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The Mentalist: Red Brick and Ivy

by Debra McDuffee, posted Dec 17th 2008 2:07AM
Simon Baker as Patrick Jane in The Mentalist
(S01E10)
Man, I just love The Mentalist. This episode was no exception. Yes, it's a formulaic show, but like House, I've grown to love every piece of the formula and feel robbed if something is missing.

The only negatives tonight? Once again, I knew who did it early on in the episode, but they really did a good job of creating many believable suspects this week. I also missed mention of Red John, although we did get to learn a little bit more about Jane in the aftermath of his tragedy through his relationship with Sophie.

Let's get into the nitty-gritty after the jump.

There wasn't a whole lot of team banter this week, but the connection that Jane and Lisbon made was important and very well done. When he finally confesses to her that Sophie was his doctor when he had a breakdown and was hospitalized, I think it may be the first time I actually liked Robin Tunney's acting. Her reaction was so honest, so sympathetic without making Jane feel pathetic.

Then, at the end when she offers to let Jane drive, it goes back to their banter in such a natural way. As soon as he calls her on actually being sweet, she changes her mind.

I also liked that we got to delve a little deeper into Jane's complex personality. We now know he was hospitalized, and even more significant, that he is ashamed of that fact. It was also obvious that he may have felt more than just gratitude for Sophie. I wonder if she'll be a recurring character?

As soon as the chancellor showed up at CBI Headquarters, I knew he was the culprit. If you didn't know at that point, I'm betting you guessed it when he assumed the case was closed when Kerry's body was found with the suicide note. But there were some legitimate red herrings this week, and I don't mean the crazy cat guy:
  • Kerry the teaching assistant had that shifty twitch about her, the one the director usually tells the guilty person to have. Nice job mixing it up this week. Her suicide and affair with Alex put her in the running.
  • The widow Nelson could have been a contender, but at least she led them to Kerry.
  • Dr. Stutzer felt strongly enough about his research to keep a gun in his office, so he was certainly capable.
  • Sophie herself. Though we wouldn't want to believe that someone could fool Jane, you must have thought about it for a minute, since Elisabeth Rohm wasn't going to get a small-change role.
The way they finally catch the chancellor was super-clever and well played. Since The Mentalist is so focused on the human connections, they brought in the devastation of Stutzer when he realized that his brain engine didn't really work and that it was all a scam. I felt so sad for him.

Other things:
  • It was nice to see Elisabeth Rohm again, whom I fondly remember as Kate the cop in the first season of Angel (yeah, I know she was on Law and Order, too).
  • The freaky cat man is just another example of how the writers have a suspect with character in each episode. It is so refreshing and fun to see who'll turn up next.
  • Jane doing the slight of hand for the monkey was all charm. Gotta love that Jane.
  • Interesting cinematography during the SWAT scene where they found the crazy cat guy. They seemed to speed up the shots in parts, perhaps to make it seem more tense?
  • When Jane makes a personal connection with the victim's loved one, it is always a great moment, and this week, his tenderness with the widow was played to perfection.
  • Jane's powers of observation caught the monkey switch; very cool twist.
Did this episode of The Mentalist hold up to the usual standards for you?

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lal

I'd like to see more of Jane and Sophie, there's some energy between those two.

December 18 2008 at 6:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bruce

To all of you who are saying the Mentalist is a very deep show centered around the interrelationships between the various CBI agents and Jane, as well as a profound study of Jane's persona ... it's not. The CBI agents are dull and uninteresting (especially Lisbon - I hate Robin Tunney and my favorite moment in the 4 seasons of prison break was when she and her twingly upper lip were shot and killed), and Jane just smiles at awkward and inappropriate times.

I mean, are you really going to sit there and tell me that Patrick Jane is as interesting, unique, and well-developed character as Gregory House (from "House")? If you do, I'll use my mentalist powers and call you out as either lying or being a moron.

And for what it's worth, House is more of a "mentalist" than Jane is. House screws around with Cuddy (and Wilson and everyone else at the hospital) infinitely more often and more deeply than Jane screws around with Lisbon. When Jane makes Lisbon cry, let me know and I'll have a bit more respect for the show. Guessing what shape someone is thinking of is not deep character development. Sorry. It's not. The type of person who thinks the Mentalist is the greatest new show of the season and that Jane is the greatest character on TV is the type of person who goes to a chiropractor, accupucturist, and shells out $399.99 for a magneto-crystal bowel regulator, and then comes home and reads their horoscope with the type of enthusiasm only moderate brain damage can provide.

December 18 2008 at 5:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
metz

The big problem I have with the Mentalist now is that I never know if Jane is pulling a fast one on Lisbon or if he's telling the truth. It lessons the impact of his description of his relationship with Sophie when I can't trust that it's true.

I agree that this episode was the worst of the season. The acting was great and the further exposition of Jane was nice but the case was horrible. Heck, I was hoping that the monkey did it by the end of the show.

December 18 2008 at 1:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
La-Di-Dah

My $0.02: I too did not think they used the other cops too well this episode, but the flashback (glimpses) we see of the past, the glibness of the Jane now, and the acting between Jane and Sophie and Jane and Lisbon was fantastic and more than made up for it (we'll get the other cops going back to ribbing each other next week).

