“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

“White Lines” – The Mentalist

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By and large, we thoroughly enjoyed this episode. The case was sufficiently surprising to surprise us doubly – although we did recognise the actor playing the culprit and wonder, the note-perfect red herrings and eventual conclusion left us pondering whether the writers threw away their six-year-established rule book and decided to just shake things up.

That would certainly be backed up by the strange new energy that seems to have come with the change of format, as if the writers are trying to change the show’s intrinsic quaintness and force it, kicking and screaming, if necessary, into the realms of modern police procedurals. A new focus on technology (among other things, Jane has finally abandoned the flip phone and invested in an iPhone) and the new magnitude of scale (placing crime on a national rather than California-based platform) position the show as a rival to faster-paced – and, perhaps, less nuanced – shows like CSI, Bones or Castle. We’re just not sure that’s a good thing. There’s always the danger that, in waving a ‘look at what technology can do’ flag so blatantly, The Mentalist will be stripped of its sedate (if somewhat eccentric and quirky) charm.

And yet, we are still enjoying this new format. We’re still being given the chance to Continue reading

“The Secret in the Proposal” – Bones

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 2.45.47 PMA relatively strong season opener from the team at Bones, if a little tepid in places. A slow (and more or less insignificant) case served a dual purpose. First, to give the characters something to do while we focused on the main story of Booth and Brennan’s suddenly tense relationship. This case was a prop to allow us to see how the central couple’s dwindling happiness affected the lives of those around them. It allowed us a realistic glimpse into the ‘choosing sides’ aspect of any relationship ‘failure’ (although Booth and Brennan have not failed yet) – Angela’s fierce protection of Brennan, Hodgins’ and Cam’s more tempered desire to give Booth the benefit of the doubt. Second, the case was clearly seen by the writers’ room as a means to bring in an integral character in Freddie Prinze Jr’s Danny Beck, a CIA agent whom we will discuss a little later.

But the case always felt almost an afterthought to the rest of the episode. Out of three possible killers (chosen by us out of the usual line-up of red herrings), it was the very first and for the exact reason we thought. Confronted with a predictable, ‘there because it has to be’ case, it was the narrative licks centering on Booth and Brennan that made us glad Bones was back. The FOX show has always excelled at painting human relationships, and we were pleased to see that that hasn’t changed over the hiatus. The fallout of Season 8’s finale was always going to create problems for the writer’s room – how would they show a disintegrating Booth and Brennan without losing their audience – but it was handled with aplomb. A believable and fractious situation was painted from the very opening, and the closing scenes (while reassuring for fans) hint at anything but a happily ever after. Booth and Brennan may be back on track, but that doesn’t mean the trouble is at an end. We can expect more drama from the couple’s disengagement. Brennan’s ‘trust’ won’t change that.

The real foreshadower of what we can expect from the rest of the season came right at the end – that Continue reading

“The Secret in the Siege” – Bones

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 11.14.55 PMIf we’re honest, we didn’t love this episode. Which surprised us. We have historically always enjoyed the Pelant episodes. They bring an added drama and tension to the usual murder of the week format, providing real stakes for our leads to deal with, resulting in real and long-reaching consequences, and offering us an overreaching arc that ties months (and seasons) together. The specter of Pelant has lurked in the background throughout this season, rearing its ugly head twice with spectacularly great results each time. This time it fell flat. Perhaps it was because Pelant almost felt like background to the episode. The murders were committed by someone else and, as such, lacked the terrifying brilliance of Pelant’s usual efforts. This episode saw Pelant as puppet master, not true antagonist. And even that small involvement was almost eclipsed by other elements of the story – Crystal Creek, cult survivalists, and… Brennan and Booth’s engagement! Yes, we thought it would never come, but Brennan finally proposed. It was sweet and adorable. And it pushed Pelant even further from our minds.

