The Mentalist Season 5 kicks off with ‘The Crimson Ticket’, in what eventually turns out to be the week after the events of the Season 4 finale ‘The Crimson Hat’. As I did with that episode, this will be a large recap and review, something I’ll be doing for all episodes considered ‘big’ (finale, premiere etc.) or ‘important’ (such as the upcoming 100th episode). All other episodes however, will be accompanied by a regular sized review much like my piece on 4.22 ‘So Long, and Thanks For All The Red Snapper’ last season.
We start with the CBI and FBI butting heads. Tension between the two bureaus exists for a few reasons, 1. They blame each other for the botched operation that lead to the death of Luther Wainwright (Michael Rady) and ruined their chances of catching Red John, 2. They are fighting over custody of Lorelei Martins (Emmanuelle Chriqui), a Red John operative caught in said operation and 3. Jane (Simon Baker) knows via Red John himself that someone in the FBI is working for the serial killer and the FBI don’t trust Jane because, well, he’s Jane. For these reasons, Jane and the CBI spend the majority of the episode fighting (sometimes literally) in order to keep Lorelei out of the FBI and Red John’s clutches.
As we open with a shot of Jane staring intensely at Lorelei through what is presumably one-way glass, one gets the impression that poor obsessed Jane hasn’t been doing much else since her capture. Lisbon (Robin Tunney) quickly brings him around with a reminder that the FBI will not allow him to talk to her, as she is shot appearing and then disappearing into complete darkness. Ominous.
We get our first glimpse of the friction between the CBI and FBI as the two teams turn up to the same crime scene. The FBI, consisting of Agent Gabe Mancini (Ivan Sergei) and Agent Reede Smith (Drew Powell), are surprised to see our team there as they’re supposed to be on suspension for their deception and rule breaking in the Red John rouse. Lisbon explains that their suspension has been lifted as the heads of both bureaus, or as Lisbon calls them “the brass”, made a deal in order to keep the disastrous operation and both their parts in it covered up. After some delightful teasing by Jane (apparently Mancini’s anger left his “temples pulsing like some weird undersea creature”) and arguing on both sides, the four male agents break out into a brawl after Cho (Tim Kang) takes issue with Smith putting his hands on Lisbon. For a moment I thought this was a one-on-one between Cho and Smith, only to see Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) fly into shot, throwing Mancini onto the bonnet of a car. I had to laugh. The only thing funnier than the fight itself was Lisbon’s reaction, particularly her facial expressions – she looked completely bemused.
This fight did a good job at both displaying just how high tensions are running between the two teams as well as creating some comedy. Cho and Rigsby probably regretted it though, as Lisbon gave them a thorough dressing down back at the office, and by dressing down I mean COMPLETELY SCOLDING THEM. This wasn’t the last time Lisbon displayed signs of extreme anger in this episode, so watch out for that as the season progresses.
But Lisbon isn’t the only one who’s angry, as CBI Director Gale Bertram (Michael Gaston) makes his return and is understandably upset about the behaviour of his agents. Jane explains that Lorelei is their best chance yet of catching Red John and even uses Bertram’s weak spot, media and public image, in order to persuade him into forcing the FBI’s hand a little quicker. “California’s most notorious serial killer caught on your watch” says Jane, though Bertram stands his ground and reiterates that until he arranges a deal with the FBI, he cannot talk to Lorelei.
As Bertram makes his way to a press conference in which the FBI and CBI continue their cover up of the previous weeks events, we meet FBI Regional Director Alexa Shultz (Polly Walker). As the two were sparring, Bertram’s referring to her by first name and the weird touch of her arm left me thinking these two might have a history. Or maybe Bertram was just being his usual awkward and ambiguous self.
Patrick Jane plays his first trick of Season 5, as he plants photos of a murder victim in the jacket of a hotel manager, making the FBI take him in as their suspect and leaving the CBI to crack the case themselves. Lisbon’s wish for Mancini and Smith to ‘vanish’ had been granted…for now. During this scene, Jane also asked the man “have you ever seen your Mother naked?” I’m still not entirely sure why, but it was very funny. It being Jane says to me it was most likely a question in order to gauge whether he was telling the truth or not for his following questions, but who knows? Maybe there was no logic; sometimes he just loves to mess with people. I certainly love to watch it.
Then we get the first of two brilliant in-car discussions between Jane and Lisbon (they always make for fascinating scenes) in which they debate whether or not Red John was telling the truth in regards to his ‘friend’ in the FBI. Red John would be delighted at all the havoc that one little admission has caused; I guess that was the point. I do find it odd that everyone, Lisbon included, finds the notion of Red John having an FBI friend so absurd – do they not remember Craig O’Laughlin?
Next, the second in-car conversation between the two leads, in what is my favourite scene of the episode. Lisbon questions how close Jane is to Lorelei and whether he’s being played himself, she even brings up the Elephant in the room – that Lorelei was Jane’s first lover since his wife. I was a tad shocked that she brought such a thing up in the way she did, I think Jane was too, but it’s in line with the more stern and defiant attitude she displayed throughout the episode. That’s a good thing, in my opinion. Lisbon seemed a bit more tame last season, which I didn’t have an issue with at all, but it’s nice for her to be showing who’s boss again. During this conversation, Jane delivers my favourite line of the night, one that once again highlights the most important thing in his life being the capture of Red John:
“She’s a stepping stone to Red John, I knew that from the beginning. I don’t have any feelings for her.”
Whilst the writers are attempting to leave the Jane/Lorelei dynamic with some ambiguity for now, and they do share a strange connection, I don’t doubt that everything Jane says here is true. Also, if you do take his word for it then that clears up one little mystery from the ‘The Crimson Hat’ – the question of whether Jane knew or suspected Lorelei’s involvement with Red John from the start. This gives a whole new weight to that encounter involving his first sexual partner since his wife. If Jane was going to break his 9 and a half-year celibacy for anyone, it’s Red John, the man who essentially sent him down that path in the first place.
As it turns out, the FBI has ‘folded’ on Lorelei and Jane is permitted to interrogate her. He asks Lisbon for complete privacy whilst he does this – something she ignores as she listens in to their conversation. Lorelei makes an interesting comment in regards to Jane’s solving crimes, saying he’s “trying to hold back the tide with a broom”, which seems like it could be foreshadowing events down the line. With Lisbon all Ears, she then claims that Jane is at the CBI in order to be “close” to Lisbon as he is “a little bit in love with her”. Lisbon’s reaction is nondescript, Jane’s a quick laugh followed by his own reasoning, “I do it to pass the time”.
The issue of Jane and Lisbon is something I don’t want to get into too much, but I’ll say this: I love the angst and as long as their relationship flows as naturally as it has done for the four seasons so far, I’ll be happy however it ends up. I can see it playing a big part this season.
In terms of why Jane is at the CBI, that’s much clearer, at least in my eyes. He joined them for one reason and one reason alone – access to the Red John case. In terms of why he’s still there, whilst I like to embrace Jane’s darker side, I don’t buy into the view that’s it’s still just because of said case. Given that so much of Jane’s Red John escapades now exist outside the confines of the law anyway, I’m not sure it even makes sense for that to be the only thing keeping him at the CBI, even if it is the primary reason – the sentimental side of me says his only friends Lisbon, Cho, Rigsby and Van Pelt play a massive part as well. However, if another team were given the Red John case I don’t doubt he’d attach himself to them just as much – Jane is that far gone.
Lorelei believes she’ll be out soon enough, how and when being up to Red John. Jane tells her he’ll just kill her as it’s easier, which I’m almost certain is the fate that will come to her eventually. Lorelei’s attitude toward this is yet more proof that the serial killer’s followers are willing to do whatever it takes for his cause – even be killed. Lorelei states that Red John will kill Jane as well if it’s what he wants, something I doubt right now as he’s never really shown a strong desire to kill him – quite the opposite in fact. It may come down to that one day though, who knows?
By the time this conversation came to an end I got the impression that Lorelei might’ve been coming around the idea of co operating with Jane, be it due to his promise of freedom or his seductive kiss, and she promises to talk to him more later.
I hate to rile up the conspiracy theorists amongst you, especially as I don’t buy into the ‘Jane is Red John’ theory at all, but his talk of giving Lorelei a new life seems almost identical to what Lorelei said Red John could offer him during ‘The Crimson Hat’. Eerie.
