TV Review: The Mentalist 5.04, 'Blood Feud'

rating: 5

This episode, perfectly written by the fantastic Jordan Harper, marks 4 out of 4 for season 5 of The Mentalist so far. It€™s the second of these opening episodes that I want to praise for being different and highly emotional, the first being €˜Devil€™s Cherry€™, as €˜Blood Feud€™ gave us an interesting case and an epic, cathartic conclusion to the plot between Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) and his criminal father (William Forsythe). Let€™s get the case out of the way first. A man is found shot dead at the same scene in which we find Steven Rigsby seriously wounded. It turns out it may have been a result of a long-time feud between two warring gangs in the area, the Low Riders and the Overtons. Seeing Jane (Simon Baker) interact with people whilst outside of his comfort zone is always very fun. Case in point: Jane going for the gang leaders hand and being rejected, as he says, €œI€™m€down.€ Not only is this funny, but the fact that it was improvised by Simon Baker shows once again just how much he owns the character. It€™s a small moment, but worth mentioning. Eventually, through tricking the head of each gang into a meeting on neutral territory (something only Jane is crazy enough to do, surely), we learn that the killer (and Steven Rigsby€™s shooter) is the gym owner (Max Martini) questioned by Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) throughout the episode. He was attempting to play the two gangs off one another whilst bringing in his own gang to take over. I love the concept of a middleman playing two gangs against each other, it reminded me a lot of Sergio Leone€™s €˜A Fistful of Dollars€™ one of my favourite films. The aspects of this episode that were €˜different€™: firstly, the structure. It was told in flashback, partially narrated by Rigsby whilst being questioned by JJ Laroche (Pruitt Taylor Vince). This and the general tone of the episode just felt€different. I suppose €˜gritty€™ does the job. It felt like I was watching a classic crime feature, almost noir like. Blake Neely€™s score was also aptly different and added to the badass feel of the hour. Now, to the main hook of the episode: Rigsby and his father. Steven Rigsby is the same man we remember from back in season 3. He€™s downtrodden, selfish and kind of slimy. His relationship with his son hasn€™t changed much either, as Rigsby says €œwhat relationship?€ The perceived ending to this plot was so perfect. I€™m very glad we didn€™t get a full-blown, teary-eyed reconciliation that goes against the character so much. What we did get, felt like a natural progression, a natural end. In that seedy bar, the two men come to some sort of common ground based on Steven Rigsby€™s twisted logic. He says he was the best father he could be and his son hadn€™t turned out so bad as a result. Rigsby doesn€™t seem too convinced, he€™s determined to be a batter father to his own son Ben, but he realises it€™s all he€™ll get and seems to settle for it. After touching his sons hand, the drunken man walks over to the bar only to collapse and die in his sons arms. Rigsby€™s father was always a disappointment to him, and he died exactly that way, though at least there was some sort of weird coming together of the two in his final moments. The fact remains €“ he€™s his dad. Rigsby vows to find the man who shot his father, as he€™d do the same for him. After finding and shooting him, albeit in self-defence, Rigsby seems to feel the cathartic release of vengeance as he delivers some final words to the dying man €“ €œSteven Rigsby says hi.€ That€™s what this episode boiled down to in the end, family ties and the simple yet complex theme of €˜Revenge€™ €“ the shows central theme, in fact. This was beautiful to see, and the ambiguity as to whether Jane actually set the whole thing up in order for Rigsby to get said revenge was beautifully done. On second viewing, hearing Jane say to Rigsby outside of the elevator €œleave it to us€ leaves no doubt in my mind that he orchestrated the plan with a view to Rigsby avenging his dead loved one €“ the need for which being something Jane understands all too well. Coming back to that scene outside of the elevator, I adored how the three men all understood eachother whilst hardly speaking a word. Cho knew what Rigsby wanted to do and Jane, despite coming in after the conversation, knows exactly what they were talking about. It's something Jane could probably do with complete strangers, but I felt it showcased how well they know each other very effectively. I have to comment on that final conversation between Jane and Laroche. Not only did it showcase the brilliant onscreen chemistry the two actors/characters have (and why Laroche should be in the show FULL TIME) but it was also positively dripping in double meaning and Red John meta. Particularly Laroche asking Jane whether Rigsby €œtaking perfectly legal revenge on the man who shot his father€ would €œchange him€ and Jane€™s response of €œIt's better to regret something you did than to regret something you didn't do€, surely a reference to his thinking behind shooting Timothy Carter (Bradley Whitford) and many of his actions throughout his hunt for the man that killed his family. Laroche also mentions Lisbon€™s (Robin Tunney) instincts to protect her team being her €œbiggest flaw€. This seems like major foreshadowing to me, and I€™m sure that €˜flaw€™ will play a big part somewhere down the line. Seriously though, bring Laroche back again, please. I love that man. The Mentalist has a thing for emotional endings this season. Rigsby sits at home listening to his father's favourite song (Cold, Cold World by Blaze Foley), baby Benjamin in his arms as tears stream down his face. Mourning the loss of his abusive, criminal father. The ties that bind us. To conclude, this episode continued the stellar start to season 5, which I can now comfortably call the best start to a season the show has had since Season 3, two years ago now. The writing, direction, music, everything was top notch right down to the guest stars and themes of the episode. Perfect. Speaking of perfect, how good was Owain Yeoman here? Damn. This Sunday marks an important milestone for The Mentalist, as it celebrates its 100th episode with €˜Red Dawn€™. Check out the PROMO videos for that episode HERE and HERE. Come back next week for my review.
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I am a student studying Media, Writing & Production at the University of Bolton. Film/TV/Reading+Writing enthusiast.

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