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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

Supernatural Review: Episode 8×22 “Clip Show”

Review of Episode 8×22: “Clip Show”
by castiello

Initial Thoughts: They killed Sarah. Sam’s Sarah. Right in front of him. Right in front of us…It was awful and brutal and…and…**runs off to sob in a dark corner**

A few hours later…

Okay, I think I’ve recovered enough to talk about the episode.

Sammy: Oh, poor baby…Watching Sarah die like that and not being able to do anything about it…Seriously, there are no words. I almost couldn’t bear to look at the screen. And afterwards, his brokenness. His defeat. So painful…Now Sam wants to give up on the quest, and I can’t blame him – who knows which person Crowley will go after next? I mean, think about the kids Sam and Dean have saved: that little boy in “Dead in the Water,” the little girl in “Playthings,” Krissy, Ben…Just going over the possibilities makes me feel a little sick. Crowley sure knew which trigger to pull didn’t he? And so did the writers. Ouch.

Proud of Sam for sticking up for Cass in this ep. Dean went on and on about all the crap Cass has pulled recently – which honestly isn’t that bad compared to things Castiel’s done in the past, e.g. teaming up with the King of Hell – and Sam’s simple argument for why they should forgive their angel buddy consisted of three short words: “Because it’s Cass.” Amen, Sam! Amen!

Sarah’s observations about Sam’s hair may have been flawed (Yes, you heard me, I didn’t like the Season One haircut. Nay, I hated it **ducks sharp objects hurled by rabid Sam girls**) but what she noticed about his character was right on the $$$. She said he seems more self-assured. Seeing as he felt lost and guilty and cursed when she first met him, it was cool to see Sam’s changes through the eyes of someone who hasn’t been there to witness everything he’s survived in the past seven-to-nine years. The differences between then and now, both physical and mental, are staggering. He is all grown up, just like Sarah said.

She also said that Sam “knows what he wants.” At that particular moment, I’d say it was true. Sam wanted to close the Hell Gate, and then go on to lead a normal, “apple pie” life. The only problem with that goal: Sam and Dean have no idea what will happen when the Gate slams shut. They are operating under the highly unrealistic expectation that once the door is closed, all things that screech and claw and rip people up will instantly go “poof” and the world will be a calm place, empty of both monsters and demons. When this doesn’t happen, and there are still ten million creatures out there killing innocent folks, then I have no idea what Sam will want. He’s been very committed to this task…but what about the next one?

Dean: Another poor baby. Though Sarah’s death surely didn’t impact him as hard as it did Sam, I know Dean can’t be taking it well, either. Especially thinking about who might be next. I mean Crowley does know about Ben and Lisa. Wiping Lisa and Ben’s memories has done nothing to prevent Dean’s ex-girlfriend and surrogate son from being used as a weapon – why would it matter to Crowley that they don’t remember Dean? Dean remembers them, and that’s all Crowley cares about. They are a way to emotionally gut Dean, just as Sarah’s death emotionally gutted Sam. And Crowley was wicked smart not to start with Lisa and Ben – holding onto them as an ace in the hole was one of his usual strokes of demonic brilliance.

But now Dean is in a major Catch-22 situation. Because if he and Sam don’t quit, Ben, Lisa and hundreds of other people could die senselessly. But if they do quit, then Sam dies. And that is simply not an option in Dean’s book, or in mine. Dean’s main driving force at this point is trying to get Sam better. Without completing the third task, that won’t happen. Sam is clearly willing to make the sacrifice, but there’ll be Ice Capades in Hell before Dean goes along with that plan.

Not diggin’ how mean Dean was to Castiel in this episode. Poor Cass had his brain rewired – numerous times – and still managed to overcome his programming to keep himself from killing Dean. So what if Castiel took the angel tablet? Dean doesn’t have any right to that, anyway. Get off your high horse, Dean! (Ooh, I just had a cool mental image of Dean riding Death’s horse in the apocalypse…) Seriously, though, this is not the first time Dean’s been downright cold towards Cass – remember back in Season Six when the angel civil war was going down? Most of the time, Dean acted like he couldn’t care less. I think he offered to help a grand total of one time, and even then it was only as an afterthought. I know the current strife between Cass and Dean won’t last forever – it never does. So I’ll suck it up…for now. But all the while I’ll be eagerly looking forward to the return of the closeness I have come to cherish between Dean and his angel.

