The Mentalist: Season 1, Episode 23

Red John's Footsteps (19 May 2009)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
8.6
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Ratings: 8.6/10 from 598 users  
Reviews: 3 user

A victim is discovered in a park deliberately disposed of in CBI jurisdiction with evidence that Red John is involved. The team learns there may be another victim, and suspects Red John is luring Jane.

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Morgan Gutherie
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Sheriff Hardy
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Noah Plaskett
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Arden Plaskett
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Frankel Fogarty (as Sally Brooks)
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Store Keeper
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Korean Store Owner
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Ron Althoff ...
Deputy Duke
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Storyline

Emily Plaskett is discovered in a country town park, slashed Red John-style. Her twin sister Maya is missing. Patrick Jane assumes another challenge for him. An airplane-written, indeed taunting message traces elaborately to Roy Tagliaferro, a dead trail. Jane realizes the modified MO indicates a second culprit. Sheriff Hardy conducts the search for Maya, CSI the murder investigation. The Plasketts' brother Drake knew Em had an affair with smalltime drug supplier local Morgan Gutherie, but Jane believes his claim he was threatened anonymously himself and finds a wire. Written by KGF Vissers

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TV-14 | See all certifications »
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19 May 2009 (USA)  »

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1.78 : 1
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Quotes

Teresa Lisbon: [to Sheriff Hardy about Jane] If he does anything wrong, if he jaywalks, shoot him!
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Soundtracks

The Well-Tempered Clavier
(uncredited)
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
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User Reviews

Season 1: Safe, predictable and formulaic – easy to watch but a little dull, samey and bland as a result of its approach
13 March 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Having watched as much rubbish for the sake of watching it as I have done over the years, I'm really in no position to judge how my girlfriend views the role of media in her life. See for me it is something I actively take in whereas for her it mostly acts as a sort of passive relaxant that is all around her without her having too focus too hard on it at the end of a long day. What this means in practice is that In Treatment, Mad Men, Six Feet Under and other shows she considers to require attention sit unwatched on the shelf while I scour the TV listings looking for undemanding and easy television to provide this relaxing glow. It is the reason why there will always be a market for this sort of thing in my house.

The Mentalist fits that bill, which is why I am now here, writing this despite having spent 5 solid minutes laughing and mocking the title when I first heard of it. The show is another of the endless production line of detective shows with a quirky central character or quirky hook, that trades off the hook week-by-week with solid mystery plots while keeping a bigger drama in the background for season finales or to help it out if ratings dip. Here the quirk is that Thomas Jane has fantastic observational skills and uses them to pose as a physic, suggesting his insights come from supernatural powers but now he is working as a consultant helping the police on high-profile cases. If it sounds familiar then you are probably a fan of Psych, a show that has the same idea but plays it more for laughs while The Mentalist in theory is more of a drama.

I say "in theory" because I am not convinced that the show wants to do anything other than fill an hour of television with material that viewers can enjoy as they are comforted by its familiarity, engaged by how accessible it is but never threatened or challenged by any part of it. As a result the whole Red John thing is never more than a shadow in the background and the best we get in regards real pain or darkness in the character of Jane is the occasional bit of staring off into the background or talking about revenge. Otherwise we have the status quo – an odd character who is quite brilliant at what he does but doesn't play by the rules of others but gets results despite rubbing people up the wrong way with his odd behaviour. The weekly mysteries play out well enough and aren't really ever dull or bad across the season, but The Mentalist (and the many other shows like it) are rarely to be criticised for being "bad" per se in the same way as mid-value copies of big brands (like the supermarket version of Coke or Pepsi for example) are not often "awful" because they are working with the same base formula even if the things that make them unique are lacking.

So it is with The Mentalist as it does everything you expect it to do in a way that is safe and accessible but never does anything to standout as special or to excite the viewer. The plots are there as per normal, the characters may differ in race and gender but ultimately the dynamics are what you expect and each episode provides a solid mystery that is solved in the same way each week, so that you know if you like one then you'll like the next one – whether you can spot the difference between one episode and the next is by the by. It's all professional enough though and I quite liked it as a safe background thing that I could follow with most of my brain on another task. The drama aspect of it never offers much and, when it feels it has to offer "depth" it only ever does so in a sort of "Hallmark" soft-music and distance-staring way that does nothing other than reinforce the "by the numbers nothing special" feel it has.

Baker is light in the lead and when he enjoys himself with his character the show is quite fun to watch. Asked to do more he cannot perform but he can do the basics. Talking of doing the basics the support cast could easily be built by machine. Tunney is "authoritative but shyly-appreciative of Jane's methods" in the usual way and this is what she does. Righetti is "the sexy one", Yeoman is the "tough but likable one" while Kang is the dry rather humourless one. They all do as requested but nobody is particularly memorable.

The Mentalist season 1 is a by-the-numbers affair. It is too professional and "on-formula" to be "bad" but this also means it is rather unmemorable and blends together with itself and lots of other shows selling the same product. It is accessible and undemanding, which many people look for – were it down to me I'd leave it at that but my girlfriend is planning to watch season 2 and I suppose is nothing else I will be curious to see if they just do more of the same or if they try to lift their game now that the show is more established.


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