The Mentalist

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Patrick Jane lying down in his bedroom with the Red John symbol above him.

Season 2, Episode 23

In the episode titled “Red Sky in the Morning” (Season 2, Episode 23) we can see a few small changes in the character of Patrick Jane. Through the use of symbols, mise en scene and character we can see how the character of Patrick Jane has been presented through the TV drama series, The Mentalist. In this particular episode, the lighting is quite dark, with little natural light. At the very end of this episode we see Patrick Jane get kidnapped by 2 film students and someone they have employed to torture Patrick. “Red John” comes to the rescue, shooting the three kidnappers. The lighting in this scene is dark and gloomy with a few candles lit to give it a scary effect. Other scenes in this episode include a candle lit dinner and a few outside investigation scenes. The outdoor scenes are naturally lit, giving it a more real feel, whereas the candle lit dinner is some what romantic, but also doesn’t feel quite right. The lighting at the dinner table shows that Patrick Jane has possibly changed because of the fact that he is going on his first date since his wife was murdered. Patrick is still wearing his stereotypical, but smart suit and tie. I think that lighting and costume really helped to develop the character of Patrick Jane through out the TV series because of the way the lighting shows the way that Patrick may be feeling and also the way that his costume has not changed very drastically. As for symbols we do not see much tea drinking happening in this episode but I know for a fact that they have carried this symbol on throughout the show, even to the fourth season. I think that Patrick drinking tea could possibly a way to show how he is feeling at the time, in regards of being stressed or relax. I think it could be possible that they use tea as a symbol of Patrick Jane feeling relaxed and calm. In this episode he is rather stressed. First of all he is on his first date since his ex-wife, the lady that he goes on date with is then in danger of getting kidnapped by Red John. At the same time the CBI team are trying to solve a murder which eventually gets Jane caught up with Red John himself at the end of the episode. I also think that the symbol of Patrick’s couch is used to represent relaxation. Patrick was not seen on the couch in this episode, hinting, again, that he is stressed and cannot relax at a time like this. The symbol of Red John does however appear in this episode quite a bit. The thought of Red John makes the audience as well as Patrick Jane and the CBI team nervous. “Red John” suggests danger, this symbol was mentioned in this episode quite a bit because of the danger that was taking place in this episode. 

Throughout the seasons we can see a small change in the character of Patrick Jane. He feels more comfortable around his team, as he is not so new any more. Patrick still has his humorous ways but still does not seem ready to move on from his wife yet. He is still suffering from what Red John did to him. 

Back to the symbol of Red John. In the “Pilot” episode we see Patrick Jane return back to his home at the end of the episode as we see him sit down on a mattress on the floor. The room is empty, except for this mattress on the floor. On the wall above the mattress is the Red John symbol. Not that it has been spoken in dialogue, we can assume that the symbol has been drawn in Patrick’s wife or daughter’s blood. Typically, this is mise en scene because it is part of the set and props. I think the setting of this (Patrick’s bedroom) suggests that he is lonely. Going forward to the episode “Red Sky In The Morning” we see Patrick, again, return to his house at the end of the episode and sit down on his mattress on the floor. I think this represents the fact that Patrick is lonely but doesn’t want to live his life to the fullest because he knows how easily it can be torn apart. The writers have specifically had him return to this same spot in this episode to show that in some ways the character hasn’t changed. But in other ways he has grown as a person and become more confident around others.

Mise en Scene (Pilot- Season 1- The Mentalist)

Mise-en-scene is one very important narrative feature that contributes to the initial impression of the character of Patrick Jane in the TV series, The Mentalist. Lighting, costume, performance and props/setting all take part in the presentation of Patrick Jane. In outdoor scenes, for example in the opening scene of the Pilot episode, we usually see natural light. Nearly every episode of The Mentalist is opened with a crime scene investigation, usually based outdoors. This means that a lot of natural light is used in the filming of The Mentalist, portraying the character of Patrick as a natural and simple kind of guy. Even in Jane, Lisben, Van Pelt, Cho and Rigsby’s shared office natural light is usually streaming through the high windows. Another scene in The Pilot where natural light is used is in another murder investigation in Palm Springs, California. I think that using natural light for the crime scenes is important as it makes it feel more real and believable, giving Patrick Jane a more believable personality as well. Unnatural and low-key lighting, however, is used quite often in scenes where the CBI may be interviewing possible criminals. This gives off a dark, gloomy feel, matching the personalities of the interviewee’s and the fact that they may have done something wrong and/or against the law. This dark, unnatural may also be used in scenes where we see Patrick Jane’s dark side. 

