane and Lisbon almost as much as I love the intense, serious ones. In this ep, we got beautiful examples of both. Each little Jane/Lisbon scene was like tearing the paper off a birthday gift – surprising and wonderful in equal measure.

Interestingly enough, Lisbon is willing to entertain the idea of Red John being psychic. On the one hand, it would be cool if the show went there. Jane is so utterly and stubbornly convinced that nothing beyond his understanding could possibly exist. It would be a humbling moment for him. A huge turning point for his character.

OTOH, a psychic Red John would be a bit of a cop-out. Like, the writers realized they had no other way of explaining how Red John knows what he knows and does what he does, leaving a supernatural explanation as the only remaining option. I’d like to see them at least try to figure out a way to piece it all together in a clever, compelling, and real-world-believable way.

So, Lisbon was “lying in bed, thinking about Patrick,” eh? I don’t think I’m going to touch that one. I’m sure the fanfiction authors are already having a field day with that, so I’ll just let the party continue. I will say this, though: I loved how Lisbon and Jane were both more concerned about the other person than they were for themselves after their very disturbing encounter with Sean Barlow.

Cho/Rigs/Van Pelt: Weren’t in it too much, but I have a hard time complaining about that when we got so many fabulous Jane and Lisbon scenes. I did have to snicker when Rigsby tried to confess his and Van Pelt’s relationship to Cho, only to have Cho be like, “I already know. You and Van Pelt are having sex.” It was so sweet when Rigsby felt the need to clarify that they are also in love – not just having sex. Cho seemed to have a small but genuine reaction to that. He is happy for his partner. Long live the bromance! 🙂

Sean Barlow: Successfully redefined the word “creepy.” Everything from his physical appearance, to his mannerisms, to his voice – not to mention all the stuff he said.  Seriously, I shuddered. Multiple times. Jane’s old friend said Sean Barlow might actually be Red John. After seeing the guy for myself, I am so not ruling it out.

Lorelei: It was eerie to see her again – like a voice from beyond the grave. I imagine Jane felt the same way. (Major points to the wardrobe people for remembering the bandage on her arm, btw.) The ease with which Red John got her back under his control is scary to the nth degree. She was totally complacent – almost contrite – as she followed her Master’s final instructions. I mean, sure, he had a gun pointed at her. Sure, she was trying to spare herself hours of pointless torture, but still…I got the feeling she would have cooperated anyway. That even with the knowledge of RJ’s involvement in her sister’s murder, Lorelei never did fully break free of his control. I also got the feeling that she was, above all, genuinely sorry.

Red John: Seems to know a lot of things he should have no way of knowing. Some things are explainable, if you dig deep enough. Other things, not so much. So, let’s focus on what we do know:

The Happy Memory: Red John appears to have stolen a memory right out of Jane’s mind. Something Jane never told anyone about. If Red John isn’t psychic, how is that possible?

Option 1.) Red John was actually present at the scene all those years ago, when Lee Lee’s dad was holding her up. He witnessed the happy moment right along with Jane. It was a happy memory for Red John, and since the two men are eerily similar in many ways, Red John knew that the memory would be significant for Jane, as well.

Option 2.) Hypnosis. Jane told Red John all about the happy memory, but doesn’t remember doing so. Jane and Red John were alone together in “Red Sky in the Morning,” a perfect opportunity for Red John to hypnotize Jane, extract whatever info he wanted, plant whatever suggestions he thought might be useful down the road, and leave Jane none the wiser.

By far the superior option, #2 goes a long way to explaining why Jane and Red John used practically the exact same phrasing when describing Lee Lee’s murder: Jane: “It’s as if Red John reached into my mind, took my happy memory, and killed it.” Red John: “I am going to take a happy memory, something you’ve never told anyone about, and I’m going to kill it.” Also, remember how twitchy Jane was after RJ had him in that Saran Wrap chair? For the first half of Season Three, Jane was flipping out whenever people touched his shoulder. Kinda reminds me of how cagey Rigsby was after that bad lady in “Russet Potatoes” (sorry, can’t remember her name – it was four seasons ago) turned him into a hypnotized minion. Rigs had no idea he’d been compromised, and the same could be true for Jane.

The Handshake: Red John knows what Lorelei said about the handshake, even though the words appeared to just rush out of her in a moment of anger. I didn’t think she even realized she’d said it. Neither did Jane. If she didn’t know she’d let something vital slip, how did Red John get that info out of her?

