The main problem with any grand setup is that the resolution should live up to the expectations of the audience. And how often does that happen? Anyone who’s ever held breath at the end of an episode with a massive cliff-hanger knows – not that often.
When The Mentalist aired the finale of Season 6 a few months ago, it wasn’t just big. It was HUGE! After 6 years of chasing Red John, dancing around each other, after a bunch of mistakes and failed relationships, Jane and Lisbon finally admitted being in love. Naturally, that moment was the equivalent of an nuclear bomb explosion – you can try to get away all you want, but the closer you are, the less chances you have to walk away unaffected.
Of course the entire fandom spent the following months wondering and guessing and biting their nails in anticipation. What’s it going to be like now? It is a common thing for the show to start spiraling down after reaching its highest point, and with ‘Jisbon’ finally being a thing and not just an abstract context, The Mentalist may very well be at risk. We’ve seen it with Bones, Castle, Fringe, Grey’s Anatomy, and pretty much every other show that’s been playing the ‘Will they/Won’t they’ card – the moment the show crosses that line, there’s nowhere else for it to go, relationship-wise.
When the show was renewed several months ago, Bruno Heller made it clear that Season 7 would be the last one. I’ve been a fan of The Mentalist for over six years now, and it is sad to let it go, but it’s good to know they will wrap it up properly instead of trying to come up with some painful storylines just for the sake of dragging on for 10 more years *cough* Supernatural *cough*. Also, having only 13 episodes planned – as opposed to 22-24 – I hope they’ll keep it tight and efficient. Both Robin Tunney and Simon Baker were teasing some cool Jisbon action in the recent interviews, so I keep my fingers crossed.
And speaking of which!
Season 7 was supposed to premiere on Sunday, November 30, but “Nothing But Blue Skies” leaked online a few days before the planned date, much to the fans’ delight. Needless to say I was out of the bed and watching it at 6 am on a Saturday morning.
Remember that thing I mentioned in the beginning about the resolution matching the setup in its intensity and such? Well, I wouldn’t call the premiere of Season 7 a complete letdown but, compared to the S6 finale, and the expectations of the avid fans, it was underwhelming, to say the least.
Being a crime drama, The Mentalist opens its new season with a case about illegal gun trade, with a slight Jane/Lisbon ‘something’ in the background. Agent Fisher, who played a rather significant part in the previous season, moved to Seattle, replaced by some random newbie Agent Vega who seems to be having a problem with Jane (Doesn’t everyone? Welcome to the club!) Naturally, Lisbon’s ‘unfortunate mistake’ Agent Pike has to make his appearance – probably to remind us all why we didn’t like him in the first place.
So, all in all, “Nothing But Blue Skies” would’ve totally worked if it was episode 5 or something. Being a season premiere, however, it felt weak. For one thing, there wasn’t enough Jane/Lisbon, and I’m totally not saying this just because I find them swoonable. For one thing, I expected more people to pick up on their not so subtle flirting. Like Cho. He’s always been known as the perceptive one. All the missed opportunities! The whole thing felt like a joke without a punchline.
Shipping aside, however, the main thing that was wrong with the Season 7 premiere was the lack of stakes and clearly identified season arc. When Season 6 began last autumn, Jane was hiding from the law and the whole Red John story was still somewhat pending. There was purpose to everything, which made me wonder if S7 plans to just keep rolling. To be fair, I have more faith in Bruno Heller than this. For now at least. They still have 12 more episodes to make everything work and leave in a blaze of glory. I’m sure it’s not too much to ask for, is it?