TV Review: The Mentalist 5.8, ‘Red Sails in the Sunset’

Rating: It’s official. After over four years of speculation, we now know for a fact that Red John is a…

Connor Davey

Contributor

Rating: ★★★★★

It’s official. After over four years of speculation, we now know for a fact that Red John is a character we’ve already seen on The Mentalist (at least that’s how I read it). Or as Jane (Simon Baker) said in the episodes closing moments, “he’s someone I know.”

I wasn’t surprised at all that Jane was attempting to break Lorelei (Emmanuelle Chriqui) out of prison. It’s well documented the lengths he’s willing to go to in order to catch Red John, if he didn’t make that clear back when he shot a man dead, then it’s time for you to reevaluate your thoughts on the character.

The Mentalist once again delved into its endless pool of brilliant guest stars, this time bringing back Brett Stiles (the magnificent Malcolm McDowell) for his fourth appearance on the show, albeit for one scene.

But what a great way to start the episode, from the great chemistry Baker and McDowell share down to the cinema setting and classic film allusions with North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) seeming to foreshadow events down the line. Also, CONTINUITY was observed. Jane cashed in the favor Stiles owed him after he helped the cult leader out last season in 4.16 ‘His Thoughts Were Red Thoughts’, as the Visualize church provided the personnel and transport for Lorelei’s escape (notice the small sticker with visualize logo on the back of the truck – an excellent detail I missed on first watch).

After initially seeming disappointed that it wasn’t Red John who’d planned her escape and telling Jane she’ll ‘never’ tell him who or where Red John is, Lorelei and Jane escape to the beach for a while. The scenes on the beach – up until the tense encounter with the park ranger (Ron Perkins), anyway – were strangely beautiful as Jane and Lorelei’s undoubted connection was amplified yet again. They huddle for warmth, lying together in the sand and falling asleep.

I always got the feeling that Lorelei wasn’t your average evil serial killer accomplice, and that was proven here as we got some backstory and an explanation for her Red John connection.

Her sister, Miranda (Erin O’Brien), was raped and left for dead, and this is after she was initially SOLD to another couple as a kid. I should’ve put the dots together a lot earlier, especially when Lorelei spouted the usual Red John philosophy so similar to what Rebecca (Shauna Bloom) said in 2.08 ‘His Red Right Hand’, but I didn’t. When I saw the crime scene photo of Miranda’s murder, the familiar Red John alias ‘Roy’ carved into the floor, I was genuinely surprised – so that worked very well as a reveal for me personally.

Red John had murdered Lorelei’s sister in order to make her a victim and then ‘save’ her, bringing her on side to his warped mantra of ‘no light without darkness, life without death’ and so on. Sounds an awful lot like what Red John is trying with Jane in some way, only that’s a much longer game. Plus it’ll never truly work. As dark as Jane will get and as twisted as his actions may become, he’ll kill Red John in the end, not join him. Though could he join him without even realizing it? OK, I’ll stop.

All of this makes Lorelei a much more sympathetic and rounded character than any previous Red John cohort – mostly because they’ve always been killed so soon after capture. As a character, Lorelei is a joy to have on the show, so I’m very glad she’s still here. That being said – I don’t see her lasting beyond this season.

Lorelei won’t believe Jane’s revelation about Red John murdering her sister – even after seeing the crime scene photo. As Jane presses on with the revelation, Lorelei becomes the umpteenth person to note the similarities between Jane and his nemesis, before responding to Jane’s subsequent denial with a line of such great importance that it cannot be stressed enough:

 

“How would you know? I know. I only wonder why the two of you didn’t become lifelong friends the moment you shook hands.”

 

That’s right, Red John is someone Jane (and almost certainly the audience) has already seen. Fans have suspected as such for a long time, but that was purely because we think it would be more interesting and entertaining. For the characters though, they’ve been looking for a needle in a haystack – think about how many people there is in California alone. Now that has been significantly whittled down.

However, not only has Jane met Red John, but they shook hands. Yes, literally shook hands (see next weeks Canadian PROMO). The question is, did this happen on or off screen? Will I be judged for re-watching every episode to see who shakes Jane’s hand? Will I care if I am?

Of course, Jane’s main reason for letting Lorelei go off by herself is both that he’s already gotten an amazingly vital piece of information out of her and that he hopes his humility towards her will bring her back to him once she finds out the truth about Miranda and Red John. I do get the sense though that the genuinely cares for her, especially now that he knows she’s more of a brainwashed victim than anything else.

Lisbon (Robin Tunney) spent the entirety of this episode working with creepy Bob Kirkland (Kevin Corrigan) of Homeland Security, who we were introduced to in last week’s episode as he told Lisbon to back off the Volker (Henry Ian Cusick) case. I say ‘introduced to’, but we actually glimpsed him briefly in the 100th episode ‘Red Dawn’, as he seemed to be the one giving orders to FBI Director Alexa Shultz (Polly Walker) to keep an eye on Jane and the Red John case from the moment he was in on it. Very suspicious indeed. Is he working for Red John or just another man going after him? Saying that, he’s not just another man, he’s HOMELAND SECURITY. Just how high up does this thing go? It doesn’t get much higher than that. That flashback in 5.05 and his odd ‘no, but I know you’ greeting to Jane in 5.07 have certainly put him on some fans radar as a possible Red John disciple, possibly even the man himself.

After faking a crash in order to complete his ‘kidnapped’ cover, Jane sits in his CBI attic of demons and broods in the dark, this time with added neck brace. Of course Lisbon knows Jane set the whole thing up – does anyone know Jane (at least this Jane) better than Lisbon? Certainly not. Well, Red John does, I suppose.

I’m happy that Jane told Lisbon what Lorelei told him. I honestly don’t care that he’s being ‘selfish’ and going off on his own a lot – the darkness in Jane is compelling – but it’s nice to see he still trusts her the most, even if he’d rather protect her by holding it back.

Looking at Jane, his face battered and bruised as a slightly manic smile crosses his face, I realised once again that nothing will stop him when it comes to Red John. Luckily for him, after this episode, he’s closer than ever.

OTHER POINTS

  • This was such a well-made episode. The directing by Simon Baker, writing by Daniel Cerone and (as ever) the music by Blake Neely all deserve a special mention.
  • How creepy was that atmosphere created as Jane entered Miranda’s cabin? I half expected to find Red John inside at one point.
  • I missed the team this week, though their limited screen time was understandable.
  • I’m reminded of last season’s finale ‘The Crimson Hat’ as the show again went for the look and feel of a feature film. Mission accomplished, guys.
  • Malcolm McDowell and Emmanuelle Chriqui both guest starring in the same episode. It doesn’t get much better.
  • The slow motion shot of Jane running to the cinema, the music – that’s how you start an episode.
  • As a film lover, the filmic references in that opening scene were great to see. Plus, both North by Northwest and Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944) are two of my favorite films – go figure.

Such is the importance of this episode in discovering the identity of Red John; I thought I’d post my short suspect list here. It’s just the names in no particular order, as I don’t want to bog down the review in too much rambling. Tell me what you think in the comments and hit me with your own theories.

JJ Laroche’s Connor’s Suspect List:

  • Walter Mashburn
  • Gale Bertram
  • Max Winter
  • CBI Ron
  • Virgil Minelli

These are my suspects for various different reasons, however the fact remains that there is only two people who overtly match the personality I’d expect to see in Red John – Brett Stiles and Patrick Jane himself. It’s not the latter, and the former seems too obvious to me (he is literally perfect for it in both personality and resources), though maybe that’s the point? Is Stiles a red herring or a double bluff? It’s important to note also that Red John, like Jane, is a master manipulator – so he won’t necessarily come across as we expect him to (charming, persuasive, egotistical, magnetic).

Not only was this an expertly crafted piece of television that keeps up The Mentalist’s stellar start to its fifth season (which is shaping up to be the best since its first run), it was also an incredibly important episode – maybe the most important yet.

Please do tell me what you think of my review and anything about the show in the comments.

Check back next week for my review of 5.09 ‘Black Cherry’, for which you can watch the extended CBS PROMO HERE.