Sarah: You know, there’s a part of me that rages against certain post-Season Five creative choices. Like killing off Bobby, having Castiel be the bad guy for a whole season, turning Grandpa Samuel into a world-class d!ck, etc, etc. Now, I will be adding killing off Sarah and Tommy to that list. Okay, maybe Tommy’s death was somewhat acceptable, but Sarah? The one girl who was pretty darn near universally approved by the fandom as a potential mate for Sam? When the post-Season Five creative team decided to take her away from us, something rose up inside of me. Something like “This is NOT your show. This is KRIPKE’S show. You are not running it as well as he did, therefore you do NOT have a right to kill off beloved characters on a whim.” And then I realized: that is exactly how I am supposed to feel – because that is exactly how Sam and Dean feel. The people they’ve saved are the one thing that keeps them going, the one pure, good thing they can look back on when they want to feel better. Crowley took that from them, and the writers took it from us, creating a perfect moment of empathy between the fans and the characters. Hats off to some tremendous, Kripke-worthy writing.

Castiel: Totally won my heart over during his trip to the grocery story, buying jerky and Busty Asian Beauties and demanding PIE. In his childlike, emotionally-stunted, socially-crippled way, Cass was doing everything he could to make things right with Dean. I only wish Castiel had finished the job rather than teaming up with Metatron for some seriously-dubious Nephilim-hunting. It’s scary how easily Cass can be led astray, even after the Crowley debacle…

Metatron: I was just saying how much I liked this dude, and already he’s lost some of my respect! Killing an innocent creature that had committed no crime aside from being born? ICK. The justification “she’s an abomination” holds less water than a desert. You can’t kill somebody for no other reason than because they happen to exist. And the self-defense argument doesn’t work, either – Castiel and Metatron went after this girl with the intent of murdering her. So what if she made the first move? I had nothing but sympathy for this creature, no matter how mean and bad-@$$ they tried to make her seem. Metatron’s idea about closing Heaven was well-reasoned, but the cost of getting the job done is already too high.

Abadon: Sam and Dean get major IQ points for leaving her without hands – I’ll give them that. Sadly, that’s about all the IQ points they earned in this episode. There was no logic behind reconstructing one of Lucifer’s Knights. They had a dangerous demon successfully incapacitated, and they brought her back for no good reason. The demon-curing exorcism they listened to was performed on a REGULAR demon – there was no reason to think it would or could work on a super-powered Knight of Hell. And at that point in the ep, Sam and Dean didn’t know that Crowley was intentionally keeping demons and demonic creatures away from them. So, there was no reason not to try to find a normal demon to test the ritual on. No reason except that the writers wanted Abadon back, and took the easiest route possible to have that happen. Sam and Dean didn’t even put her in a devil’s trap, for crying out loud! They relied solely on the bullet rather than putting every possible precaution into place, and that’s so not them. Also, they left her unattended. And they left her hands about two feet away from her. Stupid X infinity. The only positive thing I can say about the Abadon mess is that watching her hand creep across the table and jump onto her shoulder and reach into her brain was a fine moment of horror television. I think my skin crawled away.

Crowley: Can’t talk about him right now. The pain is still too fresh.

Re: Closing Heaven: I like that the tasks to close the Heaven Gate are quite the opposite of the ones required to close Hell. To shut the door on demons, a person is asked to do good things – e.g. kill an evil creature, save an innocent soul, cure a demon. But to close Heaven, a person must do something morally corrupt, like cut the heart out of a creature that doesn’t deserve to die. I shudder to think what else Castiel and his new friend will have to do to meet their goal…

Final Thoughts: So, Abadon is (stupidly) on the loose, Crowley is hitting the boys – and the fans – where it really hurts, Sam’s ready to give up, Dean doesn’t know which way to turn, and Castiel and Metatron have embarked on a morally-questionable-at-best mission to save angel-kind. Sounds to me like we have all the makings of a gut-wrenching, thrill-a-minute season finale :).

