TV Review: The Mentalist 5.9, ‘Black Cherry’

Rating: After last week’s big Red John episode, ‘Black Cherry’ took The Mentalist back to its traditional case-of-the-week format on…

Connor Davey

Contributor

Rating: ★★★★☆

After last week’s big Red John episode, ‘Black Cherry’ took The Mentalist back to its traditional case-of-the-week format on Sunday – with a little bit of Jane’s (Simon Baker) nemesis thrown in for good measure.

The case was fairly standard. The idea of a man trying to escape his past is not a new one by any means, but certainly one that I enjoy. It doesn’t hurt that it shares thematic elements with our favourite CBI consultant, either. Also, as is seemingly the case a lot these days, I didn’t guess the killer correctly. Well, I did, but I didn’t guess that there were THREE killers. As soon as a corporate retreat was mentioned along with a local paper from the same area, I knew the murder would have something to do with ‘what happened’ there.

The best part of this case was the two family members of the victim, Juliana and Noah McVie (Kyla Pratt and Bryce Clyde Jenkins). Each of them brought out different sides to Jane and Lisbon (Robin Tunney) as the pair tried to help out their situation. Lisbon, no stranger to losing people and raising brothers by herself, showed her maternal instincts as she tried to support Juliana and, eventually, got her off the hook for weapons charges. Meanwhile, Jane, loss and subsequent grief extraordinaire, went out of his way to help Noah throughout the episode.

Watching Jane interact with children has always been a joy to watch – the way he talks to them, not down to them. How much he cares for them. One thing’s for sure, had Charlotte Jane lived and gone through life’s many challenges, she’d have had the best father around to help her through it. Damn you Red John. The way these sides to Jane and Lisbon, each brought on by their past, were depicted side-by-side during the scene in the victims house was incredibly well done. Despite all of this, the episode was mostly a fun one. Jane was on top form, especially when in the model houses. He even did a little tap dance in one of them. At least I think that’s what it was…

The main subplot to this episode was Cho (Tim Kang) and his joining of the new CBI Rapid Response Team, headed by Agent Tamsin Wade (Monique Gabriela Curnen). It was clear from the moment Cho got his hands on that gun that he’d be joining the team – just look at that smile on his face. Love at first sight, you could say. Cho hasn’t smiled that much since Summer (Samaire Armstrong) was around. Someone needs to write a scene where Cho uses the gun around a corner. MAKE IT HAPPEN.

This gave Cho the opportunity to be badass and, well, actually do stuff. It allowed him to be Cho. There can be no downside to this, so I’m looking forward to seeing where this plot goes. As for Agent Wade, in an attempt to resist the ‘MUST GET TOGETHER’ attitude TV seems to have with male/female co-workers, I didn’t see her as a ‘potential new love interest’ for Cho as some are saying. It seems Wade is actually being set-up as a replacement presence on the show whilst Amanda Righetti (Van Pelt) is on maternity leave. However, one can never truly know where the show is going unless ‘one’ is Bruno Heller, so who knows? Maybe we should come up with the ship name sooner rather than later. Chade anyone?

The aspect of this episode that pleased me the most was that it actually carried on from last weeks serialized stuff rather than completely ignoring it, which the show has been guilty of in the past after airing a big episode. OK, so it was only two very short scenes, but they were scenes nonetheless and bookended the hour perfectly.

We opened with Jane working on his list. That’s right, a list of everyone Jane has ever met and shaken hands with. Phew, that’ll be quite a tome when done. Unsurprisingly, Lisbon’s words give the impression that Jane has been doing this obsessively since the events of ‘Red Sails in the Sunset.’ Jane has trouble remembering the name of the redheaded CDC agent from 2.16 ‘Code Red’. HARKEN, I shouted, before realising I need to stop re-watching so many episodes.

