The Mentalist: Red John

If you watch The Mentalist, or you plan to at some point, and you haven't seen last night's episode "Red John", bail out now!

Procedurals are not my thing, but I do like some of them and I've been watching this show for awhile. Although I've occasionally tuned out during the more run-of-the-mill whodunit episodes, Simon Baker's work as fake psychic turned detective Patrick Jane got me watching in the first place, and kept me watching all this time. There was just something about the character that immediately got to me and stayed with me. Honestly, it's not just the hair.

Last night, they finally wound up the arc that has dominated the entire five and a half year run of the series, and we learned the identity of Red John, the serial killer who murdered Jane's wife and daughter. I thought they picked the right candidate, because I always thought Sheriff McAllister was the creepiest of the suspects. And I knew it couldn't have been Gale Bertram because they settled on him a couple of episodes ago. (My pet theory was that it was going to be Bob Kirkland's twin brother.)

They did a lot of things right in this episode. I liked that Jane didn't change his mind at the last minute and that he killed Red John in cold blood -- and he even did it in broad daylight, and with his own bare hands. Jane clearly went through with it because Red John wanted so badly to live. I also liked that Jane came so close to killing himself afterward, because that was in character. This was the moment he'd kept himself alive for for the past ten years, after all. He has nothing else to live for. Except perhaps crime fighting, and Teresa Lisbon.

And clearly, Jane had figured out who it had to be and remembered the sheriff's fear of birds, or he wouldn't have brought the pigeon. Where exactly was he keeping that pigeon? They frisked him, didn't they? :) Okay, I'll go with it. Jane was a magician, after all.

I do feel, though, that a lot of the episode was a "let's get from that point to this point" sort of thing. The CBI team were just there to provide cover for Jane and were under arrest for most of the episode. The FBI lead guy felt slimy and offputting and I kept thinking he was more than he seemed, but apparently no, he was just slimy and offputting. There was a lot of running from place to place and outwitting of cops and bad guys, something Jane tends to do a lot. The ending did feel somewhat satisfying, but it wasn't a home run.

One big thing they glossed right over is that we never learned how McAllister came up with Jane's ultimate list of suspects. That was a big one, so huge that at the time (the fifth season finale) it actually made me consider the possibility that Jane himself was Red John. That would have been a courageous move by the producers and it even would have made sense, but it would have also enraged the fans and ruined the emotional center of the show, so I get why they didn't do that.

I'm also glad that a member of the CBI team didn't turn out to be one of Red John's disciples. That might have worked in the second season, possibly the third, but after this long it would have been a cheat. There have been rumors that Grace Van Pelt was going to be it, probably because of her red hair. I suppose it still could turn out that way since Van Pelt, Rigsby and Cho are still alive, but I don't think the viewers would ever go for it. I know I wouldn't.

So where do they go from here? I like that they're going to move ahead a couple of years and completely change the series. It appeared that Jane might have covered for his kill, too -- the world will probably believe Red John was Gale Bertram. It's more than time that Jane and Lisbon got romantically involved, too, especially if this is the last season, as I keep hearing it might be.

One little thing that I've always liked is how every episode title has a reference to the color red, which made sense because of Jane's obsession with Red John. The title of next week's episode is "My Blue Heaven." That made me smile.

So Mentalist fans, what did you think? Did it work? Were you pleased or disappointed? Where do you think the series can possibly go from here?
Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.


Siddharth M. said...

Lead FBI Dog is played by the usually excellent Rockmond Dunbar (Terriers, Prison Break). Wonder why they made him such an uptight stick in the mud. Am not looking forward to him being a permanent member of the cast...

Freeman said...

Aw man, I love the Mentalist, Simon Baker is so good. Though honestly i have Shawn Spencer to thank for getting me into it since he brings it up every now and then in Psych. I'm glad you finally found time for a little Mentalist love Billie.

This episode was intense, a lot more intense than an average episode. It was actually jarring which I'm pretty sure was the point. I kept watching for background information since this is Red John, fake-out master extraordinaire. The nun(?) lady that attacked Jane slipped away as the police arrived and when the camera panned away from Jane at the very end it rested on a man and a child at a playground set and played that creepy stock child laughter. What these mean? I have no idea, but it could mean maybe this isn't the absolute end of Red John.

My theory is that perhaps Red John isn't so much a single person but some kinda hypnotic mind hive...thing. So i suspect there may be remnants of Red John to take care of. Well that, and they need to take down the rest of the Blake guys. And up until this episode I've always had the suspicion that Patrick is Red John as well. That would've been really dark and twisty. I suppose the possibility is still there though.

Watch Red John really turn out to be tattle-tale Rigsby, haha.

Henrik Bennetter said...

I liked it, but was still dissappointed. Because in my mind, for a long time, Patrick Jane is Red John. It really is the only logical conclusion in my mind.
Also, the whole fleeing of Sheriff McAllister felt very un-redjohn-ie if you know what I mean.
I dunno. It all felt too hasty, and he so desperately wanted to tell Patrick how he got the list.
I still think Patrick is Red John, a la Fight Club-style, and that this will be revealed at the very end. At least I hope so. It would be a terrific end to a fun series.
After all, Patrick already killed Red John once - was it in the finale of season 2?

Bill said...

Loved the RJ conclusion. After the bomb, McAllister was my 2nd choice. My 1st was still Partridge. Believed he faked his death just like McAlister ultimately did. But definitely a faked death was something that just fit into the style of the show. The only CHEAT the producer did was the fake RJ voice that McAlister did once in the church. The RJ voice in the episode "Red sky in the morning" was Partridge clearly. It was even a screen shot at a distance to help them pull it off. But, the killing of RJ was in keeping. Yes, the world will believe Bertrum to be RJ. Not sure how they will deal with MacAllisters death. Maybe a poor autopsy not detecting the strangulation considering he has a bullthole in him. But, the 2 year thing is good......Amanda wants off, well put her at home retired with a one year old and a six month old child and down play her role. A new female detective....Cho in charge and Lisbon the director of a restored CBI. Jane a consultant with issues still and a hidden romantic thing with Lisbon. But definitely make the Blake investigation resulting in fewer people involved than RJ and Reed Smith bragged about. Restore peoples confidence in Law Enforcement. Lose the FBI guy. The FBI was as infiltrated as CBI was. I didn't like the dismantling of CBI.....I will never watch another series like this if they continue the RJ thing and make Jane a character with a black sinister murdering side. Continue on with the show like NCIS is doing.

Taissa said...

I heard a lot of people complaining (no surprises, we're on the Internet) but I actually like it. Red John has always been a coward to me, always hiding and using other people so he could remain protected. This time he had no one to help him and he died the same way he killed his victims: overpowered and begging for his life. I believe Jane didn't want to hear RJ's explanations about his tricks because that would give RJ an audience, RJ was like a show man, he would love to explain how he did things just to show how smart he was. And Jane just wanted to get over with it, he's been waiting for this for 10 years, so I understand the lack of explanations in this episode. As for the pigeon thing, when Jane took Lisbon's gun he said he wouldn't use it, that it would be just a prop, a distraction. So Cordero saw the gun and stopped searching Jane and didn't notice the pigeon, and I thought it was a nice touch for a character that used to pretend to be a magician. I've been watching the show since it started. I'm going to miss the RJ thing, but we can't expect things to be forever the same. I'm really looking forward for this new The Mentalist phase.

Henrik Bennetter said...

Very good point, well points, Taissa.
I agree and actually redact my previous comments in light of this one - if that's possible.