And so The Mentalist comes full circle: in a bid to catch
NotRedJohn last week’s serial killer, Jane struts his “psychic” stuff across various local tv and radio shows, putting himself up as bait. The trick – suggested by Agent Tork aka Agent Who? or Agent Why are they bringing in this random new guy just for the finale? – works just as it should, of course, so why everyone else is shocked when it results in Jane being snatched right out of Agent Tork/Who/Why’s car, I don’t know. It’s almost like they’ve never watched the show before.
Anyway, Jane wakes to find himself in the unhinged Lazarus’s clutches, so the first half of the finale is nicely tense, with Lisbon and co (but especially Lisbon, aw) worrying desperately, Wylie showing unexpected backbone and Jane doing various smart Jane things to get himself out of danger because Jane obviously has watched this show before and knows what’s what.
Once our hero has rescued himself (with a bit of an assist from Lisbon, in fairness), it’s time to shift gears for part two: the mission being to squeeze in as many shipper-tastic moments into 42 minutes as humanly possible. Given the unstoppable smiling and perpetual squeeing I was doing throughout: mission accomplished.
Just so nobody got too comfortable, there was some unfinished serial killer stuff to add a little (not unwelcome) spice to proceedings, but it was never allowed to get in the way of what turned into a sweet, affectionate and utterly delightful farewell to a group of characters I’ve grown to love over the past seven seasons.
The proposal was adorable, of course, but the wedding was the climax we had been waiting for and it was absolutely lovely. New characters and old united on the dance floor to wish Jane and Lisbon well: Abbott (best boss in the world) showed off some super-cool moves, a beaming Cho (I love Cho so much) took a delighted selfie with Rigsby and Van Pelt (she didn’t even annoy me or anything!), and a newly confident Wylie took his well-earned place with the rest of the team, while Jane and Lisbon sat beaming, nearby, giving the shippers one final thing to cheer about – Awwwwwwww.
Unpopcult has been watching and writing about The Mentalist with varying degrees of enthusiasm since episode 1 of season 1 – at the moment, it holds our record for most posts about it – and the tv landscape has changed a lot since then, as has the show. Someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember it as being one of the first “civilian consultant helps law enforcement” series, helping to launch an avalanche of similar-themed shows but, although those shows and their one-liners became ubiquitous for a while, this one combined its sense of humour with a real darkness at its core – and that darkness wasn’t too common for network TV procedurals. And probably still isn’t, now I think of it.
The Red John storyline should, of course, have ended at its high point (Bradley Whitford!) but, even though it overstayed its welcome in the end, it still gave the show some of its best, scariest moments throughout the series, as well as making a star out of the then little-known Simon Baker; in lesser hands, the cocky, damaged, manipulative, broken Jane would have been deeply annoying or completely unlikeable and the show would have ended with its first season, but Baker made Jane someone whose pain we could feel and triumphs we could root for, even when we probably shouldn’t – I’m struggling to think of any other network procedurals where the hero has walked away from two (or possibly more) murders he committed and I’ve been quite happy about it, but that’s Patrick Jane for you.
The supporting cast blossomed as the series went on as well, with Robin Tunney’s no-nonsense Lisbon in particular growing into a great foil for Jane, and Tim Kang’s Cho becoming awesome. Yes, The Mentalist definitely reached its zenith somewhere in the middle of its run, but, although I didn’t want a seventh season after the particularly lacklustre sixth one, I’ve been surprised by how much I ended up enjoying this last lap of honour.
Like Jane himself, free from the weight of Red John, the final season was more mellow and relaxed – maybe a little too mellow and relaxed, especially to start with, but there was a lot to enjoy, especially in the second half of it, especially for the Jisbonites among us, and, now it’s over, I’m so glad we had it after all.
Rockmond Dunbar’s Shipper-King Abbott and Joe Adler’s surprisingly likeable Wylie were perhaps the most pleasant of surprises in the end – I assume financial reasons were at the root of the show’s move to Austin and the replacement of Rigsby and Van Pelt but, once the awful Agent Fischer was out of the way and the writers remembered the key relationships of the show involved Jane and Lisbon and Cho, rather than Jane and Agent Fischer, it worked. But then, The Mentalist was always about characters rather than location; this was a truly satisfying way to say goodbye to them all. And – because I can’t say it enough after all those years of faithful yet fruitless Jisbon shipping – it was one long SQUEEEEEEEEEE after another. Bless. It’s been a long, twisty road but such a fun ride, and I loved the final stop. Let me just say it one last time: SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!