Jane and Lisbon have a very interesting exchange about her possible inclusion on his SUPER LIST OF SUSPICION. Jane, quite rightly, points out that Lorelei’s (Emmanuelle Chriqui) words suggested him and Red John hadn’t exactly become friends after their handshake, and that he considers what they have ‘a friendship’. Me too, Jane, me too.

Part of me wanted Jane to completely subvert Lisbon’s sentimental expectations here and instead respond with ‘nonsense, why would you be on the list? Red John is a man!’ Never mind, Jane reaffirming his trust in Lisbon was nice to see.

Now for the scene that has generated the most discussion amongst fans: a full on viewing of a page from Jane’s book, listing ten names of varying familiarity. It’s worth nothing of course that, at this point, Jane is simply naming every single person he’s met and shook hands with, so this is just one page of many in his little book. However, given that we’ve so clearly been given this page, one has to ask, why this page? Why these names? Could Red John be one of these ten people? Or is it one big bluff and none of them are Red John? Either way, it was thrilling to be given a look into Jane’s scrawling’s.

One thing I love about this show is how it never forgets even the most minor of characters. Here we have some of the most beloved recurring characters (Virgil Minelli, Walter Mashburn, Osvaldo Ardiles) to the more obscure (Vint Molinari, Dean Harken, Jason Cooper) and the downright odd (Dr Towlen Morning). Just seeing these names written down and knowing they exist in the mind of our protagonist goes some way to making the world of The Mentalist feel fully realised, not to mention the exciting possibility that we may see a few of them again – hopefully soon.

It was no surprise at all seeing Minelli (Gregory Itzin) and Mashburn (Currie Graham), two of my top suspects, on the list. The same goes for the long-time theorised about Brett Partridge (Jack Plotnick), whose inclusion proves that this ‘handshake’ didn’t necessarily happen on screen. Ellis Mars (John Billingsley) is another who, despite only appearing in one episode, has been bandied about as a possible Red John since his episode. The most odd inclusion is Dr Towlen Morning, family doctor of Janet and Carter Peak (Red John’s 3rd and 4th victims) whom we found dead at the start of 2.08 ‘His Red Right Hand’. Well, the inclusion itself wasn’t surprising, it’s what Jane wrote underneath: ‘Deceased?’

QUESTION MARK???? Jane, you saw the body. We all did. Don’t start messing with my head like this. I’m sure it’s nothing, really. If anything it just shows how thorough Jane is being with this list – he’s even naming the dead and the incarcerated (Dr Linus Wagner, played by Zeljko Ivanek).

So, is this just a list of cool shout outs or something more? Either way, I can’t wait to find out. For anyone who doesn’t mind SPOILERS keep reading this sentence: one of these names returns in next week’s episode ‘Panama Red’. If you haven’t already read the press release, try and guess which in the comments below along with your theories regarding ‘The Red List’. Also, if you’re reading this review and feeling unsure in regards to which episode(s) any of the listed characters appeared in, just ask.

OTHER THOUGHTS:

  • It was genuinely nice to see Jane going back to his ‘show some respect’ attitude towards those who are jerky at crime scenes.
  • I’m very glad Jane pushed Lisbon to do the right thing with Juliana and that she did in fact make the right decision.
  • Great to see Sarah (Jillian Bach) back. Hopefully she’ll make a few more appearances before the season is out.
  • I’m no hunter (far from it, actually) but is it normal to start shooting at the sight of any movement? I’m genuinely intrigued.
  • Hey, did you guys hear what Lisbon said in her sleep? Yeah, me neither, because she didn’t say anything. She mumbled some gibberish. Just clearing that up.

Overall, The Mentalist slipped back into a sort of comfort zone this week, which is no problem, as it is oh so comfortable. A fun, occasionally poignant episode started and finished with a welcome dose of Red John made for a rounded four-star experience.

Please hit the comments with your thoughts on the episode and my review.

There’s no new episode this Sunday, so check back the week after for my review  of the midseason finale ‘Panama Red’. Check out the press release and promotional photos HERE and HERE.