Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Mentalist: Who is Red John?

I have been out of town and didn't get to watch the latest The Mentalist episode until today and wanted to jot down my thoughts before this Sunday's new episode when it has been advertised that Patrick will come face to face with Red John (I think it's important to question whether this implies that Red John will be reveled as Jane has already met the Red John persona seasons ago as well as presumably been face-to-face with Red John many times).  My original deduction as to the identity of Red John is still in the mix (Bret Stiles) as well as my thoughts on the other two most logical possibilities (Bertram and Haffner) which is bittersweet; since none of my contenders have been eliminated, the new information hasn't aided me in anyway.  While some new information has been dished out, at this point every suspect on the list has been viewed with such scrutiny by the CBI team, it is hard to weed through what is an actual clue and what is just paranoia and over-thinking.  I'll begin by recapping what we have learned in the last two episodes about each suspect and how it has effected my view of them (if you have not done so I encourage you to check out my initial post The Mentalist: Red John Revealed as it will add clarity to the ideas because I will be building from my previous thoughts).  I will also take a look at some of the major events, themes and clues that have effected the show and of course the suspects in the process.  Without further ado, let's jump into The Mentalist: Who is Red John?

Bret Stiles
In addition to my previous insights, we now know that Stiles is also a good whistler, a trait that Sophie attributed to the man who visited her, presumably Red John.  However, overall he has remained the same: a powerful man who when being hunted by the FBI can gain asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy, a persuasive leader able to recruit massive amounts of followers who will go as far as smear blood over their face and pour it over their body in a huge ceremony commemorating his pass from the world of living to that of the dead and perhaps most importantly maintain the ability to conceal his emotions. (For an in-depth look into Bret Stiles and why he captured my suspicions as Red John early on click here.)  Another important fact we have learned about the illusive Visualize leader is that he is dying.  This may provide support for why, if Stiles is Red John, he has decided to make a move and reveal his identity to Patrick.  While it may appear that it is Jane who is weeding out his most formidable opponent, Red John did incite him by telling Patrick that he too knew the list of seven suspects and would begin killing again, lighting a fire under Jane.  He also thinned the heard by murdering Brett Partridge, meaning that while it is Patrick who is working hard to uncover Red John's real identity, is it in fact the mysterious murderer is ready to reveal himself to Jane?  The one doubt I do have about Stiles is his age as Red John has been repeatedly described as a middle-aged man and I'm not sure dear old Bret fits this description.  I am holding out hope that my instincts many years ago, before the writers themselves knew the identify of Red John, along with logic rather than cheap tricks and subterfuge will hold out till the end.

Ray Haffner
Since my last post the two major things we have learned about Haffner is that he is also a good whistler as well as his unreasonable fear of spiders.  While Sophie dictated that the man believed to be Red John came to her to work out his fear of heights, as I discussed in my original post this may have been simply a means to an end to obtain an appointment with her as I'm not sure Red John would expose himself like that as his meeting with her was for ulterior motives.  However, Sophie did state that whether it is fear of heights or something else, the man she met with did have an underlying phobia and spiders may be it.  As arachnophobia and acrophobia are also close in name this may have been Red John's way of disguising his real fear.  I still feel that Haffner wears his emotions on his sleeve as every time he said hello to a member of the CBI team it was painfully clear how he felt towards them at that particular time which does not fit into Red John's profile at all.  The true criminal mastermind is cunning, able to fool anyone he crosses paths with and Haffner isn't remotely able to hide his disdain for Jane.  In addition, I believe that Red John doesn't ultimately see Jane as an enemy or a threat but rather admires him for the qualities they share.  While Haffner is in my top three suspects, due to his recent scenes he has almost fallen off the list entirely simply because of his lack of emotional control.  However, as I will discuss below, I believe that Jane was attacked from behind in the final scene with the remaining suspects which leaves only Haffner and Stiles as possible culprits.  While I think that there is much more to this encounter than what we saw, Haffner is definitely more capable of getting the drop on Jane than Stiles, but he may be under orders from the real Red John.  The fact that only Visualize members lacked the three-dotted tattoo may be significant and my thoughts that Red John planned on kidnapping Patrick as well as my ideas about the Tyger-Tyger society, which are also detailed below, all point to Haffner or Stiles being the illustrious leader.  Yet in this case my instincts overpower my logic as I just don't think Haffner has what it takes to be Red John.

Gale Bertram
In recent episodes we have found that Bertram too is proficient at whistling but the big twist was Jane's information gathered from the private investigator before her death that her attacker had a tattoo on his left shoulder of three dots which Bertram was found to have (as well as two of the other suspects).  This wasn't of particular shock to me as I had a hunch that these markings are another way of identifying membership in the secret society throughout law enforcement, the Tyger-Tyger group.  Below I will go into more details about my thoughts regarding the syndication as well as the tattoo, but I've always thought that Bertram was part of this society that I believe was created by Red John.  As stated before, after compiling all my thoughts on the matter, I came to the conclusion that Jane was likely attacked from behind and Red John had planned to kidnap Patrick as his final act before revealing himself which would eliminate Bertram from my list of suspects.  However, I still have doubts only because of my original profile of him as the whistling and the three dots didn't sway my opinion in any way (so if you skipped my first post I encourage you to at least check out Bertram's profile here as my thoughts on him have remained the same).  I can still imagine his confusion act changing like the Cheshire cat into a purely evil smile which will strike the audience as they will know instantly that he is Red John.  I wonder if all those years ago the Red John impostor knew Patrick would be in that mall because of Bertram, thus taking all this into consideration he will stay on my list of probable suspects.

Reede Smith
We learned that Reede Smith was also part of the three-dotted tattoo alliance which wasn't a shock as we already knew he was part of the Tyger-Tyger society.  His general presence as well as the fact that he is a low-level FBI agent who doesn't possess a position of power or influence which Red John must have in order to have collected so much intelligence over the years makes him an unlikely candidate in my opinion.  One could argue that simply being in the Tyger-Tyger group granted him access to information or favors from other branches of law enforcement, which is true, but I would imagine that it took a considerable amount of years to build the syndicate up to what it is now and Smith was never in a position to recruit higher-ranking people like Bertram.  In addition, he has accused Patrick of being a suspect in homicides which I don't see the real Red John ever doing.  He would know that Jane wouldn't harm anyone except who he perceives as his ultimate nemesis and have a long-term plan that isn't as mundane as setting Patrick up for a crime he didn't commit.  I think Smith is simply part of the Triopunct/Tyger-Tyger alliance.  When he told Kirkland that there is a secret society and they even accept low-ranking people like Smith, he seemed obsessed with the power the group provided him which was likely how they were able to recruit Smith in the first place.  He felt under-appreciated and was given a chance to be part of a law enforcement syndicate that recognized his talents as well as gave him a high place or power amongst them.  In addition, the fact that the writers revealed early on that he was a member and actually used him to reveal to the audience that the secret society existed makes me doubt even further that he is Red John as they wouldn't show their hand so early.  Overall, I never believed Smith was a possibility and nothing in the episodes since have given me a reason to change my view.

Sheriff McAllister
All I have to say about the sheriff of Napa county is that he seems like a good guy.  As he was the first revealed to have the triple-dot tattoo he immediately told Patrick it was a misunderstanding and that he was not Red John.  As everyone has been on heightened alert since the suspects were revealed, studying each scene for any tells that they may be the infamous Red John, I think it is important that we take every "clue" with a grain of salt.  It seems clear that the writers want us to do this as with McAllister, Lisbon and Jane over-thought his unwillingness to climb the ladder or look over the cliff as signs that he was acrophobic which were proven to be of no consequence when he scaled the ladder, walked on the beam of the roof as if a skilled tightrope gymnast and pulled Patrick to safety.  While we know that he is in fact part of the secret society, (this being under my assumptions and thoughts that the tattoo is related) I feel like any indications that he may be Red John, things that cast him as an untrustworthy or secretive character, can be attributed to his place in the crime syndicate rather than him having an underlining persona as a serial killer.  Basically, I don't think he's Red John.

Red John
I think it's important to question whether or not it is certain that the real Red John is within the suspects we have been presented with.  It never really occurred to me until I started reading what others had to say on the matter, as I had always thought it was Bret Stiles.  I do admit, that after really looking closely at Red John's profile, tendencies and personalities Stiles is the only one who  embodies all of them meaning that if it isn't him, whomever the writers have picked to be the notorious cult leader must be masking the intelligent serial killer with the ability to gain massive amounts of followers willing to do his bidding, kill and die for the cause he has presented behind the character they put forth in their daily life.  In other words, why the other suspects don't posses what we know of about Red John is because they are two-faced, have an evil side that is different than the character we see them as like I have detailed with my thoughts on Bertram and why he still remains my second choice as the notorious serial killer; that while Bertram seems clueless on the outside he might have a hidden personality that enables him to be Red John.  While I'd like to believe that writers are always logical, truthful and honest, I have been let down in the past and it's entirely possible that a major twist could take place.  Perhaps Red John meant for Lorelei to tell Patrick that they had shook hands to lead him astray, and thus Jane has taken the clues to mean that one of these five men are in fact Red John, but in his desire to find his nemesis' true identity fell for as simple a move as the Queen's Gambit.  However, questioning the truth behind every clue is tiresome and tedious as no real logical answers can be obtained if we are constantly questioning the validity of our axioms, thus as I said if this is the case no amount of thought can accurately point us in the direction of Red John and it becomes nothing more than a guess.  Below I go down one of those rabbit holes as I question why Patrick is so sure that Red John himself would kill the private investigator when he is so close to being unmasked and has such a wide network of disciples that would gladly do the chore for him?  I would hope as I stated before that they wouldn't stoop to cheep tricks and subterfuge as so many fans are diligently decrypting the clues and while some are pulling for their nominee of the identity of Red John, others still want to be surprised wondering until the last moment who this man we have been waiting seven seasons to unmask is and possibly more importantly what is his endgame, his plan for Patrick?  I am among those who have put a decent amount of time into dissecting the facts and hope that viewers haven't been led astray but we won't know until we know, you know?

Tyger-Tyger Secret Society Thoughts
While I have encountered some thoughts about the Tyger-Tyger society throughout law enforcement being a separate entity from Red John, I highly doubt this.  Since we know that Red John has recited the William Blake poem to Patrick previously, as well as accomplices of Red John murmuring the first two words of the poem as an indication they are a part of the syndicate it seemed clear to me that this was blatant proof of a connection to Red John.  They were also Bret Partridge's final words possibly indicating that he too was involved in the cult and took his death to be a necessary sacrifice or perhaps to simply let it be known he was colluding with Red John.  This is something I found particularly brilliant about the final list of seven suspects.  That while only one of them really embodied all of what we know about Red John on the surface (Bret Stiles), they all had shady aspects to their character implying that if they are not the brilliant serial killer and leader of this mysterious cult, they had the pretense to be a member of it.  Though I will go into more detail below, the triple dotted tattoo seems to prove this as three of the final suspects bare the mark likely meaning that they are in fact part of this secretive society.

Triopunct Tattoo Thoughts:
I think the tattoo is another way of showing membership into the network of law enforcement members aside their "Tyger Tyger" code word therefore I'm not putting too much stock into Bertram, Smith and McAllister having it as I suspected they were part of Red John's network before.  It seems to me like the most plausible series of events was that Patrick was attacked from behind.  After he took interest in the three-dotted men the guns, Haffner and Stiles were behind him.  I think it's most likely he will be kidnapped and Red John will attempt to persuade him into his cult using his mentalist ways.  As I discussed in my previous post this seems like Red John's ultimate goal, to convert Patrick as he could have harmed him at any point but instead has made multiple attempts to invite Jane into his group or become his friend.  As Stiles is nearing death this may be why Red John has made his move now.  Haffner made a comment that they study Jane in Visualize and it is possible that Stiles, if Red John, hopes Patrick will take his place as leader of the cult, which we now know extends into law enforcement, after his death.  I also found it suspect that the only men without the tattoo were Visualize members, since the private investigator claimed they were the ones who hired her and Jane believes that it was Red John himself who murdered her.  I also think it's possible that Red John may have followers that know him as well as a separate group, the Tyger-Tyger society that is only within law enforcement meaning Red John himself may not bear the tattoo.

Thoughts on the Murder of the Private Investigator
Another things that bothers me, is the assumption that whomever killed the private investigator was Red John himself.  Knowing that Red John has a long list of devotees willing to murder and die for the cause, I find it implausible that Red John would commit every task himself.  This leads way to my thought that in fact none of the triple-dotted suspects are the leader Jane seeks.  There is a possibility that for reasons of deniability their highest ranking member, the leader of the group, may not posses the tattoo as his followers do.  Although I do believe that the Tyger-Tyger society and Red John followers are synonymous yet the murder of the private investigator leaves me with too many questions.  I assume that the reason for her death was because she saw the face of Red John or possibly one of his associates, but I wonder why they employed her in the first place to bug the CBI offices.  I think it's clear that Bertram is part of the group, due to his tattoo, and it would have been easy and quite possibly less conspicuous for him to plant a bug after hours.  Her strange encounter with Cho, as he had his gun and badge clearly visible as well as the fact that he was the only person in a gym wearing a suit and tie made it very awkward for her to approach him there and then pursue him back at CBI headquarters.  Thus, I wonder why this whole charade was necessary in the first place.  She claimed she was hired by Visualize, implying Red John is involved in the cult solidifying the thought that Stiles or Haffner is this illusive leader.  If so, there is the possibility that the Tyger-Tyger cult is separate from Red John and what the triopunct tattoo represents.  Of course, she could have been lying or whomever hired her could have been untruthful to her making this entire situation a black hole in which each answer only leads to more questions.  
Why is the creepy guy who brings Rigsby the report on Robert Kirkland's death important?
I wanted to just touch on this because the exchange that takes place between these two men seemed to me to be vital.  I expect that the man (I will continue to refer to him as such as I don't remember his name) is part of the Tyger-Tyger syndicate and was beginning the recruitment process with Rigsby.  He said something along the lines of "I did you a favor and maybe one day you will do me one".  I think this is how it works: you (this scenario is based on the idea that "you" are already a part of the society) reach out to someone who you were either instructed to or believe they may be a good asset for the society by doing them a favor.  In turn you bring up the idea that they will some day pay you back, in a friendly unobtrusive way.  One day you call in the favor and see if your target is willing and able to obtain the information you seek.  You continue to foster the relationship and perhaps one day your target needs information from another branch of law enforcement so you connect him with another member of the society.  As this goes on and your target is now friendly with a few members of the syndicate you approach him and inform him of the little "group" you have that encourages interagency cooperation but because of the red tape must remain secretive.  If he's hooked maybe later on a person higher up on the totem pole assess the likelihood your target would be willing to become a full member, tattoo and all and the next steps are taken from there.  Honestly, this just seems like the most logical way to recruit new members without exposing the group and I really don't know the entire process, but I do believe that we saw the first step in it which may mean the man who brought the report may soon be calling on Rigsby to return the favor! 

A Random Theory for Thought:
While using my husband as a soundboard for my reasoning we devised a few possible outcomes, some of which are too extraordinary for me to even type out but I'd like to share one in particular.  Though my posts are comprised mostly of my ideas, I try to be as open as possible to all alleys of thought but I forewarn you that this theory is based on my belief that Red John is Bret Stiles as well as ties in Haffner and the motive behind his obvious hatred towards Jane.  Suppose Stiles is Red John, he certainly would have found himself by the time of Red John's first murders and empowered decided to begin Visualize shortly after, using his mentalist techniques to convert the masses.  Yet after his first partner killing with Tanner and the events following in which his partner was ready to turn on Stiles and rat him out he realized he could use the same savvy in which he created Visualize to create a network inside all types of law enforcement ensuring that even with the death of an inside man he would always maintain access to the information he needed to thwart the law.  He knew he would need someone already on the inside to begin the movement as well as a trusted face that wasn't easily connected to Visualize as it was seen as a religious cult that may shy away the exacted people he needed.  Enter Ray Haffner, a seasoned FBI agent already known to Stiles through Visualize but not seen as the manipulative master of the religion.  Haffner would be the face of Red John on the outside, his second hand man that would execute the tasks needed to get this new syndicate up and running.  However, while Stiles trusted Haffner and possibly sent him to people like Sophie to gather intel he was not cunning and wore his emotions on his sleeve which was not a suitable trait for a protégée.  Stiles had always had a fascination with Jane, possibly even before he spoke out on national television about Red John and he decided Patrick would be the perfect person to become the next leader of the group.  While Haffner admired his mentor, he felt unappreciated by him.  After all Haffner had done it was his right to take over, he should be given the keys to the kingdom, not Jane.  Thus Haffner began to hate everything about Patrick, his stupid tricks, the fact Visualize members were forced to study him, everything, and this showed.  Though Haffner did what he could to ruin Patrick, attempt to take Lisbon away from the CBI, warn her about Jane, anything.  He ultimately continued to do the work Stiles implored of him, silently building up his resentment.  Where this story ends, I'm not sure as I don't even really think this is the direction the show will go but I do have a plausible endgame in mind.  Haffner follows Stiles' plan to kidnap Jane at the summit of suspects as he knows the other three will go along as he recruited them into the Tyger-Tyger syndicate in the first place.  However, when they return to the lair while Stiles is attempting to convince Jane to be his predecessor, his final act before death, perhaps Haffner will pull a gun on Jane, express his feelings to Stiles about taking over as clearly Jane isn't interested and maybe even try to kill Patrick as he now knows to much or just because he hates him and wants to get rid of him.  Of course the rest of the CBI team will rush in at this point and save Jane, or Jane will devise some trick to buy himself time or the chance to escape.  Anyhow, I just thought I'd put that out there and I wonder after previewing the next episode, if they will even catch Red John in this week's episode as he seems to continue to have the ability to evade the CBI.

Thanks for reading and I apologize as I had less time to write this up and organize my thoughts than usual!  As always, I would love to hear what you think so please feel free to comment below.  I look forward to seeing how everything turns out, if Red John is who I think or even one of the final five suspects at all and whether Patrick will catch him, he will catch Patrick and whether they are intent on destroying each other or becoming friends in the end.  Check out The Mentalist Sunday nights on CBS and check back here for more television theories, thoughts and reviews!  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Mentalist: Red John Revealed

The Mentalist is your basic crime drama with weekly cases that are solved within the episode and very little glue holding the show together, meaning it's easy to miss a week and still understand the story.  However, the biggest mystery of all is what or rather who caused lead character Patrick Jane to land at the CBI and why.  The answer is the one underlying story within all six seasons, the infamous Red John.  We have watched Patrick chase this nefarious serial killer for years now, gathering bits of information along the way and finally narrowing down the list to seven suspects with the promise of uncovering Red John's identity this season.  Before I jump into the suspects and why or why not I believe they could be this illusive criminal mastermind, I'd like to first go over the basics regarding what we know about Red John, his personality traits as well as his resources that help to shed light on his identity. 


 1. What is the Hero vs. Villain complex? and How can it help identify Red John? 

  • The thing I look for most in the search for Red John is something I learned growing up about the similarities between the hero and the villain in most stories.  While not always the case, we know due to Red John's methods and Lorelei's statement that the two are almost like peas in a pod and as Lorelei puts it "you and him are just alike, so much manipulation.  I'm surprised you didn't become great friends the moment you shook hands".  The philosophy is that in most hero stories the villain shares much in common with the protagonist but at some point in each of their lives a traumatic event or a life-affirming realization causes them to fracture, each choosing a different path.  This relationship is in my mind best portrayed in M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable starring Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis.  The story revolves around Jacksons' brittle character nicknamed "Mr. Glass", due the ease in which his bones break, who sets forth causing huge accidents killing thousands in search of his opposite: a man who doesn't break but is rather strong, resistant and never sick.  Finally one of Mr. Glass' tragedies results in the death of every man, woman and child on a train except one man, Willis' character David, who emerges from the crash unscathed.  He proceeds to get to know David by questioning him, encouraging him to test his powers of perception and strength until David actually uses them to save two children.  However, in the emotional ending when David realizes Mr. Glass caused these huge acts of terror Jackson exclaims "In a comic, you know how you can tell who the arch-villain is going to be? He's the exact opposite of the hero! and most of the time they're friends; like you and me.".  Now how does this relate to The Mentalist's Patrick and Red John?  We see the same type of symmetry with the two.  Both Jane and Red John are witty and cunning, they are able to manipulate and mislead people and they both possess the ability to maintain large groups of followers.  In addition, there is the similarity in Lorelei's comment about the two becoming friends.  Just as Mr. Glass helped David to do good, we also have the fact that by killing Jane's family Red John changed Patrick's course in life from a scam artist to someone who helps people.  I didn't use the word symmetry by accident which brings me to my next point.
  • We know Red John has an affinity to William Blake's Tyger poem.  The first verse which is recited multiple times on the show reads: Tyger! Tyger! burning bright/ In the forests of the night/ What immortal hand or eye/ Could frame thy fearful symmetry?  I take this as a reference to the similarities between Patrick Jane and Red John focusing on the last line "frame thy fearful symmetry".  It is almost as if the two are symmetrical figures of one another, like looking into a mirror the same but also opposites.  We know that Patrick used to use his talents to appear as a god-like figure who had the ability to communicate with loved ones who had passed away.  Red John also uses this skill set to become a kind of messiah to his followers, likely attributing his clairvoyance as a sign that his word is somewhat holy as is his cause and philosophy.  It is very possible that he himself believes what he preaches to his disciples: a skewed view on reality.

