I may be the only person round these parts who enjoyed last week’s Mentalist, but this week even I was thinking “Oh, get on with it.”
“The Great Red Dragon” was well-made, well-acted and had a soundtrack so beautifully tense it almost fooled me into thinking exciting things were happening a couple of times but no – it was actually just a lot of tiresome conspiracy/manhunt shenanigans designed to put off the inevitable Jane vs John showdown for another week, with random and deeply annoying Detective Smarmy getting way too much screen time for most of the ep and random and deeply annoying FBI Agent Shouty turning up to get in the road at the end. Even after the supposed big reveal, it all felt like time-wasting and, 6 seasons into the Red John story, there really has been more than enough of that already.
Question: what if it wasn’t actually Red John who bumped off REDACTED last week, but someone else? Could it not be a(nother?)Tiger, Tiger or even another person spying on Jane like Kirkland did?
Just wondering. Not that this week’s episode or Jane himself entertains those possibilities. Nope, “Fire and Brimstone” has Patrick in obsessive, “eyes on the prize” mode, the prize being the man with the tattoo, whoever he may be. And the ep itself is just as sharp and focussed as Jane is: with guest appearances from the entire RJ Suspects Club, a Jisbon moment in the sunset which I’ve decided was heartfelt even if it was also incredibly manipulative (bad Jane!), and a fantastically tense last few minutes, it’s terrific. A quietly fraught, uneasy atmosphere throughout, a great performance from Simon Baker, and another few steps toward unmasking RJ: loved it.
A very Jonathan Creek-ish “murder in a locked room” is this week’s excuse to hang out with a Red John Suspect. And in Ray Haffner and the missing-in-possibly-serial-killing-action Bret Stiles, we get two (sort of) for the price of one, even if one of them sends his buddy along instead.
To be honest, I don’t buy the finesse-free Haffner as a viable candidate at all – he’s so whiny and unsubtle about his jealousy of Jane that there’s no way he could persuade any potential Red acolytes to join him on a trip to the shops never mind in years of brutal killings across the country – but Stiles I could get behind, so I wonder if the reason he’s “missing” is that they’re saving Malcolm McDowell for the final RJ unmasking? Although, I suppose, RJ may have killed him too. The Suspects do seem to have a fairly short life expectancy these days….
Anyway, I didn’t care too much about the mystery and the resolution was as cheesy as a vat of Dairylea, but I quite enjoyed the ep anyway. (Apart obviously from Rigsby’s Rigpelt sex chat. Shut. Up. Rigsby.) Also, on the surprises front, I was particularly pleased when Summer No.2 turned out not to be Summer No. 2 after all, and quite, quite delighted by Jane’s trick with the coin and the bug. Of course, I would have detained the woman at CBI and interrogated her for hours on end, but, y’know, different strokes for different folks…
Victim of the week is a previous villain of the week, awaiting trial after Jane pretty much tortured him into confessing on pain of death; helpfully, someone has sought the man out and finished the job.
Interestingly, the show takes a minute to make the point that, had he lived, the guy may well have walked free because of what Jane did to get the evidence against him – a point we’ve all been making on unpopcult for years now, but it’s refreshing to see it acknowledged at last. After that, it’s season 6 business as usual though as everybody gets on with weaving the story into the main Red John arc, albeit in much cleverer and more entertaining fashion than last week’s flaccid offering.
FBI Agent Reed Smith – one of the more anonymous members of the Red John Suspects Club – is on the case, fellow Jane-baiting Suspect Kreepy Kirkland Kreeps onto the scene, an old friend makes a welcome reappearance… it’s all good stuff, with a couple of genuinely disturbing moments and some huge strides forward in the plot. I could not care less about Rigsby and Van Pelt’s sex life (can they not just die/move/whatever it is they’re gearing up to already?) and I really cannot be bothered with the idea of yet another government/law enforcement “conspiracy” to compete with every other government/law enforcement “conspiracy” on every other procedural on tv, but, that aside, I thought most of “Red Listed” – especially Patrick’s memorial message – was great.
A “Wedding in Red” dragged everyone out to Napa this week, ostensibly to investigate a murder, but really so Jane could try and get inside Sheriff McAllister’s head.
Since the shady Sheriff is more than a match for our man, that side of things was good fun: the scene where they had a sort of guess-off at the body was great, and the heights business cute. But everything else? Not so much.
Nobody even pretended the murder mystery was anything more than a flimsy excuse for Red John recon – not even the relatives of the poor victim who seemed to care even less about him than we did – and the plot was not so much filler as barely there at all. Even the Rigsby/Van Pelt story, which (no matter how much I dislike Van Pelt) should have been HUGE, was bizarrely rushed and limp. Was I supposed to squee? Did anybody? Clearly someone decided that particular thread needed to be closed off super-quick, and hey presto! It was. Meh.
Given the cliffhanger at the end of last week’s ep, kicking off this one with a new murder of the week seemed a somewhat bizarre choice: I can’t have been the only person going “Eh? Never mind this dude – what about Lisbon?!”
But the whodunnit was no more than a few minutes’ cursory distraction (the identity of the murderer was obvious and the motive entirely by-the-by), so we didn’t have to wait too long to find out the answer to the Lisbon question and to move back to some other Red John ones: which of the remaining six members of the RJ Suspects Club is he, and how does he know what’s in Jane’s head?
I accidentally guessed the answer to the latter question a while ago, so I was ridiculously pleased with myself when Jane came to the same conclusion, but the former continues to bemuse me, since the Suspects seem almost desperate to put themselves forward for the Red John title. It was bad enough last week with Bertram practically wearing a sign saying “SHIFTY” but his meeting with two other members of the Club was so “Boo, hiss, can’t you see we’re baddies?!” suspicious, it was practically panto. As was Haffner’s visit to Lisbon’s hospital bed – it’s almost like each of the Suspects desperately wants to be outed as RJ, whether they are or not.
Lack of subtlety aside, though, I enjoyed “Black-winged Redbird.” It feels like the RJ story is moving quickly now and despite the Suspects all hamming it up in almost comedic fashion, the show is still capable of some impressively chilling moments. There was one particularly disturbing development this week which shouldn’t actually have been much of a surprise but was so startlingly, brilliantly done, that it gave me a horrible shock anyway: I screamed out loud. I have a terrible feeling the ultimate unmasking of RJ can’t be anything but an anti-climax, but at least this last leg of the journey towards it is shaping up well. Especially since there’s more than a little Jisbon in there if you squint hard enough….
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.