“The Golden Hammer” – The Mentalist

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 21.07.05For a less than amazing episode that felt more derivative than anything else, “The Golden Hammer” sure knew how to make us sit up and pay attention – with one hell of an ending.

The episode (and we’re getting a little tired of saying this, now, but what else can we say) was still enjoyable, solely because of how fun-loving it now is. Embracing humor with every scene, The Mentalist fairly skips. The interplay among the old characters and the new, the witty banter and trade-offs, the complete (if probably temporary) lack of an overarching bad guy to furrow brows and darken scenes all combine to create a show that buoys its viewers along with it.

In addition to all that, there’s the stepping-up of the Lisbon-Jane romance. While we (and, presumably, many other commentators) predicted a love triangle blooming to include Agent Fisher, we’re seeing her being pushed to the wayside as two consecutive episodes show Lisbon and Jane, respectively, displaying tell-tale signs of jealousy as the other dips a toe in the dating pool. And this makes sense. For the first time since his wife died, and despite the fact that he still wears his ring, Jane finally feels free. Free of his past and free of his future. It wouldn’t surprise us at all if we saw a symbolic removal of the wedding ring within the next few episodes, although, we have to admit, some doubt may still remain as to which Agent he’ll be setting his cap at.

And so, despite Continue reading

“The Red Tattoo” – The Mentalist

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 9.26.44 PMWe 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 Continue reading

“Black-Winged Redbird” – The Mentalist

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 6.48.49 PMWe definitely preferred this episode to the Season 6 opener. While that suffered from a long-build, an uninteresting case and a closing scene that neither shocked nor caused (much) suspense, “Black-Winged Redbird” went a long way toward rectifying those issues, with a significant ramping up of mystery and plot development.

Where last week’s Red John arc served almost as an afterthought, he was basically front and centre in this episode. While there was a case of the week – another drone episode, making it seem as though Hollywood is jumping on the drone warfare debate bandwagon – it was largely secondary to the quest to find Red John. The case’s surprise twist was neither surprising nor much of a twist. We had it solved from the mid-way point. For once, though, we didn’t really care that it was a totally predictable conclusion, because the case was never supposed to be the focus.

That Red John arc became really interesting this week, with a definite and solid uptick in clues and drama. Lisbon survived, but the gruesome murder of Sophie Miller (Season 1 guest star, Elisabeth Röhm, Angel, The Client List) was more than enough to make up for our disappointment (sorry, but Lisbon irritates sometimes, and we would have liked to see what Jane would become after losing the woman he clearly loves*). This arc threw up a number of clues – Red John’s a great whistler – and intriguing developments. The most curious of these was Continue reading

“Red John’s Rules” – The Mentalist

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 10.23.21 PMAfter watching this season finale of The Mentalist, we’re simultaneously irked and confused. All the (small) progress of the season has been set back greatly. We’re now, once again, no closer to Red John. Not really. What we were hoping would be a season finale of epic proportions, bringing us closer to Red John (if not catching him entirely) and making us feel that an end was in sight was no such thing. On the plus side, we can now look forward to a thrilling Season 6 – one with high stakes. After 5 years of a show that is, at its root, about a serial killer, we’re finally about to see him in action on a grand scale. And we were pleased to see that a number of our personal Red John suspects were on Jane’s list. We’d love to see that list narrowed down in the next season.

Or even pushed aside entirely. We mentioned that we were no closer to Red John, for all of Jane’s insistences about having it narrowed down to seven candidates (see Quoteworthy). Yes, it could still be one of them. But there was one fatal flaw in Jane’s reasoning, and one that makes us think that none of these suspects is Red John. Jane told Lisbon that he was only considering men he met after his wife died. After. How can he be so sure that he didn’t know him all along? That’s certainly supported by the murder of the week. Red John seemingly plucked a memory out of Jane’s head. A happy memory about which he hadn’t told a single soul, or so Red John says. We don’t believe in psychics here at Pond Hopping Girls, so Continue reading

“Red and Itchy” – The Mentalist

the-mentalist-red-and-itchyThis is one of the best episodes of The Mentalist we’ve seen all season. Despite our emotive gushing last week, we were glad that the writers didn’t focus on Rigsby and Grace. It’s enough to know that there’s something going on there. We don’t need to see it every second. In fact, this was a very ‘mature’ (for want of a better word) way to deal with it. So many shows would have leapt at the opportunity to boost ratings with a good romance. The Mentalist was content to leave it in the background in favor of good storytelling.