2. What are some of the known Red John characteristics to look for?

  • Red John is highly intelligent and like Patrick able to pick up on the smallest hints.  This trait is one of the aspects that has allowed him to always stay a step ahead of the authorities.
  • He is narcissistic.  Red John feels the need to parade his superiority, such as contacting Patrick to let him know that he didn't have an advantage with the list of suspects, as Red John already knew, as well as using the GPS tracking against them.  In addition he has a flare for the dramatic with his cryptic literary message and marking each of his kills.  He despises others who attempt to copycat his crimes as they are not worthy of marking their kills with his trademark smiley face.
  • We know that he is able to manipulate others and not in the showman's way of predicting what card they will choose.  His followers dedicate their lives to his cause willing to kill and die for him.
  • Jane refers to Red John's followers as disciples, this furthers my thinking that he is narcissistic with a skewed view of reality and possibly even believes that he is doing the work of a god or  higher power.  His followers also act like this as they see him as a messiah.
  • On that note, Red John also has influence over the people his disciples kill.  I think this represents a kind of psychotic therapy by convincing either first time murderers or veteran killers he's picked up to kill a certain person or a certain type of person (like how he persuades Todd Johnson to target cops) as that will help them in their struggles.  Like penance in a church, this is what they must do to release their anger.  This may also connect back to Visualize as they work on techniques to let go of rage or negative emotions.  Red John may be picking all or some of his disciples from Visualize, the ones he recognizes as murderers or who are broken enough that if he mentors them he can turn them into killers.  I believe that at times he may convince certain followers to kill a specific person that will not only help Red John in some way but provide a cathartic release to the disciple. 
  • While we assume that he is powerful or holds an office that allows him to carry some kind of authority, much of his power may come from high-ranking friends who do favors for him or his disciples unaware that they are even helping Red John.  One example is Alexa Shultz who was given updates on the Red John case at the request of Robert Kirkland.  While Kirkland may be Red John or simply a follower, Alexa may not have known she was helping the serial killer and was simply granting a favor for the Department of Homeland Security.  These connected friends or disciples may help Red John obtain the information he needs i.e. he doesn't need to be in the CBI if he has moles within the organization or as I have seen written in various forums that Red John has hacked the CBI mainframe undetected which is not necessarily true as someone inside may have gathered the information for him.
  • He doesn't like to be profiled.  When anyone attempts to claim to understand him he punishes them by death.  The exception is Jane.  I believe he made this exception because he feels Jane is too valuable for death which I go into more in the next section.
  • In the first season finale Jane and Lisbon were getting close as they had discovered Red John's alias, Roy Tagliafaro, as well as Dumar Tanner the son of Red John's first accomplice working under a false name as a Sheriff.  It appeared Red John and Dumar were luring Jane into a trap and Dumar claimed that Red John wanted Jane and that he had plans for him.  In the episode we saw who is perceived to be Red John watching the scene unfold from upstairs via a security monitor calm, drinking a cup of tea.  While Red John and Dumar's plan appeared to have been working, with no obvious tells that Lisbon and Jane were in fact on to the duo attempting to capture Red John, the illusive serial killer still seemed to be a step ahead.  Red John showed patience, restraint and foresight as he never intended on showing his face to Patrick hence the camera feed and he had an escape plan ready as even with the swarm of police and Lisbon interrupting them somehow Red John still managed to evade capture.  I think this gives us a huge insight into his character, similar to Jane's mannerisms he sips tea calmly surveying the situation indicating he is refined and not impulsive as every move is carefully planned and thought through showing he uses his followers to not only collect information before he plans out his moves but also puts them in danger keeping himself removed from the situation.  This is also the case with Lorelei as he uses her to approach Jane.  This fact makes me wonder if Red John could be someone well-known to Jane such as Bertram or Haffner as he appears to keep his distance operating as the one pulling the strings never to be seen by his audience.  On the other hand, Red John's fascination with Jane may have got the better of him, either wanting to study his techniques up close which points in the direction of Bret Stiles or unable to avoid coming face-to-face with the team such as Sheriff McAlister.  Their story plays out like a large chess game, with Red John dangling his queen in front of Jane and while Lisbon doesn't have the foresight the two men possess, often running into the pre-laid trap, Jane like his nemesis, has the ability to see it as the elaborate ruse it is. 

3. Why has Red John developed such a connection with Jane?

  • I believe that the hero vs. villain complex connects to Red John's fascination with Jane.  Red John is easily able to manipulate many people but I believe he sees Jane as a unique challenge.  As Moriarty is to Sherlock Holmes, Red John is to Jane; a worthy adversary and if he is able to convert Jane that would be the ultimate achievement.  I think we see this first when Red John murders Jane's family rather than Jane himself after Patrick appeared on television claiming to understand Red John.  Before this Patrick was nothing more than a conman, by killing Jane's loved ones Red John in essence altered Patrick's course in life, he became a better person, helping law enforcement rather than scamming people out of their money.  I think Red John may use this to show Patrick how he really helped him to find a worthy path thus manipulating him into joining Red John's cause.  It's possible that Red John doesn't see himself as a villain but as a savior which is why his followers so easily view him as a messiah.  He has reached out to Jane in the past and when it was clear Jane wasn't ready Red John took a step back.  Now with only six suspects remaining Red John knows it's time for his endgame with his final goal to either force Patrick to see things from his perspective or show his dominance by ultimately killing Patrick, Lisbon or the whole team.

4. What does Sophie's evaluation of Red John tell us?

  • He complains of severe acrophobia.  While Lisbon and Jane take this to be a clue as to Red John's identity paying very close attention to Sheriff McAllister's avoidance of heights, as it was something Red John told Sophie it may or may not be true.  He needed a reason to visit the shrink and just as his name was fake, this could be a faux complaint to get him in the door.  Even Sophie notes that while she believes he fears something it may or may not be heights.  This is the type of clue you must take with a grain of salt, it may be an accurate characteristic of Red John or it may be nothing more than subterfuge.
  • He has no living family but many friends.  I think that this is a big clue into Red John's psyche as he has killed both Jane's family and Lorelei's sister.  He may view having loved ones as a weakness and feels it is necessary to cut ties.  This is common in many cults, to separate yourself from friends and family outside the group, however in Red John's philosophy this means death.  While Lisbon and Jane are just friends, when Red John offers his friendship to Patrick he asks Jane to murder her to prove he is committed.  Though Red John has many friends, he has proved that when necessary he will kill them without a second thought making them useful allies but at the same time completely dispensable.
  • He is a good whistler.  This is a clue that has only been identified with Ray Haffner as we have not had the opportunity to hear the others' whistling skills.
  • His self-presentation is pleasant but there are hints in his behavior of a damaged and narcissistic personality.  As far as this goes, it could really be any of the men as a psychiatrist may pick up on small ticks not obvious to the layman.  However, I think that Bret Stiles, Gale Bertram and Robert Kirkland all show this type of mentality, a false sense of calm while it's clear other feelings are brewing inside.
  • He says he deals with conflict and adversary easily, but Sophie is not convinced about this.  Bertram does seem to deal with issues well however, as a politician this may simply be a face he puts on.  Stiles also doesn't seem to be bothered by conflict as when accused of multiple crimes he portrays a serene sense rather than scrambling to clear his name.  Kirkland, Haffner, Partridge and McAllister clearly show their dismay and anger on the outside lowering my suspicions of them.  
With all of that history and Red John psychology out of the way, let's jump right into the suspects, their traits and why or why not they may be The Mentalist's greatest villain the elusive Red John.

