• Brittany Brinegar

There's No Such Thing as Psychics

The Mentalist (2008-2015) follows a former psychic and admitted fake, Patrick Jane as he helps the CBI solve murders and chase notorious serial killer "Red John", the man who killed his wife and daughter. Jane puts his keen observations skills to the test and solves crimes through magician like trickery



𝐉𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐩𝐞𝐫 𝐓𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫: I don't understand. You're psychic?

𝐏𝐚𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐤 𝐉𝐚𝐧𝐞: No, just paying attention. I used to make a good living pretending to be a psychic. I tell you this because I want you to understand there's no point hiding things from me.


I watched the Mentalist for the first time only a few years ago and I was hooked in the opening minutes. How did I miss this show when it was first on? It had everything I love in a mystery – including funny, intriguing characters. Today I’m going to talk about the very first episode - The Pilot.


The pilot is a fantastic example of how to open a television show. In the first few minutes, we learn exactly who Patrick Jane is. He's not the traditional police consultant, he ignores the rules and doesn't worry about pushing people's buttons. In fact, he thrives on irritating people.


The episode opens at a crime scene with the arrival of Jane and Agent Teressa Lisbon. A missing girl was found dead, and the local police place the neighbor in custody. The parents are giving a press conference and the case is all but closed. But the details don't sit right with the resident mentalist.


He’s working a case but not in the same way as the other cops on the scene. He's bored by the action outside and he decides to explore the murder victim’s house. He puts a kettle on the stove and makes a sandwich. And notices every detail.


The mother of the young victim, Mrs. Tolliver, discovers him in their kitchen and they chat over a cup of tea. He uncovers things others didn’t and chips away at the truth. Could her husband have killed their child? Spoiler alert, the scene ends with the woman shooting her husband and Patrick suspended.


Seven minutes into the episode and I'm prepared to binge the series. I watch a lot of mystery TV shows but talk about different! And it kept getting better.

Agent Lisbon allows Jane to return early from his suspension because they caught a case fitting the Red John M.O., the serial killer who murdered his wife and child. We are already invested in the lead character. We understand what makes him tick and are intrigued by his unique style. And now we meet the rest of the CBI team.


A great storytelling device they use is that although the team has already been working together for a while, they get a new member in Grace Van Pelt. Her character, in a way, represents the audience. She’s learning about her coworkers as we are. It gives us background on the CBI without an info dump.


Right away, Jane notices inconsistencies at the crime scene and announces the murder is the work of a copycat, not Red John. He zeroes in on the suspect early and spends the rest of the episode being a tricky pest.


Everything he does from then on is a set-up to trap the killer. He plants seeds in the suspect's head about a mysterious journal the victim kept. Meanwhile, Jane is fabricating a journal with fake information. And in true Mentalist fashion, the killer is caught with a ruse.


𝐏𝐚𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐤 𝐉𝐚𝐧𝐞: You really think I would set you up so nicely and let you pull a loaded gun on me?... I took the bullets out earlier.


The Pilot introduced interesting characters, teased a potential romance, and hinted at an overarching mystery. And most importantly, it was funny...


Well maybe humor isn't the first thing you look for in a police procedural, but I think it is vital to the formula. You can only watch so many shows about murder and the good ones know how to balance a puzzling mystery with funny, quirky characters.


The Mentalist came out of the gate strong.

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