The Mentalist has never been one of my favorite shows, but it's always been a dependably enjoyable procedural - until recently. Is it just me, or does the show seem to have lost its way this season? It has made a lot of decisions - even besides inexplicably showing an episode on a Friday - that just don't seem to make sense. (Spoilers through current episodes! Nothing about future episodes.)
1. If I ever cared about Red John, I certainly don't anymore. It was a fine catalyst for Jane's involvement with the CBI, but I really didn't expect the mystery to last four seasons, and at this point it's so scattered and convoluted that I barely bother to try following it. (I mean, they brought in Bradley Whitford and I still barely cared. That's saying something.) I was just trying to determine whether I care about Red John more or less than I care about How He Met Their Mother, but I got too bored thinking about it to actually decide.
2. From the beginning, I really thought the point of the show was not about Red John, but rather about Jane learning to care about people and be part of a family again. The first few seasons did a lot with that, but now that progress has stalled to the point that I'm wondering if Jane IS just a sociopath, and/or Red John himself. Except that's probably just wishful thinking because it would make the show more interesting.
3. Also stalled: Any sort of will they/won't they between Jane and Lisbon. On the one hand, I'd actually respect a procedural that consciously decided not to do that with its leads. On the other, it seems like they were doing that and just dropped it. (Remember that time Jane saved Lisbon even though it meant losing the chance for Red John info? That was a Big Moment. I thought.)
4. I cared about the relationship between Rigsby and Van Pelt more than Jane/Lisbon, and that has gotten ridiculous too. I respected Van Pelt's decision to break things off and thought her whole secret killer fiance storyline was well done, but this Rigsby/girlfriend/baby thing is a bridge too far. I read that they wrote in the pregnancy because the actress was actually pregnant, but I feel like they've written themselves into a corner now by making it obvious that Rigsby still loves Van Pelt, but ensuring that the only way they could be together would be if he left the mother of his child. (Or she left him, of course.) Rigsby has always seemed like a really decent guy. Is he going to be stuck with "decent but miserable" forever now? (Note: I may forgive all if we get lots of shots of Rigsby holding the baby. I'm not proud of this. Just self-aware.)
5. And I love Cho, and get why they want to give him a personal life, but his current storyline just seems clumsy and somewhat out of character. I think it's supposed to be referencing his past, but we don't know enough about that - and haven't heard about it recently enough - to make it really convincing. And any character who pulls the "I turned off your alarm even though I knew you'd be really upset and get in trouble for being late to your important job" trick instantly earns my hatred forever. (Fine, go ahead and point out a character I loved on some other show who did that. It probably happened.)
So . . . I don't know. The cases of the week are fine. The Mentalist will remain firmly in my "relatively mindless procedural to watch while exhausted or multitasking" rotation. But I just don't care anymore, and I miss that.