- Title: The Mentalist – Scarlet Ribbons
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Last season’s cliffhanger saw Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) shoot and kill Red John (Bradley Whitford), the serial killer responsible for the death of his wife and child. As the show went to break I wondered how the new season would deal with Jane’s actions. It turns out it mostly doesn’t. Of all the possible choices the writers of The Mentalist could have come up with what we get in the season premiere isn’t bad, but it is pretty damn underwhelming.
Rather than focus on Jane’s killing of Red John and the moralistc arguments that could be made for his action, the entire episode is focused on Red John’s missing gun and cellphone and a secret conspiracy to hide his identity. That means the true discussion of Jane’s actions is never really had. And that’s too bad, because this is the first time I can remember a the main character in a primetime television series committing cold blooded murder in what could be argued as justified vengeance.
Instead Jane’s actions themselves are largely ignored and the only part of his trial we see is the testimony of a single witness and closing arguments. We knew Jane wasn’t going to get thrown in jail (the show would effectively be over at the point) but what little we are given doesn’t really justify the jury’s decision to let him go.
Because of the discrepancy of the evidence and Jane’s recollections of events even the members of his own team are having the wrong conversation. What we get instead of the team debating their friend’s actions is whether or not the evidence is being tampered with and whether Jane is in his right mind or suffered some kind of psychotic episode.
But at least the entire Red John affair is completed and we can see how the character moves on from here, right? Sadly no. The episode’s final conversation between Jane and Lisbon (Robin Tunney) shows us that we haven’t seen the last of Red John. I know the easiest thing for the network to do is immediately return to the status quo but for a show that seemed to have closed the book on the past and was ready to take an exciting new direction I’ve got to say I’m disappointed.