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'The Mentalist' Midseason Report: When Will We Find Out Who Red John Is?

by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 6th 2011 11:00AM
'The Mentalist,' which returns tonight at 10PM ET on CBS, is the type of show that is constantly in danger of falling into the tedium of formula. Actually, it really is a formula show -- the set-ups are often similar, the way Jane interacts with the suspects/victims is often the same, the solution revealed at the same time in the same way -- but it happens to be a well-done formula show.

So the question as we head towards the second half of the third season is this: is it becoming too formulaic?

'The Mentalist' is a drama, like a lot of dramas in the past several years, that have weeks where they focus on a new murder case (the "case-of-the-week") and the weeks where they focus on the Red John case. There are usually a good handful of those episodes spread out throughout the season and includes the season finale.

This season there have been episodes that had both a new murder and the Red John case.

But the show needs to focus more on Red John. Either have more stories about him (assuming it's a man, though it could be a woman), or actually solve the case soon and move on to the next chapter in Jane's life. It has always seemed strange that Red John can kill Jane's wife and child, murder other people and taunt Jane and the entire CBI team for months and years, but everyone can just shrug it off and move on to the case-of-the-week.

It's like when Mulder and Scully would battle aliens and a massive secret conspiracy to enslave everyone on Earth ... and then the following week just kinda put that trivial thing aside and go investigate a murder in New Jersey.

The MentalistIt was especially weird in last season's finale, when Jane's friend/nemesis/possible girlfriend Kristina Frye was kidnapped by Red John. Or seemingly kidnapped, if you're in the camp that believes Frye could herself be Red John. This should have been played with more emotion -- Jane about to lose yet another person he likes to the serial killer who has taunted him for years -- but it just wasn't as intense as it should have been.

If I remember correctly, last year's season finale ended with Jane smiling and singing a tune, seemingly knowing something that viewers don't.

This season, in the episode 'Blood on His Hands,' we saw that Frye was alive. She was in a rather calm, dazed state though and couldn't really remember what happened. While this was a rather different take on this type of plot development -- on a lot of other shows, she would either been killed immediately or kept out of the picture to create another long mystery -- it was still an odd development. Perhaps she'll be back at some point to get involved in another case, and maybe even arouse the suspicions of some viewers that she's either Red John or is working with him in some way (which may be why she's still alive).

Or maybe you think that Bret Stiles is Red John. In any other show, Malcolm McDowell would be the weird killer. He's weird here too, the leader of some odd self-help group, but he could just be a red (ha) herring. put here to make us think he could be Red John because McDowell is just so Red John-ish. But he's involved, giving Jane clues and hints about Red John. He knows more than he has said.

If Jane was a Jack Bauer or Mike Hammer, he would have beaten it out of him weeks ago.

Gregory ItzinPerhaps Red John is someone at CBI (or has been at CBI). While it would be ridiculous, of course, to have Lisbon or Cho or Van Pelt turn out to be Red John, it could be Minelli. The timing of his resignation was rather odd and could have been done to trick viewers that he was off the show for good and couldn't possibly be Red John.

He did pop up in the Christmas episode a few weeks ago, 'Jolly Red Elf,' and seemed to find love with someone involved in Jane's case. But it's a good bet that we'll see Gregory Itzin again before the season is over.

His replacement, Madeleine Hightower (Aunjanue Ellis) is an interesting character. Sure, she has some of that "Jane, you better play by the rules or else!" in her like a lot of chiefs we see on police shows, but there's also a side of her that genuinely likes Jane and let's him get away with things others wouldn't let him get away with. She is becoming not just the boss but someone he can trust.

Or maybe she's Red John. Who the heck knows at this point?

So this season has been a pretty good mix of the big case and the individual case. I'll predict that the CBI team will encounter Red John a couple of more times before the season finale, when something big will happen, they'll almost catch Red John but he'll escape, and we'll have to wait and see what happens.

But let's at least hope that Rigsby and Van Pelt can work things out.

What Do You Think of The Mentalist This Season?
It's great!143 (34.3%)
It's OK, but it needs more Red John.168 (40.3%)
It's OK, but I'm sick of Red John.82 (19.7%)
It's lame.21 (5.0%)
'The Mentalist'? Don't you mean the old Bill Bixby show 'The Magician'?3 (0.7%)

[Follow Bob on Twitter.]

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The problem with all these shows is that if it is not someone close to Jane it will be a disappointment. If they bring in some random actor to play the part, after spending 3 years talking about it, there will be a let down. To me, the only logical choice based on what happened at the end of last season (Jane tied up and Red John talking to him after killing the kids who acted like Red John) is for it to be Minelli. TV shows back them selves in to a corner with a 'big bad' that is unknown. Let's hope they knew from the beginning who Red John was and are not still trying to figure it out.

January 07 2011 at 9:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Can this show rip-off Psych any more?

January 06 2011 at 5:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It really does seem like Jane was angry, pissy, just a jerk this season. Not sure I was a fan, and it didn't really seem to be explained except for a quick line to Lisbon.

With 6 more seasons to go, I hope Red John mystery isn't stretched out that far. I'd love to see who, or maybe have him more involved, maybe caught, escape or something later. Or a larger foe, but this is getting to be like How I Met Your Mother lol

January 06 2011 at 3:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BC McKinney

Well, Sam found out who "Jack of All Trades" was at the beginning of Season 4 of 'Profiler', after being set up in the Season 3 finale. But that was rushed because Ally Walker decided to leave the series, and post-Jack the focus was on Jamie Luner's character and her problems.

I find the pace of 'The Mentalist' satisfactory and have no problems believing that the CBI are capable of multi-tasking, just like real people. I don't skip to the last chapter of a book to find out what happens--I either read it through to completion, or put it away if it becomes uninteresting.

January 06 2011 at 2:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nobody is Red John.

I believe "Red John" will turnout to be be a networked death cult of some sort. There may be a founder, but the founder isn't Red John per say.

January 06 2011 at 12:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The show is getting tedious and only Red John is keeping me interested.

Also, it's true what someone said a while ago, that Jane is becoming pretty dickish this season.

January 06 2011 at 12:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Sassone

Oh God, I hope Jane isn't John, heh. That would be too "Bobby Ewing coming out of the shower" for me.

January 06 2011 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I liked this nifty little "clue" into who Red John is:


January 06 2011 at 11:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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