I have watched a lot of shows, and the reason I love this show is not because it has the complexity or grittiness (an example of the former being West Wing), but its brilliance is Jane's charm, the way he manipulates me as an audience in the exact way he manipulates his suspects into wanting to get close to him, as well as the depth of Baker's acting (he makes this a character that is both tragic but charming/amusing). I wore a smile the entire time I was watching last night's episode, precisely because I love watching what's going on the surface of Jane and in the depth of him. Plus, the chemistry of the cast is kewl.

My point is this: relax. You may not enjoy the show, but it is a fantastically written, fantastically acted show of its style, subject and genre, (and if I may add, even outside of those constraints, it still stands up). I was recently watching West Wing reruns (that was a fantastically written and acted show in and out of its style, subject and genre, though it probably stands up more than TM out of it). I love and watch Brothers and Sisters, which has terrifyingly discombobulated (i don't know if that's how to spell that word) story lines, but what draws me more than anything is the terrificness of its casts' chemistry.

Now Life is also a show I love (but I don't really compare the two, because though the format of sorts might be the same (central character, interesting past), I see their style and topic and leads as different: instead of charm, Charlie brings quirky. Instead of concentrating on the interrelations of the characters, Life concentrates (or I concentrate) on their amazing murder set-ups. I remember the guy frozen with liquid nitrogen, and the guy with multiple lives blown up by the oven near the fridge, etc. We know whodunit with The Mentalist, but I have a lot of fun watching the flashbacks, so much so that I am not hungup on using each episode to try to find Red John. In fact, each flashback (ie the mystery in TM) is not to find the identity of Red John but to define the character of Jane. This is a different mechanism than Life, where the mystery is to find the identity of who framed Charlie, and I have as much fun watching Charlie put the pieces together too. To me, this shows have different traveling routes, so I don't really compare, but enjoy both.

That said, I know shows get stale when they are around forever, so I hope Life and The Mentalist get a nice finite amount of seasons (let's keep it in the lower units), and a nice wrap-up.

*This was more like $1.00, oops.

December 18 2008 at 4:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bruce

The show is definitely overrated. Considering how so many people call it the best new show on TV, along with other such similar raves, I'd say it's the most overrated show on TV. I watch it b/c nothing else I like is on opposite it (nothing else to watch) but it's really not that great of a show. Simon Baker plays his character well, but the character is not all that fantastic to begin with. If those CBI cops really need him, then they're shitty cops.

I think dumb people are just fascinated with psychics and mental powers and magic crystals and chi-forces and homeopathic mind-reading and astrology and other such idiocies. This show touches on mental powers (even though Jane contends he has no powers, I think the audience tends to disbelieve him, as does Van Pelt on the show) so dumb people gravitate to it, and thus it gets good ratings.

But it's a substandard show. "Life" is several orders of magnitude better a show than "Mentalist" yet Life's ratings are sub-par, to say the least. Maybe if NBC said Charlie Crews got magical mental crime-solving powers while he was in prison, more people would watch "Life" and it would have a real chance at a 3rd season. Meanwhile, Mentalist will be on for the next 20 years.

December 17 2008 at 11:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bruce's comment
mb

Re: Comparsion between The Mentalist vs. Life - Very well put. Life is a much superior show, yet it will struggle to make it to a third season.

The Mentalist is, on the other hand, exactly how you describe it. It's pablum for viewers who want paranormal themes on tv without being labeled paranormal fans.

If Simon Baker or anyone on TM get Emmy nods (yet Damian Lewis of Life or Michael C. Hall of Dexter don't), then the Earth is literally doomed.

December 18 2008 at 4:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Walt

This was the first episode of the series I have watched.

It will be my last.

December 17 2008 at 11:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
starky22

I would just as soon they not bring the Sophie character back. Or, at the very least get a different actress to play her; Elizabeth Rohm can't act her way out of a paper bag.

December 17 2008 at 6:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
litehousebeacon

I have to admit, I thought it was Stutzer all along. I knew it wasn't the animal rights group, and I was sure Kerry didn't commit suicide, but I was so convinced it was Stutzer that I didn't even allow myself to think it might be anyone else. That's what I get for not paying attention.

The part that seemed too obvious for me was the opening scene. As soon as he took a drink from his water bottle I knew he was going to die, of poisoning.

December 17 2008 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
david

despite all the talk about this show I have never seen it and have not really been interested.

The picture on the top of this article is not helping.

December 17 2008 at 12:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Frost

Actually, I thought last night's show was one of the weakest of the season. I did like the interaction with Sophie, and Jane and Lisbon's interaction. But the rest of the squad were used very poorly (actually they could lose one of them and make the show a bit tighter). The plot was more convoluted than usual and the macguffins more obvious that usual. Jane is best when trying to unravel complex social relationships, not science (faux or not). Leave that to Fringe and Eleventh Hour please.

December 17 2008 at 10:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to John Frost's comment
Anita

I agree. This wasn't the best and I usually love the show. I love Cho and the interaction between Van Pelt and fire guy, so you can't lose them. But, the writers could do a better job of developing the team like 'Wire in the Blood' or 'Bones.' Those who hated this week's ep, do go back and watch last week's ep -

December 17 2008 at 2:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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