On your marks, get set….
Season 6 of The Mentalist begins where season 5 left off: Jane has narrowed Red John’s identity down to a list of seven potential suspects, but Red John, always several steps ahead, already knows all about it.
“I’m not freaked out” says Patrick, more to convince himself than anyone else, I should think, and it certainly doesn’t persuade Lisbon who seems more unsettled by Jane’s discomfiture and supposed lack of a plan than the Lorelei video itself. Lisbon, after all, is a woman who likes a plan and likes Jane to come up with it.
When he doesn’t oblige, though, she produces a couple of plans of her own. Unfortunately, however, since they’re missing the input of her maverick consultant, both are rooted in basic, predictable police procedure and therefore useless when your adversary is an apparently omniscient super-villain. Not just useless, in fact, but more a helpful way for him to raise the stakes….
Which, hopefully, means we’re finally off to the races. There’s a case of the week – two of them in fact – but nobody wastes much time on them, since the first is surprisingly briskly and entertainingly resolved in the first few minutes, and the second feels more like a quiet little busman’s holiday (by the ocean and everything) to give Jane a chance to get his thoughts together before he and the show go after RJ full-tilt. The episode is more about setting that last push up than anything else and is much better for it: Jane has caught more than enough little fish over the past 5 seasons, it’s time to go after Moby Dick. Especially since those last few minutes – unnecessarily spoiled by the trailer, but unnerving nonetheless – have given him an extra-special incentive. I thought this was a decent way to kick things off.
Public Service Announcement 45 of 2013: Strike Back, Ripper Street, The Escape Artist, The Vampire Diaries, The Mentalist
All righty, the clocks have gone back an hour, which is the tv schedulers’ cue to ram another bunch of shows on the box.
First up tonight (Monday) at 9pm, we have the return of two shows unpopcult won’t be troubling itself with: Strike Back (season 4 if you count the Richard Armitage season) on Sky 1 and Ripper Street (season 3) on BBC 1. I gave up on Strike Back a long time ago but if you’re looking for bombastic action tv with as much gratuitous nudity in it as possible, fill your boots. As for Ripper Street, whether it’s a good or bad addition to the period English serial killer genre, I don’t know, but if you’re a fan, enjoy.
Tomorrow night (Tuesday) at 9pm meanwhile, is even busier. BBC 1 has “The Escape Artist starring David Tennant, an actor whom I like but not quite enough to watch every single time he turns up in every second programme that’s made in the UK. Also “British legal thriller” is not a genre I’m overly enthusiastic about so I’ll be giving it a miss. Especially since The Vampire Diaries (season 5) and The Mentalist (season 6) are returning at exactly the same time, on ITV2 and Five respectively.
Both shows had their problems last year. Diaries, in particular, had an appalling fourth season and reviewing it every week put me in a terrible mood so I don’t think I’ll be doing that any more. Especially since the programme is now moving on to its college years period; always a “difficult” (and often disastrous) transition for a high school drama to make. Still, I’m daft enough to keep watching if not writing about it for now, since Damon is always good value and I’m hoping that the migration of the dreadful Klaus and the rest of the Mikkaelsons to their own spin-off series might re-energise the show and fix everything else. Hmmm.
The Mentalist meanwhile – while nowhere near as bad or as infuriating as Diaries – did not have a great fifth run either, with the mediocre episodes outnumbering the good ones by some distance. It did pull off a few home runs, however, and the news that Red John will finally be unmasked in the first half of the season is more than welcome. Again, I’m hoping that will re-energise the show and er, fix everything else. As well as giving us some serious Jisbon shipping opportunities – SQUEE!!!!!
Anyhoo, I’m still very fond of Jane and co, so, Red or Dead, the plan is to carry on reviewing each Mentalist ep as soon as I can. Even if it is now on on a Tuesday instead of a Friday, which is just wrong.
“She’s just a memory that made me smile. And Red John killed her.”
There’s no denying that this hasn’t been a great season for The Mentalist; the mediocre episodes have definitely outnumbered the good ones. But the show always steps it up for the finale, and, in that respect at least, this season was no different. “Red John’s Rules” was terrific – dark, sad and quite, quite unnerving.
I don’t want to say too much about the ins and outs of the story but, suffice to say, RJ’s return came with a renewed sense of purpose and while Jane is closer than ever before (or at least he thinks he is) the quid pro quo for that is that everyone he has ever known is in even more danger as a result.
