The Mentalist, Season Four, and one Vile Possibility for Red John’s Identity
It’s been a great season for Mentalist fans so far. Patrick Jane started out September in jail and ended December recovering from temporary amnesia. When Bruno Heller was interviewed about the Mentalist between seasons three and four, he said: “Every season, you kind of take a chance to reset things. … Last season was almost serialized. There was a great deal of plot and story that you could follow through the whole season. We’re going to need less of that this season.”
So far, Heller has kept his word. The episodes have been less serial and more episode-specific. At the same time, we have seen some more character development, and the relationship between Jane and Lisbon has been developed to a point where it borders genuine friendship, and occasionally teases toward sparks eventually flying between the two.
Epidode one: The shooting of “Red John” is seen from the POV of an unbiased observer instead of through Jane’s eyes. Jane ends up in jail, and finds that “Red John’s” gun has been stolen, while his boss at CBI, Director Bertram, instructs the DA to keep Jane “locked up as long as possible” for “damage control.”
Bertram then suspends Jane’s team, and tries to prevent them from clearing Jane of murder. The team, of course, investigates, and eventually clears Jane of wrongdoing, but they are all “reassigned” and the team is broken up.
The one thing that is obvious to Jane, though, is that the person he shot was working for Red John, and that Red John is still out there. Curiously, while Lisbon believes Jane was set up, she still wants to believe that the man Jane killed really was Red John.
Episode two: Jane manipulates almost everyone in the bureau to get his old team back together. It is quite humorous and it works.
One thing we see that episodes one and two have in common are that Jane’s influence is seen in the actions of Cho, Rigsby, Van Pelt, and Lisbon, as they all break rules to get the job done. If you contrast this with the first season, when almost every character was there to be a foil or “straight man” for Jane, they have loosened up considerably coming into season four.
The rulebreaking isn’t unethical, as the rulebreaking in “The Sheild” was, but it definitely helps develop all of the characters.
Episode three: We get to see a rare glimpse into the past of Patrick Jane when he runs into an old client during an investigation. We also get to see Jane do what he used to do when it becomes obvious that his former client still thinks he has psychic abilities.
Episode seven: Jane and the team search for a serial killer. Jane figures out it is a blogger who “knows everything about the case,” and a battle of wits ensues, complete with a Red John tease.
So, the next question is “where is the series going from here?”
It’s obvious that Red John and Patrick Jane aren’t finished with each other quite yet. Also, while it looks likely that The Mentalist will be renewed for 2012-2013, it isn’t official yet. The official status is “more likely to be renewed than cancelled.” So, it looks like another season-ender that can be interpreted two different ways.
We see a number of possible storylines. First of all, it’s almost a cliché that the lead male and female in a police drama eventually have to eventually develop a romantic interest with each other once they have been on television long enough. We expect to see this continue teasing toward next year, with the possibility of a full-blown romance if the show is renewed for another season.
As for Red John, we expect to see more of him in the last episodes of this season, but because Bruno Heller didn’t want this year to seem like such a serial or soap opera year, Red John hasn’t really been as much of a storyline. But we do see a disturbing possibility, first mentioned here last summer.
Patrick Jane is looking more and more like Red John
This is an intriguing possibility. Remember that this is television, where anything can and does happen. If Patrick Jane is schizophrenic and is both Red John and Patrick Jane, it would open up a rather large box of Freudian and Jungian speculation, and would be an entertaining series finale. We have an even juicier possibility, though: what if Patrick Jane is Red John and has been conning the CBI all along?
What greater shock could there possibly be for The Mentalist’s loyal audience than to find out that the tortured Patrick Jane is really the inexorably disturbed Red John? That is perpetually pained expression is only there to hide an evil grin?
Most good fiction employs a technique called “leading the reader,” or in this case the viewer. We are seeing more of Jane’s “con man” side this season; it could be part of the “bread crumb trail” to which we alluded elsewhere on the site. The ultimate extension of Jane’s “con man” persona could be for him to be conning his friends at the CBI.
Is it likely this will be the ending? No, but it certainly would be one of the most memorable endings ever to a series, and possibly the greatest “swerve” of all time. It still isn’t likely, but it is beginning to look a lot more so than it did this summer.
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