Option #1.) Lorelei really didn’t realize she made the slip, but Red John used hypnosis to take her back through all of her interactions with Jane, and she was able to recall accidentally revealing the handshake clue.

Option #2.) Lorelei is a great actress, and let the clue slip with full knowledge of what she was doing. She wanted to give Jane a little piece of the puzzle. Later, under Red John’s torture, she revealed to The Master what she’d done. (And he was “really mad.”)

Option #3.) Lorelei is a great actress who let the “clue” slip out on Red John’s orders. It was a false piece of info planted just to drive Jane nuts. Red John and Jane never did actually shake hands, and Red John is not even on Jane’s list of suspects. The Master gets the last laugh, as always.

The List: Red John successfully guessed every name on Jane’s list. If RJ can’t read minds, then how the crap did he do that?

Option #1.) Red John is actually that brilliant. He is actually that good at figuring out the inner workings of Jane’s mind. Starting with the handshake clue, Red John was able to comb through Jane’s history and select the candidates Jane himself would zero in on. (A highly unlikely scenario, bordering on impossibility.)

Option #2.) The names were easy to narrow down, thanks to a nice long gander at Jane’s private attic bulletin board. We know for sure that Kirkland’s people broke in, and others might have, too. Several of the suspects even work right in the building **cough**Bertram-and-Hafner**cough**. Even Jane knows that someone violated his space (thanks to the toothpick alarm), so he shouldn’t be too shocked that Red John has hijacked his research.

Option #3.) The names were planted in Jane’s mind by Red John himself, during the aforementioned Saran Wrap Chair Hypnosis Session. Everything – including Lorelei letting the clue slip – was part of an elaborate scheme to screw with Jane’s mind. Red John set this whole thing in motion years ago.

Final Thoughts: There are different kinds of finales. Some wrap up the season’s main storylines, giving viewers a sense of closure. Others dive headlong into edge-of-the-seat cliffhangers guaranteed to make fans tune in next fall. The very best finales, however, manage to do both – and “Red John’s Rules” lands squarely in this last category. The Payoff: After more than half a season of educated guessing and wild speculation, we are finally rewarded with the last seven names on Jane’s list. The Cliffie: Red John has decided to abandon a state of semi-retirement to become an active serial killer once more. He has issued a challenge to Jane, and the stakes have never been higher – or bloodier. I have no idea how many people will die next season, but one thing’s for sure: Jane and Co. are – and always have been – playing by Red John’s Rules.





Mentalist Review: Episode 5×21 “Red and Itchy”

Review of Episode 5×21: “Red and Itchy” (AKA “Animal, Vegetable or Ewwwwwwwwww!”)
by castiello

Overall: It was the one episode I never saw coming. The one place I was sure they’d never, ever go. The one plotline that I thought would remain a dangly, loose thread, always and forever. But, no – in a burst of great continuity and bold storytelling, The Mentalist not only revisited the topic of LaRoche’s mysterious Tupperware, but did so in a thrilling and ultimately satisfying way. Well done, Show!

Jane: Okay, I take back what I said last time about him being kind of jerkish and making Lisbon come upstairs to get him all the time. Seems he genuinely was working on the Red John case, and was actually very close to a breakthrough. In hindsight, that little book he was reading must have been his list of names. It just looked different, somehow. Then again, the last time they showed Jane’s house and his bedroom, those looked different to me, too. And there’s no reason they would change those sets. So…weird angles, maybe? Unusual lighting? In any case, Jane is on the verge and I can’t really fault him for needing some alone time. The only thing I can fault him for is trying to find his alone time in a bustling government office building. Dude, just take some personal time and go hole up somewhere! A motel room, your house, an abandoned warehouse – almost anywhere would be an improvement.

Anyway, before Jane went into full seclusion, we got to watch him skillfully tap-dance his way around the topic of JJ’s Tupperware. I swear, if BSing is an artform, then Jane is Picasso. It was like seeing him do his psychic act all over again. LaRoche: “Do you think me a monstrosity?” Jane: “No…Not a monstrosity. I think you’re a very complex person…” LOL. Brilliant stuff. I kept waiting for Jane to screw up and say something that didn’t fit, but he pulled off the con brilliantly, letting LaRoche guide the discussion, keeping things just vague enough to be open for interpretation.