The episode was almost entirely saved, however, by the closing scenes. Here was the Pelant we’d missed throughout the episode. While his actions during “The Secret in the Siege” were tamer than his usual efforts, the end results were (in our opinion) the most devastating yet. Just when everyone thinks that he’s disappeared and that they’re safe, Pelant contacts Booth. He tells Booth to break off the engagement, without telling Brennan why, or he will kill five innocent people. Of course, Booth can’t let that happen. What follows is one of the most traumatizing things we’ve witnessed so far on Bones – the dissolution of their engagement, and Brennan’s utter devastation. As the episode (and the season) draws to a close, we’re left wondering if Booth and Brennan can ever bounce back from this. Will Season 9 see our central couple torn asunder? Is this the beginning of the (temporary) end? We know Brennan will eventually discover why Booth did what he did, but will that be enough to save them?

So the episode was by no means perfect. And yet Continue reading

“The Blood from the Stones” – Bones

This week’s Bones had positives and negatives. Positives: the killer was surprising, and Caroline getting a love interest was fun and funny. Negatives: I hated it. Like, hated. Something about the documentary-style nature of the episode felt like I’d seen it a hundred times (I have), and this wasn’t even a particularly interesting or well-dealt-with version of the trope.

I didn’t like the characters. Any of them. And, yes, I’m including our favorite team of forensic sleuths in that. I felt like they were barely in it, in any case. The focus was split between the documentary (mind-numbingly terrible) and Brennan, which would have been fine even a few weeks ago but, now, was enough to make me want to skip the episode altogether. I’ve always had great time for the forensic anthropologist but today may have been the end of that run of benevolent feelings. Within the first few moments, something snapped within me as a direct result of her character. I finally reached my tether.

It’s her social ineptitude. It’s starting to get me down. It made sense in the first season – she never left the lab, her only friend was Angela, she didn’t know her father or have Booth to lean on. But now? It’s been at least eight years. Eight years in the field, eight years dealing with other people, eight years around Booth, and Cam, and Angela, and Hodgins. All people who can understand social cues. And she still can’t understand irony or sarcasm or dry humor? That just seems implausible. Yes, she’s a literally minded and factually-driven person. But this seems to just be taking it too far.

I’m not saying she should change over night but, perhaps, an episode where they don’t rely on the old favorite – someone makes a witty comment, Brennan takes it literally, ‘hilarity’ ‘ensues’ – and allow Brennan to actually get the joke. Without having to explain it to everyone afterward. That’d be nice. – K  

Quoteworthy:

“Likeability is so subjective.”

“Not always. Pol Pot couldn’t have been likeable.”

“Maybe at parties…?” – Cam, Brennan

“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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Is jane cracking up? Can’t wait to find out!

“The Partners in the Divorce” – ‘Bones’

      Image copyright FOX (2012)

This week sees Booth and Brennan struggling to reconnect post-‘fleeing from the law’. The backdrop to their pseudo-marital problems is the case of a murdered divorce attorney. Altogether too apt. The episode focuses on Booth and Brennan falling further and further apart as they try to pull the details of this case together. And the resolution? Well, we’re not even sure if it was one. We don’t feel any more secure… do you guys? But we’ll get to that later.

We’re prefacing this review/recap with a spoiler alert:

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.

Squintern of the week? Finn Abernathy. Yaay! Is he still dating Michelle? Can he date us instead? 

The murder is set-up in a refreshingly humor-filled style – two hobos debating politics and economic theory. We missed this side of Bones during the Pelant period. The homeless men find the victim burning in a garbage can under an overpass after they smell cooking meat – “Damn. I thought we were going to eat.”

Cut to Brennan making breakfast. This is the first inkling we have that anything’s wrong. Her and Booth are awkward around one another and Booth is clearly upset that she’s taken over his role as breakfast provider (especially because those pancakes look DISGUSTING!). And, as they’re called to the crime scene, things only get worse. She’s stepping on his toes in a major way. Perhaps, used to being self-reliant for the last three months, she doesn’t know how to step back and let someone else take charge.

Anyway, case first: the victim is Richard Bartlett, a high-powered and ruthless divorce attorney who, according to his wife, had no shortage of enemies.

The nib of a fountain pen is lodged in his neck but is not the cause of death.

Along the way to solving the case, they go through a few different suspects: the secretary, the newly divorced couple who had a meeting with him the night he died, the chef who was a former client, and the foreman working on the renovations to Bartlett’s office building.