Supernatural Review: Episode 8×21 “The Great Escapist”

Review of Episode 8×21: “The Great Escapist”
by castiello

Overall: Cool. Very cool. A different kind of episode, but not in a bad way. I think the fact that Sam and Dean weren’t ever really part of the action gave the episode a weird, low-key sort of feeling. It felt like an in-between episode. Too important to be labeled a “filler,” and yet not epic enough to be called a true mytharc episode. Despite the strange pacing, we got to see some wonderful insights into Sam and Dean’s childhood, we finally learned what the third task was, both Cass and Kevin escaped from Crowley, and the King of Hell got to try on his directing hat. All in all, this episode was fun and informative, and, as usual, it left me excited for the next one.

Sam: Man, those make-up people are doing an awesome job! Sam looks sick as a dog: pale, feverish, even a little bit manic. We learned that his physical symptoms are at least partially due to the delay between each task. Which makes some degree of sense, and reminds me of a neat fanfic I read several years ago where something similar was happening to Dean (And The Ground Shook by sams1ra). When Sam is making progress toward the next task, he feels better. When he is neglecting the trials, the magic inside of him festers restlessly. I guess whoever took on the tasks was supposed to read all three of them ahead of time and just get them done right in a row, without any dilly-dallying around in between. Which Sam and Dean would’ve done – if they could’ve read the friggin’ thing…Which brings me back to something I said a while ago: It’s insanely dumb to start an epic quest when you only have half of the information.

Another possible reason for Sam’s symptoms – he seems to think the trials are purifying him. This is very interesting. I have to wonder – does Sam even still have demon blood inside of him? He hasn’t displayed powers in about three years, give or take (don’t blame me for being fuzzy on the math – this is what happens when the show keeps skipping over years…). I wonder if he really does still have anything impure running through his veins, and if slamming the hell door really is burning the bad blood right out of him. Would be awesome if it were true, but it could just as easily be a delirium-induced product of Sam’s imagination. He still feels unclean, and wants to believe he’s being purified.

Sam’s memory of feeling tainted as a child gave me chills. Again, it could’ve been fever-induced, and not a real memory, but I believed it. It’s certainly possible that somewhere in the back of Sam’s consciousness, he always knew. His memory about the “farty donkey” – and the goofy, loopy way he told it – was just plain cute. My only complaint about that otherwise charming brother scene: unless my ears were playing tricks, I think Sam said they took the donkey ride at the Grand Canyon. Which would make a continuity error, because in “Croatoan,” Dean specifically said he’d never been there. Stuff like that always makes diehard fans twitch. Like in “Sam, Interrupted,” when Dean said that Sam had always been a “happy drunk.” Again, it was an adorable scene, but we’ve seen Sam drunk on several occasions, and he has consistently been melancholy, sometimes even desperate and tearful. Not exactly my definition of happy. If the viewers can remember these little details, why can’t the writers?

Niggling fan issue aside, though, I will cuddle the donkey story as a rare instance of John actually being a good father. And I do love John… 🙂

Dean: This whole situation is just killing him. He was the one who wanted to close the Hell Gate. He was the one who wanted to take on the tasks. And it ended up being Sam, instead. So, not only is Sam’s life in danger during the tasks, but also in between them, due to an unforeseen side effect of taking on the job. Right now, I’m betting Dean is sorry he ever suggested this quest in the first place. Certainly, if he knew then what he does now, he never would have let Sam perform that first spell. As it is, Dean doesn’t even seem to care very much about closing the Hell Gate anymore – the only reason he wants the third task completed is because he hopes it will stop the symptoms and save Sam’s life. Desperation, protectiveness and fear are Dean’s only remaining motivations at this point.