Where Jane impressed me the most, though, was his decision not to look in the Tupperware. I mean, he must have been dying to look. We all were. But in a rare move, Jane chose to respect JJ’s privacy and let some secrets remain secret. Part of Jane probably thought that the reality of what was in the box would never live up to what he’d been imagining. And, maybe a part of him was just testing his own willpower. But most of all, I think he does have some weird form of respect for LaRoche, some strange kinship that actually grew stronger during this case, and while Jane was conning and scheming JJ the whole episode long, I think at the end Jane decided to act as a true friend should. One small step for man, one giant leap for Jane. 🙂

Lisbon: “For once, don’t be the voice of reason – be the voice of wrath.” When Jane said that to her, I got shivers. And when she came back with, “Okay, how do we get the b!tch?” I actually hissed the word “yesssssss” under my breath. Right on, Lisbon. Right on. I’m so glad she followed her gut on this one. Jane’s plan wasn’t even as dangerous or half-cocked as usual, so there would have been no real harm done if he was wrong about Brenda. (Just some departmental embarrassment, but what else is new?)

If anyone discovered the secret of the box, I would have expected it to be Jane. If not him, then Van Pelt or Rigsby, who were openly making bets about the box’s contents. But in the end, it was Lisbon who showed that her passion for justice is only part of the reason she decided to become a cop. Apparently, she can’t resist the thrill of a good mystery – and she can’t stand not knowing the solution. It was Lisbon who broke down and scratched the itch for us, tracking down the rapist who had assaulted JJ’s mother and at long last digging up the truth.

I have to wonder, though, if she’s glad she made that trip. Now, Lisbon has to face a big decision about what to do with her newfound knowledge. Jane would tell her to just let it go. I mean, technically, she doesn’t know anything for sure. She just has a very strong hunch. Revealing her suspicions would be like opening up a can of worms and dumping them out to crawl all over the ground. LaRoche would find out the extent of Jane’s betrayal. LaRoche would be disgraced and probably wind up in prison. His mother’s memory would be tarnished. So, Lisbon will likely hold her tongue (LOL) and keep this secret buried, just as she has in the past with Bosco’s crime and the numerous illegal actions Jane has taken over the years. But how much of this stuff she can cover up before she starts feeling like a dirty cop? There’s gotta be a breaking point somewhere, because Lisbon believes in the law. Like, really believes. And I would so hate to see Lisbon hand over her badge because she just didn’t feel like she was honoring it anymore…

Cho/Rigs/Van Pelt: No overt mentions of the Rigspelt reunion – just a subtle shift in Rigsby’s demeanor when he talks about Van Pelt to Cho. No more whining and moping or endlessly obsessing. Rigbsy simply talked about the bet he and VP had going, but there was this lightness in the way he talked. This gentle happiness in the way both of them acted. I’m sure it took Cho all of two seconds to figure out they were back together. Never mind Jane, who knew it was going to happen before Rigsby and VP even did. The bullpen had a nice, relaxed feeling to it. Tension-free. Relieved. Meant-to-be. I was happy to just sit there and soak in the new group dynamic. And for the record, Cho’s wisdom and his ability to read people is starting to rival Jane’s. Cho didn’t hesitate when he said the contents of the box were “animal.” He’s not half as damaged as Jane, but Cho has still seen way more of humanity’s dark side than anyone should…

LaRoche: Speaking of dark sides – whoa! This dude is pitch black. I never thought of him as being particularly similar to Jane…I always thought LaRoche cherished the law above all else. But now that I’ve seen what he’s capable of…the coldness of it, the calculation that the act required…Yikes. JJ’s darker than Jane, if you ask me! When Jane shot Not-Red John in the mall, at least it was a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing. There were tears streaming down Jane’s face – he was pushed over the edge. But JJ’s crime took so much planning…to break into someone’s house, inject the person, and do that in the dead of night. Wow. And how could he possibly have gotten away with it? Given the circumstances, wouldn’t he be like, the one and only suspect? The only thing I can figure, is that someone let it slide. The police didn’t want to catch him, because they didn’t really blame him. The kind of corruption and rule-breaking JJ openly detests is probably the only reason he’s a free man today.

Brenda: Man, was I glad to see this chick go down! I mean, after what she did to Lisbon? After what she did to that kid? Brenda’s fall was long overdue. The fact that it happened on camera was just a bonus. The real joy was seeing her sitting there in the interrogation room with Lisbon and Jane. Seeing her smug expression and then seeing Jane smear it right off her face. His little “baaaa” said it all: You are not nearly as special or as smart as you think you are. You are a common criminal, just like all the rest. Right on, Jane. Right on.

