'The Mentalist': Were the character-deaths last night game-changers for the series?

This season, The Mentalist has done two things simultaneously. It’s increased the degree of personal relationships among the regular characters, and it’s sharpened and refocused Simon Baker’s Patrick Jane — made him more intent than ever on solving crimes and, ultimately, getting his ultimate goal: the capture (and death?) of serial-killer Red John.

Last night — and if the headline above didn’t tip you off enough, here ya go: SPOILER ALERT, DON’T READ IF YOU DIDN’T WATCH LAST NIGHT! — we saw the deaths of a few characters, one of whom had been crucial to the season thus far.I had really enjoyed Terry Kinney’s guest run as Bosco, the slobbo cop with a bristly goatee and an even more bristly temper. The role could have been an ordinary grumpy-but-good police role, but Kinney took it up a notch with the way his wounded eyes belied his toughness, and the way his querulous line-readings made his sarcasm and combativeness less rude than intriguing.

So, too bad that he and his teammate Hicks were killed last night, done in by Rebecca (Shauna Bloom, in a bravely ego-free performance), who also worked for Bosco. Then, just as Jane and his crew had her under custody, she, too, died. Was she done in by Red John himself, in yet another devillish disguise? So we were left to believe, from the blissful smile on her face when she looked at the man who poisoned her.

Rebecca was “his red right hand” — that is, the person who did Red John’s bidding unquestioningly. There was a certain tidiness to the murders tonight: Swept away in one hour were all the new characters who’d dominated this story arc of The Mentalist, “so you could have the [Red John] case back,” as Rebecca told Jane.

But the convenience of the storytelling did not, ultimately, mar The Mentalist. The reverberations of last night’s hour will be felt for a while. Bosco’s confession to Lisbon that he loved her — and hers that she felt the same way — will have to play out in Robin Tunney’s performance in the weeks to come.

And Patrick Jane? Do you think he’ll feel guilt that he inspired these deaths, since Red John wanted Bosco and the others gone to give “the case back” to our hero?

People who don’t like The Mentalist complain that it’s too lightweight. But I think last night the producers made a strong move toward emphasizing the tragic undercurrent that runs beneath everything Patrick Jane does, and re-centers the series as a revenge drama with a lot of forward momentum. (We also saw the departure of Gregory Itzin’s Minelli — presumably so Itzen could have more time to appear in his beloved weasel-President role in 24‘s next season.)

How about you? Do you think last night’s actions will make the show even better, or will you miss Bosco?

Comments (161 total) Add your comment
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  • k

    i’ll miss bosco. i was liking him more and more. won’t miss minnelli, he was kind of boring..did anyone think the little singing moment at the end was kind of corny??
    and btw, it’s PATRICK jane…

    • t3hdow

      Yeah, the Amazing Grace number nearly ruined an otherwise superb episode of The Mentalist. That kind of treacly Kumbaya moment is something I expect from Hawthorne. And this is coming from someone who’s normally apathetic with this show…

    • AJ Simon

      Great episode, and yeah the singing was lame. But I have a theory after last night’s episode – Patrick Jane IS Red John , think about how he and the character are so intimately tied and they seem to know each other so well. It would be one of the greatest twists in tv history!!!!!

      • Christa

        I thought the same thing last night!!!

      • donna lee

        I love this theory!!!

    • Deb

      That corny moment was more than made up for by the dressing down Minelli gave the media when that reporter asked him about how he was feeling. “Horses’ assery” …..why the heck doesn’t anyone do that in real life?

    • Marina

      I always want to call him Thomas Jane, like the actor, who he resembles somewhat.

  • davet

    I thought last night’s ep was a bold move that indicates the show is not afraid of shaking things up and keeping it fresh. It the kind of attitude that has kept “Lost” engaging years after the initial thrill was over. Nice move, Mentalist!

  • couchgrouch

    great ep and it IS lightweight but not every cop show has to be The Shield. it actually seems like Minelli could be RJ unless Itzin is out for good.

  • Beverley

    This will just bring it back to the central 5 characters, just the way I like it. This season’s episodes were decent and I never miss an episode, but this will put the focus back on the core team and give them more screen time. More like last season, which is fine with me.

  • Carol

    Shame you can’t even get the character right … it’s PATRICK JANE … outrageous!!

    • Melissa

      Isn’t Thomas Jane the name of a real actor?

      • Ken Tucker

        Yes–and probably the unconscious source of my foolish mistake: apologies to all readers.
        Ken

      • julie

        no, it’s simon baker.

  • Alex

    His name is Patrick Jane, not Thomas.

  • Janice

    Although all the main characters are great, Terry MADE the show! I’ll miss him (his character) a lot.

  • Curt

    Without a doubt one of the best episodes in the series! I’m a little disappointed that Minelli is leaving. I hope he’ll be back eventually and NNOT as RJ. That would be too too close to a Deus ex Machina or a “Bobby in the Shower.” I’m very curious about what Bosco said to Jane that we didn’t get to hear. I rather think he was giving Jane a crucial piece of information that Jane can use to keep Lisbon “in line” once RJ is caught; i.e. to force her into allowing Jane to kill RJ in stead of arresting him like Jane and Bosco intended.

    Here are my preferences for the actor who should (eventually) play Red john:

    1) Mark Sheppard
    2) Michael T. Weiss
    3) Lance Henrickson
    4) Doug Hutchinson
    5) -If they can afford him and would like to add a good twist- Jason Alexander

    • magnira

      i’m afraid he’ll find RJ and kill him but then it WON’T be him

      • kul65

        Stumbling in on this thread three years later, that’s one hell of a prediction you made there, magnira. O.O

  • imsage

    really… get the main protagonist’s name correct. Shame on you! The scary thing for me is that this is the same “focus” of a show called “Life” and you can see what happened to that show.

    • Bob Chase

      I enjoyed ‘Life’ as much as I do ‘The Mentalist’. What ‘happened’ to Life is just typical of NBC program decisions, which, compared to CBS, ‘not even close’.

  • EV

    I like this show. Jane character has changed a bit from the first season. In the first season, when dealing with his police buddies,he almost always had a knowing smile on his face; this season, he seems much more grim.

    I read somewhere that people have speculated that Gregory Itzin IS Red John.

    • Babs

      Seems unlikely, since Red John was wearing a uniform when he killed Rebecca, and the other cops would definitely have recognized Minelli and thought it odd.

      • EV

        Good. So, Rebecca was smiling as she was led away because she recognized Red John?

        There is one thing to consider, though: if Red John is as smart as he is made out to be, who’s to say that he would not have another follower kill Rebecca? Why risk exposing himself?

        By the way, is there anything that makes us believe that Red John could not be a female? One of Lisbon’s crew is a woman with … red hair.

        Was Rebecca in any other episode? I don’t remember her.

  • mary

    I really enjoyed the Bosco character, he was very interesting and I hoped to see more development between him and Lisbon. But I have to admit that when I read that a “character we know and love” was going to die last night I hoped it was not any of the main 5 because they are fantastic together and really make this show. Love this show! I will miss Bosco.

  • Jane B.

    Loving the show!

  • madge

    was this the season finale?

  • LadyLost

    It was an awesome episode! No I didn’t like the singing… but i loved loved LOVED the scene where Bosco was eating Lisbons sandwich and got those big ‘I didn’t do it eyes’… lol, I felt like his character was finally coming around and could be a great part of the team… :(

  • MB

    Anyone who saw the end of season one’s first episode knows the dark underpinnings of Jane.

    • Ania

      I agree with you, MB; and would add that we see them more often than Ken thinks.

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