Let's begin with Bret Stiles, head of Visualize, a massive self-realization center with thousands of members that has a cult-like mentality.  When Stiles first appeared, I turned to my husband and said "that's Red John".  My reasoning was simple, he fit the heroes vs. villains theory to a tee, along with possessing all of the qualities known to Red John.  Stiles is intelligent, patient and has been able to use similar techniques as Jane to convert masses of people who will do anything for him as we have seen with Red John.  In addition, Visualize has members in all forms of government and law enforcement agencies as well as vast amounts of money allowing for Red John to build his network of disciples and moles.  Stiles also plays like a politician with close friends in high places all qualities that would be useful to Red John.  Along these lines Stiles began as a kind of nemesis to Patrick as he uses Jane's old forms of manipulation to convert people to Visualize as well as receive large donations from his benefactors, but over the years Stiles and Jane have become closer as Jane occasionally confides in Stiles as his view of the man changed (once claiming he wouldn't hurt a fly) and reached out to him for help in breaking Lorelei out of prison.  If Stiles is Red John, it plays out as almost a long con in which he has slowly begun to convert Jane into recognizing he's not the monster Jane first viewed him as.  However, Visualize's mantra to control rage or negative emotions may provide more backing for my theory or blow it apart.  Here's why: killing multiple people seems like it stems from negative emotions however, Red John is a patient killer and part of his philosophy may be a skewed version of right versus wrong.  He may view what he is doing as somehow righting wrongs committed against himself or his disciples, such as slaying false prophets and copycat killers.
While Bret Stiles is the head and founder of Visualize, I don't believe the cult is synonymous with Red John followers.  More likely is the idea that Visualize provides Red John access to a vast amount of vulnerable people whom he can pluck members who are either useful to him or are easy converts for his ways.  An example of this is Lorelei, who Patrick says that by murdering her sister Red John made her a victim thus more susceptible to his philosophy in which she easily adapted his ways.  On the topic of Lorelei, we know that Red John wanted her and Jane to connect as he sent her to aid Jane and attempt to convert him.  The fact that Stiles' is the one who ultimately helped Jane reconnect with Lorelei by aiding in her escape from prison is highly suspicious in my opinion.  While one could argue that she was no longer under Red John's control at that point I have my doubts as if Patrick was able to locate her Red John surely could have found her as well with his network of inside people and kill her as Jane predicted.  The fact that he didn't leads me to believe that until her discovery that Red John may have killed her sister and she went rogue, she was still working for the manipulative killer and Bret Stiles involvement gives further traction to the idea that he is in fact Red John.  In addition, after Lorelei and Jane parted ways Red John had no problem locating her when neither Jane nor the police could and ultimately killed her giving further proof of his abilities to locate someone when he pleases.  I believe that it was not by any magic that Red John was able to deduce the list of suspects Jane had narrowed down, but rather by intensive questioning to uncover what exactly Lorelei had told Jane thus producing the same seven suspects.  The only dilemma I face now is that Stiles seems much too obvious of a choice and after searching for Red John for seven seasons and I believe the writers want it to be a huge surprise.  Nevertheless, Stiles has the power, the money, the devoted followers and the personality to be Jane's biggest nemesis and remains a plausible suspect as the elusive Red John.

We know that Brett Partridge isn't the nefarious killer as he was murdered this season in a Red John plot to draw out Lisbon and boast his superiority to Jane once again by showing him that the team wouldn't be able to trick him while simultaneously proving that he could hurt the person closest to Jane as he did to Patrick's wife and daughter so many years ago.  Partridge was a CBI forensic analysis that we have seen Jane bump heads with many times.  While it seems from my research that he was a favorite amongst viewers as Red John, I never shared this opinion as he had little respect for Jane's tactics and we know that Red John is not only similar to Jane but uses the same type of "mentalist" tricks to sway followers to his cause.  Partridge was the crime scene tech that disagreed when Jane instantly called out a copycat-killing in Red John's name.  To me this showed that he wasn't nearly as observant as Jane and I never would have thought he'd make it to the final list.  This happened again in a case where Partridge claimed spontaneous combustion was the cause of death whereas Jane recognized it as a murder instantly noting the two glasses on the table implying the victim had a guest.  Partridge always seemed antagonistic towards Jane, not at all manipulative and often far behind against Jane's skills not at all like the master serial-killer who could have become great friends with Jane the moment they shook hands.  As we now know Partridge isn't Red John, I'd like to make a few comments regarding his death and what it means.
As soon as Lisbon began a trace on the seven suspects' phones Jane predicted Red John would not only know but use this knowledge to trick the team.  When a distress call came in with Partridge's phone at the same location Lisbon rushed to find out what was going on.  Earlier in the episode the team had had a falling out with Sacramento PD and I believe Red John knew this thus when Lisbon called for backup they would not rush to her aid giving him time to complete his plan as well anticipating Lisbon's curiosity would get the best of her and she would come to check it out.  All this knowledge confirms Red John has a good deal of connections and likely multiple followers inside each branch of law enforcement updating him with everything going on with Jane and his team.  I feel like Partridge was the low-hanging fruit, the least plausible suspect thus killing him gave Red John the ability to make his point while at the same time not giving away his identity.  Back when he reached out a hand to Jane and via Lorelei invited Jane to be his friend Red John insisted Patrick kill Lisbon as a gesture of good faith.  This shows me a pattern as Red John also killed Lorelei's sister which Jane explained was Red John's way of making her a victim that Red John could then rescue.  The same was true for Jane, instead of murdering him as Red John has done to others who claim to know him or copycat his work, he murdered his family making Jane a victim as well as changing the course of his life from conman to do-gooder.  In this episode Red John didn't murder Lisbon but rather marked his presence with his smiley-face signature atop Lisbon's face.  I believe that there are two reasons that could explain why he did this.  The first is that Red John has developed feelings or cares for Lisbon, which points to a few select suspects on the list.  The second is that part of Red John's philosophy requires you give up your earthy ties, similar to love being a weakness rather than a strength.  As when Red John first liberated Patrick and changed the course of his life, he did him a favor as Red John saw high potential in him, but now Patrick has become close to Lisbon making her a weakness and for Patrick to overcome his vengeance towards Red John and transform that rage into potential it must be Patrick who kills her.  However at the same time Red John wanted to show Patrick that the past could in fact happen again and he had the chance to kill the person Jane cares about the most, but did not proving his superiority, that he still had the power to hurt Jane, while simultaneously showing mercy by refraining.      

Gale Bertram has been the head of the CBI and Lisbon's supervisor for some time now.  When first introduced as well as throughout his time on The Mentalist I have viewed him as a dopey, clueless leader.  However, he is a bureaucrat and a politician meaning that he must possess skills in manipulation as well as the ability to maintain a good poker face to have kept the position for so long.  While I never saw him as a plausible suspect as Red John, especially after he was cleared in the season three finale, the idea of the elusive mastermind and Bertram being one makes me consider the possibility of a completely different ending to Jane and Red John's journey.  Rather than the idea of Red John attempting to convert Patrick to his philosophy as a friend, if it is in fact Bertram I could easily picture him morphing into a genuinely psychopathic villain with his asinine simile transforming like the Cheshire cat into a truly evil figure.  Bertram was thought to be one of Red John's moles previously when Hightower was framed and wanted by the CBI.  Jane informed the CBI that he knew where she was and would get her to come in and give a statement but purposely leaked her fake whereabouts to the suspects in a ruse and gave them each a different floor of a hotel so when Red John's assassin came to murder Hightower they would be able to identify the mole depending on which floor they entered.  As Bertram was one of the suspects, but cleared as the mole, if he is in fact Red John, he would have easily caught onto Jane's scheme as the hotel room leaked to him differed from the room given to Red John's mole.  By having the assassin enter Bertram's room and scale down to the actual moles room, Red John may very well have been playing a psychological game with Jane.  There are a few other Red John hints surrounding Bertram for example, he insisted that Jane continue to consult for the CBI even when the rest of the team was disbanded and Lisbon was fired, possibly wanting him to stay close in order to monitor any traction he made in the Red John case.  Another strange clue was Bertram awkwardly quoting William Blake in a scene, the same author as the Tyger poem.  This could merely be a coincidence as love of literature stretches across the population and isn't a trait only shared by murders.  On the other hand, Bertram has shown many traits opposite Red John such as the ability to be gracefully defeated when outsmarted in the past as Lisbon used the media to force Bertram's hand on one occasion and Jane used the cover-up Bertram created in cahoots with Alexa Shultz to threaten Bertram into attempting to keep Lorelei in CBI custody.  Red John is narcissistic and doesn't seem like the type to bow out when beat, so I see these actions as clues that Bertram is in fact not Red John.  Although Bertram does have ties to Alexa Shultz, an FBI agent whom early on asked Bertram's predecessor Virgil Minelli to keep her informed on the CBI's progress with the Red John case, it seems as if any head of the CBI would.  If Bertram is Red John his connection to Shultz may imply that she is one of his followers or friends and prior to having a high post in the CBI where he has the power to monitor the case himself he needed the then CBI head to keep him informed on the case.  Overall, Bertram seems more interested in maintaining his image and climbing the political ladder and has allowed Jane to manipulate him due to this.  He doesn't appear to be very witty and certainly not two steps ahead at every turn.  Bertram's position gives him power and the ability to make connections with other high ranking government officials meaning he can ask them for favors without revealing himself as Red John or necessarily converting them to his followers.  While he doesn't have the qualities that Red John seems to possess, he isn't charismatic nor does he appear to have similar traits as Jane, I still could imagine him as the nefarious murder which doesn't sit well with me.  As I mentioned before, if Gale Bertram is Red John I imagine chaos and possibly death or near death experiences to hit the team as he wouldn't be the friendly nemesis who wants Jane to convert to his side but rather an evil mastermind who plans on blowing the team apart.    