The episode rectified (albeit most likely only temporarily) one of the problems that has plagued The Mentalist for the last few seasons – let’s call it ‘The Jane Show’ syndrome. For a long time now, it has been clear that, without Jane, the CBI team would be incapable of solving crime. For this episode, that wasn’t entirely true. Jane didn’t really help with anything they couldn’t have figured out on their own, other than the plan to catch the criminal. This bodes well for next week’s season finale in which, no doubt, Jane will be too focused on Red John to be any help for anything else.

The case itself, this week, was also of interest. When LaRoche’s house gets broken into, only one thing is stolen – the mysterious Tupperware box discovered by Jane’s burglar in Season 3. LaRoche tells Jane that the box was taken by a leak at the CBI whom he has been investigating and that, unless LaRoche drops the case, its contents will go public. The episode is driven by dual strands of this same story. Foremost in our minds is Continue reading

“Red Velvet Cupcakes” – The Mentalist

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 12.49.32 AMWe don’t even care what this week’s case was about (other than to say that we 99% called it after exactly eight and a half minutes) because, ermagherd, Rigsby and Van Pelt. Yes, we know what we said last week. Yes, we know we decried it all as mawkish ratings grabbing. We’re willing to admit we were wrong. We should have had a little more faith. (Though can you really blame us for giving up hope?) This week was perfect. Not only was there a small break from Jane’s incessant Red-John-board-staring, but we finally got to see, after so very, very long, Rigsby and Van Pelt admitting how they felt about each other. And it was totally sweet and exactly right and, now that we think about it, couldn’t have happened any other way. So maybe we lied, and maybe we care about the case a little bit, but only because it’s what finally brought them together. Fake relationship counseling, real relationship issues. The way this episode played out made us not care (for once) that we knew who the killer was, and what the motive was, pretty much from the outset. It also, for the first time in a long time, made us excited to see what happens next week. Great job, The Mentalist. We approve. – K

Quoteworthy: “I love that you’re a dad… When we got together we were kids. I was a young, naïve girl. I wasn’t ready to commit to you. It wasn’t about the job. At least that wasn’t all of it. But things have changed since then. We’re not the same. And that’s okay. I like who I am now. I like who you are. You’re a man.” – Grace

“You know how I feel about you. It’s the same way I’ve always felt. It’s never changed, since the first day I met you.” – Rigsby Continue reading

“Behind the Red Curtain” – The Mentalist

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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

“The Red Glass Bead” – ‘The Mentalist’

Image copyright CBS (2012)

With this first episode of Season 5, The Mentalist maintains a pattern it’s cultivated over the years – first episode is about Red John, last episode is about Red John and, at most, one or two episodes in the middle are about Red John. And this particular Red John-centric episode isn’t even that Red John-centric.

As always, we’d like to remind our readers that we will not be pulling our punches – this is a spoiler-filled post! DO NOT READ if you don’t want to know.

It picks up a week after the events of the Season 4 finale. Wainwright is dead, Bertram (Michael Gaston, Damages, Unforgettable) is back, the team is off suspension because of a deal they made with the FBI, Agent Darcy (who shot Wainwright) is on leave and wracked with guilt, the CBI has Lorelei Martins in custody and is fighting with the FBI to keep her, and the CBI and the FBI are covering up the botched job that was the basis of that finale.

But they can’t focus exclusively on Red John – they have other cases to solve. Namely, that of the double murder of Callie Karlsen and Rex Lango in Sacramento. They worked together at a local convention center. The murders took place in Callie’s apartment. According to the first responding officer, Yannick (Jon Curry), she was strangled, and he was clubbed with a bottle of expensive champagne. Jane does his ‘psychic’ thing – she has no steady boyfriend (so no love triangle, sorry Rigsby) and she comes from money.

As CBI are leaving the crime scene, they’re met by a very aggressive duo from the FBI – Agents Reede Smith (Drew Powell, Southland, Malcolm in the Middle) and Gabe Mancini (Ivan Sergei, Crossing Jordan, Jack & Jill). Much arguing and brawling ensues.

At an FBI/CBI press conference, it is announced that Jane’s attempt at snaring Red John was, in fact, a joint task force sting operation intended to capture Lorelei Martins. The charges against Jane, according to the announcement, were fabricated in order to give him a believable cover. No one believes any of this because of the long history of institutional back-biting between the two agencies.

