This was a very solid episode and a very exciting lead up to the Red John confrontation, which is only two episodes away. In some ways, what's so great about this episode is that not very much happens. Let be go through the plot very quickly, and then talk through some elements that I thought worked particularly well.
Jane and the team are set to gather up the five remaining Red John suspects. Jane wants them all at one place at one time, so that he can ask them to reveal their arms. Whichever one has the tattoo, he will know that is Red John. Jane, Lisbon and the others are able to successfully convince Ray Haffner, Thomas McAllister, Reede Smith, and Gale Bertram, but Bret Stiles proves to be an obstacle. He is hiding himself away from the FBI. When Van Pelt eventually gets to him, he refuses to come. Jane then shows up himself and demands that he meet with him at the specified time. Stiles reveals that he only has weeks to live, and that he can't leave because of the FBI. Jane promises to protect him from prying eyes, and Stiles agrees to come.
On the way to Jane's family home, he and Lisbon stop at the beach. Jane gives Lisbon a heartfelt speech about how much she means to him, then he hugs her. He says he has something for her in the car, but while pretending to go get it, he drives away, leaving Lisbon stranded. She frantically tries to get to him, even going so far as to take a car from a random man. Meanwhile, Jane and the five Red John suspects are all gathered. When he reveals that someone in the room is Red John, they are all insulted and make to leave, but Jane pulls a gun on them. They all reveal their shoulders, at his behest. Haffner, Bertram, and Smith all have the tattoo, so Jane cannot tell for certain who Red John really is. Just as Lisbon pulls up outside of the house and starts to run towards it, we hear a gunshot from inside, and then a larger explosion blows up the house.
So, yeah. As I said at the start, this is a fantastic episode in that it really gets the ball rolling. I'll start with my only real flaw, then move on to a brief list of what worked well.
The tattoo thing. First of all, I really don't know if I believe Red John would be stupid enough to get a tattoo. Secondly, why was Jane so sure that the person who killed that girl in the last episode was actually Red John and not just someone who worked for him? That was never made clear. And now that three of the suspects have the tattoo, what does that mean? Are we supposed to rule out McAllister and Stiles? I don't want to, because I think Stiles is definitely involved somehow... I'm just not sure what to think. While I'm sure that was part of what the creators were going for, I could have used a bit more explanation about the tattoo.
Okay, now that that's out of the way, onto the good stuff!
First of all, the gathering of the suspects. I liked that each one took a bit of a different manipulation. Lisbon just flat out told Haffner that Jane suspected him, and thus convinced him to show up just to clear his name, if nothing else. Stiles had to be directly threatened, and approached not only by Van Pelt, but also by Jane. McAllister was asked to do a "favor" for Jane. I just loved the way he played to each of their expectations of how he might interact with them. If one of these five men is indeed Red John, Jane has done an amazing thing in deceiving him.
Simon Baker's acting. I think my favorite moment from him tonight was when Haffner first revealed the tattoo, but before the other two men had shown theirs off. Jane had such a look of raw hunger and anger on his face, it was chilling. He also gave a very good performance in his scene on the beach with Lisbon.
Speaking of that scene, it pretty much broke my heart. On one level, I believe that what he was saying is true. He does care about Lisbon. She does mean a lot to him. But on the other hand, it was so deceptive. He hugged her, which would be sweet and all, if we didn't later learn that he took the opportunity to take her phone. The entire scene was even more gut wrenching when you consider how much Lisbon was taken in by it. Ugh. Just flawless.
That cliffhanger was also really effective. I love the way the entire thing is very unclear. We hear a gunshot, but we don't know who shot who or why. Did Jane shoot one of the suspects? Did someone else pick up one of the discarded guns and shoot? Why did the explosion occur when it did? It's safe to say that Jane's not dead, obviously, but it would be interesting to find out if anybody did die in that explosion, and what that would mean for Jane and his plan.
There are a lot of other things I could say about this episode, but I think I'll wrap it up. Not much from Rigsby, Cho, and Van Pelt this week, although I did like Van Pelt's scene with Stiles. There's always something creepy about the two of them in the same room together. Really, this episode focused on Jane, Lisbon, and the hunt for Red John, which is exactly what we need at this point in the game.