The end of The Mentalist – Season 3 was certainly dramatic, with CBI (California Bureau of Investigation) consultant Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) gunning down a man in a shopping mall. The ‘victim’ claimed to be Red John, the serial killer who slaughtered Jane’s wife and child.
For pretty much every other person on the planet, shooting someone to death in cold blood would be the end of their law enforcement career, but this is TV, so former ‘psychic’ Patrick quickly gets out of this sticky situation and is back to solving crimes using his unique brand of mental manipulation. Not only that, but he doesn’t believe the man he killed was really Red John, ensuring that Jane still has his single-minded pursuit of the killer to drive him.
Season 4 offers 24 more episodes of criminal mischief, ranging from the kidnapping of a boy whose mother refuses to believe Jane isn’t a psychic, to Patrick trying to find out if a woman on trial for murder is actually innocent. Thrown into that are some extra hurdles, from Jane losing his memory after a near-drowning to a fellow agent beginning to suspect that while Patrick got off his murder charge because everyone thinks he killed the notorious Red John, he actually murdered somebody else.
Ever since it began, The Mentalist has been a lot of fun, although it’s starting to feel a little fatigued with Season 4. Half the fun of the show used to be Patrick’s ingenious mental scams to get the killer to confess, where he’d get them to reveal themselves through a mix of bravado, guile and superior smarts. However Jane seems to be running out of tricks, so that half the time it’s more like he’s simply playing with people rather than using his cunning and skill to get to the bottom of a crime.
I’m also getting a little tired of Red John. There have been so many twists, turns and unlikely developments, from the killer’s unlikely ability to recruit others to become sort of satellite mass murderers and agents who do his bidding, to the fact no twist ever really reveals all that much about him. It’s gotten to the point where he’s so impossibly elusive that he’d have to turn out to be Satan himself for the story to wrap up satisfactorily. It’s a shame as for about the first season and a half Patrick’s arch-nemesis was a fascinating villain, but now it’s all become so farfetched it’s difficult to care.
Despite the creeping flaws, The Mentalist – Season 4 is still good entertainment. Simon Baker remains an incredibly charismatic force at the centre of the show, ably assisted by the CBI agents. It’s also true that it has a great tone, never forgetting that it’s about dark subjects and emotional issues, while still remaining light enough to be good fun. That’s largely because of Jane’s interplay with the other agents, so that for him everything is a game (to a certain extent), while to the others it’s business.
The five disc set only incudes one special feature, a 22 minute documentary called CBI: Behind The Badge, which looks at the making of the show and how it relates to real law enforcement, from ensuring they stick as close to police procedures as possible, to consulting with police to try and keep things realistic. To be honest, there is the slight feeling that even those being interviewed don’t really believe The Mentalist is all that realistic, but it’s still worth a look.
Overall Verdict: As so often seems to happen when a show reaches Season 4 or 5, there’s a slightly tired feeling creeping into The Mentalist. However it’s still a very entertaining show, it’s just that hopefully they can tighten things up for Season 5.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac