WARNING: This review is written with the assumption that the reader has seen the episode. Do not read otherwise. Includes major spoilers.
After a steady build up in two recent episodes (5.07 and 5.11) the arc of Lisbon and Tommy Volker came to a head in this week’s fast paced and fairly action packed episode of The Mentalist, titled ‘Little Red Corvette’.
We’d seen it before, particularly in ‘If it Bleeds, it Leads’ with Amanda Shaw (Rhea Bailey), but opening the episode with Volker (Henry Ian Cusick) once again taking pleasure from seeing his henchman kill someone sure upped the creep factor. Volker seemed to genuinely get off on the power of it all, watching the life drain out of their eyes. I just now realize that’s how Jane (Simon Baker) described Red John, but I refuse to go down that rabbit hole.
Anyway, whilst Volker may have been a tad one dimensional as a villain, he was very effective and played with a deliciously dark evil by Henry Ian Cusick. I can think of no better way to describe the character than ‘he made my skin crawl.’ After being so used to seeing Cusick playing characters we love, that’s no mean feat.
Volker shows he’s no Red John by failing to simply check the area before committing murder, thus allowing a child (Emjay Anthony) to witness said killing whilst playing with the titular Corvette – the mistake that ultimately brings Volker down. Unfortunately for Volker, he seems to have a thing for hiring killers with a heart as one of his workers, Don Clyde (Steven Bauer), is left to ‘take care of’ the kid, only it’s quite clear he doesn’t have it in him.
Once Lisbon (Robin Tunney) had Volker in her sights, she was relentless in her efforts to finally catch the man who, despite her denying as much in last week’s episode, had definitely gotten into her head. We’ve seen Jane trying to bring Lisbon on side to his rule-breaking, manipulating ways various times over the past two seasons (it really started to develop from Season 3 onwards), but this episode took it to a whole new level.
With Jane’s measured guidance, Lisbon lied to obtain a warrant and even blackmailed Ardiles (David Norona) into providing her with sealed documents on a case against Volker. Lisbon quickly warmed and caught on to the idea of doing whatever is necessary in the pursuit of perceived ‘justice’. If this isn’t a set up for Lisbon being slightly more on side with Jane and his intentions towards Red John, then I’d be very surprised.
Whilst nothing in comparison to the tragedy Jane faced, Lisbon now knows what it’s like to feel responsible for the death of someone and experience the desire to take down the man behind it. That was the whole point of this arc – to make Lisbon identify with Jane’s feelings towards Red John, even if only a tiny bit more. It was very well done.
The PERFECT example of this was actually the conversation between Jane and Lisbon in the previous episode, ‘Days of Wine and Roses’, in which Lisbon says to Jane ”I think you can understand I don’t really have a choice”, to which Jane says he certainly understands, surely a callback to his courtroom speech in which he said to the jury “I feel, I had no choice” in his shooting and killing of Red John (later revealed to be Timothy Carter, played by Bradley Whitford).
However, this arc was Lisbon’s, and one of the aspects of this episode that I liked the most was how the balance between her and Jane was done so perfectly. After the climax of the previous episode, in which Lisbon asks Jane for ‘help’ with Volker, one might’ve expected the arc to suddenly become Jane-heavy. This wasn’t the case, and rightly so. Jane is my favourite character and (obviously) the MAIN character, but this was billed as Lisbon’s three episodes so it was good to see that followed through. Lisbon was still the main focus and this was still her hunt, but she had just the right amount of gentle nudging from Jane throughout to answer her call for help.
Also, it’s worth noting that despite this Jane and Volker did get two very memorable scenes together. The scenes at the Nursery and CBI HQ were brilliantly done, the latter of which was yet another showcase of Jane needing nothing but his words to tear down a person.
If I had to describe this episode in a word, I’d probably choose ‘thrilling.’ From the surveillance shots (WITH SUPER ACTION/THRILLER MUSIC BY SIR BLAKE OF NEELY) and a pretty shocking death scene, to the climactic chase through a Zoo, ‘Little Red Corvette’ rarely let up.
It even had a genuine ‘oh my god’ moment that I’m sure no one saw coming. Brenda Shettrick (Rebecca Wisocky) was acting as a mole for Tommy Volker, and voluntarily at that. I still don’t know what to think, this was so out of the blue. I do look forward to it being addressed in the future.