I will say he’s doing the best he can to keep it together and to keep Sam together. Although, when you put somebody in ice water to bring down their fever, are you really supposed to submerge their nose and mouth like that? Couldn’t the person drown while they’re unconscious?? Just sayin’…

I had to love Dean for telling Sam, “It’s not your fault,” about the demon blood thing. Too often in the past, Dean has seemed icked out, freaked out, or just plain judgmental about Sam’s powers and their dark origins. Although I always knew that Dean didn’t love Sam any less for being “tainted,” I don’t think Sam knew it. I think Sam needed that reassurance. And, although it came quite a few years later than it should have, I’m glad Dean finally said the words.

Kevin: That video…Dang. Those little bits of broken glass on the floor used to be my heart. An inspired and emotional performance. I loved Kevin all the way through this ep, from his cleverness at figuring out Crowley’s mind game, to his willpower as he refused to reveal the third task, to his relief and happiness at the end of the episode. Our favorite prophet has seemed broken in recent episodes. Here, he finally seemed whole. At peace. My only questions: 1.) If Crowley really took Kev, does this mean Tiger Mommy really is dead??? (NOOOOOOOOOOOOO) 2.) Where in the name of heck is Garth?? Did something happen to him, too? Shouldn’t the guys be trying to find him??? Why is no one particularly concerned that a hunter (AKA a person with the world’s most dangerous, high-mortality job) is MIA? Oy.

Crowley: “I was born to direct.” “I could’ve played Dean myself.” “I’ve got deals and plans up the jacksies.” With lines like that, is it any wonder that I wanted him to win in the showdown with Naomi? Bad Angel Lady is cruel, scary and gross. Crowley’s all those things, and he can make me spit out my Koolaid in a fit of laughter. Anyone who can do that deserves the win. 🙂

Cass: Keeping the tablet inside of himself? Pure genius. And the trick with Biggerson’s…Man he knows just how to scramble the brains of his fellow angels, doesn’t he? “There are just so many Biggerson’s…” ROFL. Marry me, Ben Edlund. Right now. Today.

I actually thought Cass would convince Ion to help him. Ion seemed conflicted, and I get the feeling that Crowley was just the lesser of two evils. (How sad is that? Between a demon and an angel, the demon is the less morally corrupt choice…) I could see Ion becoming an ally, but sadly, it wasn’t to be – Ion got an angel bullet through the brain, and we won’t be seeing him again.

We will be seeing Cass, who managed to escape despite severe injuries and pop up right in front of the oncoming Impala. Can’t really blame Sam and Dean for hesitating to run to his aid, though – considering the last time Cass was with them, he basically beat Dean into mulch. And Castiel, who was channeling his inner Dean all episode long, couldn’t help but respond to their pause with a sarcastic, “A little help, here?” My heart does this little fluttering thing whenever Castiel talks like Dean, or even just tries to talk like Dean: “Hey ass-butt!” 🙂 I guess I just love to see those little hints of their bond, those signs that Cass has come so far from the “follow orders” mode he was in when we first met him.

Metatron: Very likeable, very funny, very…human. I couldn’t help but warm up to this little angel from the secretarial pool. He loves his stories, and the excitement in his voice when he talked about the “raw, wild invention of God’s naked apes,” made me smile. This is a rare angel who likes and respects humans. That said, he was a coward, as Sam said, for hiding away while an apocalyptic crapstorm was going down. Metatron redeemed himself by saving Kevin and joining the fight. I was, however, chilled by the angel scribe’s last words to Dean. What will happen if they manage to close the Gate? What will the world be like, and what will Sam be like, assuming he survives? Truth is, they have no clue – and that scares the pants off me.

Naomi: She needs to die. Nuff’ said.

Final Thoughts: We are heading bravely forward into uncharted territory. I’m afraid for Sam, afraid for Dean, and now, after Metatron’s comments, I’m pretty darn freaked out that they’re making a mistake by closing a door that maybe wasn’t meant to be closed. Will evil souls still be able to descend into Hell? If not, where will they go? What will happen to the demons still up on earth when that Gate gets slammed? Are they trapped up here? And, most importantly, what will happen to Sam after finishing the third trial? Is “purification” necessarily a good thing? As Season Eight revs up for its epic finale, part of me is eagerly awaiting these answers…and another part of me is dreading them. And, seeing as this is Supernatural, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

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!!!

