After a strong opening, this episode of The Mentalist fell back in a big way. I was pretty disappointed. There were a few good things going on here, but to be honest I just felt let down after that awesome season premiere.
So, the case of the week involved someone being taken out by a drone strike. In their car. You know where I've already seen this strange plot before? On Castle last season. You snooze you lose, guys. And even on top of that, the mystery ended up revolving around a ritual samurai suicide, since the guy who died was apparently all about honor. But there was still a bad guy, even though it was a suicide... apparently the guy had feelings for a girl he worked with in developing drones, and she pressured him to keep a dangerous secret about their new product.
This wasn't the worst procedural plot in the world, but it really didn't do much for me. The characters weren't all that compelling, and the mystery was pretty hokey. Samurais, drones, roll-playing prostitutes... (Jane kept calling the prostitute a "hooker." I have no idea why, but that bothered me). It was just a very unbalanced story, and I never felt totally into it.
And then there's the continuing Red John plot. At the end of the last episode, we had Lisbon literally in Red John's hands. She was getting the signature smiley face drawn onto her face by the ultimate villain of this show. It was tense. And then? We open with the cops showing up at the house, and Lisbon is totally fine. Well, she's unconscious. And there's a really touching moment where Jane wipes the blood lovingly off of her face.
Partridge is dead, Lisbon is okay, and Jane doesn't know why. Throughout the episode, we get a lot of tantalizing hints about who Red John might be. A number of the suspects are acting fishy. At this point, I don't really have much of a theory. I fully expect that whatever they end up doing, it will be almost impossible to see it coming. At this point, I'd be thrilled to be blown away with an amazing surprise. The problem is, they're setting us up in too many different directions, so I just have no idea.
The only part of the episode that I found really strong was the ending. Jane can't get a hold of his old friend and doctor, Sophie Miller. He thinks that she must be the one who gave Red John information about Jane's past. When he shows up at her house and there's no answer, I immediately knew she was dead. I was getting ready to be annoyed with the cliched bloody body and smiley on the wall... I certainly didn't expect her head to be in the oven. So, kudos for that surprise.
Anyway, Jane and Lisbon figure out that Red John was probably pretending to be a patient of Sophie. They were right. Although the records have been destroyed, Jane finds Sophie's audio notes about her patient. And.. they are very interesting. She says a lot of different things about Red John that could match with a lot of the different suspects, and this voice over is mashed up with clips showing the people on the list behaving in ways that could match Sophie's interpretation.
I'm really interested in the Red John stuff, I am. It's fascinating. In this particular episode, however, I was more than a little disappointed that Lisbon's terrifying situation from the last episode had almost no impact here. Also, I felt that the case-of-the-week was actually distracting from the much more interesting stuff going on with the Red John plot. While Cho, Van Pelt, and Rigsby had some fun moments throughout, their presence was virtually ignored.
I'm hoping that we can very quickly pick up the momentum that we had in the premiere episode. I haven't lost hope.