After last week’s shock death of puppyish agent Michelle Vega, a pall of gloom has settled over The Mentalist. Jane’s dread of losing Lisbon in the same way has prompted him to leave, and there’s no telling whether his love for her will be enough to overcome his fear of being hurt. If this were a rom-com, we’d be in the third act where an apparently insuperable barrier has been placed between the two lovers.
But, since this is The Mentalist, and crimes have to be solved, Jane’s moment of doubt doesn’t last long. He’s been AWOL for a week, contemplating the vastness of the Grand Canyon, though still for some reason wearing his suit; but when a young couple are gunned down in a national park, Cho persuades Lisbon to call him. Initially he doesn’t answer, and actually, it takes an arrest on his outstanding warrant for ‘failing to appear’ after the murder of Red John to bring him back into the fold.
Cho and a park ranger go to investigate poachers, and Cho gets a bit tasty with one suspect; clearly he’s ultra-sensitive after the death of Vega, and Abbot takes him to task over it. Cho is predictably stony-faced. But in any case there’s no evidence against the poachers. Then the case takes a strange twist when Gabriel, a supposed psychic, comes in with claims that he has met the killer, though he can’t describe him. Gabriel’s visions seem compelling, and he knew that each victim had a fingernail removed.
When Jane is dragged in, his reception from Lisbon is understandably frosty, but he doesn’t seem particularly remorseful, though he is fixated on Vega’s empty desk. Abbot persuades him to take a look at Gabriel, and Jane immediately declares him a fraud – well, it takes one to know one. But Gabriel clearly knows something, and bears watching.
Jane’s in a strange mood, flirting with a horny barkeep and sleeping in the open, where he spots a run-down cabin. Wiley and Cho stake out Gabriel – Wiley wants to talk about Vega, but Cho’s his usual taciturn self. While Cho questions the neighbours, Wiley witnesses Gabriel having a seizure; he mumbles something about Vega, and white bones in red clay.
Wiley’s intrigued enough to set off an investigation of local red clay deposits, and lo and behold, sniffer dogs find a cache of bodies in shallow graves. Jane turns up in the Janemobile, his massive Airstream camper (incidentally, when did he get rid of the Citroen DS?), and announces that he’s back; he’s worked something out, what, we’re not sure.
The five bodies all have the same gunshot wounds and missing fingernails, so clearly the same killer is at work; the victims disappeared in the previous year, most of them homeless or tourists. Cho goes to pick up Gabriel, and Jane confronts him; ‘I used to be you’ he says. But with nothing to hold him on, Gabriel gets what he wants; the attention of the Press.
Panic spreads as Gabriel’s claims fill the airwaves, and on the following night’s stakeout, Cho is diverted, Wiley slugged, Gabriel abducted and his sister killed. Jane hypnotises Wiley to recall details of his attacker, including a beery scent which leads to an abandoned brewery, where Gabriel is found tortured, murdered, and marked with the word ‘FAKE’.
Next week’s episode is the final two-parter, so there’s a lot to resolve; who is the killer? What was Gabriel’s involvement? What has turned Jane around, and how will the relationship with Lisbon play out? And most tantalizingly of all, will the spectre of Red John return to haunt Patrick Jane?
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