The Mentalist returned Sunday night with a fun little episode that revealed some interesting social nuances among the still-acclimating FBI team. The show is itself still adjusting to its new format: no more CBI or Red John, a lot less of Rigsby and Van Pelt (I miss them), and new characters such as Fischer and Abbott. Overall, I've been very impressed with the new exuberance the show has taken on in its post-Red John incarnation. The change of environment spices things up, and the chemistry between Lisbon and Jane has been delightfully charged.
The episode started out by addressing a very important matter: where is Jane's new couch? After all, aside from a cup of tea, a couch has long served as his most comforting vessel to case-solving over the years.
While Agent Fischer made a show of vetoing Patrick's request, later a comfy couch did show up. I originally didn't care for Kim Fischer at all, as she seemed superfluous and didn't have much of a personality at first. Okay, you got me: I also really hated her going on a date with Jane because I'm a Jisbon shipper from way back. However, I think the show is doing a great job of developing her more to the point where, while I may never love her, I begin to understand her and appreciate what she brings to the show.
This was an intriguing scene, as Fischer brought up her previous encounter with Jane in Mexico, apologizing for misleading him as to her identity and intentions. We got our first real understanding of how she felt and why she conducted herself as she did in Mexico and directly afterwards, which really made her more likable. Rather than being coldly dismissive of her deceit, she's regretful and halfway admits that she was surprised by the extent to which she liked Jane.
One aspect that makes the interaction between these two so fascinating is that, of course, it stirs the pot of the ongoing question as to whether Jane and Lisbon are ever getting together. How will Jane deal with the fact that Kim Fischer might be developing feelings for him? What does this mean with regard to his ongoing will-they-or-won't-they dynamic with Lisbon? It's fun and captivating stuff, and for those Jane/Lisbon fans (like me!) who have waited a long time to see the matter brought up more overtly, asking these questions seems to emphasize the issue in a way that entertainingly begs for resolution.
Soon thereafter, a grisly shooting of multiple D.E.A. agents led the team to Corpus Christi to investigate. Mysteriously, Jane immediately pinpointed Krystal Markum as a person of interest. He put in motion a typically absurd-brilliant gambit wherein he started dating Krystal while consistently denying to the rest of the team that he had any ulterior motives.
This storyline was enjoyable, with Jane and Krystal playing well off of one another in a game of wits and concealments as her true identity was gradually unfurled. Eventually, we found out that Krystal was the queenpin of a brutal drug cartel. By virtue of her gender (authorities called the presumed kingpin "Mr. X.") and subtle cloak and dagger routines, she had ingeniously hidden her true self. Was Krystal aware of Jane's intentions, or did she think he was a sincere suitor? This question also kept the suspense going even as we questioned what Jane's ultimate plan was.
Fischer was clearly confused and perturbed by Jane's pursuit of Krystal, which was more than apparent after she watched him ask the sketchy blonde out. She hasn't worked with Jane long enough to anticipate the random and unorthodox steps he may take at any given moment, and nor has she familiarized herself with his ongoing lies when he doesn't feel like letting the other team members in on his activities and findings. Still, part of her attitude simply comes down to personal interest in Jane, which she doesn't really try to hide in the way that Lisbon has tried to conceal her feelings for Jane. And I wonder if Jane is not sure how to deal with this particular issue with Fischer, though he took it in stride here.
The scenes of Jane flirting on the phone with Krystal at outrageously inappropriate moments in the investigation, while Lisbon and Fischer looked irritated, were hilarious. Oddly and interestingly, this scenario seemed to bond Lisbon and Fischer and further lay the ground for a friendship between the two. The scene where Lisbon and Fischer questioned what Jane's "type" is had a strangely awkward, yet distinctly amiable vibe. A complex and unexpected development. The scene of Lisbon and Fischer at the bar also set up a pleasant rapport between the two. I loved seeing Lisbon get her F.B.I. badge and flash a big smile.
It was cool that we were given a few insights into Cho's quietly observant and insightful investigative style when he noticed the car engine sound and later the bullet markings on the window frame. It seems as if the FBI has given him a chance to really shine, and that's nice to see. I'm hoping to see Cho get a little more to do sometime soon. The new computer nerd character is also a neat addition to the ensemble, like one of the more likable Bones squinterns.
The final showdown between Jane and Krystal was well done, and his analysis of Krystal's devious ways had a Holmesian charm to it. Jane did his typically relaxed routine, never flinching until he questioned whether the FBI were going to get there fast enough. His ridiculous insistence on never cluing his colleagues in on his dealings is something he often prioritizes over, potentially, his own safety. Jane's egotistical behavior, while insanely unprofessional, never fails to make me smile. The end scene with a soaked Jane questioning the team's tardy arrival was cute and funny, as Cho chimed in with Lisbon and Fischer in his ever-deadpan manner, telling Jane he's a terrible communicator.
I know that scenes like this are old hat for The Mentalist, but I find them endlessly charming and rather soothing. The new format has thrown enough unpredictable variables into the show to make it much more than a retread of past seasons' murder of the week episodes. However, I also wouldn't mind another ongoing story arc because this show is just on fire when it's on the level of serialized complexity we saw in the first part of Season 6.
What did you think of the episode? Where are Jane's relationships with Fischer and Lisbon heading? Should the show continue doing just murder-of-the-weeks, or add a new longer-running story arc? Share your ideas in the comments!