This post contains spoilers!!
The Mentalist is one of my favourite shows of all time.
It’s not (and has never been) a perfect show. The mere premise is flawed and the writing has never been amazing. Plots are recycled. The acting is probably just above average. Patrick Jane is pretty much a gimmick; in that love it or hate it kind of way. Despite all of that, the first three seasons of the show are very good. They all follow the same pattern. Procedural episodes mixed with a few episodes central to the main plot of the show – catching a serial killer named Red John who is responsible for the murder of Jane’s wife and child.
The best thing about the first three seasons – to me – is the simplicity of it all. Jane and the CBI team solve murders and occasionally there’s a break through in the Red John case. There are clues placed during the first five seasons regarding Red John’s identity, but the show went from things like, ‘he is ma-” being written in blood on a wall next to a victim to an accomplice revealing that Jane had shaken Red John’s hand. A fact that should have been made irrelevant on the basis that Jane had already come into contact with Red John before.
That little clue led to the compilation of a list of suspects, leading to the basis of the final showdown between Red John and Jane. The list is the point at which I sort of realised that I kind of didn’t like the show all that much. The fifth season was more serialized than previous seasons and it honestly got really tiring to hear more and more Red John clues, because they clearly weren’t going to lead anywhere by that point.
By the time season 6 arrived, I wasn’t holding my breath. The season 5 finale was so poor that I don’t even remember it. So I wasn’t expecting much from season 6. Which is good because the first half was woeful. They focused almost exclusively on Red John, who was suddenly part of a secret organisation. I joked about them revealing that someone had a twin brother and one of the suspects turned out to be avenging the death of his – you guessed it – twin brother! There were matching tattoos, Jane blew a building up and went insane. It was like watching a bad made for TV movie. The actual Red John reveal was very strange. There was a screaming knife-wielding woman who appeared out of thin air. There was a pigeon.
And there was no explanation apart from Red John’s murders all being a game. Five and a half seasons of clues, buildup and other nonsense and Red John turned out to be someone who we saw for one episode in the first season. It was absolutely ridiculous. And oh how I wish it had ended there. The show runner said something along the lines of the fans not really being interested in what motivated Red John…yes, after five seasons we don’t care about what motivates Red John, or why he decided to kill specific people. That makes perfect sense.
After the reveal, they rebooted the show halfway through the season. I saw people raving about the reboot episode but half of it was in Spanish and there were no subtitles (not on the version I watched at least) so I was confused, annoyed and bored. The show basically turned into the FBI show, and they changed the sets, got rid of half of the cast and replaced them with new people who bring nothing to the show. At one point, they killed off a whole bunch of old characters because the writers obviously realised that the show had no purpose now that Jane wasn’t after revenge anymore.
Predictably, they solved this plot with things that made no sense. I can’t even remember and I watched it yesterday. After that plot, they moved onto some kind of human trafficking ring storyline that ended with another ridiculous con – oh excuse me, they’re ‘stings’. That’s all the second half of the season was. Elaborate con after con after con. I guess you could say that the show has always been like that, but it seems bizarre that the FBI would just go along with it. And not only that, it is kind of pointless because…the killer is still always really obvious after about five minutes. It’s kind of sad that the show doesn’t bother to make tracking down the killer interesting anymore, instead each episode stumbles along until Jane reaches his conclusion.
Still, the most annoying thing for me is Jane and Lisbon. I would argue that they’ve never really been will they/won’t they kind of characters. They have a playful banter type of relationship and Jane basically lies and manipulates Lisbon into going along with his schemes. But somehow, the writers on the show decided that they were heading down that route and picked the most obnoxious way to go about it, in what has to be the most blatant fan service I’ve ever seen. The characters would randomly discuss Jane and Lisbon, and whether they’ve dated, and at one point their boss sends them to get dinner ‘on the FBI’s tab’, and they keep dropping hints about them liking each other.
At the same time, Lisbon is in a relationship with another Agent called Pike, who suddenly has a better job offer in Washington (the FBI are situated in Austin). Pike asks Lisbon to move with him and then asks her to marry him. And at the same time, I’m fairly certain that Jane is still wearing his wedding ring. Somehow – after a ridiculously cheesy scene on a plane – Jane confesses his love for Lisbon and vice versa and voila – they’re together. The whole thing is just so bizarre and nowhere near any realm of possibility. Plus, as much as I like Simon Baker and Robin Tunney, they don’t actually have great – or any – romantic chemistry. They just don’t, no matter how hard the fans claim that they do. So watching them get together was just awkward.
Someone described this season as being like a bad soap opera – and they’re right.
I am so glad that season 7 will be the last (most likely). Part of me hopes they’ll break Jane and Lisbon up but I doubt that they will. The only thing keeping me watching the show is Simon Baker’s face. It is the best face in the world. And I kind of like Patrick Jane, even though he’s absolutely terrible and he knows it but it’s okay because he solves cases(!!!). He’s also completely self absorbed and narcissistic but apparently that = great boyfriend material.
Off topic but – this is my 199th post!! I wonder what the hell I’ve been blathering on about.