A nicely unsettling start takes us into a Columbo-style episode where a restless Jane and amused Lisbon investigate a high-ranking army type they suspect has killed his wife. Like the rest of this entirely-too-relaxed final season (so far, at any rate), it doesn’t come anywhere near the best the show can do, but it’s entertaining in an uncomplicated, wallpaper tv kind of way. Except for Vega who, now that she has Cho back on side, has swapped last week’s cloying humility and clinginess for an equally annoying blend of smart-alec and sassypants know-it-all. Argh.
The team investigate a diamond heist, Vega follows Cho around like a lost puppy (for goodness sake, girl – he’s awesome and all, but get a grip) begging for attention, and Jane has a cold which everyone treats as if it’s life-threatening.
The mystery is completely uninteresting, the focus being more on the characters’ relationships, all of which seem to be preparing for something big to happen: Vega and Cho take tentative steps towards closeness, Abbott distances himself from Mrs Abbott while he waits for us to find out what happened at “Rio Bravo” and Jane starts hinting that the future may not be as clear-cut as Lisbon would like to think.
Yes, blanket-wrapped Jane was cute, I’m delighted he’s back in 3-piece suits instead of those awful flowery shirts and I love that Abbott now seems to be shipping Chega (?) as well as Jisbon but, at the end of “Black Market”, I was left thinking the writers were so busy getting everyone into position for whatever’s going to happen to them in the next few episodes, that they didn’t really care too much about what was happening in this one. As a consequence, neither did I.
In their excitement at bringing back Erica Flynn, everyone involved in this week’s Mentalist is temporarily stricken with a combination of amnesia and ignorance.
Firstly, we hear from Lisbon that Ms Flynn “escaped from prison a year ago.” Except that, no, Lisbon, she didn’t. Jane’s been working at the FBI for quite a while now. Before that, he was away somewhere outside the US (after killing Red John) for, we were told, over two years. Erica escaped long before then. So that was… “a year ago”? Nope. It wasn’t.
Secondly, Lisbon asks Erica if she “speaks Lebanese.” Erica agrees. They’re both wrong again – and so apparently is everyone involved with this laziness – because it’s Arabic. People in Lebanon speak Arabic. They have their own twist on it, like everywhere in the Arabic world has their own local words and phrases, but it’s still ARABIC.
And thirdly, in a bid to stir up some relationship drama, Lisbon asks Jane if something happened with him and Lorelei, which is very, very odd, since Lisbon has known for ages that something did indeed happen with him and Lorelei and what that something was. Because Lorelei took great delight in telling her, in front of Jane, a long, long time ago. And Lisbon very clearly believed her and, as both Mentalist Wiki and I recall, was pretty upset about it.
Add that to Jane saying that a gangster can’t be a terrorist because “Not with that face. He’s obviously in it for the money” – because terrorists all look the same, huh, CBS? Are you kidding me with this? – and I have to wonder WTF is everybody playing at and have they all lost their damn minds?
Sigh. But other than the continuity errors and the ignorance and the apparent casual racism…. yeah, other than all that, I suppose the episode is ok. Erica smarms around in exactly the way you’d expect her to, Jane and Lisbon do their New Jisbon thing where they actually communicate with each other (hurrah!) and work better together in response, and the Cho/Vega/Wylie love triangle begins to take more obvious shape. So, ok. Stupid and quite possibly offensive, but ok. Even if the best thing about it is the tasty-looking bowl of Orange Blossom Ice Cream. With the two spoons and rooftop fireworks view coming in close behind.
Fans of the original Bad Girls, Prisoner: Cell Block H, will recognise this week’s Mentalist as, er, nothing like Prisoner: Cell Block H. But any excuse to link to that theme tune’s a good one, and Lisbon spending the week undercover in jail, pining a little for Jane, is probably better than most.
Teresa’s staying at “The Greybar Hotel” at the behest of the CIA, in a bid to try and get info on the whereabouts of a luxury car thief from his incarcerated girlfriend. There are all sorts of dire warnings from the CIA lady (an old flame of Abbott’s? Or a new one?) about what this fellow’s friends might get up to if they can’t get to them through him, but no explanation as to why she can’t put one of her own agents in jail if it’s so important, rather than risk an FBI agent’s neck. Maybe it’s to do with the home/abroad distinction there’s supposed to be between FBI/CIA operations, but since that has never been taken into account in any fictional tv show ever, I doubt it.
Anyway, I’m over-thinking things. Lisbon works on befriending Bonnie on the inside, while Jane works on finding Clyde on the outside, and in the process we get an adorable phone call, some cute flirting and a prison break that seemed far too easy to me, but again: over-thinking things. Like last week’s episode, this one surprised me by being significantly more entertaining than I thought it would be; there were funny bits, exciting bits – I actually enjoyed it more than the season-opener, and both Simon Baker and Robin Tunney were great. Still nothing in the way of snogging, smooching or other facial sports going on, for some reason, but their relationship’s very sweet nonetheless. As is Abbott still shipping them, bless. Vega’s thing for Cho I’m less invested in, but I still completely understand since, obviously, Cho rules.
