Joining the police force after your shenanigans as a TV psychic anger a serial killer who subsequently murders your wife and daughter might not be a common career path, but it is the fuel which drives the plot of The Mentalist, one of the most popular series on television. Simon Baker plays the sham-psychic turned police consultant Patrick Jane, a whimsical and freakishly perceptive character (a parallel with Sherlock would be legitimate) who aids the California Bureau of Investigation in cracking the tough cases while hunting for any leads which might reveal the identity of the one responsible for the deaths of his wife and daughter.
Jane dismisses his own psychic-ness and can be heard throughout the so far five seasons of the show claiming that there is no such thing as psychics. He prefers to be considered very observant instead, and his seemingly off-the-cuff deductions are received with skepticism by his colleagues, most notably by the Sphinx-like voice of reason Kimball Cho (Tim Kang) and by Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney), the leader of the Serious Crimes Unit. That is, until said deductions turn out to be legitimate and lead to the bad guys being apprehended.
Easily accessible through Time Warner Cable’s affordable packages for digital television and internet, the show also serves up several quirks beyond the usual tension of police procedurals. These quirks revolve around the troubled pasts of the characters and reveal their multi-faceted development.
- Jane is seen driving a Citroën DS, one of the most innovative and craftily designed cars of its time. The car was introduced in 1955 and while it might seem just another one of Jane’s extravaganzas, the symbolism of the car is revealing. The Citroën DS was meant to signal the rebirth of war-torn France and was hailed as a hallmark of French ingenuity, which echoes Jane’s recovery after the trauma of losing his family.
- Lisbon’s relationship with Jane is ambiguous, often seeming it might develop a romantic twist. While the tensions between them (both personal and professional) will most likely carry into the sixth season, Lisbon’s affection for Jane, whichever way it turns, is steeped in brotherly love. After her mother’s death, she and her three younger brothers are subject to their father’s alcohol-fueled abuse and she is burdened even more so after their father commits suicide.
- Cho’s ability to remain straight-faced is only matched by his dedication in the line of fire. His reliable, down to earth persona and his dry humor come after his tumultuous teenage years when he was a member of a gang. The cool and collected Cho leaves to enlist in the US Army after a brief stint in juvenile hall, but not before shooting the gang leader in the shoulder for planning a house invasion he did not want to see happen. This might account for the times we see Cho befriending young people in dire situations who seem to him worthy of a second chance.