A surprisingly good episode from The Mentalist for the second week in a row. Once again, the casting was clever enough to avoid providing “Aha!” moments for all the wrong reasons. The plot was a little predictable, perhaps, but not enough to stop one enjoying the twists and turns of its unraveling. As always, it grates somewhat that Jane does all the work for the team – did they never solve crimes before he got there? – but that’s easily ignorable in the face of decent and, at times, surprising writing. This episode also struck a workable balance between Red John fare and murder of the week.
That balance has been missing for a long time. This season, perhaps more than any before, is very much about Red John. While Seasons 1 through 4 were always topped and tailed by Red John-centric episodes, this (and the latter half of Season 4) is very much focused on Jane’s endeavors to find the serial killer. That has often overpowered the rest of the show and, somewhere along the way, plot advancement and character development were sacrificed. Not so this week. While character development was scant (we had a bit more Grace and Rigsby, but nothing to write home about), the plot was driven on in a big way – even if we don’t quite understand how just yet.
We are, of course, referring to Bob Kirkland and his relationship to Red John. Our suspicions had been more or less allayed as to his being the man himself, but we haven’t been able to shake that niggling suspicion that he’s high up in Red John’s organization. That was basically confirmed this week. Though, we say again, we’re not quite sure how. Kirkland confirms to viewers – although, unfortunately, not to Jane – that he’s a ‘friend’ of Red John’s. That was only to be expected. The real mystery comes in the form of his question for the formerly comatose Jason Lennon: “Look at me. Look close. You recognize me? You ever seen me before?… It’s important.”
We’re at a loss and beyond confused. Moments later, (Spoilers!) he kills Jason. So why would it matter whether Jason recognized him or not? Knew him or not? All we can think of is that it might be some sort of test. But not testing Jason. Testing Kirkland. We’re aware this is going to sound completely off the wall, but the only thing that makes sense to us is that Kirkland, at some point in the past, got a face transplant and he’s asking Jason this bizarre question to make sure that he truly is unrecognizable. Which made us wonder anew if he is in fact Red John.
So, yes, we sound crazy. And, yes, we’re probably way off base. But we’re also excited. For the first time in months, The Mentalist is compelling, and we may be looking forward to next week’s episode, and to getting some answers. – K
Quoteworthy: “‘Trust me, you’ll have fun.’ Was there ever a more suspicious phrase?” – La Roche