The Mentalist Review: The Real Red John?

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Did anyone actually care about the murder case this week? I know I didn't. "Little Red Book" was all about the shifting relationships of these characters and where they're headed next.

The world is still off its axis for our CBI crew. Jane is allowed back as a consultant, but his team is disbanded and Lisbon is facing termination. Bertram has to blame someone for the Red John debacle and he's putting it all on Teresa's tiny shoulders.

Back to His Old Life

When Patrick visits Teresa at her home, she's handling it well. As usual she's strong and downright stoic. She says she'll be fine. Of course she will, because Jane is determined to save her.

In a secret meeting, Jane implores Cho, Rigsby, and Grace to help with his plan to save Lisbon. The only one to balk is Rigsby. He's always been the weasel of the group. He threw Cho under the bus last season in order to save himself and now he doesn't want to risk his job to help Lisbon. I'm glad he got stuck with the security gig. I used to root for the Rigsby/Grace pairing but now that I think about it, she deserves better.

Speaking of Grace, I'm wondering how bad things will get once she blows off her therapy. There's going to be emotional consequences to killing your traitorous fiance. I'm not sure Grace can handle the fall out on her own.

When Jane hypnotizes his new team member, I have to admit that I felt my eyes closing, too. Who knew that Patrick Jane's powers could be felt through the TV screen? The man is that good. Of course, I was a little tired to begin with.

I'm so happy to see LaRoche back and so disappointed to hear that he's leaving major crimes. That man is an enigma. I've never seen a character who can go from creepy to cuddly teddy bear so quickly. One moment he's looking through Ray as though he can see to his soul... the next he's got Teresa in a heartfelt bear hug. The man is full of surprises and I sincerely hope we'll see more of him this season.

And it's nice to see that it's not only Jane trying to help Lisbon. She asks LaRoche to help get her in to speak with Sally Carter because she wants to give Jane some closure.

The one thing that surprises me is the Lisbon basically congratulates Jane on killing Red John. She's always been so against Jane seeking his own justice. Is she being sarcastic here? Does it not matter so much now that it's done and she can't change it? Or does she just want Jane to move on?

So, is Timothy Carter Red John? Is the psychopath really dead and his last hurrah is to leave enough doubt to drive Patrick Jane insane? Or is his blind lover right, if her lover truly was Red John? Is the man on the slab simply Timothy Carter and Red John still lurks in wait for his next victim?

This is why I love the Red John case. It twists and turns in so many directions I'm never sure which way is up. Simply the idea of Red John being out there should make for another great season of The Mentalist. For a look ahead, meanwhile, check out the official CBS promo for next Thursday's episode!


Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (100 Votes)

C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.


@farsia2010: Jane showed little emotion when he killed Carter. Keep that in mind. So where is this emotional turmoil? Most psychopaths are lousy liars that is why they get caught. They mimic human emotions, which they do not have. When caught in a lie they make up other lies.They think people will believe their lies because they are grandiose and think people are suckers. They manipulate people becuase they are predators and sense fear, greed, etc. They are opportuntistic and lazy. Jane is obvious a fictional character, but all characters have to have believability and some tie to real people. Otherwise, why would we like them or invest time watching them in a story. Jane is not unique in terms of con men. My point about visiting a prison is well-taken in that you need to meet a lot of people like Jane before you get what I mean. Cops often know most of the perps and find many of them amusing in their scams. But when they commit murder, that amusement is lost. There are also varying degrees of psychopathy. Some do bond with others to a limited degree and saving Lisbon's life would not be unusual for Jane. After all, he does have some limits. He broke with his father, who was a con man, when the father went too far.He worked as a con man, being a fake psychic. He probably talked to dead relatives for people, taking their money. He repeatedly lies to Lisbon and the team. Breaks the law and manipulates others. He has an obession with Red John for vengeance, not justice. Most people, although full of rage, would want the latter. Otherwise, we would go around killing each other all of the time when wronged. How many famuily members have killed someone in court? Not many. He has no close ties to anyone. I see no deep friendship with Lisbon. I see no friends outside of work; no other interests in his life. He is rather an empty shell. He does seem to take amusement in solving crimes, like House (who is also psychopathic or has the emotional development of a twelve year old) who takes delight in finding the right medical diagnosis at any cost. Jane killed without remorse and got two cops fired (disregard for others). In my mind, he fits the diagnosis of a psychopath. Look it up in DSM-IV. He was more sympathetic when he did not kill someone in cold-blooded murder. I do not see any deep emotions in this guy. If there are, they are an obsession with revenge. People that grieve do not grieve like Jane. I just think that many viewers were willing to forgive the holes in the story until Jane killed the wrong guy. Then it got some of us to be less sympathetic toward him and start thinknig more critically. The show is starting to have as many loose holes as The X-Files. Or maybe Luis Bunuel is alive and well and writing for The Mentalist. When will the dream end? I see you agree with me on many points, but are still able to enjoy Jane's escapades. I would be there watching too if they got rid of the Red John character and if Jane did not kill the wrong guy. That is a bit too much for me. I think the show have crummy and lazy writers who are playing with the audience. So enjoy the show.