The murder victim herself was just another pawn in the game – this was all about the warped co-dependency between Jane and John, and Simon Baker’s brilliant performance perfectly captured the resigned despair, pain and exhaustion of it all.
There was also plenty to mull over for the armchair CBI consultants among us: is Barlow a Red John disciple or just a “punk playing a trick”? What was with Lisbon’s hand? And just how well does Red John know Jane? Because none of the people on Jane’s list seem to have the deep connection to him that would have made them hit on such an oblique but pointedly personal way to hurt him. Wife and child is obvious; random connection from thirty years ago? That suggests someone from Jane’s past, no?
In fact, for a brief, disturbing moment there, I even entertained the old theory that Jane and John are one and the same….
As if all that food for thought wasn’t enough, we also got a hugely significant development in Jane/Lisbon’s relationship which I’m choosing to interpret as something to squee over – no matter what Jed says – and a truly scary threat for next season: “I’m going to start killing again. Often. Until you catch me… or I catch you.”
Mediocre season or not, I can’t wait for the next one.
For some reason, I was convinced this would be a Red John-related week on The Mentalist. Turns out it isn’t and instead of the usual hunt for a killer, Jane and co head off on a hunt for kitchenware….
Yes, our old friend La Roche is back and he needs Jane’s help. Someone has broken into his house, the legendary Tupperware box is now in the hands of a blackmailer and Jane has until midnight to get it back or “you know what’ll happen if they unseal that box.”
Except that no, we don’t and neither does Jane, for once, giving us a great wee episode with everyone enjoying themselves hugely trying to a) find the box and b) work out WTF is in it. JJ’s relationship with Jane raises the bar too – Pruitt Taylor Vince is a great actor with a brilliantly hangdog face, worthy of a Pixar movie, and he and Simon Baker play off each other beautifully – and I’m with Jane in hoping they meet again.
I’m also with Jane (sigh, if only) when he says that the anticipation is a lot more important then the reveal, but, as it happens, the reveal is pretty arresting. And pretty bloody creepy. Ewww.
Despite that note of underlying darkness, though, “Red and Itchy” breezes along quite cheerily with Jane at his kindest (apart from the cat stunt – naughty Jane, tsk), Lisbon at her lightest, and even Van Pelt doing something useful. Fun for all, then, but word to the wise, fellas. No one actually wants to be called a “spinster”, even if you do put “sexy” in front of it. Trust me.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first, shall we?
“Jane, I need you.“
“It’s nice to be needed.“
“Anything for you, Lisbon.”
Yes, they’re messing with us, yes, “ours is more of a platonic love”, yes, yes, whatever you like, yes, but just let me have this moment, ok?
All righty, then. As far as the whodunit part of things goes, ostensibly, somebody was murdered, but “Red Velvet Cupcakes” was really just an excuse for some cheesy but fun agony uncle shenanigans which paid off very nicely. Adored Jane on the radio, loved “Dwayne, how about you not pee on my head and call it rain?” and, despite Van Pelt having turned into some kind of zombie – Is that Visualise’s influence? She’s being really weird just now – I even (grudgingly) really liked her and Rigsby’s radio reconciliation. Of course, the foot thing was super-creepy, but, er, does anyone know if those sandals come in any other colours….?
“You’re still in love with her but, instead of telling her, you bought her a plant.”
Heh. Cho rules, of course.
Poor Wayne is sweet but, really, the only way I’m going to care about this re-run of the “Rigsby loves Van Pelt, she pretends she’s not interested” storyline is if Cho provides a running commentary on its lameness. Or, ok, maybe not the only way – I’d also quite like it if Van Pelt’s bland new fellow kills her. Either of those routes would be fine, writers……
But I digress. Rigsby’s romantic woes were no more than background comic relief in “Red Letter Day” with a murder in a Wild West theme town and Kirkland getting up to no good sharing centre-stage instead.
Like much of The Mentalist this season, the ep itself was more passable than thrilling; the murderer’s motive was very US daytime soap, but at least the Kreepy Kirkland stuff kept things moving. What is he up to, exactly? If he already knows/ works for Red John, why’s he so painstakingly re-creating you know what? Could he be a self-employed psycho killer, as opposed to an RJ acolyte ? And is it me or did Jane look pleased as punch when he found the straw afterwards?
