Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Mentalist

The Mentalist
Episode 11: Days of Wine and Roses
By: Carlos Uribe

The Mentalist is a show about Patrick Jane, a consultant for the cops who solves crimes while seeking revenge for his family.

Spoilers Ahoy!

This episode's weekly case involved the murder of the daughter of a congresswoman who was a model and a drug addict. The victim was forced to go to rehab when she was caught doing drugs by the police. She's found dead in a park known for being a place where drugs are sold. The case largely revolves around the people whom she happened to be in rehabilitation with. There are multiple suspects but it turns out to be her daily therapist. The therapist had discovered that the victim had stolen a valuable ruby necklace from her mother and she decided to steal it in order to pay off her massive gambling debt. The weekly was decent but it wasn't terribly interesting. The only thing that really piqued my interest was the presence of Mary Lynn Raksjub. The most surprising part of the episode is that Raksjub wasn't the killer but merely an undercover journalist. She might have been a bit underutilized but it was still nice to have her on a television series again, even if it was only for one episode. The rest of the weekly case simply didn't entertain me as much.

That's actually a problem that the Mentalist has been having recently. It seems like a lot of the weekly cases simply aren't engaging me as they used to be. The ratings for the show have taken a sharp decrease with the recent timeslot change but it wouldn't surprise me if the real cause is that the show has stopped being able to consistently deliver entertaining weekly murders. It's not like the weekly cases were ever that clever but you get the sense that the writers were having fun with them. It now just feels like the writers are more interested in developing the serialized storylines but are beholden to include weekly cases with every episode. It makes sense that they would want to explore the serialized aspects more but it also feels like the majority of the episodes have become a chore to get through. I used to watch this show because of the Red John case and strong weekly cases. While I'm still interested to know who Red John is, due to the sheer time I have invested in this show, the weekly cases have started to lose value with me. This is a problem for any cop show.

I think a large part of the problem is that it's gotten repetitive on how Jane solves the case. It used to be a delight trying to figure out how Jane is going to get the killer to confess. In fact, that's what often made even the weak mysteries fun to watch solved. It's just that Jane rarely has any real new tricks up his sleeve. We've seen them almost all of them and it's kind of surprising the CBI doesn't just name them already. This is like the hundreth episode where Jane pretends to have an item that belonged to the victim in order to trick the killer into revealing herself. The writers have either stopped coming up with creative ways to have Jane solve the case or I'm right and they view the weekly mysteries as more of an obligation to fulfill than as stories worth telling in-and-of themselves. Whether the writers have stopped caring about such a large part of the show or their idea well has dried up, it's kind of difficult to get into watching most Mentalist episodes.

It should be noted that this isn't true for all episodes this season. The episode “If it Bleeds, It Leeds” Jane was able to use the situation of the crime in a fun manner. This is simply a problem I've been noticing in the majority of non-Red John episodes. Talking about “If It Bleeds, it Leeds”, Lisbon is still investigating Volkner. She's paid a medical examiner out of her own pocket to reopen the case. She is able to find the person who had killed the assistant but he's conveniently killed by a gang shooting. Lisbon isn't any closer to taking down Volkner but she does recruit Jane to help her. It is this sub-plot that gave the episode it's best scenes. Heck, it's the only part of the episode that really came alive and saved it from being mediocre.

I know I'm attacking the show a lot in this review because it really does have a lot of problems. This shouldn't be taken to mean that this season has been terrible as it's delivered some pretty great episodes. Heck, some of the weekly cases have managed to be solved in a fun manner. It's just that this episode had a lot of bad elements to it-but luckily the Volkner case managed to make it worth watching it. Overall, Days of Wine and Roses has a weak weekly case but it's strengthened by Lisbon's investigation into the billionaire.

Other Notes:

Is it me or is the episode player broken? It certainly seems that way to me.

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