The Box: After all that teasing, I actually thought they might not reveal the contents. After all the hype and the build-up, I actually thought maybe they shouldn’t reveal the contents. They could’ve easily done a cop-out ending and left us guessing for the remainder of our natural lives. But they didn’t – The Mentalist delivered a satisfying pay-off in a creepy and disturbing way, and I give them major points for tying up a mystery that’s been niggling for two long years. In the end, I was only left wondering about one thing: Seriously, why didn’t he just freeze it?

Final Thoughts: Jane is about 24 hours away from figuring out who Red John is. Lisbon just found out an icky secret. Rigsby and Van Pelt are together and it feels so good. What will happen next? Guess we’ll have to tune in to the SEASON FINALE TONIGHT!!!

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. 🙂

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!

Mentalist Review: Episode 5×18 “Behind the Red Curtain”

Review of Episode 5×18: “Behind the Red Curtain” (AKA “Forty-eight minutes of adequately-interesting investigation followed by four minutes of HOLY CRAP!”)
by castiello

Overall: Anyone else getting the whole Jane = Wile E. Coyote, Red John = Roadrunner vibe? Though Jane put in an honest effort, I’m not sure he really made any progress in identifying Red John. While “The Red Barn” had a definite feeling of forward motion, this episode once again had poor Jane running in circles…:( On the plus side, we had not one but two very happy reunions, plus a well-constructed case. And, although Jane may not have gotten much new info, the audience got a truckload dumped on us, so all in all, not a bad hour of TV.

Jane: Can I just say that I love how he can solve a case using roughly two percent of his brain, while the rest of his mind is busy at work on other problems? Also, I gotta have some respect for his unwillingness to give up: even though all signs pointed to the fact that Coma Guy, aka Jason Lennon, would not survive to talk to Jane, Jane still super-glued himself to that hospital hallway anyway, hoping against hope. I wasn’t sure if he could trust the nurse he’d befriended, but it turned out she was the only one at that hospital he could trust, and her instincts regarding Kirkland and Co. (“like monsters about to rip off their masks and show their gross, alien faces underneath”) were dead on. I also kinda loved how she was all, “I know you’re using me, and yet I don’t care.” I feel the same way. If Jane smiled at me and took me out for lunch every day, I’d probably tell him anything he wanted to know. Just goes to show how powerful that glow around him really is. When he turns up the charm, 99% of the female population is helpless to resist.

Lisbon: Hmmmmmm. A rare part of the 1% who can resist the Master of Charm…sometimes. In this episode she was gloomy. She did not want Jane at that hospital, and I had to ask myself why:

Option One: She was just trying to keep Jane from obsessing, because it’s unhealthy and all that jazz.

Maybe, but this was a unique situation – a living Red John accomplice within reach. Surely, Lisbon could see that this was a little different than Jane sitting in his attic, rereading his notebook for the one thousandth time. This was a real lead, and a good one. So, why was she so keen on keeping him away?

Option Two: Lisbon predicted the outcome – that RJ would somehow get to Lennon first and kill him – and was trying to spare Jane the pain of yet another anvil falling on his head.

Possible, but it kind of goes against Lisbon’s typical positive and hopeful attitude. She is usually the one saying “We’ll get him,” “Hardy will talk,” “This is a good clue.” To think that she was expecting Red John to win again is a bad sign. Almost like she’s giving up, and I hate that idea, so, moving on:

Option Three: Lisbon didn’t want Jane to get in trouble with the FBI/Homeland Security for hanging around a restricted-access prisoner.

A more likely option, because she does really care about Jane keeping his job. However, when Jane got caught skulking around the hospital, the punishment was minimal. Basically, he was told to leave and escorted out. I didn’t feel that he was in any danger of getting sacked, so why would Lisbon be so concerned?

Option Four: Thinking back to April Grey’s comments a few months ago, I couldn’t help but consider one last option: That maybe, just maybe, Lisbon has been compromised. That somehow, against her will, she has been hypnotized or brainwashed into doing Red John’s bidding, and that the only reason she wanted Jane out of that hospital is so that he wouldn’t be able to talk to Lennon.

