I don’t exactly remember why I started seeing The Mentalist (2008-2015), but I can tell that when I did, I quickly became obsessed with it. Patrick Jane (interpreted by Australian actor Simon Baker) and his clever tricks – more than that, his boldness – hooked me from the first second. And his personal drama captivated me because I understood what it was to live the aftermath of a trauma.
In case you have never watched, here is the main plot: Patrick pretended to be a psychic and made a living by conning others. He was really good at it, so he became famous. One day he was being interviewed by a journalist and, caught up in his own arrogance, he defied an also famous person – a serial killer known as Red John. Patrick taunted him, made fun of the killings.
When he got home, he found his wife and three year old daughter brutally murdered by Red John (his signature, a smiley face painted on the wall with blood, was there). The trauma was too strong; he was in a psychiatric hospital for some time, and when he was released, he decided that he could not go on with his life until he had avenged his family’s death. So he joined the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI), more specifically the young detective Teresa Lisbon’s team (who was in charge of the Red John case), as a consultant.
The chase lasted ten years, tucked into six seasons. The seventh was about his moving on. I stopped watching the series for a long time, because it seemed to me that the chase would never end. I mean, it’s fun to watch his awesome tricks and the creative way with which he resolves murders, but after a while of no results toward the main objective, you start to grow tired.
Worse than that, I started to think that the conclusion to that drama would be frustrating, since the momentum had been building for what seemed like ages. I was prepared for the disappointment. But, when this part of the story was in fact concluded, I felt relieved. It was sad, heart-breaking, but beautiful too. Not because of the violence (I never support violence), but rather because he did what he had to do. And while he was doing it, all the emotions linked to the most traumatic event of his life were expressed: suffering, pain, grief, relief, abandon.
So what came next? It’s not like anyone knew what was coming; the whole series had been based on Red John’s capture. And again I was surprised: things went on as smoothly as a good book. Patrick Jane started a new life, moved on and got his happy ending. Now I finished the seventh and last season and I am again relieved. They didn’t mess up anything, an admirable fact if you think how easily series get screwed up at the end. But this one didn’t.
I just wish that Patrick and Lisbon (played by Robin Tunney), his partner in the fight against crime, had more chemistry. Even in the end, when they realized they loved each other, they still acted more like friends than lovers. But, well, nothing’s perfect. And, truth be told, compared to the emotional turmoil that Patrick goes through throughout the seasons, this romance is not really that important.
For me, it was like studying human nature. What happens after such a big trauma and how the guilt affects you. It was not his fault; you can never be blamed because someone else decided to do evil things. But it is completely understandable why he thought it was, and it’s amazing to see the psychological consequences it had on him. And Red John too – the serial killer who had to prove he was better than his ultimate victim. His obsession with Patrick is practically the same that Patrick nurtures for him.
If you haven’t seen it yet, please do. It’s a relatively light series, even though it talks about crimes. I’ll admit, there are certain climax points that can be very gut wrenching, but every good series have them, so you shouldn’t be worried. For me, anyway, it was worth it. If you started to see but stopped, please continue. Everything works out in the end. And if you watched from start to end, then better yet. Send me a message and we can talk about it.
Either way, if you like magic tricks and mind games, you’ll probably adore this series.