There's a fairly simple answer to this question and I think you answered it: nobody ever watched this show for its writing and wit and creativity, we watched it for the characters. If you really want an answer to this question and willing to look at this through an open mind I really suggest this article. It sums up alot of what critics on here have been saying. http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/11/24/the-mentalist-red-john-mystery/
If you want to talk specifics about the writing we can do that, but this article tells you about alot of people's problems. I won't comment on that but ultimately it comes down to this; nobody ever praised this show for its writing like you seem to suggest. If you want to watch a show with good unpredictable deep writing, there are many other shows for you not this one. This was always about the characters. But regardless, there's your answer to the question; not many threw wild praise at these writers for 6 years like your saying. Rather people praised this show because of how great the characters were and the writing was good enough to not take away from them. Well that didn't keep up the past 1.5 years or so from the middle of season 4 or so. And it only got worse and worse; honestly the best indicator to me is the non RJ case of the week fillers. Season 2-3 had wild episodes like Ball of Fire. Season 5 was loaded with episodes like Red Lacquer Polish and Red White and Blue. Rather than combine a dramatic revealing storyline with Jane's wit, the show just focused on cliche ways to show Jane outsmarting people with his wit.
I'll pose this question to many on here religiously defending the show and its ending; weren't many of you the same ones who came up with the deepest wildest theories about RJ? Stiles is RJ's father? Michael Kirkland is RJ? Jane's alternate personality is RJ? RJ is a group of many people? All these wild theories came about on this site the past couple years and I'm not going to go back and see who specifically said what but you know what you said and many of the people on here who are now defending this show were the ones who were coming up with the craziest theories. By coming up with that, you're obviously thinking deep about the show and expecting the show to deliever something far deeper than what they did. If we're being honest no one here a year ago would have been coming up with these deep theories if they just expected a shallow ending and they didn't want some kind of deep ending answering at least a few of these questions they posed. To now say, oh this is a perfect ending for the show, it's an allegory, I don't care about all those unanswered questions now, everything is beautiful, something's off here? If you really felt this way, you wouldn't have spent so much time going so in depth with RJ theories would you have? Something's off and I don't just buy everyone here had a change of heart and feel way differently all of a sudden, like they had some grand realization.
I agree with this response. And I highly recommend you read this article. It's basically an extended in depth analysis of some points you bring up and brings up some different ideas. I recommend anybody with an open mind to read this actually. http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/11/24/the-mentalist-red-john-mystery/
2 things have really interested me this past week looking back
1) I think what's most interesting about this series is there's no doubt the quality declined from say calendar year 2012 on. I went back and watch some episodes from Season 3 and some from early 4 and 2 and there is no comparison to what we saw with the "case of the week" filler episodes of season 5 and even though so much more was revealed in these red john episodes this year than previous ones I still saw better writing in earlier versions. And yes, to refer to your point yes, RJ was way different from his previous behavior, the pt of the show was to simplify RJ but I agree they took the "evil being simpler than expected" too far and almost used it as a scapegoat. Oh, fans are upset, well we'll just throw that line out to them. Everything solved! Now, why did this happen? Is it pressure from CBS? Is it the writers realizing: it's easy to create a monster and create mystery, but it's much harder to tie up that mystery and simplify and capture that monster in a process that's nearly as elegent? In other words, its easy to hype up something, not so easy to live up to that hype? I think there's a combination of multiple things here but what I think speaks to this not going necessairly as smoothly as hoped is the idea that a) season 4 was a repeat in many ways of season 3 b) season 5 outside of some RJ bits revealed next to nothing and was loaded with filler episodes c) the quality of filler episodes declined from jane getting kidnapped, fugue in red to just plain average episodes of Jane capturing a killer in ways that repeated themselves every week. I don't think this was intentional, quality doesn't just erode like this, clearly the writers were capable of more than they showed the last 2 seasons. Something changed and it;s very interesting to think about what.