Supernatural Review: Episode 8×20 “Pac-Man Fever”

Review of Episode 8×20: “Pac-Man Fever”
by castiello

Overall: Despite a few minor plot quibbles, this episode won me over with some great performances, a very welcome visit from one of my favorite guest stars, and a healthy dose of Supernatural’s own version of chicken soup for the soul: those wonderful brotherly love moments that will always keep us coming back for more.

Sam: Oh, poor baby. He’s a total mess right now, isn’t he? I could feel my mothering instincts shooting into overdrive when Sam wandered out of his bedroom all sleepy and sick, with his hair mussed up. All he needed was a pair of footie pajamas and he could’ve passed for a four-year-old. An enormous, mutant four-year-old, but still. I do have to agree with Dean on the clippers, though. You need a haircut, Sammy – like, two weeks ago. When I watch old Season Four episodes, I think to myself, “Wow, Sam – you weren’t too nice in this season…but dang, your hair looks good!” A few snips go a long way, buddy.

Rapunzel issues aside, though, it’s hard for me to watch Sam suffer like this. Why would the trials cause so much damage to the person trying to complete them? What would be the point of those spells debilitating the person so badly that he could not complete the final task? Is it another form of test – like, you have to be strong enough to overcome the illness and still manage to complete the third task? Or is it something else – something that has to happen in order for Sam to finish the trials? Whatever the answer is, I have faith that the storyline is going to make sense, and it’ll be a good payoff. Supernatural doesn’t hold back when it comes to payoffs…they just like to torture me in the weeks leading up to those moments. (And in the summers, and on hiatuses, and…)

So, we will get our answers, but in the meantime, I’m left to fret alongside Dean. I have to love my guy for how hard he tries to take care of his brother. Dean made the right call, telling Sam to step back from the fight. And Sam made the worst call in the history of calls by ignoring Dean’s instructions. The logical part of me wanted to scold Sam for going into the field in such a debilitated condition. If you can’t see straight enough to shoot a stationary paper target, then you have no business hunting living, moving, blood-slurping creatures. Sam put himself, Charlie and Dean in danger by insisting on joining the chase. I wanted to stay mad at Sam for this terrible decision. Honestly, I did. But the truth is, he did take down a young djinn. He did save Dean and Charlie’s lives. And Sam did apologize for the error in judgment. In the end, all I could feel was what Dean felt – grateful that things ended the way they did, grateful Sam was still standing there, grateful that after all they’ve been through, these two brothers are somehow – against all odds – still together. I love you, Sammy!

Dean: I don’t know what’s harder: watching Sam suffer, or watching Dean watch Sam suffer. I’m leaning toward the latter. When that djinn said Dean “reeks of fear,” nothing could be more true. You can just feel it rolling off of him. Even when he’s being bossy and controlling, you know it’s just covering up the terror that’s threatening to consume him. It’s like the mom who chews the kid out for running in the street – all that yelling is really code for, “OMG, I could have lost you. I could have lost you…”

As always, though, Supernatural kept the humor flowing just enough to take our minds off the boys and their imminent peril. I was snickering at the clipper comment, but I laughed out loud at the punching scene – Dean: “I need you to punch me. I know you don’t want to, but—” WHAM! Too, too funny. Note to Dean: I’m guessing Sam doesn’t like to be bossed around and fussed over and babied quite so much. Note to Sam: Unresolved anger issues, much? Brother-punch scenes are almost always either heartbreakers or comic gold, and this one went platinum. Great stuff.

Charlie: Loved, loved, loved getting Charlie’s backstory. The actress’s performance had me blinking back tears when she talked about how her parents’ accident was her fault, and how her mom was the one who got her interested in fantasy fiction. And the ending scene, when Charlie took out the book and began to read The Hobbit? Cue the waterworks. Big time. It really was a beautiful, emotional story that came full circle.

