The Mentalist

Season 3 Episode 12


Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Jan 20, 2011 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

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out of 10
220 votes
  • Leave the science to shows that actually understand science.

    While I'm normally a major fan of the show, watching Linda Park waste her talents playing a scientist who apparently last studied science in the 19th Century made Jane's usual masterful manipulations of - well, everyone - seem more like teasing the kids on the short bus than anything resembling wit. Maybe I'm wrong, and that is a realistic portrail of a modern profiler. If so, we should be glad serial killer has a lousy pay scale.

    There are a number of shows that depict - or depicted - actors playing scientists who manage to actually look like they're doing science. If we had gotten something like that: a profiler version of Bones, or one of the Numbers geeks, even toned down because this is a state agency, it might have been fun watching Jane's insights show them up. But when the scientists take on things could have been written by Mary Shelley, it felt more like watching a bad 1980s version of one of her stories than what is usually one of the better shows of 2011.

    Having thought about it, I decided that this review needs some examples. I haven't edited the first two paragraphs, but have added two examples.

    1) When the package of body parts and bloody note arrived at the CBI office, Dr. Montague assumes it proves her hypothesis - that the killer is the caveman - is correct. As a long-time Bones fan, I can hear temperance saying "You can't presume that this package is from either our killer or the caveman." and then passing it off to Sweets or someone inside the FBI for analysis. The numbers geeks would say something like "We can do a markov chain analysis of the cavemans letters to determine the probability that this letter was written by the same person." (Ok, I think markov chains are cool). The difference is that they - unlike Dr. Montague - do the science to check their hypothesis. They also get docked points for not mentioning that the body parts and bloody letters thing was first done by Jack the Ripper.

    2) After her one date with Rigsby, she blows him off for future dates with the line "We only have a 20% chance of having a successful relationship", leaving unstated - and unsupported - that she isn't going out with him again. Better - at least she did some analysis. But science is more about sets of numbers and comparisons between them than just calculating them. In particular, when making a choice between two options, you need a number for both option before you can decide which is better. Giving her an extra half line to do that would have let her finish doing the science. Something like:

    "... and I have a 40% chance of meeting someone and forming a successful relationship if we don't date."


    "... and I have a 70% chance of a successful relationship with my current partner." Or let Rigsby (because I feel sorry for the big lug) expose the flaw in her reasoning. Probably with help from Jane, by later asking her "Hey doc, you have anything more fun planned than failing at a relationship with me?" as she leaves.

    Dr. Montague does this kind of thing throughout the show. That she's supposedly a scientist but doesn't seem capable of doing even simple science makes her an adversary unworthy of Jane, and just spoils this episode for me.
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