“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

“Wedding in Red” – The Mentalist

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 9.50.15 PMAnother great episode from The Mentalist (and we’re a little confused, because that’s two in a row, now). Fast paced, intriguing, entertaining, funny and sweet as hell, and, most importantly, not predictable. At least, not immediately. We figured out who the killer was at about the same time Jane did. And, since we’re not former ‘psychics’, we think that’s not too shabby. The fact that we didn’t figure it out before he did warmed our hearts. We like to see a murder show making us work for it.

But, of course, the actual murder was immaterial. There were two main arcs in this episode. Both were (kind of) long overdue and both were bound to be fan pleasers. The Hunt for Red John continued, with Jane taking a closer look at Sheriff McAllister (and this has to be the start of the elimination game). We’ll discuss that a little later, though, because we feel we should jump straight to that second arc – the one the fans really wanted. Grace and Rigsby tying the knot. We were delighted to see them finally caving in to the inevitable, but we somehow still felt it was a little rushed. Yeah, it’s been six seasons in the making, but to have the possibility of a marriage brought up, the proposal made and the wedding celebrated all in one episode, with the latter two both happening within the last ten minutes, felt a little hurried. A little like they were just trying to get it over with. Not that we care. It was a lovely ending, and we’re looking forward to seeing how married life affects Grace and Rigsby over the rest of the season. We just hope this doesn’t mean disaster is soon to follow.

As for that other arc – trying to determine if Sheriff McAllister could be Red John – well, that we enjoyed. It was 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

“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 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

“Red, White and Blue” – The Mentalist

      

This episode sort of threw me for a loop. I didn’t recognize ANYONE (other than the series regulars, of course, you masses of pedants jumping to correct me). And then even the person I was supposed to recognize but didn’t – Eddie McClintock (Warehouse 13), playing Sgt Hawkins, I think – wasn’t the killer. The casting directors have been getting better at this. The subtle casting of murderers. It’s confusing, but welcome.

And yet, in spite of this massive step in the right direction, the episode wasn’t without faults. It was, at times, a bit preachy. The military-base setting brought up issues that the series hasn’t had to confront before and, somehow, the manner in which they addressed military sacrifice and veteran services felt awkward and against character. Having Patrick, the stalwart of just not caring, as the sole member of the team to thank a roomful of veterans for their service felt wrong.

My favorite arc of the episode came courtesy of Cho. His insistence that Sgt Hawkins reopen a sexual harassment investigation and protect the victim was the strong centre of a wobbly episode. He’s my hero of the week. – K

Quoteworthy: “Next time you ask someone in this unit to watch your back, you might remember how you watched hers.” – Cho, to Hawkins