Ray Haffner was a former FBI agent working in the Organized Crime division who became Jane's supervisor at the CBI after Lisbon and her team were disbanded.  While Jane easily manipulated Ray and his team, Haffner did show some intelligence while attempting to keep Jane in check but ultimately failed as Patrick was able to get the former gang back together, thus it seems unlikely that this is the criminal mastermind we are searching for.  However, there is the possibility that Red John in fact wanted Lisbon and Jane working together casting the slightest bit of doubt that if Haffner is in fact Red John he failed on purpose.  Haffner then left the CBI and started up his own private security firm which he attempted to recruit Lisbon to as well which seems to blow apart the idea that if he is Red John that he wanted her to work with Jane.  Yet, at the same time this may have been a test that could have served two purposes.  First to see how strong the bond between Lisbon and Jane was as Haffner offered her a position with more money and power yet she refused.  Or second, as I spoke of above in Brett Partridge's section Red John may have developed feelings for Lisbon and if Haffner is Red John this could be him acting on those feelings or even attempting to see if he could separate Lisbon from Patrick without it resulting in her death as whether or not Red John has feelings for Lisbon it seems clear Haffner has grown fond of her.  If he is the infamous Red John, the security firm would give him the freedom he needed to continue his work as he had already created a vast network of moles and friends planted inside the CBI, FBI and other law enforcement and government agencies, similar to Bret Stiles' trip to set up another Visualize camp in Jakarta that seems to coincide with Red John's hiatus.  On the topic of Stiles, Haffner is a self-proclaimed member of Visualize.  This could mean three things; either he is easily manipulated meaning he's not Red John or rather that Haffner uses the Visualize network that contains vast amounts of people who can be influenced into crossing over into Red John disciples.  The third option is possibly both.  Haffner says that he joined Visualize when he was a teenager going through issues, he may have been more susceptible to the cult then and has learned and adopted their techniques to become Red John.  While at the FBI Haffner specialized in wiretaps and surveillance an asset that would immensely help Red John whether Haffner is the omniscient serial killer or perhaps one of his disciples.  Although Red John seems fixed on Jane, Haffner appears to have no tolerance for Jane's nonsense and is much more interested in agent Lisbon.  As I hypothesized above, this may be a clue as Red John did not kill Lisbon when he had the chance, perhaps because, like Haffner, he has grown fond of her or simply because Red John and Haffner are the same.  However, his interest in Lisbon may be a means to an end as she has become the person Jane is closet to after the murder of his family thus by becoming close to her he also has a foothold on someone Jane holds dear able to reek the most havoc on Jane's life.  He is also a good whistler as Sophie pointed out in her description of Red John.  Haffner's temper in addition to his total impatience and dislike of Patrick sway me away from the idea that he is in fact Red John.  Overall, I still don't believe that Haffner is cunning, manipulative, patient or connected enough to be the mysterious mastermind behind it all, but I'm not ruling him out. 

Reede Smith is another member of law enforcement working for the FBI out of California.  He only appears in one episode prior to this season making it difficult to assess his personality.  While many have noticed that the letters in his name can be rearranged to spell out "the red is me", I don't think this is really any kind of damning evidence.  As we have seen before in companies owned by Red John or with aliases he often likes to play around with anagrams and word meanings like this, however I highly doubt his true identity would contain a play on words unless he changed his birth-given name.  On that topic, the FBI does extensive background checks and a change of name would likely send up a red flag, pardon the pun, making it difficult for him to become an agent.  The importance of Smith being in the season five premiere episode is that it focuses on the struggle for custody of Lorelei Martins between the CBI and FBI.  However, as I have stated before Red John wanted Lorelei and Jane to get together and while Jane is sure Red John will kill her if she is in FBI custody he doesn't leaning me towards the idea that he still viewed her as an asset because if Jane was able to locate her within the FBI system, surely Red John with all of his resources and FBI friends would have been able to as well.  Overall, Reede doesn't seem to fit the criteria for Red John in anyway, he isn't particularly witty, manipulative or any match against Jane's methods.  He holds a low level post at the FBI which means he doesn't possess much power or the ability to make connections with high ranking members of other agencies.  If Reede Smith is involved with Red John, it would likely be as one of his friends in the FBI but not the mysterious murderer himself.   

Robert Kirkland works for the Department of Homeland Security and is known to be Friends with FBI agent Alexa Shultz as well as connections within other agencies, likely because when someone shows up saying the DHS is interested they comply.  His ongoing interest in Red John along with his mystique make him a probable candidate for the illustrious serial killer but I think he might have ulterior motives driving him.  Kirkland is first introduced in the 100th episode a flash-back episode showing how Jane first became involved with the CBI and began his investigation in Red John via the CBI's files.  It was a small tidbit occurring at the end of the episode when Agent Shultz spoke with the then head of the CBI Virgil Minelli and asked for an update on the Red John case.  Following her conversation she tells Kirkland that it's "done" meaning she will be getting updates on the case from the CBI in which he replies "Thank You".  To me it seems as if they both may be Red John-devotees as with Kirkland's position in the DHS he could have easily made the call as he has since played the same card and weaseled his way into investigations.  On the other hand, Kirkland could be Red John but not ready to introduce himself to the CBI so early in the game.  Shultz also informs Minelli that his new consultant Patrick Jane has been in an insane asylum the past year, planting a seed of uncertainty to Jane's new boss.  Shultz seemed much more manipulative than Kirkland in the episode however, Kirkland was using her like a pawn as we know Red John frequently does.  What concerns me most about Kirkland is that he seems much more interested in Lorelei Martins than Red John.  He inserts himself into the search for Lorelei after Bret Stiles aids in her release from prison.  As Red John sent Lorelei to Jane in the first place, it's a guessing game as to whether she is still under his control at that point.  While Jane thought Red John would have her killed, she managed to survive her prison term and if Jane was able to locate her it seems as if Red John with his vast network of friends and followers would've been able to find and kill her had that been his intention.  Instead Kirkland seems to be behind in the game and when Lorelei does go off grid in search of her sister's murderer and discovers John Lennon as a part of the conspiracy, Kirkland approaches Lennon in his hospital and asks Lennon if he recognizes him, Lennon denies but Kirkland injects air into his IV killing him all the same.  This all points to Kirkland being one of Red John's disciples, likely involved with Lorelei and her sister, who is attempting to cover his tracks as he doesn't want to be taken down with Red John.  While at first he helped the serial killer gain updates about the case, possibly because Red John knew Kirkland was involved with the death of Lorelei's sister, he always seems two steps behind Jane chasing Lorelei and tying up loose ends which tells me he is not the mastermind we seek.  In addition, when the two first encountered Jane asked "do I know you" and Kirkland replied "no, but I know you" which didn't seem like an introduction in which they'd instantly become friends but rather like a cop to a suspect as he had been following Jane and his work.  Kirkland carries an air of mystique making him a good candidate, he doesn't strike me as a master manipulator but simply a man with something to hide.