you know i am really enjoying our little discussion.
the prison suggestion was a little over the top don't you think? we are talking about fictional character or maybe i am not the one who needs to visit someone to help me differentiate a fictional character created for entertainment from a a real life person.
now, i am a little tired of repeating myself in saying that i don't approve of what he did but i do understand it.
plus i want to say again that it is not only difficult to read a psychopath but also to know when you are being lied to when the detailed are so precise and painfully personal. he might have had some doubt that's why he asked for sth that a real RJ would know and the guy told him.
btw, Lietman was a trained professional and Jane is more of an intuitionist, a natural like Torres. and i never said it was impossible, i said difficult add to that the emotional component and how much he himself wanted it to be him, to have this running stooped, to finish him off, well, we know what happened.
plus, can really compare the emotional turmoil of Jane with the egoistical rage of genius on a drug high? i loved house MD for the first 3 seasons then they ruined it by rattling the team, then i got used to it but i never again loved it as much and now i believe that it is down right pathetic and i can't watch it because it hurts to think of how great it was and where it is now.
as for him being in CBI is not realistic - i agree but that isn't the point of the show, it's fictional not a documentary, if you like what they are offering as a story you watch it, if you don't you don't. it is easy enough to avoid it if it irritates you so much.
if you dissect any show on tv you will find a million and one things that are unrealistic. the things is we have enough reality in real life, when we switch the tv on or go the cinema, we don't want reality, we want a fairytale, we want hope, we want to zone out of our probs and watch sth that entertains us.
and as for RJ being unrealistic? i couldn't agree more, if you read my previous comments you will see that that story is sooooo over stretched in my opinion that i tired of it. but i choose to ignore it since i like to once a week watch Patrick do his thing.
and Patrick is not a psychopath! he is affected more than he shows, and i am sure they will find a way to show it us more ways than one. his seeming lack of emotion is a defense mechanism, he can't afford to break down now, he isn't finished. besides after what he has been through i really doubt that killing a psychopath who so tried to pretend to be RJ would rattle him to the core, it's not like the guy was an innocent bystander, he knew what he was doing to Jane when he went there and said all the things he said.
also i don't believe that he doesn't care for his team, if that was the truth he wouldn't care that he was set to work with another, it was so easy for him to manipulate them that he would probably prefer working with the new agents if they were only a tool for his purpose.
not to mention when he saved Lisbon's life when she was strapped to a bomb risking his life in the process.


Sorry, I see that you did watch Lie To Me. Leitman may had difficulty reading a psychopath, but it is not impossible. Within the context of the episode where Carter said he killed Jane's family, I think that Jane would have been able to detect that in Carter's microexpressions. Anyway, we differ on that view.
I do not find the show realistic in that Red John is the leader of a conspriacy that has cooperative law enforcement agents, even from the FBI, and women who are loyal to him, that has no stated goal or purpose. He kills people and draws smiley faces in their blood. He singled out Jane a two-bit tv psychic for saying something about him. Why? Other profilers and pundits, no doubt were saying much the same thing in the media. What makes Jane so special? To stress again, with Jane's obvious criminal back ground as a con man, it is highly unlikely that he would be hired by law enforcement to track down killers. Maybe, maybe to help in detecting fraud and exposing other con men, his only expertise in criminality. Also, family members of victims of crime are never involved in investigating the murder of their loved ones or getting anywhere near the investigation (like when Jane interviewed the CBI secretary that killed everybody). Nor do consultants interrogate suspects. Not in real life. In such cases, the suspect would walk, because of improper procedure. This is a very weak premise. Finally, in the Brave One, Jodie Foster admits that her vigilantism changed her, made her different. Jane's killing of the wrong man did not change him in the least. This confirms that he too is a psychopath, without remorse or guilt. His actions were acceptable as long as he didn't kill someone. If you find him likeable, visit some prisons, there are a lot of charming, funny, likebale con men behind bars. Here's the rub: House went to jail for ramming his car into Cuddie's house. He accepted the consequences of his actions. Jane did not. He misled the jury, because he wanted to return to hunt for Red John and vengeance, not justice. That a bit too much for my taste. There are too many holes in the story to keep watching for me. It will interesting to see how the ratings change. You think a majority of viewers will stick. I do not. But it also depends on the dmeographics of the audience.