As for the aforementioned final showdown – this is where the episode loses a few marks. It’s only a slight complaint, especially given that the important character shifts of the arc were perfectly addressed in the previous episode and there’s no way to be sure we won’t see Volker again, but the climax of the episode did feel a bit rushed. It was good, it was thrilling, it was well made and it was satisfying, but it could’ve definitely done with a minute or two more.
Volker’s ultimate downfall came down to two flaws in his method: His need to witness the killings, and his inability to get the job done himself.
The mans lust for the feeling of control lead to a child becoming a witness capable of bringing him down, and when this same boy presented Volker with a problem in having to get his own hands dirty for once, Volker proved himself incapable. As Jane predicted, the man once deemed formidable and untouchable quickly became desperate, rash and scared once he was alone.
I saw this as more of a character tell than a flaw in the writing. Some may disagree. What do you think?
Jane’s subplot was his need to find and return the aforementioned child, Marvin, to his mother (Hilary Pingle), the pain and helplessness clear to see in his face as the parent asks if he’s still alive. Jane hopes he is, but he of all people knows too well how these things can turn out.
Of course, Jane gets his moment as he returns the boy to his mother and they embrace one another warmly. Jane looks on, an expression of equal parts joy and sorrow on his face. Resigned to the ever-grim reality that he’ll never get to see his own child again, but mightily pleased to have helped another child, and his parent, avoid a similar fate. This was a bittersweet moment for our favourite consultant.
- Steven Bauer, of Manny in Scarface fame, was in this episode – yay! But, he got hit by a bus – eurgh.
- Until the end of time, I will be singing Blake Neely’s praises for his work on this show. His work on this episode was a highlight. For example, listen to the theme repeated in both the scene where Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) is snapping photos of Clyde and as Volker leaves the office after receiving a verbal BEATDOWN courtesy of Jane. Bask in it.
- Two standout funny moments amongst all the intensity – Volker slapping a kid on the back of the head and, of course, Cho (Tim Kang) and Rigsby’s Diet Soda fiasco. “You didn’t ask.” I love you, Cho.
- Oh Brenda. WHY? Seriously though, if she’s willing to spill the details to this particular sociopath, then who knows whom else she might be willing to open up to? Yeah, you know what I’m thinking.
- There’s something very off about Judge Patricia Davis (Amy Aquino). I’m keeping my eye on that one.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK – JANE (to Volker): “You want us to think that you’re gloating, but you’re not. You’re afraid. I can see right through you. We were close searching your offices like that, too close. You want us to think that you’re in control, that you’re untouchable, but you’re not. You’re afraid of us. And you should be.”
I’d like to apologise for my not having reviewed the previous two episodes, 5.10 ‘Panama Red’ and 5.11 ‘Days of Wine and Roses’. For the record, I would’ve given the former 3 stars and the latter 4 stars.
Panama Red is my least favourite episode of this (fantastic) season so far. I loved the case, but the way they brought back Summer in an attempt to bring closure between her and Cho felt very forced, rushed and almost pointless. Not to mention unsatisfying.
The following episode, Days of Wine and Roses, I loved. It showcased what the show does best in one episode – balancing a brilliantly fun case-of-the-week with one of its longer running arcs, in this case the Volker plot. I campaigned on twitter last season for Rebecca Cutter to be made a full time writer (after she wrote the great ‘Something’s Rotten in Redmund’), as did many other fans. I’m very glad we did.
My previous reviews have generated a lot of discussion so, please, start it up again. Anything you want to say about this episode or the previous two, or maybe my review specifically – just hit the comments.
I’d also like to congratulate Amanda Righetti and her husband Jordan Alan on the birth of their baby boy, Knox Addison. So, congrats guys!
It seems that it’s a good week for many involved with the show, as I’d also like to congratulate everyone that works on The Mentalist for the GLAAD Award nomination, for the Season 4 episode ‘Ruby Slippers.’ May this be a testament to the writing of Daniel Cerone.
In short, ‘Little Red Corvette’ was a well made and perfectly paced climax to the Tommy Volker arc – save for the rushed last few minutes, which is really my only major gripe with the episode.
Most importantly, this was a very good episode of The Mentalist, a show that continues to satisfy me more than any other in it’s now 5th season.
Is this the last we’ll see of Tommy Volker now that he’s in custody? What will happen to Brenda? How will Lisbon’s attitude towards Jane/Red John change after her experience with Volker? Again, please let me know your thoughts in the comments.
The Mentalist is back January 27th with 5.13 ‘The Red Barn’, which looks to be a big episode. My review will be up soon after.
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