Having watched the Crimson Hat finale countless times and recently re-watched all the episodes of The Mentalist from season one through to season four (I have wayyyyy to much time on my hands lol), I have come to realise that the relationship that the two lead characters share is something beyond the conventional. There are a lot of television couples that go through the motions of the ‘will-they, won’t-they’ saga and while sometimes they work, viewers have often criticised that after the point of consummation or ‘getting-together’ of the lead pair, the series loses its original edge and excitement. In the case of The Mentalist however, there is something inherently special about the bond between Jane and Lisbon. Jane’s quest for personal revenge and his unrelenting inner anguish, coupled with Lisbon’s professionalism and dedication to the job, seem to indicate that an eventual romantic relationship is not in the cards for these two. I disagree. What I mean to say is that I think something even greater than romance will become of the Jane x Lisbon dynamic.
From a relationship that started out in season one as one imbued with friendly and entertaining banter, which was, more often than not, overtly flirtatious, the circumstances of the past three seasons have constantly pushed these characters closer together in a way that has made them care much more for each other. If episodes such as Blood Money, Strawberries and Cream, Little Red Book, Fugue In Red, Cheap Burgundy (there are so many more examples, but I’ll stop here) are any indication, there is an obvious loyalty and genuine concern that characterises the interaction between these two, a concern that has been intensifying since season one. Jane’s admission in the Crimson Hat season finale – while some viewers have stated is nothing more than an admission of love as a best friend – is a stepping stone to a greater exploration of the depth and meaningfulness of their relationship. Even Lisbon’s statement that they are “meant to be partners” in the church scene speaks volumes about how she has come to view their relationship – up until that point, she only ever mentions him as a consultant and herself as his supervising superior (Blood Brothers). I think it’s obvious that these two do love each other, in a way that is manifested as sincere concern for one another. Whether their love will turn into romantic love remains to be seen, but I think it’s pretty obvious that’s where it’s headed. As much as I am a sucker for all things romantic, I think what makes this relationship work is the beautiful use of subtlety – Jane’s heartfelt ‘thankyous’ to Lisbon throughout the series (who else does he ever do this to?), his horror in the season three finale when he thinks Lisbon’s been hurt, the general gestures and looks of concern these two give to each other are all subtle and well-acted. The Crimson Hat finale steps up a little from the subtlety, with Lisbon’s depression, Jane’s avoidance of Lisbon’s question (the ‘Love you’ admission), his obvious horror at Lorelai’s request for Lisbon’s dead body and Jane reaching out for Lisbon’s hand at the end of the episode.
This relationship is not a typical relationship and it is precisely the circumstances that make romance difficult, but not impossible. If anything, I continue to believe that it will happen, but will happen with a continuation of the subtlety that makes their relationship so special. Their relationship isn’t just based on the typical ‘lust’ and overt sexual tension between the leads, but instead is one that has been built up over the seasons in a way that encapsulates various dimensions of human relationships – the sibling relationship, parental relationship, professional relationship, the relationship between friends and also as romantic interests. The former four dimensions have already been explored and with the finale as the culmination of that stage, the general tone of the episode seems to indicate that season five has the potential to explore the latter – the romance. I think that Jane and Lisbon’s dynamic relationship will continue to grow much stronger and these two will become much closer than ever before. These are all just my feelings about the seasons and the Crimson Hat finale, but I think that rather than a ‘full-blown romance’, just the realisation of romantic love, probably towards the end of the series, would be even more meaningful and powerful. Kudos to the writers for creating one of the best on-screen partnerships I’ve ever seen :)