Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Mentalist Jumps the Shark

Actually, during last night's episode, The Mentalist didn't just jump the shark. No, it strapped on some rocket boots and a jetpack and motherfucking blasted its way over the shark, scorching everything and everyone below. The episode was appropriately named "Seeing Red," because anyone who actually admired the show for taking a skeptical perspective on astrologers, TV psychics, and other flim-flam hucksters would actually be seeing red after the end of the show.

Normally people call giving plot points away "spoilers," but that implies that the show or movie might actually be ruined by knowing the story ahead of time. Trust me, there was no way to make it any worse.

Here's what happened: There was a lame story about a rich woman who was run over by a car in the opening segment. She was leaving an appointment with her psychic, Kristina, who warned her that she was in danger. The cops show up to investigate, and we learn the major characters: the dead woman's son and daughter and her lover, a flaky, womanizing photographer.

Throughout the show, Kristina the psychic spars with Thomas Jane, and she also continually provides information that she shouldn't otherwise know, like that the car used in the murder was ditched in the town's reservoir. Now Jane thinks this implicates her as a suspect...and rightly so. But it turns out that she had nothing to do with the murder. It was the woman's daughter, who was mad at her for threatening to cut her brother out of the will and snapped when her mom didn't answer her phone call, so she ran her down in the street with the car. Okay.

Anyway, the show repeatedly insinuates that Kristina the psychic knows things that she shouldn't, she is not implicated in the murder, and she is not exposed as a fraud by the skeptical Jane. And then we come to the stomach-turning final scene.

Kristina asks to speak privately with Jane. He grudgingly accepts. When alone, Kristina says that she spoke with Jane's dead wife, and that there is a question that's been haunting him since their death at the hands of a serial killer. "Your daughter never woke up," Kristina tells him, and then leaves the room.

Jane starts to cry.

And then Derek starts to vomit.

Either Jane is allowing himself to be emotionally manipulated by Kristina, or more likely the show is suggesting that her powers are real, which is repulsive kick in the nuts to anyone who started watching the show because it was a rare little beacon of skeptical perspective in a media landscape filled with sympathetic treatments of supernatural hogwash.

Thanks for completely destroying a promising show before it even really got started, you monkey-humping asshats.


podblack said...

Hmm. Looking over how I portrayed the same episode on my blog entry (thanks for your comment, by the way, at !)...

... I'm looking over the ep now.

And the episode does have Teresa Lisbon say the following (transcribed):
'Come on! She simply did what you do so well: with an air of confidence she made an educated guess. Where else would you dump a car around here? She's just a good guesser'.

The fact that Jane looks sullen / unconvinced could demonstrate that he's annoyed that he didn't come to that conclusion first up rather than his suggestion to arrest Kristina the Psychic.

Personally, I reckon he's just still pissed off that she did a blithe 'but I don't KNOW what cold reading is!' *flutters eyelids*.

In fact, that is what I'd say is a big issue with the show - that neither does an uneducated audience know what 'cold reading is'. Where the show seems to be going lax on more is the educational aspect of tending towards the 'she just got lucky and made an educated guess' rather than 'and here's an example of what cold-reading is by using some of the co-workers in the office for a bit of a break from the action'.

Maybe some people will 'Google' the term? But certainly my interpretation of the ending of the entire show gave more leeway to Jane being human rather than allowing for psychic reading to have any legitimacy.

After all - he could just throw the Red John case back in her face in regards to what CAN happen to 'psychics', if he really was just the smirking, hard smart-arse that he comes across a lot of the time.

Anonymous said...

"Thomas" Jane?