Sheriff McAllister is the suspect that baffles me the most.  He appears in one episode, prior to this season, as the credulous sheriff of Napa county who is perplexed by Jane's "clairvoyance" as Jane proceeds to beat him at rock, paper, scissors repeatedly.  He doesn't appear to have much influence outside of Napa county, he doesn't seem to have the capability to woe dozens of loyal followers nor are his wits anything close to what we would expect of Red John.  While this may be a ruse, as Red John could camouflage his superior intelligence when first coming face-to-face with Patrick, this sheriff doesn't possess any of the qualities of a high-functioning serial killer with a devout group of disciples.  Since we haven't seen very much of him, it's hard to obtain any further insight into his personality.  In an episode this season we saw him refuse to climb a ladder which adds suspicion for Jane and Lisbon as the psychiatrist's notes claimed who they believe to be Red John is acrophobic.  However, since they have narrowed down the suspects to six people the group has observed everyone with heightened suspicion so I don't put much stock into McAllister's refusal to ascend the ladder.  I wrote this before watching the entire episode and low and behold Sheriff McAllister proved he's not in fact acrophobic so I guess I'm on the right track!  Basically, the Sheriff doesn't seem to share traits with Patrick nor does he appear to possess much intellect or the ability to manipulate people as Red John has.  His position lends some power, but not much and I really cannot see how he could be the infamous serial killer.  There is a possibility, as with most names on the list, that he is a disciple of Red John but in all honesty he simply comes off as the banal sheriff and nothing more.

The suspects that stand out most to me are Bret Stiles and Gale Bertram, both men have ties to politics, possess power and are in the position to make high ranking friends within various agencies, Stiles is known to be a mass-manipulator while Bertram excels at spinning stories and covering-up mistakes in order to maintain his image.  However, the two men couldn't be more different as I stated before Stiles appears to be attempting to win Jane over while if Bertram is discovered to be Red John it would be a huge mark against the CBI whom he works effortlessly to maintain it's good name.  The other top suspects are Ray Haffner and Robert Kirkland as they both possess a bit of mystique as if they are hiding something, unfortunately neither man seems to have the wits to match Jane as Red John does.  On many of the tidbits above I mentioned that the suspects could be disciples or friends of Red John whether it be their interest in the case, their positions in law enforcement or their past acts or comments it appears they have some ulterior motives which is a great move by the writers as it gives them enough mystery to be a plausible suspect but not enough of Red John's characteristics to be the mastermind himself.  While I feel good about my knowledge of The Mentalist, this is all based on memories from the last five years.  Thus I will be going back and watching the episodes with the six suspects as well as all the pertinent Red John episodes and updating this post.  In addition, as we learn new clues from this season I will make the necessary adjustments so be sure to check back!  I'd love to hear your thoughts so feel free to comment below and I reply to all my comments so let's get a dialogue going!  Thanks for reading and I look forward to how the search for the infamous Red John continues.  Enjoy! 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Under the Dome: Blue on Blue

Under the Dome is a summer series on CBS based on science fiction writer Stephen King's book of the same name.  While I enjoy the show, I feel like there is a lot of drama, lies, betrayal, secrets, and very little science.  I wish they would add some more eerie events and fringe science explanations as the only one to date are the actual appearance of the dome and Joe and Norrie's seizures.  This episode could have been the perfect chance to show Outside the Dome and the various military and science theories that led to their actions.  Instead we are still trapped Under the Dome and very little happens.  While this week's Under the Dome was not my favorite, it did take us away from the normal storyline as people finally communicated with the outside and action was taken against the dome.  So let's jump into this weeks episode: "Blue on Blue" 
  • The town was pleased to see the arrival of huge buses of family members paying their first, prison-like, visit to Chester's Dome.  While the rudimentary communication through paper and pencil could have been produced in a better fashion it was the first bit of good news to hit the town.  They rushed to the site and reunited with their family and friends. 
  • Reverend Coggins continued his religious rebirth threatening Big Jim to come clean about his dealings in the drug business to the town.  He claimed he was hearing God speak only one word into his ear: Moab, a place in the Bible that was evil and corrupt.  This was a sign that if Chester's Mill is to be spared, they must confess their sins and ask for God's forgiveness.  
  • Joe discovered a large group of butterflies migrating to the dome's surface, attracted to its electric nature.  This showed their captor was interfering with nature's normal order as the butterflies shouldn't be around Chester's Mill at this time.  In addition Joe realized the dome was sending Norrie and him messages on the same frequency which explained why, when they touched or got too close, they received "feedback" which ignited a spark between them and sent them into their seizures.
  • Although the first order of business on visitor's day for Sherriff Linda, was to keep people from rushing up to the dome and touching it.  However, she instantly crossed her own police line and put her hand to her fiancé's setting a great example.  While their reunion began well, she had to inform him of the death of his brother Freddie, the police officer who was killed by a ricocheted bullet.  He apparently was quite upset leaving the area, and Linda, in what she thought to be the last moments of her life.
  • Some secrets came along with the dome's visitors, one being Norrie's father.  While she believed he was a sperm donor who could not be located, he showed up in this episode upsetting both Norrie, who found out her mothers had been lying to her, as well as Alice, who was infuriated he never wanted to be a part of Norrie's life until the cameras were rolling.
  • Julia's sister-in-law also made an appearance with a "Dear John" letter from Peter, claiming he was sorry and that Julia deserved better.  My only guess about this one was that he mailed it out before the materialization of the dome, expecting Barbie would kill him when he pointed a gun at him that was loaded with blanks.  Why he sent the letter to his sister rather than Julia is a mystery and the whole thing was a bit hinky to me.  Nevertheless Julia believes that her husband did in fact gamble away their money and take off, putting her suspicions about Barbie to rest for the time being.
  • Barbie was apparently part of a special military unit that is regarded as heroes and thus able to show his medallion and get information from the soldiers guarding the dome.  It was then that he discovered "Moab" was not a message from God but rather Coggins' hearing aid picking up a military frequency describing the "Mother Of All Bombs".  It became clear the visitation was meant as a goodbye for the town before they planned to hit the dome with a large missile in an attempt to destroy it and everything underneath. 
  • Once again the town all came together in a Kumbaya scene as they shared what they thought to be the last moments of their life.  Rather than fighting most made amends and helped prepare the underground shelter, their only hope of surviving the blast, while listening to Phil's end of the world music compilation.  Barbie came clean to Julia about his special unit and the fact that it was all a big cover-up and he had killed his own men, far from being a heroic in his eyes.  This honesty, atop the disappointment from Peter, was enough for her to forgive him and their hands embraced as they waited for their impending doom.
  • When Big Jim learned that Chester's Mill was in imminent danger, he released Angie claiming she should die a free woman.  Angie seemed to forgive Junior in the last minutes as she was finally free and they awaited their death in Juniors home rather than the shelter.  Joe and Norrie also shared an end of the world moment together and Linda was left alone at the site where her and her fiancé had once carved their names.
  • When the "MOAB" hit, not only did it not destroy Chester's Mill or our beloved characters, it didn't even scratch the surface of the dome.  Instead it left the area around it decimated, likely harming the surrounding nature more than the dome was.  Coggins saw this as a blessing for admitting his sins and continued his insistence on Big Jim coming clean to the town about their shady drug business.  However, Big Jim was determined to keep his secret and murdered Coggins by simply pressing his battery powered hearing aid, still attached to his head, against the dome instantly bursting it.
Overall this episode was a big disappointment for me.  I can't believe any viewer believed this bomb would actually destroy Chester's Mill as it would bring about the death of all the characters and the end of the show.  I felt it could have been produced much better and instead we watched exactly what was expected to happen.  Hopefully in the coming episodes there will be more conflict, more science and more secrets reveled.  Tune into Under the Dome Mondays on CBS and catch up here with new posts each week.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Under the Dome: Outbreak

The Stephen King summer supernatural thriller Under the Dome has kicked off and we are now deep in the lives of the trapped residents of Chester's Mill.  This week, it played out the most logical result of being confined, mass panic.  We saw a town not only struck by religious rants, desperation and helplessness but a far more imminent danger, an outbreak.  These conditions are putting a strain on our characters as we saw the only thing that spreads faster than any bacteria: fear.  Let's dive right in to the events of the newest episode "Outbreak" (I really have to say they aren't creative at all when it comes to these titles) and don't forget to check out the special * this week at the end of the post, a new idea that I think would really help tie things together!  Enjoy!

