The Mentalist

Season 4 Episode 23

Red Rover, Red Rover

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM May 10, 2012 on CBS



  • Allusions

    • The episode title, "Red Rover, Red Rover," comprises a double allusion: to a children's game and to a novel by James Fenimore Cooper. Patrick Jane's quest to apprehend and punish Red John, the serial killer who murdered Jane's family, runs through every season's episodes and links them, much as the Mississippi River runs through Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" and links the episodic chapters; that quest provides both structure and the central story arc of "The Mentalist." To Jane, the quest for vengeance/justice is deadly serious; to Red John, it is merely a game -- hence the title: children chant, "Red rover, red rover, let ______ come over," inviting a member of the opposite team to challenge them. Similarly, Red John continually invites Jane to challenge him, but Jane keeps losing, even when he seems to win. In this episode, Jane acknowledges the game by telling Lisbon that the only way to stop it is for Jane to "stop playing." In Cooper's novel "The Red Rover: a Tale," the "rover" is a pirate -- amoral, vicious, thieving, reiving. Red John is, above all else, a reiver, a plunderer who steals life itself, leaving a bloody trail of victims, living and dead.