A stolen body, an alien abduction, and a dying man made for an oddly sweet outing of The Mentalist.
"The Red Mile" began with a Jane versus Steiner showdown, as the medical examiner tried to mark his territory and keep Jane away from his crime scene. However, the antagonistic relationship didn't last long. Steiner was dying and Patrick quickly noticed the signs of serious illness that all others missed.
That realization brought about an understanding and friendship that humanized Jane in a way I hadn't yet witnessed in previous episodes. He seemed to go out of his way to give the man every opportunity to be a part of the team and threw in some good Scotch and cigars, too, albeit belonging to someone else.When the doctor told Jane that he knew exactly how bad the end would be and that he didn't intend to suffer through it, it was a poignant scene. The medical examiner then explained that he didn't want to end up on his own table and my chest tightened.
I appreciated the way Jane balked at first at the request to witness this man end his life. This wasn't something to be taken lightly and the normally glib Jane was obviously taken aback. When he decided to stay, I found it moving that he used his own rituals of comfort to assuage the man's distress. Jane sharing a cup of tea and his magic tricks was heartbreakingly beautiful.
Of course, we also enjoyed moments with Jane's normal banter. I loved his glee when he thought the butler did it. The very thought made him positively giddy. And when he rattled off Jabba the Hut and Alf as possible murder suspects, I didn't know which was funnier, his answers or Lisbon's vexation.
Also on the lighter side we had the alien abduction enthusiast trying to convince Cho that he was one of them. Cho's humorless stare and deadpan delivery were perfect. Every week I wish this character got more screen time.
Then we come to Rigsby, O'Loughlin, and Van Pelt. Did O'Loughlin merely freeze under pressure or was there something more? When Grace was in trouble he didn't respond. When Rigsby called for O'Loughlin to cover him, he didn't move. Did the trauma of the close gunfire cause him to pause or was there something more sinister going on?
Rigsby was right not to tell Van Pelt. There was no proof of anything and if she's in love with O'Loughlin she'll simply jump to his defense. It was nice to see that Rigsby cares enough for her to want to see her happy. Unfortunately, I doubt her upcoming nuptials will accomplish that.
Jane's repeated final words to a dying man were a haunting way to end the show. "It's there and then it's gone." As the season winds down, those words left me wondering if this was foreshadowing for what's to come.
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.