  • As soon as the dome appeared a military presence built up consisting of scientists conducting tests and soldiers providing barriers for the outside world.  However in this episode we saw them pack up and leave striking fear and hopelessness in Chester's Mill.  To add to the tumultuous events of confused and pessimistic residents lashing out at the fleeing soldiers by spray-painting "help us", "don't leave us", and throwing items, that of course only hit the dome, Reverend Coggins had a change of heart and rather than the doped up body-gatherer we had been introduced to in previous episodes, we saw a man who went back to God.  He riled up the townsfolk by shouting scripture and has begun to see the dome in a new light, as an omen from God.  As Linda was attempting to disperse the crowd at gunpoint, Big Jim stepped in to calm them down with words as opposed to force.  Linda fainted in his arms and it was clear, something was wrong. 
  • An outbreak hit Chester's Mill as various storylines collided.  They all rushed to the small town's clinic: Big Jim with Linda, Julia who had followed Barbie's map in an attempt to discover his secrets and found DJ Phil collapsed in possession of her husband's car, the two moms with their daughter Norrie and Joe who had both suffered a seizure, and many more.  With little supplies and the only doctor being Julia's missing husband Peter, Norrie's mom Alice, a psychiatrist, steps in and diagnoses an overwhelming number of cases of meningitis.  Low on medication Big Jim and Barbie head to the local drug store leaving Junior in charge with a shotgun placing the clinic on quarantine in an attempt to control the spread of the bacteria.  Jim and Barbie arrive at the pharmacy only to find the medication cleared out, but Jim has an idea of just who would have committed such an act.  Together they head to the Reverend's home where he is not using the medications for himself but rather burning the drugs claiming the outbreak is a sign from God and the people afflicted aren't meant to live.  Meanwhile at the clinic, Linda finds herself sharing a room with a former school teacher who gives her life by insisting the last dose of antibiotics go to her pupil Linda instead of herself.  Julia, determined to solve the mystery of her husband's disappearance interrogates a delirious Phil who informs her of a cabin.  Junior is over his head at first, desperately trying to keep the frantic group of people contained by firing a shotgun in the air.  He eventually takes a page out of his dad's book and gives a moving speech about trusting the townsfolk and leaves the door unguarded with the shotgun next to it persuading the mob to do what is best for the town and stay put.  The antibiotics are dispensed and once again a town crisis is averted.    
  • During the outbreak and quarantine, though also suffering from the illness, Julia was determined to locate her husband Peter.  After getting a few clues from a delirious Phil she tried to get through Junior.  Although he didn't allow her to leave, he did inform her of the location he and Barbie had their previous struggle.  She was able to sneak out a back exit, using Peter's clinic key card, and drove out to the isolated gambling hall.  There she found remnants of her husband including bank statements revealing he had drained all their bank accounts and their house was in foreclosure.  With the meningitis progressing, Julia passes out alone in the middle of nowhere.  When Barbie realizes she is gone he persuades Junior, who has no desire to help Barbie with anything, to give him his truck as Julia was able to escape under his watch.  Barbie finds the gravely ill Julia and is able to bring her back to the clinic thus saving her life.  However, Julia is not so grateful when she awakens and confronts Barbie about his myriad of lies.  He confesses to her his real occupation, as a bounty hunter or enforcer for a bookie, and plays her a voice message from Peter claiming he had the money and wanted to meet.  Of course Barbie doesn't admit that he met with Peter, who did not have the money but instead pulled a gun, and during their struggle ultimately killed him.  Instead he leaves Julia, the woman who opened her arms and home to him, devastated by implying that her husband not only took all of their money but ran off to avoid paying his debt.  Now lied to by both men in addition to being trapped and unable to even search for Peter, although it would be futile, Julia tells Barbie to get out of her home by the time she returns. 
  • After Joe and Norrie's tests came back normal and unaffected by the illness, they passed the time by hanging out and becoming closer to one another.  Norrie brought up the fact that their latest seizure was brought on when they touched and decided to conduct an experiment.  By lining up her cell phone camera to record any events, they stood face to face and brought their hands together hoping to trigger something.  Right when they were about to give up an electric shock sparked between their hands and they both fell to the floor and began shaking violently while repeating the same phrase, "pink stars are falling in lines".  When the episode finished, they reviewed their video and saw an unaware Joe motioning to the camera by putting one finger up to his mouth.  Not remembering the event, they concluded that he was indicating they should keep silent about their findings, so only they know how to trigger the seizures and this may hold a vital clue of the dome. 
  • Amidst the town's own medical crisis, Angie still captive in the underground shelter, creates her own life or death situation.  After an unsuccessful attack on Junior with scissors, and having her own stir-crazy episode, she tries to call for help through a vent and pulls violently on a pipe causing it to burst, the massive stream of water threw her off the bunk and onto the concrete floor leaving her unconscious.  As the water filled the small bunker, eventually waking Angie up, she tried various ways to fix the situation but ultimately failed.  It wasn't until Big Jim returned home after his hectic day and followed the noise to uncover his son's creepy little secret.  Although I believe Big Jim will help Angie by stopping the flow of water, getting her dry and possibly attending to her head wound, I think that he will realize the implications of his son's hostage on not only Junior but himself and with his self-serving megalomaniac personality refrain from letting Angie loose.
  • After witnessing Junior's efforts at the clinic and his ability to keep the order in the town as well as Linda's own experience with her former teacher's comments regarding how much both Junior and Linda had grown from their younger years; Linda in need of new deputies offers Junior the job.  I believe that she is trying to mimic what her mentor Duke did by taking Junior under her wing to help give him a better future, obviously not aware of his sociopathic tendencies or his hostage.  This presents a grim future for Chester's Mill as Junior now holds a badge and power making him even more dangerous than before.
  • *On another note, we saw in next week's preview that the military is planning on blowing up the dome.  While I don't understand this for a plethora of reasons, the main one being: if the dome isn't presenting a big problem for the outside world as they could divert traffic around the small area why take the drastic measure of firing a missile at it, likely killing everyone inside?  In addition if a bullet bounces off the interior of the dome, and from what we know scientists haven't uncovered much about its nature, doesn't it pose the risk of harming the outside world if the missile fails?  So I propose an episode entitled Outside the Dome where we are taken into the pentagon and shown the planning by the Department of Defense or possibly the Department of the Interior with military, environmental and scientific specialists explaining the outcomes of their tests, their theories, the risks the dome poses for the rest of the world and their strategies on how to approach the problem.  I think it would be interesting and veer away from the dramatic storyline approach the show has taken so far and more into the "sci" of this television series.  Since thus far we have learned little about the dome's composition and only the effects it's had on the inside, Outside the Dome would be a fresh breath (literally) and give the viewer clues as to what it is and why they have chosen to destroy it.
Although Under the Dome is based on the emperor of all science fiction, Stephen King, the series deals primarily with the drama revolving around the lives of its captors rather than the science of its composition.  I think for a major network to produce it, this is a good choice as it has the potential to draw in a much bigger audience.  However, it does leave me wanting more aliens and unexplained events similar to shows like Fringe or Haven.  That being said, it keeps me interested and entertained, week after week, and I have become invested in the characters like any good drama should do.  I look forward to what will come next and will be back with an all new review and recap with each coming episode; so tune in to CBS Mondays and check back here for everything happening Under the Dome