The secretary was having an affair with Bartlett’s wife. Brennan was suspicious of the divorced couple’s sudden reconciliation. The chef was feeding him weekly rat burgers (yes, rat burgers). The foreman was being sued by Bartlett. But none of the suspects pan out.

The team discovers unusual compression fractures on the victim’s skeleton, indicative of a continuous fall down a steep, nearly vertical staircase. The reconstruction of these conditions is comical, leading Brennan to remark: “Congratulations, Mr Abernathy. You have successfully reconstructed the death of Wile E. Coyote.” Ohh she made a funny! Apparently she and Christine did some cartoon watching on the road…

After a little bit of thinking, Brennan figures out what caused the injuries – the garbage chute at the building site!

She still hasn’t quite figured out exactly what went down, though. At least not until Hodgins analyses the traces of accelerant left in the bone. It’s a flammable solvent commonly used by architects in the construction of polystyrene models. Guess who’s an architect? The husband who just ‘reconciled’ with his ex-wife.

Turns out Bartlett actually was a dick. They didn’t ask him to nullify their divorce like they claimed they did. He made their divorce null and void because his client, the husband, didn’t pay his fees on time. So they offed him – that would be the natural reaction, obviously.


Now Booth and Brennan: breakfast and crime scene tension was just the start.

Booth is angry at Brennan but he doesn’t even seem to be sure why. Is it because she took Christine (even though he’s repeatedly said he’s not angry and she did the right thing)? Is it because she’s now doing all of the things that he used to do for them? Does he feel like if she can do all of that stuff now she won’t need him anymore and, therefore, won’t want him? Is it because Brennan got used to it just being her and Christine and is now cutting Booth out of their lives? Sweets thinks it’s because of those three lost months and Brennan’s changed persona preventing their life from returning to normal.

Though that cutting Booth out thing is an issue too – Booth is furious when Brennan tells him she was going to bring Christine to the Children’s Museum without him. He tries to explain to her that she’s not a single parent anymore but it’s falling on deaf ears.

He’s still angry when he calls to the Jeffersonian but he sees her with the bones and seems to soften. (Aww!) They apologise to each other but Finn isn’t buying it. As he tells Brennan, “When my mom and my step-dad used to get all polite like the two of you were just then that meant all hell was going to break loose.” So then Brennan (and all of us at home) starts to worry.

They sort of have a DMC (deep, meaningful conversation) at the end of the episode (Brennan even spoke to Sweets about her and Booth’s problems), but we don’t feel like they resolved anything. Brennan made a big deal about how she doesn’t want to be polite anymore, and Booth finally admits he was pissed that she left and took Christine and that he won’t get those three months back. But they still don’t talk about anything, and it all feels a little glossed over. Yeah, they finally share a kiss more reminiscent of the days before she left, but we think this is far from over and is gonna be a recurring issue over the rest of the season… — B + K

 

Stand out moment:

Hodgins’ return to conspiracy theories.

Cam: “Looks like a…”

Hodgins: “Fleur de lys. It’s a sign of the Priory of Sion, a secret society that defies Papal authority.”

Angela: “Honey, honey… that’s the nib of a fountain pen.”

Finn: “He was stabbed in the neck with a fountain pen?”

Hodgins: “Yeah, or assassinated by the Pope!”

Cam: “Or… stabbed in the neck with a fountain pen.”

 

Quoteworthy:

“Don’t step in the brain, Booth.” – Brennan

 

“When in doubt, ignore the pain and plough ahead. Scientifically.” – Cam

 

“Say gently again and I burn you.” – Angela to Hodgins

 

“I work on the fourth floor.”

“And despite that I’m very proud of you.” – Booth, Brennan

 

“Okay, I’m glad you had this little talk with yourself.” – Sweets

 

“You said ‘much obliged’. I was suddenly in a western.” – Hodgins

 

“My point of view, she ain’t got nothing to be ashamed of.” – Finn

 

“FBI! Angry FBI!” – Booth

 

“Sweets is good with the psychology, okay? But we’re more than psychology. We’re going to be okay.” – Booth


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Bones made a mistake? What?! Have to tune in for that…