The new season begins in leisurely, unhurried style with Jane and Lisbon on leave, all comfy with each other and their new going steady status, till their holiday is interrupted by the season’s inaugural murder: the killing of an undercover FBI agent investigating a firearm smuggling racket at a bowling alley.
I guess somebody was playing Mad Libs with Murder Plots in the writers’ room.
Anyway, a call from Abbott means it’s back to work time with the caveat that Lisbon wants to keep the Jisbon change in relationship secret – which might (MIGHT) explain the complete absence of snogging, smooching or any form of facial sports in this entire episode – since her private life is “private.” (Except when Marcus Pike turns up at the office for the most awkward visit to anyone ever.) Poor Lisbon forgets to tell her face this however: Jane is slightly more chill, but she’s practically luminescent when he’s around, gazing adoringly at him in a manner that’s fooling no one. Except maybe Wylie.
As far as the rest of the team’s concerned, Abbott’s still shipping hard, Cho’s still fab – Jane hugging him is hilarious – and Agent Fischer’s moved to a far away place, never to return. Woo hoo! This means we get a slightly sombre, completely unnecessary (it’s the final season, you guys) but entirely unobjectionable new rookie agent for Jane to read and either Cho or Wylie to crush on; I quite like her but I wonder if she has some kind of dark secret beyond what we already know? She seems suspiciously competent for her first gig.
Not that her first gig is overly taxing. The barely-there-at-all mystery is solved with minimum effort, the fake-out is mildly entertaining if completely daft and it’s all Mentalist business as usual, except that Jane and Lisbon talk about their feelings and stuff. Like, properly communicate when they’re worried about things. After six years of watching this pair desperately avoiding it, this new, well-adjusted, adult sharing of issues and determination to be honest with each other is somewhat startling. But it’s also, y’know, nice. We only have 13 episodes and I’d rather they not spend any of them sweating the stupid stuff.
Maybe they could sweat some serious stuff instead though. I mean, this was a sunny, pleasant way to spend 40ish minutes and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, but I’d like a dark episode or two in our final furlough to liven things up a bit. And I’d also like for Jane to stop wearing those annoying shirts. Dude. Bring back the waistcoats.
The Mentalist, having looked increasingly tired over the past couple of years, probably should have ended with the death of Red John, and it definitely should have ended when Jane and Lisbon got together. I say that as both a loyal fan and an ardent shipper – the story’s over, it doesn’t need an epilogue.
However, for reasons best known to themselves – although presumably money is at least one of them – CBS, Warner Bros. Television and showrunner Bruno Heller are giving us one last tango with Patrick Jane: the seventh and final season began in the US in November and hits UK screens tonight (Thursday) at 10pm on Five.
I’m somewhat ambivalent about it, to be honest. Fond as I am of the characters, I’m not convinced this long goodbye’s going to do anyone any favours. What stories can the show possibly have left to tell? But since the farewell lap’s only 13 episodes long, and we’ve watched and reviewed every episode since the show started, we’re hardly going to give up now. Unpopcult is in it till the bitter end, so check back here for the usual weekly reviews as soon as I can write’em.
Or “finale”, to put it another way – as season six comes to a close, Lisbon is getting ready to leave Jane and move to DC and everybody believes it’s going to happen except Jane himself. And the audience who have been watching for SIX EFFING YEARS and may riot if he doesn’t quit faffing around and STOP her.
As unpopculter Olive pointed out on last week’s thread, though, our man is in deep denial. So it falls to Cho to rouse him from his stupor – I love Cho – and it, as they say, is ON.
Sort of. Before that, Jane manages to solve a murder in seconds, set up an audacious but obvious – Teresa, girl, seriously, you bought that “you did it! ” stuff on the beach? – scam, solve another murder, shoot himself in the foot (okay, sprain himself but close enough) and give us his own version of the traditional romcom dash to the airport. Because apparently SIX EFFING YEARS hasn’t given him sufficient time, so suddenly we’re up against the clock and holding up aeroplanes.
*Shakes head. Then breaks out into giant grin.*
Oh, who am I kidding? “The Blue Bird” might have been obvious and it might have been cliched, but it was very funny, very sweet and very entertaining too. It’s not been a good season overall – only a handful of decent episodes, and the only decent thing about the move to Austin has been fellow shipper Abbott, who was particularly awesome this ep – but at least it ended on a high note. And a snog. Let’s not forget the snog. Since I’ve come this far, I’ll be back in the autumn to review the final seventh season, but for now, let me just say this one more time: SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!