So The Mentalist returned to the UK last night (not counting the incessant repeats) with the beginning of Season Six – in case anyone missed it, then it’ll be on Channel 5’s On Demand service and will probably repeated over the next week on their various sub-channels. By the way, I apologise if I inadvertently spoil earlier series, but I’ll try not to.
So, to recap the basics of the programme – Patrick Jane was a scam artist who claimed to be psychic whereas he is in fact simply a mentalist – i.e. very observant, a very quick deductive mind and ridiculously charming. For publicity, he issues a challenge to the serial killer Red John, who promptly murders Jane’s family. Jane then joins the CBI – the California Bureau of Investigation – as a consultant, using his role to (so far unsuccessfully) track down Red John.
As I said, this is Season Six, so thus far, Jane has completely failed to find or identify Red John. Is he going to have any better luck this series? And is it going to be worth watching him try?
I’ll be honest, I’ve been tiring of the series a little. The non-Red John episodes tend to be a little dull and the extent of Red John’s network is getting a little on the ridiculous. Add to that the general incompetence of everyone else who works in the bureau, and the only thing really holding it together is the charismatic (or twinkly, as Mrs Puzzle Doctor refers to it) performance of Simon Baker as Jane.
But things have become a little more focussed now. Jane has a list of seven Red John suspects, which Red John knows about – the reveal of this at the end of the previous series was what rekindled my interest in the series. I won’t spoil that for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but Red John pulled off an incredibly creepy trick – which I do hope they explain at some point.
This episode was a promising one. Relegating the Red John story to a sub-plot, there’s a lovely pre-credits sequence which basically gets everyone up to date and shows what Jane can do – highlighting unfortunately the feeling that I sometimes get that Jane could work a lot faster if he tried – and then a second mystery. Not convinced one could solve it, but there is at least a sort of clue… But credit the writers for giving Lisbon (Jane’s “boss”) some independent thought and for finally getting rid of the obstacles between Van Pelt and Rigsby as it means hopefully that the team will get more relevant things to do.
For no particular reason though, I thought I’d share some Red John thoughts and theories.
- He’s one of the seven on the list
Which isn’t very interesting, really, is it? Admittedly, one or two names have been recurring and vaguely sinister characters in the last series or two, but let’s face it, none of them have enough resonance (yet) to be a satisfying solution
- He’s one of the team
Unlikely. The only one who could vaguely fit is Cho, but having now had to endure that weird subplot of his relationship with the… what was she exactly? Oh, an informant. That basically rules him out too. I suppose you might say that Lisbon’s general incompetence could be massive misdirection but I think the ending of this episode (no spoilers – Mrs Puzzle Doctor hasn’t seen it yet) kind of rules that out.
- He’s Jane himself
This is Mrs Puzzle Doctor’s theory. Jane’s a split personality. But there are too many instances of Jane talking to Red John for it to be convincing. I know Red John has countless henchmen and stand-ins, but I think this theory is off the table now – especially, again, given the last scene of this episode.
- He’s someone we have never met
- He’s someone we’ve met who isn’t on the list.
There are one or two characters who haven’t made it to the list who could be Red John, and I’m guessing this is where we’re going with it. Let’s face it, when has Gregory Itzin ever played a good guy?
- The writers are making it up as they go along.
Quite likely for the first few seasons but they must have a plan by now.
Now I gather that as this season progresses, a lot happens very quickly, so if you’ve seen any more episodes than this, please don’t bring any spoilers to the discussion. Please. Overall, this episode has given me faith that the series is back on track, so fingers crossed.
ADDENDUM: Seriously, no spoilers. While looking for a picture, I’ve seen a couple of things about episodes 2 to 4 which I wish I hadn’t seen. And apparently Robin Tunney (Lisbon) has said that they will reveal Red John’s identity this season. Episode ten, probably, as it’s called “Red John”. So, nine weeks to go…