Charlie the hunter-in-training was interesting to watch. I would love for her to work some more cases with the boys in the future – just as long as she doesn’t get killed off. Many of her scenes had me chortling – the upside down badge, the power suit conversation, the “future therapy” moment – but I was scratching my head a little about the numerous IDs and passports at Charlie’s place, as well as her general secretiveness during the first part of the episode. I don’t quite understand: is Charlie still on the run from the law because of her arrest when she was twelve? I thought she forged a new identity for herself after the Dick Roman thing. Were those fake IDs somehow related to how she pays for her mother’s care? I needed just a hair more explanation on that front. Also, I’m not sure why she wouldn’t just tell Sam and Dean about her mother, but I guess that could be chalked up to simple guilt. She did feel responsible for the accident, after all.

Re: Djinn: I like the idea of a djinn that sends you to your scary place instead of your happy one. That said, those fake-looking CGI tattoos don’t hold a candle to the real ones on the djinn in Season Two. That guy gave me goosebumps just looking at him. His eyes, his tatts, his whole demeanor just screamed “blood-drinking freak.” The way djinn were portrayed in Season Six and in this episode – they’re almost too cool. Too sleek and slick. Not as grubby and dirty and creepy as I would like them to be. Also, if we’re doing djinn comparisons, I was fully expecting Charlie to have to die in her dream in order to wake up. Isn’t that how Dean pulled it off, back in the day? I guess I just needed a bigger moment, before Charlie came out of it – I needed to see in some major way that she really had let go of her mother, let go of her fear. I halfway thought Dean was actually going to kill the mother in the dream, just to force Charlie to let go. As it was, the “letting go” scene in the dream was a bit anti-climactic. However, I think the writers were trying to save the “big moment” for the Hobbit scene at the end, and I can get on board with that decision.

Re: The Dream Root: Although the punching scene gets an A+++ in my book, I did wonder why it was necessary to knock Dean out in the first place. Didn’t he and Sam like instantly slump unconscious after drinking it in Dream A Little Dream of Me? I just remember the image of them both sprawled across the beds in the motel room, completely unaware that they had already passed out and entered Bobby’s dream world, because it happened so fast. Why wouldn’t the potion have a similar effect in this case?

Re: Saying Goodbye: Once again, Sam said his goodbyes with Charlie, and then retreated to allow Dean and Charlie to have a private goodbye. This is like, the third time Sam has felt the need to leave when Dean’s saying goodbye to someone. The folks over at Supernatural Fans Online brought this to my attention, and I have to admit that I’m not sure I like the trend. It’s almost like the writers are saying, “Dean has a more special connection with people than Sam does.” Sure, in this case, Dean and Charlie had gone through something private in Charlie’s dream world, but it was still nothing that Sam should have to leave for. If the writers are going to make Sam leave every time Dean says goodbye to someone, then we’ve got a problem. It’s not fair, and this is coming from a Dean Girl. If Dean’s going to have private, special goodbyes with some people, then I would ask that Sam get the same opportunity. Sam forms special bonds with the guest characters just as often as Dean does, and that is something the writers should recognize.

Re: Brother Hugs: Another episode, another brother hug! Is anyone out there complaining? **crickets** Yeah, didn’t think so. 🙂 As much as I adored the hugs in the season opener and in “Taxi Driver,” I have to say that this most recent hug may have been my favorite. So unexpected, so spontaneous, so…joyful and painful at the same time. It twisted my soul up in all the right places and left me feeling happy, hopeful, and ridiculously high on brotherly love. As Charlie pointed out, these guys have been through so much, it’s hard to believe there’s anything they can’t face, as long as they’re together.

Final Thoughts: In the world of Supernatural, love trumps fear. I will hang onto this thought as we swerve onto the bumpy road ahead going 90 MPH. They’re our boys. They’re Sam and Dean. Somehow, some way, they’re going to make it.

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. 🙂