To show the world that they can get along and are, in fact, friends now, CBI and the Feds are forced together to work the Karlsen/Lango case.

Callie worked at the conference center for two years, Rex had only been there for two weeks. Callie’s supervisor, Mr Norris (Jim O’Heir, Parks and Recreation) was an ogler and a perve. Jane gets the Feds out of CBI’s hair by misleading them regarding Norris’s involvement. They think they snatched a crack suspect out from under the CBI. Jane knows they’ve got a dud.

Luckily for fans of the show, this means we don’t have to put up with another episode where our team gets ‘help’ from outside agencies. You know you all prefer it when it’s just the usual five.

Van Pelt tracks down a sister, Nicola (Amanda Detmer), who confirms that they were a wealthy family. They lost everything in the economic crash. Their parents died a year later in a highway collision.

Callie left a frantic voicemail on her sister’s phone, insisting that she call her as soon as she could. By the time Nicola found the message, Callie was dead.

That expensive bottle of champagne was the last from their father’s cellar. Callie had been saving it for a special occasion. She always thought their luck was going to change.

In the middle of this conversation with Nicola, Jane gets a phonecall from Bertram to say that the FBI caved and were giving them Lorelei. Jane is immediately suspicious but, nonetheless, wastes no time in getting back to interview her. He insists that he be allowed to talk to her by himself, with no one watching or listening in.

He offers Lorelei anything she wants, including an escape and a new life, if she gives him Red John. All she wants is a kiss, which he duly gives. She says she’ll consider talking about Red John.

Lisbon is furious with Jane for offering what he did. Personally, I think she’s a little furious about the kiss, too – he did tell her he loved her last season, and none of us can be sure if that was all part of the play or if he really meant it. Lisbon has to be wondering too. Could she be a little jealous of Jane’s pseudo-relationship with Lorelei?

Back with the Case of the Week, a small feather was discovered in the back of Callie’s throat. Not only was she strangled, she was smothered to death. Lisbon and Van Pelt are puzzled by the two very different methods.

They track down Rex Lango’s family – he had changed his name from Ersat Lonegal (or something). Rigsby and Cho go to visit the family, from whom they discover that Rex was a thief, a liar, and a hound.

The CBI thinks Rex was at her apartment to fix her broken computer.

The Feds steal Lorelei back from Jane. He is frantic. He’s sure that there is someone in the FBI that works for Red John. Why? Because Red John told him there was. Jane is convinced that they will either kill her or let her escape and he can’t have that. He has a chance to turn her and this is the closest he’s ever been to getting Red John. When Bertram refuses to fight to get her back, Jane threatens to blow the cover-up so carefully constructed after Wainwright’s death.

At the hearing to determine custody, the FBI questions Jane’s objectivity but he argues that his history with Red John is  the very thing that makes him most suited to the task. No one knows Red John better than Jane. He then spins some elaborate lie involving glass beads to paint Mancini as Red John’s man in the agency. The CBI is awarded custody.

Jane then figures out who killed Callie (he’s really on a roll this week). She had just won the lottery. She was excited. Rex was over to fix her computer and, when she told him, he got greedy and tried to strangle her. She hit him with the bottle of champagne, killing him. Due to lack of air, she fainted, but not before dialing 911. Yannick arrived at the scene, saw the lottery ticket and put two and two together. Then he got greedy, smothered her, and stole the ticket. Another case solved.

Jane and Lisbon go to collect Lorelei from holding but, when they get there, the warden brings out some random woman who’s definitely NOT Lorelei. But she’s the only Lorelei Martins on file. One of Red John’s disciples must have helped her to escape. As another lead slips through his fingers, Jane looks distraught. Will he ever find the man who killed his family? Guess we’ll have to wait until mid-season/the season finale to find out… — K

 

Quoteworthy:

“This is like a bad date.” – Lisbon, on sharing the case with Mancini and Smith

 

“You’re trying to hold back the tide with a broom.” – Lorelei

 

“I think you do it to be close to Teresa Lisbon. I think you’re a little bit in love with her.” – Lorelei, on why Jane stays with the CBI

 

“Why two methods? Two different people?”

“Or the killer wasn’t strong enough to complete the strangulation. A woman…?”

“Women can strangle people.”

“Believe me, I know I could…” – Lisbon, Van Pelt


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