2) The response to immediately defend this show at all costs by some fans has also fascinated me. A number of fans on here are acting like "oh it's beautiful writing that so much doesn't make sense. It's an allegory! Think deeper, you're missing the point". I don't agree with this at all but that's not why I'm mentioning it. What's interesting is that many of these people are the one's who for years spewed red john theories like "Red John is many " "Michael Kirkland is really Red John" "Patrick Jane's split personality is Red John" "McAllister isn't really Red John(even though Bruno has said RJ is done for good) suggesting they were thinking very deeply(overthinking probably) this show. It's ok to admit this wasn't great writing that satisfied what you wanted for years without using the rather childish come back "oh good thing we aren't writers, we couldn't do any better". Go compare this writing to what you'll see with other more acclaimed shows, you'll realize this excuse of "evil being simpler" and "details not fascinating an audience" aren't what are used by other shows. Not in the slightest. Now, what was this change in storywriting from after say midseason 4 to now due to? I have no idea but I just don't get this need to vigorously defend this ending when many of these same fans spend so much time hypothesizing the wildest deepest endings they could fathom for years. The loyalty fans have to shows is always something that interests me, just shows to what degree some invest into a show.
Yeah, I agree on the idea, it would be stupid for Jane to just stay back and get arrested, just to "be there for the team" and "be there for Lisbon". What's he going to do, provide emotional support to them behind bars? You do what's best for yourself.
The reason I am commenting on this though is because I completely disagree with everything else which shows just how differently people perceive things and the idea that even though this show lacks alot in its writing, just simple things can be perceived so differently which is why shows get away with leaving such huge gaps. I also want to really emphasize this idea that someone we "like" and admire should never be confused with them being a "hero" or good person even though we like to think people we like have good intentions(no one wants to admit to themselves they like someone who they know is doing bad things).
Jane as some kind of hero to me is the exact opposite of what I think.
Not at all. Everything in his life is about him. Ditching the team in season 4, hiding all kinds of information(and I'm not just talking RJ info), blatantly breaking regulations, life in the CBI is a big joke and game to him. Like Haffner said, solving cases is just a game to him. He often knows who's innocent and guilty at first glance(S3E1 was a good ex amongst many others at this) but he likes to play games, keep the center of attention around him(ie throw around the word memory palace and talk about it knowing no one else knows what it is). It's not through hard work that he solves these cases, it's just through incredible gifts he's born with. He could make much much better use of them, he just cares not to. Rather he cares to use those gifts to manipulate others and get the greatest satisfaction he can(Lorelei even talked about his manipulative skills even last year) So the argument that he's solved 100's of cases for the CBI doesn't work for me, to him its the bare minimum he has to do to get by and get away with living the lifestyle he does. His life and being part of the CBI never ever had to do with solving cases as a primary motive; he's not "giving up" anything or sacrificing anything for the good of the team by going after RJ. This lifestyle was always a means to an ends and like Jane said in season 4 finale to Wainwright "a way to kill time". Nothing more.
I also have never bought him "protecting" Lisbon. He doesn't want her involved because to be frank, she's not an asset she's a liability. We saw this with Dennis Abbott, he wanted them involved because he knew they'd screw up. Jane is so much smarter than them, and yet he needed six seasons himself to take down RJ. Drag in these others who don't know nearly as much about RJ, aren't so subtle and wise, and you still think RJ gets caught? Please
Finally, what I mentioned before and really want to emphasize is the idea of someone we like, admire, many adore, root for, females think is amazing looking, and has an off the charts charisma to many also then having to be a good person is flawed. We tend to think the people we like the most are also good people and I think that's what happened here. We assume positive intentions with everything they do and I think the admiration of Jane has taken that to an extreme. Jane blatantly and wrecklessly killed Timothy Carter. People talk about all he did to "protect" the team without mentioning all he did to endanger them earlier in the series. Trying to bury someone alive if need be to make a point. An even worse action to show his intentions is that he has basically decided he wants people dead and makes it happen. James Panzer, the people on the list Kirkland killed, this is a god awful person. These are all things he's done in his quest to capture RJ. And now people are trying to make it seem like he's some kind of hero, someone who had good intentions for others? I couldn't possibly disagree more and I think people liking everything about Jane and his charisma blinds some's perception of what kind of person he really is.Maybe there's an element of fans hoping so hard for Jisbon and really wanting to believe that Jane cares for Lisbon and is willing to risk himself for her and protect her at all costs. But as someone who's always found Jisbon ridiculous, I don't see that at all. I don't know, lots to think about but you can see here how 2 people who watch the show regularly and think alot about it come to 2 COMPLETELY different viewpoints.
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