The Mentalist’s Red John: Poems, pigeons, agraphobia and … Thomas
Are the Red John clues on ‘The Mentalist’ meant for Patrick Jane to unravel, or are they for the viewers alone?
I admit that I’m one of those odd folks who held very strongly onto the theory that Patrick Jane is actually Red John. Though I’m unable to cite the interview at the moment, I was sure at one time that The Mentalist creator Bruno Heller had said that the Red John story was intended as a series-long arc, whereby his identity would not be revealed until the show’s finale episode. It turns out that what I likely actually read — and perhaps what Heller meant — was that the Red John saga would end with the series, not that we’d know his identity at that time as well. Now that we know Red John’s identity will be revealed very soon and that this is likely not the show’s final season — and that Heller has said time and again that the “list of seven” includes the actual Red John — I’m definitely ready to drop my Jane-is-John cruscade. Not to mention Heller has gone on the record as saying my old theory is flat out wrong.
With the clues The Mentalist writers are throwing at us lately, it’s clear we’re at the home stretch toward the Red John reveal. The question is, though: who are these clues intended for?
As I said last week, I quickly deduced that the strange mention of “Carmen Lee” was meant to subtly say out loud “poem poem.” With the way Patrick reacted to that interruption, one would assume he was reflecting on it more than usual. Does that mean that Red John was throwing these clues at Patrick, or that it’s only meant as a fun guessing game for the viewers?
Something else that I noted from that episode — and something that’s been cropping up several times this season — is the presence of pigeons, or doves. Pigeons were present when Brett Partridge fell dead, in that abandoned house. They also showed up in an odd shot during last week’s episode. Then, in this week’s episode, they once again appeared toward the end, as Sheriff McAllister exited the bell tower of the church. Obviously the pigeons are not a coincidence, but what are they trying to tell us? I set out to find out.
Like with the Carmen Lee clue, I did some simply Google-foo to find out what the meaning of these birds might be in relation to what we already know. I’ll save you the minute details, but remember that familiar William Blake poem, “The Tyger?” It’s not the only poem Blake’s written. Search for “William Blake dove poem” and you’ll turn up one called “The Land of Dreams” — comes up quite quickly and easily, actually. In that poem is this:
Among the Lambs, clothed in white
She walk’d with her Thomas in sweet delight
I wept for joy like a dove I mourn
O when shall I again return
Thomas. Anyone on the list named Thomas? Yep: Sheriff Thomas McAllister. Hey, I’m just pointing out what I’m finding from the clues here, but it sure seems purposeful and in-your-face to me. In fact, it seems so obvious that one could easily conclude that it’s all a big, fat red herring.
There’s something else I wanted to point out from the clues lately. Remember at the end of last week’s episode, when Jane and Lisbon were listening to Sophie’s recording, we heard her note that her patient was suffering from “acrophobia.” Go back and watch that scene again, if you’re able. Now keep this in mind: conveniently, we’re left with only Sophie’s audio notes to work off of: that’s no accident. Why would we, the viewers, need to be left with audio-only notes of Sophie’s session with Red John? Think about that. Now consider that line where she supposedly says “acrophobia.” Jane makes a point of noting that acrophobia is “fear of heights.” Why did he bother to do this? Who doesn’t know that? Nobody — it was meant to lead us. Also note that, during the audio playback, they cut to scenes of all of the currently living suspects as Sophie rattles off personality traits of Red John … except when she notes acrophobia. That’s because we, the viewers, are being led to believe she said acrophobia, when in fact she said “agraphobia”: fear of sexual abuse. Jane is either knowingly pursuing the wrong phobia, or he’s purposely leading Lisbon in the wrong direction and knows, in fact, that it was “agra” Sophie said, not “acro” — they do sound very similar. The fact that this wasn’t written down anywhere means we only have to go on what it sounded like Sophia might have said, and what Jane himself says she said. Then again, didn’t Lisbon ask if the transcribing service kept copies of Sophie’s notes? What happened to those?
Take those clues and evidence with you as you see fit. I’m still not sure anyone can rely on what’s thrown at us, but it’s been fun watching for and collecting these clues, even if they don’t lead in any one particular direction. Maybe later I’ll wish I flat-out pointed toward McAllister as the prime suspect, but for now I’m sitting back and seeing what else turns up.
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