“The Desert Rose” – The Mentalist

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 1.23.45 PMWe’ve asked this before, for other shows, but is it possible to be shocked and not at all shocked, all at the same time? To care deeply and yet not care at all? Maybe we’re just in shock and, thus, incapable of feeling real emotions. Or maybe we’ve just been jerked around by this show far too many times to believe anything we see until it’s been triple confirmed.

We’re going to skip right to the end here. The rest of the episode was just a rather lengthy preamble. The case (while shockingly not predictable) was a sidenote, used only to get all of the main characters to where they needed to be for the final-moments twist. The entire episode just gave a sense of waiting for something to happen. Early scenes showing Jane meeting two of the Red John suspects – Gale Bertram and Brett Partridge – amounted to nothing and gave nothing away, serving only (perhaps) to make us wonder if those seven names are all Red John. Or, rather, if Red John is all of them. Scenes of Van Pelt and Rigsby being a couple, while nice to see, felt like an addition the writers felt they had to make to satiate hungry shippers. It was all a build to that final, dripping-in-tension, ‘don’t go in there, you fool!’ moment.

And what a final moment. This should have been the Season 5 cliffhanger. “Red John’s Rules” may have given us drama and gravitas, but it didn’t give us ‘holy shit. Wait. What?!’. “The Desert Rose” did. From the moment Lisbon stormed off on Jane, we knew something like this would happen. And we weren’t disappointed. The closing shot of Lisbon’s immobile face as someone painted Red John’s trademark symbol on it like a death mask was almost too surreal for us to believe. And that’s our point, right there. Can we believe it? There have been too many secret plans and falsenesses over the years for us to believe most anything from The Mentalist. And that’s why we’re shocked and not shocked. That’s why we care and don’t. We’re not sure there’s anything to be shocked, or care, about just yet.

Here’s what we do know. Lisbon asked Van Pelt to put GPS trackers on the cell phones of each of the Red John suspects. When Lisbon was called to an anonymous tip (the team had been specifically requested by the tipster) and proceeded to investigate by herself, she found coroner Brett Partridge in the closet of an abandoned house. He collapsed, whispered “Tiger” (tying Partridge or someone else in the room to Red John via William Blake), then appeared to die. A previously closed door was opened. Lisbon was pulled from frame. Jane got a phone call as someone daubed the death mask on Lisbon.

But this is The Mentalist and we know it can’t be that simple. A few questions leap to mind. First among them: is Lisbon actually dead? We’re not sure. Was Partridge dead or did he rig the door to distract Lisbon so he could take his opportunity? And has Jane been wrong all along? Was Lorelei’s slip really a slip at all? Did Red John tell her to mention to Jane about the handshake? Is his list of seven a complete dud? And is Ron actually Red John? That’s clearly what the writers want us to think – moments before Jane got the phone call from Red John, Ron disappeared around the corner with his cell in hand. Or else the writers are just giving a sly nod and wink to the conspiracy theorists.

We don’t know what to believe anymore. Hopefully next week will answer some of our questions. – K

Quoteworthy: “I am many things to many people.” – Gale Bertram. That doesn’t sound suspicious at all.

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