@farsia2010: Jane did not kill Carter in a rage about the death of his family. If so, he would have emptied the gun into him and stomped the body. He shot him I believe once or twice and calmly sat down and drank his espresso. This undermines your theory of overwhelming emotion. You are saying that it is easier to detect lies told when someone is under emotional distress versus being a psychopath. Ekman has pointed out that there are microexpressions that are exhibited that enable liars to be detected by experts such as Jane (Ever watch Lie to Me). A psychopath like Carter would reveal a different set of microexpressions thta would indicate lying. If you are saying that Jane being under emotional distress would have missed these microexpressions, he would have done so in either case. Anyway, everyone was sympathetic to Jane when they thought it was Red John. I agree when we are talking about Jane we are really talking about the writers. I feel that they manipulated us and did little to resolve the situation. Jane shows no real remorse. Neither is Lisbon upset about his actions. He gets two cops fired to rebuild his team. In real life, Jane would not have gotten his contract renewed even though acquitted. In real life, the cops would have union lawyers fight their case and probbaly win. In real life, why would a two-bit psychic without any track record in catching criminals before he was hired get a contract as a consultant? The writers once again came up with a premise and ran with it with little justification. Many viewers were upset about what happened and the cavalier way that Jane has behaved. So many of these same viewers, like me, feel the show is not worth watching. Jane was a likeable psychopath until he crossed the line and killed someobody. That engenders less sympathy for him in my book. Think about this, when you are defending Jane's actions, you are doing the writers work for them. I myself do not like sloppy writing. Enjoy the show.


okay i never said that we should condone vigilantism, what i said is that due to reasons i stated before, i can understand what he did. and he couldn't read that the guy was lying because the guy took pleasure in the conversation, he wasn't an innocent blackmailed victim of RJ, he didn't show fear or guilt or anything else that would tell Jane that he was lying about who he is. and he didn't, he lied about who he is without lying about WHAT he is. he is a true Psychopath and they are natural born lairs, even Cal Lietman had trouble reading one in one of the eps of Lie to me.
and yes we found out who he is only in the next ep but he said enough to Jane that we heard to convince everybody that he is who he claims to be.
as for Jane's obsession, again, i understand it, he loved his family and the way they were killed could literally drive any man insane, add to that that he feels guilt about their death and you get the picture.
and yes the fact that he got off bothers me a bit but all the writers did is take what we already accept and put it in realistic circumstances. how many movies have we watch where law can do nothing so the main hero takes it into his own hands and it is mostly because of revenge that he does it, what about all the superhero movies, if that is not putting vigilantism into sth noble and right than i don't know what is.
we all love those movies so maybe this show and this turn of events was needed to spike exactly this discussion and show us what is it that we really love that much, and what will happen if real people do that without the cape of a superhero.
Besides, this is not a story about morality, this is a story about a broken man and if did everything right, that would be just incredibly boring not to mention unrealistic.
the show was supposed to spike discussion, but did you notice that most of the people forgive him and blame the writers, it's true that they wrote it but still they kept the character from being hated thus keeping their audience and probably spiking even more sympathy because now people think that he is being mistreated by the authors too (as irrational as that is).


@farsia2010: If Jane is such a great reader of people and would know if RJ was blackmailing Carter, by the same token he would have sensed that Carter was lying to him. So how come he did not know that Carter was lying? I would need more proof than someone telling me how they smelled on the night they were murdered. Anyway, I get your point. In an earlier posting, I said that we were symapthetic to Jane at the end of last season, but the writers pulled a switch. Jane killed the wrong man! I said a source of our anger at Jane is about being manipulated by the writers. So, we are now on a slippery slope if we let Jane off the hook. What's next, vigilantism on the show? Can we condone the killing of Carter? Remember the presumption of innocence. We knew nothing about Carter until later. So retroactive justification for murder doesn't work for me. Why didn't Jane take the consequences for killing the wrong man? Oh, of course, he had to be free to hunt Red John. Other than Jane's obsession with Red John and the amusement he gets with screwing around solving crimes with CBI, what other life does this guy have? Red John does define Jane, because there appears nothing else in his life other than this obsession for revenge (not justice), no friends, lovers,no life outside CBI. Lisbon and the team are people he uses for amusement. Tune in next week for the continuing escapades of that lovable, huggable psychopath with the winning smile and great hair,, who hasn't changed his clothes in over 3 seasons. What will he do next? Who might he kill by mistake? A parallel, when George on Seinfeld showed indifference to the death of Susan, he crossed a line and lost the sympathy of the audience. A lot of angry letters were written. When a character crosses a line as Jane did, it is difficult to maintain sympathy for him. Perhaps, pity might be possible, because this dumb schmuck took the law into his own hands and killed the wrong man. What a waste! Interesting comments.Cheers and enjoy the show.