Patrick Jane is almost always wearing a smart suit, sticking to his work dress code. This does however also help with the portrayal of his character and personality. This shows that he is a clean cut man and suits may also often hint intelligence.

Many of the props used in The Mentalist are also used a symbols, for example, tea, tea cups & pots, sandwiches, Patrick’s car, Red John and Jane’s diary. Some other props that are often used are files/records, guns, large black SUV’s, cellphone’s and Patrick Jane’s couch. The couch is placed in Patrick’s office and is also used as a symbol of relaxation. Many of Patrick Jane’s props either have something to do with his job or his personality, usually portraying his calm, relaxed and witty personality. 

The Mentalist is typically set in California, USA. With the CBI headquarters set in Sacramento, California. Many of the cases and crime scenes that they attend to are based in or around Sacramento. 

Patrick Jane is played by Simon Baker. Simon plays Patrick with such believability that no one would guess that Simon Baker in originally from Australia. Simon portrays Patrick Jane with such skill that it has landed him Golden Globe and Emmy nominations. 

Lisben and Jane sitting on his couch
Patrick Jane’s couch (reoccurring prop/symbol)

His tea has to be perfect..

Keep calm and drink tea with Patrick Jane.

Mind the background music, this is a montage of Patrick Jane drinking tea and eating sandwiches, both symbols used regularly in The Mentalist.

Reoccurring Symbols

There are many different reoccurring symbols and motifs in The Mentalist. The character of Patrick Jane is an obsessive tea drinker, almost every episode featuring a tea cup and pot. Evident in the Pilot the second line that comes from Patrick Jane is, “My name’s Patrick Jane. I’m here to help you. Would you like some tea?”. Another symbol that matches his tea drinking is his eating habits. While drinking tea the audience may see a sandwich present in the scene as well. While investigating a crime scene or visiting the family who are currently suffering loss Patrick Jane will often disappear from his fellow co-workers, usually entering the family home and making himself a cup of tea and sometimes a sandwich. Either that, or he is offered a drink by the home owner, always resulting in him asking for tea. Two other symbols that are present in The Mentalist are, his diary and his car. Patrick Jane keeps a small pocket book that he occasionally takes out and write in. This symbolises as something that he can write whatever he feels in, as well as for working out murders etc. His car symbolises freedom. Jane drives a baby blue Citroen DS21 These symbols help to present and develop the narrative in the Pilot episode as the audience will get used to the reoccuring symbols for Patrick Jane, making us feel like we know him better. One of the most important symbols in The Mentalist would have to be the Red John smiley face. This face is drawn on a wall with the victims blood just after he has murdered them. With three fingers “Red John” draws a counter clockwise circle with two eyes and a line as a mouth. This symbol is used so that whoever finds the body of the victim will see the face on the wall and know what to expect. However, in the Pilot of The Mentalist we see an example of a “fake Red John”. Patrick Jane explains that the smiley face is always drawn on the wall that is directly opposite to where the entrance of the room is. In the Pilot we see a Red John face drawn on the same wall as the door, meaning that whoever walks into the room first to find the body would not see the smiley face until they turn around. While investigating this murder, Patrick stated that “this isn’t Red John” because of the positioning of the smiley face. “Red John thinks of himself as a showman, an artist. He has a strong sense of theater. In every previous killing he made sure that the first thing that anyone sees is the face on the wall. You see the face first, and you know. You know what’s happened and you feel dread. And then, and only then, you see the body of the victim. Always in that order. Here it’s the opposite. The first thing that you see is the body. You have to look around to see the face. It doesn’t play nearly as well, does it?”