A scary option, but that’s what makes it fun! I would totally freak the heck out if Lisbon had been turned, and the storyline following that revelation would be a rollercoaster of must-see, hate-it-but-love-it TV. Of course, I say this secure in the knowledge that any such hypnosis or brainwashing would be reversible, and our beloved Lisbon would be as unaccountable for her actions as Rigsby was in “Russet Potatoes.”

Cho/Rigs/Van Pelt (!!!!!): She’s baaaaaaaaaaaack! YAY! That moment when VP was just standing in the background, all glowy and happy to be back home – I think my soul fluttered its wings. Beautiful, wonderful reunion scene with her and Rigsby. True, Rigs, Cho and VP didn’t have a huge amount of screen time in this one, but just the fact that she’s back, the fact that she was so warmly and wonderfully received, totally made up for it. I am officially a pile of goo.

LaRoche: Always, always a pleasure to have him onscreen. The actor has a presence, and I can’t help but be enthralled. I love him for his fierce competence at his job, his reluctant affection for Jane and Co, and his complete awkwardness in any situation outside of his comfort zone. Jane was right to bring him in on this investigation, forcing LaRoche to breathe some fresh air and interact with some human beings. Jane learned the importance of that from Lisbon, and it’s lovely to see him passing on the lesson.

Kirkland: What the heck? No, seriously, what the HECK? If anyone can make sense of the last four minutes of this episode, I’m all ears. I mean, I’ve got plenty of theories, but most of them are about as likely as Jane giving up his pursuit of Red John and joining the Ice Capades.

Theory One: Kirkland is Red John, but he had never interacted with Lennon personally. Kirkland decided to make sure his identity was still a secret before killing Lennon either out of mercy, or because Lennon was a loose end who possessed damaging info on Red John’s organization.

Theory Two: Kirkland is Red John, but he uses some form of hypnosis/mind control/disguise to prevent his minions from clearly seeing his face. He checked to make sure that Lennon’s coma had not jarred loose any memories of Red John’s actual appearance, then killed him either out of mercy, because he possessed dangerous info, or because Jane would have eventually been able to undo the mind control/hypnosis protecting Red John’s identity. (Special Note: The idea behind this theory came from a wonderful fanfic called “Reverie by Cho” ( which everyone should read for the sheer awesomeness of getting to imagine Jane and Co. as superheroes).

Theory Three: Kirkland is a Red John minion. He wanted to make sure his identity as a RJ disciple had not been revealed to lower members of the group. Once secure in this knowledge, he killed Lennon on Red John’s orders.

Theory Four: Kirkland is a good guy. He is either a mole in the Red John organization, trying to bring the serial killer down, or simply a DHS Agent with lots of insider knowledge. He killed Lennon to stop Jane from identifying and going after Red John prematurely.

Although all of these are total straw-reachers, my favorites are Two and Four. I am totally open to hearing any less-insane theories, though, if anybody has some of those for sale.

Randomness: The case was good. Unpredictable, with a side of real emotion. The motive for the killing seemed a little weak, but I guess desperate psycho people will do desperate psycho things. I loved the mother-daughter angle, even though they’ve used similar storylines in the past. One thing I did roll my eyes at: why did the soon-to-be murder victim tell the murderer she was going to expose him? Don’t any of these characters watch TV? You never tell the murderer you’re going to call the police. You never announce to your lover that you’re going to tell his wife about the affair. Think, people. Think.

Overall: Despite the general and frustrating lack of progress on the Red John front, we do know one thing for certain: Kirkland is a killer. And it shouldn’t take Jane long to arrive at this same conclusion. The nurse will know Kirkland was alone with Lennon. Jane himself saw Kirkland leaving the room after Lennon coded. It’s not rocket science, and surely Kirkland must realize this. Does he want Jane to know he’s a killer? Does he want Jane to know he’s the Killer, the infamous and long-sought Red John Himself? I guess we’ll have to tune in to find out… 🙂

Mentalist Review: Episode 5×17 “Red, White and Blue”

Review of Episode 5×17: “Red, White and Blue”
by castiello

Overall: There are some episodes that make you proud to be a fan. Episodes that take your breath away with a whirlwind of great writing, excellent directing, and stellar performances. Episodes that you actually want to show to other people – people who don’t ordinarily watch The Mentalist – just to give them a taste of the phenomenal series they are missing. This episode fell into that category. “Red, White and Blue” was a shining example of network television at its finest.