@George i got just one thing to tell you about Jane not acting as you listed he could but simply shooting the guy.
i would like to see how rational you would be standing next to a person who you think viciously killed your wife and daughter, after you relived those moments of entering that room with the red smiley face on the wall over and over again for years, after hunting him for a couple of years and seeing him continuously rub what he did to your family in your face, after you see him endanger the people that you learned to care for, and then sitting there calmly telling you how you small daughter smelled when he was killing her? could anybody who isn't a heartless monster sit through that and not pull the trigger. he said numerous times that he was willing to face the consequences of his actions, he said it to the jury too and to the first detectives that were questioning him, he wanted to get out because he realized that RJ was still out there. if he thought that RJ was dead, that he killed the real RJ, he would be content with staying in prison. and Jane is an amazing people reader, if that guy was innocent and RJ was blackmailing him, he would have been able to detect fear, or panic or a variety of other emotions that would have lead Jane to believe that sth was wrong.


I totally have to agree with George!! What they did with Jane is crossing the line. I mean thats what those shows wanna teach you. If you feel sorry for a guy like Jane its ok for us if he shoots someone.. even we do know its wrong.. revenge is not always right - espacially if you kill someone.
But Jane changed.. he did. Look at him he doesnt feel guilty at all and he never will. He is telling his boss he should bring lisbon back or he wont stop to this bad stuff to his new colleagues - he gets 2 men fired - their job is gone - and he doesnt care either. He did bad stuff ( to ruin the live or jobs of 2 guys is not funny or ok) and he thinks he has the right to do that - but why is he allowed to kill a guy - just cause he was evil? na thats like in the middle ages. and he doesnt see how he is changing. and no one cares


I liked the early Davenport novels, but Sandford's writing style seemed to change later on and I just lost interest.
The evidence of the phone? Probably not dumb enough to have numbers on it that would have any incriminating evidence. Need a lot of evidence to arrest and convict Carter and it would need to be beyond a reasonable doubt.
I agree that we can talk about The Mentalist on different levels. What I am talking about is that the writers have an obligation to the audience and they can steer the story anyway they want. In this case, I think they did a lousy job and manipulated the audience and are just stringing us along. I do not care to participate in their farce.
Beware the heavy hand of the writers!DEUS EX MACHINA! That has become all too evident here.
I am no longer interested in the show after the last two episodes of this season. You still are. So enjoy the show and thanks for your interesting comments.


@George -- We're sort of talking about different things (but, yeah, we'd still disagree). You're looking at Jane's actions, at least in part (to me) and judging the morality and finding it wanting and I intended (at least) to be looking at the reality presented with the arguments I make to myself to still maintain my suspended belief in the story. When I read what you wrote, I could imagine you considering the actions as the book blurb and deciding you wouldn't want to read a story about this character -- and then thought that I likely would still pick the book up, exclaiming, "Another Patrick Jane novel!" and would be looking for the next volume (so maybe a discussion should have to be about why Jane's actions don't turn me off on Patrick Jane and they do you??). It's not a deal breaker for me, anyway, and I think that's because it's crime show or detective show or whatever is the correct name (for instance, I enjoy John Sandford's Prey series, the main character of which is Lucas Davenport, a deputy chief with the Minnesota equivalent of the CBI, who, an FBI agent explains why he dislikes Davenport by saying the state of Minnesota doesn't have the death penalty ... except for Lucas Davenport). Yet, I, on the other hand, had a really hard time getting past the idea in Harry Potter that any school or reality would allow a teacher (Umbridge in Volume 5 ... and the movie really tones it down) to torture a student -- I couldn't read Volumes 6 & 7 until 7 came out and I was distant enough from it to read it to conclusion. That is, some things are moral matters to me, but crime drama isn't. So lastly ... in your he said he said analysis, don't forget the evidence of the phone ....

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The Mentalist Season 4 Episode 2 Quotes

Lovely to see you. Keep working that bum wing


This man's dead. I'm all but certain of it.