Needless to say Lisbon isn’t too happy with Jane’s actions and accuses him of going over the line. She thinks he’s the one being played, rather than vice versa. If there’s two highlights to the Jane and Lisbon dynamic it’s the banter and the angst, and we certainly got the latter in abundance here.
We discover that the FBI only let the CBI have Lorelei temporarily whilst they were planning to gain permanent custody of her. Her and Jane have a ‘PLEASE DON’T LET THEM TAKE ME’ scene where the two are separated at the elevator. I absolutely buy it on Jane’s part; this is his best chance yet of catching Red John being taken away before his eyes. Lorelei is harder to read – does she genuinely like Jane? Is she playing him? Was she, as I speculated, getting ready to crack before being pulled away?
We’ll have to wait in order to find out because, after a hilarious scene in which Jane tricks Mancini into angrily throwing a bottle of water at him during a custody hearing, the CBI are once again back in possession of Lorelei Martins. However, as Jane and Lisbon make their way to Sacramento County Jail in order to pick up their prisoner, the only Lorelei Martins they have on their books is someone who, well, definitely ISN’T Lorelei. Jane’s expression is one of speechlessness and rapid thought. His great hope has been taken away once again, possibly for good.
Normally I would consider this an act of Red John, taking Lorelei back and likely leaving us to never see her again. However, given that creator Bruno Heller has said time and again leading up to this season that she will be the key to the crucial information we get on Red John this year, I doubt it’s as simple as that. Not to mention the fact that Emmanuelle Chriqui is scheduled to appear in a number of episodes yet. So, where has she gone? Has the FBI or someone in the FBI gotten hold of her once again? Has Red John got to her? Has she escaped herself? Or, most interestingly, could Jane himself have helped Lorelei escape in order to interrogate her whatever way he wants and in private? Hit the comments below to tell me what you think is most likely.
The case of the week, as is often the case when Red John is on the agenda, became somewhat of an afterthought. It was fairly standard, helped by the fact that I didn’t guess the killer or recognise all the visual clues relating to the lottery motive the first time around. Or maybe that’s just me not being observant enough, in both cases. At least they tried something different with it.
- The covering up of Amanda Righetti’s baby bump has begun. Prepare to see a lot of GVP behind a desk this season.
- The Mentalist has a brilliant cast of returning guest characters that makes the world feel so real and lends it a sense of continuity, so seeing Bertram back is great. There’s more returning characters on the way.
- The man presenting the woman with the lottery winning cheque just happens to be the same person that interviewed Jane about Red John, leading to his families murder (1.01, ‘Pilot’). For him to suddenly appear out of nowhere was a shock, as was Jane’s non-reaction to seeing him. This is the only thing stopping me from thinking there’s more to his reemergence than a random casting decision.
- I’m enjoying the CBI/FBI rivalry plot line already, so I’m happy there’s more of this on the way.
- Simon Baker’s portrayal of Patrick Jane – as masterful as ever.
- Cho and Rigsby sat together rather uncomfortably on that small love-couch, matched in hilarity only by their reaction to the woman’s depiction of screaming ‘passion’.
- Van Pelt’s post O’Laughlin development is so much a part of her character now that lines regarding the strangling of men just roll off the tongue.
- There were a few interesting editing choices in here, particularly the dissolves from Jane to Lorelei, or vice versa.
- Jane looked as uncomfortable as ever being hugged and thanked for his help by the victim’s sister.
- Darcy having a nervous breakdown is something I didn’t see coming.
This premiere was a lot better than that of Season 4, ‘Scarlet Ribbons’, which I felt did a good job but was far too rushed in its resolving of the previous seasons issues and even left some of them hanging. No such problem here. In following up last seasons expertly crafted finale, we got a reasonable explanation as to how the team was allowed to work cases again, as well as closure for departed characters Luther Wainwright and Susan Darcy. Most importantly, the Red John story here felt like a natural progression whilst remaining both entertaining and compelling.
Overall, ‘The Crimson Ticket’ was a very good start to the 5th season – a great set up for the serialized arc and a decent, if not spectacular, case of the week. It’s good to have ‘The Mentalist’ back.
What did you think of ‘The Crimson Ticket’? What has happened to Lorelei? What information do you think she’ll spill on Red John this season? Hit the comments below and give me your answer to these questions and more.
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