We scarcely know what to do with ourselves, here. Yet another great episode from The Mentalist. We’re beginning to find it difficult to find fault with the long-running CBS show. That shouldn’t be a problem for us. Surely not hating a show we want to enjoy is a good thing, right? Wrong. Liking it means we have very little to write about. So then we have to nitpick. And overanalyze all of the Red John hints. And that just makes our heads hurt.
But the good stuff first.
First up, Grace and Rigsby. Their marriage has affected the show not one whit. Which is fantastic. It’s always a worry, when two main characters tie the knot, that the show’s writers will lose the run of themselves and, for unknown reasons, turn the show into some manner of rom-com. The Mentalist has dodged this dark fate. If we hadn’t seen their wedding two weeks ago, and seen their first forays into newly-wedded bliss last week, we wouldn’t even believe they were dating. A few of Rigsby and Cho’s conversations centre on Grace but, then, they always did.
It’s also a pleasure to see that the show’s occasional humorous tics are still intact, even amid all of this intense Red John drama. Red John episodes have, in the past, been more or less entirely devoid of laughter, with the writers choosing to highlight the seriousness of the situation with a lot of scowling and worried frowns. In a season billed as Red John’s downfall, the potential was there that we would be treated to an utterly depressing 20-something-episode run, with the focus on all things serious, forgetting that The Mentalist has a real comic flair at times. That potential is still there, but we’ve stopped worrying about it.
The episode itself (focusing on the case of a dead Olympic coach and his former mentee, with a healthy side of Red John investigation) also neatly avoided one of the most oft-repeated pitfalls of The Mentalist – predictability. It is quite often immediately clear who the killer in any particular episode is. Not so this week. With a plethora of red herrings and a final twist that virtually rendered any supposition worthless, this case surprised until the last.
The Red John investigation didn’t really take us very far. The most interesting aspects, it would seem, were simple: Brett Stiles has been missing since around the same time that Jane got the Lorelei Martins video, the team at the CBI now know about (and are suspicious of) Kirkland’s death, and Ray Haffner is afraid of spiders. Yeah, we’re not quite sure how that last one relates to anything, but there ya go.
Finally, the crux of the episode: in the course of the investigation, a woman (Ciara Tinsley) who seemed to take a liking to Cho bugged the CBI office. Jane’s digging after the fact suggested that Red John had paid her to do this. Cue a mad dash across town to get to her before Red John did. And they were nearly in time to catch the man himself. Instead, they got the next best thing – a clue. With her dying breath, Tinsley told Jane that the man who attacked her had a tattoo on his left arm.
So now we have an identifying mark. But we have to quibble (yay! nitpicking!) with Jane’s main assumption about it – that it’s of three dots. How does he know the dying Tinsley wasn’t just pointing at her arm to drive the point home? She was dying. She didn’t know what she was doing. Three dots is assuming a little too much, maybe. Though the show has always devoted a lot of specificity to Red John cases and details, so maybe we shouldn’t doubt too much. But, if we were Lisbon, we’d be telling Jane to moderate his expectations.
In a sidebar, we’ve never been supporters of the ‘Ron is Red John’ theory. If we’re honest, we didn’t even notice him until we started reading up on the other suspects. But now he’s in every episode. This season, Red John has been painted as a puppet-master, pulling the strings on a cabal of law enforcement professionals. Are we supposed to believe, given his increased visibility, that Ron is that puppet-master?
And so, for yet another week, we’re actively looking forward to the next episode. What is this we don’t even. – K
“I want to thank you because you were the one that made me take the risk [with Grace].”
“And I’m starting to regret it.” – Rigsby, Cho