Sigh. Questions, questions. But at least we got one definitive answer: “Everything about Bob Kirkland is weird.” Well, quite. Despite a hint or two to the contrary a few eps ago, it looks like Lisbon isn’t any more into Kreepy Kirkland than I am. Phew.
An up-and-coming musical theatre actress falls to her death just before the start of a gala performance, prompting the CBI to investigate. But everything seems a little bit off: Jane’s tense, waiting for the dude Lorelei shot to wake up, Van Pelt is back and making weird faces, and Cho is strangely side-lined. However, even if the team dynamic’s a tad strained, the story is all right: Jane has fun winding all the theatre folk up and Rigsby is a big adorable doofus with his dopey grin and his jazz hands. I liked the nurse friend a lot too and I loved LaRoche’s little guest appearance. “Would an accent help?” Heh.
Of course, everybody will have seen the end coming a mile off, but it was still pleasingly creepy, if admittedly somewhat frustrating. So, all in all, not bad, with extra points for all the singing.
From the moment we realise the murder victim’s a female soldier, it’s obvious what themes are going to arise in this week’s “The Mentalist”, all of them having been well-aired elsewhere.
In fairness, the show tries to deviate a little from the route usually followed in military-related stories by way of a couple of twists on the standard themes and a somewhat incongruous motive for the murder, but the episode in general comes across as a perfunctory nod to the issues rather than anything else. Which would be fine if it remembered to be really entertaining along the way – I don’t watch Mentalist for my education or enlightenment – but, for the most part, it’s strangely flat. On the plus side, Jane’s interaction with Pete – especially the “memory palace” coda at the end – is unexpectedly moving, and it’s always good to see Cho get plenty to do. But otherwise, “Red, White and Blue” is disappointingly lifeless and bland.
Lorelei’s back and she’s on the mission Jane set her on: to find out who killed her sister and punish them for it, even if that means Red John himself.
This makes “There Will Be Blood” a chilling, unusually violent (normally we only get to see the aftermath of the murders on The Mentalist) and very good episode but also a really annoying one; Lorelei tends to bring out the worst in Jane and this week is no different – he reverts to his coldest, most inaccessible and deceitful persona, and it’s one that is very difficult to sympathise with or do anything other than shout at.
On one view, the argument is that this is who he has always been deep down: single-minded, ruthless and calculated in pursuit of revenge, and if it means “putting (his) trust in the mistress of a serial killer” and turning a blind eye to a couple of extra bodies, so be it. Problem is I think they over-egged it this week. I love Jane, but I hate him like this. As does Lisbon. We’ve swung from last season’s “Love you” to him laughing at her when she’s telling him they can’t go on like this?
I suppose it’s significant that when he realises she is serious, he looks horrified, but it’s Jane’s sole moment of emotional clarity in an episode largely built on on his wilful obtuseness as to the consequences of his behaviour on those close to him. He is incredibly dismissive of and disloyal to Lisbon this week and she deserves better. Although she clearly has it so bad she puts up with it and covers for him yet again anyway. Which is probably just as well given the extreme shiftiness of Kirkland, Bertram and all the other forces ranged against them but, at this point, even I’m beginning to think “Girlfriend, he’s no good for you. Enough.”
A very old-skool Mentalist this one: rich old lady victim, creepy mansion, relatives bickering over the money…. and a big twist obvious to anyone who’s ever “read too many murder mysteries” but fun nonetheless.
On the sub-plot side, I presume the point of resurrecting the “Rigsby moons over Van Pelt” theme was to a) make it look like somebody, anybody, cares that she’s not around (despite the fact all she’s added to the series for ages now is the sulks) and b) make her – surely inevitable – unmasking as a traitor matter more (or indeed at all) if and when it happens. But still, it meant the magnificent Cho getting to needle Rigsby about his love life, which is always welcome, and a cute visual gag by the elevators, so I’m fine with it. As a whole, yes, there was nothing particularly amazing or arresting about “Red Lacquer Nail Polish”, but it was entertaining, easy viewing and I enjoyed it.
PS – The Mentalist has now officially been renewed for a sixth season, which I’m a little conflicted about. The show has struggled somewhat this year and another season might well be another season too much in terms of quality assurance. But, on the other hand, I’m far too fond of Jane, Lisbon and Cho not to be pleased about the chance to spend more time with them. Quality assurance or not, I don’t want to say goodbye just yet.