Jane: How much do I love it when Jane is kind to vulnerable people? How much do I love it when he uses his impressive skills for something that is purely good, rather than deceptive and morally questionable? Thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much! He was awesome in this episode. Just plain awesome. Every moment he spent with Pete, from helping the young soldier remember Lucy’s murder to teaching him how to create his own memory palace, was sweet and wonderful. I ate it up like a pigeon in a parking lot, chowing on a dropped hot dog bun. Even Jane’s apology sounded unusually sincere. And sincerity, from Jane, is a rare and beautiful thing. My absolute favorite Jane moment in this episode, though, was when he said a simple and heartfelt thank you to all the soldiers who were suffering from traumatic brain injuries. His voice was so soft and rough with true emotion. Simon outdid himself. That big puddle on the floor over there used to be my heart.

Lisbon: Okay somebody needs to make an “Army of Two” banner or wallpaper featuring Jane and Lisbon, because that scene was just too funny. The way they kept on singing the song together made me laugh. And of course, it took all of two seconds for Jane and Lisbon to prove that their team deserved the case. No surprises there. I liked that Lisbon contributed to the sleuthing, so it wasn’t just Jane showing off. Still, I did wonder why Jane couldn’t read the music himself – doesn’t he play the string bass?

Lisbon’s sensitivity and respect toward Pete was a highlight of this episode, just like Jane’s was. You could see it in the gentle way she told Rigsby, “You might have to remind him who you are and what you’re doing…” And when Lisbon tried half-heartedly to insist that Pete was still a suspect in Lucy’s murder, I love how all it took was a look from Jane to make her say, “Okay, fine, he’s not a suspect!” Another great Lisbon moment: she was the one who figured out that it didn’t fit Lucy’s character to file an anonymous complaint. The plot was well-developed enough that I came to this realization right in tandem with Lisbon, feeling like I was investigating the case alongside her.

Cho: Fantastic B-plot, perfectly suited to his character. It was so nice to see him doing something other than talking to Rigsby about Van Pelt. I love great partner moments at least as much as the next person, but Cho was overdue for a solo storyline, and the one he got in this episode was better than I could have hoped for. You could just feel the contempt he had for the irresponsible unit leader. Allowing unit members to get harassed? Not carefully investigating a sexual harassment claim? When soldiers are relying on each other in life-or-death situations, this crap can’t be going on in the background, and Cho knows it. He urged the unit leader to reinvestigate Rose’s claim, essentially telling the guy to “Be someone your unit can respect. Be someone I can respect.” Cho’s salute at the end of the episode said more than words ever could.

Rigsby: Not too much for him to do in this episode, although I did like his line about finding dates in prison. Rigsby’s disgust for the murderer in this episode matched the audience’s. As the doctor went on and on, complaining about his alimony payments and then emotionlessly describing Lucy’s death, you couldn’t help but hate him. Lucy had done so much good, from protecting a fellow soldier who’d been sexually harassed to devoting herself to aiding veterans with brain trauma. The world needed someone like her. To see her robbed of her life by someone so self-involved and generally worthless as the doctor made me a little sick, and I could see that emotion on Rigsby’s face as well. What a waste.

Randomness: Great red herring, showing that one soldier with the box cutter – I thought for sure he was guilty of the murder. The casting and writing in general were superb. I got to know and care about the guest characters, which isn’t something that happens in every episode. Normally when I write reviews, I either have to look up the names of the minor characters, or I simply write, “guy with the leather jacket,” “the victim’s sister,” “the killer,” etc. But in this case, I found that I remembered their names on my own. Pete, Rose and Lucy became as real to me as Lisbon, Jane, Risgby and Cho. My only (very minor) complaints for this episode were: A.) No mention of Van Pelt, and B.) No mention of the events in the previous episode. And honestly, I’m not even sure those are true complaints, because although part of me wanted some continuity, some way to place this episode in the order of the season, another part of me thought it was absolute perfection as an isolated, completely stand-alone story.

Final Thoughts: I’ve said before that I live for the episodes centered on Jane, Lisbon and Co, and am generally not that interested in the stand-alone, “crime of the week” eps. This episode, however, was the rare exception to that rule. Once in a while, when the writing and the directing and the performances all align, we get something incredible, like “The Red Mile” or “Ruby Slippers.” Episodes where I cried for characters I’d only just met, because their stories moved me so deeply. “Red, White and Blue” is another one to add to that list. One of the best eps of the season, and one of the best stand-alones of the whole series.